"So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time [IN DUE SEASON] we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit." Galatians 6:9. Use the talents and gifts God has given you and REJOICE in the harvest.
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us“— 2 Corinthians 4:7
As we enter the Thanksgiving season, I am reminded of legacy. Thanksgiving is traditionally a time of remembering family and the blessings we have. Taking time to remember those blessings can be the challenge. We are so busy with every day life of errands and work and school that we may miss the everyday blessings that God has provided for us. Little things done today, impact the events of tomorrow and ultimately the next generation. But what are we passing on? Are we so overwhelmed with the cares and struggles in our lives that we are missing the blessings? Are the things we are passing on things that last for a moment, a season, or eternity? Are they truly treasures? Are we taking time to unearth the blessings in our lives?
“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” —-2 Corinthians 4:8-9
Sometimes we need to hold on to our treasure as the waves crash around us.
It is only then we realize what we are holding onto, what is deep and buried just under the sand, what comes not from ourselves but from Jesus and our relationship with Him,—- is the true treasure.
Are we passing on–how to have peace amidst the storm… love when faced with adversity…. perseverance to stay the course…joy that comes from God that gives us strength to see joy amidst the everyday struggles and routines… grace for the moment…
To take the time to count our blessings may mean digging away the sand that is keeping it hidden and allowing the waves to wash away the rough edges to make it smooth. We may not recognize the treasure for what it is. We may only see the tip or the edge. It may appear broken and insignificant, but God sees the treasure and the blessings that is beneath. If we allow Him, Jesus has the power to slowly move away the sand and wash away the dirt and reveal the hidden treasure that was there all the time. True treasures transcend our lifetime. True treasures lay a foundation for our children to stand on and build upon. True treasures and blessings come not from us but from what Jesus has done for us and within us. The power is from Jesus and not from us.
Guilt says : “I did something bad.” the feeling of “doing something wrong
Shame says: “I am bad.” the feeling of “I am wrong.” Our whole sense of self has eroded.
Do you feel flawed or defective? Unworthy of love or belonging or relationships? Feel like an embarrassment? Feel like you are in a dark hole that you cannot escape from? Do you struggle with addictive behaviors such as alcohol, drugs, sex, food? What about feelings of anger or anxiety?
It seems to me that we struggle with guilt and shame more than anything. I admit that I did not have a full understanding of ‘shame’ before researching this Resurrection Egg.
We sin and then we feel guilty. We may ask for God’s forgiveness, but the shame of the sin still lingers. We feel like we can’t reach out to help others, teach others about the gospel of Christ, or “be used by God” because of the ‘shame’ and humiliation that we feel. “We are unworthy of such honors,” we tell ourselves.
Especially in women we feel shame for feeling shame and the cycle continues. Men get angry for feeling shame and the angry shame cycle continues.
Shame is generational. It is passed from one generation to the next.
Shame is not productive It does not bring repentance or change in belief or behavior. Why?
Because shame is how we View ourselves
Remember the novel, the Scarlet Letter? We may feel that wherever we go we have a Letter A on us just like the girl in the novel, Scarlet Letter. Shame seems to me to follow sexual sins and indiscretions the most. Hence why Nathaniel Hawthorne’s book the Scarlet Letter, reaches people on many different levels. Hester Prynne, is caught pregnant out of marriage, she is forced to move out of the village and live on her own. She also wears a scarlet letter ‘A’ on all her clothing. ( OK, I read this in high school, so it has been awhile).
Today, sexual sins and addictions are rampant. We like to think that there is no consequences in our souls or how we see ourselves. Sex and addictions may be a temporary fix for the loneliness we feel. A way to establish relationships and fill the dark hole of shame in our life. But then how do we feel about ourselves? The shame is temporary gone, but only to return once the high has gone. Then comes the feeling of defective and wanting to escape. This leads to facing what happened last night which leads to loss of control. When we are caught in sexual sins specifically, we feel like everyone knows or everyone is seeing us as ‘that girl’. Our life is not what we had planned. We wanted something different than our friends or family. Eventually that letter ‘A’ is not just on outside clothing but has moved to our very core of our being. We are wearing it on our heart and soul. The ‘A’ becomes our identity and pervades our decisions.
Praise God Jesus bled for our Shame!
“I (Jesus) offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting. Because the Sovereign LORD helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame. (Isaiah 50: 6-7, KJV) (Matthew 27:30)
Isaiah was prophesying regarding what Jesus would experience. In Matthew 27:30, Jesus was beaten in the face, mocked, spit upon. Jesus bled so that we are not controlled by the shame. He did not hide his face in shame so we don’t have to! We now longer feel unworthy or lack a sense of belonging. Jesus did not see us as unworthy. He loved us so much that He went through the beating. He bore the shame we may feel. Jesus did not shun us. He accepts us and forgives us unconditionally. Jesus will be with us and help us and we will not be disgraced. We are not alone. We can trust Jesus and we will not be put to shame. Jesus is our identity!
Princess…..Inside and Out…..Honey, Patricia, Janet, Carol
In God we Trust….four words that bring so much controversy. It is not the world we grew up in and I am sure our parents thought the same way. Songs, videos, books that praise God’s name are viewed as offensive, but when we are in a time of need, we drop to our knees…. from which comes our strength, our hope, our joy. I know we refer to the faith of our ‘founding fathers’ as the basis for this, but it goes deeper than that. It is the very core of our being. It is the empty hole we cannot fill with anything else. Since the beginning of time man has tried to fill that void with all sorts of things from money, daring excitement and adrenaline rushes (natural or man made), sexual pleasure, or just wanting to be in the best house in the best neighborhood with the best job and the best family (the idea of a ‘perfect’ life). All these are fleeting and bring joy for a season.
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God and the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
As a teenager, I learned that negative emotions can be habit forming and that joy has nothing to do with happy times or happy circumstances. Joy comes from knowing God and knowing that He is there with us always. Jesus will supply all we need physically, emotionally, spiritually, financially. As a teenager, my parents divorced and my mom and my sister and I moved to a new town. I struggled with my identity of who I was and with acceptance as most young girls do. During this time, God brought four ladies, friends of my mom, into my life, Honey, Patricia, Janet and Carol. They filled in the ‘mama’ gaps when my mom could not. What I saw in them was the power of prayer and faith in God and Jesus’ ability to fill that ‘gap’ in my life and bring true joy. Their families and children were not perfect, but their love for Jesus was. I saw a faith and determination to trust Jesus through the hard times and rejoice with Him in the good times. Their relationship with Jesus was and still is a steady anchor in their lives. I wanted that for me; a faith that expressed itself in the unconditional love and acceptance of Jesus Christ. A joy that permeated to the core of my being.
Honey had ( and still does) a joy that lights up regardless. I treasure her statement, ” It is not an obstacle but an opportunity for God to overcome.”
Patricia showed me how still waters can run deep. She has integrity and showed me how to stand on principles of God and not to compromise. God has His best for you, don’t settle for anything less.
Janet, a prayer warrior (then and now), showed me where my source of strength needed to come from— the word of God, my relationship with Jesus and prayer. Through Janet, I learned that in order to be as Psalm 1 states” tree planted by the waters that produces fruit in due season”, then I needed to take time and be open and honest with God. I needed to allow the healing blood of Jesus to forgive.Our own abilities and intellect can only go so far and will only produce temporary fixes in our lives, but Jesus’ fixes are deep and permanent.
Carol showed me that Jesus is the source of wisdom and discernment, not my own mental understanding. I watched her stop many times and pray before making a decision and it didn’t matter the size of the decision. I could tell by the look on her face that she wasn’t just pondering the situation, but was saying,”Ok God, what do you want me to do?” Wisdom, understanding and discernment come from a spiritual ear and heart tuned to hear God’s voice. In order to hear God’s voice I needed to know Him and in order to know Him I needed to read His word.
Through these ‘spiritual mamas’ I learned to not dwell on my own short comings, failures, inadequacies and struggles, but instead to develop a love for God and to trust Him.” All things are possible to him who believes, ‘ Mark 9:23.Thank you Jesus for the praying ‘spiritual mamas’ in my life.
Look around for the ‘spiritual mamas’ in your life. What characteristics did they impart to you?
Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ (Matthew 22:37, message version)
Have you ever been so busy you forgot to feel? Or, if you did take the time even if it was 5 min, you took a few breaths and then you were off again. As you go through your daily list for the umphteenth time in your head, do you take the time to see what your heart is saying? Laundry, supper, pick up the kids, get golf clubs to golf practice, tennis racquet to tennis match, church early to set up coffee, call so and so, get landscaping quotes, make grocery list and the list goes on and on. We all face this every day. Then all of a sudden you hit the wall and everything crashes. You then ask, why did this happen? Somewhere along the way of doing, you forgot to feel. Your head crowded out your heart.
And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. Revelation 22:1
Have you ever gone on vacation and come back needing a vacation? You run the kids to this amusement park, putt-putt, restaurant, movie, sporting event, etc. Finally you come home and realize: I did not walk the beach. I did not sit and enjoy the waves crashing. I walked, but was busy clocking my miles. I did not look at the sun reflecting on the water. As the light shines, crystals are glistening with every wave saying ‘Praise the name of the Lord, maker of heaven and earth.’ Somewhere along the way of doing, you forgot to praise. Your head crowded out your soul, your prayer of thanksgiving and praise.
Praise the LORD from the earth, you great sea creatures and all ocean depths…..wild animals and all cattle, small creatures and flying birds…. Psalm 148:10
Have you ever been to the zoo and seen the animals swinging from the trees. Or just observed your own little ‘animals’ swinging from the rafters of your own house. If you have two little boys running around, you know what I am talking about. A friend of mind, Dan Breeding, is a wild animal handler. He says that animals do what they were designed to do and they do it very well and in so doing they bring glory to God.
What were we designed to do? I am sure we have many talents and abilities that God has given us to enable us to enjoy our life our earth, but what is our main purpose? Passion refers to your heart; prayer is your soul and intelligence is your mind. We were created to Love God with our whole being. Above all else we were created to have a relationship with God. When we try and fill that desire with anything else, we will hit the wall. We know God loves us, He sent His son to die on the cross for us because of the love He has for us. But are we taking the time to tell God we love Him? Are we holding back our love, passion, prayer, thoughts?
For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life. 17For God did not send the Son into the world in order to judge (to reject, to condemn, to pass sentence on) the world, but that the world might find salvation and be made safe and sound through Him. John 3:16,17 (Amplified)
What were you designed to do that you are doing very well?
A Time to Love and a Time to Hate…A Time for War and a Time for Peace. Ecclesiastes 3:8.
A time to love and a time to hate. Hmmm. So there is a time to hate? This was confusing for me. How many times have we told our children and ourselves not to have ‘hate’ in our hearts. Leviticus 19:17 says ‘ Do not hate your brother in your heart.’ I have seen the result of this in the town my mom was raised in. In the town there is a railroad track that runs down the middle of it. Jimmy Stewart in the movie, ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’, said that the sound of a train was one of the three best sounds in the world. My grandfather would have had to agree with you. He was a railroad man. He loved trains and delighted in taking my sister and me to the little park and ride the train that was there. If there was a model train displayed, he took us to watch it go around and around through the miniature mountains and small towns with figurines waving at the train as it chugged past. The railroad provided for his family and brought goods to the town and helped the town grow. The railroad also divided the town in half geographically and in the minds of the people. Proverbs 10:12 says ‘Hatred stirs up dissension.” That has certainly been the case here. Praise God, today He is bringing unity!
What does ‘hate’ mean?
‘Hate’ is a word that gets thrown around easily. I hate cleaning the bathrooms (when will boys ever hit the toilet, thank you very much!) I hate it when it is pretty and sunny and then rains when we go on vacation. I mostly hate it when I see people settle for second best. I hate it when people do not rise to their potential that everyone around them sees they have, but they don’t. I hate it when people can believe something for others but not believe it for themselves. I had a friend say once it is easy to believe for blessing for a business that blesses a ministry or for a ministry that is blessing other people, but not for their own family. Why not, does God not love their own family any less? Anyway, I digress. If God says there is a time to hate then maybe we need to find out what God hates.
First of all the word ‘hate’ in Ecclesiastes is the Hebrew word ‘sane’ it means to hate as in the case of an enemy; to despise, to turn against. In researching commentaries on this I found that some believe this was a ‘hyperbole’ or exaggeration. Others that it is not talking about heart attitude but rather a ‘distancing or separating’ . Regardless, there definitely seems to be a time when God says to distance, separate from things.
What are we to hate then?
In Proverbs 6:16 the same word is used for hate.
“These six things the Lord hates, indeed, seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look [the spirit that makes one overestimate himself and underestimate others], a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that manufactures wicked thoughts and plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, A false witness who breathes out lies [even under oath], and he who sows discord among his brethren.” (Amplified version)
What I don’t see on the list is race, politics, geographical region, income level, etc. With all the latest political talk the word ‘hate’ is easily thrown around today , but are we talking about the outside of the person or the inside. Interesting that the seventh one, the one that is an ‘abomination’ to the Lord, is ‘he who sows discord among his brethren.’ God is a god of unity.
“How wonderful, how beautiful, when brothers and sisters get along! It’s like costly anointing oil flowing down head and beard, Flowing down Aaron’s beard, flowing down the collar of his priestly robes. It’s like the dew on Mount Hermon flowing down the slopes of Zion. Yes, that’s where God commands the blessing, ordains eternal life.”(Psalm 133, Message version)
Some say they are over 40 things listed in the Bible that God hates. Forty in the Bible is a number for chastisement, not judgement. It points to action of grace leading to and ending in revival and renewal. So even if there are things God hates, His ultimate desire is to ask forgiveness and receive the His grace and have revival and renewal in our lives.
“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:1-10, NIV)
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
God made us to love and do good works. I think God hates things that go against His nature and against the good plan He has for each of us. If anyone has kids you know what is like to want the best for your kids. You don’t want to see them hurt, let down, disappointed, getting second best. God sees us the same way. He has things planned for us, good things. The things God hates are things that keep us from experiencing those good things, they keep us from having joy, peace, love, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, righteousness, and truth. (Ephesians 5:9, 22). If liking things that God hates is going to keep me from these things, keep me from the good works Jesus has planned for me, then I am going to start hating some things. Unfortunately, I don’t see cleaning bathrooms on the list God! Oh well, need to get over that one.
A time to search and a time to give up as lost; A time to keep and a time to throw away. Ecclesiastes 3:6
When I read this, all I could think about was sorting out the closets. You know how it is… 3 piles labeled “keep”, “give away”, “trash”. I guess it could refer to the closets in our hearts. It can also refer to relationships with others and our commitments we have made. The first part of the verse is sometimes translated ‘get’ for ‘search’. It is a verb which means action. In other words things are not going to be handed to us. The closets will not clean themselves. It can also mean to seek the king’s face as for a petition, request. We may need to seek the King, Jesus, face and find out what we need to keep, give away, trash. We will not be able to do it alone, we need Jesus and we will need the Holy Spirit. Cleaning out the closets of our heart can take time. If we don’t take regular inventory then it will get where you can’t open the door without stuff falling out, we can’t find anything, things get broken and lost.
What are you keeping that you need to throw away and what are you throwing away that you need to keep in your life. It is just as bad to throw away what is important as it is to keep what needs to be thrown away. The word ‘keep’ means to guard, treasure, protect. Are you protecting, guarding and treasuring in memory what God has put in your life and inside your heart. Are you like Mary and pondering all these things in you heart? Are you treasuring the pearls that are inside of you or are you throwing them away to swine? Throw away means to cast away, to shed. Allow God and the Holy Spirit to show you how to shed the things in your life that are taking up space that could be used by a treasure.
What we do with our time and focus shows where our heart is.
We invest time into what we care about and into what is important to us. If you have something you value you will invest time, money and energy into it. This applies to relationships as well as things. The question is whether you are investing in relationships that are mutually edifying and causing growth either in the other person or in you. You may need to love a person at a distance. Some relationships may just need to be shed. Seek the Holy Spirit to show which ones bringing destruction into you life and family. It doesn’t mean that you don’t pray or love the person. You just don’t allow the destructive relationship to come and steal what you treasure. Sometimes we keep what we need to toss. Take inventory of the relationships and the commitments in your life. Are they edifying? Are you edifying to others? Are you the best person for this commitment? Are they furthering the kingdom of God?
Remember we are organizing the closest of our heart and lives– keep, throw away, give away.
Is this thing, no matter how good, taking time and energy that could be used to keep, guard, cherish the treasures God has given me? Am I trading best for good? Set priorities in your life. I number mine. God first, spouse second, etc. I then put my commitments into the same priorities and choose those commitments based on where they rank on my list. Remember when you say ‘yes’ to something you are saying ‘no’ to something else. Make sure what you are saying ‘no’ to is low on the priority list. If you continually neglect thing high on your priority list in order to do things that are low on the list, then you will have a garden of weeds in your heart and in your relationships and commitments. Make sure what you are saying no to is not one of your treasures.
In case you are wondering…..after a month of looking, trying to get motivated, planning…… I finally cleaned out that closet. Took a while, like many of us I had too much in a small space and had many things that did not belong. Wish I had taken a ‘before’ picture. You could not walk into it at all. The next question is how long will it last. Three kids, a husband and a dog…..hmmm…
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33.
What are you keeping that you need to throw away and what are you throwing away that you need to keep in your life?