Saturday, July 15, 2017

Words/Actions



The past four evenings, it thundered for over an hour, but we did not receive one drop of rain at our house.  Even though the conditions were right, the loud thunder announced the coming of rain, the weatherman said there was a good chance for rain, and other parts of the city received precipitation, our part of the city remained dry.  Disappointedly, although it sounded like rain was on its way, there was no action.  Finally, on Sunday night, the thunder rolled, the skies darkened, and the rain fell.  The grass, trees, and flowers were refreshed.

Just like the thunder, sometimes our words and good intentions fall by the wayside because we do not follow through with actions.  We can talk the talk, but it’s when we walk the walk that our faith lives, refreshes, and help others.

Last week members of the Tallowood High School Choir were on a mission trip in New Orleans.  Our students and sponsors endured heat and humidity to share with the people.  They played with kids in the park, ministered to the homeless, passed out water bottles, as well as sang.  Their words and actions spoke volumes to the people they met.  As the high school students returned, our eighth graders and sponsors headed to Baton Rouge to be part of World Changers.  They have spent their days scraping, priming, and painting houses in the heat and humidity.  Because of the actions of our high school students, junior high students, and sponsors, their words will make a believable and powerful difference for God’s Kingdom.

In the book of James, Jesus’ brother reminds believer’s that faith without deeds is dead and unproductive.  It’s when action and heart are added to our faith that God will use us to bless and make a difference in the lives of other people.  St. Francis of Assissi is credited with saying, “Preach the Gospel at all times, and if necessary use words.”  This week may our actions speak along with our words.

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”

Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that - and shudder.

You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless?  Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.  And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.
James 2:14-24

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Wonders of the World



The summer months are prime times for vacations, excursions, and trips.  I thoroughly enjoy seeing pictures of the places friends are visiting.  The people, scenery, land features, sunrises, sunsets are amazing to see.  Some photographs bring back memories of times I visited the same places while others offer a glimpse into places I may never see in person, but can still enjoy and appreciate through their posted photos.

Recently, after studying a unit on The Seven Wonders of the World, a high school teacher had her students list what they considered to be their seven wonders of the world.   After completing their personal lists, they tallied the results.  The top seven votes in the survey were:
1         Egypt’s Great Pyramids
2        the Taj Mahal in India
3        the Grand Canyon in Arizona
4        the Panama Canal
5        the Empire State Building
6        St. Peter’s Basilica
7        China’s Great Wall

The teacher noticed that one student was deep in thought and still contemplating her list before adding her answers to the tally sheet.  When asked, the young lady said there were so many she was having trouble finding her top seven.  Assuming the class might be able to help, the teacher asked her to read her list.  Her choices were:
1         to touch
2        to taste
3        to see
4        to hear
5        to feel
6        to laugh
7        to love

The class was totally silent after hearing her results.

Sometimes it’s the ordinary, everyday experiences, places, feelings, and senses that we take for granted that are full of wonder.  So whether you are home, traveling around your neighborhood, city, state, our country, or the world, what a great season to worship the Creator and appreciate, be filled with wonder, and marvel at His creation.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.
Genesis 1:1, 31

The earth is the Lord’s, and
          everything in it,
     the world, and all those who live in it.
Psalm 24:1

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
Ecclesiastes 3:11

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.
Colossians 1:15-16

“You are worthy, our LORD and God,
     to receive glory and honor and
          power,
for you created all things,
     and by your will they were
          created
     and have their being.”
Revelation 4:11

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Prayers for Campers



This week some of our young girls at church have been to GA Camp while our junior high and high school students have been part of Camp Tallowood.  They have had a front row seat in seeing God work and move.  I have prayed for the campers, sponsors, and leaders this week.  And my prayers continue…

Praying that you will:
* Remember who you belong to and represent.
* Know that as a believer, you are a child of the Most High God.
* Choose your friends wisely.  You tend to become like those you spend the most time with.
* Continue to willingly put aside the distractions in order to hear God’s message to you.  Even though it may be more difficult now that you are back home, God still desires that time and relationship with you.
* Honor, respect, and protect your body as the temple of God.
* Find people who will help you be accountable to who God wants you to be and what He wants you to do.
* Know that God wants to work in your life and have a relationship with you every day and not just the week of camp.
* Continue to have open ears and hearts to hear God’s message.
* Live in obedience.
* Love God.  Love others.  Love yourself.

It would be wise for us older campers to remember and apply as well.

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.
I Timothy 4:12

In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
Philippians 1:4-6

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.
2 Peter 3:18

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Lessons Chronicled



If someone were to ask me one of my favorite books in the Bible, I doubt I would have mentioned 1 Chronicles as one of my top choices.  But after reading this Old Testament book in my Bible readings these past few weeks, I realized that God has used this book to teach me some profound life lessons.

In the summer of 2001, Larry and I went a doctor’s appointment to find out the results of my blood work, spinal tap, and MRIs.  We both somewhat suspected the results to conclude that I did in fact have MS.  You sometimes hear of people reading a scripture that is so appropriate for the day.  I was somewhat puzzled that the morning’s chapters in 1 Chronicles were lists of name after name.  I remember praying and asking the significance of me reading all those names.  It wasn’t even verses that talked about what the people did.
LESSON:  My worth does not come from what I do, say, or whether I have a disease or not.  I’m valuable because God created me, knows me, and calls me by name.  It’s who I belong to that makes the difference.

Even as a young teenager I was troubled by the account in 1 Chronicles 13.  The ark had been placed on a new cart and David and the Israelites were celebrating and rejoicing as the ark was being moved to its new resting place.  When they came to the threshing floor of Kidon, Uzzah reached out his hand to steady the ark, because the oxen stumbled. The LORD’s anger burned against Uzzah, and he struck him down because he had put his hand on the ark. So he died there before God.”  (I Chronicles 13:9-10)  God had instructed the Israelites on the proper way to move the ark.  The Levites were to be in charge and it was to be moved by priests carrying the ark by the poles inserted in the rings on the side, not on a cart.
LESSON:  God is serious about obedience and following His instructions.  Obedience brings blessings and there are consequences and a price to pay when I choose to disobey.

As David and the Israelites brought the ark home, there was much celebration. “So all Israel brought up the ark and the covenant of the LORD with shouts, with the sounding of rams’ horns and trumpets, and of cymbals, and the playing of lyres and harps. As the ark of the covenant of the LORD was entering the city of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David dancing and celebrating, she despised him in her heart.” (I Chronicles 15:28-29)
LESSON:  Worship is a matter of the heart.  Man looks on the outside, but God looks at our heart.  Worship takes place when our mind’s attention and heart’s affection are on God.  Therefore, He is the audience and not me.  I need to make sure my worship is appropriate and acceptable and allow others to worship in the way they choose.

Against God’s wishes, David ordered a census of Israel.  Because of his disobedience, the LORD spoke through Gad to give David one of three choices:  three years of famine, three months of being swept away before your enemies, with their swords overtaking you, or three days of the sword of the LORD – days of plague in the land, with the angel of the LORD ravaging every part of Israel.”  (I Chronicles 21:12)  David chose and the LORD sent the plague and 70,000 men died.  Then David pleaded with the LORD not to destroy any more men since it was his fault that he ordered the census.  The LORD instructed Gad to have David build an altar on the threshing floor.  King David approached Araunah to buy the threshing floor.  Araunah insisted that he give the King the threshing floor, oxen for the burnt oxen, sledges for the wood, and grain for the grain offering.   But King David replied to Araunah, ‘No, I insist on paying the full price. I will not take for the LORD what is yours, or sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing.’”  (1 Chronicles 21:24)  This was the threshing floor where the Temple was later built.
LESSON:  God can bring beauty, blessing, and restoration out of repentance, obedience, and the right heart attitude.  This scripture is one that I held close when Scott told us about his decision to move to Turkey as well as other matters.  My family is what I hold dearest.  I wanted my heart to be a willing offering to God in choosing to support Scott in his decision to go as well as a blessing to Scott in the process.

King David desired to build a permanent Temple for God.  Because he lived in a time of war and had shed so much blood, God said that it was to be David’s son Solomon that would build the Temple.  Even though David would not be the one to build the Temple, he still encouraged the people to give the materials, gathered their offerings, and gave an abundance of his own wealth.  Then David charged Solomon to build a house for the name of the LORD.  He also ordered the leaders to work with Solomon.  Now devote your heart and soul to seeking the LORD your God, so that you may bring the ark of the covenant of the LORD and the sacred articles belonging to God into the temple that will be built for the Name of the LORD.”  (1 Chronicles 22:19)
LESSON:  Even if I do not live to see the fruits or results, it’s what I invest in others and God’s Kingdom work that will last after I am gone.