I am having such fun teaching my granddaughter some of the kids songs that I remember singing years ago.
This is one such song -- it may be for kids, but the message is just as important for us adults!
(And yes, this will be stuck in your head all day.)
Friday, July 21, 2017
Thursday, July 20, 2017
Ah, the good life!
Working outdoors, breathing that good fresh air.
Being in the midst of the Creator's handiwork, and enjoying it.
On a farm, the equipment that is used is almost as important as the people using it. It is carefully maintained, with routine checks of major systems, and in-depth maintenance at scheduled intervals. For example, there is a checklist of things to do after two hundred hours of use, and at four hundred, and so on. The complete machine needs to be inspected; fittings need to be greased; tires need to be filled; hydraulic fluid needs to be "topped off" periodically, and filters changed. Usually the entire tractor needs a good bath, too!
If this maintenance work is not completed, the tractor may just break down and be immobilized. Then it will have to have a chain or tow rope attached, and be pulled back to the barn. The locked-down tires sometimes won't turn, and dig up patches of turf as it moves across the field or pasture.
Here's where I'm headed with this: just like a complex piece of machinery like a tractor, a Christian needs maintenance!
First, we need a good, thorough inspection. God sees our hearts, and knows us; we need to allow Him to show us our sins and shortcomings.
Then we need to be washed....
We need to "lube" our days with prayer! Our daily prayers prepare us for His working in our lives; it's a chance to confide in Him our cares, and to know He will help us.
Our spiritual "tires" should be filled with gratitude -- we will find it much easier to make it through each day!
When we get stuck and are immobilized by sin or some obstacle we hadn't anticipated, the Spirit will find us....
Even if our "wheels are locked" and we aren't cooperating, the Holy Spirit will bring us back to where we need to be. We may look back and see the torn up turf where we dug in our heels, but if we will submit to His leadership, we will be so much happier in the long run!
Let's make sure that we do our daily "maintenance!"
Wednesday, July 19, 2017
I learned a lot from my dad-in-law.
As a member of the "Greatest Generation," he had life experiences that were both interesting and inspiring to me. As a boy, he hitch-hiked his way to a school a hundred miles from his home, and worked for his tuition in the school's dairy. He was truly a self-made man, and showed determination and fortitude in the ensuing years. He reluctantly left his young wife and infant son behind to be part of the Army Air Corps, and stayed in England for over two years, before returning to the US to resume his life as a civilian.
His interests were many and varied -- he never seemed to stop wanting to learn. And he tried to pass some of that along to his kids and his grandkids. Some of it "stuck" and some didn't. (Grin)
I recall his working to prune the scuppernong and muscadine grapes that my hubby planted near our house. He would take pruner in hand, and with a practiced hand and an expert eye, would prune them in the dead of winter.
I would stand there with him and try to learn how, so that I could do the pruning in the future. I often would ask him why he pruned certain branches of the vine, and not others.
He told me that it was important to have air circulation around the vines, for that would discourage some of the problems that grapes can fall victim to -- molds, fungus, even "bad" bugs. It was important, too, to train the vines to grow along the wires, so that they could be more easily harvested in the fall. (Scuppernongs and muscadines are late to fruit....they begin to ripen in the late summer, and are pungent and delicious just before the frost.)
My dad-in-law also told me that some vines were pruned back to increase their strength. Some, he recalled that they did not produce well, so he cut them back. Some did not produce at all, and were snipped off entirely, and discarded or burned. He was careful to prune them at just the right point -- there needed to be a bud just before the cut, so that the correct growth would occur. In that way, the best growth for strength and for increased production of grapes would happen.
I'm sure that you see where I'm going with this.
I remembered, standing there in the cold, the verses that Jesus spoke:
Oh, that our lives will truly bear fruit to the glory of our Father and His Son Jesus!
Tuesday, July 18, 2017
Did you know that singing and laughing can release positive, beneficial chemicals within our bodies? It's true!
All types of singing have positive psychological effects. The act of singing releases endorphins, the brain's "feel good" chemicals. (from Science, HowStuffWorks)No wonder the Bible tells us multiple times to sing to the Lord; we are encouraged to "make melody;" and we have many examples of folks in the Bible who sang praise to God (or who sang asking for Him to comfort or intercede, too!).
Here's something a little different: even instrumental music can be a wonderful way for us to meditate and be open to the workings of the Spirit. When we are not focused on the words of a song, we are able to think about the attributes of our Father, about the ways He has worked recently in our lives, and about what we hope to accomplish in this day.
I challenge all of us to try this -- perhaps you have some solo Christian artists, or some groups, that are your favorites.
Branch out a little!
Try some instrumental music, and focus your thoughts -- oops, don't let them wander to the grocery shopping list, or to whatever chores are facing you today.....
Zero in on the relationship with our Father. Thank Him for all of His blessings. Ask Him to forgive any sins or shortcomings.
Then let's quietly wait and let the Spirit minister to our hearts.
I promise we will rise to continue our day with lighter hearts!
Monday, July 17, 2017
Have you recently planned on a trip away from home? Was it for business, or for pleasure? A lengthy journey, or a quick trip?
Probably all of us have done this. How do we usually prepare? Are you a list-maker? Do you just keep mental notes and hope you get it all done?
There's so much to be done!
First, we must choose where we are going -- many miles away, or just a few? What do we hope to accomplish? Is this trip for fun? For excitement? For relaxation? For learning?
Once we know the why and the where, we can choose the "how." Will we need tickets for train or airplane travel? Will we use our vehicle or rent one? Many of us will juggle these to decide what is the most cost-effective way to travel to our chosen destination, and then to travel home again.
Now we must consider that home. Will everything we leave behind be safe? We need to make arrangements for pets -- will they board somewhere, or will someone come and care for them? Will the lights be programmed to give the illusion that someone is home?
Lastly, what will we take with us on our trip? We must consider where we are going, and what activities we will participate in -- warm clothing or cool, fancy or casual. And let's not forget to pack all of our daily toiletries and medicines!
Can we just stay home? (Grin)
Dear Christian friends, do we put as much thought and energy into our life journey as we do into our earthly trips?
First of all, just as on our earthly trips, we need to know where we are going:
For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come. Hebrews 13:14
Next, what is the purpose of our trip? Why are we making this journey?
I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; Philippians 1:23
Yes, to be with our Lord, Who died in our place because of His mercy and great love for us! Now, how do we prepare?
Lastly, what shall we pack? What will we take with us? (Trick question, right?)
Now we can make our plans! For the most important journey ever -- the journey that takes place step by step, each day, as the Spirit sanctifies us and prepares us to live with Him!
Friday, July 14, 2017
As our study concludes this week, we have seen that there's been a big change in Simon Peter; he has moved from an outspoken, impulsive, often proud individual to being the rock of the New Testament church. He became a powerful preacher, and a person who was quick to give God the glory.
Today we'll see how he wove the themes of humility and submission into his letters . . . Peter's humility and his loving-kindness are easy to see.
In the fifth chapter of I Peter, he wrote:
He starts his second epistle with: (I Peter 5:5-6)
In the KJV, the translation reads "bondservant" and apostle. Peter has moved from the independent, strong-willed, bragging Simon to an humble servant-leader with a true shepherd's heart for his people.
How did this happen? Yes, the process began with his conversion, and the indwelling of the Spirit at Pentecost. But the growing, maturing, sanctifying was ongoing in his life. Just as in Peter's life, this can happen in our lives as well. And regular reliance on prayer is a vital ingredient!
One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. (Acts 3:1)
After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken.And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly. (Acts 4:31)
I think the Spirit guided Luke to include these notes, to underline Peter's devotion to prayer, and to draw our attention to his example for our lives. Peter is a dedicated and humble man at this point, and these verses (and his own letters) are wonderful instructions on how to live a Spirit-filled life.
Peter's first letter has a theme of hope, and tells us where our power comes from:
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead... (I Peter 1:3)Still inspiring us, he writes that hope can help us through our trials:
Next, he instructs his readers on how to respond to authority:
I love how he gives the reasoning behind his instructions....to silence those who would talk badly about us and our faith. Awesome.
His next instruction is for servants in his day, but it works for us as well..... to take suffering patiently, whether deserved or not. Oy. That's a hard one, right? We will study that in depth in the near future. (He gives us the example of Christ's submission in suffering.)
Family instructions come next, and still carry that theme of submission to each other in God's love:
Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives... (I Peter 3:1-2)Peter uses a word that is translated "likewise" in the KJV, when he talks to the husbands....continuing that thought of submission. A loving, self-sacrificing husband will say "no" to his fleshly inclinations, and put the needs of his wife first.
Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers. (I Peter 3:7)I truly think that Peter expresses best the loving relationship that should exist when two godly people work together on that marriage relationship!
Who would have thought that tumultuous, brash Simon would have become rock-solid Peter? Christ knew and told him....but Simon still went through a lot to get there. And that is the way our lives are, too. We are in a continual process of growing and becoming more Godly, closer to our Father in our Spirit-guided lives.
Peter became one of the world's greatest teachers of love, hope, humility, and submission to (and respect for) authority!
If people with pasts like Peter and Paul can become such champions for God, then surely there is hope for you and me!
Lord, help me to dwell in your Word and follow!