Thursday, May 31, 2007

1 John 3:1

"Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God; and such we are. For this cause the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not." (ASV)

Many Christians are timid about sharing their faith, or even letting the world know that they are Christians. They afraid of what a secular world will think, say or do. They don't want to offend non-believers by proclaiming that God exists and He loves them. While it is true that many people may make fun of us, or even get angry with us because of our faith, that is no excuse for becoming a closet Christian.

The world does not understand Christianity. They won't until the day of Christ's return when "every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear." (Isaiah 45:23) They can't understand Christians until they begin to understand Christ. So yes, if you tell your coworkers about God, you may hear giggles in the lunch room or be stared at by some of them, but is that so high a price to pay?

Christ made it very clear that He wants us to talk about Him and about our faith. "Every one therefore who shall confess me before men, him will I also confess before my Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 10:32) He wants us to let the world know that we belong to Him, and this is not because He was not able to foresee the reactions we might get. Rather, He had this advice for those who face persecution in His name: "Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets that were before you." (Matthew 5:12) And the ridicule or judgement of our peers is a far lighter sentence than the persecution He spoke of.

In the end, when we choose to hide our faith, we are telling God we are ashamed of Him. We are not willing to be associated with Christ, who bled and died and defeated even death for our sake. Instead, we should be shouting from the rooftops that Christ is Lord and we are His!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

1 Chronicles 28:20

"And David said to Solomon his son, Be strong and of good courage, and do it: fear not, nor be dismayed; for Jehovah God, even my God, is with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee, until all the work for the service of the house of Jehovah be finished." (ASV)

Most of us know the name of Solomon. We know him as a great king, an incredibly wise man, a powerful leader, and a man of God. While it's true that all of this can be said of him later in life, there was a time when he was simply King David's son, heir to the throne, and fearful of the tasks that lay before him. In the passage above, David has just revealed to the princes of the tribes of Israel plans for a great temple. He has also revealed that though he had planned to build it himself, God has instructed him to pass the task on to his son because David is not clean enough in God's eyes to do it.

Now, Solomon must have been thinking here that if King David, the King of all Israel, "a man after God's own heart" and Solomon's father, is not holy enough to undertake this task, how could he possibly measure up? But David has an answer for his son. He reminds him that God has called him to this task, and God will help him accomplish it. God is unfailing, God will not abandon you, he says.

This lesson is one that we often forget. God calls us to do great things some times. He instructs us to accomplish works that we feel unqualified to even attempt. It is easy to be fearful and tempting to say, "no God, find someone else, I can't do that." We should remember though that God never gives us a calling that He will not personally aide us through. Surely, all of the great Christian men and women throughout history have at one time or another felt unworthy of the tasks set before them. Yet, with God's help, wondrous miracles have been accomplished.

The temple David had designed was built, and it was considered to be Solomon's crowning achievement. It stood for 400 years as a house of prayer and sacrifice, a holy place, and the resting place for the tablets brought down the mountain by Moses on which the law of the Jews was inscribed.

It is also clear that God was present throughout the early years of Solomon's reign. He controlled a vast kingdom, ruled it with wisdom that amazed all those who saw him, and maintained peace for his people. He was wealthy, wise and a fair ruler. He worshipped his God with fervor and sought after truth in all things. Unfortunately, he eventually turned his back on God to seek after the idols that some of his many wives worshiped, and his reign failed.

There are many lessons to be learned from Solomon. Not the least of these is God's faithfulness to all those who seek to do His good works.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Psalm 31:14

"But I trusted in thee, O Jehovah: I said, Thou art my God." (ASV)

Trusting in God is often something easier said than done, but it is so crucial if we want to live the lives He has planned for us. Often we pray to Him and He doesn't answer the way we thought He would. He does things in His own time. His ways are mysterious to us. We see good people get hurt, we see natural disasters decimate entire populations, and we wonder if God can be trusted to handle things.

The truth is, He absolutely can and should be trusted. Things that seem tragic or even evil to us may serve a greater good. There is no way for us to know God's motives for the things He does or the things He allows, but that's ok. It's not up to us to decide whether He should act or not. It's entirely dependent upon His most perfect will. Someday, when we enter through the gates of heaven, all things will be made clear to us, but for now our job is simply to trust and obey.

But how can we trust in a God we don't even understand? How can we allow Him control over us when we don't agree with all of the decisions He might make? It is foolishness to believe that we know better than God what is best. It's like the hobbyist who tries to tell the professional how to do his job. We need to remember that God made us. He made this world. He knows it better than we can even begin to grasp. Who would you trust to fix something more than the one who originally created it? Just because we don't understand what our mechanic is doing under the hood of our car doesn't mean that he's doing something wrong. In the same way, just because we don't understand God's plan doesn't mean it's not what is best for us.

So what should we do then when doubts begin to creep in and we find ourselves interfering with matters we have already given over to God? As Christians, we should be praying every day that God would work His will in our lives. But we also need to pray that he would strengthen our faith in Him so that we can learn to step back out of His way and just trust that He is doing it.

Monday, May 28, 2007

A Meme

Ok, so it's Memorial Day, and as I'm sure you can tell by now, I took the day off from writing my normal daily post. Not that I NEEDED a day off, after having a couple of weeks off, but it's easier to write when the hubby's not home... quieter. So, no devotional message for today, but I thought it might be fun for all of you to get to know me a little better, so I'm stealing a meme from Princess Jami. Yeah, ok, I wasn't tagged, but she didn't tag anyone, and since I (along with many others) was mentioned in her answers, I figure it's fair game.

Two names I go by:
  1. Holly (my real name)
  2. BunGirl
I think there may actually be more people who know me as BunGirl these days than as Holly. I don't know if that's a good thing or if that's just really sad... I'm choosing to believe it's good though!

Two things I am wearing right now:
  1. A Creative Memories t-shirt. (yes, I am a consultant)
  2. Purple Mickey Mouse capris. (pj pants -- because I can, that's why)
Two things I want in a relationship:
  1. trust
  2. to be evenly yoked
Two favorite things to do:
  1. surf the net
  2. play with my pets
Two things I want VERY BADLY:
  1. a nice sewing table so I can actually have room to work on all the projects I want to do
  2. a bigger, funner, cooler rat cage for my girls. Maybe one like this.
Two pets I've ever had:

Just two??? Are they kidding??? Ok... here are two from my childhood...
  1. Goldfish: Fush and Goldie. These are the earliest pets that were actually mine. I count them as one, because lets face it, caring for one goldfish is exactly the same as caring for two, with the exception of quantity of food.
  2. A cat named Kit Kat. This was the first and last cat I ever had because I found out that I am horribly, deathly allergic. Also, I'm pretty sure this cat was pure evil. She would jump up on my sister's head and dig in claws and teeth every time she tried to hold her. She loved to hide under my Mom's bed and shred her stockings as she put them on in the morning. The final straw was when she hopped up in a chair, turned to face us, and peed all over an afghan my grandmother had made for my sisters dolls. Mysteriously, she ran away shortly thereafter.
Two things I did last night:
  1. Signed WildRescue up for eventful. (Slightly OT, if you're in the Dallas area, our president is offering a class on rehabbing baby cottontails. Details at either of the links above.)
  2. Re-installed a bunch of stuff on my computer. I'm still in recovery mode (figuratively, not the actual Windows recovery mode) from the crash. I keep finding more and more stuff (like Adobe this afternoon) that I need to redownload. SUCH a pain.
Two people who live in my house:
  1. me
  2. Grumpamoose (former contributer to this blog, and my hubby)
Two things I ate today:
  1. hot dog (lunch)
  2. pasta (dinner)
Aren't I such a healthy eater? :-P

Two people I talked to last:
  1. my hubby
  2. the manager of the Lewisville PetSmart (to set up an adoption event)
Two things I'm doing tomorrow:
  1. writing (I promise!)
  2. trying to catch up on the ton of email still sitting in my inbox from when my comp was down
Two favorite holidays:
  1. Christmas
  2. Thanksgiving
We usually try to go up to PA to visit with my family for one or the other of these holidays every year. It's so great when the whole extended family gets together under one roof and celebrated the blessings God has granted us!

Two favorite beverages:
  1. coffee (or anything remotely resembling it -- even instant will do in a pinch)
  2. tea -- preferably a bizarre new flavor that most people have never heard of. I'm much more adventurous with my tea than almost anything else.
So anyway, that's a little about me. If you read this and you have a blog, consider yourself tagged. Make sure you post a link for me in the comments though, so I can come read your answers too!

Friday, May 25, 2007

2 Corinthians 10:5

"Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that is exalted against the knowledge of God, and bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ;" (ASV)

We've all heard the old adage, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." While this is certainly sound advice, a quick study of the Bible will show that God actually expects quite a bit more from His followers.

Certainly it is important to remember that our words can cause us great harm. "Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue Keepeth his soul from troubles." (Proverbs 21:23 ASV) We must learn to keep our tongues under control. This includes not only saying spiteful things to other people, but also lying, gossip, and impolite language. It isn't ok to say mean things behind someone's back, it's not ok to tell little white lies, and it's certainly not ok to spread rumors you have heard. All of these activities can hurt those we are called to love. But simply holding your tongue is not enough.

Not only must we be the masters of our words, but our thoughts must be under our control as well. "And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts?" (Matthew 9:4 ASV) God knows not only that which comes out of our mouths, but also that which we think in our innermost being. He knows that in order for us to come into line with His perfect will, we must must free ourselves from the bitterness, hatred and wickedness of the world around us, and that means cutting it out at the root. It is not enough to love others with our words and deeds. We must also learn to love them with our hearts. We must learn to see the world as God sees it, with love and compassion.

So the next time you find you need to hold your tongue to keep from saying something that might hurt someone else, go one step further. Pray that God will take that hurtful thought and banish it from your life.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

By the way...

I'm back! But then, you already guessed that, didn't you? Thanks to all who prayed for patience for me while I was waiting for my computer to be fixed. I surely needed it.

2 Corinthians 4:7

"But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the exceeding greatness of the power may be of God, and not from ourselves;" (ASV)

Have you ever felt that you're not good enough to accomplish great things for God? Have you looked at other Christians, and felt inferior? Have you not done something you felt God was calling you to do because you were afraid you might fail? This feeling is more common than most people realize. Even Moses, when confronted with the burning bush, worried he could not do what God was telling him to do. "Moses said to the LORD, 'O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.'" (Exodus 4:10 ASV) "But Moses said, 'O Lord, please send someone else to do it.'" (Exodus 4:13 ASV) Of course, God knew who He was choosing then, and He knows our strengths and weaknesses now.

The problem in thinking "I'm not good/smart/strong/well-spoken enough to do God's work" is that we assume that we will be working under our own power. God does not call us to do anything that He will not help us in doing. It's not our own power, but His that we must rely on. No human is good enough to do the things God would have done on this earth. But God working through us is powerful enough to do anything He wants. Just as God told Moses, there on the mountain, "Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say," (Exodus 4:12 ASV) He offers the same aid to anyone who is doing His work.

If the miracles of God could be performed by men, they would cease to be miracles of God. What surprise would it be if a star athlete competed in a triathalon? But if a crippled man were to finish the race, people would know that it had to be by a power that is not his own. In the same way, God uses us in all of our weakness and frailty, to brings glory to His name. He does not call great men to greatness. He calls normal men and makes them great.

So the next time you feel God's calling in your heart and you think "but I can't do that," stop for a moment and remember Moses. Remember that God does not want you to do great works, but rather He wants to do great works through you.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Hello. My name is Eowyn. You killed my uncle. Prepare to die!

Due to a shipping error, my laptop is still down for the count, but in the meantime, enjoy some LOTR, Princess Bride style. (courtesy of Princess Jami who was kind enough to point me over there.)

Monday, May 14, 2007

My computer died...

When I tried to start my laptop on Friday, it wouldn't. So I am borrowing Chris' while he's at work. Unfortunately it has it's own problems -- the Alt key is stuck, so typing almost anything is painfully slow. So, long story short, until I'm back on my own machine, I won't be able to post my usual devotional messages. Fortunately, it shouldn't be more than a few days. (I hope)

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Ecclesiastes 3:1

"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:" (KJV)

While many recognize this as a Byrds song from 1966, the original reference is quite a bit older than anything you'll find on your local oldies station. Like so many other phrases we hear regularly and never think about, it's actually a Bible verse. It was written sometime around 935 BC by King Solomon, one of the wisest men ever to have lived. But just as it was relevant enough in the 60's to become a pop hit, the message here is still meaningful today.

Often, when we pray for something and it isn't granted to us immediately, we become impatient. We forget that God's timing is not our own, and He has plans that we can't begin to fathom. Just as it would be a bad idea to try to enjoy the fruits of your garden before they're ripe, it would make no sense for God to grant to us now the things He has planned for us in our future. Sometimes when it seems that God is telling us "no," He's really just saying "wait." We need to learn to trust in the perfection of God's own timing, rather than the "I want what I want and I want it now" of our own sinful nature.

Likewise, sometimes things that we'd rather put off till next week, next month, next year, or maybe the twelfth of never, God decrees should come to pass today. If you leave the apples on the tree past harvesting time, you'll soon find that they will no longer be of any use. In the same way, God knows the perfect time to call home His saints. He knows when we are ready for trials even if we believe we are not. He knows when it's time to close a chapter of our lives so that a new one may be opened. While all of these changes can often feel tragic or painful to us, they are necessary steps in our journey toward God's kingdom. If He allowed us to put them off indefinitely, we might miss out on the wonderful things He has planned for our lives.

So the next time you become impatient or frustrated at God's timing, remember that He knows better than we do what we need and when we need it. He has a plan for each of us, and if we will just sit back and let Him bring it about, we'll find ourselves truly blessed by it!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Jeremiah 17:9

"The heart is deceitful above all things, and it is exceedingly corrupt: who can know it?" (ASV)

"Follow your heart." It's advice that we've all been given at one time or another. Perhaps we've even said this to a friend who was faced with a difficult challenge. If you don't think too much about it, it sounds like great advice. While it appears to be wisdom on the surface however, the Bible tells us that our hearts will only get us into trouble and that we shouldn't be deceived by them.

We need to remember that our hearts are corrupted by sin. Our hearts are a part of our flesh, our fallen nature, prone to sin and deceit. While our heart can certainly guide us, it's guidance is selfish, fickle and all too often unwise. Our heart can not tell us God's will for us, only it's own. It can't tell us what's good for us in the long run, as it only sees the circumstances of the moment. Those who make a habit of following this guidance will often find themselves heart-broken.

The good news is that God has given us a better guide for making tough decisions. "But the Comforter, even the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said unto you." (John 14:26 ASV) The Holy Spirit of God dwells in each of His followers. If we learn to listen to Him, we can always be assured of good, sound guidance in any situation. He is a wise counselor, a loving comforter, and a good teacher. If we follow His direction, we can never go wrong.

Learning to listen to the Holy Spirit's guidance can be a difficult task. It's never the loud broadcast of a booming speaker. Rather, the Spirit speaks to us in a "still, small voice." (see 1 KINGS 19:11-12) You see, God will not force his guidance upon us. We have to seek it out. So the next time you have a big decision and you're tempted to listen to your heart, take a moment instead to listen to the voice of the God who loves you, who wants the best for you, and who has wonderful plans in store for your life. You'll find it well worth the effort.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Romans 6:1-2

"What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. We who died to sin, how shall we any longer live therein?"

Have you ever met someone who claims to be a Christian, yet is unrepentant about the sins in their life? I'm sure we all have. It's human nature to say, "God's going to forgive me anyway, so I might as well do what I want." As Christians though, we are called to put aside that sinful human response and learn to obey God's commands.

When we become Christians, we are called born-again. "Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except one be born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God." (John 3:3) Our old, sinful selves have been put to death and we are a new creation in Christ. This means we can't return to our old dead lives, but instead we get to start fresh.

Now, of course there will still be sin in our lives from time to time. No one will be perfected here on the earth. That will only happen in heaven. What this does mean though is that we should strive toward perfection. Every day, more and more, we should be relying on God to help us overcome temptation and banish sin. We shouldn't take God's grace for granted because although there is nothing He can't forgive, we should desire to please Him.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Luke 12:8-9

"And I say unto you, Every one who shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God: but he that denieth me in the presence of men shall be denied in the presence of the angels of God." (ASV)

Have you ever known a "closet Christian"? There are more of them out there than you know -- people who love and worship God in private, but never speak His name or profess their faith in public. Many are afraid of what their friends will think, afraid of looking foolish, or simply afraid their faith may be questioned if it is revealed. This is not the type of relationship God wants from us.

Imagine yourself in a relationship with that perfect guy or gal. Things are great when you're together. They bring you gifts and shower you with affection. But you never go out to the movies or a restaurant together. You never get to meet their friends or family. You're never seen in public together. No matter how much you love the other person, this charade would eventually get old, and you'd demand that they stop trying to hide your relationship. Yet this is the same way many people treat the God who created them and who loves them very much!

God doesn't want to be confined to Sunday mornings or quiet times when we're alone. He wants to be first and foremost in our lives. "For our God is a consuming fire." (Hebrews 12:29 ASV) If we're truly on fire for Him, we won't be able to hide it. We won't even want to! We'll want to share His love with everyone we encounter. We'll gladly let the world know that we belong to Him.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Luke 12:25-26

"And which of you by being anxious can add a cubit unto the measure of his life? If then ye are not able to do even that which is least, why are ye anxious concerning the rest?" (ASV)

Don't worry. Such a simple thing to say, but not as easy for many people to do. It's far easier to get caught up in the stress of daily living and fret over things as if we have some kind of control over them. Christ told us that we can't add even a day to our lives by worrying, but now we know that not only can't we add, but we may in fact shorten our lives through it.

The root of worry is a desire for control. We want to control the outcome of a situation. We want to control what people will think of us. We want to control our lives. This desire is based in sin. A righteous man doesn't desire control, rather he relinquishes it. When we allow God lordship over us, we give up all control and power in our lives to Him. We become followers rather than leaders. If we are still struggling for control, we are working against Him.

The reason many people have trouble giving God complete control over their lives is they don't trust Him to do what they want. We look at immediate situations and we know how we want the outcome to go, but we don't know what God's plan for us is. We forget that while He may not make everything work the way we want it to, He WILL make everything work for our betterment. We allow our faith in His goodness and His love for us to be shaken.

How then can we defeat the worry that plagues so many of us today? We need to remind ourselves of three things. The first is that God alone is sovereign. He is in control, and that is His right. The second is that God loves us. He wants the best for us in all situations. The third is that He has never let us down before. While He may not have done things the way we wanted them done, if we objectively look at all the past situations that we've given over to Him, we'll see that He has always been faithful. Armed with this knowledge, we can finally give our worries over to God and let Him reign in our lives.

Verse of the Day