Personally a hypocrite

“But we are sure that his religious difficulties never resulted in hypocrisy.” Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

This struck me almost as pointedly as the scriptures.

Luke 6:42 NKJV — “Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me remove the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the plank that is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck that is in your brother’s eye.”

It had been during prayer.

I was talking with the Lord about a past circumstance and suddenly the Lord asked me a question.

Who has hurt you the most?

The truth was clear.

“I have.”

My own sin has caused me the most suffering.

Then, respond to all other hurts with that in mind.

And with this my entire prayer focus turned.

It is so easy to look at another and see their blindness, prejudice, or sin.

To experience the pain of hypocrisy in another and recoil from the sting, bruised and battered.

Yet, the Bible is clear, our own sins are as black as anyone’s.

Humility says, “I’m a sinner, too” and stops talking.

Instead of recoiling, rejecting, or loudly renouncing another’s sin, what of prayer, forgiveness, and honesty?

Can we allow Christ’s love to enlarge our hearts and include those who have sinned against us?

What about a brother or sister?

Can we choose to continue in love, prayer, and encouragement even when the other seems calloused?

Matthew 18:21 NKJV — Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”

Matthew 18:22 NKJV — Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.

Can we forgive seventy times seven?

If I have been hurt, I certain I have hurt others.

If Christ forgave me, He will forgive them.

Therefore, my heart must be willing to love, quick to forgive, and honestly humble, for we all stand stained by sin, in desperate need of a Savior.

John 15:12 KJV — This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.

It’s a command which takes every fiber of our choice to walk in every day of our lives, but it’s a command.

And He knows what is best for us.

John 15:13-14 NKJV — “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.”

Dear Lord Jesus,

Thank You so much for Your Word. Thank You for convicting me of my sin, that I might repent and see others more clearly, not tainted by the past. Lord, please help me to walk daily in this commandment. Please teach me how to be Your friend and how to love as You do. Lord, please help me to see myself clearly, remove the plank from my eye. Lord, I want to be real, honest, and humble, please help me to be. Thank You for Your Word. Thank You for Your patience. May my life reflect Yours, that Your name be glorified. Amen.

Things in the world

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever. I John 2:15‭-‬17 NKJV https://bible.com/bible/114/1jn.2.15-17.NKJV

The things of this world bring a snare.

Lust and pride are dangerous and can kill faith.

Matthew 13:22 NKJV — “Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.”

Thus, we must be on our guard, at all times.

Because pride is easy.

And desire breeds the idea we deserve…

Our flesh, stirred up by the enemy, wants to follow after these things.

Jesus taught that all the things and the pursuit of them isn’t following God.

Instead, He clearly explained that loving God is the opposite.

Matthew 6:24 NKJV — “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”

Matthew 6:33 NKJV — “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”

Jesus’s parable of the seed and the soils (Matthew 13:3-23) provides a perfect word picture.

The Gospel is the seed and the ground is our hearts.

Matthew 13:23 NKJV — “But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”

What type of soil we are has a great deal to do with what we choose to do with the Word.

No one is immune to the temptations of the things of this world, but we can focus on Jesus and His Word.

Romans 12:2 KJV — And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Let’s be wise and prudent gardeners, pulling up the weeds and allowing the Lord Jesus to water the seed with His scripture and prayer.

Colossians 3:1-2 KJV — If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.

We can live in today, praising God for His gifts and blessings, being thankful for what we have and the beauty of creation all around us.

We can walk with Him in humility and love, remembering this is not our home, we are simply travelers, on our way to Paradise.

Dear Lord Jesus,

Thank You so much for Your Word. Lord, please help me to be on guard against pride and lust and the love of things. Lord, help me to instead love people and to walk with integrity before You. Lord, help me to see the snares and tricks of the enemy and to be wise about what I look at, what I listen to, what I meditate on. Lord, this world is passing and my life is fleeting compared to eternity. Please help me to live for You today and not to be choked out by the cares of this world. Thank You, Jesus. Amen.

“… dominion…”

What is man that You are mindful of him, And the son of man that You visit him? For You have made him a little lower than the angels, And You have crowned him with glory and honor. You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet, All sheep and oxen— Even the beasts of the field, The birds of the air, And the fish of the sea That pass through the paths of the seas. Psalms 8:4‭-‬8 NKJV https://bible.com/bible/114/psa.8.4-8.NKJV

These words struck me this morning.

Have I pondered this truth?

What does it mean to have dominion over the works of God’s hands?

Strong’s Definitions: מָשַׁל mâshal, maw-shal’; a primitive root; to rule:—(have, make to have) dominion, governor, × indeed, reign, (bear, cause to, have) rule(-ing, -r), have power. (Copied from The Blue Letter Bible app.)

He gave mankind the job of ruling over His creation.

We are God’s stewards.

What He has given doesn’t belong to us, but is in our care.

I had to stop.

Do I handle my every day as if caring for the Lord’s things?

Do I even think about this truth?

Sometimes, I do not.

But as the sun climbed higher in the sky, the Lord encouraged me.

Today is a new opportunity to live with the proper mindset.

Today is open, a chance to be a wise caretaker.

Today, is all I have and I want to live it well.

Dear Lord Jesus,

Thank You for Your Word. Thank You for showing me these verses this morning. Thank You that all I think of as “mine” is really Yours and You will guide me as to what You want me to do. Lord, please continue to teach me how to view life and this world. Lord, help my heart to be filled with compassion and love. Lord, please help me to be wise and to use the things You have placed in my care well. Lord, teach me to be a good steward, that I might hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant”. Thank You, Lord. I love You. Amen.

Embracing change

Because change is good, it’s healthy.

The older I get, the more I find myself learning this truth.

As a young woman change was terrifying.

I lived in fear of bad things happening and did all I could to ward off danger.

But after living through years of loss, I learned change is healthy.

He used those years to teach me about the frailty and blessing of life.

Not to waste my time trying to avoid whatever may come (because many things are completely out of our control), but instead to invest in the day I have.

Which is why I can walk through our current changes and smile, even though my heart aches.

Our son-in-law and daughter and the grandbabies moved almost three hours away last weekend.

Our youngest daughter will move in a few weeks.

Our home will hold just three people, something we’ve not had in over twenty years.

Yes, my heart is missing them.

Yes, it’s a time of grieving a loss.

No, I’m not unhappy.

Because God is doing this and I’m so thankful for His guidance in each of their lives.

I’m practicing praise.

Praising Him for all He has given us.

Worshipping Him, so thankful He is directing their lives.

Honoring Him, because these people, who began as babies in our arms, never belonged to us, they have always been His.

I’m expectant, because although I don’t know what the future holds, I know Who is holding us.

May our lives, wherever we are, bring glory to His name.

Psalm 86:12 KJV — I will praise thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart: and I will glorify thy name for evermore.

Dear Lord Jesus,

Thank You for change. Thank You for using life’s changes to shine into my heart and mind those things I would not have willingly learned otherwise. Lord, thank You for the patchwork of experiences which have brought me to this place. Thank You that You are using life to hone our hearts and help us learn dependence upon You. Lord, I rest in the knowledge that You have each of these dear people in Your hands and I thank You for all You are doing in their lives. Please continue to grow them in their walk with You. Please continue to provide for their needs and guide them in each day. Thank You for these dear people we love so much. Thank You for using them to teach me about You and Your love. I praise Your holy name, Jesus. Amen.

Strong

Joshua 1:9 NKJV — “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”

These words were to Joshua as he was leading the Children of Israel into the Promised Land.

It’s not a suggestion, God gave a command.

God’s command to Joshua can still be applied to us today, we need to obey the Lord completely and to be strong and courageous in that obedience.

Nehemiah 8:10 NKJV — Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”

Here we see the Children of Israel grieving over their sins.

But it was a holy day unto the Lord, thus the call was to celebrate, not because they were ignoring their sins, but because God was greater.

That is why they could celebrate and find strength in the joy of the Lord.

Nahum 1:7 KJV — The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him.

It’s not our ability or inability which brings us strength or security, it’s understanding God is truly the only Refuge and in Him we are saved.

Proverbs 14:26 KJV — In the fear of the LORD is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge.

It is when we place our trust in Him and honor God that we can find strength and confidence in His faithfulness.

It’s not easy to lay aside our own ideas of refuge, security, and how to be strong, but it’s the only true way.

Any other “strength” will rot out from under us when we need it the most.

But when we find our strength in the Lord, there is true refuge.

Ephesians 6:10 KJV — Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.

1 Corinthians 16:13 NKJV — Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong.

For these are the things we can do in Christ Jesus, our Lord.

Dear Lord Jesus,

Thank You so much for Your Word. I feel so unable to truly express the strength and security of walking with You in all things. Lord, I do not want to lean on anything but You. Please continue to expound to my heart and mind what it means to walk in Your strength, to find the joy of the Lord is my strength! Thank You for Your wonderous ways and Your incredible truth. Thank You for Your love and faithfulness. I praise Your holy name!! Amen.

“A little more suffering, please.”

Has anyone said this?

From the beginning of our lives, pain and suffering is something we want to avoid.

Physical pain helps us to know when we are endangering ourselves or something is wrong.

Physical pain is beneficial, because our physical bodies need to be protected from harm and pain can be a warning.

That’s why a parent teaches their child not to touch something “hot”, not to eat or drink something “yucky”.

It’s a safety issue.

So, purposefully guarding our bodies from harmful substances and activities is wise, it honors the One who gave it to us.

Yet, the spirit is a different matter, completely.

James 1:2-4 NKJV — My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

It’s not comfortable or fun to “fall into various trials”.

Actually, the average American person spends a good deal of their adulthood trying to avoid trials.

Scripture makes it clear God uses trials.

He works on our character by walking us through tribulations.

Romans 5:3 KJV — And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;

Trials are not something a we have to look hard to find.

As Christ followers, we should expect them.

John 15:18 NKJV — “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.

Jesus’s life is our example and that includes suffering.

He suffered to an extent no human can comprehend.

God became man, to allow His own creation to accuse Him of being Himself, beat Him and crucify Him.

He came, choosing the greatest suffering, that mankind might be saved from eternal suffering, the consequence we chose when sin contaminated our race.

With this gift of salvation from Jesus Christ, we get another choice, that of following Him.

It’s the best kind of suffering.

To live in the world and yet not to be of the world.

To walk daily, choosing to allow God and His Word to work in us, continually shaping our hearts.

Letting patience have it’s perfect work that we might be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

2 Corinthians 4:17 KJV — For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;

Dear Lord Jesus,

Thank You so much for Your Word. Thank You for salvation and Your example to us in all things. Lord, please continue to hone our hearts and to guide our steps. Lord, help our mouths to be full of Your praise, our eyes fixed upon Your Word, our hearts tender, and our minds focused upon You. Lord, it goes against our earliest emotions to be willing to die to ourselves, but it’s the only way we can live unto You. Lord, please help us to better understand how to rejoice when we fall into trials and how to walk with You in patience. Thank You for Your Word, Your truth, and Your faithfulness. I love You, Jesus. Amen

May 2

Psalm 27:8 NKJV — When You said, “Seek My face,” My heart said to You, “Your face, LORD, I will seek.”

Dear Lord Jesus,

Thank You for loving us so much that You died to bridge the gap between us created by our sin. Lord, You are faithful, true, just, right, holy, lovely, and kind. Thank You for Your goodness. Thank You for Your Word. It is true and in it is life. Lord Jesus, great is Your name and greatly to be praised. Lord, wipe away anything which would hinder our ability to seek You today. Lord, wash us clean from the stains of sin and our own flesh. Thank You for all Your wonderous works on our behalf. Lord, thank You for all You have done, are doing, and will do. Please help the helpless, provide for the needy, defend the fatherless and orphan, protect the innocent, thwart the enemy, return the prodigal, and save the lost. Lord, please fill our hearts with Your love, our minds with Your Word, and our mouths with Your praise! Thank You, Jesus. Amen.

Each day is a blessing

As the checker scanned the new dresses we were getting for Anne at the Goodwill she mentioned the beautiful day.

I responded back and in my heart wondered if this older woman would be finished with her shift in time to enjoy the sunshine.

It took me back to the first summer I had a job.

I remember feeling a bit envious of those whose time allowed them to get out and enjoy the sunshine instead of merely appreciating it from indoors.

With this memory came a thankful heart for the ability to enjoy a beautiful day no matter where I am.

Because everyday is a gift from God.

His creation is a blessing and I never want to miss an opportunity to praise Him for it.

Psalm 96:4 NKJV — For the LORD is great and greatly to be praised; He is to be feared above all gods.

Psalm 95:3 NKJV — For the LORD is the great God, And the great King above all gods.

Lamentations 3:22-23 NKJV — Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.

Psalm 118:24 NKJV — This is the day the LORD has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.

Dear Lord Jesus,

Thank You for Your creation. Thank You for the beauty of plants, and flowers, mountains, beaches, deserts, lakes, oceans, prairie,… Thank You for the beauty in each individual carefully crafted by You. The unique finger print, the family resemblance, or lack there of. All the beauty how You made mankind from dust. The very hairs of our head numbered. Lord, too often I grow callous to the beauty around me, numb to the incredible creation of man, beast, bird, and creeping thing. Lord, please help me to return to thankfulness when I grow numb. Bring me a fresh wonder at all the intricate details, just like a small child whose seeing it for the first time. Lord, please help me to remember all that creation speaks so loudly about: You. Let my heart never grow dim and begin to worship the creation rather than You, the Creator. Lord Jesus, thank You for all Your wonderous works. I love You. Amen.

A chapter closed

and another began, last Friday.

Because our youngest daughter graduated from high school.

Praise the Lord!

He has been so faithful to her and she has grown in so many ways.

Honestly, I don’t know where to start counting His blessings.

It is why there’s a cross on her tassel instead of a year.

Anne put it there because,

“God is the One who brought me through this, and it’s my way of thanking and remembering His goodness to me.”

I just smiled and nodded.

For Anne to complete her GED has been a long and difficult journey.

Anne has always found book learning challenging.

Reading was especially difficult.

I kept looking for patterns, something which would guide me as to what she was grappling with.

God brought us some solutions during her 5th grade year.

She was experiencing health issues and our doctor sent us to a specialist.

“Migraines, she having migraine headaches.”

The doctor spoke so matter-a-fact about it, but I couldn’t wrap my mind around it.

“Isn’t she too young for that?!”

He calmly explained it was unusual, but not impossible.

He gave me some things to try and foods to avoid.

We made the changes and she improved.

About the same time I was able to find an eye doctor who found out why Anne would pass an exam, but was struggling to read anything in the afternoon.

She has an unusual eye fatigue problem, her dad, my husband does as well.

When the eye doctor caught it, she ordered glasses right away and explained that Anne’s eyes couldn’t hold a focus after 15-20 minutes.

I remember thinking, “No wonder she’s struggling in school!”

In middle school I’d taken her and two siblings to a tutor who specialized in helping those with learning disabilities.

After doing lessons twice a week for over a year, I received some training from her to work with the kids myself.

My husband’s job had changed and we couldn’t afford the lessons any longer.

Then we took the big step.

I went to the school district and asked to have Anne and her sister tested for learning disabilities.

My husband and I had done that for our son years before, so it wasn’t an unknown.

I can’t say enough good things about the people we worked with in the school.

They were God’s blessing to our family and I love them.

Anne and Bell began taking one class a day in the SPED room after both being classified as having learning disabilities.

When we moved here, I was nervous.

Being a homeschooling family is one thing, but having your students on IEPs and still homeschooling is another completely.

God was so patient with me and my fears.

That summer held so many changes.

Before our move here, Anne’s health went seriously down hill.

Our doctor had me make a food journal and we started noticing a pattern.

Anne is hypoglycemic and if she doesn’t eat protein every four hours she has all kinds of trouble.

So, with our move came a new schedule which included Anne eating protein often.

When school began we contacted them and began the meetings.

(If you don’t know the process with an IEP, just trust me, there’s meetings.)

I explained to the head Special Education teacher we had just moved from a tiny rural place (like 800 people total) to where we were now (sitting in a highschool with 1,000 students) and how we were willing to do whatever was required.

Anne had to begin attending class, twice to three times a week depending on the schedule.

It was not a little frightening.

After the first week I mentioned Anne’s trouble in dealing with the mob of students as she was trying to make her way to class.

The teacher changed her schedule so she’d be coming and going while regular classes were in session.

We were so surprised and thankful, Anne actually began enjoying her class.

After about a month of this, Anne had finished all the required testing and we had another meeting.

“We can not provide services for her, because she no longer has a learning disability.”

I cried.

I couldn’t find the words to express my joy at the improvements she had made.

Anne no longer had to attend the high school, we simply continued her education at home and praised God for this unexpected blessing.

After all her struggles, it was very understandable that she felt a good deal of concern about her ability to pass the GED.

She studied and took practice tests as well as online classes.

She stuck to it and a week ago she passed her final test.

We are excitedly awaiting her diploma.

God has answered our prayers and provided for her in incredible ways.

We are enjoying this month with our graduate.

She’s going to be leaving us for the summer.

God put it on her heart to live with my mom and care for her while Mom under goes two surgeries, first on her right foot and then the left.

We will miss Anne so much, but are so glad she’s doing this.

My heart can not contain the joy I have when I see my children walk with Jesus.

Paul’s words speak clearly for me:

Philippians 1:3 KJV — I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,

Dear Lord Jesus,

Thank You for Your faithfulness. You are incredible and I praise Your holy name. Lord, thank You for each of our children and how You are guiding them. Lord this journey of our daughter’s has been difficult, but it’s made the end so much sweeter. Thank You for blessing her in these things. Thank You for teaching her about trusting in You. Lord, whatever the next chapter holds, we will praise You. May her life bring glory to Your name. Amen.

In the past week

Our latest furniture project.

I knew of some items on our schedule, which I wanted to pray for, but I didn’t expect our week to be what it was.

In the past seven days, our family has experienced some big things.

(Some of them I will share with you in a later post.)

It’s been a blessing to give extra time to prayer, because we’ve needed it!

My husband’s grandmother had a heart attack and at 93, we thought we were going to loss her.

I am praising the Lord for continuing to sustain her and she’s recovering.

Our truck was in the shop the entire week due to a part not coming in.

This really threw a wrench in our plans as my hubby took time off from work to get it down to the shop and spend time with his parents while in that area.

He did end up spending one night with them after all, but we had to call in a favor to get him back home.

God worked it out perfectly and we were thankful.

Our homeschool schedule has changed and Jase is finding it difficult.

I have peace that he will adjust and although it’s challenging, it will get easier with the passage of time.

Hubby was able to make some changes to our veggie garden and get the pea plant stakes up.

Jase planted the peas.

Once he turns over the soil, we will plant the beans and tomatoes.

I thank God every time I look out the bedroom window for how He’s blessed me with the back garden.

We had a furniture “moment” which we thought was going to equal days of work to sand off and start over.

But God stepped in and it turned out our expectations were off, the piece is turning out exactly as hoped, praise God!

Our friends had their baby!

We’ve been praying for this baby from the beginning.

His parents are thrilled and so are we.

We are so thankful for God’s gift and walking with them through this.

Children are such blessings, a heritage from the Lord.

A newborn baby is such a beautiful testimony of God, our Creator.

Our week has been such a testament to His faithfulness.

My heart can say with the Psalmist:

Psalm 139:13-14 NKJV — For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.

Dear Lord Jesus,

Thank You so much for all Your blessings and Your faithfulness. Lord, thank You for Your wonderous works are not one week or even one lifetime, but throughout all eternity! My mind can not even grasp that. Lord, You have again reaffirmed to me that no matter what is occurring or how things seem to be difficult or trying, You are God and I should place my trust in You and allow You to direct my steps. For great is Your faithfulness! I can’t always see it at the moment, but I know it is true. You see far more then I shall ever understand and I choose to trust You and Your Word. Thank You for this week. Lord, please continue to guide, direct, and teach me in Your ways and Your truth. Thank You. Amen.