Friday, February 27, 2009
You will make known to me the paths of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures forever. Ps 16:11 (NASB) Two thoughts are with me this morning. One is from some things I blogged about yesterday, and ties in to this verse. Whether life is mundane or exciting, the joy is not in the circumstances. It's in our Lord Himself. Period. As I go through the day to day life that He has put before me, I must find my joy in Him and find my fulfillment in the fact that I am His child. Everything else in this life is bound up in that, and if I find joy in Him first, I can carry that joy into the day to day mundane, the exciting moments, and the tragedies of my life. The second thought has just been mulling around in my mind this morning, and it really has no specific verse - although I believe all through Scripture there are passages that deal with this. We often take Scripture so lightly. We fluff over it and draw out meaning that we want to emphasize, ignoring the depth of the Word. I am as guilty of it as the next person. And I am convicted. I cannot take God's Word lightly anymore. I take back my earlier statement - I do have a verse. It is 2 Tim 2:15...Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the Word of truth. As I study for my own growth; as I learn to teach my children; as I prepare to teach my Sunday school class; as I look forward to facilitating a women's Bible study - in all I do, I must be diligent to truly study and accurately handle His Word. I will be held accountable.
Posted by Ann at 6:40 AM
Thursday, February 26, 2009
As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind; for the Lord searches all hearts and understands every intent of the thought. If you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever. 1 Chron 28:9 (NASB) A lot of what I've been reading over the past couple of days has pointed to the absolute necessity of a heart commitment to the Lord. God gave the people of Israel certain rules, rituals, and traditions to observe. Those things were created to draw God's people to Himself, but so often they were simply actions with no heart devotion to back them up. One thing that made David a "man after God's own heart" was the realization that the observance of these things was meaningless if his heart wasn't devoted to his God. I've always been one of the "good kids" who tends to obey rules. But, the obedience of my actions is not always a reflection of the attitude of my heart. More and more, my actions must reflect a passionate desire to seek after and serve my Lord! They cannot be empty behaviors that achieve nothing. I am challenged to be passionate to the core of my being - to serve my God with my actions not because I want to be held in esteem by others who walk this earth with me, but because I have set my heart wholly and completely on honoring my Lord.
Posted by Ann at 6:39 AM
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Job 38:2 (NASB) This verse slapped me in the face yesterday morning. These are God's first words to Job. Job has been afflicted horribly, not knowing why. Job has been attacked by His friends who claim that he must have done something horrible that he's not confessing while Job himself clings to the belief that he is blameless. And then God speaks and these are the first words out of His mouth! Ouch! A couple of weeks ago we had some financial issues, issues caused by things totally out of our control. We had done everything right, and still this happened. There were several times through the mess when my thoughts were pretty irritable. "We've been tithing and giving faithfully! We're trying to be obedient to You! Why aren't You working this out? We haven't done anything to deserve this! How can we be faithful with our finances when things totally out of our control mess us up like this?" Like Job, I asserted the fact that I'd been obedient, and I wanted to know why these things were happening anyway. God is reminding me that it's about so much more than what I know. He revealed to us the whole picture of Job's ordeal, but He never revealed it to Job. In the same way, He doesn't reveal to us why He allows certain things to happen in our lives. He just uses them to grow our trust in Him and to give us a chance to be faithful through those events. I am challenged to see growth in myself through every new trial He brings my way. After all, it's not at all about me - it's all about His glory. And that's the goal.
Posted by Ann at 9:33 AM
Monday, February 23, 2009
These were the verses I was praying over Doug and myself this morning... I will come with the mighty deeds of the Lord GOD; I will make mention of Your righteousness, Yours alone. Psalms 71:16 (NASB)
Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us; and confirm for us the work of our hands; yes, confirm the work of our hands. Psalms 90:17 (NASB)I have prayed these verses at least once a month (if not more) for many, many months, but every time I see them, the impact of them is extremely powerful. And God does not fail to bring them to my attention on a regular basis, drawing me back to a right attitude. This morning was no exception. I can do nothing apart from Him! Period. I can't even clean my house apart from Him! Why? Because apart from Him I could care less if I am diligent! I'm selfish and preoccupied with things that fulfill my desires! Every now and then I fall away from the diligence I know He's called me to, and I grow so frustrated. I feel like I don't have time - like I will spend all day doing what I have to do, leaving no time for what I want to do. I've been like that lately. And once again, God draws me back by reminding me that I can't do anything - not one single thing - without Him providing the planning, the strength, the time, and the energy. So, as He has reminded me yet again (will I ever truly learn?), I am challenged to walk in that reminder and in His strength alone, exulting in His righteousness by acknowledging that His mighty deeds include giving me breath, and letting Him confirm the work of my hands because it is His work in the first place.
Posted by Ann at 6:37 AM
Friday, February 20, 2009
God has been reminding me a lot of the fact that He is light and that I am expected to shine His light. We like to bemoan the condition of our nation and wish for the days when we were a moral nation, but all through Scripture, both Old Testament and New, we find references to God as light. That, to me, indicates that the world has existed in darkness a lot longer than we'd sometimes like to admit. I have walked through my house this morning and observed where light is and is not needed. It is a nice, sunny day, so many of the rooms are already flooded with light and need no other illumination. The world is not like that. The world is dark. Period. It has been since the fall of man. No matter how moral we once might have been, darkness was still dominant - light and doing good are not the same. Light isn't needed where it already shines. Light is needed where there is darkness. Am I truly being light? Do others have a better image of truth because of me? Light does not bring attention to itself, but illuminates what is around it. As a light, I am not called to draw attention to myself. I am called to reveal the truth of the filth of this world and point to the only One who can clean it all up. That is my challenge as a light.
Posted by Ann at 7:32 AM
Thursday, February 19, 2009
But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary of doing good. 2 Thess 3:13 (NASB) I have to admit, I didn't like reading this verse today. Just this morning Doug and I were talking about how unmotivated we were feeling. Our schedule and organization went out the window during the ten days of plumbing issues, and now we have to deal with the aftermath. Somehow we have to get caught up on all that we're behind on and get back on schedule all at the same time. I want to be caught up and back in our routine, but I'm a bit overwhelmed by what it's going to take to get there. Then I read 2 Thessalonians 3. Leading up to verse 13 there are verses dealing with the necessity of staying away from those who are undisciplined and who do not want to work and be diligent. Then comes verse 13 that commands us to not only stay away from those people, but to not follow in their path - to continue doing what we know we're supposed to do without growing weary. This week I've been weary of doing good. Not of being a generally moral person - that's not really the context of this passage. I've been weary of being diligent - of getting up on time; of getting caught up on housework; of being a good steward; of homeschooling; of being disciplined with my eating; of truly digging into the Word of God. I am challenged to remember that the joy of the Lord is my strength (Neh 8:10), and that because of that, I do not have to grow weary of doing good. It's time to get back to it.
Posted by Ann at 8:41 AM
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Today I don't really have a challenge, but more of a realization. I am distant right now. I'm still sensing His presence and hearing His voice, but I have taken a step or two away from the intimacy. My amazing, wonderful, awesome, powerful, jealous, loving, and personal Father must not be just the center of my world, but the all of my world. He is to be the reason for every action I take, every thought I think, every word I say, every breath I breathe. That must be my goal - the state of being toward which I am striving. I sadly confess that I have not been striving for that goal lately. I've striven to keep the lines of communication open and continue to learn and grow, but I've allowed so many other things to invade my focus. And, I have felt it! I have sensed a discontent and a depression creeping back in - the things I experience when I'm not focused well. So, today I have a goal - to discipline my mind and refocus it in the right direction, pressing toward the goal of a God-centered existence. Will I reach that goal today? Goodness no! It will take a lifetime and beyond. But, that's where I'm supposed to be, and I must re-engage in that goal today!
Posted by Ann at 6:47 AM
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Phil 4:4-5 (NASB) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Gal 5:22-23 (NASB) These verses represent some of the most basic and foundational aspects of my life in Christ. I have known them for years. I have been instructed to walk in these truths. You would think I'd have it down by down. But, despite the foundational nature of these verses, I still struggle with them. Yesterday was one of those very rough days when rejoicing, a gentle spirit, and the whole concept of the fruit of the Spirit seemed to fly out the window. Even after the kids were in bed, it took me at least an hour to truly calm down from the day. Before I was truly awake this morning, the Holy Spirit began working on my heart, reminding me of these verses. Before I ever opened my journal or Bible, He revealed to me that my challenge today was to heed the instruction in Phil 4 that the fruit of the Spirit might be evident in me throughout this day. It is just a reminder to me that I can never, ever relax my obedience of the instructions God has given me in the past, no matter what new ways He grows me in the present and future.
Posted by Ann at 7:28 AM
Monday, February 16, 2009
Commit your works to the LORD and your plans will be established. Prov 16:3 (NASB) I am not very motivated today. I don't feel all that well, and we've been out of routine for over a week, first from displacement and then from exhaustion due to the displacement. We were only able to go do our exercise routine twice last week, and we had to change our bedtime and wake-time schedules to fit with the adjustments that had to be made due to our circumstances. I am a creature of habit, and with all of the chaos of last week, my habits have been thrown a bit out of whack. I am struggling. God brought this verse back to my mind today, though, and once again I am reminded that it is not about me at all - it's about God. I am reminded to commit everything to the Lord - my desires for the day, my health, my needs. I am reminded to make Him the center of all motivation. I exercise and eat right to honor Him through this temple. I get up on time to establish and maintain my daily communication with Him. I keep our house in order to be a good steward of all He's given me. Today as I try to get back in gear and as I look around at a very cluttered house, I don't feel like doing anything. I feel a bit overwhelmed. But I'm reminded and challenged as I get going with this day to commit it all to Him. This day might not go exactly as I plan it, but if I surrender and commit to Him, He will handle it all without any worry from me. He has the strength and motivation I need. He knows the events of the day and knows how I need to fit into them. So, today I will commit it all to Him and allow Him to establish the plans of this day.
Posted by Ann at 6:46 AM
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Not having consistent access to my house, a computer, or the internet, I'm a little disoriented as to what day it even is! I've had many "thoughts" throughout this week, and I think what is being posted on this blog is a bit of the culmination of those thoughts. It's very interesting to me how God takes a concept and teaches me multiple aspects of that concept. I mentioned the other day that I love words. As I read through Job, though, I am reminded how dangerous that can be! Job's friends came with the intention of comforting him, but then they grew a bit irritable when he did not accept their form of comfort. Now, I confess that there are some times when we must say words that aren't pleasant. I've had to do that before, and I've made people mad at me because of it! At those times, my words have not been said lightly - they have been prayed over, agonized over. I have sought the Lord intensely, often asking that I not have to say what I'd been told to say. Obedience has not been fun, but it has been confirmed each time. But, there are many times when I just rush in and say what I want to say - share my opinion, which may be true, but might not be what God wanted said at that particular moment. Like that of Job's friends, my wordiness may have been more harmful than helpful. So, as I process through "wordiness" and what God is telling me about it this week, I'm challenged to have one foundational principle that covers all I say. That principle is this... Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer. Psalms 19:14 (NASB)
Posted by Ann at 8:19 AM
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
My soul, wait in silence for God only, for my hope is from Him. Ps 62:5 Obviously, it's been a few days since I've posted...I haven't been home much thanks to a major plumbing problem at our house. I was convicted on Day 2 of this whole mess that I wasn't really waiting for God very well. I realize from so many examples in Scripture that it can be okay to be frustrated, discouraged, irritated, etc. But, we must still be focused on our God and Savior through it all. He had to give me a little nudge to get me back on track, which is understandable. But, then I read this verse yesterday. Obviously, I love words. I love to talk and I really love to write. I am definitely a wordy person. I tell it all, sometimes multiple times. But this verse talks about waiting in silence. When we wait in silence, no one else is burdened by our situation, but also no one else can step in and take care of something that God wants to take care of. When we wait in silence, we don't mess up, giving glory to our problems instead of to God to whom all glory belongs. I don't wait in silence very well, and I'm challenged to change that. I'm challenged to finish out this experience focusing my words on His glory. I'm challenged to approach any new challenge in the same way, for my hope is in Him.
Posted by Ann at 9:35 AM
Friday, February 6, 2009
Well, we were able to get to the bottom of the issue that we've had this week. Come to find out, the people who had an obligation to us were fully convinced they were fulfilling their obligation. But, a company they depended on did not give them full information, so they proceeded on an incorrect assumption, leaving them as shocked as we were that their obligation remained unfulfilled. First of all, I'm relieved. I like the fact that, to an extent, my trust in this couple can be restored. Secondly, though, God has confirmed the point - if we rely on things of this world, something, somewhere will very likely be in place to mess us up. But, if we rely on our God, He handles the details even when everything else falls apart. So, even though the relationship in question is much better off than it was in our minds a few hours ago, our trust must not be in the hope that this couple will fulfill their obligations to us in the future. It still must be in our God to take care of every last detail.
Posted by Ann at 1:59 PM
Some boast in chariots and some in horses, but we will boast in the name of the LORD, our God. Psalms 20:7 (NASB) Last weekend one of my challenge posts was about the stretching of my trust in the Lord. I mentioned that I knew I was still just dipping beneath the surface of my trust in Him. And, it has held true throughout this week - He continues to stretch me. Those of you who read the ways He's challenging me might get tired of reading posts about that trust growing, but that seems to be where I will be for a while. Someone had an obligation to us over the course of this week. Last night they showed that they did not choose to follow through with that obligation, and it has caused us problems - and will continue to cause issues. It will also cause us to make adjustments in our relationship with them because we can no longer rely on them as we have in the past. But the true issue here is not their dependability. Instead, it continues to be where I place my trust. Do I really trust in God or do I trust in other people to live up to their end of the deal? If I trust in other people, I will always be let down. God has promised to take care of us - can another person truly thwart that promise? Of course not! But, do I truly live like I believe that another person lacks that ability? Not really. According to this verse, my trust in the Lord my God must be so great that I don't just rely on Him, I boast in Him! It's not that I share with others what He has done. He is so faithful that before we even see the result of His work, we can look at someone else and say, "Hey, look what my God is going to do." So, as I look into the coming weeks and the issues that will result from this week's problems, I say to you that my God is awesome, and He's already taken care of all the details. I will boast in Him!
Posted by Ann at 9:57 AM
Thursday, February 5, 2009
Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Cor 10:31 (NASB) I've been feeling somewhat blah over the past few days. Nothing has been quite satisfactory. I've not been very motivated. It's taken less and less to irritate me. I've been discouraged easily by the fact that I'm working so hard on certain things and not seeing great progress. Then God whispered into my ear...He asked me where my focus was. I know I've said it before, but today I will say it again - and I'll probably say it many more times. We are to have no motivation aside from the glory of God. I don't homeschool my children so that I can be in control of their education - I do it for God's glory, and the fact that I know exactly what they're learning is a side benefit. I don't exercise and watch my eating to fit back into old clothes again - I do it for God's glory because He has called me to be disciplined and to be attentive to the fact that my body is His temple, and being healthier and fitting into old clothes is a side benefit. I don't do my chores to achieve a clean house - I do it for His glory because He has called me to be a good steward of all He has given me, and a clean house is a side benefit. Get the picture? I am challenged to remember this today. It will make a difference, and my mood will change. I will glorify God better if my attitude is better. So, here I go!
Posted by Ann at 9:11 AM
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
The LORD is in His holy temple; the LORD'S throne is in heaven; His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of men. Psalms 11:4 (NASB) One thing that stands out about Job is that when things went badly for him, he doubted everything - He believed that God was still God, but not that He was God's beloved. We look at him and say, "But, God knows what's going on! He hasn't forsaken you!" But how often do we do the same thing? How often do we sit and try to analyze why God is not seeming to work on our side, why He has allowed grief to descend upon us, what we've done to make Him so angry? I know I have done it, many times! Lately circumstances haven't been perfect for me and my family, but, to be honest, we've seen God's hand a lot. We've seen Him work in the difficulties we've gone through. But I remember times in the not so distant past when we didn't see His hand - at least not at the time. We can look back and see how He held us up, but it wasn't at all obvious then. I'm sure those times will come in the future as well, and I see many of my friends and loved ones who are there right now. But, I am challenged to be constantly aware that God is continually on His throne. Nothing surprises Him. He sees it all, and He engineers all circumstances for His glory. Period. He never explained to Job why those horrible things happened to Him. He just reminded Job of His sovereignty and power, His authority and control. No matter my circumstances, I must acknowledge that His character has not changed - He still loves me more than I can fathom, and He still is glorifying Himself as must happen.
Posted by Ann at 6:59 AM
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
As I read through Job this morning and prayed about what God wanted me to focus on today, remembrance kept coming to my mind. God has taught me so much, and it truly excites and energizes me to learn. But, sometimes I get so caught up in the present learning that I forget to remember, review, and keep in practice what He's already taught me. So, today, I'm going to prayerfully go back through some of my journaling and be reminded today. Be reminded of what He's done and what He's taught; and make sure I'm following through.
Posted by Ann at 6:57 AM
Monday, February 2, 2009
I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you. Psalms 32:8 (NASB) It is amazing to me how many times I make decisions with my own wisdom regardless of how much I want to follow Christ and honor Him in all things. Yesterday morning I made a list in my journal of some things weighing on my mind. I gave them to my Lord, and He took care of them. But, when I looked back over them this morning and made notes on how He spoke through the course of yesterday, I realized that I had a wrong approach to several of those requests from the get-go. There was something I thought we just had to work into our school day to help Olivia with some of her attention issues, so I simply asked that God give me wisdom to know where to put that activity into our day. This morning He showed me that I never asked Him if He wanted us to do the activity in the first place! Oops! On the surface of things, I fully desire to seek Him in all I do. But, in the practical working-out of that, I am so entrenched in my ways that often I don't even think to seek Him. So, He is challenging me to grow in that area. As I come before Him anew each morning, He is showing me new ways to submit to His authority and sovereignty as He teaches me in the way I should go. I am so thankful that He is a patient Teacher, and I am challenged to be submissive to that teaching at all times.
Posted by Ann at 6:35 AM