Sunday, December 26, 2010

Obedience Brings Peace

Even as I start this blog, our first born is boarding a bus for Boston...where the storms are heading, with a prediction of up to two feet of snow.  That is, if the bus makes it through Cleveland and New York.  The same storm system that has messed up the southern states with snow and ice is now blowing north with strong winds and heavy snow fall.  They predict a lot of power outage.  So I can only pray God's protection on our son.  He's looking forward to the adventure.

He's been with us since last Wednesday.  We celebrated the birth of Christ on Friday, Christmas Eve Day, with Paul's parents, sister and her family, and our son.  Eight around our table this year.  I believe this is the first Christmas dinner I have made since moving in this house in 2006.  I enjoyed fixing favorites for everyone, and of course others brought goodies in also.  We all played a game of Scratch after dinner, before leaving the table, and then it was off to lounge in reclining furniture and just yak.  Christmas Day the three of us just had leftovers all day...and still ate too much.  Overeating on the holidays is a sin I have not conquered, nor surrendered as of yet, but this year I am coming closer to that goal.  When you eat too much at my age, you just don't feel good!  Thankfully, the scales only went up one pound in three days, and now it's time to back off for the new year's resolution of eating more sanely and simply.  I am down 15 pounds from last year, so if I keep losing a pound a month for the rest of my life, I should be about the perfect size when I meet Jesus face to face.

This past week was spent in doing my shopping and preparation for the meals while our son was here.  We did spend one evening with friends on the grounds.  I've been feeding about 4-5 cats this past week, during this long cold snap.  I think the cats overate at Christmas also, for they haven't been around much today.  The dumpsters are overflowing, so I am sure they have some choice gourmet food out there.

Let's look at what God has been saying to me this past week in my daily readings:

A God-given vision will keep you going when nothing else will.  (Lord, I need a new vision!)

Words from James:  
Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.  (Carol, pay attention!)
If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.
But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.  Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.  (I desire to be a peacemaker.)
Summit yourselves, then, to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Come near to God and he will come near to you.  (I hear you, Father!)

Negative expectations become self-fulfilling prophecies

Focus on God's promises instead of your problems.

Peter's Epistles:
Just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do, for it is written:  "Be holy, because I am holy."
To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.
Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes.  (no problem there!)  Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight.  (I always considered myself to be a plain Jane, but Paul gave me some pictures of myself from earlier years, and I said to him, "I was pretty!  No one ever told me I was pretty!"  He replied that I was pretty, but that my beauty came from within me.  That was sweet of him to say that...I just wish I had heard it earlier!)
Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech.  He must turn from evil and do good, he must seek peace and pursue it.  For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayers, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.  (See how often keeping control of our tongue brings peace!)
The end of all things is near.  Therefore be clear minded and self controlled so that you can pray.  (One can only hope that the end of all things is near.  Let it be, dear Father!)
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins.
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
Be self-controlled and alert.  Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  Resist him, standing firm in the faith.
...a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him.
You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God...
Since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless, and at peace with him.

What Priscilla might have written in Hebrews:  (I have a good argument for the author of Hebrews to be Priscilla).
Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family.

Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight.  Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give an account.
Let us approach the throne of grace with confidence so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another.... and all the more as you see the Day approaching.  (There's my answer to whether I need to attend church or not.)
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.
Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.  (Peace and holiness and obedience seem to be strong directions being given to me this past week!)
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.  So we say with confidence, "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid, what can man do to me?"  (God has come through for us so many times, I am ashamed when I desire new furniture or new clothes or a new vehicle.  Help me in the contentment department, Lord, for you have truly blessed us beyond all measure!  You are teaching us that "little is much when God is in it!"

I must remember that my sins of omission, commission, and disposition were all paid for at Calvary.  I must serve others and share Jesus with others, as I live in obedience to God and as a citizen of His kingdom.

John's Epistles...from his heart to ours:
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
This is how we know we are in him:  whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did.
No one has ever seen God, but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. 

True believers can be distinguished from unbelievers by their mutual love, godly lives, and obedience to God's commands.  Am I seen as a true I measure up?  Lord, help me overcome all short comings...keep working on me, for I want to represent you well!

Sunday, December 19, 2010


This is my regular Sunday update.  It's been a cold week, not much snow, but the ice remains so I am still not out walking the dogs.  The last time I walked them Tuxedo froze up halfway to our destination.  Had to carry him the rest of the way as he could not get his body to move forward...very unusual.  But being almost 13, I imagine the muscles are a little weaker when it's so cold and trying to maneuver on ice.  I decided to not put the dogs through that.  They are having enough trouble adjusting to the cats for which I am providing food and sleeping pens on the front porch.  I hate to see animals struggle in the extreme temperatures.  Tender hearted.

We delivered more donated items to the Jesus Film Mall Ministry this week.  They are having a great response, but are in need of more volunteers.  We do not live close enough to help with that part of the ministry.  May God provide.

Went to a Christmas Cafe at a local church last night to hear Christmas music.  I am having a very hard time this year getting in the "Christmas Spirit".  I normally love to see the lights and hear the music and such, but this year I sense I am just going through the motions.  I have been baking cookies each week of December for our maintenance crew and some shut ins.  I've enjoyed that.

Here are the summary notes from my devotional reading this week, which seemed to focus on surrender:

  • your greatest mistakes often come from impatience
  • when you've passed your biggest test, you are at a point where God can use you
  • surrender is:
    • demonstrated by obedience
    • saying "Yes, Lord." to whatever He asks
    • obeying God even when it doesn't make sense (Abraham/where?...Hannah/when?...Mary/how?...Joseph...why?)
  • you are surrendered when you trust God to work things out instead of relying on or manipulating others, or forcing your own agenda and controlling the situation
  • doing things God's way gives you peace, freedom, and power
  • when you have a lack of peace, it can mean the heavenly whistle has been blown, and it's time to reevaluate your direction
  • victory comes through surrender
  • if you don't surrender to Christ, you surrender to chaos
  • you are free to choose what you surrender to, but you're not free from the consequences of your choice
  • nothing under God's control will ever be out of control
By my next post Christmas 2010 will be over.  I hope the family get togethers went peacefully.  We need to learn to cherish each other, for we may not come this away again.  I have a friend who just found out she is loaded with cancer...will she be here next year?  I'm sure that will be on her family's minds as they celebrate the birth of Jesus together.  Reality is that none of us have the promise of another year, so let's enjoy the one we are in.  (Hear yourself, Carol!!)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Blustery Sunday

We are in the midst of a major winter storm here in southwest Michigan.  It's the same storm front that ripped the roof on the Minneapolis Metrodome Stadium and dumped all the snow inside.  A lot of football fans unhappy there today, I'll bet.  Thank goodness this happened during the night, before the stadium was loaded with people!!

Rain yesterday pretty much melted all the snow we have had accumulated the past few weeks, and then the temperature dropped and everything became a glaze of ice.  When we woke up this morning, we had perhaps a couple of inches of snow on top of the ice, and it has snowed most of the day thus far.  Very pretty sight outside!  Tree branches are so glittery when encased with ice!  Then sprinkle some snow on top, and it looks like a special homemade viewed from inside!!

Well, today is the day I MUST make a blog post on my I Peter blog. I've been working on it for 2-3 weeks, and have 15 pages of notes.  I'm trying to get inspired and motivated to start summarizing my notes and writing the blog, or Bible study.  Just wanted to get an update on this blog first.  

Don't know what happened, but all of a sudden yesterday I realized I had close to 500 comments going back to when I first started my blogs, but comments I had never seen before...most of them spam.  So I spent a major portion of last night cleaning up the blogs, and putting some tools in place to prevent that in the future, I hope.

Yesterday Paul and I went to see "A Christmas Carol" in Kalamazoo at CenterPointe Church.  Very nicely done.  That was our "Christmas Date"...a break from routine.

Notes from my devotions this past week:

"Walking By Faith":
Like Abraham when we follow God's leading, we do not know where we are going, but we can be confident that no matter what our path, or how long it takes, God will keep His word to us...He will be with us in our journey through life.  We won't be exempt from problems, but "...he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion."  (Phil. 1:6)  All we need to do is "trust Him with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding." (Prov 3:5-6).

"Be Careful What You Say":
"The lips of the godly speak helpful words."  (Prov 10:32)  We need to speak with wisdom, passing on to others what God has taught us.  We can only speak correction if we have earned the right by having a close relationship, speaking the truth in love, and not expecting prompt results or even appreciation.  We need to speak words of encouragement, for hope pierces despair.  Encouragement is a way of bringing healing to the bones.  When we speak, we need to ask ourselves the following questions to avoid hurtful or gossipy words:

  • Is it true?  Time will always reveal the truth.
  • Is it confidential?  If trust is betrayed, integrity is sacrificed.
  • Is it helpful?  Do not partner with satan, who is devoted to defeat.
  • Is it necessary?  We are more likely to regret things we do say than things we didn't say.

"Righteousness of God":
"Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.  And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.  Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And  hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us."  (Rom 5:1-50)

"God Will Forgive and Restore You"
God already knows our guilt, so we need to deal with it honestly and confess.  Confession is simply agreeing with God that it is wrong and asking for forgiveness.  He cannot cleanse what we do not confess, and He cannot heal what we won't reveal.

"Instead of Complaining, Change!"

We need to acknowledge our wrong behavior because complaining is an offense to God.  "Let us examine our ways and test them."  (Lam 3:40)  We need to look at our behaviors and determine if they really work.  If not, we need to change them.  Doing things God's way will bring an end to our frustration, and will be the beginning of joy and fulfillment. 

Personal note:  I have been struggling, I've been in a fierce battle with the enemy of my soul.  He is trying to disable me, making me ineffective in God's kingdom work.  He is doing this through my mind and spirit.  It's been a particularly rough week for me, and I've had some pretty low moments, taking me back to the days of my depression.  I won't go there.  All I know to do is pray and keep up with my daily devotional time with Jesus.  I have to make some changes, and this week's devotions spoke directly to me.  

I hope anyone who reads this who is also struggling will recognize that God does know, and He does care about you.  He loves you very much, but He wants you to grow and conquer some more battle ground.  It seems to be something we cannot do without the Holy Spirit, so we must seek our guidance through prayer and reading God's Word, taking to heart what He is saying.  The battle is not ours, it is the Lord's!!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

"It's a Song Holy Angels Cannot Sing"

Click on the above button and listen to this song. In my study of I Peter 1:12, this is the song that came to my mind, and hubby was kind enough to find it for me on the web. It is a nice wrap up to the section of I Peter I am currently studying. I will copy this over to my I Peter blog for now.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Weekly Update

I have been diligently working on my study of I Peter this week. I have 8 pages of notes for I Peter 1:3-12. Now I need to condense them into a nice one page blog study for my other blog site on I Peter.

We finished putting out our Christmas lights yesterday. Now it's beginning to look a little like Christmas! I'm into baking cookies every week of December as a gift to our maintenance crew here on the campgrounds. Did I mention I love chocolate chip cookie dough? Therefore I don't make cookies as often as I did when our sons were home.

We traveled for church today...went to Jackson, MI. It was very contemporary, and I have to say that just doesn't work for me. My age is showing. Last night as I was studying I Peter, the old song "What A Day That Will Be!" came back to me, and I had tears in my eyes as that song touched my heart. How long has it been since I've heard that one? No....I belong to a different era. I have no desire to move into this age where church is more of a performance than a heart touching experience. It works for some, but not for me.

From my devotional readings this week:
Joseph had two coats...the coat of many colors (a coat of favor) and the coat of integrity. Just as he was tested, so will we be. In our testing our character will be revealed. If we pass the test of integrity, then we are able to be used of God.

We joined a group of people from our campground at the Essenhaus Restaurant in Middlebury, IN on Friday night. It was to celebrate the ministry leader of our Grandma's Cupboard program, which has been in existence for 12 years under her leadership. GC is a food pantry ministry, and has been a huge blessing to many people in this area. If you are going to celebrate with a good meal, then you can't beat the Amish food of the Essenhaus (especially their pies!).

Today we are getting some lake effect may actually accumulate over the next 24 hours. I love snow in December!! It's January and February where I am so very ready for spring and flowers and buds on the tree branches.

I used to live in Cleveland, TN. Lately I have been thinking about the good times back then while we were raising our family. There are times I wish I could turn back the clock, but I am so grateful to say it is the GOOD memories that stay with me. I am ready for another visit down there. It has changed so much since we lived there. Usually just visiting for a couple of days takes care of the nostalgia. Anyway, I've been told by our granddaughter that we HAVE to live on the campground where we are now. There's far too many neat things for the girls to do when they visit us in the summers. It is a neat place to live...I just love to move and house shop. Are those days behind me??? Certainly house shopping is not the best thing to do in this time of weak economy. So may I learn to be content, and praise God for all the blessings we do have....and I am and do!