For years Nehemiah thought about his ancestors’ desecrated graves. These thoughts troubled him. Then one day he could no longer hide his feelings behind a forced smile and his routine servant-cup-bearing duties.
“Why is your face so sad?” asked King Artaxerxes. Thick silence filled the throne room.
How do I answer him, thought Nehemiah. Will my reply cost me? My job? My life?
With trembling knees and hands he drew in a deep breath, admonished the king, then told him his desires.
If an earthly king can detect a downcast servant how much more can our Heavenly King discern our intents and desires (Hebrews 4:15)?
You’re our Creator–a God of details. Your word teaches us we ‘have not because we ask not’ (James 4:2). You know the longings, and at times the aches in our hearts. Help us to give voice to those yearnings as we cast our cares on you. More importantly, cause our thoughts to align with your will. In your name we pray, Amen.
We called a friend to ask if we could borrow his pressure washer.
“Sure as long as you pay me in some of your homemade bread. Deal?”
Making bread is one of our pastimes. It’s amazing how the ingredients can mix into such warm deliciousness.
Jesus told a parable about bread making, (Matthew 13:33 and Luke 13:21). Although there are other scriptures comparing leaven to sin, (Matthew 15, Mark 8, 1 Corinthians 5 and Galatians 5), Jesus’ allegory to His Kingdom being like leaven hits home–in the kitchen and in the heart.
When yeast is mixed into the dough then left alone, a change will show.
The dough will soon be twice its size thanks to yeast that made it rise.
The kingdom’s like this Jesus said, like the leaven makes our bread.
Word and Spirit both alive begin to work, deep, deep, inside
and change a life bound by sin, setting it free–new life in Him.
And He in us, hope of glory. Heaven’s leaven. Unseen story.
It’s in the wilderness I broke.
I emptied out and You poured in.
In weakness I gained strength and my vision became clearer as I viewed the battle of good and evil, flesh and spirit and the strategy of the enemy.
There I felt Your grace–genuine grace.
My unplanned wilderness was all in Your plan.
Such a productive time.
Thank you Lord.
The saying, going the extra mile, originated during the Roman occupation of Israel. Roman soldiers had the right to ask any able-bodied man to carry all their equipment for one mile. After carrying a soldier’s armaments for one mile, the one who fulfilled this obligation could put down his burden and leave the soldier to carry it himself or seek someone else to serve the next mile.
In Matthew 5:41, Jesus addressed this law and surprised his hearers by saying they should accept the opportunity and even go beyond the required duty by carrying a soldier’s load for two miles instead of the required one mile distance. Say what??
Two thousand years before Jesus’ astonishing statement, Jacob sent his son Joseph on a sixty-mile mission to deliver provisions to his ten sons, Joseph’s brothers, shepherding their flocks in Shechem, (Genesis 37:14). As instructed, Joseph arrived in Shechem and heard his brothers had been there and could be in Dothan. At this point, Joseph made a decision–to return home or continue on to Dothan. After all, weren’t these the same brothers who mocked and despised him?
Yet, through his weariness, frustration and perhaps some hidden reluctance, Joseph manned-up and trudged another nine to twelve miles, a day’s journey, through the wilderness to complete his Father’s desire.
Dear Lord, Make me like Joseph–willing to seize the opportunity to serve others, even if it means going an extra nine miles.
I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me.
John 10:14 NLT
Grave site of John Chapman, a.k.a. Johnny Appleseed, in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. He would greet folks by saying, “I have good news from heaven!”
Why do we pray before meals? Habit? Tradition? For the answer, click here:
When I read this eight years ago it changed my pre-meal perspective and consequently my prayer. Now instead of asking God to bless my food, I bless God, the provider of my food.
Filed under Bible, childhood memories, devotional, family, food, God, inspiration, Jesus, philosophy, praise, prayer, reflection, religion, worship
Volunteers in Phoenix, Maryland renovated the home of a terminally ill child where this note was found written on a scrap piece of drywall. It reminded me of a poem.
The Best Carpenter
Tools in the days gone by.
Building dreams of gold
A carpenter nailing my life.
His words are so bold.
They are built on wisdom.
The best carpenter can build you.
Let Him use His nails.
He’ll turn you into something new.
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
2 Corinthians 5:17
“Grandma is this a front cold?”
“Yes Michaela, I think it is,” I answered as I took my grandaughter’s hand and ran toward the car. She must have heard her Dad (my oldest son) and I talking earlier about the expected cold front.
Before we entered the store, the wind was calm and the temperature was in the 70s. Ten minutes later, we stepped outside to a blast of wintry air and cold misty rain. The sudden chill sent us scurrying to our warm Toyota shelter.
Life’s climate can change suddenly too. One phone call delivering tragic news can cause our lives to go off course. The death of a loved one, a serious illness or a severed relationship can chill us with shock and disbelief. Yet in spite of life’s “front colds” our God is constant (Malachi 3:61). He doesn’t change.
So when I’m overwhelmed, I sprint to the one who’s steadfast and sure. I run to Jesus–my rock.
From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I. Psalm 61:2
During a weary time in my life I asked the Lord,
How Long? How long do I stay faithful?
Later that day I found the answer.
. . . be thou faithful unto death and I will give thee a crown of life.
Clip-clop, clip-clop. That sound meant one thing–the horse-drawn ice cream cart.
During the summer of ’67 Mom and I flew across the Atlantic to her homeland of Lancashire, England. While visiting, I discovered the Accrington ice cream vendor, an old man atop a yellow stagecoach-style wagon pulled by a horse.
Every afternoon I’d watch the street and listen for the clip-clop. I hadn’t been around horses much. So when the wagon stopped in front of Auntie Ray’s house, I’d give the man my tuppence and he’d turn to scoop my frozen treat. That’s when I’d examine his horse. Chestnut brown, black mane, black tail. There was just one thing I couldn’t see, no matter what angle I looked–his eyes. Blinders, leather squares attached to his bridle covered them. I figured they must be there to keep him looking straight ahead.
Last Sunday, as the congregation sang, O Magnify the Lord, I saw that horse again–blinders and all.
Mary, when you magnify something you make it big, so big it’s the only thing you see. Forget who’s around you . . . what’s going on at home, at work, and yes . . . even at church, and worship me.
Yes Lord. Blinders on.
I sang and worshipped. When my pastor preached, I absorbed the message. Then came the closing song and altar call. I bowed my head. Sometimes I’m the one in need of prayer. Other times, I’m compelled to pray for someone else.
Yes Lord. Blinders off.
At seventeen I had a lot of questions–few answers. Questions about life. Questions about the future. Questions about God. Is He real? And is there more to being a Christian than going to church and trying to live a good life? Yes, I had questions and a job as the Assistant Head Dining Room Girl at summer camp.
My duties included setting tables, serving food, serving second and third helpings of food, cleaning tables, washing dishes and mopping floors. As second in command of the eight Dining Room Girls, I had to make sure all our tasks were completed and help solve any problems among us. Consequently, serving three meals a day, plus a night-time snack to staff left little time to enjoy any camp activities.
However, one day before supper, we were invited to step outside and join the campers.
“Everyone take on of these slips of paper from the basket,” said the Camp Director. “Now walk to an area by yourself, sit down and think about what you’re reading. Stay in your spot until you hear the dinner bell.”
I reached into the wicker basket and took one of the folded white papers and meandered to a nearby tree. I plopped beneath it feeling grateful to sit outside a few minutes, even if it was July. I leaned against the tree and opened my assignment.
Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Proverbs 3: 5-6
At last–an answer.
I peered at the sky then down again to what became my favorite Bible verses.
I will trust.
I’ve heard the secret to wilderness survival is what’s tucked away in your pockets, belt and mind. What’s kept there must sustain you when all else is lost.
As I make my way through this world of declining morals, I ‘ve found I must diligently put God’s word in my heart. Psalm 119:11
God saw that human evil was out of control. People thought evil, imagined evil–evil, evil, evil from morning to night. Genesis 6:5, The Message.
Through thick and thin, keep your hearts at attention, in adoration before Christ, your master. Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you’re living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy. Peter 3:15 The Message.
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God and not of us. 2 Corinthians 4:7 KJV.
As I make my way through this metaphoric wilderness of life, I must answer as Jesus did, It is written. Continue reading
I remember my stomach growling and that caving in feeling. Never in all my nine years of living did I feel so famished.
“I’m gonna die. Keel over. Die of starvation,” I groaned. You can really work up an appetite climbing trees, playing tag and hide-and-go-seek.
“Dinner’s ready!” mom announced. I ran into the house and plopped into my seat. After the blessing, I ate and ate and ate. Even the hot white mashed stuff with specks of orange in it.
“Mmm. What is this mom? It’s so good.”
“Mashed turnips with some diced carrots mixed in.”
Turnips? Turnips? Mom knows they’re on my Do Not Like list, along with broccoli, greens and brussel sprouts. But . . . why do they taste so good?
Oh yeah. I was hungry . . . real hungry.
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled. Matthew 5:6