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Posts Tagged ‘God’

Wood, Hay, Straw

wood hay stubble 2

The culture tells me I am way beyond the age of raising a teenager, especially one with disabilities. Nevertheless, His calling humbles me and causes me to depend on a God who loves and cares for me in every circumstance.

For the first time in my life, I am becoming more aware that if God calls me to do something, He will equip me to do it, regardless of my ability or inability. Therefore, it becomes an adventure and every morning I pray, “Lord, what are You and I going to accomplish together today?”

In my younger days, I had energy and frivolous ideology. I did not feel compelled to ask God for physical, emotional, or mental strength. Consequently, I gained a reputation for achievement. However, I built my house of accomplishment on my own strength and pride.

Pride is the sin of making “me” my own god. This leads me to examine how much of my work was built on a foundation of wood, hay, and straw destined only for the fire.

Now that I must depend on God for strength to complete His calling, I carefully weigh the cost and consequence of every endeavor. Before rushing into needless ventures, I often inquire of the One who knows best, “Is this necessary?” “Does this have eternal value?” or, “Is this Your perfect plan?”

As a result, in my weakness, God has become strong. In my foolishness, he has become wise.

At any age, there is still time to build our ministry on a solid foundation, one that will stand the test of fire, namely Jesus.

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ME FIRST

As a child, you may remember receiving an ice cream cone on a sweltering summer day. ice cream conesJumping up and down in excitement with the other children, you probably shouted “me first,” anticipating the sweet pleasure of a refreshing treat.

Perhaps, you recall anxiously waiting to be chosen for a baseball team at recess. The two captains took turns picking their favorites. Competition was fierce and they each wanted to get the strongest athletes for their team. To attract attention, you vigorously waved your arms and screamed, “Pick me, pick me, “I’m a good hitter, I’m a fast runner.”

“Me first” thinking is typical for a child. “Others first” comes later with maturity.

Strangely though as I matured, “me first” did a total switch on me. It rapidly turned into doing the hard stuff — the stuff for which no one waved their arms and jumped up and down yelling “me first.”

I wish I could say that when my babies cried to be fed in the night I always turned to my husband and said “me first.”

Nor, have I always wanted to say “me first” when a friend needed to be driven to an appointment or was without a babysitter for her children.

Surely, I cannot tell you that I always considered my own faults (“me first”) before finding fault in others and I have often given advice freely without heeding it myself first.

On the other hand, I sometimes find “me first” thinking to be entirely appropriate and even wise…

First responders are taught “me first” safety rules. They learn that when they assist accident victims, they must first check the scene to determine if it is safe for them to enter. Mamed responders are of no help to victims.

Young mothers must take care of themselves first so they can meet the needs of their children. As a seventy-two year old grandmother raising an energetic teenager, I tire easily. Just yesterday, I had to say “me first” and take a nap rather than going to the mall.

“Me first” thinking can have both positive and negative implications. Nevertheless, what is most meaningful to me is when my Creator beckons me each morning and says, “ME FIRST.”

“But, seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)

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Joy is a spiritual state of well being. It is an assurance that God is in control, an inner source of delight regardless of circumstances. Happiness is an emotional state of well being, which is mostly determined by circumstances. Both joy and happiness are gifts, but joy takes precedence over happiness because joy is sustaining, while happiness is fleeting.

Nevertheless, joy often comes through pain and sorrow, something I would rather avoid. Psalm 30:5b tells us that: “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning,”

sunrise

Here are a few things that have brought me joy…

Losing a thirty-nine year old daughter was painful. Now, almost five years later, I find joy in knowing that she no longer suffers from a mental illness. I have a joyful assurance that she resides in heaven.

After my daughter’s death, my husband and brought her two children, ages 16 and 10, into our household. Death had seemingly robbed us of our retirement years. Our friends were skeptical of our decision to raise young children in our sixties and seventies, but we traded temporary happiness for sustaining joy and we have no regrets. Radical obedience produces joy.

I once prayed for a long time for a friend to find Jesus. When I saw hopeful signs of genuine change in my friend, I was happy; when my friend regressed, I was sad. I was on the roller coaster of life with them, but at some point, I finally understood that only God could retrieve, rescue, and restore the heart of my friend. When I rested in His will, His joy became my strength. After twenty-five years, God answered my prayer — my friend found the way to Jesus.

Sometimes I become discouraged when my live-in grandchildren misbehave. I focus on my failures and unrealistic expectations instead of God’s work in their lives. However, when I see them comfort another child or place their allowance in the collection basket at church or help an elderly neighbor, joy fills my heart.

The joy of the Lord is my strength. Nehemiah 4:17

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You are going to be okay because…

Eighty-five percent of what you worry about will never happen.

When your hope is in the Lord, hope will not disappoint.

In fifty years, you will not remember what is bothering you today.

The sun will rise and set tomorrow just as it does every day because the Creator of the universe is in control.

The One who controls the universe is able to control your circumstances.

If God takes care of the lilies in the field and the sparrows in the trees, why would He not care for you?

lily and sparrow

Grace has brought you to this point in time; as long as you have breath, you have grace.

The only things that really matter are the things you can carry into eternity.

Your life is played out for an audience of One; you only need to please one Master.

God promises He will never leave you or forsake you.

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http://www.holleygerth.com

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Sometimes you feel all alone in your thoughts and concerns.

How do I know this? — because I feel all alone sometimes, too.

My husband and I adopted a child who experienced bipolar disorder from the very early age of eighteen months. It was back when doctors thought it was impossible for children to have a mental illness.

No one understood; I felt all alone. The good news is that my alone-ness caused me to reach out to Jesus.

You see, sometimes we don’t know we need Jesus until He is all we’ve got. Medical help came for my little girl much later — at age seventeen. Jesus was all I had during those desperate years.

Even those closest to me didn’t understand my pain, my struggle. In their presence, I still felt alone. Their words were empty, like sounding brass echoing off the walls. Jesus was the only One who understood and I was not alone!

Where do you go when you feel alone?

When we feel alone, we need to get alone — alone with God, reaching out to Him. He is the one person who understands, empathizes, heals, encourages, and lifts us out of our alone-ness.NST

He has promised us that He will never leave us nor forsake us (Deut 31:6).

Do you have a quiet, alone place, where you can seek the One who understands? — a place where you can reach Him? He is the only One who can meet your need.

You’re not alone!

View other posts on “You’re Not Alone” on http://www.holleygerth.com

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God has a way of making His profound wisdom appear everywhere before my eyes when He is calling me to make a change. The Holy Spirit had already been nudging me to respond with a gentle, compassionate answer when something ticked me off but, instead, I often reacted poorly. In my Bible study on God’s inheritance, I had just learned in I Peter 3:9 that I should not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this I was called so that I might inherit a blessing from God.
In my quiet time that morning, He nudged me again. I read the following words about reactions vs. responses written by Lysa Terkeurst from her “Unglued Devotional:”

• A reactor escalates the conflict. A responder dissipates the conflict.
• A reactor adds trouble on top of trouble. A responder adds grace on top of grace.
• A reactor either spews emotion or masters the silent treatment. A responder gives a gentle answer.
• A reactor only sees things her way. A responder realizes there are always two sides to every issue.
• A reactor demands her right to be right. A responder is more concerned about making right choices before God.

Nevertheless, that very evening, while I tried to negotiate through a new recipe for supper, I encountered an opportunity to test the wisdom I had recently received. My husband and granddaughter came to me within minutes of each other, bombarding me with two separate issues, which they expected me to fix on the spot. Inside I felt a reactive emotion well up—one that often comes when I am anxious or under pressure. I was agitated, annoyed, and, honestly, downright ticked. Couldn’t they see this was not the time to brazen out their concerns about weighty subjects that would take some consideration on my part? Couldn’t they demonstrate a little mindfulness here? I wanted to give them a piece of my mind and send them both packing, out of my face. I wanted to rant, rail, and react! Once again, right there in my kitchen, that nudging occurred and I deemed it more appropriate to still my sharp words. However, I’m convinced they both heard the deep sigh that came all the way from my gut!

A little later, as I dished up the food and sat down at the counter to test the new recipe, it became apparent that God was not finished teaching me about reactions versus responses. I realized that my deep sigh was really a reaction and not a compassionate response. I still felt angry and, frankly, I was pouting because I had stuffed my own feelings. That, too, was an unhealthy reaction, which might lead to resentment. How much better a gentle answer would have been for all of us.

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly. Proverbs 15:1-2

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News Flash: My second book, Sixty Days of Grace, Reflections on: God’s Sufficiency for the Journey,is now in the publication process. After two weeks of scrambling to get all the necessary materials submitted to the publisher, I am finally blogging again. This is an exciting time as I wait in awesome anticipation of God’s wonderful plan to come forth in my life; but it is also a little scary, not knowing exactly where His dreams for me will lead me. Today, I would like to share one of the reflections from Sixty Days of Grace.

Grace Refused

What do you think is the biggest slap in God’s face? Is it murder, adultery, armed robbery, or child abuse? While these offences all represent a disregard for God’s commandments, none of them are so egregious that they’re beyond the forgiveness of God. Just peruse the Old Testament of the Bible and you’ll discover that God forgave all the faith heroes of gross sin. In the New Testament, Jesus delights in forgiving sinners.

No, the biggest slap in God’s face is refusing His grace!

When Adam and Eve disobeyed God, they refused His grace. However, their disobedience wasn’t a surprise to God. He’s an all-knowing God, therefore, He knew from the beginning they would sin and take all of us down the tubes with them. He already had a divine plan in mind to redeem His creation. That plan was to, one day, send His Son Jesus to suffer, shed His blood, and die on a cross as the final sacrifice for the sins of all men and women. This sacrifice provided an opportunity for people to be forgiven, redeemed, and forever live under God’s grace.

First, God gave mankind His moral laws. He gave these laws to reveal sin to the people, because without laws, they couldn’t discern right from wrong. For thousands of years people lived under horribly restrictive laws, which were impossible to keep. One of these laws required a priest to kill and sacrifice an innocent lamb on an altar to cover the sins of the people. However, this sacrifice only covered sin; it didn’t erase it forever. Therefore, the people had to continue to sacrifice lambs for sins, and live under laws that only pointed out their sin without redemption.

One would think that for these people, who lived under the Old Testament laws of sacrificing lambs for sins, Christ’s sacrifice for the sins of all would have made perfect sense. Unfortunately, most people during the time of Jesus didn’t connect the dots between the sacrifice of an innocent lamb in the Jewish religious ceremony and the sacrifice of Jesus, who called Himself the Lamb of God. Just like Adam and Eve, they refused God’s wonderful grace.

We gentiles also have refused God’s grace. Some can’t quite understand how Jesus’ sacrifice on a cross could be anything but cruel abuse leading to the death of an innocent man. At first glance, it seems like a wasteful exercise in futility. However, Jesus repeatedly taught that His sacrifice on a cross would redeem and make children of God all those who truly believed in this divine work. Rather than seeing this sacrifice as God’s greatest gift of grace, many still can’t connect the dots regarding its true significance. More than two thousand years after Jesus’ sacrifice, people still refuse to accept God’s redeeming grace. That’s the supreme slap in God’s face!

…the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers,

to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ,

who is the image of God. (II Corinthians 4:4)

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