Identify Yourself

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The short book of Ruth in the Bible is one of two named after women, Esther is the other old testament book. (read this short 4 chapter book)

 

Ruth has three main characters: Naomi, Ruth and Boaz.  Naomi, the mother-in-law, who is faithful, yet runs the range from bitter/ sad to trusted advisor.  Ruth, the daughter-in-law, is fiercely loyal and obedient, hard working and protective of her mother-in-law.  Boaz is the hero, who showers undeserved favor on Ruth, and becomes the “kinsmen redeemer” for these women, and saves. He grants prosperity and protection for Ruth’s future–our future.  

 

The book of Ruth has been called the most beautiful short story ever written. 

Today, with which character do you identify?

** Are you Naomi?–Sad–but giving some sage advice to someone?  

**Are you Ruth? Loyal to the end–working in the most difficult circumstances?


**Are you Boaz? Showering someone with grace–when they least deserve it AND least expect it?  

 

Each one has a place in our lives.  Boaz is a foreshadow of what was to come–we can reflect HIS grace in our daily work.  Boaz showed grace in his work place.  It was in the field that he found Ruth, gleaning barley. It changed the course of history.  

 

It is the most beautiful  short story ever written.  

 

Prayer of Boaz for Ruth:

“May the Lord repay you for what you have done.  May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.”

 

Pray today:

May I have the endurance of Naomi, the loyalty and obedience of Ruth and be granted the grace of Boaz. AMEN.

Do You Love Me?

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Valentine’s Day is coming up…we celebrate romance, love and fidelity. Our culture sends flowers, buys lavish gifts and men often ask their loves to marry them on this day, however this day has a dark history with ancient Rome executing more than one man named “Valentine” on February 14th.  Their martyrdom was honored by the Catholic Church with the celebration of St. Valentine’s Day. Handmade paper cards became popular in the  middle ages…and the day has blossomed into a consumer bonanza.  

 

I like things made with hearts and lovely flower arrangements–even candy. Therefore, I have fully “bought” into this Valentine’s Day propaganda.  Signed, Sealed, Delivered.

Love.  Artificial consumer love.  Red roses, rings, candy, pink cashmere, heart shaped sugar cookies, stuffed animals with red ribbons, steak dinners with red wine…Love of the world.  

 

What about how Jesus taught to LOVE?  

”Peter, Do you love Me?”  John 21:17

Have you ever answered the question Jesus asked three times to Peter? It was directed to Peter that morning two thousand years ago, but it is also directed to us each day we live.

 

”DO YOU LOVE ME?”

Here are Jesus’ final words in John 14 on LOVE to the disciples:

 

”He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.”

 

That is why Jesus asks, ”Peter do you love Me?” Jesus is asking all of us the same question each day. He watches us toiling through life and reaches down and whispers in our ears, ”Do you LOVE ME?”

Show that you LOVE HIM on Valentine’s Day.  Somehow…

 

Prayer:
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Allison and Brandon Christmas Eve 

**personal note: Our family  will be flying to Australia to celebrate my daughter’s engagement to an amazing young man from Sydney–on Valentine’s day.  Praying for God’s grace upon our family for blessed unions.  

Charge and Sync

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Spent five minutes selecting the “charge and sync” device for phone at the local store.  Mostly due to the lack of knowledge–but, once I found the correct item, I had choice of colors.  A thirty second dilemma.  Nevertheless, satisfaction was found and the purchase made.  

The back of the box reads: Charge and sync your device rapidly and safely.  Perfect.  Speed and safety wrapped up in this cord.

 

Do you ever feel drained?  Physically and spiritually?  Do you wish you had a “charge and sync” device that promised to be fast and safe?

Recharging spiritual batteries is necessary…and it requires a cord: God’s strength, not our own.  

As Paul prays for the Ephesians:

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.–Eph. 3:16-19

 

Some steps to help you do this–

  1. img_2423Reconnect with people you love (family, friends, neighbors)
  2. Find a mentor (“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17)
  3. Restore your physical health. (diet, exercise, sleep)
  4. Take time for yourself (turn off the TV, read)
  5. Renew your mindset (say nothing negative, praise your relatives, friends, love your neighbor)
  6. Ask God to help you in all these…..

 

Charge and Sync

 

Oh yes….I opened the box when I got home–someone had taken the product (yes, shoplifted) and all I had was an empty package!!!  Good thing I was “charged up” with a power that is greater than what the pink cable was going to provide!  

 

Pray: Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21  

Power requires a cord…..help me remember that dear Lord….

 

Joy of Work

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Find work meaningful and enjoyable?  Is there purpose in your daily work?  The more we find joy in our work the more motivation we will possess.

 

Look at a day when you are supremely satisfied at the end.  It’s not a day when you lounge around doing nothing.  It’s when you’ve had everything to do, and you’ve done it.  

img_5566Margaret Thatcher

 

Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work.

Aristotle

 

The Presidency is an all-day and nearly an all-night job.  Just between you and me and gatepost, I like it.

Harry S. Truman

 

I took violin lessons from age six to fourteen, but had no luck with my teachers, for whom music did not transcend mechanical practicing.I really began to learn only after I had fallen in love with Mozart’s sonatas.  The attempt to reproduce their singular grace compelled me to improve my technique.  I believe, on the whole, that love is a better teacher than sense of duty.  

Albert Einstein  

 

 God equips us for work and created us for work–it is a gift to work.  

 

Psalm 90:17May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us— yes, establish the work of our hands.”

Pray-— that you have “everything” to do–and become supremely satisfied this evening, to reach towards perfection in each task, enjoying the long days, fall in love with your purpose set out for you.  Pray for God’s favor resting upon you in all your endeavors….hands, heart, head. May your light shine for all to see.   AMEN.  

Brain Freeze

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My husband and I did a little yard work this weekend.  A balmy forty degrees for a few hours allowed us to take down the Christmas greens and rake the leaves in the front yard.  We got excited and thought, “Let’s take out that scraggly bush in the garden since it is wet and probably easy to dig out today.”  

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Ding Dong mortals.  Ring the bell on the common sense.  Ground is frozen even though it has been warm for a few hours and rained one or two days.  The shovel went about a half an inch. We laughed— kind of.  Trimmed up the bush, gathered up the leaves, and filled up two refuse bags.  Came in soaking wet and tired.  

 

Does God smile upon our “I’ve got this under control” attitude…and just wait until the shovel hits the ground?  Are our ideas sometimes just crazy to Him when we don’t consider How mighty his works are…how He is alongside us in all we do?  

 

Dedicate your service today to God…in all you do!  

 

Psalm 5:12 Surely, LORD, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as a shield.

 

Pray:

Father, I thank You that my work shall prosper today.  Show me mistakes BEFORE they occur and reveal to me how to be more effective and efficient in my work.  Help me to bring glory and honor to You in all my actions.  Thank You that my mind is active and alert.  I put out of my thoughts all personal concerns, and I focus totally on the work before me, giving full attention to the duties and responsibilities that have been assigned me this day.  

I pray that I will be humble in all that I do.  Help me to be on the lookout for ways to increase my contribution to the success of my work, in this way, I will find favor with You and with others.  I bless you name forever and ever.  AMEN  

Hello Flower

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Early in the morning, I walk into the kitchen to find my winter hyacinth flopped over…It has tumbled into the sink from its perch on the window shelf above the sink–again.  The fabulous bloom is too much for this small, curvy vase…I suppose, or is it?  

What is going on here?  This lovely white bloom stands all day tall and straight giving me great joy as I go about my work.  It has grown tall in the window, reaching towards the west.  The fragrance wafts above the clanking dishes as I wash.  img_2257

In this vase, a sort of bondage, the hyacinth has given me a spectacular show.  Is this flower groaning…?  

 

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.  The creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed.  For the the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.  We know that the whole creation has been groaning.Romans 8: 18-22a  

 

When division is apparent and words are stressful and full of malice–does creation

feel the stresses of our nation, our world?  

This week will be one of new beginnings and endings for our nation.  Legacy and Looking Ahead.  

The hyacinth may be a meaningful selection for inaugural week.  It is:  

  1. Offered when you have acted thoughtlessly
  2. Offered as a silent prayer of hope (in white)  

The white stars on this plant are like those on our flag.  

 

The juice from the wild hyacinth is starchy and was at one time used as glue…(used as a bookbinder years ago!) perhaps we need some glue to pull us together this week.  

The dried root can be used as a styptic (stop bleeding) by contracting and closing tissue around a wound. Hyacinth juice mixed with lemon juice reduces inflammation of abscesses when applied topically.  Very useful…if you know how to use it…..

The bulb is poisonous, it contains oxalic acid which is so strong it can remove rust….like our words….some are so strong they too can remove rust.  

 

This plant has been a visual for me…present suffering…future glory.  

 

The inhaled aroma of this flower, delivers a sense of awe. Intensely oily green and intoxicating floral note of great depth.  It fills me with wonder.  Why does God give me this beauty so abundantly?  

 

We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans...Romans 8:28

 

Pray: Father, thank you for the beauty of creation.  Help us be caretakers of what you have given us–at home, at work, in our communities.   Thank you for the signs that creation show us–and the rhythm it gives to our life.  Let this week of transition be one that we can be as believers–glue–and not oxalic acid–with our fellow man.  Let us trust the Spirit’s groans when we do not know what to pray for…knowing–trusting–the Spirit’s intercession.  

 

Work is an Avenue

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Winter, even in the warmer climates, can be humdrum.  The lack of daylight hours and post holiday clean up (emotional and physical) can bring our days into a misty gray.  

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The famous Dunkin Donuts ad “time to make the donuts” can reflect our own lives.  Get up, get ready, go to work, come home, shuffle around, sleep, repeat.

 

Brother Lawrence, the 17th century Carmelite lay brother did not have the winter doldrums–he did not think his very routine life was a “time to make the donuts” rut:  his thoughts: — “work is not a hindrance (no obstacle) to prayer.  But an an avenue to presence to God.”

 

Brother Lawrence: “I make it my business to persevere in this Holy presence…which I may call an actual presence of God …secret conversation of the soul with God…causes me joy…so great…I am forced to moderate them and prevent their appearance to others.”

 

Perhaps this is a season for secret conversations of the soul…for utter joy!  Work can be an avenue.  Look for an opportunity to acknowledge God today as you work.  Look…hear…touch….and moderate your response!  

 

Avoid the donuts.  Stick to your new year’s diet. Sorry for the photo.

Commit your work to the Lord and your plans will be established. Proverbs 16:3

 

Pray: Father, I affirm that I obey Your Word by making an honest living with my head, heart and hands that I may be able to give to those in need.  In Your strength and according to your grace I provide for myself and my family.  May I express the joy in the day for your presence. 

Thank you for the grace to remain diligent in seeking knowledge and skill in areas in which I am inexperienced.  I ask You for wisdom and the ability to understand justice and fair dealing.  Thank you for making me successful today.  Amen

 

 

Friends

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The Bible is better with friends.  When you explore one another’s perspectives, you discover things in God’s Word that you might not notice on your own.  Prayer is powerful img_1911with friends. 

Daniel 2:17-23 (NIV)

17 Then Daniel returned to his house and explained the matter to his friends Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. 18 He urged them to plead for mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that he and his friends might not be executed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. 19 During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision.

 

Pray: Lord, May I have a friend (or friends!)  that I can pray with and read Scripture and share how you work in my daily life.  Please use me to be a friend like Daniel had–to pray for mercy, and be on call when friends are in need.  Thank you for the opportunities ahead in 2017.  Help me to have open eyes, open heart, open hands. Thank you for all that you have provided.  Amen.  

Third Conversation

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Brother Lawrence,  a French monk, never wrote a book, but the director of his monastic community, Joseph de Beaufort, kept notes from his many conversations with brother Lawrence, together with fifteen letters written by this devoted monk. Today, this collection is known as The Practice of the Presence of God.  Over one million brother Lawrence books are in print. There are soft cover, hard back, gift editions, abridged, pocket sized, large print, New English translations,–many other languages– and even ones with art embellishments.  

 

Brother Lawrence’s birth name was Nicholas Herman.  He was born in the Lorraine region of France in the eimg_2135arly 1600’s.  He lived through the brutal Thirty Years War fought between the Catholic and Protestant countries of Europe.  This war was long and deadly– reported 8 million casualties.  At age 18 he had a strong conversion (a simple sight of a leafless tree) which led him to a relationship with God.  He entered a monastic brotherhood in Paris, France where he never advanced beyond being the cook, although he developed the gift of being able to pray unceasingly with God throughout the day–even in his work.  

 

This prayerful practice produced such a spiritual change in brother Lawrence that various persons would come to visit him and try to learn how to practice  the presence of God themselves.  Joseph de Beaufort was one of the people who saw God’s presence in his life–and he recorded what he observed.  Many generations have him to thank!

 

Brother Lawrence’s observances have inspired Catholics, Protestants, Evangelicals alike.  John Wesley, A.W. Tozer have endorsed his work–along with ordinary Christians.  

 

The book presents: Conversations, Letters from Brother Lawrence, –and some have Spiritual Maxims and Life of Brother Lawrence.  

 

Excerpt from Third Conversation:

“...Once he had fully conceived the majesty and supremacy of God in his mind, he found he had no other thought that enters his mind–so that he can perform all his actions for the love of God…..He realized that many people do not advance in the surrendered Christian life because they stick to penances and particular spiritual exercises.  At the same time, they neglect the love of God–which is the ultimate goal…..

 

This leads me to think about Psalm 8. “…how majestic is your name in all the earth!”  What other thought can enter my mind if I think about the glory of the heavens and the earth?  

 

Brother Lawrence uses the word “penances” –what word would I use–self punishment?–and then he uses “spiritual exercises”–what word would I use–prayers, meditations?–yes, yes, I do get caught up in the penances and spiritual exercises instead of loving God.

 

Point taken brother Lawrence–I need to lay off the self punishments and prayer/meditations as a way to advance in Christian life–it is only a motion if I do not love God with pure abandonment.

 

Perhaps I can do my daily work (imagine being a cook in 1670 in a monastery) with complete surrender –thinking about “how can I do this to please God?  In difficulty, know that his love surrounds me–in confidence–that many have gone before me in this and have trusted his power and mercy.

 

Excerpt, Third Conversation;

He is also assured that God will give him strength to bear whatever evil He might permit to happen to him.  Therefore he fears nothing….a way that always provides sufficient light for our conduct.”   

Yes, Yes, God does provide sufficient light.  Sufficient.  I will ponder this word.  He does provide all that I need…that leads me to:

 

“Great is Thy Faithfulness…thou changest not, thy compassions, they fail not, As thou has been, Thou forever wilt be.” —Great is Thy Faithfulness, Thomas Obadiah

 

Have a conversation this week and record your thoughts.  The next generation will thank you.

 

Embrace Christmas

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So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem…He went there to register with Mary,..expecting a child.  While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son.” Luke 2:4-7

 

In the birth narrative there are so many details left out–Oh, how the questions drape over this story!  The gaps are there to let us wonder–to let us fill in the gaps.  

 

How did they travel with Mary so far along in her pregnancy?  Didn’t Mary protest–where will I stay–what if I go into labor on the journey?–How did Joseph prepare for this journey, knowing that this event could take place?  Did their fellow sojourners shun them because of the social no-no that had occurred (Mary pregnant before marriage)?  How long would they stay?…Did Mary think there would be a miraculous birth too?

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Do you have questions this Christmas season?  Do you want resolution to certain conditions? There may be an awkward situation you do not want to confront this Christmas.  A challenging relative…a friendship that needs restored. Love that needs rekindled.  Are you asking God for things that have not transpired.

 

Be honest–if you would have been put in these circumstances:  would have been grumbling recorded?  What on earth am I to do Lord? I cannot travel!  The census is ridiculous–and Caesar is an authority that I cannot submit to–even
if everyone else is doing so!  No one will notice if I do not show up, so why does it matter?  

 

Why were the holy child’s earthly parents obedient? No easy path was available to answer the questions or confront these uncomfortable state of affairs.   Remember, the manger was not comfortable.  “…and Mary said, My soul glorifies the Lord…” 

 

The child’s mother and father marveled at what was said about him.”  Luke 2:33  

 


Joseph and Mary pondered what angels and prophets told them.  The glorious and the difficult.  

 

Might we be willing to embrace Christmas?  The Christ.  God’s love for us sent in an unlikely way–a child in a manger.  

 


Embrace the unlikeliness of whatever
you are encountering.  For Christ.  Because of Christ.  

The manger was not comfortable and it held the savior of the world.  

 

Marvel at this season-the glorious and the difficult.  Embrace the road to Bethlehem.  Your Bethlehem.  

Pray:

Sovereign Lord, may I marvel at you and embrace your path.  As the great company of heavenly host sang, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”