Connecting To A Soul

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A few days ago we celebrated Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s Day is a day you love it or hate it. People seem to think that if they have a significant other it’s a day to celebrate while others who have no one seem to dread this day. If you are a Christian and loved by God you have one of the greatest loves of all. Nothing or no one compares to the love God has for you. I think we should think about Valentine’s Day as a day to celebrate the love God has for us and the love we have for him. What would that look like? What would our speech, actions and our thoughts be like if we took one day and set it aside to show God our love for him?

There are numerous scriptures on loving others as ourselves. God has taught us we are to love our enemies as well as our family and friends. Here are just a couple of verses on love.

“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
— John 15:12-

You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’
But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,… Matthew 5:44

There are many more; you know them. So, if we were to love as God wants us to and if we were to celebrate love onValentine’s Day honoring God then I think I have a few suggestions that can help get you on your journey. 

First, I am a people lover. I love people. I love meeting people. I love meeting people of all ages, race, all religions; in my book, there are no divisions. In my line of volunteering, I come across people who are down on their luck. Some have just come out of jail or been in prison for several months or years. Some are homeless, some have lost jobs, and some just try to take advantage of the system. One of the things I do is to sit and talk with them for just a bit. I greet them by name and ask how their day is going. I try to connect with them in some way. I listen for something that I can talk with them about. I try to understand where they are coming from. Stop and think about the people you admire the most. When you see them don’t they often mention something about yourself or ask about how your day is going? How often do they remember you telling them about a situation and they begin asking about that? I’ve had clients (I’ve done this with friends and people I meet also) who have told me about a family member who is sick, or someone in their family who’s lost a job or some kind of situation and when I see them again I try to recall what they’ve told me and ask about that particular situation. It makes them know you care and you love them. 

Second, let’s begin to see people as people who were created by the same God that created you. There is no one on this side of Heaven God did not create or make happen. We ALL are children of God; we just may be separated from him or our relationship with him might be dysfunctional, but we still are children of God. We can take those same dysfunctional relationships we have and still remain in love with them. We work to reconcile them to God and we begin to mend relationships. We put the past in the past, we drop the ball on remembering those hurts and those pains and we reach out in love. What would it mean to someone who is dysfunctional if we reached out in love through our words and actions? How would they respond? Would they respond?

What if we began putting our differences aside and we begin to look for that common bond in our lives? It may be children or grandchildren, it may be where our spouses work or the line of work they do, it could mean simply going to the same grocery store and seeing each other at the store. I’ve recently heard a story of a friend who lost her daughter at age 21 in a car accident. I didn’t know this about her until she shared it. The common bond we have is the fact we’ve both lost children; different ages and different circumstances, but the fact remains we were moms who carried our children for nine months and lost them way too early. As women come in to share about being sexually abused I understand and I talk with them about that. When women or men come in and share about dementia with their spouses I can relate. My mom had the dreaded A disease; you know the one. When we begin to find a common bond with one another the love grows like a wild weed and it can’t be pulled or stopped from growing strong. 

Finally, if we are challenged by someone why not take them to lunch or dinner and have a conversation with them. If their religion or their beliefs are different why not sit down and have an honest conversation with them. Learning to understand what the differences make it easier to accept one another. We may agree to disagree, but we’ve reached out in love and offered friendship and understanding. No matter what the topic or the circumstance is we can find mutuality in food. Having a good conversation over food always help with learning about each other. Digging deep into a person’s soul can lead to love and understanding.

Yes, there are some we will never find a common bond with. There is just nothing in their lives that we can relate to, but we are still called to love. There is a song I sing in one of my Christians organizations we sing and I take it to heart. The words go something like 

I love you with the love of the Lord
Yes I love you with the love of the Lord 
I can see in you the glory of my King and
I love you with the love of the Lord.

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.”
— 1 John 4:7

We may not be able to love one another from a human standpoint, but we can love each other if we see God in them and see them through God’s eyes. He doesn’t call us to have a relationship with them; but, he does call us to forgive them and love them.

Let’s begin a new journey with Valentine’s Day and let’s make this a day we celebrate God’s love for us. Won’t you join me?

Dear God: I know you’ve put a deep desire in me to love people. Sometimes it’s challenging and I often fail. Help me on this journey as I try to find a common bond with everyone I meet. Help me to reach out to them and even if they are dysfunctional or we have different beliefs or we find no common bond to see them as children of God and to love them. Next year as Valentine’s Day rolls around I want to be reminded of the greatest love in all my life and that’s the love you have for me. May I rejoice and celebrate that love. Amen

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Kitchen Sponge…That’s What I Want to Be!

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When I lived in Indiana several years ago I was a church Secretary. I held that position for 12 years. I worked under four Pastors. This last week, the first Pastor I worked for notified us on Facebook that his father had passed away. Pastor Scott wrote a beautiful tribute to his father. As I began reading this, I thought about how much Pastor Scott was like his father. Scott’s father (who was also a Pastor and Mentor) showed his son how ministry worked and how it should be done. He followed in his father’s footsteps. 

As I began to reminisce about my time with Pastor Scott and his wife Anita, I began to realize the impact they’ve made on my life. After Pastor Scott left, I worked under three more pastors before leaving for Texas. Not only did I work for the ministers at our church, but I was also the Ministerial Association secretary, so I received the privilege of working with other Pastors from different denominations. What I began to realize is, each of those ministers made an impact on my life. Where one dropped off the others picked up. It was a domino effect. 

I soon thought about my beginnings and how my mom always made sure I was in church. I also was at Church Camp every summer. For most kids, it was a have-to thing, but for me, it was something I longed for and couldn’t wait to get there. I came across so many youth leaders, teachers, directors, and Pastors that helped mold me. As a youth, I had some powerful youth leaders as well as Pastors. One of my Pastors and I grew very close in relationship. I had the privilege of having him serve at our wedding. He told my mom that that was a hard wedding. It was like giving one of his own daughters away. 

Then came adulthood and I again was blessed with so many Pastors who I looked up to, who mentored me and even challenged me. God has had his hand on me while coming to Texas. I have been blessed by so many Pastors mentoring me, teaching me and challenging me. I am blessed by so many of those who are molding me, even today. 

One of the things I’ve thought about today came from an image God gave me this morning before going to church… a kitchen sponge. As I thought about all those that I’ve come in contact with, the one thing I realized was I was a soaker. I soaked in my time with the Pastors I’ve come in contact with. Even today, I still soak up their knowledge and wisdom. When a sponge is dry and it comes in contact with water or a liquid, it soaks up the liquid. That is what I’ve always tried to do. I would pick their brains, I would ask questions, and I would listen. I would soak up as much wisdom as I could from them. I still do. I can hardly listen to a Pastor without making notes and soaking up the wisdom from a certain passage or parable.  

Over and over in Proverbs, I’ve read how important wisdom is and how we important it is to receive wisdom. Wisdom is a jewel we can’t live without. Often the best way to improve our wisdom is not only from the Bible but from those who teach us, who offer to mentor to us and who God has shared his knowledge with. Not only have these Pastors (both men and women), made a big influence in my life, so has many others. I listen and discern what I hear in church, in a Bible Study or class. I revel in the friendships that I’ve made through the many Christian organizations I belong to. I soak up all I can. 

The other feature about kitchen sponges is this little tidbit. Once the sponge is wet it can no longer hold the water. It has to be squeezed out. The water that the sponge held is overflowing and keeping the sponge from doing any good. It can’t soak up any more liquid. That is the way we are.

If I held all the knowledge I’ve gained from all of the Pastors, friends, and teachers and I never shared it with anyone, I would get to the point I couldn’t handle anymore. Just as I soak up the knowledge from others, I must also share that knowledge with others. I squeeze out what I’ve learned into others and share with them what I’ve come to learn. If someone comes along and they are dry (like most sponges when you buy them) then I should allow them to soak up some wisdom and knowledge from me that I’ve gained from others.  

A soaked wet sponge doesn’t do anybody any good. It’s only when the sponge gets dry again or squeezed out again is it useful. When I spill something in the kitchen it’s a constant, “soak it up, squeeze it out, soak it up and squeeze it out” until the spill is wiped up and gone. That’s the same way with us. We should be soaking up all the knowledge and wisdom from those around us. We then, in turn, share that knowledge with others. We go back soak up some more and then share some more. This continues until God calls us home. 

I am forever grateful to all those Pastors as a child, youth, young adult, middle adult and now an older adult that has mentored me challenged me and allowed me to soak up their thoughts and their wisdom so I can be a better Christian.

I am also forever grateful to each person that has come into my life and let me pick their brain, their thoughts, allowed me to ask questions, challenged me and have mentored me. I am convinced no one touches your life without leaving something behind. 

Right now, I am soaking up everything I can. Soon I will be needing to squeeze some of those things I’ve soaked up and pass them on to others, but for now, it’s soaking time. Where are you? Are you soaking or squeezing? I may never look at a kitchen sponge the same way. 

Proverbs 2:6, “For the LORD grants wisdom! From his mouth come knowledge and understanding.”

Proverbs 3:13, “Blessed is the one who finds wisdom and the one who gets understanding,”

Proverb’s 22:6, “train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

Hebrews 13:7 “Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.”

Dear Lord, Thank you for all the men and women, for the Pastors, the Mentors, and friends that have allowed me to soak up their wisdom and knowledge. Thank you for helping me as I have soaked up the love from others. May I take what I have learned from others and share it with those who you put in my path. As I’ve soaked up the love others have for me may I pass that love onto others. Let me be a sponge that keeps working until you call me home. Amen

The Good Doctor; More Than Just A Show

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I am enthralled by a new television show I just found. Last season was the first season it aired and somehow I missed it. It’s not on a channel I normally watch. For someone reason (God intervention maybe) I found it on my tablet and from episode one I have been hooked. Now I will admit there are not many shows that I have found that has captured my attention, but this one has. I’ve been doing marathons watching the show and trying to get caught up. I am now in season two, but still behind by several episodes. I’ll get there eventually. 

The show I am referring to is, “The Good Doctor”. It is about a young man that has lost all of his family including his brother that he was close to. He has Autism and struggles with this. I am not aware if I know someone who has Autism or not, but I am interested in this young man. I don’t know if this is normal for Autism or it just happens to be this character, but this young man is brilliant. He has a superior mind. He has decided to be a surgeon and in these shows, he is a Surgeon Resident at a hospital. His mentor works in the same hospital and in fact, was the Hospital Board President. He approached the board about this young man coming on board. Of course, after presenting the facts the board agreed not to allow this young man into their hospital because of the Autism. They had not met this young man. They were simply dismissing him because of his Autism. An event happens before the end of the show (don’t you just love how TV works everything out? Wish life was like that) and he is given a chance to prove himself. 

The following episodes deal with him working at the hospital and his many challenges. I wasn’t sure what drew me into this show and then it hit me during one episode. He has a disability and he is the underdog. Not only that but, it’s how he has been treated by his colleagues that I am fascinated with. Some of his colleagues are totally upset he is with them and others are helping him out. What amazes me, it has nothing to do with his abilities or his talent. The ones that are upset he is working there are strictly looking at his disabilities and not seeing HIM. 

This show has challenged me in how I look at people not only with disabilities but how I really see people, Yes, this young man has some issues with relationships and communications. He does not handle things always in the best way. These all stem from his Autism; something he cannot control. 

How often have I dismissed someone who has a disability because I thought they weren’t capable of doing something? How many times have I looked at their disability and didn’t see them? 

We look at people and we judge them for what we see. I do that and so do you and a million others. We do not look at people and see them for who they are or who they can be. Watching how people interact with this young man has tested me, challenged me and made me think about how I would treat him if he lived next door, went to my church or better yet was my doctor. I would love to think if I had been on the board I would have demanded he be given the chance, but honestly, I am not sure. 

My daughter has a friend who is a doctor and she hates the show. She looks at it from a medical point and sees all the critical mistakes that are being made. I feel sorry for her, it’s not about the medical facts. She’s not looking at the real issues that are being presented. I wonder how she would deal with someone like this young man? We often look at the facts and ignore the reality that folks with disabilities can be an asset to our society. They all have something to give. It may just be a hug, or a smile, or something to make us laugh. But, like this young man, it could be more if they were just given the chance. Tell me one person who never needs someone to smile at them, or don’t need a hug or someone who could make them laugh?

Luke 14:13-14 reminds me of something, “But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” I am thinking God would also add, “Give them a chance in life. Invite them into work with you and be one of you.”

Many of us wear glasses, my daughter wears hearing aids, many have ADHD or ADD, all of us have some kind of disabilities. What if those we deal with on a daily basis looked at OUR disabilities and dismissed us? There are many who have added to our society and they’ve dealt with disabilities. Stephen Hawking had ALS and he was a Physicist. We all know the story of Helen Keller, she earned a Bachelors in Arts. John Nash was a renowned American Mathematician. He suffered from schizophrenia. Vincent van Gough had a mental illness. Beethoven was deaf but turned out to be one of the biggest composers for all time. These are just a few that went on and achieved greatness. What if they had been turned down for a position or turned away? What if they were dismissed because the only thing people could see was their disability? 

How I treat others reflects on my relationship with God. I am not perfect. I have disabilities some that are visible and some not. How do I want people to treat me? I know I have speech problems, would I want someone to hold me back because of that? Should I hold others back or not treat them as I should just because of their disability? 

God has said in we are to love others. “My command is this” Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one that this” to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:12-13 God loves me and does not look at my disabilities. He has chosen me to share his work with him in ways I would never have imagined. How can I turn my back on someone who has a disability? God created each of us in our own way in His image. The way I treat those with disabilities is the way I treat God. 

The show has taught me some things about myself. I hope to be a better person because of what I’ve seen in this show and what God has taught me. Think about those in your own lives, those who you deal with and those who you come in contact with. Do you REALLY see them? Or do you see their disability? 

…The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7  Should I be any different?

Dear Lord, thank you for television shows that stretches me, challenges me and makes me think about how I treat others. I ask for peace and comfort for those with disabilities. I asked they be given a chance to show others what they can do and the things they can accomplish without challenges from me and others. May I see THEM and not their disabilities. Thank you for all these special angels you have placed among us. Help us to love them, guide them and help them to be successful in all you have given them to do. Amen

picture from hopebridge.com

The Devil Made Me Do It…Not!

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In the 1960s and 1970s, there was a comedian named Flip Wilson. I know, I am telling my age. One of the phrases he coined as a comedian, was this well known and often said phrase, “The devil made me do it.” I am sure as a child or as a teenager and maybe even as an adult, I have thought or said that. I am sure there are some who actually believe that also. 

After being in this world for so long, being in church, studying my Bible, and being in some wonderful Sunday School classes and hearing some amazing sermons, I am realizing how silly this statement really is. 

If I know anything worth knowing about God, I know this: God gave us free will. God gave us a mind to think for ourselves and to make choices. God did not want puppets to control. He wanted us to choose to follow him. Now since God created humanity and he gave us a mind, then, that brings us to the devil. The devil did not create us or give us a mind. Since the devil had no saying in our creation, then he certainly can’t force us to serve him. The devil can’t make us follow him or do anything that is against our will. 

Which brings me to the obvious choice that if we do something wrong or sinful, the devil did not make us do it. We chose to follow the devil’s way; it was our choice. We can and get to choose each day who we will follow when we get up out of bed. We can choose and get to choose how we treat people. 

I have always wondered about Judas. We find Judas in the crucifixion story found in the Gospels. We know Judas is the one that betrayed Christ by handing him over to his enemies. Maybe, as Judas began regretting what he did and just before his death, he cried out, “The devil made me do it.” Now as a Christian, I have always wondered if Judas was destined to do this. Was he chosen just so Christ would be handed over? Was this Judas’s fate? Thinking about free will these last few days, I have come to realize Judas was created just like we were. He was given a mind and he was given free will. Judas, just like us could make choices both good and bad. I am now convinced “the devil didn’t make him do it”. I believe Judas chose to betray Christ. Now I believe God knew what was in Judas’s heart and he knew Judas’s fate, but it was still Judas’s choice. I also know the crucifixion and Christ being risen was going to happen. This had to happen for us. This was God’s plan, but not necessarily his plan for Judas. I am old enough and wise enough to realize if Judas had turned away from the devil at the last minute, it still would have been done but in a different way.  

We have choices to make every day. We can’t say God made me do this or act this way and we can’t say the same for the devil either. We can turn from the choices we make and live a life that is completely different. Paul is another good example. God, nor the devil made him kill Christians. It was a choice he made himself. He chose to live a life that he thought was the right choice and he chose to follow those who were persecuting the Christians at that time. We all know the story in Acts. Saul had an encounter with God and things change for him. It’s when he has an encounter with God, that he chooses to change his life. When we have followed the devil and we are convinced the devil made us do it, we still have the choice to turn our lives around. All it takes is an encounter with God. 

For years, I have kind of felt sorry for Judas, at least until now. I just figured that was why Judas was born and that was his fate, but today I realize that is not true. I realize just like us, Judas had a choice and he chose the wrong choice. 

I’ve often heard criminals or delinquent youths say, “Well, it was the way I was raised or it was my parents’ fault. I didn’t know any better.” While living with our parents and being raised by our parents that may be true. When we get out on our own or we grow up, that is not necessarily the truth. My daughter and son-in-law often tell me that may be the way they were raised, but it’s their choice to stay that way. They have the choice of turning their life around and doing things differently. Now some doctors may disagree and say it’s a learned behavior that cannot be untaught. I know if one has a true “in-your-face” encounter with God, that you can change and be a different person. 

Joshua 24:15 helps clear this all up, “But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

Right here Joshua clearly points out to us it’s a choice we get to make about whom we will serve. We will all serve some kind of god in our lives. We choose what god that will be. For Judas, it might have been the god of pride or anger or disappointment. For Saul, it might have been the god of doing good and following the law. Saul had an encounter with God and it changed him forever. We know Judas followed Christ and had the same encounter with God, but for whatever reason, he chose to ignore that encounter and do his own thing. Paul’s life will always be remembered for his change of life; his encounter with God. While Judas’s life will always be remembered for betraying Christ. 

Did the devil make Judas do it? No. Does the devil make us do it? No. It’s our free will choice. What will your choice be today? When you have an encounter with God will you follow Paul’s example and turn your life around or will you be a Judas and walk away from God?

Dear God, I am glad you gave us free will, but it’s hard sometimes to make the right choices. Sometimes I’d like for you to make those choices for me. It would be so easy when we sin to say, “the devil made me do it”, but we can’t say that. He, like you don’t make us do anything we don’t want to do. We have the choice when we encounter the devil to walk away and not follow him or do as he’d like. It’s my choice. Help me always to make the right choices. When I have an encounter with you, may I follow Paul’s example and turn from my wicked ways. Help me to be stronger and wiser than Judas was and not walk away from a relationship with you. Thank you, dear God, for the choices I have made and may I continue making those same wise choices. Amen  

Proverbs, A Jewelry Store for Gems

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As my study through Proverbs continues, I am finding jewels in this book. I have managed to get to chapter six. I have discovered something really interesting in this chapter that I’d like to share with you. As I was studying this, God reminded me of another gem in another part of the Bible that coincides with this one. 

The first part of this is found in Proverbs 6:16 through19. This is what it says, “There are six things the Lord hates – no, seven things he detests; (1) haughty eyes, (2) a lying tongue, (3) hands that kill the innocent, (4) a heart that plots evil, (5) feet that race to do wrong, (6) a false witness that pours out lies, and (7) a person who sows discord in a family.” (The numbering was from me and not found in the Bible to help you see the seven).

This is pretty descriptive of the things God hates. If you’re like me, I needed to make sure I knew what haughty eyes were. Haughty eyes are eyes that have a proud, “I am better than you” look. 
We are all created equal, there is not one of us that is better than anyone else. God hates those who consider themselves better than someone else. 

We have two that resemble each other. We are not to lie to each other or tell lies about one another. The words we speak must be true, honest and in a manner that lifts others up. 

God does not like people who murder children, the elderly or anyone who is innocent. I believe God hates those who murder people period. It is not up to us to make that kind of judgment whether someone lives or dies. That is a God decision. Along those same lines, we are not to plot evil in our heart. What does that mean? For me, it’s seeking to destroy others or bring others down through a destructive means. He does not like feet that race to do wrong. There are times we have to choose between doing the right thing and doing the wrong thing. When we race down the path of doing the wrong thing we become the people God dislikes. We must always choose the path that leads to a righteous life.

There are some people in our families (whether our church family, community family or our immediate family) that enjoy creating chaos. They like to stir up trouble. Often, when they do, they sit back and watch what happens. They are the ones that are laughing at what’s going on. I have often seen this on Facebook. They make one little irritating comment and before you know it, their comment has created chaos among people. People are found responding in negative ways and negative talk. This person likes to pit one person against another and then sit back and watch. This is a behavior God dislikes. 

I suddenly realized after reading this, if I learned and studied what God hates, if I stay clear from those things, then I could lead a somewhat Godly life. I might not lead a Godly life, but I wouldn’t be on God’s bad side. 

Now, if I take this next scripture, which is found in Micah 6:8, “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” and add it to the first one, I can begin to lead a Godly life. I can begin to understand what God likes and what he hates. If I want to follow God, I look at these two scriptures; study them and begin to put these into practice. 

Both of these are found in the Old Testament. I have heard so many folks say the Old Testament doesn’t hold anything for me now since Christ has come to redeem me, but I disagree with them. These two verses alone show us God’s character, his likes, and his dislikes. They both explain how we are to live our lives and stay on God’s good side. 

I think we could stop right there and begin living a Godly life, but God didn’t stop there and neither should we. 1 Peter 4:8 says, “Above all, love each other deeply because love covers a multitude of sins.” John 15:12, Love each other as I have loved you.”

The Old Testament tells us what we are to do to stay on God’s good side. The New Testament reinforces those simple truths by telling us if we love one another with the same love God has for us we can do no wrong. If we truly love others as God loves us we will find there is nothing in our heart that God dislikes or hates. If we treat others the way God treats us we will follow the commands found in Micah and we will live lives that are full of mercy and we will treat others with justice and we will walk humbly before God. When we sprinkle in the words found in the New Testament, we will begin to live lives that are righteous and pleasing to God. 

I think if a new Christian asked me what my best advice was for starting a new life in Christ, I would have to choose these few scriptures. I would start with what God wants from us and what he loves, and then add the scriptures about love. Then I would finish up with those behaviors God does not like us to engage in. I think if we follow these simple guidelines, we can’t go wrong. 

Do you have a set of scriptures that you can share with others if you are asked what leads to a Godly or righteous life? God says we are to be ready at all times to give an answer. Are you ready? 

Dear God, thank you for leading me to Proverbs this year. Just like a jewelry store, there are many gems found throughout this book. One gem is just as beautiful and precious as the others. May I write them on my heart and as the book says to keep them close to me as I live out this year. May I be ready to share with others what you’ve taught me so they too may live a life that is pleasing to you. Amen

Grace or Wisdom

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It’s the start of a New Year. I am a year older and you’d think by now I wouldn’t be surprised by anything God does, but I still get surprised and he still amazes me. 

While back in Indiana visiting our daughters and their families I visited one of my daughters’ churches. This Sunday I happened to be attending a Sunday school Class with my son-in-law while my daughter was off working with the little ones. They happened to be studying Proverbs; a book I have very rarely delved into. After class, the Pastor offered me the notebook to bring back with me and do my own study of Proverbs. I agreed to give it a shot. 

Before the holidays my sister moved out of state and left me several things I needed to look through to see if I was interested in any of them. I came across a book by Patsy Clairmont. I had seen her at a Women’s Convention and found her to be quite amusing. The name of the book was just as interesting as she is, “Kaleidoscope, Seeing God’s Wit and Wisdom in a Whole New Light.” I decided for the New Year that would be my next read. I really hadn’t looked into it very much so I was hoping for the best. 

After getting home and settling down a few days later I decided to delve into my Proverbs notebook and begin the study. I was excited to see it was going to be just the thing I needed to understand Proverbs. The next day I decided along with my study of Proverbs I’d pick up Patsy’s book and read a chapter out of it. It wasn’t long before I began to be amazed at what God had put together for me. You see “Kaleidoscope” is a book on Proverbs. Patsy was picking out things in Proverbs and we were going to do a study and get to know Proverbs better! How amazing is that?

I am thinking there are some jewels in Proverbs for me that God thinks I need to know. We know that King Solomon wrote most of the Proverbs. We also know at some point in his life he had a dream where God asked him what he wanted most. Instead of saying fame or fortune he asked for wisdom. God granted him wisdom, but he didn’t keep it to himself he shared his knowledge with others so that they could lead a Godly life. Would I be so wise? Or would I ask for fame or fortune? I might not ask for fame there are a lot of dangers in being famous. I see so many of the stars today that has sought fame and received it only to find heartache or a life of troubles. Would I seek fortune? The money would be nice. No more worrying about bills to pay, or not being able to afford those things you really don’t need but want. There is a price to pay if you read Proverbs if you have a fortune. It’s found early in the chapter. Proverbs 3:27-28, “Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it’s in your power to help them. If you can help your neighbor now, don’t say, ‘Come back tomorrow and then I’ll help you.” Having money sounds great, but just like Solomon and his wisdom, I wouldn’t be able to hang on to it. 

The advice that Solomon gives in Proverbs is a lot like the same advice I have received from my parents years ago. For instance, right away Solomon tells us “My child listen when your father corrects you. Don’t neglect your mother’s instruction.” Proverbs 1:8 My husband has often told me it wasn’t the spankings that he used to get that he minded. It was the lecture before or afterward that he hated. I am thinking because it was the same every time. And how many times did our Moms tell us not to do this or that, but we went ahead and did those things she instructed us not to do? 

My child, if sinners entice you, turn your back on them!” Proverbs 1:10 How many times as a child was I told not to play with someone in particular because they often got into trouble? If I played with them I would likely get in trouble with them. Our parents were wiser than we were we just didn’t understand them. 

We often complain (well, at least I do!) that I don’t know what God wants me to do. As a young person, I didn’t understand fully what was right and what was wrong, but God tells us through Solomon that if we seek God’s wisdom we will fully understand what is right and wrong. It’s a matter of seeking the one with all the correct answers. God knows all and he will never lead us in the wrong direction. Too many times I seek wisdom through the world instead of God. Most of the time the world leads me down the wrong path. I am wondering how many of us are busy seeking answers through the world instead of seeking the answers through God? 

Every time someone would do me wrong and I’d go to Mom she always came back and say, “Kill them with your kindness.” The last thing I wanted to be was kind, but in chapter 3 verse 3 it says, “Never let loyalty and kindness leave you! Tie them around your neck as a reminder. Write them deep within your heart.”

I have been talking with some young people about what they want to do after they graduate. Most of them have no clue. Clearly, God knows the plans he has for us. “Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” Proverbs 3:6 Can it really be that easy? Is it true all we have to do is ask God what he wants us to do and he’ll answer? Prayer and seeking after God may just give us the answers we are looking for. 

There are so many today who think they have all the answers. I know a certain man that when you talk to him he will quickly inform you that you’re wrong and he will proceed to give you his opinion and he knows it’s right. He doesn’t seek the wisdom of others, because he knows it all, has done it all and been everywhere. “Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear. The Lord and turn away from evil.” Proverbs 3:7 I am always the first to confess I know nothing. 

I could go on and on with all the jewels found in the first three chapters of Proverbs. We are to be kind to our neighbors, we are not to pick fights, we are not to envy evil people, and we are to turn away from sin. So many things my mom and dad taught when I was growing up are found in this book. Think they might have studied Proverbs too?

What I am finding out is simply this…if I seek God, ask for understanding, treat those around me well, trust God at all times and keep His commandments then I will have it all together. Unfortunately, I am human and I don’t always seek to understand his ways. I don’t constantly treat those around me well….because they can make me mad. Keeping God’s commandments while living in this world can be challenging. 

Solomon asked for wisdom and received it. Christ died on the cross for my sins and offered me grace. Grace or wisdom? I am thinking I need more grace. So, if God came to me in a dream what would I ask for? Grace. 

What would you ask for?

Dear Lord, I am excited to see where you are leading me with both books on Proverbs. What jewels are in there that I need to store in my treasure chest? Solomon asked for wisdom. I am asking for grace. Thank you Lord for guiding my paths and giving me people like Solomon, my parents and others to instruct me on the ways I should live. 
Amen

God’s To-Do-Through-You List

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I have had the opportunity to lead the women in a Bible Study this season. We have looked at Mary, the Mother of Jesus. I am sure I will never look at her in the same way. The willingness to serve God without even knowing the particulars is amazing to me. She might have been young and naive, but even so, she has taught me about obedience. She has taught me to step out of my comfort zone and say, “Yes” to God. 

Hayley DiMarco, the author of “The Overwhelmed Woman” has said several times in her book, the only thing on God ’s to-do-through-you list is to love one another. There is nothing else he wants from us…just to love. When we put God’s do-do-through-you list into practice we find that all we do, we do out of love for God and one another. 

Another area we looked at through Mary’s eyes was the finances of this young couple. We find in reading Luke 2:22-24 that Mary offered a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons when it came time for their purification. As we look back in Leviticus 12, we see when the day of purification was over they were to bring with them a year old lamb for the burnt offering (verse 6). It also stated if the woman could not afford a one year lamb she was to take two doves or two young pigeons for the burnt offering. We find this couple not being able to take a one year lamb so Mary offers a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons. I think it is kind of ironic that the mother of our Savior could not afford to bring the preferred gift, but has to settle for something a little less. The Mother of God’s son, the greatest gift we could get at Christmas time, could not afford what the law required of her. I am thinking this young naive young lady did not let it bother her. She did not compare herself or worry about what others thought. She did not do what we often do ourselves today…she did not compare herself or what she had with others. Mary knew there was a greater purpose and being the mother that bore our Savior, was worth more than all the money in the world.

Mary reminded me God knows all about us. He knows our need long before we know what we need. Mary may not have known she, Joseph and Baby Jesus would have to run and escape to Egypt, but God knew. Even if she knew, she wasn’t about to sweat the small stuff like not having enough money to go to Egypt and live. God would and did provide. We see in Matthew 2:1-12 that God provided for their needs. We see Wise Men bringing gifts with them when they found Jesus. They offered gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh to Mary and Joseph. I am sure these are the things that financed their way to Egypt and provided for them while there. God provides for us not when we think we need it or want it, but in his timing. Mary was not overwhelmed by her financial circumstances and neither should we. Oh, we should learn from Mary. 

Another thing I learned from Mary, that just like us, she is human. She was not a Saint and just like us, she fails at times. We find an example of this when Jesus turns 12. He was taken to the Temple for the Feast of the Passover. After the feast was over they were headed home. Joseph and Mary could not find Jesus among the travelers. They head back to Jerusalem to find him. After looking for him for three days, she finds him in the Temple teaching and talking with the teachers. Everyone was amazed except Mary. You would think this is the first place Mary would look, after all, He is God’s son. Where most likely would God’s son be but in the Temple? Like any mother who frets and worries, we find her scolding Jesus with these words, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you?” Mary has allowed us to see that even she can worry and fret at times. Sometimes even the mother of Jesus can get anxious and worry, but it’s okay. God knows that if Mary, the mother of Jesus can’t stop worrying then how can we? We must trust Jesus. This is a simple reminder that Jesus knows we are human and we can’t stop being anxious. 

Finally, we see the love Jesus has not only for his own Mother but for us as well. We find this in John 19. Jesus is hanging on the Cross as Mary watches her Son come to the end of his life. Before he dies, he sees his Mother and knows her heart is breaking. So he does what he knows to do. He cares for her by giving her to another to comfort and care for her. I think he also knew the heart of a disciple was breaking and would need tending to as well. He provided for him as he gave his mother to his beloved disciple. I think she would have taken as much care of him as she would her own. If he loved this Disciple and his mother this much, think about how much more he loves us? Not only that, but I think this is a perfect example of how we should be in community with one another lifting up each other at all times. Jesus taught in this scripture we cannot go it alone. We need the love and support of others at all times. God wants us in community with one another so we may reach out in love and service at all times. 

The mother of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has a lot to teach us. She has set an example for us to follow. May we be more like Mary as we walk this journey together. But, let us not just be followers of Mary, let us move toward being more like her Son, as we learn through Mary what it’s like to love and serve God. 

Remember this Christmas Season, the only thing God has on his to-do-through-you list is to love. As one of my friends say, “If I can get the love right, everything else will fall into place.”

Have a Wonderful Christmas