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Stop in for some Refreshment

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After giving a lecture to the people who were standing around gawking at a man who had just been healed about how the power to perform this came from the Jesus they rejected and hung on the cross, Peter says this:

 

Repent therefore, and return, that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.  Acts 3:19

 

We’ve talked a lot about repentance here, but today I want to talk about the last part of that verse.   Have you ever felt the need for refreshing?  I know I have many times.  “Life do get tedious sometimes” as my mother used to say, and we get tired in our walk.  At such times, we long for a time of peace and refreshment.

 

Here he is specifically discussing those who are sin-sick and in need of refreshment.  The principle works for all, however, because Jesus is the source of refreshment, peace, rest, and everything else we need.

 

For the lost:

 

Those who have rejected Jesus walk around in the darkness.  They seek to meet their needs in sin, but sin leads to death.  It’s like having a cancer that slowly eats you away from the inside.  I heard recently of a woman who found out she had cancer two weeks before she died.  She had walked around with this cancer around her and had no idea it was killing her.

 

Jesus is the healer:

 

Jesus heals the sin-sick soul.  He brings His righteousness and His refreshment and His healing to the person who turns to Him, the great Physician.

 

For followers:

 

While we have the refreshment and healing that comes from choosing to repent and follow Jesus, we still have a rough row to hoe at times and need refreshment.  Imagine a farmer out tending to his crops.  Those of you who do farm will understand the work it takes to bring in that crop.  It’s long, hard, exhausting work.  When you come in from the field, you need refreshment.  You don’t just think, hmm, I’d like some refreshment; you go after it.  You probably need a drink the most, but you also need sustenance and rest to rebuild you for the work to come the next day.

 

Jesus is the refresher:

 

Esau, after a hard day of hunting, came in to smell the stew his brother, Jacob, had prepared.  He needed refreshment so much; he was willing to give up his birthright for it.  He is an example of a person trying to get refreshment through sin.  It may have felt good for a while, but it was very temporary – unlike his decision to give up his birthright.

 

Jesus is the Living Water: 

Falling Water Falls

Falling Water Falls (Photo credit: dbarronoss)

 

When Jesus refreshes, it’s not a temporary thing.  As long as we’re walking with Him, we will be refreshed.  It’s like having a living water IV.

 

14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.   John 4:14

 

Bread

Bread (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Jesus is the Bread of Life:

 

Along with providing Living Water, Jesus also provides the Bread of Life.  This bread fills us and gives us the strength to keep going.  It refreshes and provides life – abundant life!

 

And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.  John 6:35

 

Jesus is the Light of Life:

 

Have you ever walked into a dark house and stumbled over something?  It refreshes to turn on the light so you can see what’s in front of you.  Jesus provides the eternal Light that shows us the way.

 

I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. (John 8:12)

 

Refresh

Jesus: He’s the real thing! Refresh (Photo credit: katerha)

Jesus is Everything we Need:

 

Do you need refreshment?  Take a moment to cuddle up close to Jesus and receive the refreshment He offers.  It’s better than anything sin has to offer for sure.  Taste and see that the Lord, He is good!

 

O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.  Psalm 34:8

 

Descriptions of Christ  http://www.parentcompany.com/awareness_of_god/doctoc.htm

 

God’s Mountain Removal Service

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Guess what?   God moves mountains! 

The mythical Mount Olympus in northern Greece....

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now, that is not something new to me.  I have watched Him move immovable mountains all my life.  But to watch it happen in the life of a dear friend who is just learning to trust Him with the impossible bursts my buttons!  I am so proud of my God. I often tell people that He can be trusted with anything, and He can.  However, there’s always that wondering if He will choose to do this thing.  I always know it’s for a higher purpose if He says no, but when helping someone learn to walk by faith, it’s so good when He does something like this.

In this case, the friend had an immovable mountain, impossible by human standards, and God showed her that He had her back all along.  Even though she just received the news that the mountain was gone, it was gone for several days before she could see it.  I have never seen God late.  I have never seen Him fail His people.  I have never seen Him break a promise.  He is faithful, even when we are unfaithful.  GLORY!!!!

Remember that, to God, our mountains are like little pebbles in His hand.  When we look at life from His perspective, we see how little we needed to worry.  We see His mighty hand compared to the tiny bump and realize He’s got it.  We may live on this earth, but we are not constrained by earthly boundaries.  Our Father owns the cattle on a thousand hills, loves us with a deep, abiding, faithful, never-ending love, and has a wonderful plan for our lives.  How awesome is that?

So next time you have an immovable mountain, step back and see that your God is so much bigger than that mountain, that the mountain seems totally insignificant in comparison.  We have the power within us, through the Holy Spirit, to experience wonders beyond our imagination if we will just trust Him and let Him work in us.  I, for one, refuse to live a mediocre life.  I want to live an abundant life for Him.  It’s not easy, but it’s so worth it!!!!

Do you have a mountain that needs moving?  Have you seen God do the impossible before?  What do you think?

Our mountains from His perspective

Power over Circumstances

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What a summer this has been 😀  All the grandkids’ alone weeks are finished, 3 more nights of VBS (Vacation Bible School), the Mother-in-law goes back home, and I should have a bit of time for myself, and you!  In VBS this week, we have been learning about God’s power.  Monday, we learned that God has power over all our circumstances.  What a powerful lesson, even for my 4th graders.  My 3 special needs students even joined in when coming up with things God has power over in our lives.

 

God has power over circumstances:

This morning, I was thumbing through my Bible.  A paper fell out that reminded me of one of the times in my life when my circumstances needed some God power.  The year was 2002.  My father had Streptococcus agalactiae, a very resistant bacteria many of us carry in our intestines and/or female areas.  It used to be mostly known as a problem for babies after birth, but is increasingly a problem in older adults as well.  Let’s just say, it’s not pretty.   He also had MRSA in there.

 

Man-eaters

The Strep ate up a heart valve as well as some other areas in his body.  I won’t go into all the details, but it wasn’t pretty.  I was in the middle of my final student teaching for my Master’s Degree at the time as well, teaching all week and heading to Louisville to the hospital on the weekends and working on my Capstone paper when I could.  (That’s another God story for another time.) We almost lost dad three times during this time (13 weeks in the hospital and a 3 month + stay in a rehab facility after to learn how to walk again, etc..

One night (details shared in a bit) they called the family into a private waiting room and told us his chances were not very good to make it through the current situation.  We all huddled in prayer and praise as we waited.  I had written out Psalm 3 as a prayer for my father:

 

Psalm 3

“O LORD, how my adversaries have increased!  Many (bacteria) are rising up against me.  Many are saying of my soul, ‘There is no deliverance for him in God.’ [Selah].  But Thou art a shield about me, my glory and the one who lifts up my head.  I was crying to the Lord with my voice, And He answered me from His holy mountain. [Selah.]  I lay down and slept, and I awoke for the LORD sustains meI will not be afraid of ten thousands of (bacteria) who have set themselves against me round about (my body).  Arise, O LORD: save me, O my God!  For Thou hast smitten all my enemies (the bacteria) on the cheek; Thou hast shattered the teeth of the wicked (bacteria).  Salvation belongs to the LORD:  Thy blessing be upon Thy people!  [Selah.]”

 

Journal entry on paper

6/1/2002  “Last night we almost lost Dad again.  His heart was having trouble pumping, his blood pressure dropped.  He stopped breathing and had to be intubated.  They found fluid around his heart and had to open him up in the ICU.  They then rushed him into surgery.  The prognosis was not good. . .  BUT God is ALWAYS GOOD! !  His heart returned to a normal beat, and he’s STILL ALIVE ! !  God has spared him once again ! !”

♫♪Isn’t He good to you!

Isn’t He good to me!

Haven’t things always been the way He always said they’d be!

Hasn’t He done for you  all that He said He’d do!

Isn’t He grand!

Isn’t He kind!

Isn’t He good!♫♪

 

{Me again}

” Yes He is!   He was!   He always will be!

Regardless of outcome or what circumstances look like,

– – – – – – I KNOW MY GOD IS GOOD ! !”

 

Yes, had my dad died, God would still be good.  I am not saying that seeming good outcomes are from God and the others are not.  I’m just saying this is one instance in which God did a miracle and allowed my Dad to live (again – many near death stories with him).

 

No matter what the circumstance,

God is in it.

He goes with us through it.

He has a plan in mind.

He has HIS plan in mind.

He has His Best plan for me in mind.

He is in control.

He has power over all.

What a great place to rest!

 

Do you have a circumstance that looks impossible?  Do you worry or trust when life gets hard?  Do you have God stories about times when God’s hand was obvious in your life?  Have you learned to trust Him despite the waves crashing around you?

 

By the way.  I finished my Student Teaching (not as well as usual, but well);  I checked into a hotel to finish my paper and excelled; and I graduated with my Masters of Education Degree.  The only explanation for making it through all this at the same time:  God’s power 😀  Thanks for letting me share this story with you all.

Among the many issues with my dad is a fun one. Look closely at his eyes. Have you ever met someone with “buffalo eyes”? This is one thing he is in medical journals for. The other we’ll save for another time.

Ten ways to love: Contentment with Gratitude

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Our 7th way of Loving is:  Enjoy without complaint.

“14 Do all things without murmurings and disputings:”   Philippians 2:14

 

►I love being with my family, but. . . .

►I would like working in the nursery, if. . . .

►This dessert is so good, but it would be better if you just put a little . . . .

 

The following were taken off of facebook statuses.  Sorry if I got any of you – actually these posts are from none of my known followers on this blog 🙂

 

Complaint Department Grenade

Complaint Department Grenade (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Why can some people read in a moving vehicle and others can’t? Not fair!”      Do you complain that life is not fair?

“woke -up with a headache about 3 this morning, not a good way to begin a vacation.”  Do you let little things (or big things) mar things like vacations?  Some people don’t get vacations.

“Some people really try my patience & sometimes I think they do it on purpose!!”   “Really hate game playing :-(“   Do you let other people steal your joy?

“im so totally stressed out… Havent left the house in like two days because we have no car. Broke as h***. Im so misrible. Blah”  Some people don’t have a house; are you grateful for what you have, or do you focus on what you don’t have?

“Heading out the door for work….yuck..”  Not everyone has a job and many would be grateful to have a job, even one that wasn’t perfect.

 

Of course, we all feel this way at times.  We pursue perfection, but none of us will achieve it.

Complaint_Department_please_take_a_number

Complaint_Department_please_take_a_number (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The point is to start looking at what you already have with a grateful heart and enjoy it.   As a person who can look at the tiny mar instead of the overall picture, I have to watch myself with this.  There’s always a way to make something “better” or “less worse” (grammarians – is that correct?), but why not just enjoy what is?

I can see this with my grandchildren (and with my kids).  They love the simple things, but I have a tendency to want to tweak something that doesn’t need tweaked.  Just hanging out is good.  They don’t really need (nor should I want to teach them that) entertained.  I’m learning, and I’ve cut way back, but still have a way to go.  Time together is premium and precious — no matter what.

When we love, we learn to enjoy without complaint.   Complaint is a form of saying “it’s not fair”.  It implies the complainer deserves better, and it makes the person appear ungrateful at best.  I imagine God even rolls His eyes at times as His children gripe about perceived unfairness.   The story of the Israelites wandering in the desert gives a great example.   If human’s were God, I don’t think they would be near as patient as He is.

 

Of course, I know my readers would never do this, so what are some ways you keep positive and grateful no matter what?

Count your blessings!!!!

 

 

Lessons in the Storm

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Every Summer, my oldest two granddaughters (and the other two, but they can do it during the school year too) get to stay ALONE with us for a week.  Any other time, the two girls are always together, so they need some Gma alone time.  Grandma loves it too – less need to discipline and more loving!!!  This week is my oldest granddaughter’s turn.

 

Storm Approaching Paradise - Coral Island, Phu...

Storm Approaching Paradise – Coral Island, Phuket, Thailand (Photo credit: Captain Kimo)

Friday evening, a storm blew through.  And I mean blew through.  My granddaughter and I were looking out our wall of windows, and the trees started tossing and bending all over.  Soon, a large part of one of our trees (a dead one we need to get rid of) landed in the front yard.  I personally adore storms, but my granddaughter is not a fan.  I took the opportunity to talk to her about storms and how the trees that bend in the wind were still standing.  These trees were still full of life and strength, but their branches went with the wind instead of resisting.

 

The dead trees had no life, no bend, nothing to hold on with, and they went down.  Actually another tree went down as well along with our neighbor’s new privacy fence.  My hubs was very glad that the trees are down.  He will have to cut them up for firewood, but he will not have to take them down.  The following are a much more detailed (deep) example of the things we (my granddaughter and I) talked about.

 

1.  When troubles storm your life, bend with the wind.  Don’t stand rigid and refuse to budge.  Change is inevitable.  Troubles are inevitable.  When we become inflexible and stubborn about life, it can take us down.  (Why me? Why NOT you?;  I don’t want to..)

 

2.  If you are a Christian, are you keeping close to the source?  Are you sucking up every drop of nourishment you can from the Living Waters?  When you remain supple through an intense relationship with the Root – Jesus – you can bend with any wind and remain strong and standing tall.  If you have stopped drawing from the Root, you may have dried up, back-slid, become apathetic, etc. about the things of God.  You, even with Christ as your Savior may still break if you don’t stay close to Him.

 

3.  If you are not a Christian, would you like to have a root system that will hold and sustain you through the storms?  Send me a private message at bryasy911@yahoo.com.

 

 

Did I mention we are without power?  Last night and today was spent without air-conditioning, lights, and all the other creature comforts I am so used to.  Over 100° temperatures haven’t helped.  This was a lesson for the gd in what life is like without all the conveniences we’re so used to (TV, internet, …).  She is not impressed.

 

When we do not stay close to the Power Source, we walk in darkness.  I, as most people, have had times where I was closer to God than other times.  Often the times of intense closeness happened during a life crisis.  When one of my children decided to check out some things (like a Satanic bible) in the senior year of high school, I had to engage in a fight for him.  I read books; I prayed; I quoted Scripture; I became so close to God I could feel His presence more strongly than at any time before or since.  I have not at any time needed God as much as I did then, even though there have been many hard times in my life.

 

I learned something through this.  I learned to battle for my children.  I learned to lean hard on God and not on Angie.  I learned the power of Scripture.  I learned much more than that, but for now, we’ll let that do.  When you have power in your life, it makes a world of difference.  You can continue to live in darkness, either as totally not connected to God through Salvation or as a follower who has slid into bad habits, or you can go to the light and let His power course through you.  It makes even more difference than the electricity in our homes.  It is an eternal difference.

 

The Granddaughter and I have also started working on teaching her about the Bible.  She loves to have me quiz her.  Today, we started making up index cards with the questions on one side and answers on the other, so she can study at home and we can concentrate our work.  I want my grandchildren to know about God and His works through the Bible.  While she’s willing to learn, I will do all I can to feed the need.

 

At some point, basics will not be enough, however.  I also talk to her about God (like the storm stuff) as we go through our day.  I point out God’s hand, and we talk about what it means to live for God, as well as practical ways to do so.  I want her (and the others) to have that Living Water and that Power in her life.

 

I don’t always know if I’ve said what I wanted to say, but I do my best, and I hope God will speak to you through the words you find here.

Ten ways to love: Be real

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Our 6th installment in the Ten ways to love series:

6.  Share without pretending.

Ephesians 4:15 –“15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:”

 

Hmmmmm, what does this mean?


This one is rather difficult.  I found others in my research who wondered about the connection between the statement and the chosen passage.

One response on yahoo answers:    Share without pretending means, Don’t pretend and do it because you actually want to. This is really what you desire to do. Not forceful desire but willingly desire. Without being a hypocrite or enforcing your pride or scam.

To that, I say, duh!  I mean, I agree.  This is an answer (and even the answer), but it doesn’t really tie in well with the passage.

 

A look at context

When you look at the context of the passage (see below), you find that Jesus is telling them to grow up in the Lord.  He tells them not to be like the Gentiles (unsaved), but to grow in Him, putting off the old man and being renewed in their mind.

 

The old man

I believe the passage, in saying speak the truth in love, is saying not to pretend to be what you’re not:  be truthful, be real, be a grown up in Christ.  When we share with others, do we do it for the right reasons?   Some people make donations for tax purposes or because it makes them look good.  While the charities they support appreciate the money, the motivation for the gift is questionable.  The donor pretends to be charitable, but it is not from the heart.

 

The new man

A person who has put off the old man, now has pure motives and gives in truth and without pretending.  He or she now gives because the love of Christ is present in his or her life.  I am not saying that people cannot be truly generous and sharing for the right reasons outside of God.  I am saying that a Christian who has matured in Christ will have a generous, sharing heart with no ulterior, hidden motives.  He or she will share without pretending, showing love, the love of Christ, generously and truthfully.

 

Secret Millionaire

As I type this, I am watching “Secret Millionaire”.  The Millionaire goes out incognito to check out various charities and then donates to them.  What we learn from this:

1.  When we share without pretending, we have to get out there, get in there, and get our feet wet.  There’s nothing wrong with charity from a distance, but if it’s possible to get in there and get to know people and help people, that is sharing without pretending.

2.  When we share without pretending, it makes a huge difference in the lives of those we share with.  Money is great, but when we share more — our talents, Christ’s love, everything we are — we touch people’s lives in ways we can’t even imagine, and we touch them for eternity.

 

►OK, that was my attempt at this one.  What do you think?  Can you find further answers in this passage? What about other ways to give without pretending?  I am open to hearing your thoughts on the subject.  Maybe one of you can clarify the connection for us. 🙂 

 

Ephesians 4:13-24:

“. . . 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;

15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:

16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

17 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, . . . 20 But ye have not so learned Christ;

21 If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus:

22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;

23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;

24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”

Ten ways to Love: Yeah, but…

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Our 5th installment of Ten ways to love is to:  Answer without arguing. 

Proverbs 17:1  Better is a dry morsel, and quietness therewith, than an house full of sacrifices with strife.  (KJV)

The Message puts it this way:  1 A meal of bread and water in contented peace is better than a banquet spiced with quarrels.

 

Argument

Argument (Photo credit: andrewmalone)

Anyone who has ever lived with an argumentative person knows exactly how true that statement is.   Have you ever known someone who couldn’t just give a simple answer?  They always have a “yeah, but…” or some other reply explaining why they are ‘special’ and your premise is wrong.  I think all of us answer with an argument at times, but the person who consistently does this is not saying, “I love you.”  They might be saying, “I’m better than you” or “I know better than you”, but not “I love you.”   I find that many of those who make this a consistent habit have no clue what they do to others.  In their mind, they really are special, know better, or simply want to make sense of the question.

English: Northern Mockingbird juveniles at a b...

English: Northern Mockingbird juveniles at a bird bath in Austin, Texas. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How do you help someone who has no clue?         I don’t know.  That’s a rhetorical question 🙂  If you have the answer, let me know!

 

Since we already know we can’t help others, we can only look at ourselves.  Do we answer with an argument or do we listen and answer without arguing?  Human beings have this unique ability.  It’s called justification.  AND–it works best when pointed at our own behavior.  I of course, never have an issue with this. . . . . ;]  but just in case someone out there does. . . .

 

Anyway, back to the topic.

I have way too many people a person in my life who cannot simply answer a question without argument, and it drives me to distraction at times.  I call her on it, but she comes back with more argument.  This leads to more drama, which leads to anything but a feeling of ‘love’.   Responses often contain “Yeah, but”, “Well, I”, “You don’t”, and “I didn’t mean to” to name a few.   I have to admit I don’t always respond well to this.  Frustration probably tops the list of emotions that pop up.  How do you communicate with someone who doesn’t really hear you?  Instead of hearing what’s said, the arguer hears something they must take exception to.  I guess it’s a form of defensiveness.  I don’t know.  I just know neither party winds up feeling very good afterwards.  Neither person feels very loved or listened to either.

 

A very simplistic example of this:  

Adult:  “Go to bed.”   Child:  “But, I’m not tired!”

Adult:  “Go to bed.”   Child:  “I can’t sleep if I’m not tired.”

Adult:  “Go to bed.”   Child:  “Well, sissy doesn’t have to go to bed now.”

Adult:  “Go to bed.”   Child:  “Can I have a drink.”

and so on.        Can anyone say distraction technique?

The major theme in this scenario is:   “I don’t have to do what you tell me because…..”

 

Pride.  Is pride at the base of the argument.  I think I could argue that it is (tongue in cheek).   Pride and love, real love, do not go together.  In fact, they are diametrically opposed, and offering argument instead of answers says, “I don’t have to” or “I know better” or, well, you get the point.

 

Now for the Vertical

Maybe you never argue instead of answering others.   But how about God?   Do you question Him when He asks you to do something?  Do you have some reason why the commands (already given in the Bible) are for someone else and not you?  After all, you’re not very good at that, or you don’t have time for that, or ….    I don’t think we mean to argue with God, but too often, we do.  We can show Him love by obeying Him without arguing.

 

Sometimes, whether vertical or horizontal, it takes a lot of hard knocks time and maturity to learn how to answer without arguing.

 

What do you think?   Do you know someone like this, and if so, how do you deal with it?  Have you changed this about yourself?  Any tips for doing so?  My posts are often quests, because I don’t know it all.  I’m always interested in how others deal with various aspects of communication, so I hope you’ll share if you have something to say. 🙂

 

 

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