Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Starting Over

This morning I sat staring at the Scriptures I had copied down.  "What can I possibly get out of that?" I silently prayed.  That still small voice that continues to encourage and guide simply said, "Start with your observations."  Have I told you how much I love this SOAP method of looking at the Word?  I just have to share again with you what I wrote in my notebook.

Scripture-But if a man dies very suddenly beside him (I am reading the section about those who take a Nazirite vow.) and he defiles his dedicated head of hair, then he shall shave his head on the day when he becomes clean; he shall save it on the seventh day.
     Then on the eighth day he shall bring two turtledoves or two young pigeons to the priest, to the doorway of the tent of meeting.
     The priest shall offer one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering, and make atonement for him concerning his sin because of the dead person.  And that same day he shall consecrate his head.
     And shall dedicate to the LORD his days as a Nazirite, and shall bring a male lamb a year old for a guilt offering; but the former days will be void because his separation has been defiled. -Numbers 6:9-12, NASB

(Do you see my dilemma?! So I dutifully move on to Observation.)

Observation-Atonement needs to be made for sin, for guilt, even when it was not intentional.  While sin interrupts the vow and he/she has to start over, it does not negate ones ability to be dedicated to the LORD.

(Wow!  I am truly excited now!  Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me!)

Application- When I sin I must "Pick myself up, dust myself off, and start all over again."  Also need to watch my attitude with others; free them to start over with me too- with a clean slate.

(I am just amazed that God has been able to teach me, to grow me, with these particular Scriptures.  I can get so bogged down in my walk when I am wallowing in the sins of my past.  Jesus did it all on the cross, I need to cling to that and not to past mistakes.
And boy, I can be so slow to forgive others.  My conscience is pricked over how I treat people around me. I am one to say that I forgive- but I won't forget.  Funny, I cannot seem to find that verse anywhere in my Bible.  And so I move on to the final step in this process.)

Prayer- Father God, how can I ever put into words how grateful I am for the way that you love me?  Thank You for continuing to teach me, for encouraging me to take time to consider what You have to say and for Your Spirit at work to guide my thoughts.  Thank You for being the God who redeems, who forgives, whose love has no limits.  Father I pray that you will work in me to share this precious gift with others by being one who forgives and loves without limits.  Oh how I love You, Lord.

Grace and Peace,

 I would love to hear about your own journeys. Feel free to share what God is teaching you, as well as your thoughts on my musings. May we grow in wisdom and understanding together.

                            Linking up with Angela at Good Morning Girls today

Monday, November 28, 2011

A Different Focus This Advent

It's day two in the book of Numbers and, as I told a friend last night, I was not expecting much.  Once again I doubted that God could continue to speak through this book.  I can be such a slow learner sometimes.

This morning my focus was on Numbers 6:5-8 and a recurring phrase caught my attention "all the days of his (or her) separation to the LORD."  It led my thoughts in directions about how I am to be separated from sin, from "the world."  One verse in particular stood out, "He shall be holy until all the days are fulfilled for which he separated himself to the LORD."  My question is what does it mean to be holy.  I have always heard it was "set apart," but after a little research I do not think that does it justice.  I came away with a couple of understandings: one being the idea of wholeness and used to mean uninjured, sound, healthy, entire, complete; and the other conveys the idea of separation, a life not influenced by the world in which one lives.  So in putting the two ideas together I come up with: being holy to the Lord means being whole and being a part of but not influenced by the ways of the world.  For now I stuck in this mortal body with it's fleshly desires, I am a part of the world, but I am not to be influenced by these things.  To be whole in this life I need to let Jesus set my course, listen closely to what God has to say in His word and live a life of obedience to Him.

Another part of that verse that struck me was "until all the days are fulfilled."  This led me down the path of thinking about Advent.  Everywhere we look there are preparations for Christmas going on.  Do I get caught up in all the shopping?  Do I need my house to look like Better Homes and Garden?  Is that what Advent is all about?  Or is it a time to prepare for the coming of Jesus.  Not just the baby born in the manger, but His promised return to earth.  This year I am determined to set my sights not on what lies behind but on what lies ahead.  This Advent I am going to remind myself daily that what I am waiting for is Christ's return, not those presents under the tree.

Grace and Peace,


 I would love to hear about your own journeys. Feel free to share what God is teaching you, as well as your thoughts on my musings. May we grow in wisdom and understanding together.

                                 Linking today with Shanda at A Pause on the Path for:

What Kind of Offering Can I Bring?

Christmas.  It reminds me that God sent His Son because of His great love for us.  It reminds me that the story isn't over yet; Jesus will return one day; and oh, what a day that will be!
I came to the end of my readings in Numbers for this week.  These verses wrap up with what a person must do once their time of separation has ended, and this one caught my attention, "He shall present his offering to the LORD."  It started me thinking about that wonderful day when I will meet my Savior face to face, whether it be  at His triumphant return or the day He calls me home.  Do I come to Him with an offering?  And if so, what kind?  It won't be anything I carry with me, not like the Nazirite offering of lambs and rams and unleavened cakes.  
My first thought was a life marked by the Fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Then I remembered Samuel's words, "Has the LORD as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams." (I Samuel 15:22, NASB) I can offer Him my obedience.

That thought was reinforced when I read my New Testament Scriptures for today from 1 John 2:1-17 which says in part: How can we be sure we belong to God?  By obeying His commands.  Those who obey God's word really do love Him.  Those who say they live for God should live their loves the way Christ did.  Stop loving the world and all that it offers, for the world offers only lust for physical pleasure, the lust of everything you see, and pride in our possessions.  They are not from the Father.  This world is fading away, along with everything it craves.  But if you do the will of God, you will live forever.

What do you think?  Should we come with an offering to the Lord when the fulfillment of our time of separation comes?  And what does that offering look like?  I would love to hear your thoughts.

Grace and Peace,


Life on the Edge?!

We start a new study in our Sunday School class this week.  I had decided when I started writing my blog again that I would take whatever we were studying in class to use for my daily SOAP time.  I was so excited when I saw what we were studying!  Numbers, Deuteronomy: Life on the Edge.  Okay, that was not really my reaction.  It was more like, "Are you kidding me?!!"  I really wanted to jump into another part of Scripture this morning.  I read the passage for this week's lesson: Numbers 6:1-15.  BORING...I have no plans to take a Nazirite vow and I am definitely not giving up grapes or even vinegar.  Love my white balsamic on a salad.

But the title of the lesson kept drawing me back as I prayed about where to go in the Scriptures for my morning quiet times, Stay True to Your Commitments; Take Your Commitments Seriously.  Those ideas really resonated with me this morning.  As I have picked up writing again I am giving a lot of thought about what I want this blog to be, what I want to be as a writer and the things I want to avoid.  This blog is my commitment to follow the prodding of the Holy Spirit to get back to writing about my daily walk.  I want to take that seriously.  I desire to stay true to my commitment to the Lord in this venture.  Soooo maybe I should give this study a try with the SOAP method this morning and see how it goes.  Maybe the Lord can even speak to me through the book of Numbers.

S-Again the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,
    "Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, 'When a man or woman makes a special vow, the vow of a Nazirite, to dedicate himself to the LORD,
    he shall abstain from wine and strong drink; he shall drink no vinegar, whether made from wine or strong drink, nor shall he drink any grape juice, nor eat fresh or dried grapes.
    All the days of his separation he shall not eat anything that is produced by the grape vine, the seeds even to the skin.  -Numbers 6:1-4 (NASB)

O- The LORD is instructing Moses.
   - This instruction applies to both men and women- women too can dedicate themselves to the LORD.

A-In dedicating myself to the LORD there are things I need to abstain from-not necessarily grape related, but  hmmm, this kind of follows the ideas from the last couple of weeks in Romans about not doing things that would hurt fellow believers.  I think there are also things that I should be aware of in what I watch, read, and listen to.  What things do I take part in as a woman dedicated to the Lord that I should abstain from?  There are some obvious lists that come to mind in the New Testament books.

P-Father God, forgive me for thinking that You could not possibly speak to me through Numbers. Instruct me as I read through this book, show me how to apply it's truths.  And Father, give me wisdom to discern which things I should abstain from; those things that would make my walk here on earth harder and the strength to follow through on what You reveal.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Rejoice, Give Thanks and Sing

It’s the first day of Thanksgiving break around here.  It’s quiet.  I did not expect that, but as our family grows up things change.  Our oldest is out on his own now.  Our youngest is house and dog sitting for friends.  It is just Ken and I.  So we slept in then walked out together to get the paper.  The sun was out and there was still dew on the roses.  I just cannot get over that one of my roses started blooming this past week.  All of the others are calling it quits for the season, and this one is just now blooming for the first time this year after surviving the worst drought and hottest summer in our regions history.  Sometimes survivors stand out particularly beautifully.

 This sight immediately brought to mind Grandma Payne's favorite old hymn: In the Garden by Charles Austin Miles.

I come to the garden alone
While the dew is still on the roses
And the voice I hear falling on my ear
The Son of God discloses.


And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.

He speaks and the sound of His voice,
Is so sweet the birds hush their singing,
And the melody that He gave to me
Within my heart is ringing.


I’d stay in the garden with Him
Thought he night around me be falling,
But He bids me go: through the voice of woe
His voice to me is calling.


Miles once gave the background to this beautiful hymn in his own words:

“I read the story of the greatest morn in history.  The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, while it was yet very dark, unto the sepulcher.  Instantly, completely, there unfolded in my mind the scenes of the garden, where out of the mists comes a form, halting, hesitating, tearful, seeking, turning from side to side in bewildering amazement.”

“Falteringly, bearing grief in every accent, with tear-dimmed eyes, she whispers, ‘If Thou has borne Him hence.’”

“He speaks, and the sound of His voice is so sweet the birds hush their singing.  He said to her ‘Mary!’  Just one word and forgotten are the heartaches, the long dreary hours, all the past is blotted out in His presence.”

I had always just thought of this hymn as being about the quiet moments we spend with the Lord, but couple that with Mary’s Easter morning and it becomes so much more.

I read Romans 15:8-10 this morning while sipping a cup of coffee that my sweet husband made for me.  It was very fitting for this season.
“For I say that Christ has become a servant to the circumcision on behalf of the truth of God to confirm the promises given to the fathers, and for the Gentiles to glorify god for His mercy; as it is written, ‘Therefore I will give praise to You among the Gentiles, And I will sing to Your name.’  Again he says, ‘Rejoice O gentiles with His people.’”

We Gentiles have much reason to celebrate and be thankful.  Christ came for us too and through Him we glorify God for His mercy.  Which brings another old hymn to mind…

                      Rejoice! Rejoice!  Rejoice, Give thanks and sing!

Happy Thanksgiving dear friends,

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Wait- You Mean This Applies at Church Too?

I recently wrote another post with a very similar title.  This morning's reading has me thinking that there are some very specific things for me to take a hard look at amongst the body of believer's I worship with, both those in the present and those in the past.  The verses I focused on this morning were Romans 15:5-7.  There is a theme running through these verses about unity, about being of the same mind and in one accord.  Then the clincher comes in verse 7, "Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us (me) to the glory of God."  Follow that with this verse from Psalm 119 that I read today, "Keep me from lying to myself," (v. 29a-NLT) and I come to some difficult realizations.
For the past couple of weeks I have been in the 14th chapter of Romans.  It is all about setting aside yourself for the sake of others.  It is all about not fighting within the church about the things that are not crucial to the faith, and even more importantly not causing our brothers and sisters harm by insisting on certain things.  Today leads me to the tough questions.  Have I been a person who builds up or tears down?  Have I made issues of things that are not vital and caused harm to fellow believers?  The awful answer is there are mistakes in my past that I am very ashamed of and my confession time this morning was a tear-filled one as I finally acknowledged my terrible failings in this area.  There are times I should have simply walked away.  There are times when I stood so firmly on something that has no lasting value that I made no room for those with opposing opinions.  I have been judgmental and harsh rather than accepting others as Christ has accepted me.   I am praying this morning that the God who restores will be able to bring healing to those I have left hurting along my path.  I am praying that God would replace distrust, anger, resentments, and hurts among the body with love, grace, peace, and mercy.

There is a song I love to sing by Natalie Grant, Make Me Over.  As I seek to be more like Christ within the body of believer's this is the prayer of my heart.

I've been silent instead of speaking up
Gave my advice instead of giving love
I have been unfair, faithless and unkind
I have shut my eyes just so I would stay blind
It's not what I meant to do
'Cause I want to honor You

Make me over, Make me new
Make me a mirror, a reflection of You
Take me all apart
Take me to Your heart and pull me closer
Sweet Savior, make me over

I was working on my second quilt block yesterday.  It looks like this as I get ready to pick it up this morning and finish it.

My God is so big, so strong, and so mighty.  There's nothing my God cannot do.  Not for me.  Not for you. There is nothing He cannot do.  I am counting on Him to continue His work in my life to make me more and more in the image of Christ and sometimes I can be a pretty tough nut to crack.

Grace, peace, and mercy dear ones.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Taking Action!

I am taking action today.  Up early for my quiet time.  Started on Monday chores around the house.  Sent out the prayer list email.  Made a plan for some quilt work to get done today.  Now I am writing.  I am still about an hour behind where I would like to be, but today I am taking action.

I have been rather lazy with my quiet times this year.  I have been rather lazy with a lot of things this year.  So I am appreciating the new life this "new to me" method of Bible study is infusing into my day.  My time starts with "S" for Scripture. Next I work on "O" for observation, followed by "A" for applications and "P" for prayer.  SOAP.  I love it!  It is not my idea but the study method I found through

For today it looks like this:
S- Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves.
Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to his edification.
For even Christ did not please Himself, but as it is written, "The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me."
For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.  -Romans 15:1-4

O- Being Christlike means I need to live not to please myself but my Father in heaven.  I am sitting here just trying to imagine what Jesus had to "bear" when He walked on earth dealing with we weak, weak, people.  I have lot's of patience when that weak person is a toddler, but grow them up and I fail miserably.
Verse 4 is my favorite-Through the Scriptures we are given encouragement and hope.  Makes me think of Psalm 119 which has always spoken to me about the person who seeks to know God through His word, and which just happens to be part of my Daily Bible reading for today:  "Happy are those who obey His decrees and search for Him with all their hearts. (v.2 NLT)  Oh that my actions would consistently reflect Your principles!  Then I will not be disgraced when I compare my life with Your commands" (vs.5-6)  "I have rejoiced in your decrees as much as in riches.   I will study Your commandments and reflect on Your ways.  I will delight in Your principles and not forget Your word." (vs. 14-16)

A-(Now for the hard part.)  Stop living for self-serving purposes.  Be patient, be patient, be patient with others.  And do not neglect that time in the Scripture- bring those words of Psalm 119 to life in my life.

P-Father God, I confess my failure to put others ahead of myself.  Father I so often serve my needs not You.  I seek forgiveness for my short-sightedness and ask that You open my eyes and heart; that You mold me more into the image of Your Son who came seeking to do Your will, not His own.  Oh, that my actions would consistently reflect your principles!

I hope by this you are encouraged to spend some time in the Scriptures today.  I will be praying that the Lord speaks to your heart as you look into His word.

Now I am off to the quilt studio- working on block number two of that baby quilt I started.  Happy Monday!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Wait-You Mean I Need to do This at Home Too?

It's Friday, and following the plan laid out in Good Morning Girls that means it is time to reflect on the Scriptures I have read this week: Romans 14:13-23.  Having an attitude of peace and joy with others even when it requires me to not insist on my own way is what stands out to me after rereading my journal notes.  At first my thought revolved around the church since this section is all about how we relate to other believer's, but then it hit me that I live much closer with another group of believer's- those in my own home.  Ouch.  I do not have to go back any farther than yesterday to see where I failed to exhibit peace and joy.
"Pursue those things which make for peace and the building up of one another." (verse 19)  This even applies to my husband who was trying to help me out with getting dinner on the table last night and wrapped the fresh out of the oven rolls in the old kitchen towel I had handy by the stove.  I knew what the towel had been doing all day as I prepared our Thanksgiving meal.  (A week early I know, but it was when we could all be together.)  I was horrified and not very gracious in my "correction."  Thankfully this towel did not see me through the turkey prep earlier so it was probably pretty harmless- still it was not my way at all!  Sad to say, but I am quick to jump on family members who do not do things my way around the house.  While I venture to work towards pursuing peace I am very much convicted that I cannot neglect this pursuit within my own home.  So much for wanting this to be just a general application with nothing very specific for me to get to work on.
My sweet family

Check out Time Warp Wife -Empowering Wives to Joyfully Serve

Thursday, November 17, 2011

In Need of a Little Restoration

This week I decided it was time to tackle the cabinets in the kitchen and baths.  The finish was getting pretty worn and we had been talking for awhile about what to do.  I came across a product a couple of years ago at an antique shop and decided this just might be the ticket.

Howard's Restore-A-Finish.  No need to strip off the old, just apply to fine steel wool and work it in.  (I forgot to take a before photo in the master bath so the before is actually the guest bath which was in better shape.)

What I love about this process is that I am not removing the "good" part of the finish, But restoring and improving where there were flaws.  I thought about that idea when I was considering my Bible reading for today.  I came across a new study method this week and have been employing it for my morning devotional time.  Courtney is well into her study of 1 John so I jumped in with where I am at in my study of Romans and it has added a spark of new life to my quiet time.

I have been contemplating the later half of Romans 14 this week.  Today's verses were 22 -23: "The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God.  Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves.  But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin."
Now there was a lot of previous material this week which has led me to today's thoughts.  It is not just about what to eat and drinking wine; the last thought from yesterday was the later half of verse 21 "or to do anything by which your brother stumbles."  That got me thinking out of the box of food and drink.  What are the things I "approve?"  My faith and my doubts about the things I do either condemn me or approve me before God.  That thought puts a whole new twist on the idea of guilty pleasures.  How many things do I do each day that I have already convicted myself about yet I go ahead and make excuses to continue in them?  It was a humble prayer time that followed my contemplation.  During that time I thought about the cabinets I am working on.  My daily time in the Word and prayer are like the Restore-A-Finish.  God created something good when He created me and sin has messed me up a bit.  I need a little rubbing out here, a little color there, and some protective coating to make me shine.  I need to spend some more time with Him figuring out what things I will approve of.  Notice I said spend time with God figuring that out.  I am too good at deceiving myself.  So here I sit this morning looking forward to a little Restore-A -Finish God's way.  I want my life to shine and not be a stumbling block for others.  I am not afraid of the process because I know how great is the Lord's love for me.  Letting Him work in my life will only accomplish the good I desire.
First of a quilt block I designed for a baby quilt project