Part of the tradition for my family is finishing the Thanksgiving dinner together (I get the dishwasher going for the first batch) and then we start the list making for everyone’s wishes for their Christmas gift/s. With all the ads that come in the Thanksgiving newspaper, it is a fun task getting the lists done. My oldest grandson was gone this weekend to his girlfriend’s family, so the black Friday shopping took place with my 2nd oldest grandson and me. We started Thursday night and completed about 25% of our lists. Yesterday morning we were up at 4:30 am and off to hit the road. By noontime we had finished and the back of my car was loaded. There were some fun moments in all of this. But, the most fun was watching my grandson pick out a necklace for his girlfriend. He had asked if I’d help him do this so we finished our shopping with this last purchase. To see the joy in his eyes finding just the right one was priceless! All other gifts were brought to my home, but this one went with him. His girlfriend had moved away this past summer but they stay in touch and she will be back for Christmas. I’d love to be a mouse in the corner when he gives this to her!
As I write today’s entry I do so with real warmth of heart. Knowing grandpa is getting the exact gift each grandchild wants is in itself–fun/joy. However, the anticipation of seeing each one open the gift in less than a month is even greater.
In the Bible book of Ezekiel, God is telling Ezekiel to tell the leaders who were coming to speak with him that they must turn their hearts back to Him–their One and only True God. They were now in captivity once again due to their continuously turning away from Him. I know the greatest Gift to mankind is Jesus Christ. My grandkids know this too from hearing it time and again. Yet, I pray all of our gift giving will never divert anyone from the thankfulness for this greatest gift of all–God giving His Son Jesus for each one of us. For this, I am most grateful!
Happy Thanksgiving! I’ll bet this statement will be said so many times today that it almost becomes just a statement of greeting. However, I say it here with the utmost love and respect. There is so much to be thankful for that to prioritize them would be difficult beyond the top two or three. So, I’m going to cluster them: Spiritual–God, Jesus and The Holy Spirit and then my spiritual family at church, Celebrate Recovery and those I’ve come to know across our nation and world. Family–my wife, children and grandchildren and all of those relatives close and far, I love you. Friends–God has gifted me with so many wonderful friends, thank you.
Today is the day we can stop and turn our heads in all directions to see what God has given us and today we take the time to say: Thank You Father!
Yesterday turned out to be a rather frustrating day. There were several things I wanted to get done but I felt rotten. I had this splitting headache. I was dizzy and my stomach was half upset. I knew this feeling from times past. It felt like either a sinus infection moving in or a huge change in the weather and the barometric pressure changing was causing this. Well, today I feel great and there is about 3″ of snow on the ground. There really was a huge front moving in and somehow my body knew it. I’m not sure what this has to do with a journey continuing, but….
Today starts the prepping for tomorrow’s feast. Pie baking for the blackberry pie is mine. Tomorrow is truly a day of thanksgiving. My greatest thanks is to God my Father. Wow, is He GOOD!
About 8 or 9 years ago I was in therapy weekly to address the damage the abuse had done to me. At this time I was reading in Ezekiel where I am now reading again today. Ezekiel 11:19 talks about God replacing the heart of stone with a heart of flesh. The Children of Israel had hardened their hearts to God and God is showing Ezekiel that He will address this hardened heart with these people.
When I came upon this verse several years ago I recall wondering what a “heart of flesh” was like? I had always seen a clean heart as one which was glossy like a stainless steel bucket is glossy when it is sterilized. We would do this with the milking equipment when I was growing up on the farm. Today, as I read this I’m beginning to grasp much deeper understanding of this concept of a heart of flesh. In the biblical times God provided the children of Israel with leadership with whom He spoke and gave clear directions. The Israelites became callous to these leaders wanting to do things their own way–thus hardening their hearts towards God’s message/s. When Christ came as God’s great Gift to be our sacrifice for sin, we were given The Holy Spirit to live within us as we accepted Christ into our lives. The messages of The Holy Spirit within us is the same as the messages of the leaders in biblical times. The difference is now the Leader is within us. We each get to choose to obey this voice or not.
Joyce Meyer tells about her own journey of abuse and her own hardened heart which The Holy Spirit had to help her address. When we accept Christ into our lives we are made to be a new creation. This new creation does have a new heart–a heart of flesh. However, this new heart can’t function as new unless we begin to listen and obey the voice of this Holy Spirit within. I really do want to take heed to this message. Being a new creation doesn’t need to be a mystery. The direction book is right within me. Listening to His message and obeying it is always the right thing to do.
The message of yesterday morning seemed to hit today. God wanted me to relax and take a reprieve. Last night I set the coffee pot to be ready this morning 15 minutes later than normal thinking I’d sleep an extra 15 minutes (this would be my relaxing). Well, this morning when I awoke I was within the 15 minutes so I closed my eyes thinking I’d sleep a few extra minutes. When I awoke it was another hour which had passed. I guess I did relax!
One of our assistant pastors gave the sermon yesterday. In it he challenged us to let God take our head allowing Him to turn our eyes towards the things in life for which we should be grateful but may be taking for granted. We may too often be concerned (worried) about those things for which we are to let God handle. As he was delivering the message it hit me that this same God who had spoken to me about how to live as a new creation is giving this message to Pastor Ryan. It helped me see that all of us are learning how to live as the new creation God gave us through His Son Jesus Christ.
I don’t want to try and take charge of my days, I want God doing that. I want to know that I am completing God’s charge in my life. I also want to realize totally that the person I am is the person God created. I don’t have to prove anything to Him. All this time He has been trying to take my face and help me turn my eyes totally to be on Him. Boy, do we serve a tremendously GREAT & PATIENT GOD!
Jesus wanted me to know something this morning that I wasn’t expecting to get out of my day’s devotional time. Since today is Sunday and I have worship team and choir along with church, I was going over the rest of the day with Jesus as I began to journal. As this ended I began to write out what the next week had in it. Because I don’t go to schools this next week I had in my head that I could do things for Jesus I don’t get done otherwise. So, when I asked the question of what He wanted me to know from Him for today, His response was the following message. It started with a question asking me if I am still unaware that the work I do is for Him? Secondly, He asked if I don’t recognize the fact that He gives breaks in all our assignments for our body to rest and our mind and emotions to rest. Our flesh needs to regroup or it wears down. He said I need to take a look at this closed mindset I have about breaks in my work’s schedule. These are not to then be “work time for Him”. All of my days are orchestrated by Him. The breaks are also orchestrated by Him and what He has me to do with them will also be. Take the time and relax in flesh knowing this is part of His assignment.
This old character defect of mine that I must have all of my time utilized with “purpose” is not to be defined by me any longer. If I am to be a 24/7 servant of the King–Jesus Christ, I need to recognize the gifts of relaxation and reprieve He gives. I also need to better see that the work I do is not for me in hopes Christ is in it too. It is exactly what Jesus is wanting done and I am there with Him instead of the reverse: He with me.
To live as a new creation is sure needing to redo so much of how I think and operate within my head. God is chipping away at this. I want Him to have full access to all of me and I want to be His servant receiving all He has for me which includes times of reprieve.
“…Joy comes in the morning.” Psalms 30:5. This is what Jesus had me recall this morning as I journaled and asked Him what He wanted me to know for today? I hadn’t gotten very far into my scripture reading when I received a text about a troubled situation. We quickly responded to one another a couple times and then the message came, “I love you dad.” Well, this brought joy to my morning. I sent back the quote from Psalms used above. I then received a heart in response.
The flesh of man is always looking for happiness and fun while our spirit is wired for joy, peace, contentment. In our flesh we often think they are the same. However, when our flesh is in crisis God reminds us that in our spirit we can still have this JOY. I love so much that God is always with me. But, I love even more that through His Word, through our spirit, and through The Holy Spirit He speaks, and this for me is most often “in the morning”.
Today I finished the writings of Jeremiah. He not only wrote the book named after him, but the one which follows, Lamentations. It is just what the name expresses–mournfulness. I wrote yesterday about teaching the lesson last night for Celebrate Recovery which is TURN. This message of TURN is one God has been teaching His creation–man, since the beginning. Here we are today still needing to learn it. I can never learn it for anyone else and no one else can learn it for me. Every man of every generation has to learn this for himself.
Lamentations has a message in it which is the best reminder–it is the reminder of HOPE. No matter how bad life has been or what life has dealt you, we are never without the hope of Jesus Christ. Also, hope is a spiritual ingredient which cannot be removed from us no matter what man may do. It is intrinsically built into man’s nature by God’s own design. I haven’t had the plague of abuse which I endured in my childhood since that time in my life. However, each of us has to endure the realities of living life one day at a time. And, at times, life’s realities are not pleasant. We can focus on them and fall into the pit of them, OR we have the choice of HOPE. Hope allows us to focus on the promise of Lamentations 3:21–“But this I recall and therefore have I hope and expectation.”
I have loved being reminded that every day we have the choice to see what is before us and not what has been behind us. I also love the fact that it is in my spirit I have this hope and not in my flesh. Man can only temporarily interrupt my hope. It cannot be taken away from me for God made it a permanent part of His creation in me. This is true for each one of us–Praise the Lord!
I just reread yesterday’s post and saw the last sentence?? I don’t think I was editing very well as it was posted.
Tonight I get to teach our Celebrate Recovery lesson entitled “Turn”. The acrostic stands for: Trust, Understand, Repent, New life. In the 11 years of this ministry I’ve taught this lesson I think 3 times. Each time my focus in my mind has always been my turning from my past. Even though the last letter stands for New Life, my focus was on what I was needing to do. Much more recently God has been helping me see more about what I am turning to when I quit focusing on what I have turned from.
The step of turning recognizes our need to quit denying what is in our past and to begin seeing it clearly. At first all I had seen was my abuse I needed to keep a secret. Then when that was finally admitted I began to see all of my “character flaws”. Well, now I needed to keep them a secret I thought. Little by little God has chipped away on all of this with me. It isn’t that I haven’t taken a look at what I am turning to, but that was not where I had my focus most of the time.
Do you know what that “New Life” is in real life? It is the New Creation Christ promises us when we give our lives to Him! The 3rd step of TURN is repent and then we receive the 4th letter–NEW LIFE. I repented to Jesus when I was 10 or 11 years old so that is 58 or 59 years ago. Look how long it has taken me to do the first letter–Trust. God has wanted me to recognize Him for Who He Is–God. He is not “earthly” in any way as my earthly father or earthly brother were. He is God Almighty and God All Loving. As I have more fully UNDERSTOOD this (second step) I have been able to see the last step.
As I step into teaching tonight’s lesson I do so with a brand new lesson to teach with a brand new life behind the lesson. I look forward to sharing this with our group and letting this lesson help others as God has used it to help me.
Probably most of us, if not all of us, have prayed at some time in their life for Jesus to do whatever it takes to bring a situation to Him. I remember well my grandma saying this is how she would pray and I knew it because she was just that kind of a lady. Her confidence in God seemed always without question. However, I also remember my parents saying to be careful about praying this way for God takes our prayers seriously. We may not be ready for God to take the steps this prayer would divulge.
I write this because I use to pray much more cautiously than I do today. Primarily, because I didn’t know how to trust God like I do today. My relationship with God has grown tremendously in the recent years. God has no selfish motive in mind in all He does with mankind. His only purpose is to bring man back to Himself.
I have recently been praying this prayer regarding a situation. Last night I was made aware of some circumstances which, for a moment, I wanted to question God about. This morning I was reminded that God uses all things to His honor and glory. My role is to trust and obey. So, for today, that is exactly what I will be attempting to do. I pray The Holy Spirit will be free to be my wisdom and provide words when they are needed and the listening ear when it is needed. God is Faithful and He asks us to have faith in Him. This is will do.