Tag Archives: Journey

A Lesson From Father’s Gymnasium

“Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD.” (Psalms 27:14 NASB)

Good morning, Beloved of God. I don’t know about you, but I needed this Word this morning. As I read it today, Father tells my weary heart, “Yes, wait on Me, but do so in strength with courage. Practice active waiting that carries on with life while watching for Me.”

This Word is not new instruction to me. This has been His Word to me from the beginning of our current journey. But tiredness often brings us to rest stops; and weariness requires directional reminders.

You see, God is stretching my perseverance muscles as never before.

In days past, Father has used hard situations and waiting moments to increase faith, hope, trust, and perseverance in me. Usually, He will cause my waiting to take me beyond the limits of strength to carry on, then relieve the tension and give rest until the next perseverance challenge. Just like working our muscles, we increase the amount of weight we lift a little at a time. As the weight becomes easier to lift, we add more weight.

Opportunities to persevere puts us in God’s gym, where faith and hope and trust are increased, strengthened, and stretched, and our character is built up and made strong.

I know you have been to His gym many times as well. No child of God can get out of that membership. It is a required course, for “… we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (Romans 5:1-5 NASB)

The problem with this season my husband and I are walking through in his health challenge is that there are two potential outcomes, and it is not clear yet which way it will go. Will God allow him to continue life here with me, or will He take him to life in His Presence in glory? Will his healing be here, or there? There is a fork in the proverbial road we are standing at, hand in hand. Will we carry on together, or let go and separate?

As I type that, I realize where my thinking is off.

I am seeing us standing at the fork, the bifurcation acting as a roadblock before me. I must realize we aren’t truly there yet. My husband is doing well, carrying on with life. He is not in his death bed yet. That place of separation is somewhere down the path, not yet in sight.

I’m jumping ahead on the path.

What is it Jesus said? “Do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:34 NASB)

God is telling me to own THIS DAY, this moment, this breath He gives me to use for His glory. Looking ahead to try to face something I can’t truly even see yet is only robbing me of strength for my now reality.

Yes! I needed this Word today, Beloved. How about you?

“Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds. …“Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD.” (Hebrews 10:24 NASB; Psalms 27:14 NASB)

Power to Enjoy

“Every man to whom God has given riches and possessions, and the power to enjoy them and to accept his appointed lot and to rejoice in his toil – this is the gift of God to him. For he shall not much remember seriously the days of his life, because God, Himself, answers and corresponds to the joy of his heart – the tranquillity of God is mirrored in him.” Ecclesiastes 5:19-20 AMPC

I see this truth in Johnny as he works and puts energy into his life’s calling. He has done what God placed in him to do, and the joy of his labors outweighs any challenges those labors bring. And I experience this truth myself, as I find joy and contentment in caring for him, in being his wife and helpmeet.

Thinking back on my life, on both the good and the difficult, the joys far out-way the sorrows, the good memories dimming and deadening the hardship. And in each season of my life, the labors there, the work I found for my hands to do, made much of the joy of my days, each in its season.

What better legacy to leave our children than our exemplary life of serving our God out of His provision of our Power to enjoy our labors with love for Him and each other.

“TO EVERYTHING there is a season, and a time for every matter or purpose under heaven…

“I have seen the painful labor and exertion and miserable business which God has given to the sons of men with which to exercise and busy themselves. He has made everything beautiful in its time.

“He also has planted eternity in men’s hearts and minds, a divinely implanted sense of a purpose working through the ages, which nothing under the sun but God alone can satisfy, yet so that men cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. I know that there is nothing better for them than to be glad and to get and do good as long as they live; And also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor – it is the gift of God.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 10-13 AMPC)

God’s “Good” vs. Humankind’s

“A ruler questioned Him, saying, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments, ‘ DO NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, DO NOT MURDER, DO NOT STEAL, DO NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS, HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER.'” And he said, “All these things I have kept from my youth.” When Jesus heard this, He said to him, “One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when he had heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich. And Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” They who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?” But He said, “The things that are impossible with people are possible with God.”” Luke 18:18-27 NASB

This passage has long captivated my attention. That Jesus, the very Sod of God, The God in flesh, does not number himself with God as a good person, is intriguing.

I don’t know about you, but I know a lot of people that, to me, are a defining parameter for the place of a “good person.” That opinion is gauged by human standards. Jesus corrects that understanding with His pronouncement that “only God is good.”

Have you ever had The Spirit pop a question into your head, immediately followed by an answer? That’s exactly what happened as I read this familiar passage today.

The question: “What makes the difference between God’s‘good’ and our ‘good’?”

The answer: “Motive and source.”

God IS good. He doesn’t need a reason to be or do good. Good is what He is, and thus, what He must do. He doesn’t need an incentive to do good. He doesn’t have to receive some return before He will continue to be good.

There is no external source for His good. He is good. Goodness resides in and flows from Him. Good is what He does. That’s why Scripture says that every good and perfect gift comes from Him. He is good and the source or resource for every good.

We are not as He is. We have incentives to be good, most often out of necessity. We too often fall away from goodness when our good never meets a return. And, according to Scripture, without God, who is the source – resource for all good, we cannot be or produce good.

Another difference between us and God, is that we too easily grumble about doing good. God does not. He may get upset with our ungrateful response to His good, our never being satisfied with what we get and always wanting more, better, greater, but he never grumbles about an opportunity to do good or the inconvenience of the needs timing.

Even Jesus, being in the flesh, took no credit for being good. He, too, as example to us, relied on the Father for any good expressed through Him.

For me, this understanding makes the discourse that followed make better sense. The ruler wanted eternity, and, as implied in the passage, he did all the good he new to do, hoping for the reward of the eternal. Yet he lacked one thing, to die to self, having no other desire or motive than to follow and please God alone.

Some long ago commentary says that Genesis 15:1 is more accurately translated, “Fear not, Abram, I AM your Shield, your abundant compensation, and YOUR EXCEEDINGLY GREAT REWARD.” This is the only, truly-needful motivation for Christlike goodness and it’s resource is God alone.

A Focus On Light: Let There Be Light

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. GOD SAW THAT THE LIGHT WAS GOOD; and GOD SEPARATED THE LIGHT FROM THE DARKNESS.” (Genesis 1:1-4 NASB)

The physical creation of all that we know begins with God, The Triune One Who is Light, creating light in the physical realm. He sees light as good, knowing that light allows visual acuity. We can see in the light better than in the night.

The next thing God did after creating light and pronouncing it to be good, was to make a CLEAR DISTINCTION between light and dark.

All through scripture we find things in creation and in life that are a picture of God and His ways, set to aid our understanding of Him. As we study “Light” this Genesis Scripture is a powerful representation of today’s truth: God makes a clear distinction between Light and dark.

There is NO GRAY between black and white. It’s either true, or it’s a lie.

There are continuums all through scripture that define this separation. For example, we know, having seen thus far in this series, that God is light and His light has no relationship or harmony with dark. God is the Father of Truth _______ lies are fathered by Satan. God is good _______ evil is Satan. God is Love _______ hate is Satan. I’m sure you can think of others. We each fall somewhere on these continuums in our practice of life. The goal and desire of God for our lives, is for all to come to repentance (drawing into Light) _______ perishing (falling to eternal darkness) not.

Beloved, The closer to God we walk, the more pure the light we possess and walk out into life. Knowledge of God’s true Light is vital, for the warning of Scripture is that Satan is so good at lying, that he can fool even the Christian elect with his false light (Matthew 24:24 NASB; 2 Corinthians 11:12-15 NASB).

The greatest desire of false light is to put a veil of hindrance between us and true salvation found only in Christ. Jesus alone is the way, the Truth, and the life. The flesh of man always asks, “What must I DO to inherit eternal life?” Our pride and arrogance makes it hard for us to accept that we can do nothing worthy of the debt we owe. Thus God provided the propitiation (full payment) through Christ. The only thing we can and must do is to receive His gracious gift through repentance (acknowledging our need of Him, aligning self with His estimations), denying our own arrogance, thus, receiving His salvation. In so doing, we acknowledge our need of Him, bowing down to His Lordship as The true Christ, thus choosing to walk with Him into the Light. (2 Corinthians 4:3-6 NASB)

Jesus paid it all and invites us to journey with Him to the Light-end of every continuum we travel. He makes our every need of Him clear, aligning us with His Light.

“But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light.” (Ephesians 5:13 NASB)

Also see: 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 NASB; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 NASB.

A Focus On Light: Walking LIGHT

“…Therefore do not be partakers with them; for you were formerly darkness, but now YOU ARE LIGHT IN THE LORD; walk as children of Light….” Ephesians 5:6-10 NASB

This passage proof texts the pondering from yesterday. God is LIGHT. Our relationship with Him revives His image, set in humankind at creation and revived in us through Christ as God abides in us and us in Him. Thus, He who is Light shines in us and makes us light as He is LIGHT. But what does that look like?

Beginning with today’s passage and pressing on for as many days as I find scriptural descriptions to follow, we will answer this question. I started here in Ephesians instead of continuing with the blueprints found in 1 John, because, to me, this is the clearest picture of the light God is, the Light Jesus portrayed, and the Light we are in Him. Ephesians 5:6-10 is always first in my memory when I consider our call to be His Light.

“…walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.”

In our relationship with God, as we grow to know and understand what pleases Him, we begin to bear the fruit of our growing union with Him. The rays of His Light, alive and growing in us, shine goodness, righteousness, and truth. Note these things, Beloved:

GOODNESS

First thing to remember is that “God, alone, is good.” (The words of JESUS when someone called Him good. Mark 10:18) Good or goodness is another attribute of God. Just as true love and pure light only resides in Him, so real goodness is His attribute alone. We can only be good as He bears that fruit into our lives. Goodness is another attribute found in the image of God, and goodness is part of what we see when God reveals His glory (Exodus 33:18-19 NASB).

RIGHTEOUSNESS

Scripture teaches that we are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. His Righteousness comes alive in us as we bear the light of His image. (2 Corinthians 5:21 NASB)

TRUTH

Jesus pointed to the lies portrayed and lived by the Pharisees, telling them that they were bearing the fruit of their father, the devil; then he points out that He is of His Father. Jesus is The Way, THE TRUTH, and The Life. He was the Light of the Father when He was here; and He left us to be His Light, Representing Him through our lives.

The Light of God through us, Beloved: Goodness, Righteousness, Truth. That is who we are, proving ourselves to be His children. Believe it. Receive it. POSSESS it. Walk it.

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16 KJV

Seven Healing Balms for Exhaustion Part 3

Exercise

Sometimes our “tired” is due to sitting too much. This happens to me. When I’m I’m stressed or depressed, and overly tired, I tend to sit too much, desiring to meet my need of rest. The thing is, sitting too much can actually hinder the body’s ability to rest well or to sleep well, and it increases depression. Thus, the encouragement of God’s Spirit to give focus to exercise is good wisdom.

Beginning with prayer and worship:

Prayer and the worship of the Triune God is a spiritual exercise that works wonders in a tired, body, mind, heart, spirit, and soul. Leaving issues at God’s feet lifts weight off of weighed down shoulders and stressed knees. Praise and worship strengthens the heart, lifts and eases the mind, and brings renewed vitality to life.

Work that body:

God made our bodies to move, lift, walk, bend, stoop, and work. When we fail to do that, a sundry of disease processes move in: inflammatory diseases, bone and joint maladies, heart, lung, and vascular disease, to name a few. Then we can add to that depression, appetite issues, insomnia, and more. And let’s not forget the excess weight, increased fat stores beyond the need of a healthy body, and decreased muscle mass and tone.

Exercise works our bodies, putting a good stress on it that strengthens function. A good work out and frequent movement increases endorphins that lifts mood, curbs hunger, and increases energy. Thus it makes sense that the Spirit of God would instruct me to get serious about this area of my health journey in this difficult season of life.

I cannot tell you the number of times hunger and out-of-control appetite has quieted or completely stilled with a good, brisk walk. Exercise actually increases energy levels and aids sleep. So, exhausted friend, let’s “Keep it moving!” (Deron Buboltz, Grow Young Fitness Motto)

13 Unexpected Benefits of Exercise

What to Do in the Long Night

First Timothy 4:12 is vital instruction at any age, especially in a Long Night Season. A long night can leave a person feeling lost and without direction, not knowing what to do in the situation or in life. This is the answer! Pray these things.

“Let no one look down on you.” Job made it known to his friends that their opinion had no basis in truth. We must know ourselves before God, keeping His opinion in mind when accusation comes.

Continue to be a godly example in speech (the way we talk), conduct, LOVE, faith, and purity. When we don’t know what to do, do these things and we will come through shining like gold.

Believe! Cling to faith in Father. Know Him, trust His promises, take Him at His Word despite what eyes see, emotions say, and the deceptive heart feels.

Trust in the Lord When the Path is Dark

13 Days of Trust in the Lord and do good. Day 12 – Isaiah 50:10

“Who among you fears the Lord and obeys his servant? If you are walking in darkness, without a ray of light, trust in the Lord and rely on your God.”

When we moved into our current home after 32 active years in the home in which we raised children, I was in a greatly slowed time of life. Still am, for that matter.

We were in a position to take a month getting the new home ready to move into. The kitchen needed little done, so I cleaned it and moved into it. We got a new mattress and springs for our bed and put it on the floor in our bedroom. I painted closets and moved our clothes in, and we camped out here while painting and putting in new flooring.

Shopping one day, I ran across a canvas wall hanging of a bridge path leading to a fog-covered, wooded area. Knowing that was my life at the moment and that it was significant, I bought it and keep it visible as a reminder that God’s eyes possess night vision, unhindered by any blanket of fog.

Our passage today instructs that when we are walking in the darkness of uncertain paths, trust the Lord and His servant to lead the way. Sometimes that servant is a spiritual leader (husband, pastor, president, etc.). But always the servant God desires we obey is Jesus, the Christ, and the Spirit of God within us.

This L-O-N-G season of fog laden paths we have walked since moving into our home has taught me greater faith to trust the Lord. None of my fog ladened journey has taught me more than our current situation with my husband’s health status that may well take him from me. The New American Standard version of Isaiah 50:10 puts it this way:

“Who is among you that fears the LORD, That obeys the voice of His servant, That walks in darkness and has no light? Let him trust in the name of the LORD and rely on his God.”

“Let him trust in the name of the Lord, and rely on his God.” When walking dark paths, the greatest challenge is trusting that God is with us. His names: Jehovah (Yahweh, I AM – Exodus 3:14), Immanuel (God with us – Matthew 1:23), Jehovah-Shammah (I Am Present – Ezekiel 48:35) , El Roi (The Strong One who sees – Genesis 16:13), Jehovah-Raah (The Lord my Shepherd – Psalm 23), and so many more that speak of God’s watch-keep over us and His faithfulness to be God. This is the God we call upon and trust at all times, especially when we can’t see our hand in front of our faces.

Our bedroom is that dark. When the light goes out, I literally can place my palm against my nose and not see even an outline of my hand. But there is something awesome I note every night as I get ready to shut my eyes in that darkness. There is a cloud-like, illumination I can see all through that deep darkness, reminding me that God is there. He is with me; He sees; He is my ever-living, ever-loving, ever-faithful Ebenezer (Rock of Help – 1 Samuel 7:12).

Trust in the Lord on those uncertain paths, beloved. He is with you and for you.

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“Let your character or moral disposition be free from love of money including greed, avarice, lust, and craving for earthly possessions and be satisfied with your present circumstances and with what you have; for He God Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. I will not, I will not, I will not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let you down relaxing My hold on you! Assuredly not! Hebrews 13:5,AMPC

Choose Life! What does that mean anyway?

I wrote the following for my Spark page blog and thought I would share it with you here. SparkPeople is a free healthy lifestyle community I am in. If you struggle to eat right and exercise, it is an excellent site providing resource materials, tools for a successful journey, support from other members, and teams to challenge our journey forward. Whether you are young and relatively healthy, handicapped and in need of support, or older and in need of encouragement to change long held habits, their is a support system for you at http://www.sparkpeople.com. (If you join SparkPeople, tell them TRANSFORM-ABBY  sent you and it will link us as friends. Then be sure to tell me who you are.)

So here is today’s blog share with you:

Choose Life! What does that mean anyway?

Scripture encourages us to Choose life. That phrase hit my heart this morning as I reread my own status, and I wondered with regard to our Spark journey, “What does that mean anyway?”

My first thoughts went to the passage itself for my answer (Deuteronomy 30). In that passage it tells us to choose life or death, good or evil, blessing or curse. So to choose life on this journey is to:

Do good toward ourselves and, in the doing, to do it for those we love as well. When we eat right, we are doing good for self. And providing good things for self generally will make that same provision available for those we love so they, too, wind up eating better. When we do good toward ourselves by moving our bods and making sure we get needed activity it is good for us, yes, but it also provides an example worth following for our children and grandchildren, and even opportunity for them, our mates and other loved ones and friends to join us. So choosing life is to choose the good by doing what is best for ourselves with that good having the potential to impact those closest to us. And doing good for self adds strength to our days so we are better able to do for others.

Choose blessing: I have a note up on my bathroom mirror that reads, “Choose the things that matter most.” Choosing blessing is to have right priorities so that we are blessed in life, enjoying the good things in it, and so we are a blessing in life, giving self and giving our best to others. The example that came to mind is to know when spending time with that grandbaby that is visiting is more important than making sure the furniture is dusted. And which is more important? A baby that feels loved and safe, or harping at them in anger over the fingerprints left for us to clean? Choose blessing by having right priorities.

There are so many thoughts in scripture to direct us in how to choose life: “set your mind and keep it set on the things above, the higher things” (Colossians 3, AMP); “do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit…do not merely look out for your own personal interests” (Philippians 2); “treat others as you would like to be treated”. And Luke 6:31-33 brings me full circle as it instructs:

“Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.  If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.”

Agape love loves others as we love ourselves, doing good to them, having their best interests at heart. It is not based upon a system of reward only for those we feel deserve it. It is based on who we are. And love for others begins with a love for God that knows how to love oneself, and love others in kind. If I will not do something to or toward myself because it would not be good for me, I must not do that to others. If I do good for another, but fail to do the same for myself, I have committed self-neglect. I cannot take proper care of others if I fail to meet my own needs so I have strength and energy to care for others. Thus we are right back to the point of fact that to have life abundant and full, we must do good toward ourselves and others.

Choose life, beloved, and this journey will be a true blessing that makes a life-journey worth taking.

Journey to Self-Control: Part 4 of 7

To Self-Control, add: My journey continues!

“Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love” ~ 2 Peter 1:5-7.

“Now for this reason”…What reason? Verse four answers my query, telling me that because I am among those who are recipients of the promises of God, I am, by His promises, to apply the following so that I can “become a partaker of the divine nature.”

There it is. I am on this Spark Journey for the purpose of experiencing God. And I am to experience Him as I walk with Him to develop within me the fruit of His Spirit found in the practice of self-control. This passage God led me to adds understanding to my path.

To DILIGENCE, in faith—faith in what? God and His promises.

God's Promise2

Practicing diligence with faith in God and His promises, I am to supply moral excellence—the immoral man sins against his own flesh (1 Cor. 6:18). I must realize the importance of this journey anew as I recognize my body as the very temple of Holy God, and be deliberate in behaving in ways that are beneficial to the health and well-being of God’s abode.

To moral excellence I add knowledge. That means I must study to be approved so I know what I am doing on this journey.

To knowledge I must add—and there it is—self-control: my deliberate effort to do the good empowered by God.

To self-control is added perseverance. God does not always change us in an instant. More often than not, He does His work here a little, there a little. To become discouraged is to fall away. If I truly want this, it will require me to persevere.

Persevere3Through this cycle we find godliness—His nature, alive, well and working within, which produces brotherly kindness, and well-springs with Love—God is love.

After God started speaking to me, reminding me of this lesson learned long ago, my self-control bounced off the wall of exhaustion and fell into a bowl of ice cream about two hours after dinner last night, breaking my “No ice cream” streak and my “Stop eating after dinner” streak. Because of God reminding me that to self-control we add perseverance, I did not fall to discouragement, but was immediately able to get back up, dust off, and carry on. As the result of not falling into a binge, but immediately getting back on track, the scales were up only two tenths of a pound this morning. Today has been strong again.

Two words that stand out to me for adding to my practice of self-control:

  • Perseverance – Steady persistence in adhering to a course of action, a belief, or a purpose; steadfastness.
  • Diligence – Earnest and persistent application to an undertaking; steady effort; assiduity (??). Attentive care; heedfulness.Persevere6
    • Assiduity – Persistent application or diligence; unflagging effort. Constant personal attention and often obsequious solicitude (??). Devoted attention.
    • Obsequious solicitude – essentially “as a servant seeking the aid of her Master.”

Thus, my journey continues as I determine to be diligent in my efforts to persevere, not raising the white flag of surrender in my journey to have victory in the area of self-control, but by the power of the Master to whom I cry out as the supply needed to win the goal, I stand firm and press forward.

(One more blog point to follow and our journey to self-control is finished…for now 😉