Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Week Eight - Ezekiel

Beside The Well

            It never ceases to amaze how God can take a portion of Scripture and come alongside with a nearly audible voice.  Ezekiel 36 is one chapter He used to speak directly to my need last year.  I was struggling again with my own personal inadequacies and failures when I heard God said, “Just read it and replace Israel with yourself.  What do you hear Me saying?”
God said,
            Ezekiel 36:9               “I am for you.
            Ezekiel 36:10 & 11      I will multiply you better than at your start.
            Ezekiel 36:17               But, you have messed things up, Gail.
            Ezekiel 36:18 & 19      Even when I warned you, you went your own way.
            Ezekiel 36:21               My name is important,
            Ezekiel 36:22 & 23      So, for my name’s sake, I will sort this out so the 
                                                 world/heathen will know I did it.
            Ezekiel 36:26 & 27      And, I will change your heart – I will change you.
            Ezekiel 36:28-30          I will still bless you.
            Ezekiel 36:31               But, you will be ashamed of yourself and your actions.
            Ezekiel 36:32               I am not doing this for you—you should be ashamed.
            Ezekiel 36:36-38          I am doing this so everyone will know I did it for you   
                                                 and so all will know I AM THE LORD.”

            It reminded me of scoldings I received from my own father as he tried to teach me to think about my actions and choose to obey.  I am so thankful that even in the midst of my faults and failures as an adult my heavenly Father is still graciously working to bless me and to use my life in some way to bring glory to His name.  He is such a good Father.  He will not leave me high and dry.  He will work on my behalf to sort out the messes I make.  He may let me sting from my wrongdoing, as my earthly father did.  I won’t get away Scot-free.  But, in the middle of my junk, He is there trying to help me do right and working all things together for good for His name’s sake.
            I find peace and assurance in the fact that God hasn’t given up on me and no matter how big a mess I make, He doesn’t throw up his hands in disgust. 

            O, Lord, in the middle of my weaknesses and failures, may others see You at work and may Your name be known.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Week Seven - The Wisp

Beside The Well
            One of the most dangerous and exciting things I can do is to get around people who are brainstorming or looking for ideas.  I love to make plans and initiate programs.  My mind seems to be constantly working through ideas and looking for better ways to do things or for more things that could to be done.  Drives my husband crazy.  I can see his countenance fall when I start thinking out loud.  It is as if he believed I actually expected him to do it all.  Over the years I have tried to learn to keep my thinking to myself.  But sometimes, it still slips out.
            One of Spurgeon’s devotions painted an amazing picture that explains the difference between my valentine and me.  Starting with an anonymous quote, he wrote, “Little sticks set great ones on fire, and a little wisp is often used to enkindle a great block of wood.” 
            I am definitely a wisp—fully designed for sparks.  I do not burn long and slow.  I dart from project to project always looking for the next challenge.  I dream big and wide across a whole spectrum.
            My husband, however, is definitely a log.  He is grounded and settled. Once he has a vision, he will work consistently and wait patiently for however long it takes to see it to fruition.  Rushing him only causes frustration.
            I see every new project as exciting; he sees it as work.  I get antsy when things don’t work out quickly; he has the gift of mercy and longsuffering. That makes for quite a team, but also for quite a struggle!  I like being a wisp and I’m glad my other half is a log.  There are pros and cons to both sides, but together, God uses us to accomplish His will.
            Spurgeon’s comment was “Thus we have known persons of small talent and position influence their superiors by their zeal.  Though themselves able to do but little, they have been full of fervor, and so have ventured further than the more solid and prudent felt at first inclined to do.  When we meet with persons of little substance but of considerable kindling power, let us put them together like matches and splinters of wood, for the commencement of an enterprise, and when we find others to be like heavy old logs, let us put them to use when the flame has taken good hold, for if they once get thoroughly alight they will sustain the fire long after the straw and the shavings have passed away.”*
            How wonderful that God has created each personality with a positive and purposeful design.  Spurgeon ends by putting forward a question, “Reader, which are you, a wisp or a log?  In either case there is a place for you…to be consumed for your Lord’s service.”*

*Spurgeon, C.H., Illustrations and Meditations or Flowers from a Puritan’s Garden, Passmore & Alabaster, London 1883, page 60.           

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Week Six - Latin Lingo

Beside the Well

            I had started my day with a look at the news.  Headlines about Trump, Israel, Syria and other sad reports were on every broadcast.  I finished my tea and went upstairs for spiritual refreshment looking forward to my daily meeting with Spurgeon.  He started off with a bunch of Latin that meant nothing to me, but the definitions blessed my heart.  The devotion was so good I had to record the entire thing for you.
            “I remember one of the fathers bringeth in the flesh, saying of believers, Ego deficiam, I will surely fail them and make them miscarry; and the world, Ego decipiam, I will deceive them and entice them; and Satan, Ego eripiam, I will snatch them and carry them away; but God said, Ego custodiam, I will keep them, I will never fail them nor forsake them.  Here lieth our safety and security.
            In other words, the flesh saith, “I will deceive;” the world, “I will defile’” the devil, “I will destroy;” but the Lord saith, “I will defend;” and that one word of God takes the sting from all the rest.  The flesh is as a drawn sword, the world as a sharp spear, and Satan as a poisoned arrow; but the Lord God is a shield, and this baffles all.  The flesh is much, the world is more, and Satan is most of all; but God is all in all. The flesh must die, the world must pass away, Satan must be overthrown; but the word of our God abideth for ever; and as the word of God is the life of the saints, they shall also abide world without end. What a rest this affords us when we are looking out of the windows of the future!  The Lord will be our succour in the days to come!”*
            The windows of the future look bleak when viewed through the television screen.  The news reports are so full of anger and bias the truth is hard to decipher.  Deceit, defilement and destruction are on every side, but what a blessing it is to know that underneath are the everlasting arms—arms that will defend, shield, and abide forever.
            So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me” Hebrews 13:6.

*Spurgeon, C.H., Illustrations and Meditations or Flowers from a Puritan’s Garden, Passmore & Alabaster, London 1883, page 101

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Week Five - Righteousness

Beside the Well

            I am currently reading my way through Jeremiah Burroughs sermons on the Beatitudes.  Today, the topic was hungering and thirsting after righteousness.  It reminded me of a simple study I had done on the benefits of righteousness found solely in the book of Proverbs.  Bear with me as I record that study for you.
We are to sow it because it gives a sure reward.  Proverbs 11:18
It brings conscientiousness.  Proverbs 12:10
It brings excellence.  Proverbs 12:26
It brings life. Proverbs 12:28
It will keep our way.  Proverbs 13:6
It brings favor.  Proverbs 14:9
It brings hope.  Proverbs 14:32
It exalts.  Proverbs 14:34
It brings treasure.  Proverbs 15:6
It brings wisdom.  Proverbs 15:28
            As I thought more on the subject I began to realize being righteous means different things to different people.  Some define it as self-righteousness, pride, or a superior, judgmental attitude.  They want nothing to do with that, and neither do I.  Some see it as an old religious word with no bearing on today, but though the quality is becoming more rare, it is still vital and beneficial. I thought of many synonyms that create a wider picture of righteousness.  Words like goodness, decency, integrity, morality, purity, or honesty, these all help us look at the different angles of being righteous.
            I don’t know about you, but these are all things I strive to attain in my life.  I want to be right.  Not right in the sense of being first or best, but right in the fact that I am making good choices, treating people right, standing for what is right, and keeping my life in check.   It breaks my heart when I fail.
            The benefits listed from my study in Proverbs challenge me to try even harder.  They are so numerous, why would I not want to have them?  Why would I ever choose a life of unrighteousness when righteousness offers such reward?  I am forced to look at my life and examine places where my integrity might be slipping or where dishonesty has crept in.  It creates a hunger and thirst for more righteousness in my life.
            The promise of the beatitude is filling.  The one that hungers and thirsts after righteousness will be filled.  That took my memory to one of the most beautiful passages of Scripture: Proverbs 24:4 “Through wisdom is an house builded; and by understanding it is established: And by knowledge shall the chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches.”
            A life filled with all precious and pleasant riches.  Truly, that is what I desire and I believe the pursuit of righteousness is the path to fulfillment of these promises.