Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Week Five - Overwhelmed

Beside the Well
            My week was overloaded.  The pressures of my to-do list, the tiredness of my mind, and my desire to run away from it all had taken over.  Then, the phone rang, and sad news entered the room.  It felt like a big boot had stomped my heart into the ground.  I lay there flat as a flitter sinking in the mire.
            I didn’t try pulling myself up by my bootstraps.  I didn’t shake off the dust.  I went straight to prayer and began claiming the promises of God.  I remembered Spurgeon’s advice, “Sit down at Mercy’s gate, and show your sores, and groan, and sigh.” Don’t be afraid to expose your wounds to Jesus.  He will bind them up Psalm 147:3.  So that’s what I did. 
            “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivereth them from them all,” I began to recite.  “The Lord redeemeth the soul of his servants, and none of them that put their trust in Him shall be desolate” Psalms 34:19, 22.
            Then, the Lord began to whisper to my heart, “Gail, what are you doing here?
            “Lord, I’m overwhelmed.  Everything around me looks negative.  I feel so alone in it all.  Things beyond my control feel threatening, and there is so much sadness.”
            “Oh, dear one, you are never alone.  I am right here.  Look up into My eyes.  I’m not asking you to solve all of these things, that’s My job.  What I need you to do is love Me and serve Me where you are.  That’s all I ask.”
            My world shrunk back into size, and my heart revived.  The pressure was off!
            “Lord, help me remember that I serve You.  You are the rewarder.  You are the mover of men and situations.  Help me walk alongside You in faith with my head held high, watching to see the steps you have for me and know that I am not alone in a cave, but walking on the King’s highway in good company.”

Spurgeon, C.H., Illustrations and Meditations or Flowers from a Puritan’s Garden, Passmore & Alabaster, London 1883, p 115.


Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Week Four - Rhema

Beside the Well

            The Welsh man stood to do the morning Bible reading asking us to turn to Psalm 56.  With beautiful precision and a metered gait he carefully read each precious word.  “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee…put thou my tears into thy bottle…For God is for me.” As he began to close on the last verse, the words came alive on the page.  “For thou hast delivered my soul from death: wilt not thou deliver my feet from falling?” And the Spirit spoke to my heart.
          “Your Father has delivered your soul from death—He gave you salvation.  Can you not believe He will also deliver you from your failures?”  Two other verses backed up His question.  “He that spared not his own Son… how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32)  and  “Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:3)
            I sat staring at the words in my Bible.  They had plunged into the very heart of my concerns and challenged me to look at my thoughts.  Yes, God has delivered my soul from death.  I know I am His.  But my heart was caught up in worry and fear over a situation for which I had no remedy.  My only choice was to trust the Lord and to wait for His delivery.
            Right there I bowed my heart and began to acknowledge God’s truth.  If He could deliver my soul from death, nothing else is beyond His ability.  He will keep my feet from falling.  He will solve my problem.  He is for me and will work on my behalf.
            It isn’t about how good I am or how hard I try.  It is about who He is.  What He can and will do for His child.  It is about my walk of faith as opposed to my trying to figure things out on my own. 

            Three times in Psalm 56 we find the phrase, “I will praise his word.” (vs 4,10)  Oh, how I praise His word.  Rhema -the living word alive in my heart!  For truly, “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31)  What a wonderful place to stand!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Week Three - That Elusive Phone

Beside the Well

            I misplaced my phone the other day.  Like the woman sweeping her house looking for that lost coin, I searched through every room.  Of course, the phone was on silent!  I don’t want it interrupting me all the time.  But, today, I wished I could have heard that ringer.
            I gave up on the house and began scouring the cars as I prayed for the Lord to help me remember where I had laid it.  My search was futile.  The phone refused to be found.  It wasn’t in the pockets of my jackets.  I wasn’t between the cushions of the couch.  It wasn’t even at the church.  I know, because I drove over to make sure.
            Later that evening, I came back to my desk and stared blankly at my computer still bemused by my lost phone.  With all of my searching, it evaded me.
            I reached over and picked up my work diary and underneath, silently waiting between that book and another, was my elusive treasure.  I had looked all over my desk several times that day, but for some reason, I had not moved that particular book.
            I tell you the story of my phone to make this point.  Sometimes we wander all over the place looking for that elusive dream.  It might be happiness.  It might be the answer to a quandary or life’s direction we are seeking, but instead of looking right before us, we wander all over the earth looking and looking to no avail.
            Proverbs 14:24 says, “Wisdom is before him that hath understanding; but the eyes of a fool are in the ends of the earth.”
            God’s word to me, as I read this verse in Proverbs, was, “Gail, concentrate.  Look at me.  I have the wisdom and direction you seek.  Keep your eyes straight on. Don’t go wandering around.  I am the Man with the answers.”  And then the Holy Spirit whispered, “A wise man will hear and increase learning.” (Proverbs 1:5)

            Maybe you are in the same boat—looking and looking for answers.  Let me encourage you to sit down and concentrate on what God has right before you.  Stop looking around and start looking at Him.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Week Two - Pots of Increase

Beside the Well

            The widow in 2 Kings 4:1-7 is facing a perilous financial situation as the prophet Elisha asks, “what hast thou in the house?”  In other words, what collateral or capitol does she have to start with?
            She replies, “not anything in the house, save a pot of oil.”  That was all she had of any real value: one pot of oil.
            The widow did her part—she obediently collected the pots.  And, she gave what she had—the single pot of oil.  God gave the increase.
            “ Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it.”  Psalm 127:1  I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.”   1 Corinthians 3:6,7  “The Lord shall increase you more and more, you and your children.” Psalm 115:14  As I meditated on the story, these Scriptures flooded my mind.
            The miracle of the pots was a direct result of the widow’s act of faith and obedience.  All she did was to collect some pots, pick up her pot of oil, and pour.  God did the rest.
            I began to reflect on the pots of oil the Lord has given me – talents, opportunities, my family, ministry, etc.  I am truly more blessed than the widow.  The pots in my care are gifts from the Lord to be used for His glory.  How am I using what I have?
            Then, my mind went to the idea of increase.  I can put effort into as many funnels or pots as I please, but unless the Lord is filling them, it is a self-focused effort.  I must be obediently pouring my life into what God has designed for me.  Only then will I see the lasting increase.
            God has proven this truth to me many times in my life.  I have watched Him build a ministry.  He has increased (blessed) my family and answered many prayers.  He has enriched my life beyond imagination, and all I did was stay faithful.  I planted.  I watered.  I obeyed.  And God gave the blessed increase.

            As 2018 is getting its stride, maybe we ought to look at what God has given us and do our part in faithful obedience looking to Him for the increase?

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Week One - Principles for 2018

I was perusing my journal and found where I had recorded 15 principles from the Jose Navajo book, Monday Mornings with my Old Pastor.  They are perfect for the start of a New Year.
Fifteen Principles
1.     Everything begins with loving God.
2.     Watch over and preserve your family.
3.     Spend quality time in your Bible.
4.     You either love those you serve, or you will stop serving them.
5.     You are valuable – be YOU.
6.     Be willing to forgive.
7.     Always stay grounded and levelheaded.
8.     Make prayer a habit.
9.     Laugh as much as you can—it heals.
10. Greatness is knowing how to be humble.
11. Faithful – respond faithfully to the One who has chosen you.
12. Learn the tremendous value of trials and difficulties.
13. Never make changes in the night.  Wait for morning.  Don’t make changes during times of storms.
14. Honesty – above all.  And integrity of self.
15. Form a team.  The key to effectiveness is not in doing the work, but in recognizing who the right person is to do it – delegate.
            “When life turns hard, and darkness hovers around you: when the slope seems too steep and the weight becomes too much, return to these principles—everything is by grace, which will sustain forever.”  (p 180)
            2018 is an unwritten chapter, but we need not fear.  God is already there!  Ours is to go forward enjoying all He has prepared, to face the challenges by faith calling upon His grace and wisdom, and to serve Him with gladness.  2018 is God’s gift, blessing, and increase.  Let’s choose to see the beauty and enjoy it!

Happy New Year