Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Week Thirty-Nine - A Fixer-Upper

I love those fixer-upper house shows. Since I always wanted to be an architect and design houses, I marvel at what they can do and want to get my hands dirty with them. I still have a dream of building my own tiny house someday. Maybe the Lord will grant my wish, maybe not, but I still enjoy watching others.

Today's devotional reading reminded me that though we are his children, we choose where we live - in the flesh or in the Spirit. The application sounded like a fixer-upper. Here's some of what it said.

"It must astonish God that many of us neglect our source and revert to the insufficiency of human ingenuity and resourcefulness, when we have a supernatural source readily available...We are so accustomed to our old nature - it is comfortable despite its weakness - that we forget to invite the power of God to live in us."

How often are we guilty of living in our comfort zone - even to our detriment - just because we have grown used to our old nature? It's like the people in those shows. They've grown accustomed to the odd floors, creaking doors, and broken faucets. But the time has come to call in help - to fix things up. They have come to the end of themselves and are calling in the pros!

If we are living in the flesh, we are going to face the same dilemma. Our status-quo will grow tiresome, and we will see and feel the cracks and creaks in our lives, sounds that remind us things aren't as they could be.

It's time to bring in the Heavenly Repair Man! To vacate self and let Him do a work in our lives. We need some fresh light, some foundation work, more doors of service, some rearranging, a welcoming entry, space for hospitality, and all evidence of the old man removed. We need a complete renovation.

How does it happen? We must turn over the keys and step aside. We must yield to the Professional's advice and trust Him to do the work we cannot do ourselves. Our part is called humility and repentance.

"Oh, Lord, come in and cleanse this house. Make me over anew. Shine light into this darkened space and put Your stamp on my life. I'm tired of living with patched walls and broken stairs. I need Your capable hand to reconstruct and renovate this life You have given me. I choose, Lord, to live in Your Spirit. Fix me up!

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Week Thirty-Eight - Just a Little More Compassion

Isaiah 55:8 is our consideration for today.  God says, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways." 

Let's put that together with Lamentations 3:22-23, where Jeremiah records, "It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, Because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: Great is thy faithfulness."

God's thoughts toward us are good and infused with compassion and mercy because He understands what we endure and genuinely cares. His thoughts and compassions are higher than the heavens and faithfully encompass every generation, individual, and all eternity. That's a lot to take in, isn't it? Our thoughts don't extend to such consistent compassion.

Personally, I can get cynical and weary of the whining, fussing, and droning around me. Sometimes I think, "Why don't people just suck it up and get on with life by loving each other and being kind?" Maybe my attitude comes from age and experience, or perhaps, it is evidence of my personal lack of mercy and compassion.

Call it what you will; we all spend too much time complaining and thinking we are hard done by compared to the grace, mercy, and compassion afforded us by our Lord. So, praise the Lord; God is in control and not me. Otherwise, some people would be sent to their rooms without supper!

As I prayed and meditated on God's immense compassion, I was humbled again to see my own deep need for love, understanding, and a caring heart. God is the only one who can adequately meet that need, touch my heart, and give me a hug big enough to make me feel better. 

Flowers won't do. Chocolate is a temporary fix - except on the hips. And even tokens of kindness are short-lived compared to a compassionate hug from the Everlasting Arms. 

So, as I sit in my cozy corner wrapped in a special red afghan, listening to the morning raindrops, I know God is here with me. His thoughts are on a higher plain and His mercies, for me and for others, are renewed each morning. His compassions fail not - mine are fleeting.

Lord, grant me the grace to extend to others what you so graciously and faithfully extend to me. Give me, Lord, just a little more compassion!

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Week Thirty-Seven - AVA

The other day my niece put up a Facebook post that reminded me of a teaching I enjoyed and still continue to use. Her post was about racism, abortion, and euthanasia. I'm not going to directly get into those topics, but I think we can look at some Bible principles that guide our position on these issues and others facing this generation.

Her post read, "The importance of the concept of men and women as bearers of God's image speaks to the dignity and worth of each human being. No one person can be considered more like the Creator than another. In addition, every life, whether in the beginning stages or at the end of days, shares the same value before God. This fact should encourage Christians with two important truths:

1. You should seek to protect life at every stage because every stage is valuable.
2. You should never hold racist beliefs because all humans bear the image of God."

When I consider these things, I place myself in their position and walk a mile in their moccasins. If I were the unborn child or the aged person - how would I want to be treated or valued? If my skin color or nationality were in the minority - how would I want to be included or what would I hope to add to the community around me?

The Golden Rule applies here - Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Isn't it amazing how simply God puts it?

I want to share with you a teaching the Lord gave me years ago when I had to speak on women's rights. It was an odd topic for a Bible study, but I have never forgotten what I learned and when I come to these issues we are referring to today, it creates for me a way of viewing all of humanity regardless of age, gender, or ethnicity. It's easy to remember - I call it AVA.

We all have equal Access to God.

    He hears the prayers of every soul that calls to Him.
    He is open to all who will believe.
    Even for those who have not heard, the Bible says, creation reveals God.

We all have equal Value to God.

    He is no respector of persons.
    He loves and cares for each of us as His creation.
    He has a plan and purpose for every individual.

We are all equally Accountable to God.

    God's standard is the same for each of us.
    We will all eventually stand before Him.
    And, we will all be held accountable for what we did with Christ, and how we treated each other.

So, with equal access, equal value, and equal accountability, there comes a level playing field. No one person is greater than the other in God's eyes. Oh, we might have job descriptions that place us in different categories and levels of responsibility. Or, we might have educational differences, but laying those things aside, we all come from the same place and all end up standing before a holy God.

For me, this little AVA directive reminds me of two important things.

1. I am never going to meet anyone God does not love. And so, I should treat them with respect in honor to His name.

2. Accountability. I think this is the missing key in today's society. Understanding and accepting my personal accountability causes me to measure my responses. But equally - others will also be held accountable for their actions. But I am not the one to whom they must answer - God is. And since we are all equally accountable, I am best to keep myself in the love of God, treat others with care and respect, and leave the judging of their actions to Him.

Equal access, equal value, and equal accountability. So simple, yet so worth using as a guide in life.

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Week Thirty-Six - I

Do you ever spend time beating yourself up with negative words about yourself to yourself? Well, I have just one thought for you today. Read slowly and breathe it in deeply.

I is a hard taskmaster.
I whispers self-condemning words.
I devalues progress.
I demands perfection.
I tries to hide.
I is a liar.
I steals joy.
I quenches hope.
I breaks relationships.
I genders loneliness.
I is stubborn and proud.
I is never satisfied.
I must die daily, so
I can be assured.
I can be humble.
I find fellowship.
I have hope.
I rejoice.
I live honestly.
I am open.
I have peace with imperfection.
I grow and develop.
I hear words of truth.
I can rise with Him.
And so,
I can follow the Master.