Saturday, February 24, 2018

Ever Feel Not Good Enough

Philippians 4:13
I can do all this through him who gives me strength. 

Deuteronomy 31:6-8
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the presence of all Israel, “Be strong and courageous, for you must go with this people into the land that the LORD swore to their ancestors to give them, and you must divide it among them as their inheritance. The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

Ever feel inadequate or afraid? I've been writing and posting devotions on my blog for more than seven years. Each time I put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard, a feeling of incompetence sweeps over me. The dread of "not good enough" stymies my words. Then frustration sets in and my thoughts dissipate into a wisp of smoke and blow away. If inadequacy isn't enough, sometimes I'm afraid I'm not writing the words God wants me to. I feel like I am not listening close enough to him. Yet, I keep at it. I write and pray and pray and write. God knows my heart. He understands where I've been and knows where I'm going.

God knew Joshua, too. He understood that he'd need to give Joshua a lot of encouragement. If you read through the end of Deuteronomy and the beginning of the book of Joshua, you'll see that God tells Joshua over and over to be strong and courageous. God doesn't say this because he thinks Joshua is inadequate. He says it because he knows without doubt that Joshua is the man for the job. He's called him to replace Moses.

Our Lord invites us to work for him, he calls us to serve. He reminds us to work with our hands and make a living. And in all of those things, he equips us. God pours over us the tools we need. That's why I believe the words of Paul. " I can do all this through him who gives me strength." All this which Jesus encourages me to do.

My prayer is to be strong and courageous, no matter what my circumstances. To not hold back, but to move forward for Christ. 

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Be the Love

I Corinthians 13:8
Love never fails.

Matthew 22:37-39
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ”

The word love is mentioned more than 500 times in the New International Version of the Bible and more than 300 times in the King James. Plus, King James uses words like charity to speak of love. As I've studied and written through the "love" verses of 1 Corinthians 13, I'm brought to the one verse that ties a lovely bow on the most beautiful package. "Love never fails."

Paul is speaking of the love God has for his people, the love we have through Jesus, the love God wants us to have for one another. Matthew writes with authority from God that we are to love God and our neighbor. The question is often asked, who's my neighbor. With social media and the internet connecting people around the world, I chance a guess to say, whoever God sends across our path is our neighbor. That person may live across the street or on the other side of the world. Wherever they are, we need to pour love over them the way Paul poses in Corinthians.

Maybe if we show more love and less hate, there will be less senseless acts of violence. Maybe if we show more love and less hate, people will feel loved and pass it on. 
Maybe if we show more love and less hate, less bullying, abuse, and evil will be prevalent in the world. Where do we begin? At home, at work, on Facebook, in the classroom, and yes even in the church. God's love never fails. But sometimes we stink at showing his love to others. Look for the people God needs you to love.

Be observant. Be intentional. Be the love.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Fiction Book Review: Phoebe's Light by Suzanne Woods Fisher (series Nantucket Legacy)

Book Description:
Phoebe Starbuck has always taken care of her father--worrying enough for both of them, as he chases one whim after another. Now, for the first time, she's doing what she wants to do: marrying Captain Phineas Foulger and sailing far away from Nantucket. As she leaves on her grand adventure, she takes two gifts from her father, but desires only one: her great-grandmother's journal. The second gift? A "minder" in the form of cooper Matthew Macy, a man she loathes.

Phoebe soon discovers that life at sea is no easier than life on land. Lonely, seasick, and disillusioned, she turns the pages of Great Mary's journal and finds a secret that carries repercussions for everyone aboard the ship, especially the captain and the cooper.

Sail away with expert navigator Suzanne Woods Fisher, who confidently explores the sometimes treacherous shores of Quaker life on the storied Nantucket Island.

My Review:
Phoebe's Light gave me a feeling of hope. Set in the sixteen and seventeen hundreds, the story goes back and forth between Phoebe and her great-grandmother. The stories have several parallels, which keeps the thread of the book running smoothly. Suzanne Woods Fisher did her homework when preparing to write this adventurous story. The details from Suzanne's research jumped off the pages. I enjoyed learning about the Quaker culture and the Puritan's reign in America. In the front of the book is a list of characters and a glossary. I thought I'd need to keep referring to the character list, but once I got into the story I had no trouble keeping the people straight. Most of the Quaker vocabulary is self-explanatory within the context of the story. Thee and thou are spoken by the characters, but the words flow with the text. Phoebe's Light was a refreshing read about courage, honesty, redemption, and love. I highly recommend Phoebe's story.

Love never fails

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Hope and Perseverence

1 Corinthians 13:7b
Love...always hopes, always perseveres.

Psalm 33:22
May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in you.

From a young age, I planned to earn a college degree. What I didn't know—the process would take thirty years. Yet, I had a hope to accomplish what God laid on my heart. When Tim and I married, he took on that hope with me. We persevered together, along with our children, as I worked a full-time job, raised a family, and took classes. They all stuck with me until I accomplished my goal.

My granddaughter plays basketball. All season she's hoped to make her first game basket.
We took on that hope, cheering her on. On Saturday, she swished that ball through the basket. As a family we persevered with her as she practiced and worked toward the goal.

These examples of hope and perseverance may seem simple, but every step we took was dressed in love. Dilly and I had people who cared about us and supported us as we focused on our goals.

Jesus, the giver of hope, came to earth. He knew he'd be crucified— tortured for our sins. Yet because he loves us, he chose to persevere. His is the truest story of hope and perseverance. Jesus, hope in human flesh, rose from the grave to give anyone who follows him the hope of eternal life. With that, God sends the Holy Spirit to persevere with us through this life. I praise God for the Holy Spirit. He's with us every day.

Hebrews 5:3-5 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

He's our Protector

1 Corinthians 13:7a
Love...always protects, always trusts...

Proverbs 3:6-7
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
 in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.

When we're at home our dog, Tater, parks himself between us. He's our protector. Without a doubt, he'd place himself between me and an attacker. That's just who he is. He's a good dog who loves us. He trusts us, too. He knows he'll be fed, watered, and walked every
day. If my dog can show love through protection and trust, I can too. With my children, I've always been the mother bear. Protection mode, all the time. My husband loves me by watching out for me, and I love that. But what about the part, love always trusts? Yes, Tater trusts us to take care of him. But maybe there's more to loving and trusting.
I believe God wants us to not just trust the people we love, but to entrust them to him.
One of the most difficult things I've ever done is turn my loved ones' safety, health, and life over to the one who loves them the most. At times, as a mama bear my anxiety choked my ability to think straight. I felt helpless. No matter what I thought I could do, it wasn't enough. That's when I knew I had to look up and pray to God. The one I entrust my loved ones to needed to hear my pleas. He's the one I truly have faith in. It's not easy to let go and give our needs to God. But I know when I do, God gives me strength and comfort. He pours his peace over me. I'll admit, I still struggle with letting go and letting God. But that doesn't keep me from trusting in him and crying out.

Love always protects and trusts when we hand our cares and worries over to the one we believe can move a mountain. Even when the situation seems impossible, God cares and listens. The creator and worker of miracles loves you more than you and those you love even know. Trust the Lord with all your heart because he loves you.