Category Archives: God

Don’t Forget God in Your Plans

One day, I decided to surprise my family and bake chocolate chip cookies for dessert.  Because I had made them so often, I had the recipe memorized.  Not using a recipe made me feel like a professional baker. As I began to measure and pour into the mixing bowl, I smiled as I thought about my soon-to-be wonderful, edible creation.

I put the cookie dough in the oven to bake and set the timer.  When the timer went off. I pulled the cookies out. They were as flat as wax paper and fell apart.  I was both shocked and upset and went to look at the recipe.  As I read the instructions, I realized I had forgotten to add baking soda and salt so that they would rise.  The batch of cookies had to be thrown away.

Leaving out key ingredients in a recipe is a formula for disaster. In much the same way, when we leave God out of our decisions and choices, it is a formula for disaster.

An example of this goes back to Genesis in the area known as Babylonia. The people there all spoke the same language and had wandered away from the Lord.  They decided to build a city with a great tower.  The people did not consult God about it. They wanted to build something extraordinary that would make them famous and would reach to heaven.

The Lord looked down and saw what the people were doing. They had forgotten God. He knew that the more they could do and succeed on their own, the more sinful they would become. They wanted to do what they wanted to do and did not care whether it honored God or whether it was even good for them. Their sinfulness angered Him, and he scattered them. The He gave them each a different language so it would be harder to communicate with one another.

The great city and tower were forgotten in the chaos of needing to make a life in a different area of the world and/or speaking a language that nobody understood.  The delicious and rich cake of life flattened and left them starting over with the need to just worry about the basics. All the familiar and former things were mostly gone. There was no longer room for pride and arrogance.

I’ll never forget how proud I was that I didn’t have to consult a recipe for those cookies. I even fantasized about having my own cooking show and being a sought-after baker. The shock and dismay dispelled the pride and arrogance and brought me back to Earth. I realized that if I wanted to be a world class baker, I couldn’t count on my memory. I needed to keep to the recipe to make sure the most important things were not forgotten.

When we reject or forget Him in our decision-making processes, it can result in some hard life lessons. God is the baking soda and salt in our lives. He helps us rise and become the best we can be. When we have a relationship with Him, He will be in everything we do. He will be the constant that will keep us together to enjoy rewards and allow us to rise above our calamities.

 

Consider this, you who forget God, or I will tear you to pieces, with no one to rescue you: Those who sacrifice thank offerings honor me, and to the blameless I will show my salvation. Psalms 50:22-23

 

Moving

You could probably call my husband and I nomads. So far, we have moved a total of fifteen times. Our moves mostly have been job related. We have moved within the same city, another city more than fifty miles away, and out-of-state. The hardest moves have been those that were out-of-state.
Of course, the hardest thing about moving out-of-state is that you are a total stranger to a new place. You need to decide where to live in a place you know little or nothing about. You are unfamiliar with the local roads, food, sports teams and perhaps even need to get used to a new dialect or accent. You will need to make new friends and find new doctors, dentists, schools and a church. It is a difficult transition.
Being a stranger in a new place was not an unfamiliar concept for Abram and Sarai. They moved around many times. However, they had settled nicely in Canaan and enjoyed living there on the land God promised them until famine came. Then they had to move to Egypt to find food.
As they neared their destination, Abram was worried about the Egyptians killing him because of Sarai. She was still a beautiful woman and if they knew Abram was her husband, they might kill him and take her. He told her to say she was his sister so that his life would be spared. Sure enough, she caught Pharaoh’s eye, and he gave Abram many extravagant gifts for her.
Remember that God promised to look out for Abram. But Abram instead of relying on God to protect them, took matters into his own hands by lying about Sarai. Not only did this cause Pharaoh to be in a position to commit adultery, but it ended Sarai’s and Abram’s marriage. If they were not married to one another, it blocked the promise of descendants via Abram and Sarai as God had promised.
God caused plagues to fall on Pharaoh’s household. Pharaoh knew the Lord sent those plagues and called for Abram. He asked Abram why he lied about Sarai? Pharaoh could have had them both killed for their treachery. Instead he ordered him to take Sarai and leave the country and gave him an escort out of Egypt. Abram was permitted to keep the gifts he’d been given for her. These gifts added to the wealth Abram already had.
At first, I thought it was weird that God would reward Abram for not relying on Him by giving him more wealth. But I think God wanted Abram to know without a doubt that He had intervened, and His plan was in place no matter how Abram tried to mess it up by not trusting and seeking the Lord’s guidance.
When I read this story, I am reminded that God has a plan for us. No matter what we do, His plan is THE plan and cannot be changed. It comforts me to know no matter what I do, I cannot change or screw up God’s plan for me. He gives me freewill, and I always have the choice to rely myself or on Him in all my decisions. All I need to do to make the right choices is know Him by reading my Bible and spending time in prayer. The closer I am to Him the easier it is to get with His plan.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

There’s Good In Everything

When my husband and I first got married, we both worked fulltime, and my husband was also in college.  So, all the housework fell to me.  I was not thrilled with my new role.  I’ll admit it…I hate housework, and I really have to be in the mood to do it.

Back then, I hated doing laundry.  Not only doing it, but just getting to the washer and dryer was a pain!  At that time, we lived in an apartment.  I used to have to lug large baskets of laundry to another building that was not close by and run back and forth to check and make sure nobody ran off with my clothes.  Sometimes, I would bring a book and stay.  I was not comfortable staying in the basement of that building.  It gave me the creeps, as did some of the people who came and went.  Then we moved closer to my parent’s house, and I was able to do laundry there until we were able to afford a washer and dryer.  I enjoyed doing laundry at that time because visiting my family was a perk.

I learned something about my husband through his laundry.  The most telling thing was that he was not very careful with money back then.  Doing laundry was financially rewarding for me.  I could count on finding money in the dryer at some point on laundry day.  Not just quarters, pennies, nickels and dimes, but $1.00, $5.00, $10.00 and $20.00.  It was like playing a slot machine! When the clothes went in, I never knew how much money would come out!  One month I made more than $50.00.  Back then, that was a lot of money.  He never seemed to miss the money either.  I was just happy it fell into my hands and not into someone else’s.  The found money went back into our budget.

When I ponder those laundry days, I am reminded that something unexpected and good can be found in something that is unpleasant or difficult.  Sometimes the good things are obvious like the money in the washer/dryer, and other times it may not be so obvious like precious time spent visiting with my parents when I went over to their house to do laundry.  The bad things that happen or unpleasant things we have to do can blind us to the good that can come from it.  Difficult circumstances can bond us with people, can aid in our spiritual growth, and by forcing us to turn to and rely on the Lord and learn more about Him.

All bad or unpleasant experiences add to our personal wealth…not necessarily our monetary wealth, but our spiritual wealth.  Every time we persevere through a difficult time or circumstance something new and important is added to our spirit.  Jesus told us that our treasures are in heaven not on this earth.  Those things that are added to our spirit are lasting, but material wealth; like that money found in the washer/dryer spends quickly.  God looks at our spirit and our hearts and not what we have in our bank account or assets.  When we go through life’s trials, not only can we can view it as adding to our spiritual wealth, it also shows us the power of the Lord.  The Lord is our eternal constant and is more than able to get us through anything that life throws at us.

 

 

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.  We are hard-pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.  2 Corinthians 4:7-8

Making the Grade

When my siblings and I reached school age, it was made very clear to us that a C was an unacceptable grade.  Our parents believed that if we applied ourselves and did our very best, there was no reason to EVER bring home a C.  B’s were not accepted either, any B we received had to come up to an A the next grading period.  My parents required nothing less from us, and it was disrespectful not to comply.

Needless to say, grade card time was not looked forward to in our household.  We would have to lay our grade cards before our parents for inspection.  If they felt it was not good enough, we got in trouble.  Of course, any show of an attitude or defending a bad grade was unacceptable.   If we had a good grade card, we got a little praise and were told to keep it up.  The only tangible reward was 25 cents an A which later raised to a dollar to keep us incentivized.

Just as my parents expected us to give our very best, so does God.  An example of this can be found in Genesis in the story of the brothers – Cain and Abel.  Cain was a farmer and Abel was a shepherd.  The Bible says that Cain brought some of his harvest, and Abel brought forth the best that he had and they both offered their gifts to God.  God accepted Abel’s gift, but not Cain’s.

Why?  Because Cain did not bring his best to God and because he didn’t, it was an indication he did not have the right heart.  From the story told in Genesis, you get the impression Cain kept the best for himself and gave God something less.  Cain either did not recognize or care that God was the reason for his bountiful harvest.  Yet, Abel brought the best to God showing he recognized that his good fortune came from the Lord.

It is no different today.  When we don’t bring our best to the Lord, we are no better than Cain.  We are placing more importance on ourselves and our desires and not on God.  Sometimes we go through the motions of religion, but lack the heart behind it.  Like Cain, we forget who truly loves us, takes care of us and brings good things into our lives.

The season of Lent is a time when you think about something you can give up to honor Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross.  While it is an honorable and worthy practice, it is also important to make sure that you are bringing your best to Him.   Assessing your life and seeing where you can improve in relating to the Lord is a good place to start.  There may be something you need to add to your life to move toward having a better relationship with Him.  How can you give your best if you don’t know Him and what pleases Him or what He expects?   It does you no good to give something up for Lent if you don’t even know who the Lord really is.

 

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.  Romans 12:1-2  MSG

 

God’s Will

The house we lived in growing up had a basement.  It was large and tiled.  My parents turned into a playroom/study/living room type area for my brother, sister and I.  When my siblings and I were young, we loved to play “hide and seek” in the dark down there.  We would block the windows so no light could get in. One of us would stay upstairs while the other two would hide (or more if we had guests). The person who was “it” would turn off the lights before coming down the stairs to find “the hiders”.  The person who was found first was “it” next.

The key was for “it” to remain as quiet as possible so sounds would clue him/her in as to where someone was hiding.  When “it” moved, the movement had to be made as carefully and quietly as possible so “the hiders” didn’t hear “it” coming and duck, flatten or do anything else – except move – to avoid being touched.  Since the basement was pitch black, “it” had to extend his/her hands straight out and shuffle his/her feet to avoid tripping over or walking into something and could feel his/her way around the room.  Sometimes “it” had to request that “the hiders” make a sound so “it” could follow the sound(s) to find one of them.

Sometimes trying to discover God’s will in a situation or in our lives is a lot like playing hide and seek in the dark.  We want to do the right thing and remain in God’s will, but we cannot see it, or we reach out blindly hoping to find it.  It can be frustrating.

Because His will appears such a mystery to us, we may try to find a solution or what we think is God’s will on our own.  Ideas and options will run through our mind.  Something may attract our attention and/or sound good, and we end up trying to make our will into God’s will.

The only way to know God’s will for us is to know Him.  The only way to get to know Him is to build a relationship through prayer and reading/studying the Bible.  He has a set of standards and attributes that uniquely belong to Him and a set of expectations for those who follow Him.  Studying the Bible will help us to know and understand God and that in turn will help us make decisions that are in accordance with His will for our lives.  One thing is certain – whatever God’s will may be, it will never go against what is in the Bible.

The important thing to remember is to be still and quiet as we pray and read the Bible.  When we are in the dark about something, we can’t see a path forward, but we can still hear and feel.  Being quiet is more than just shutting out sounds – as in turning off the radio or television.  It is quieting our minds and keeping it open to what God wants or has to say to us that’s most important.  If we can’t hear Him, we may have a sin in our life that needs addressed, or we may be blocking His voice for some reason.  As we build our relationship with the Lord, when He speaks, we will recognize His voice and His light will permeate the darkness so we can see and know Him.

 

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.  I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. John 10:27-2