In the last few weeks, I have been driving on roads that I do not usually travel. I have had appointments that have taken me to different areas of the city. On one of my trips, I was driving on a new section of the interstate. My husband and I had only traveled on this new section of the road one time since it had reopened. As I was driving on this day, I was in a section where two lanes merge into one. I was behind a very large dump truck and there was a very small green car in the merging lane. As the lane ran out for the green car, it merged right into the large dump truck. The two vehicles collided with each other and then both moved to the shoulder on opposite sides of the road. I had no choice but to drive right through where they had hit each other. It was very unnerving.
Yesterday, as I was driving in the city, I was on a one-way street that had 3 lanes. I was driving in the center lane. There were red lights every few blocks so we were traveling at a very slow speed. The car in front of me had its left blinker on and was coming almost to a stop. The truck behind me must have decided we were not going fast enough, so it whipped around us in the left lane just as the car in front of me turned left. The car turned left from the middle lane of a one-way street! Needless to say, the truck from behind me ran right into the side of the car in front of me as it was turning left.
Two wrecks in front of me in a matter of days made me feel like maybe I should stay home. I have seen wrecks before but this seemed like too many right in a row.
What causes people to have a wreck? Inattention? Not being familiar with the road? Not knowing which way is the right way?
The Bible gives us directions and instructions on which way to go.
Psalm 32:8, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.”
Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on you own understanding; in all you ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
God has a plan for us and His plan is the best. He will never leave us alone. As we travel along life’s journey, we should always ask God to be with us and protect us. A prayer before you leave one destination for another is a great way to take the Lord with you wherever you go.
stewardship – “the conducting, supervising, or managing of something, especiallythe careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care” (MerriamWebster.com)
Background: My husband and I grew up from infancy in church. Not just in church on Sunday morning, but at least four times a week and often as many as six or seven. There was Sunday school, worship, Discipleship Training, choir, mid-week service, visitation, revivals, conferences, January bible study, youth rallies, and that’s just the ones I can recall in the time it took to type that sentence. Because of our involvement we grew up wanting to obey God, read our Bible, pray, and give out tithe.
When we were children tithing meant giving the dime our mamas gave us before church to “put in the offering.” As we grew into the preteen years we were encouraged to give ten percent of our baby-sitting or grass-cutting earnings, which we did. When we got our first “real” jobs in high school we felt proud to be able to contribute a tithe that we knew was enough dollars to actually help our church in some way.
All that history led us to where we were when we got married and where we are today.
As a young married couple with a few semesters to go in college there was no money to tithe. We were living off student loans. Upon graduation and getting engineering and teaching jobs we jumped right back in to what we knew to be the best way to live – we tithed. Not only that, we had an image of God in our minds from all the Biblical teaching we had received. It was the idea of stewardship: God owned all that was in the world and was the provider of all we had and all we needed. Therefore, we were to honor Him with all our possessions.
I realize that may sound strange to people not raised in the church, but it was a reality as normal as breathing for us. It is a principle woven throughout Scripture, and a worthy one to base the way you live on it.
We always wrote the tithe check first, even when we were broke. We may have eaten home-canned green beans and thirty-three-cents-a-box Mac and Cheese a lot, but we never failed to give to Our Creator, Father God. There were times we wished for all those dream items – house, a new car, vacations – but that did not tempt us enough not to give to God. The first real temptation for me NOT to give God control of all our money and possessions was over a vehicle.
We had been married about ten years and had three kids. Because of a job promotion, we were moving from from one town to another a couple of hours away. The moving van had been loaded and pulled out. With much excitement and weariness, we cleaned quickly and rustled the kids into the car headed for the New House. My husband drove his truck, and I drove our Suburban with the kids. Both vehicles were loaded down with suitcases, sentimental treasures, toys, and last minute items. Less than 10 miles down the road the Suburban started giving me problems; it wouldn’t shift into gear and would only go slowly. I flashed my lights at my husband’s truck up ahead. (Pre-cell phone times, required tricks and codes when you traveled!) Both vehicles limped slowly to a rest area a few miles down the road where my mechanic-of-a-husband checked out the vehicle and declared that was as far as it would be going that night.
This was a crisis of belief moment for me. Sure all my possessions belonged to God. Sure I trusted Him. Didn’t I? Suddenly I realized how easy it is to say we believe something and how hard it can be to live it out. Would God protect our family vehicle? HIS vehicle? Would God keep my treasures (picture albums, precious breakables that had been gifts down through the years, those irreplaceable things)? I was at the point of tears, but not wanting to upset the kids what does a mom do? You treat it like a big adventure!
“Alright kiddos! Grab what you have to have for tonight and we’re gonna pile in Daddy’s truck to go to our New House!”
And so we did.
We arrived safely, burst out of the truck where we had been squished for over on hour’s ride, and entered our New (empty) House with excitement. We all slept on the floor in Mommy & Daddy’s room that first night. As everyone else dozed, my tears came, along with whispered pleas of “Please take care of our stuff, Lord. It’s yours, I know, but it’s precious to me.”
And now for the rest of the story…
Next morning, we awoke to movers at the door. The day sped by and ended with us surrounded by boxes and trying to find the sheets. At a call from my husband a towing company had retrieved our vehicle – it was still there and our possessions were still intact – and it sat safely in the driveway, unloaded and ready to be taken to the shop the next morning. All was well. God had taken care of all that He had loaned me here on this earth, and my faith and willingness to hold my possessions with open hands had been strengthened.
The moral of the story…
God is trustworthy. He will take care of you – and your stuff. You will often hit a crisis of belief when you must choose to live out your faith in spite of fear or worry or doubt. Will you steward your life and your possessions well? You must decide. It’s often scary but it’s always worth it. Even if God allows something to be taken away. (We’ve had some of those times too.) But God will always work things out for your good and prove Himself faithful to you. He loves you. You are His precious treasure.
You have been given precious treasures – Steward Well!
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4:10
Let’s go back to July 22, 2010. It was my first day back to work after being out for almost three months. I had just recovered from major surgery on my left shoulder and was released by my surgeon to resume normal activities. I was driving into work that sunny afternoon when I noticed a car on the other side of the road crossing the line into my lane. I started to slow down and try to veer off to avoid the oncoming car, but instead, the car hit my driver’s side at such a high impact that my car flipped 3 times.
I was upside down in my car, crying for help while watching the blood stream down my left arm. I reached for my cell phone and called my dad. By the time he answered, a man who witnessed the wreck had made it to my car. The man had already called the police and was able to tell my dad what happened.
The paramedics had a difficult time getting me out due to the position and damage of my car. They were finally able to get me out and rushed me to the ER.
I’ll spare you the details, but I had broken ribs and fingers, several cuts, and a major injury to my left elbow. The bone was shattered and my ulnar nerve was severed. They did surgery to try to repair what they could. Due to the injury of the ulnar nerve, I was told I would no longer be able to feel the left part of my forearm, nor would I have feeling in my pinky and ring fingers. This would also result in not having full use of those fingers. Did I mention I’m left-handed?
Here I was, getting back on my feet from the shoulder surgery, starting back to work, and finishing out my last year of college in the fall. Then *bam* it all changes. I was back in bed for another 6 weeks to recover from the new injuries.
I battled depression. I cried…a lot. I didn’t sleep much because of the pain. I asked God why He allowed this to happen more times than I can count. There were so many unknowns for the future at this point and I simply didn’t know how I was going to move forward.
It was an extremely long and difficult recovery. I was angry all the time, I was hurting, and I was tired of depending on everyone else to take care of me. Ask anyone who helped me… I was not pleasant to be around. I had all of these plans for my future and now they were ruined.
But, I continued to pray. I wanted God to heal my broken spirit. I didn’t want to be angry and bitter.
I read Jeremiah 29:11-13 over and over again. It says, “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. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
I clung to those words. I began to see all the little things the Lord was doing that I overlooked in all my anger. That cell phone I called my dad when the wreck happened? I had zipped it up in my purse before I left the house. How it ended up within my reach, I don’t know. My left shoulder from surgery did not sustain any damage at all from the wreck. The legal settlement with the insurance companies was finalized. I was about to reach out to the elderly woman who hit me. We exchanged a couple of letters while we both were recovering from injuries. I even graduated college earlier than expected!
God knew I needed that wake-up call. That I needed to stop trying to control every aspect of my life. I now have a permanent reminder that His plans are far better than mine. He is faithful. He has provided (and continues to) in ways I could have never imagined.
Ladies, we will never know the full scope of God’s plans for our lives. But know that we CAN trust Him. He will provide in every circumstance, even if it isn’t the way we envisioned it.
One of my favorite passages is in Matthew. It’s a familiar one, but it brings me to tears every single time. Matthew 6:25-34 says,
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
The Creator of the universe cares for you, for me, for us. Hold onto this.
There is so much said today about identity. Trying to find my identity… I identify as… Gender identity…
As we wander through life seeking who we really are, we are like naive children who haven’t learned what the mature world knows. If you are searching, if you are ready to see your true identity despite your past and your failures, if you need a refresher on who you are in Christ, then look to the book of Ephesians, especially Ephesians 1.
You will find that you are…
…blessed with every spiritual blessing
…adopted as God’s child
…marked with a seal
“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,
To God’s holy people in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus:
2 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7 In him we have redemptionthrough his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, 9 he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.
11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.”
And don’t miss the last few verses! It s a prayer for you. Paul prayed it and I am praying it today for each of you who will read this article. Be blessed!
“15 For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, 16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. 17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.”
Yesterday was Mother’s Day. Some of you had a fulfilling day. Some cried over unfulfilled longings. Many grieved. Women’s emotions ran the spectrum from loneliness and disappointment to joy and that warm glow of satisfaction.
So how do we deal with the aftermath? With gratefulness, joy and investment.
As hard as your day may have been, you do have much to be thankful for. You are alive today, which means God isn’t finished with you yet – He still has a purpose and a plan for you. You are loved. Maybe family members didn’t come through as you had hoped, but you have a Creator who loved you enough to give up His throne room for a time and come walk this earth experiencing emotions, struggles and tragedies just like you.
Seek out joy in small ways. As walk. A phone call. Flowers on the table. Coffee with a coworker. A good book. Snuggles with a pet. Quiet meditation in God’s glorious sunshine. Don’t neglect to slow down and savor those little God-moments when He places something special to you in your path just for your enjoyment: a perfect sunset, finding something we lost, or a sweet word from a stranger.
Invest some thought, time, and money in someone else. It can be small, but meaningful: a card of encouragement or a text or call to someone you haven’t been in touch with lately. Or it could be bigger: cooking a meal or cookies for someone grieving or hurting. Or it could be acts of service: mowing the neighbors grass or volunteering with a service ministry .
When we do these things we set our mind on important things instead of fretting or regretting. We will be renewed by kindnesses done for others, moments of sheer joy, and simply taking time to be grateful for what we do have.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
2 Corinthians 5:17
HGTV has been a big hit for several years now. Many of us have watched Chip and Joanna Gaines’ Fixer Upper or Ben and Erin Napier’s Home Town or even The Property Brothers for years now. We’ve studied the open concept, shiplap, and the color schemes that are trending. Most have probably considered a remodel, and many of you have done one or may be in the middle of a big make-over project yourself. What is it about a remodel on our house that thrills us? A fresh start? The beauty and up to date appearance? Perhaps just a longing for something new.
A make-over of our surroundings is very appealing. We love this kind of change. But some other changes are not so welcomed nor embraced with such enthusiasm.
Internal personal changes in our lives are not often met with the enthusiasm of of a home make-over. In fact, we would much rather be left alone to wallow in our familiar ways. “This is just the way I am. Take it or leave it,” is our mantra.
God’s Word tells reminds us that is not the way God works. He is in the business of changing hearts and lives. In fact Scripture says He makes ALL things new.
He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”Revelation 21:5
How does that strike you today? Sure we would love for parts of our lives to be straightened out, but other parts we really don’t want the Holy Spirit messing with. It sounds painful to change. It seems like we will have to turn loose of some of self-protective ways and be less selfish in general. It could reveal some hidden dirt and decay in our lives that we are vaguely aware of but really want to keep denying, much like the termite-ridden beam crumbling in that grand house remodel. It appears to be humbling, and our prideful hearts don’t want to choose that kind of change.
Be spiritually encouraged by our HGTV home man-overs. It can be hard. It can take a long time. It can be expensive. But a remodel, whether it is of a home or a heart is always worth it in the end! Allow the Holy Spirit to begin tearing down walls in your heart today.
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
As the U.S. economy struggles many retirees find themselves watching the stock market to see how their retirement funds may be affected. These senior adults have spent years planning for their future, so they watch over their investments with diligence. Now they find that there is no real security in money and investments, funds can disappear much more easily than they were earned.
If money is not a secure investment, what is? Who or what are you investing in? A job, husband/romantic interest, a home, children, stocks & bonds, cars, boats, decorations, hobbies, vacations…? Are these the things you turn to for security? Is there any earthly thing we could invest in that would offer a sure return on the investment?
Yes, there is, but those things are not material. Security isn’t found in any possession we could ever hope to own no matter how large or unique or valued by the world. So what things do give us a good return for our time, money or energy invested?
People. Loving other people always pays off. Quite often you receive love friendship or gratitude in return. But even if you don’t, any loving investment in a person pours into a bank account that makes them a better person and sets in motion other good, loving outcomes. When we minister to the needs of people we open up doors for God to touch and heal broken hearts and lives.
Sharing the Good News of Jesus. This is the greatest investment we can make. It makes an eternal impact in this present world and in the future for all eternity. When hearts are turned to Jesus a cause-effect chain is set in motion that yields dividends to the end of time.
Giving money to missions. Tied in with sharing Jesus, is giving money to support others who are around the world sharing the Gospel inlaces you or I may not be able to go. Likewise, it yields eternal outcomes.
Following the commands of Scripture. Micah 6:8 says, “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Any act of justice, mercy or humility honors God, because He has told us this is what He requires of us. When we obediently live out the commands of scripture it yields fruit, righteous fruit.
These are just the tip of God’s rewarding investment strategies. We humans invest in things. God invests in lives. If we can get our focus off of all that glitters, we will see the greater value in lives that can be helped and changed for God’s glory.