HOPE

Psalm 119:73-96 says God is…

Creator,
a Hope giver,
Faithful,
a Comforter,
a Promise Keeper,
Trustworthy,
Merciful,
a Life Giver,
Savior,
my Help,
Eternal
He knows no bounds.

These words reminded me of a song we sing called “Waymaker.” Click to listen.

green-leafed-plant-on-sand-1438404Do you believe our God is a Good God? Do you believe He will not leave you or forsake you? That God is your Waymaker? Miracle Worker? Promise Keeper? Light in the Darkness when the wicked want to destroy you?

Sometimes this is hard when you feel like you are in a pit that has been dug for you, when you have been waiting a long time for help in a situation. Even when you don’t feel or see Him working, do you trust that He is, and do you Worship Him through it? Sometimes we try to handle the situation that we see on the surface on our own, but we need to remember our battle is not against what we can see, but as Ephesians 6:12 says, “…against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this [present] darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) places.”

To be strengthen to fight these battles we daily need to take up the Full Armor of God. Part of our Armor is our Sword of the Spirit, (the Word of God) and prayer. I hope you take up your Sword and delight in the words you read. In prayer, I hope you take your situations and struggles directly to God. He is what you need Him to be in your situation. It is all in His timing.

Psalm 40:1-3 says,

“I waited patiently for the Lord, and he turned to me and heard my cry for help. He brought me up from a desolate pit, out of the muddy clay, and set my feet on a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and they will trust in the Lord.”

Worship Him because He sees you, cares for you and is everything you need in all situations! Share your Hope with others.  Be a light for someone else in their darkness. Psalm 119:74 says, “May all who fear you find in me a cause for joy, for I have put my hope in your word.” Others see us and how we react to our situation. Let them see evidence of us putting our hope in the Lord.

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Construction Zone: Illumination

By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures. Proverbs 24:3-4

The focus of our women’s ministry this year “Rooms Full of Riches,” is based on the verse above from Proverbs. The purpose is to equip us to build our lives and homes on Biblical wisdom, understanding, and knowledge. In our winter session we dug into the wisdom of Proverbs, applying God’s Word to building our homes and lives. (In fact, that concentrated study on home-building is what prompted this series of “Construction Zone” blogs.) So, if you are reading this and find yourself desperate for wisdom and instruction in your day-to-day life, the collection of wise truths from the book of Proverbs will most likely have something to illumine your situation. scripture tells us in the book of Psalms that His word is a lamp for our feet and a light on our path. (119:105) dark_street_195913

According to dictionary.com, a proverb, in general, is “a saying popularly known and repeated, usually expressing simply and concretely, though often metaphorically, a truth based on common sense or the practical experience of humankind.” The book of Proverbs from scripture does just that, it expresses God’s truths simply and concretely. And since we Believers accept God’s Word as The Truth, sayings from the book of Proverbs carry much more weight than secular proverbs we hear in life, such as “A friend in need is a friend indeed.”

The introductory words of the book of Proverbs explain its purpose this way: 

The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel: for gaining wisdom and instruction; for understanding words of insight; for receiving instruction in prudent behavior, doing what is right and just and fair; for giving prudence to those who are simple, knowledge and discretion to the young— let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance— for understanding proverbs and parables, the sayings and riddles of the wise. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction. Proverbs 1:1-7

 

I want to gain wisdom. I need wisdom. Life is hard, and sometimes I just don’t know what to do. I need insight and understanding. I want to receive instruction for how to know what is right and to help me figure out how to live in this fallen world. Don’t you? And I want the real stuff – real wisdom – not the “wisdom” we get from well-meaning acquaintances telling us what we want to hear that’s not necessarily the truth. Wisdom that will help me dig out from under my junk and really deal with life instead of adding more confusion or complications, that’s what I want. You know what I mean?

Currently, I’m reading through Beth Moore’s Portraits of Devotion each morning this year, and this verse from the book of Proverbs popped up:

light_lamp_196504For a command is a lamp, teaching is a light, and corrective discipline is the way to life. Proverbs 6:23 HCSB

That’s what I want: instruction that lights my way as I journey through life. The kind of wisdom that comes from scripture and is lived out in those obedient to His Word. We can have that wisdom! How? James 1:5 tells us that if we lack wisdom, we should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault. If we do that wisdom will be given to us. Have we asked for wisdom lately? Or are you like me? Are you more apt to ask God to rubber stamp your opinion of what you wish would be done in a situation? If we get to the point we really want what’s best more than we want our way, all we have to do is ask, because “The Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.” (Proverbs 2:6)

Have you ever prayed, “Lord just write it out on a sign and tell me what to do?” I have. But I’ve never had a real billboard show up with it spelled out for me like my friend Amy has. What I have experienced most often is one of those Proverbs 6:23 flashlights shining on a dark, scary path and illuminating only about 3 steps in front of me at the most. But guess what? When I take those three steps, the illumination spreads on ahead of me to show the next 3 just like our verse above talks about! And it doesn’t just shine light for that path, but it teaches me and corrects me so that the next time I’m on a dark path I’ll remember the lessons learned and walk through that path with more peace and strength. So maybe it’s best for me NOT to get a road sign. Maybe I learn more how to live. Then it’s not just a temproary fix, but a teaching, growing experience.

dark-forest-landscape-1.jpgI’ll never forget one particular family trip to Virginia. We had left Alabama in the wee hours of the morning and found ourselves exiting the interstate at dusk. Darkness came on us quickly as we drove up the winding road to the cabin we had reserved online. There were other cabins along the deserted road, but they were spaced far apart on mountain peaks just off the Blue Ridge Parkway. By the time we reached the gated, dirt road to our cabin it was near 9pm and pitch black. My husband jumped out, unlocked and jumped right back in the car, the thought of bears and rattlesnakes unspoken between us so as not to alarm the kids. A mile of steep, bumpy clay “driveway” and we were at our destination. No lights. No moon. 4 kids. Luggage. The unknown. The fears. We managed to get all of us, and items necessary for the night, into the cabin and collapse into bed within the hour.

Next morning, we awoke to the sun streaming in. The cabin was delightful. The view was amazing. The fears were gone. Nothing had changed about the cabin and its surroundings, except that it was now illuminated by glorious sunlight. That week was one of our best vacations ever. The funny thing is, after days full of vacation fun, every night we came back to our home-away-from-home about 9pm – in the dark! But guess what! It wasn’t scary any more. Once the dark road had been illuminated, the fear was removed.

As you travel through dark times of life, seek illumination from God’s Word. Proverbs is a good place to start. The book of Psalms works too. The Gospels, Paul’s letters, it all brings light to our life. It instructs. It illumines. It reassures. We are reminded of Jesus the Light of the World, who has conquered darkness.

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Library Lover

I was a library aid once.

I used to know the Dewey Decimal System and it’s complimentary card catalog with such accuracy that I rarely had to use any resource or cheat sheet when shelving books. Now the library boasts a librarian from the computer… a cybrarian. He or She’s not very personable but it gets the job done. In my opinion the Cybrarian is not nearly as tactilely stimulating. I can still feel my fingers glide over thousands of tiny cards alphabetically organized. Their yellowed hue and unmistakable scent a testament to their age. Only the new additions to the the library shelves boasted crisp white cards. All of their text, typed out with an old fashioned typewriter, they held the key to knowing where knowledge lay.

When I was younger, like maybe 5, I remember sitting cross legged on the floor of the nearest public library sounding out words that would string together to make a sentence. backpack-books-bookshelves-256431Sentences constructed together to make a page and those pages made a story. The day an old house in Paris covered in vines came alive to me was a day that changed my life. Perhaps deep in the recesses of my mind that emergency appendectomy (it would be 17 plus years before I heard that word or knew what it was) and that smallest of girls helped to persuade me into a medical profession. Perhaps not, but one thing is certain, I always have and do love a public library. I could list the reasons and they include but are not limited to:

-Magazines I am too cheap to buy, but still love to peruse are not in short supply.
-The library is quiet. I need quiet to think, therefore it is a thinking space.
-I love the the smell of books. Smells solidify memories for me I suppose.
-The library is free. A good public library is a good budget friendly way to spend an afternoon indoors. I am sure those in-door-bouncy-parks are nice too but they cost money and the library does not.
-My children have a shared love of the library. They frequently ask me to drive them to a favorite one or two.
-I’ve found myself lost and in need of healing, many times that healing has resided within the pages of a book.

I have come to understand that within words there is power. The power to transform, Words are transforming and none more so than the Bible. Perhaps, long before I loved the King’s Word, I learned to love the place where words were housed. Perhaps am element of foreshadowing as it were, that would illuminate my path just as it is promised in His book of Psalms.

Psalm 119:105, Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

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Putting Together the Pieces

My grandmother has always loved to work jigsaw puzzles.  I have many fond memories of us spending hours in front of a puzzle working well into the night to finish the picture.  Even today at the age of 91 with her being almost completely blind and dealing with Alzheimer’s, she still sits for hours working puzzles.  The puzzles may have become fewer in pieces, but she still loves fitting the pieces together.  When she completes a puzzle she is always excited to show it off, to let you see what she has accomplished of taking all the pieces and fitting them together to reveal the complete picture.

51ktrzbp0il-_sx326_bo1204203200_That is what we are doing when we study God’s Word.  We are taking each piece of knowledge we receive from reading God’s Word and placing it in its proper place to see God’s story being revealed.  We are becoming more Bible literate.  Jen Wilkins in her book Women of the Word: How to STUDY the BIBLE with Both OUR HEARTS and OUR MINDS gives her definition of Bible Literacy: “Bible literacy occurs when a person has access to a Bible in a language she understands and is steadily moving toward knowledge and understanding of the text…Bible literacy stitches patchwork knowledge into a seamless garment of understanding.”

I need to be up front and say I do not have it all together and I am not perfect!   It is not easy trying to be diligent and faithful in spending time in God’s Word on a daily basis.  Let’s be honest, it is a struggle for me and I am sure for many of you.  I get in a routine and then something comes along and messes it up.  One day becomes two and before long it has been a week.  One thing I do know is My God is faithful to forgive me and prompt me to spend time with him.

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The other thing I struggle with is how to approach the study of God’s Word.  No book, study plan, or Bible study book can replace just digging in and reading God’s Word and letting the Holy Spirit direct you.  That being said, I am always interested in seeing, hearing and reading how other people approach the study of God’s Word. Are you one that reads the Bible through once a year or do you select a book at a time?  Do you follow a daily devotion or reading plan?  Do you write verses down and meditate on them?  Or do you just let the Holy Spirit lead you in your reading.  Do you use Iva May’s approach in Chronological Bible Teaching reading the Bible Chronologically?  How about Jen Wilkin’s 5 P’s of Sound Study approach in her book: Women of the Word: How to STUDY the BIBLE with Both OUR HEARTS and OUR MINDS?  In Angie Smith’s study Seamless she streams all of the major stories in the Bible together in one thread.  There are so many ways to approach the study of God’s Word, but what are we doing with our knowledge and understanding?  Are all the pieces of the puzzle fitting together?

51jyryn98ul-_sx366_bo1204203200_As we start 2018, do you have a plan?  Did you make a New Year’s resolution to Study God’s Word more?   So how is it going?  No matter what plan you use, make sure that you are seeing God’s complete picture.  Don’t shy away from the things you don’t understand?  I have many times written or said to God, “I don’t understand this passage.”  You know, it is usually not long before I hear someone preach on the same passage or read a book where the verse I don’t understand is revealed to me with more understanding.  As Women of the Word let’s be more intentional in becoming more Bible Literate this next year.

Lord, may we make a commitment to spend more time in your Word.  Not just to gain head knowledge, but to gain understanding so that when the end of 2018 comes around we may be able to see each piece of your Word revealed as a beautiful picture of YOUR LOVE for us from Genesis to Revelation.

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Taste and See…

by Dena Green

Free stock photo of spoon, glass, honey, jar

God’s Word  is “…sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.” Psalm 19:10

My husband and I became beekeepers a few years ago.  It sounded like a fun hobby with the great benefit of having the delicious honey to eat and share with family and friends.

We quickly found out that there was much work involved in getting the honey from the hive to the jar.  The honey does not just flow from the hive straight into the jar. We have to open the hives on a regular basis to check for anything that might harm the bees and to make sure they are healthy and producing honey. After removing the honey from the hives to extract it from the frames, we have to uncap, or remove the wax that holds the honey in the frames.  That’s when you see the beautiful, golden honey. The frames are then put into the the extractor or centrifuge and spun so that all of the honey is removed.  After that, we can open the spout on the holding tank and the pure, sweet honey can flow into the jars.

The Bible says that God’s word is sweeter than honey and the drippings from the honey comb! If you have ever “tasted” God’s word for yourself, you know this is true.

To taste the sweetness of His word, we must take the time to “uncap” the word and hear what the Lord is saying. Be patient.  Pray, read, study, be still, listen.  Partaking of the Word takes time and some preparation on our part.  What joy we can experience when the Lord reveals Himself to us in a new way, or answers a question that we have wrestled with. He may speak peace to your heart over a situation in your life or give you a word to share with someone else. There may be a revelation of unconfessed sin in our life that we need to address. Whatever our need or desire, God’s “holding tank,” His word, is full and just waiting for us to come and get some of the sweetness.

Psalm 34:8- “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good.”

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