July 29,2017/Ants

Anyone who has ever been cursed with having ants in a kitchen knows that they don’t give up easily. Those little buggers seem to spring up from nowhere.

At first, I blamed failing eyesight. Maybe I couldn’t see all the spills on my countertop? Maybe there was some speck of sugar or canned dog food that I hadn’t managed to completely clean? Maybe I had sung that old: THE ANTS GO MARCHING song I time too many as a child? Maybe it was a combination of all three?

Whatever the problem was the solution was as difficult as the ant. You don’t want to spray chemicals around a place where you make food–so we tried every natural remedy we read about: cinnamon, herbs, natural oils.

Ants are one determined species. They just don’t give up!!!

Would that we humans be as focused. God uses ants to illustrate just how industrious these creatures are when they approach a task. Proverbs 6: 6-8-Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest.

There is wisdom in watching the ant work. They send out soldiers to forage for food. Once they find it, they send word back to the colony to “Come and get it” and divisions of ants appear. Food that is far too big for one or two creatures is now shifted by group support and carried back to primary residence to be stored until needed.

Ants are pretty smart. They are ensuring a source of food for the times when food won’t be readily available.

Most children learned the fable of the ant and the grasshopper. Disney even set it to antimation. There is an important lesson to be learned from watching ants. Just as we all need time to rest in life, there is also a time to work and save. As with Joseph, we must all remember that good years have been followed by lean years…

It is to our benefit to consider the workings of the lowly ant and learn from it. Work hard and save…for winter may be just around the next corner.

July 26, 2017/Rest

We recently returned from some time visiting friends and attending a convention that my husband wanted to visit. It was an interesting trip in many ways. Gaining the chance to spend time catching up with friends is always welcome; it’s the travel on the highways getting there that plays havoc on the nerves.

No one obeys the speed limit any more…even when that limit is 70 on the interstates. Most of the population are talking on cell phones as they drive (even truckers), and many refuse to wait one second while you pull over, preferring to cut in and out of traffic.

My usual comment is this: “We are all going six-feet-under. Why in the world are so many in such a hurry to get there?”

This vacation definitely brought us some lessons…some of which were unpleasant. We simply can’t do what we used to–driving the distances we once did; staying out as late; eating what we like; or keeping up the pace without napping. It is tough admitting that the old mare is not only gray, she is in danger of going to the knickers!!

Thankfully, God has given us some advice. Matthew 11:28-30-Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Life likes to pretend that all races go to the rich, the powerful, the strong, and the mighty. Yet, Jesus was intent on emphasizing His attitude on life in the above verses. HE IS MEEK AND LOWLY IN HEART. Do not for one moment, assume that He is weak. Far from it. Christ will return to usher in the time period of the upcoming final judgment where we will all stand before God. What Jesus wanted us to understand was that life’s battles are not always what they seem. Our souls can find rest in Him for He stands with us. His love is enough to change the darkest minds and hearts. His  encompassing grace and mercy offers forgiveness to those who deserve none. Having Jesus Christ as our example allows us to find true rest in our souls even when we are forced to accept situations beyond our control and understanding.

I did a lot of praying on vacation. “God keep us safe. Please protect us from the storms. God give me strength. Thank you, God for this food. Thank you, God for the chance to see a good friend. Please God, bring us home safely.”

My prayers, naps, and the prayers of others gave me a blessed assurance and allowed me a time of comfort and rest….

July 24, 2017/Following the Leader

Who among us hasn’t played ‘following the leader’?

It is a game that most youngsters love to play because they love to imitate. Little boys will often watch their dads shave; little girls love to get into their mother’s make-up and pretend. It is part of the childhood patterns of learning.

Sheep also employ a ‘follow the leader’ mentality. If you can get one sheep going, most of the time the others will follow. You see, sheep have figured out that ‘with many comes protection’ from their enemies like wolves. That is why it is so easy for dogs to herd sheep.

The Bible uses sheep to illustrate this very idea. We must choose wisely when finding a leader to follow.

Psalm 23 is David’s personal journal of where he is with God…so it is not surprising that he finishes this beloved psalm with praise.

Psalm 23:6-Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

David is now speaking to His personal shepherd; the One who he follows. He has acknowledged that his God provides, protects, fills, restores, and anoints him with more than he needs. David states his thankfulness for God’s mercy and goodness–and proclaims his allegiance to his Lord.

Many know the basics of the twenty-third Psalm. Not all, however, who can quote it understand the realities. David has used his work as a shepherd knowing how easily sheep are led. He has found that having God as his leader is the best one for him. He knows who he walks behind.

God is David’s leader and he swears his allegiance in no uncertain terms.

Would that we all come to understand exactly what David is saying to us.

Be wise in choosing who you follow.

July 21, 2017/ Presence

The English language is not easy for those who come to use it as a second language. You have ‘presents’ and ‘presence’. They both sound the same but have completely different meanings.

Yet, when writing that today I realized that God sometimes uses something as simple as that sentence to make me look at a verse differently.

Psalm 23:5-Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Suppose we were to rewrite David’s thought here. Thou prepares a table before me in the PRESENTS of mine enemies: thou anointed my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

We all know enemies rarely give you a present. David, however, is making it clear that God has prepared a table that is filled. This filled table is a sign to his enemy–My God provides for me. Not only provides, but FILLS me with more than I need. He anoints my head with oil…so much oil that it runs over me.

The anointing of oil has many references in the Bible, but the basic symbolism is that oil is used to make something ‘set apart’, or ‘sacred’. Our Messiah is basically our ‘anointed’ one of God.

Jesus proclaims this in Luke 4:18-The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.

He is quoting the prophet Isaiah who was speaking of His coming in the Old Testament. Isaiah 61:1-The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;

Oil lamps, or menorahs, were an important part of life in Biblical times, as was the fragrant oils which were used by the priests in the Temple When those priests made offerings unto God.

David is overwhelmed by God’s goodness.

Think today about God and His goodness unto you. He vanquishes unseen enemies in our lives daily. He is our protector yet also cares enough for the little things that we face that he OVERSUPPLIES our tables. We are FULL of His mercy and goodness.

July 19, 2017/Shadows

Walk a deserted street and suddenly the shapes and shadows that would appear normal in light appear scary. Images of trees and their shadows in photography taken in broad daylight turn spooky when those same photographs are taken as the light fades.

So it is with people.

Some of us ‘fade’ as we age. The joy in our eyes and hearts begins to flicker and die. We see the shadows of what WAS rather than what IS.

Psalm 23:4-Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

David understood not only the hardships of being a shepherd but the dangers. Enemies of the sheep were dangerous not only to the animals themselves but the humans that protected them. Shepherds had thick rods they used to ward off animals that would attack. Sometimes, these staffs worked and the predators would turn aside to attack a different day. There were other times, however, that the protector would be mauled by the predator…and there were no doctors or cell phones to call for help out in the countryside.

Evil. Hardship. Death. All of these surround us. None of us know which day, which moment may be our last. We kiss our loved ones and go off to work under a bright blue sky with no notion of the sudden earthquake, storm, or accident that may befall us.

David also knew that even in the dark moments, God was with Him. David understands the concept of evil but also knows that having Do means that he doesn’t have to FEAR the evil. God has provided him weapons to fight against the ‘evil’ that surrounds him.

David’s greatest perception  is his acceptance that God is with him always. David has no doubts. He is placing his faith and trust in the God who he has met while tending his father’s sheep day and night in the fields.

David has conquered the shadows that surround him; now he walks in the darkest night knowing that it will bring no surprises for the light that accompanies him can vanquish that darkness.

Light and shadow.

Take time to look at God, the eternal light, with the faith of David. No matter how dark or dangerous our world seems, if we allow Him, God will light our path with an eternal light that will never be vanquished.

July 17, 2017/Antiques

Antiques may, or may not, bring you a windfall.

Everyone likes the PBS channel ‘Antique Roadshow’ because we would all like to think that we have some hidden treasure that is worth money. The problem with antiques, however, is that there are a lot of forgeries, and tastes in the antique market vary.

What was once popular can change quickly. My aunts loved marble-topped tables. They were very popular in rooms in the early 1900’s. People saved for some time to be able to afford furniture and these tables screamed ‘money’. Unfortunately, times change. Few people care about this type of furnishing now. They don’t have the room, nor the time to do the polishing and care for these items…so their value has decreased.

Our value to God never decreases.

Psalm 23: 3-He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

God is interested in caring for His children. While He cares for all aspects of our life. He watches over us from morning to night. It is the depths of our souls that interest Him the most–for it is here where we commune with God honestly. Here, where no human infringes our deepest fears, desires, and sins appear.

Here, in our soul, God attempts to commune with us so as to lead us to where He would have us go. Here, we instinctively know the ‘right’ path versus the wrong one. God attempts to gently direct us to the proper path for the simple reason that HE IS GOD.

He will not force us.

He will never coerce us into doing what is right.

He will simply BE who He is and has been since the beginning.

Give thanks today to the God who has created you, loves you, guides you, and walks with you daily.

Give God His due today. He is God. Praise Him.

July 15, 2017-Where You Lay

Getting up and down isn’t easy lately. My bones don’t cooperate as they once did. Some mornings, my husband and I greet each other with creaking bones and moans as we get out of bed.

Gone are the days where I roll around on the grass, searching for four-leaf clovers, making buttercup chains, and just enjoying the softness and smell of lush green blades of grass between my toes.

As a child, I reveled in the long days of summer. I did my chores as early as possible in order to try to convince my mother that we really didn’t ‘need’ to stay home and clean an already spotless (in my opinion) house, but grab our bathing suits and head off to the lake. There was nothing like slipping into the comfort of cool lake water when the heat and humidity of summer raised the temperatures in the house–especially as we had no air conditioning.

Psalm 23:2-He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters

David understood that God had created our world with comforts we took for granted. Green pastures for a shepherd meant that he didn’t have to move around for a time. Still waters were waters that would provide drinking water for his sheep..and also for the shepherd! Unlike roaring waters that posed danger, still waters were quiet…peaceful.

Food+water=nurture. God was encouraging his charge’s growth and development. The shepherd understood that his sheep were provided for…they could satisfy their hunger and thirst and rest to gain the weight needed.

We all have days where we need to rest; to come to terms in where we are in life. We need to be nurtured. Take time today to ‘quiet’ your body and mind. Turn off your phone, tv, computer, and even your loved ones. Close your eyes and simply allow yourself some moments to contemplate what God will speak to you.