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.

 

July 12, 2017/Wants vs. Needs

X…are for kids.

X is ‘magically’ delicious.

X is gr-rea-great.

Sound familiar?

Growing up with television on Saturday mornings children get a constant barage of cereal commercials. This ensures that when mothers take them to the grocery store, kids can beg for the different brands they have seen in the commercials of the cartoons they watch.

As you get older, you begin to distinguish between ‘wants’ and ‘needs’. We WANT a new car with all the trimmings…but we may not ‘need’ it. I have to admit that in my day many were forced to go without buying cars with air conditioners…or automatic transmissions. No one had more than one television. Many had none. And color television–that was a big deal.

God has promised to give us what we NEED…not always what we want.

David boils this down for us in the second part of verse 1 in Psalm 23.

Psalm 23: 1-The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want.

David has discovered during the long, boring nights watching over his father’s sheep out on hills in blazing sun and falling rain that he might not get everything he ‘wants’. God, however, will provide all that he ‘needs’.

Today, think about your life. What has God given you? What do you want? What do you really need? Who in your sphere of everyday life NEEDS something that only YOU can provide.

We shall not want…for our God has us safely in His hand.

July 11, 2017/Caretakers

Psalm 23: 1-The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want.

Shepherds, while vital for the family and economy, were not given very much respect. They were caretakers…those who toiled daily without acclaim simply doing their job through all kinds of weather, terrain, and conditions. The job of a shepherd was solitary, dirty, smelly, and required never staying in one place for very long. Most shepherds were the younger male members of families because they were not deemed strong enough to do harder work. Shepherds were not given very much ‘respect’ for their service.

God (our Lord) is the one who cares for us. He, alone, has us in His charge to protect and keep us safe. He stays awake to protect us from those who might harm me. He is always on duty, ensuring that we are provided with what we NEED.

 

Remember in your prayers today those who are the caretakers of others.

 

July 7, 2017/A Little Bit Me & A Little Bit You

Okay, I admit it. I was a Monkees fan. Davy, Peter, Mike, Mickey…I loved them all. Oh, I know it was ‘bubblegum’ music and they were brought together as a group and didn’t have a lot of musical knowledge…but they made me laugh, and smile, and feel happy.

One of their songs was “It’s a Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You.”

I think back to this and remember my time in high school. Things were different then. Living in a small suburb, our high school wasn’t exactly a bed of protests or a ‘hip’ environment. Back in 1966, I was a ‘Believer’ as the song went.

I was also about as innocent as they come. I mean, I said, “Boob” to a favorite teacher and couldn’t figure out why he was giving me a lecture! To me, a person was a person, and a friend a friend. I didn’t understand why my having a best friend of another skin color was a big deal.

I still don’t.

Maybe it all boils down to my parents.

In our small town, almost everyone back then was Protestant. Yet, my dad’s best friend was Catholic. They were life-long friends…and I never heard any instance where their difference in religion made a difference in their relationship.

My mother had lived in New York City. This was a BIG DEAL in our town. I mean, mom couldn’t sleep because it was “too quiet” with no buses or sounds! She’d had all kinds of friends from all kinds of lands. I still have a favorite recipe for Armenian string beans…(and it is yummy hot or cold!!) She introduced me to curry with condiments like coconut and chutney. Later, one of her close friends in the next town was from Costa Rica.

The Christian religion is clear about how we should view those who are different than we are.

Galations 3: 26-29-For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. 

Once you have ‘PUT ON” Christ, there is no longer room for prejudice of any kind. We all become ONE in Jesus Christ. We no longer have ‘nation’ boundaries, cultural boundaries, or even denominational boundaries. We are CHRISTIANS–first and foremost.

It is my dearest wish that someday my granddaughters marry honorable Christian men who will love them, value them, and honor them. What they look like shouldn’t matter. It is who they are, what they believe, how they behave toward others, and where they are with God that is truly of importance.

It is a shame to see innocence so trampled. It is sad to see how men and women disvalue themselves in appearance and behavior. They may have the ‘right’ but that doesn’t make it ‘right.’

The world is changing. Some changes are good. But all changes should be viewed by Christians through the wisdom of Scripture. Warnings, laws, parables, history…they are there to teach us wisdom.

We would be wise to take that into consideration as we wrestle with our difficulties as a society.