After picking up my teen daughter from a Christian camp, we got to hear all about the week’s adventures. In one such adventure, one of the girl campers wrote a mean spirited note intending to hurt another girl camper, and posted the note on the door of the girl’s room, for all to see on Wednesday, the next morning.
In reaction to this, my daughter and her roommates decided to return a hateful act with a loving act. Since they didn’t know who wrote the mean spirited note, they went to work writing loving notes to all the female campers, posting them on the doors of all the rooms. After getting permission from their leaders, they stayed up until 1:30 A.M. hand writing these precious notes and posting them on all the doors. Each note included a bible verse, and was about half a page long. Ephesians 4:2-3 was in their hearts as they truly were “bearing with one another in love, making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”
Many of these loving notes specifically reminded the camper that, as a daughter of the Most High King, she was a princess, dearly loved. But this was not the work of my daughter and her roommates. Though she is very sweet and kind hearted, all she did was listen and obey, for this good deed was sprung from the Spirit of Christ at work within them.
To back up that statement, please note I was on my knees daily for my daughter while away at camp. And I believe it was on Wednesday when I prayed very specifically, and very fervently, that she would find her identity in Christ, asking God to show her in a personal way that, as a daughter of the King of kings, SHE is a princess, dearly loved by her Heavenly Father.
1 Little Prayer + Jesus = Uncountable Blessings
What joy I had when I heard how He creatively answered that prayer. And I prayed only for my daughter, however, as Christ multiplied the little boy’s simple offering of loaves and fishes, He decided to multiply that simple prayer to include ALL of the girls at camp that week. Isn’t He wonderful? “God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.” 1 Tim 6:15-16
Yesterday at a prayer meeting, I witnessed God in the sanctuary and beheld His power and His glory, Psalm 63:2. No, I didn’t see Christ arrayed in light, but I did see Him at work, ministering to a visibly distraught sister who asked us for prayer.
Another sister loved the Word enough to have memorized all of Psalm 139 and so the Lord used her knowledge to minister to the distraught sister. She held the tearful sister’s hands and prayerfully recited Psalm 139, using the her name frequently throughout the prayer. So, for instance, Psalm 139:5 sounded like this, “You have hedged ‘Cynthia’ behind and before, and laid Your hand upon her”. It was a picture of true religion, and it was priceless.
Later I learned that my friend who recited Psalm 139 will be participating in the 2014 Bible Bee this summer with her children. Bible Bee is a competitive bible memorization contest designed to help families teach their children the importance of bible memory work. I’ve never considered doing that sort of thing because I always wanted my children to desire the Word for the riches within the words themselves, without the complication of a cash prize involved.
But my friend had spiritual tools I longed to have, and I long for my children to have, and I know those tools don’t come magically, but with a lot of good old fashioned hard work. And hard work is just what a Bible Bee offers. My children are 7 and 9 years-old. For their age divisions, they would be expected to memorize one verse a day, five days a week, for the summer months just to qualify for the Nationals in the Fall. To have a chance to win the prize at Nationals, this Fall they would need to memorize approximately eleven verses a day, five days a week. That’s some serious hard work!
This morning I read an article about the Bee to get an understanding of what we would committing ourselves to. A comment at the end the article made me think perhaps this format wouldn’t be the best for my children. It was written by someone who used to be heavily involved bible bees as a kid and now felt negatively about them, saying they kept her from other pursuits. Others had some negative comments that I considered worth reading. The world hypocritically pounces on Christians when money is involved in our activities, again, the cash award incentive tends to complicate things.
Awhile ago I read about a group of persecuted Christians in Burma who memorize a tremendous amount of scripture; a typical believer having memorized between 150 to 200 verses. They do this simply out of love for the Word, and perhaps fear that the authorities might someday take their bibles from them. These believers make about $1.50 a day. This is another picture of true religion.
Are my children going to do the Bible Bee out of love for the Word, or for the money? I can tell you my children love the Lord, but I can also tell you they wouldn’t have the same ambition level were there no prize involved. Sad, but real.
And yet, yesterday I witnessed the beauty and power of the memorized Word at work, ministering to the church body. I had personally witnessed the real treasure of the memorized Word, and I want my children to also experience that power, cash prize or no cash prize. So rather than make a decision based on a comment from a disgruntled girl, and the ranting comments from a hypocritical and critical world, I continued to pursue the Lord about the matter in prayer.
The Lord graciously answered my questioning with a question for me. Immediately after reading the comments and then prayerfully considering the pros and cons concerning the Bible Bee, I providentially opened Scripture to Micah 2:7. So the first words I read this morning were “Do not my words do good to him who walks uprightly?”
Praying more about the matter has led to the decision to register for the Bible Bee with an agreement from my children that if they should win, 50% of the money would cheerfully be given to the needy. This leaves plenty for a 7 and 9 year old to waste on stuffed animals and candy. This agreement, made official on paper signed by them, gives me assurance that I am training them to walk uprightly, with purity of heart.
In the world, monetary reward usually succeeds hard work; in biblical terms, we reap what we sow. Keeping the other 50% is an appropriate reward for the faithful workman, and a job well done. Purity of heart, and reaping what we sow; I am thankful that the Bible Bee is providing an amazing opportunity to teach our children both of these very biblical principals in a tangible way.
While praying this morning I asked our Good Shepherd to lead me on a path that would give Him the most glory. Even if that path means a time of suffering, then I would be privileged to suffer for His name’s sake, and for righteousness sake.
I specifically asked that I would walk in His footprints, like a little girl trailing behind her Daddy along the shore of a beach, stretching her legs to reach each of his footprints in the sand. I asked to follow in the steps of Christ, as He follows in the Father’s steps.
Providentially, I opened the Scriptures to 1 Peter. I found 1 Peter 2:21-25 particularly significant, so I decided to write it down, line by line, on cards for memorization. As I wrote down that first verse, I realized that my Lord had just graciously responded to my prayer.
He spoke in His still, small, voice this morning, quietly saying to my soul, “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow in His steps”.
Friend, the One who created you speaks to you through His Word. But you must listen closely and have faith, or you will not hear Him.
This morning was brilliant with light. During my devotions, the Spirit graciously provided Mark 9:35, “…if any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all.”
Then I took my daughter to school and reflected on the passage while driving home. I thought of Romans 12:10, “Love each other deeply. Honor others more than yourselves.” And the commandment to “honor your father and your mother”, and I enjoyed drinking deeply these words from Christ, this concept of the last shall be first.
When I was in the driveway, I was still praying heavily and so didn’t get out right away. I noticed a bible in the back seat and picked it up and admired it, thanking God for His Word, and His Truth. Then I opened it and, Providentially, the first thing I read was St. Mark 10:43-44. “But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: and whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all.”
Why was this His message this morning? I don’t know right now, but you can bet it will be front and center on my mind this week, and I will be asking The Lord for opportunities to serve without recognition.
Lord Jesus, make me lowly, help me to see the opportunities You provide to serve others today, help me to desire only Your “well done”. Oh, that they would not notice me, Lord, but oh, that they would see You! Make me mindful today to honor others above myself, with my voice, and my actions.
my sacrifice of praise.
Good Shepherd, take my worship and spread it throughout this day, this good day that You have made and given.
A thick spreading, my Lord; do not stretch it thin.
Keep Your words ever present today.
Might they toss and turn in my head,
Until I hear You.
Sustain me with Your word,
“…but His word was in my heart like a burning fire shut up within my bones…” Jeremiah 20:9
An answered prayer is such a sweet thing. I just told The Lord in prayer that I want to be “acceptable” in his sight. This has been a concern lately, or more of a feeling. I don’t feel acceptable in His sight. Though I know intellectually that Christ made me acceptable, I just haven’t been feeling it lately.
Then I asked The Lord to guide my reading of scripture because I really wanted to hear His reassuring voice and the Spirit tenderly responded. I providentially opened to Isaiah 61. Isaiah 61:2a communicates Christ’s two very different missions, performed at very separated times, in one breath of the prophet.
“To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God…”
And I praised God that In His forbearance and great mercy, I live in this age, the acceptable year of The Lord. He has cleared my account by the blood sacrifice of His only Son.
The Holy Ghost was reassuring me that, indeed, I am acceptable in His sight by the work of His own goodness. If I am covered in Christ’s righteousness which He has freely provided, I will surely pass through the fiery wrath of God on the day of His promised vengeance.
Yesterday was a very difficult day because I found out things I didn’t want to find out. Things so difficult I am quite sure there is an unseen battle in the spiritual realm which cannot be ignored. The enemy is advancing.
But he has threatened us before, a few years ago, but we trusted in The Lord by prayer and time of fasting from delicacies ( God specifically called for a Daniel fast), and He heard our cry and completely answered our petition, and there has been peace and level thinking in that situation since.
So I know what is in order for this new difficulty. This morning I prayed about gaining strength for today and then starting a Daniel fast tomorrow. My prayer was one heavy with praise because He so thoroughly and miraculously answered my petition during that difficult time in the past. I know the solution to the current problem is to trust in The Lord to fulfill my next petition because I realize I am not fighting against something that is seen, but something that lurks in the shadows; a rational evil who seeks to bind and devour which cannot be fought with my hands or my own ability.
Then I prayed for God to guide my reading in His Scriptures and He immediately and powerfully answered. He confirmed and encouraged my desire to once again engage in a Daniel fast because the Scripture He provided was Psalm 20. This Psalm was such an appropriate and perfect response to to my prayer that it seemed The Lord was in the room, speaking directly to me.
With the confirming movement of the Holy Spirit speaking through Psalm 20, I know now, before the time it occurs, that if I seek The Lord in this thing, and if I trust in His ability, the enemy will retreat, my petition will be heard, and the Lord’s plan, which is always good, will be accomplished. Wow. You floor me, Jesus.
As I have mentioned in previous posts, I have been buying and selling vintage for a profit on eBay and Etsy. I hope to see half of whatever profit comes from this activity go to things that are important to God but out of my reach, such as starving, abandoned children in Africa.
eBay automatically sends donations to my chosen charity so I haven’t been keeping track of the accounting like I should have for the past 6 months. Feeling convicted about this, over the past two days, I’ve spent hours on tracking the accounting. I was dumbfounded by the results.
Our income was the exact same dollar amount as the amount given to charity, half and half, just as I had prayed and desired months ago. It was as if I had been keeping perfect track of the accounting when in reality I hadn’t touched it for six months.
You alone are the Almighty, and I am amazed. For just as You watch over and track every snowflake that falls to the ground, You also watch and track every dollar that passes from our hands.
You know every thought, word, and deed, just as You know the complexity of each snowflake. Each one a delicate white messenger from heaven declaring Your glory.
You are near the downcast and You lift up the oppressed. I marvel that You care at all.
Almighty, All Knowing, All Righteous.
Why are You so intimately concerned with us? Why send us your snowflakes?
Two days ago, on Sunday during church, my mind drifted from the sermon to reading little portions of Scripture. I desired to read something from the word of God about a woman, I wanted to relate to the Scriptures as a woman.
The very next place my eyes drifted too, was the account of Mary and Martha serving Jesus. I knew God had something special for me personally as I was reading. I ended up reading what Jesus says to Martha over and over, because it seemed the Holy Spirit was speaking these words directly to me, not only to Martha.
Carrie, Carrie “you are worried and anxious about many things. Mary has chosen the one thing that is needed, and it will not be taken from her.”
It hit so close to home, it felt as if Jesus were there in the service speaking these words directly to me.
Jesus told me on Sunday that I was worried and anxious though I never thought of myself as a worrier until that day.
The next night, my husband ended up staying up for much of the night concerned because the bed was shaking with little tremors, almost felt like mini earthquakes. We had no idea what it was, and since we live in an old house, we considered a number of factors, but my husband theorized it was me; that I was involuntarily shaking. I thought his theory was ridiculous and we finally gave up the investigation and went to sleep.
The next night, I went to bed earlier than my husband. I felt the mini earthquakes again and realized his theory was correct. I was shaking involuntarily.
I also realized the Holy Spirit warned me earlier in the week that I was worried and anxious about many things, so it was very easy to determine the reason for physical shaking, as well as what was needed to be rid of it. My body was telling me I needed more sleep, and I needed more peace of mind.
I believe the Lord was revealing to me on Sunday that I desperately need to work on relaxing while trusting, and resting in Christ. I thought I was trusting God, but I now understand I have been carrying much of the burden. Trusting Christ means allowing myself to live peacefully in His grace.
It sounds funny, but I think Jesus was asking me to discipline myself to relax, “for he gives to his beloved sleep.” My teenagers might say that Jesus was telling me to “chillax, cause God’s got my back”.