I am all about music. Of course, there are times I need silence too, because music can be distracting, but what an amazing way to tuck some great Scriptural Truths into your brain!
Sometimes it is a daily battle to readjust my thinking and perspective. I don’t always have Godly thoughts about the situations I am confronted with and so I try to turn things over to God on a regular basis.
Here is one of my favorites and it involves the Scripture I talked about last week. I hope you enjoy it!
Oh, come, Desire of nations, bind In one the hearts of all mankind; Oh, bid our sad divisions cease, And be yourself our King of Peace. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel Shall come to you, O Israel!
There are times unhealthy relationships are unresolvable. It can be an unfortunate, but sometimes there is a necessary division.
Any division is sad, but there are divisions over the smallest things: misunderstandings blown out of proportion, hearsay, conjecture, and assumptions — these are all a part of sad divisions. It’s sad because it is unnecessary. If people would just take time to clarify and understand and not jump to conclusions, probably a lot of heartbreaking divisions would not even be.
It is important for me to consider my role in relational divisions. How do I perpetuate problems? How does what I say or do cause a seed for division? Sometimes it happens and I am completely unaware.
As long as there is sin in the world and humans who operate in the flesh, there will be sad divisions. But I can still pray for peace and seek to share His peace with those around me. These divisions are just a part of a larger battle, but He is the King of Peace!
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak. [Ephesians 6:10-20, ESV]
Come, Lord Jesus! Liz
Oh, Come, Oh, Come Emmanuel Translated: John Neal, 1818-66
Recently I was asked what was essential to have along for a two week trip to Hungary so I have been mulling that over a bit.
Of course, everyone has their different idea of what is absolutely necessary for a trip. So I can offer what I think is important but we all come from such different needs and experiences that it is hard to come up with that comprehensive packing list.
Overseas trips and trips within the United States are two similar scenarios yet different enough to require a bit of thinking.
What do you consider absolute essentials?
Some of the things that impact what we pack involve:
the length of time of the trip
our mode of transportation
our dietary preferences or restrictions
our medical needs
I am a pretty flexible traveler but here are a few of my non-negotiables:
extra emollient night cream
But even more important than what we pack to take along, I think of a few other things that important to have on any trip as well as in life:
a sense of adventure
I honestly don’t know where I would be if I didn’t have those essentials along with me. Above all, traveling throughout life without faith would really impact my journey. I just can’t imagine where I would be without knowing Jesus and God’s promises!
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. [1 John 1:9 NIV]
“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.” [Jeremiah 29:11 NIV]
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. [Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV]
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, whohave been called according to his purpose. [Romans 8:28 NIV]
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. [Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV]
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. [Romans 8:26-17 NIV]
On the way,
Photo credits to my sweet friend, Annette, who would be a blast to travel with!
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.
At one time or another we have all surrendered our “right” or our position or our opinion in order to keep the peace.
Of course, there are some who are more than willing (maybe too willing) to give in. And on the other end of the spectrum there are others who act like every discussion is a hill they are willing to die on.
Ever notice that some people stoke the smallest disagreement so it develops into a huge battle? These situations may be based on a small misunderstanding but one party cannot back down or have a reasonable discussion. Sometimes this happens with friends but it is particularly devastating when it happens within families. The rift in the relationship grows so large and involves so many people that it impacts generations of relationships. Some of these issues last decades and lifetimes.
And then hardship strikes.
Often death, diagnosis, or disability comes along to remind us all how fragile and precious life really is. Life is short. Life can be really hard. Ideas and principles are important but people and relationships are even more important.
There are times a tragedy can be a catalyst for healing in relationships.
Don’t wait for some disaster to offer the olive branch of peace in a strained relationship. If you feel you have been wronged, let the Lord avenge it. Your interpretation of the situation or what “offended” you might, actually, be a bit off base. Feelings often lead us astray. And there are many sides to a story. We are, hopefully, changing and growing every day and learning more about ourselves and the world around us. What was worth battling about five years ago might just be a blip now, considering the circumstances. Lost time cannot be recovered but we can move forward together and in peace, making memories along the way.
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”says the Lord. [Romans 12:17-19 NIV]
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called;one Lord, one faith, one baptism;one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. [Ephesians 4:1-6 NIV]
Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,and do not give the devil a foothold. [Ephesians 4:25-27 NIV]
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. [Ephesians 4:29-32 NIV]
When I struggle to accept someone’s word it is because I have been tricked before. When my trust has been violated it makes it very difficult for the next person to get a fair shake. Even though I have trust issues for good reason, I have always been able to take God at His Word. I am thankful for that faith He planted in me through baptism and nurtured through the years. I love His work in my life even if it is difficult during the process. Looking at the betrayal of Jesus and all the other painful events of Good Friday, I can see what God has done (and is doing) for me. Right now.
Anytime I travel somewhere, I notice whether the roads are new, renewed, or in need of repairing.
If I am in a vehicle that has bad shocks and I am on a bad road, well, it can be an unpleasant experience. But set me on a well-maintained or new road with a well-maintained car and the trip might be pretty smooth. Of course, weather plays a role. On our recent trip we traveled through fog, rain, sleet, snow, and icy conditions. We also watched cars swerve, travel too fast or too slow, and many drivers just not paying attention. I am often doing more than simply driving when I am in the car; sometimes I am snacking or singing or even just thinking. When I think about it, there are so many factors that play into a safe and enjoyable road trip. Some of those factors have little to do with me while others are definitely in my control.
Do I do regular maintenance on my vehicle?
Do I know where I am headed?
Do I have my travel plans mapped out?
Am I prepared for weather challenges?
Have I factored in other delays?
Do I have resources for an emergency?
Do I have enough fuel (for both me and the vehicle) for the trip?
Am I rested?
I can feel I am as prepared as I can be but there are always outside factors that can make an impact. Put a well-maintained vehicle on a terrible road and in bad weather conditions and it is still going to be an unpleasant trip.
But if I can remain calm and steady, it definitely helps.
Life seems like that too.
The outside conditions can change – and do – frequently. What I have control of is my response and an accurate sense of my own “condition”.
Am I rooted in God’s Word?
Am I grounded in God’s spiritual truths?
Am I aware of His love for me (and others)?
Have I watched Him give me His grace and His perspective on difficult things I have experienced previously?
Do I adjust my course when I see myself headed down a dangerous path filled with temptations to sin?
As I was reading Ephesians 3 today, this was one of the verses stood out for me:
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. Ephesians 3:16-17a
When God’s Spirit is strengthening my inner being, I can deal with quite a bit of junk. How I respond to circumstances can be evidence for His work on my inner being. I can definitely tell where I am rooted by the way I respond to circumstances.
Have you had your own response to a situation that was evidence of God’s work on your inner being?
When I have a response that defies human understanding, I know it is God working on my heart because apart from him, I cannot do it!
The very young, the elderly, and the infirm are the ones I think of first when I think of vulnerability. They each are dependent for someone else looking out for their needs and protecting them from dangerous situations. Or when people are battling illness–they are susceptible to other infections and their resistance is down. For some, it is the difference between life and death if they are exposed to the wrong germ.
But there are many other ways to be vulnerable and it seems for every vulnerability there is a predator looking for someone in a tender spot, accessible and with lowered defenses:
a lonely child
those struggling with depression
a widow or widower making sense of their new life
parents who have a child with a disability
anyone walking through a season of grieving
a motherless or fatherless child seeing a role model
anyone walking through a season of extended illness
a recent immigrant with limited language skills
those recently released from prison
a single parent looking for parenting help
those recently returning from active duty in our military
Looking back on your life you may be able to clearly see your moments (years?) of vulnerability. Maybe you were vulnerable due to life situations that were out of your control. Maybe you made some choices that left you open to some ugly stuff. Do you see any vulnerable people around you that could use your prayers for protection? An offer of friendship? A cup of coffee and a brainstorming session? Sometimes the vulnerable just need help knowing where to go for resources and sometimes they need a discerning ear to help them navigate through a difficult season. Surely there is someone you know who is struggling and vulnerable who at least needs your prayers!
The devil is a schemer. And we are often too arrogant to think we can fall prey to his antics. Oh, he is clever — using us against ourselves. How can we resist him? By being on our knees and with our nose in The Book. If we are standing on His solid ground then we are in a good position to help someone else get connected with what they need to navigate through this difficult life.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist,with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. [Ephesians 6:10-18]
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23
It is unfortunate that we use the word love so casually in the English language. In the context of Scripture love takes on a much different intensity. When encountering the inevitable challenges of life, it is only in the strength of the Holy Spirit that we can truly love to the depth and lengths that might be required of us. And when we ponder His love for us we can get a glimpse of the true meaning of love.
A Fruit of the Spirit implies a long standing connection. Before there is any fruit, there must be a root. As you are contemplating the upcoming garden season, let’s let the Holy Spirit awaken us to the seeds, roots, and fruits that will reflect our Heavenly Father.
For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole familyin heaven and on earth derives its name.I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:14-21 NIV
Letting His seeds take root so we can share His fruit!