Thursday, May 07, 2009

Set Me Afire

Deuteronomy 8:3 – So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord.
I have in the past occasionally picked a scripture in January to meditate on through the year. This year I chose the above verse. I suspect a quote I'd written down from the Daily Bread in December may have guided that choice. On December 2nd part of the reading was --
Set us a fire Lord, stir us we pray!
While the world perishes we go our way
Purposeless, passionless, day after day;
Set us a fire Lord, stir us we pray!
-- Cushman
This convicted me and I started seeking to be more aware of God in my life each moment, desiring to be led by His Spirit, instead of being in my own little world. I have learned that simply reading my Bible more is the best way to become more conscious of the Lord. When I did this, I began to realize things about my relationship with Him. Yes, I'd been praying and reading my Bible, but more and more it was done quickly, not with delight and joy. It was easy to drift away from that close relationship, and instead do these things from a sense of duty. When I approached God because I thought I should, and not to spend time with Him, I was neither growing in Christ nor was I reaching out to the needy around me.
Thankfully God is a good and forgiving God, who continually reaches out to us and draws us back to Him time and again. Some of the Scriptures that drew me back:
Matthew 11:28-30 – Come to Me, all you who are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.
John 6:35 – And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.”
Matthew 19:26 – But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
In the first two Scriptures, the important word to me was come, I'm the one who'd moved in the first place and the need was for me to again draw near to Him. I did this by setting aside time to get into His word without hurry. As I did this I prayed about things I didn't understand, listened to (obeyed) the commands, and thanked Him for the blessings in my life. These Scriptures contained promises I embraced and clung to. It says He gives us rest (peace) and nourishment, when we make our relationship to Him a priority. By setting aside a little more time, I showed He is important to me.
I found the last verse comforting because it seems this has been an all too common occurrence, me drifting away from that closeness. He says it's impossible for me to live the life of faith on my own, but thank God, with Him all things are possible. I can trust His faithfulness and keeping power. With Him guiding directing and empowering me, I will make it.

Saturday, July 07, 2007


Philippians 2:14-16 – Do all things without murmuring and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life,…

These verses have “talked” to me for a long time, and yet I keep gleaning more from them. Sometimes I get frustrated with my slow growth, but since I’ll never be perfect (here on earth) progress no matter how slow, is good.
During my recent “troubles” with medication, I learned some of the power of this truth.
Just before this scripture, verse 5 says, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” It’s important that we pay attention to what we are “telling” ourselves.*
We are to imitate the Lord Jesus. Also in this section are verses 12 and13 “Therefore my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” These all connect, with the next verse saying not to complain. There are reasons for this.
As I struggled daily with exhaustion and stomach upset, I tried to focus on things to be thankful for. But, more often than not, I found myself muttering how bad or tired I felt. While many would say that’s perfectly understandable, it doesn’t make it right, and it didn’t make me feel any better. (There is a difference between acknowledging or recognizing suffering and continuously dwelling on it.)
In the midst of this, I sensed I needed to get into the Word of God more -- to just read it. I’ve learned over the years nothing strengthens my faith like reading God’s word and believe me, I needed strength. So I made a commitment to read some each day, other than my morning time. When I first started it seemed dry and didn’t seem to be sinking in (like I thought it should), but I persisted. After a few days I could sense something changing in me, a stronger desire for the things of God. Praise His name!
Not long after this I made the decision to go back to the medication I’d been on before. This was very difficult, and at first I wasn’t sure it was the right choice. I believe that being able to decide was directly related to my returned focus on God. As time has passed I feel more and more certain it was God, Himself directing me.
We may think we should be able to complain, but when we grumble our focus is on our self, not God, and according to Isaiah 26:3 we won’t have peace. Also we’re not able to “hear” God give us guidance through His word, and if that’s the case, we’re pretty much stuck, without hope or help. When we protest against our circumstances we’re not trusting God, somewhat like when a child wants his father to fix a toy, but he doesn’t want to let go of it. In this instance it will never get fixed.
As Christians we do not need to complain, because God has provided all we need. But we do need to set our mind on Him, believing and trusting that 1) He knows where we are, and in what condition, 2) He cares deeply and 3) He longs to give us all we need.
And practice filling our mouths with praise to Him for all He is and does. Because He does do marvelous things, not the least is the change He works in us.
Kathy McArthur

*Note: The root of our grumbling to others audibly, begins in our own thinking.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Thanks be to God for His inexpressible gift.

One night, not long ago, I woke up and felt the downward pull I’ve often felt in my life. Anyone who has battled depression knows what I’m talking about. When this happens no matter where I turn it seems hopeless.
When I’d first gone to the pain clinic, I felt hope, but then began the working out part of the plan. As with everything there has to be a beginning and the need was to begin with the lowest dose possible and that amount wasn’t working.
So when I felt that pull, I did something I’ve tried to do for many years, I focused on the Lord and looked for something I could thank Him for. As I did this, God revealed something to me I’d already known, but had forgotten – Life is an incredible gift!

Reality Check

Psalms 118:24 – This is the day which the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.
I’m not a big fan of “Reality Shows.” To be honest I haven’t watched a lot of them, just a bit here and there, and also watched ads for upcoming shows. My thought is they don’t seem to have much to do with reality.
Having said that, we might ask what is reality – real life. I believe it is that in which we have a responsibility to act, meaning the present time. We can remember the past, with pain or joy, and we can think of the future with dread or hope, but it is in the present that we live. It is the only time we have a choice to believe and obey God or not.
Hebrews 3:12-13 – Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
One thing I’ve noticed about daily life, it’s mundane. But God has made our days the building blocks of our lives. I’ve come to realize after 40 years of marriage that the strength of Terry’s and my relationship is the hundreds and thousands of days we’ve spent together (some good and some not so good.) Some were exciting and different (such as trips and vacations), but the vast majority are those common days filled with daily life and talk. One example is sitting on the porch swinging on a summer day. If I were to examine one of those days, it would seem like nothing happened as we sat there, but actually we just couldn’t feel it happening. With the accumulation of many days we begin to understand the effectiveness of spending time together.
A while back after hearing the phrase “Reality TV,” I began to think on these things. I looked at my own attitude towards life and especially God’s role in my life. As I’ve noted before, this year has been rough. In the last month or so I’ve had trouble with an upset stomach and being tired (which hinders my thinking). My time is limited because I sleep a lot. There are many things I “want” to do, and things I feel I “should” be doing, like being useful to God. But it seemed like He was far, far away.
Over the years since I committed my life to the Lord, I’ve had ups and downs spiritually, though I’ve read my Bible nearly every day. I’ve found when I take the time to sit and prayerfully read and meditate on God’s Word, my faith is strengthened. This is spending time with the Lord.
This brings me to where I am right now. In my trying times I’ve thought, why doesn’t God deliver me from this? Yet I know He is with me and that is such a great comfort. As I go through this time, I sense He’s nudging me to give up my own desires and yield myself to His loving hands? So often we’ve thought if God is good, He’d do what we wanted Him to, i.e. answer our prayer the way we want. But that is not what God’s Word says.
He doesn’t tell us things on earth will be perfect. He does tell us over and over to trust in Him. If things were to operate smoothly in our lives without flaw, such as there would be no sickness, our children would automatically serve Him, there would be no car accidents, etc. we’d have no need to trust Him.
Psalms 118:8,19,20 -- It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man. Open to me the gates of righteousness; I will go through them, I will praise the Lord. This is the gate of the Lord, through which the righteous shall enter.
I am grateful even in the hard times, that I serve a faithful and loving God who always keeps His word. He is always the same, He does not waver. This should be a cause of rejoicing for all of us who serve Him. He truly is good ALL THE TIME! Praise His name!

Monday, December 04, 2006

In Everything Give Thanks

1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18 –Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Is it possible to give thanks in everything? Many people think not, but we Christians know God’s word is true. It’s important we not only believe this truth, we also need to embrace it wholeheartedly.
We may be able to quote the scripture above, but the question is, is it reality in our lives? This is not an easy concept to apply, but there is no easy button, except maybe at Staples.
I remember the first time I was challenged with this truth, and the struggle which followed. I’d read a book about praising God during difficult circumstances. At the time I was experiencing a great deal of pain, and taking a pill every other day to relieve it. The day after I took it, I felt fairly good, I could move a bit without pain. But on the day I took the pill it was difficult to move to even get out of bed.
I developed a poor attitude, not only did I dread getting up on the “bad” day, I didn’t want to go to bed the night before. After reading this book, I went back to God’s Word, and found there were many verses confirming this truth.
I then had to decide what I would do with it. My choice was to praise God no matter what I felt like. So each morning before getting out of bed, I sought to change my muttering complaints – to do this I set my focus on God above, remembered His previous goodness to me, and then praised and thanked Him for the coming day. As I said previously, it wasn’t easy, and I didn’t always succeed, but I did begin. And this is one of the most important things we can do – begin.
After practicing several days I noticed a change in the level of my faith, it grew stronger. Eventually I improved physically, but what a difference our attitude makes. No wonder we are commanded to give thanks.
I believe this is one of the best kept secrets in Christianity. But it shouldn’t be, because it’s there in plain sight. We just need to believe it. There are reasons we don’t do this: we pay more attention to our feelings than we do to God’s Word we don’t trust God to provide for our needs, it looks impossible, etc. All these are summarized in one thing, we don’t really believe God’s word.
You may think it’s somehow easier for me, like I have more faith than others, I don’t. But early in my spiritual journey, as I was seeking truth, I made a decision -- God’s word had to work. This is why I have faith, because God’s word does work, it’s effective and powerful in the lives of His children, as they believe and put their trust in Him by obeying and acting on His word. We cannot twist or change that word or coerce God into acting on it, but as we submit to Him, trusting Him to be faithful, He answers our prayers and our trust in marvelous ways.
Ephesians 5:18-21 – And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and make melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God.
This scripture confirms the Thessalonians passage. In both we’re told how we can thank God when our world is falling apart? The answer is to abide in His presence (focus on Him and His total goodness) and trust that no matter what comes into our life, God is able to turn it around for His glory and bless us with it.

Friday, September 08, 2006

God's Whisper

“God’s Whisper” is stronger and more powerful than any force on earth. When I wrote this poem, I’d just gone through an experience and wanted to write and share the very essence of it. Over several days I thought about and distilled it down to relatively few words. Yet I think it may be helpful to also share a bit about the experience itself.
On Labor Day, September 6th (Mom’s birthday) I’d had neck problems for two weeks already. It had improved some, but two days prior I’d had setbacks. Still I felt good enough to go to dinner at my sister, Linda’s to celebrate. While eating cake and ice cream, my neck started to hurt. I tried to finish, but every time I took a mouthful it hurt. Finally I just held my neck, until it got so bad I decided to try a higher backed chair so I could lean my head on it. It continued to hurt, so I looked for a bed with a relatively flat pillow (like I used at home). Not finding any, I decided I needed to lie down regardless. During the previous two weeks lying down had always helped. So I plopped on my sister’s bed, even though it hurt. It helped being in that position but laying down made it more difficult to move without pain.
Linda found me and was concerned as the rest of the family were. Seeing me like that was a new experience for them, they’d always assumed I was like the “Energizer Bunny”, in that I always kept going.
I said I thought I’d get better if I lay there a while and they left me alone.
After that I felt someone with me. I looked up, saw a face, but couldn’t make out who it was until my sister-in-law, Bev asked, “Do you mind if I pray for you.” At once I felt, “Of course. Why hadn’t I thought of it?” Though I’d been praying all along, I never thought to ask for prayer. This went through my mind like a streak and I simply answered, “I’d love it.” When she laid her hand on me it hurt, yet I was unwilling to have her take it away, so I said nothing. I tried to listen, but it took too much effort and pain, so I simply yielded myself to God and asked Him to direct her words.
I’m not really sure what I expected from that prayer. In the past I’d have thought it hadn’t been answered, if the pain hadn’t gone away or at least diminished some. But the pain didn’t go away, later after everyone else had gone, I decided I needed to go home and Linda gave me a ride, offering to take me to the hospital, which I declined.
After Terry came home he took me to the emergency room. After x-rays, a cat scan and an MRI they finally had a diagnosis. There is a problem with the vertebrae, due to deterioration from RA and osteoporosis and there was inflammation. The pain medication made me sick and we were in the ER all night. When they’d done all they would, I still hurt bad. Just before we left Terry asked if a neck brace would help and they “gave” us one. This helped more than anything.
Home I zonked out and Terry watched over me. The first few days I rested quite a bit and the pain lessened dramatically. I was so thankful I could lay or sit without constant pain.
From the beginning whenever I woke up, I marveled at the prayer. I knew it was significant and powerful and mentioned it to whoever would listen. When my brother called the first evening to see how I was, I asked to talk to Bev, I needed to tell how much her prayer had meant to me. As I shared with her, my words felt totally inadequate. During the next few days, after catching up on my sleep, I thought a lot about this prayer and why it was so powerful and meaningful.
My conclusion: God called Bev to pray for me, she was His channel, it was “God’s Whisper” to me. Because Bev obeyed God, and prayed for me, I received the assurance of His presence with me. I wasn’t “off His radar”, but rather was securely in His hands. He used her to enable, prepare, and strengthen me to be able to endure the night He knew lay ahead of me.


Passing through a dry land
Desperate for a drink,
To satisfy thirst,
To cleanse my soul.

My heart races and pounds,
And I bow to fear.

Where IS my Lord
My Savior
My King?

I know He’s good and cares,
But my eyes are dimmed by pain.

Why can’t I sense my wonderful God?
Where is He?
“Please,” I beg.

Then the faintest whisper reaches my ear—
“I’m here WITH you, My child.
Do not fear, I am your strength and shield.”

Saturday, September 02, 2006

The Beginning

This morning as I had my quiet time, the Lord blessed me with some thoughts (which I wrote about previously on this blog). For a time, since I began hearing about blogs, I've wanted one to share my thoughts on the wonderful goodness of God. But didn't know how to go about it. When I found how easy it was to set up a blog, I practiced on a genealogy blog first.
Right after I set that up, my life got very busy and I haven't written on it in a long time, and this failure (I felt) kept me from setting up one for my spiritual thoughts. But this morning I felt the Lord's nudge and so here I am.
So often I've heard people complain and blame God for many horrible things. When they say, stuff like, "Why did God cause/ allow this disaster or that disaster?," I know they really do not know God nor have they read His words, as set forth in the Holy Bible.
I have no wish to argue with anyone about this, but I do want to present an answer to those who truly want to know about the great goodness of God. Anyway this is my beginning.

Psalms 119: 9-16 thoughts

Verse 9 says - How can a young man cleanse His way? By taking heed to Your word.
This is not to say he will be perfect, but that as he continues to turn back to the word of God and act on it or make it a part of his life - his way will be cleansed as he goes.
Verse 11 -- Your word have I hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.
To hide the word in our heart means more than just to memorize it (though of course it can start there.) We must also act on it or do it.