Blessed New Year!

 So we are four months in.  I don’t know why I did not get this published in January.

I have been a little busy.  I know some people are still waiting for their New Year’s cards.  Maybe this year, they’ll be Happy Spring cards.
  I like to make plans.  The problem I find with many plans I make, they depend on other people doing their part (or the part I have for them).

Being a mom is more complicated than some would think.  Moms make plans and most of them require the rest of the family to be moving in the same direction, at the same speed, at the same moment.  So, anyone ever try herding cats?  Being a mom is kinda like that.

I’m thankful the Lord has plans for me.  I’m a slow learner, well, maybe that isn’t quite right, I do learn things quickly.  Better said, would be I’m intent on where I’m going, so when things don’t go according to MY plan, I try harder.  Thing is, trying harder isn’t always is what is needed.  Most of the time I am slow to Stop.  Look to the Lord.  Listen.

“What are your plans for my life, Lord?”

God has been my lifeline.  My anchor.  My Rock.  I have been learning what it really means to “hold to God’s unchanging hand.”  I have stood on the prow of that ship and looked over the dark troubled waters of sorrow; understanding more than I wanted to the words “…When sorrow like sea billows roll.  What ever my lot, Thou has taught me to say, ‘It is well with my soul.”

And in the midst of a storm that threatened to undo me, that sliver of peace pierced the clouds and my heart to remind me that God is God alone.  He reigns on His throne.  He is faithful no matter what; I can trust Him and He will not leave me nor forsake me.  Therein is Hope.

My lesson has been to make plans, but realize that I have control over nothing in this world.  My ability to plan, direct and execute are no more a barometer of my control than is my alarm clock  the cause of the rising of the sun each day.  The same holds true for you.

On the Journey,

Amy

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Be A Thankful People

To you, O God of my fathers, I give thanks and praise, for you have given me wisdom and might…”

Daniel 2:23a

“And when you sacrifice a sacrifice of thanksgiving to the Lord, you shall sacrifice it so that you may be accepted.” 

Leviticus 22:29

“Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples!”

1 Chronicles 16:8

“Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!”

1 Chronicles 16:34

“I will give to the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the Lord, the Most High.”

Psalm 7:17

“But we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will give thanks to you forever; from generation to generation we will recount your praise.”

Psalm 79:13

“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

1 Corinthians 15:57

“do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

Philippians 4:6

“saying, ‘Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.'”

Revelation 7:12

My Dear Reader, I pray you will have a blessed day of Thanksgiving.  Lift your voices in song and supplication; crying out to the Lord God for wisdom, courage, boldness, and forgiveness.  May the Lord be merciful to you and to our nation.

“if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

2 Chronicles 7:14

The Cause of Salvation

 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Philippians 2:8

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit”

1 Peter 3:18

“I, I am the Lord, and besides me there is no savior.”

Isaiah 43:11

“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.”

Romans 5:6

“Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”

Romans 6:3-4

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Galatians 2:20

“Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world.”

John 18:36a

“But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ”

Philippians 3:20

The Heart of the Matter

“But from there you will seek the Lord your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul.”

Deuteronomy 4:29

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”

Deuteronomy 6:9

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”

Psalm 51:10

“I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever.”

Psalm 86:12

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.”

Ecclesiastes 3:11

“There was at the table reclining in Jesus’ bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved.”

John 3:23

We like to think that we are at the heart of the matter.  After all “God so loved the world,” that is us, “that He gave His only begotten Son…” (John 3:16).  But, God did the loving and the sending, and, well, the dying.  It is all about Christ.  About the glory of God.  Really, it is all about God.  He is the heart of it.

Who do we love?  “[F]or they loved the glory that is of men more than the glory that is of God.” (John 12:43).  The second letter to Timothy 3:4 concludes a list of sin by saying, “… lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God..”  Have you noticed how often we are told in Scripture to love God or to love others?

I say all of that to to say this.  The Christian life isn’t about us.  We don’t worship for us.  We don’t give for us.  We don’t pray for us.  We don’t serve for us.  The heart of the matter is we do all of these things and so much more for HIM.  It is all about God, not us.  If we do any of these things because the make us feel good, then we practice idolatry.  We do what we do because it pleases God.  Him alone.

About Him On the Journey,

Amy

*Please note, I am not saying we can’t receive joy and feel good about doing what is right and pleasing to God.  Often, however, doing what is right doesn’t feel good.  It is hard.

Beulah’s Song

“Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate:

but thou shalt be called Hephzi-bah, and thy land Beulah;

for Jehovah delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married.” 

Isaiah 62:4

“Grace is deceitful, and beauty is vain; But a woman that feareth Jehovah, she shall be praised.”

Proverbs 31:30

I have always loved this hymn.  It became especially dear to my heart many years ago when my husband and I were in college.  Our last few years were spent in Ashland, OR where we were part of a small congregation.

While there we were befriended by a dear older couple, Floyd and Beulah Whitehead.  Floyd was in poor health when we met them.  Several things about this couple stood out to us, as a newly married couple.  First, you could see how in love Floyd and Beulah were after more than 50 years of married life together.  It was a tangible love.  Second, they both shared with us that they had sought all those years never to go to bed angry with each other (Ephesians 4:6).  Third, Floyd never raised his voice at Beulah; he was gentle and understanding with her (1 Peter 3:7).  They truly sought to live out the love of Christ first to one another, then to everyone else.

A year or so after we graduated and moved away, we went back to visit Beulah,who was living with liver cancer; Floyd had passed before we graduated.  She didn’t seemed the least phased by the problem; she was ready to get home and be with Floyd and Jesus, the two loves of her life.

This song was her favorite and I think of the Whiteheads every time I sing it.  I am so thankful for their example and influence in my life.  I didn’t appreciate enough the treasure they were at the time; isn’t that how it often is.  Seek out those godly older jewels that are in your sphere.  Bless their lives with your time and attention.  You will be the better for it.

“Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honor the face of the old man, and thou shalt fear thy God: I am Jehovah.”  Leviticus 19:32

Remember the Journey,

Amy

First Principle

“For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light.”

Psalm 36:9

“The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, that one may turn away from the snares of death.”

Proverbs 14:27

“For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. “

Hebrews 2:11

“And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him,”

Hebrews 5:9

A fount is the source of a spring or river of water; it is pure and undefiled.  According to one definition from Webster’s 1828 dictionary (online), a fount is “Original; first principle or cause; the source of any thing.”  This term is also used to describe the Bride of Christ (Song of Solomon 4:12).  Let us who walk in Christ go to our Fount for refreshing, cleansing, and wisdom.

“Good sense is a fountain of life to him who has it, but the instruction of fools is folly.”

Proverbs 16:22

On the Journey,

Amy

Doubting, You?

“And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted.”

Matthew 28:17

“And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts?”

Luke 24:38

You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!”

James 2:19

“but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

John 20:31

Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

Mark 16:16

“And many believed in him there.”

John 10:42

Dear ones, do you struggle with doubt?  Who doesn’t?  Even those men whom Jesus was training personally had times of doubt.  Doubt, I think, is where our faith wrestles with our perceptions.  In order for faith to grow, it must be put to the test; pushed, pulled, strained, even have the wind knocked from us.

I love the book of James.  It seems, at first glance to be a harsh epistle, sort of a downer as letters go; but in reality, it is a great book of encouragement!  “Count it all joy!”  That’s a good thing, right?  “[W]hen you meet trials of various kinds.”  What?  Why on earth would we rejoice over trials?  “[F]or you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing”  (James 1:2-4).  {light bulb!} 

Don’t look at trials as bad, but as an opportunity to grow in faith, in Christ, and on your way to being “complete and lacking in nothing.”  I want to encourage you to read slowly and meditatively through the book of James this week.  Write down the trials, big and small, you are facing right now.  Then as you read, write down every phrase that encourages you in overcoming those trials.   Use these words from James to rise above the trials that knock you down or discourage you.  I think Rocky once said that it is not how many times you get knocked down, but how many times you get up.

[Keep] On the Journey,

Amy