Friday, January 29, 2010

Are We There Yet?

Focus verses: Genesis 11:27-13:18

Are we there yet? Every parent who has taken a driving trip with children knows this question. The answer is easier with a stated destination and a road map showing the landmarks along the way. Without that map and those landmarks, the answer is more nebulous.

Abram set out with his father, Terah, to go from Ur of the Chaldeans to Canaan. But they didn't go there. They stopped at Haran. Scripture doesn't tell us when they arrived at Haran, but Abram left his father there when he was seventy-five and Terah was a hundred and forty-five years old.

Terah had set out for Canaan, but stopped short. Abram set out for "the land I will show you" and arrived at Canaan. It seems a continuation of his father's journey. We can trace it on a map.

There are other journeys that are harder to trace. The journey of our life has different landmarks and a different path. For some, we begin at birth, travel through youth, make a stop at marriage and parenthood, progress on to old age and finally arrive at the beginning of eternity, otherwise known as death.

The beginning of eternity can occur at any point on this "typical" journey. But our destination is the Kingdom of God. The only map we have is in this book, the Bible. We can only gauge how far we have come and how far we have yet to go by examining ourselves in light of the Word of God.

We are told several times about the Kingdom of God. Studying these landmarks will help us stay on the right path for our destination. The question is not "are we there yet?" Are we closer than we were yesterday?

Father, God,

Shine the light of Your truth on our path. Keep us faithful to the journey, walking closely in the footsteps of Jesus. Help us to grow in grace and righteousness.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Knowledge and Temptation

Focus verses: Genesis 3:1-20

"A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, and a little is all most of us ever get." I don't know who said it first, but my grandmother quoted it often.

The first sin in the Bible is exactly that. Eve had a little knowledge about what looked good to eat. But she had no first-hand knowledge of the ramifications of eating the fruit that Satan was showing her. She did, however, have the word of God which told her not to eat it.

Strawberries are wonderful! Beautiful to look at, sweet and a little tart on the tongue. Even nutritious. But if you are allergic to them, they are poison in your system.

I cannot think of any sin that doesn't begin exactly as this first sin in the Garden of Eden. Satan sees something that he can make look good to you. Then he sits on your shoulder and whispers in your ear.
Shh, God isn't big enough. He isn't always right. Sometimes He has selfish motives.
You can be in charge.
This is how you do it.
He will package the "this is how you do it" part in something that is a natural temptation to you. He gets you to looking at a temptation, thinking about it, obsessing over it and finally yielding to it.

Look at the progression. The first thing he does is ask a question -- one that questions God's commands.
"Did God really say..?"
Then Eve said "Yes, God said..."
At which point Satan has the temerity to call God a liar!
That is the first lie of the father of all lies. When we believe that lie, we are undone.
God is not a man that He should lie.

This week, I'm looking at the things that tempt me most. Pleasures, time-wasters, indulgences. What does God say about the way I pleasure myself and spend my time, energy and money?

It's going to be a difficult week.

Father, God,

Helps us to examine ourselves and the plans You have for our lives. Give us the strength and will to follow Your path rather than our own temptations. Teach us to temper our small knowledge with the knowledge of Your word.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Friday, January 15, 2010


Focus verses: Genesis 2:15-24

Relationships with other people are important. During all of creation, God said "it is good." This is the only instance where He said "it is not good."

Look carefully. Adam was in the Garden of Eden. He had authority over all living creatures. He was to tend the garden. He needed nothing. But he was alone. That was the only thing that was not good.

While the rest of the passage speaks to marriage most obviously, some other inferences can be drawn. Every human being needs companionship.

At one point, I worked in a nursing home. Most of the residents were alone in one way or another. They had lost themselves in dementia, or they had no close family to tend them. Others had physical limitations that didn't allow them to stay in their own homes alone. Those that did the best were people who had family or friends visiting regularly. Or they cultivated relationships with those around them, both staff and residents.

For the others, we tried to encourage friendships among the residents. We planned social events: teas, games, meals, entertainment, and outings -- feeble substitutes for relationships.

This week, I'm taking stock of my relationships. There is, of course, my husband - the primary relationship - and my children/grandchildren. But there are also friends. When you come to my age (past retirement), many of your friends are of similar age with the concomitant health problems and frailties. You never know how long they will be with you.

Reared as an only child, I longed for sisters. During my lifetime God has given me several. Della and Sandy have gone home and left me here to miss them. Delores and Sally and Geni are still with me. They are listed in order of proximity.

I've known Delores for about thirty years. We see each other regularly - generally once a week - and can share anything without fear of rejection. She knows most of my warts and loves me anyway.

Sally and I were in grade school together (much more than thirty years ago). She lives in Texas, so we see each other rarely. But when we can get together, we pick up in the middle of the paragraph. Although our branches extend in different directions, our roots are intertwined, like side by side grape vines with trunks twisted together and tendrils escaping all around.

Geni is a much newer friend. And my largest regret is that I have never hugged her. We met on line when she and her husband were in China. We struck up a conversation and discovered we were sisters at heart. She prays for me and my other friends, family and causes, and I pray for her and hers. We rejoice, share, complain, chat, and love one another. The only thing missing is the hug because I have never met her in person. She lives on the west coast (closer than China but still too far for coffee and conversation).

Three perfect jewels in my life, each a different color, size and shape. One is an emerald, another an opal, and finally a pearl (listed in alphabetical order, not respectively). What a treasure chest!

This week, take stock of the treasures in your relationships. What can you do to enhance them? Can you cultivate new ones?

Father, God,

You placed us all in specific positions in your world, not capriciously, but purposefully. Show us Your purposes in our relationships. Make us sensitive to new ones and help us to cultivate them to Your glory.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Friday, January 8, 2010


Focus verses: Genesis 1:1-3

From nothingness, God created an orderly system. Stars and galaxies and planets move in such an order the scientists can predict with confidence that a solar eclipse will occur on a specific date and at a precise minute within the prescribed hour.

When things are in order, they are predictable. My grandmother used to say "a place for everything and everything in its place."

But my twelve room house is cluttered and cramped because I don't have a specified place for everything, so everything is not in "its place." The worst offender is the space I call my "office." I need to weed through the clutter and dispose of much of it. Then categorize and create a system for the remainder so that I can retrieve what I need at a moment's notice.

When I ask God for knowledge, I've noticed He doesn't shine a floodlight all around me, He seems to use a little flashlight to illuminate one small area at a time. I'm going to use that system for this office. Rather than tackling all of it all at once, I will take one section at a time. There are three two-drawer file cabinets, eight bookcases, two open TV stands which hold paper and supplies, and a multi-compartment computer desk. Most offensive of all are the stacks and piles of paper on every surface. Specific goal for this week is to get all the horizontal surfaces clear - nothing on them that doesn't belong. This will be an ongoing project through the year.

Where is there disorder in your life? What can you clear up and organize? Ask Him for help and let us know how it goes.

Father, God,

Shine the light of Your corrective love on the corners of our lives that we can work to improve. Show us how to create order that we might be more reflective of You in all areas of our lives.
In Jesus' most precious name.

For the Record
My words from the Lord for last week:
Saturday: Be prepared
Sunday: Be hospitable
Monday: Be industrious
Tuesday: Be patient
Wednesday: Be supportive
Thursday: Be faithful
Friday: Be productive

I was amazed that the words were all "be" not "do." I had thought I'd be told to "do" something -- and then I realized, God is I AM, not I DO. If we are to be like Him, we are to be. What we do will flow out of that being.