Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Another morning's grace...

God is so good. ///

I woke up to an automated phone call that Col. Crawford schools (and their busses) were on a 2-hour delay. 

It added to the already-overwhelmed feeling I've been fighting this week. For those that don't know... my kids ride the Col. Crawford bus to the local school, then board Col. Crawford's Pioneer bus to get to Pioneer. ///

Pioneer, of course, is NOT on a two hour delay... which means that my kids are excused from their first two classes if they can't make it to school, but Kayla had a lab and was worried that it would be harder for her to understand the unit if she missed it. I could take them all the way up to Pioneer... but that means an hour lost at work.
As I was in the shower, I thought of seeing if they could ride the Crestline Pioneer bus, though, since that would mean only a 6-7 minute drive for me. So.... I looked up where the Crestline high school was, we jumped in the car, and after a wrong turn or two, we found a school. I wasn't sure if it was the elementary school or the high school, but there were two busses in front. So Kayla got out to ask the driver of the nearest one where the Pioneer bus was. 

She came back a moment later. "That's their Pioneer bus, and he says we can ride it to Pioneer."

As I drove away, I marveled that God had once again worked things out. This is His grace. In a practical way. In my life. He led us directly to the right bus at the perfect time. 

How can I keep from singing His praises?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Faithful every morning...

I just have a little bit of God's goodness to share this morning.

My oldest two kids are going to a technology school, and today is an eagerly awaited field trip to a robotics competition for my son.  He's been talking about it for days, but at 6:15 this morning, he came upstairs, presented himself to me still in his pajamas, and said, "I can't go today."


"I can't find that permission slip you have to sign."

"Well," I said, "Ask God to show you where it is, and work on getting ready for school anyway."

"But I did do that already, and I still can't find it!"

I looked at him, glanced at the clock, saw that I had only 15 minutes to finish my husband's lunch, saw that my son had only 30 minutes to find it, get dressed, eat breakfast, and be ready for the bus, and I found myself saying words that I hadn't really contemplated.

"Take a deep breath, quit looking for it, assume that God is going to show you where it is, and get ready for school like He's going to."

He hesitated, then nodded and disappeared downstairs to get dressed.

Over the next 15 minutes, I prayed as I usually do while I was getting my husband's lunch pulled together, but I also had contingencies going through my head. They were supposed to leave the moment they all got to school, so there wouldn't be time for the teacher to email me a copy that I could print, sign, scan, and email back. I could drive him up to school and get a second one, but that would be an hour out of my morning... an hour I couldn't really stand to lose. Nevertheless, I knew I was willing to do that for him, even though it was his own fault for losing the permission slip... just because I love him, and I didn't want him to miss out on this.

But still... I just asked God to prove Himself to my son, and I finished up my own duties.

My son came back up all ready, and I told him to eat breakfast.

"But...." he said, "Isn't finding my permission slip more important than eating breakfast?"

"Just eat," I told him. "I don't want you to skip breakfast, and we're going to assume that God will grant your request and show us where the paper is."

6:30 came, and my husband left. I went downstairs with my son to search through his backpack, and to mentally retrace anything having to do with that slip and his backpack.


I checked the school website to see if they had a generic form that we could print out... nope.

"The only thing I can figure," my son said, "Would be if you take me to school. Then I can get another one from my class and you can fill it out."  I know he was hoping I'd be willing to do it, but at the same time feeling bad for asking... only daring to even mention it because he wanted to go so badly.

6:42 - Two minutes left before it was time to go out for the bus. I knew I wouldn't send him out to the bus without it, but I hadn't given up yet.

I decided to search through my phone to see if I still had his teacher's cell phone number, just in case I could hand-write out a version of it that would work.

But just as I found it, my son glanced toward his dresser and said, "There it is!"  Sitting on the top of the dresser. Perhaps it had been there all along and we hadn't seen it, though we'd been standing right next to it. Or perhaps God put it there. I don't know.

I looked at the clock. 6:43 - One minute to spare.

We went upstairs, and I called my daughter... she grabbed her school stuff and asked, "Did you find Ryan's slip?"  and I knew she'd been worried that he'd miss out as well.  I joyfully said, "Yep! With one minute to spare!"

I prayed over my kids and thanked Him with them as they went out to the bus, but as they drove away, God reminded me of a scripture verse.
If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him! - Matt 11:7
I feel like God gave me a demonstration and comparison this morning of His love for my son and for me, and my love for my son.  I was willing to give up an hour of my morning to drive my son to school so he wouldn't miss out on his field trip. How much more was God willing and able to prove His sufficiency in place of my son's failure!

I pray that this has also been a powerful demonstration to my kids as well... that they will come to know that relying on God does not mean asking Him to do something and then expending every bit of effort available to do it in your own power.  It means trusting that God is there, that His faithfulness is real, and that He does not disappoint those who truly wait on Him.
The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease,
For His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.    - Lam. 2:22-23

Friday, October 18, 2013

The land we will possess...

I was up this morning wanting to hear a bit from God, and not sure where to turn in my Bible.  So I decided to open my "Bible Verses" app and see what verse they had picked today.

For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess. - Deut. 30:16

 That's what I read, and the promise of it struck me.  I felt the Spirit whisper, What is the land that you are entering to possess?

I knew the answer, but I spent a few moments to actually quantify it.

The land I am entering to possess is:
-- My ministry
-- This winter and the projects that lie before us
-- The nursing homes I play and sing in
-- The prospect of having three teenage kids in a few months
-- The farther-off future when my children begin leaving home and going off to college

...but most of all, it is:

-- My calling. The areas of ministry that God is going to lead me into, regardless of how big or small they may be.

He whispered then, And what am I promising will happen in that land?

I will live and increase, and the Lord my God will bless me! 

To me, the word "live" in the Bible really means to thrive. Jesus came that we can live life more abundantly.  So any time God gives a promise about living, it's not a promise that we will merely exist. It's a promise that we will live abundantly.

Finally, He whispered once more and had me move backward through the verse a little more, back to the beginning. What leads to these promises and blessings?

To love the Lord and keep His commandments.  They go hand and hand, of course.  Jesus said that, "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments."

But God didn't give commandments just to keep us under His thumb. His commandments were the guidelines that matched the laws of existence in this world He created and placed us in.

This is a funny example, but Chemistry is a good example.  A chemist cannot succeed in his field, his job, and his experiments unless he knows and abides by the laws of Chemistry. If he doesn't, he might very well blow up his lab, ruin his instruments... and ruin his chances of success in the process.

God's laws are no different, and He gave them to us for the same reason... so we'd know how to avoid blowing up parts of our lives and ruining things.

And that brought me back to the simplicity of this verse... and the promise.

The beginning command is only a protective one... a reminder and a loving warning.  But the end is a promise that those of us who do love our God and who do have a heart to follow His commands can rest in.

I don't need to worry about where God might lead me in the future. All I need to do is continue loving and following Him.  He'll lead me to the land that He is going to have me possess, and He's promising that I will live abundantly and increase there!

His ways are marvelous!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Tribulation to hope...

[Bible study on Romans - post 8]

 Romans is calling me again. The truths it contains are just so profound!  And so important to understand!

So this morning I opened up to where I left off in my Romans Bible study way back when... and I'm not sure I understand all of what comes next. 

I last shared these verses:
"Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God."

But those verses are followed by these, which are Romans 5:3-5:
"And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us."

How often do you exult in tribulations?

I can't help smiling as I ask that question, because I'm thinking your response to that question probably isn't all that different than mine.  Exult? I think that's something a little more than "trust God" or "endure with patience."  It probably doesn't mean "hang tight to God and want to hide until the tribulation is over." 

Yes? No?

You see... I know what the word "exult" means. As some other translations put it, it's "to glory" or "to rejoice."  Yeah. It is not a natural thing to do in tribulation.

There are two ways of translating that "in tribulation" though. This verse is not saying that we exult "about the tribulation." It's saying we exult "in the midst of" or "through" our tribulation.

Many of us still are not a part of the "we who exult" group, though, are we?

I wonder if maybe this is because we don't truly understand the rest of the verse?

The end result of it... is hope. A hope that does not disappoint. A hope that is not empty and worthless.

How is that possible?  That's what I am asking the Lord this morning, for I don't quite think I've received the full understanding of it. I see how tribulation brings about perseverance, and I totally understand how perseverance brings about proven character.  But how does all this result in hope?

It says it does this "because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us."

Can it be that, in walking through tribulations and developing perseverance, we we somehow come to know the fullness of the love that God has? That somehow it helps us come to see how it is even poured out toward those who persecute us? That it is poured out... poured out... even on us?

Lord, show us what the links are between tribulation and hope. Show us where we've missed it so that we are not excluded from the "we" who are free to exult and rejoice even in tribulation, and show that we fully understand and see and know the hope that exists because of it. 

(If you like, you can go to the index of posts on Romans.)
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