Monthly Archives: March 2015

Headings in my Bible

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“For I know the thoughts (or plans) I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NKJV)

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The headings in my Bible are great. They help me find the stories I am looking for and remind me how each story ends. Headings are helpful in life. In books they’re called titles. In the newspaper they’re called headlines. All of them giving a glimpse into what is to come.

So that got me to thinking….what if I knew the ending of my story now? What if the stories in my life where titled like they are in my Bible? What if I knew the end at the beginning? It struck me how very differently I might live my life if I knew the outcome ahead of time. This could go either way…maybe I would be overwhelmed or maybe I would be encouraged. Or perhaps both.

Humor me and think about that for aminute. What if you knew the ending of your life story right now?

This lured me to start looking through my Bible at the headings. Now I realize the titles are not inspired…but they are helpful. Here are some examples from my Bible:

The flood ends.
Abram inherits Canaan.
Lots captivity and rescue.
Isaac marries Rebekah.
Isaac’s twin boys.
Jacob marries Leah and Rachel.
Esau sells his birthright.
Joseph sold by his brothers.
Joseph’s rise to power.
Seven years of famine.
Moses at the burning bush.
God gives Moses power.
Miraculous signs for pharaoh.
Israel’s deliverance assured.
The Red Sea crossing.
Bread from heaven.
Water from the Rock.
Rahab hides the spies.
Gideon’s valiant 300 men.
Gideon subdues the Midianites.
Sampson defeats the Philistines.
Boaz redeems Ruth.
Samuel is born and dedicated.
Saul is chosen to be king.
Elijah revives the widows son.
Elijah’s Mount Carmel victory.
Elijah ascends into heaven.
Naaman’s leprosy is healed.
Isaiah is called to be a prophet.
Hosea takes back his unfaithful wife.
Jonah finally obeys.
Peter’s mother in law is healed.
Jesus feeds the five thousand.
The empty tomb.
Peter freed from prison.
Paul and Barnabus are chosen.
Peter raises Dorcas to life.
The conversion of Cornelius.

Now take a minute and visualize with me. What if the above people had seen their chapter headings before they walked through their stories? (Take time to reread some of these again!) Would Moses have been as frightened at the burning bush? Would Gideon have trembled when God chose him? Would Naaman have doubted his healing? Would Jonah have gotten it right the first time? And seriously…would everyone had still cried over Dorcas’s lifeless body?

Each of these headings help me look past the yucky parts of the story…after all, I know what’s coming! I am compelled to read on through the uncomfortable facts…like floods and famines and battles, knowing that the end is what really matters. These endings are beautiful. Faith-filled. God-breathed stories of His power.

To be honest, life doesn’t usually give us those glimpses of greatness ahead of time. I am in awe of this thought. What if I lived my life in the shadow of my heading. How would I make my next move? Would I be as overwhelmed if I knew that I win in the end? And yet…I live too often as if I am already defeated. That made me dig into a few more of my Bible headings:

Victory in Christ.
Christ is coming quickly.
God answers prayer.
God is love.
Walk in the light.
Heaven is worth the wait.
Be doers of the Word.
God keeps His promises.
Never give up.

All summed up, God has the end of our story. He knows that we are more than CONQUERERS. He has planned out every move. When we are faced with a decision…a big move in life, I want to think it terms of my ending. What does God want from me? His Spirit and His Word agree. He will give us wisdom if we ask for it. (James 1:5-6). Yet, sometimes I spend more time worrying about the next step. All the “what ifs” crowd my brain. I spend more time wondering and pacing the floor than trusting in His writing of my story.

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I don’t know about you, but I want to be numbered with the faithful. The saints who have gone on before are my heroes of the faith. The folks in Hebrews 11 are regular people…but they trusted in the God of their stories. They knew that He was orchestrating their next move. They understood His heading over them.

Why don’t I start living my life like that? Why don’t I start waking up each morning knowing that God has all my moves planned out….He sees the bigger picture. My only responsibility is to trust His all-powerful knowledge and obey His leading. Then, and only then, can I know my heading is clear. My title is obvious. I am a conquerer. My story will end in greatness…because He is the Author and Finisher of my faith.

“Now unto Him that is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus…” Ephesians 3:20-21

Unstickered

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“But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.”         Isaiah 64:8

Strange things happen when you’re doing dishes. Or at least for me they do. Yesterday I was doing dishes at my brother’s new house. My second younger brother is getting married next month and needed some help settling in. So there I was…washing new dishes and putting them into clean cabinets.

New dishes mean one thing…sticky price tags. All of them screaming to be removed. I must have peeled and scraped and scrubbed fifty stickers off. They are very persistent little things and yet so rewarding. The first dozen or two gave me a feeling of satisfaction when the dishes were smooth and clean. It made me feel good.

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Then it started getting boring. Monotonous. Even agitating at times. So I started thinking…what lesson could I learn from this? When I begin asking myself questions like this, I know I am really grasping at straws, but it was starting to get on my nerves…this whole sticker business! I needed to walk away with more than a stack of smooth-bottomed plates and bowls, I wanted some spiritual food for thought!

Then it came to me. Or HE did. All these beautiful dishes are worthless if they stay boxed up, wrapped up, and stickered up. To be useful they must be unwrapped and ready on a shelf for easy access. I won’t eat a bowl of cereal from a bowl that is in a box of styrofoam peanuts and wrapped up in age-old newspaper. No! I need them available. I need them at my fingertips. I need them unstickered.

Wow! That truth got me right between the eyes. Maybe God was standing there at the sink with me, whispering truths into my soul. I heard Him stirring my heart to see myself in those stickered plates. How often was I the one staying packaged up? It got me thinking. Staying packed up doesn’t change my value. It changes my usefulness. I can be a lovely glass in a box, carefully wrapped up and protected from any danger… Or I can be a beautiful pitcher that is used for His glory.

Maybe it is my fears holding me back from doing bigger things for God. Perhaps in an effort to protect myself, I peek out from the safety of my styrofoam peanut-bedded box and shiver. “Not me, Lord. Can you pick someone else? How about that sturdy looking plate over there? You know how easily I can chip!” So I stay in the comfort of my newspaper padding and never grace the table of my King. I am valued, but not useable.

Standing there at the sink suddenly became therapy. I felt tears welling up in my eyes. A prayer bubbled up in my heart. “Lord, I want to be used. Unwrap me. Wash me. Unsticker me. Please…use me. If I chip, still put me on Your table. If I crack, mend me. If I break, heal me…but Father, please use me.” I felt the words of Isaiah pouring from my soul… “Here am I Lord, send me.” (Isaiah 6:8)

I want to be useable. I want to be available. Some days that may mean leading a Bible study or tutoring a child in math skills for the glory of God. My work can become my worship, if my heart is toward Him. Some days that may mean teaching children at a kindergarten class or listening to piano students plunk out their pieces. Other days it might be cleaning up vomit or folding ten loads of laundry. Yesterday it meant scrubbing stickers off new dishes.

Friend, God has the perfect place in His heavenly cabinet for you. It’s a place that you will be available…right at His fingertips. To get there you have to get out of that styrofoam-coated comfort and leave the packing box behind. You have to give up the stickers and be willing to be chipped. It means being vulnerable. It means being subject to the dangerous air…but you can do it in His strength! I think I want to leave the box behind and be unstickered in the cabinet of Jesus. Will you join me?

New Mercies Every Morning

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Do you ever have those moments when your wonder of God’s greatness gets exploded and you stand in awe of His power? I have. Last week, in fact.

I was standing in my kitchen and listening to the narrative of God’s power and grace on the life of my brother. I’ll spare you all the details, but it’s more than safe to say that my younger brother came within literal feet and inches of death…and lives to tell about it. He drives a semi truck and was fully loaded with logs when he came face to face with a big county truck fully loaded with salt. It’s slick outside. Brakes don’t work this time of year in Michigan…. especially for a semi or other heavy trucks. Police at the sight later shook their heads in disbelief. Both drivers should have died. Instead, both walked away without a single scratch.

As my brother told the story, I stood there amazed at God’s mercy. My skin tingled. Shivers ran down my spine. His mercies are new every morning Lamentations tells us. “Great is Thy faithfulness!” The accident happened right in front of our local school. It was around 2pm…school was letting out….and not one child was anywhere near when the accident took place. Now I call that God’s finger print!!!

Miracles are happening every day, all around us. Problem is, I don’t often stop and notice them. The million things that God graces us with daily…and we walk by without a thought. The air we breathe. The water we drink. The seasons. The baby that curls up in your arms and sleeps like an angel. The fireflies in the summer sky. These are all small miracles. Graces He gives us every day.

As I was thinking of the accident and reflecting on God’s mercy, my brother’s seven-month-old daughter was sitting near me as I played the piano. She loves music and was humming in her sweet baby way. Then (as if I were in “It’s a wonderful life” with Clarence, the angel) my mind flashed to a world without my brother. Morbid, I know. But it was as if God have me a picture of His mercy in a bigger way.

I imagined a funeral instead of joyful relief and gratefulness. A young widow and her seven-month-old daughter. A farm without a farmer. A hole in our family. Shock. Grief. Heart ache. The moment was awful…staring into what could have been a tragic loss.

And then…a miracle instead! God’s mercy. He chose to give life. To grant protection. To dispatch hundreds of angels for that specific moment. To steer those trucks perfectly and spare the lives of two young men…and countless school children. Mercy like that makes you want to sing! So I did. With my little niece humming her own tune, we sang worship songs and praise anthems to Jesus. His mercy! He has chosen mercy and love and protection. Thank you Jesus!

A miracle. That’s what we are. Human wonders that God has created to tell the world His story. He loves us. He cares for us. Even when we don’t see His hand, His fingerprints dot our very being. I stand amazed in His presence. I am in awe of His power. The prophet Jeremiah said so well in Lamentations 3:22-24, “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is Thy faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in Him.” And it all made me wonder. Standing in awe…What miracle have I failed to see? What else have I missed?