Thursday, July 30, 2020

God SpeaksThrough a Bouquet

I must admit, I'm not a bouquet kind of gal. Don't get me wrong! I love flowers, especially in my flower garden right outside my window, but I've never been one to be disappointed if my husband didn't shower me with flowers all the time. I have received the occasional bouquet from him and it's been very nice; however, I don't feel like I'm missing out if I don't receive flowers from him for every special occasion. We have been married for 32 years and it works just fine for us. I'm not sure where that tradition started or why it started with men giving flowers to women. Wouldn't men appreciated receiving flowers too? Well, either way, today's post is about a bouquet. This is a bouquet for anyone and everyone. One of the definitions of bouquet is "an expression of approval; a compliment". So that is the bouquet for today and this bouquet comes from God. I thought it would be neat to have a bouquet of God's love for us, so enjoy the "flowers".

1.  Psalm 139:13 (The Message)--"Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking!  Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation! You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, The days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day."

The first flower in the bouquet describes God's knowledge and love. He knew each of us before we were born. He supervised the development of each of us in our mother's uterus and knew exactly how what we would be like. God made each of us the way we were meant to be and because of that, He loves each of us the way we are.

2.  Jeremiah 29:11 (The Message)--"I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for."

The second flower in the bouquet describes how God has plans all laid out for His followers. God's plans for our lives are beneficial to us. Often our plans for ourselves are not.

3.  Ephesians 2:7-10 (The Message)--"Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing." 
God's third flower is the bouquet is about His love for us. He created the way for us to "saved"; to be with Him after we die. He loved His creations, US, so much that He wanted to spend eternity with us. Not much better a compliment than that!

4.  Romans 8:28 (The Voice)--"We are confident that God is able to orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful when we love Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan."

The bouquet's fourth flower relates God's desire for all good things for us. This doesn't mean that things will always go right for us, that we won't have hard times or sorrow, but it DOES mean that even those "bad" times will work out good in the end even if we can't see it. 
5.  Psalm 37:4 (The Voice)--"Take great joy in the Eternal! His gifts are coming, and they are all your heart desires!"

The fifth flower again demonstrates God's love. Don't we like to shower those we love with gifts. Gifts are complimentary on their own. It means we are special to the giver. God's gifts are coming and they are everything you could imagine.

6.  Psalm 147:11 The Voice)--"But the Eternal does take pleasure in those who worship Him, those who invest hope in His unfailing love."

Flower number six indicates that God takes pleasure in us. God is happy around those who worship Him and hope in Him. It's amazing to think that we can give happiness to God.

7. Genesis 1:31a (The Voice)--"Then God surveyed everything He had made, savoring its beauty and appreciating its goodness."

Biblically, the number seven is a special number to God, so it makes sense that the seventh flower would be descriptive of God complimenting His creation and creations. God is calling us good and as having beauty!

8.  Psalm 149:4a (Living Bible)--"For Jehovah enjoys his people; he will save the humble."

The eighth flower of the bouquet states it quite directly. Jehovah enjoys His people!

9.  Zephaniah 3:17 (Living Bible)--"For the Lord your God has arrived to live among you. He is a mighty Savior. He will give you victory. He will rejoice over you with great gladness; he will love you and not accuse you.” Is that a joyous choir I hear? No, it is the Lord himself exulting over you in happy song."

Flower nine is one of my favorites. It gives the picture of God as a caring parent. How many parents have spent time singing over their children whether it is as a bed-time routine or in fun? The ninth flower shows that God is singing over us. He is acting as a loving parent singing words of life to our soul; singing words of comfort to our hearts; singing words of hope to our minds. 

I hope God's little bouquet has brought you some joy today. Know that God loves you, cares for you, and has a plan for you!

Thursday, July 2, 2020

God Speaks Freedom

FREEDOM! This is a controversial word in this day. Our country was founded on the ideals of freedom. There are several dictionary definitions of freedom. One definition is "
absence of subjection to foreign domination or despotic government". This is the meaning upon which our country was founded. The Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation, and later the Constitution all have this meaning of freedom in their substance...the intent of not being ruled by a despotic government. 

Years after the founding of our country, another definition of freedom was finally realized. This definition is "the state of not being imprisoned or enslaved". With President Abraham Lincoln's signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, slavery in this country was outlawed. Although it took several years after its signing before ALL slaves were freed and although many of those old opinions still run rampant in some areas, the truth of no longer being bound is real.

A third definition has also been a hot topic lately. That definition is "the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint." Although this freedom was recognized at the writing of our constitution, questions have always arisen about the exact meaning or interpretation of this phrase. As the country has modernized over the nearly 250 years since it declared independence and with the advent of internet and social media, this definition and meaning continues to get more muddy and muddled. 

Galatians 5:13--"Brothers and sisters, God has called you to freedom! Hear the call, and do not spoil this gift by using your liberty to engage in what your flesh desires; instead, use it to serve each other as Jesus taught through love."

1 Peter 2:16--"Live as those who are free and not as those who use their freedom as a pretext for evil, but live as God’s servants."

The dictionary is not the only book to give a meaning of freedom. The Bible gives warning about some of these "Freedoms" but also gives a definition as well. It talks about freedom from sin. If you've read my blogs before, you will recognize that sin is basically "doing bad things". ALL human beings are born with this capacity. We are all born with the nature to do bad things. Some people seem to do more bad things than others, but that does not matter. In the eyes of God, we are all guilty because we ALL do bad things. God has never put a tally on the number of bad things or the amount of "badness" that they consist of...He has just said that ALL sin (do bad things). Even though God's goal for each of us is fellowship together forever with Him, people who "do bad things" are not allowed into Heaven without proper punishment. This does not include any punishments here on earth; they would need proper "Heavenly" punishment to dispel all of our bad things. God knew that we as humans could never really handle the proper punishment needed to get rid of our "bad things". He knew that it would take Someone with the same power He has and He sent Jesus, His Son, as our replacement. Jesus, not only suffered a horrendous human death, but also experienced the extreme punishment that was intended for each of us in order to cover our "bad things" and allow us into Heaven. Such a gift of Freedom this world has never seen! All that God asks in return is that we believe in Him, in what Jesus did for us, and seek God and His wisdom in all that we do. 
This is the ultimate sense of be unchained from "Heavenly" punishment for the "bad things" we do and to be able to freely fellowship with God forever.

John 8:34--"Jesus: I tell you the truth: everyone who commits sin surrenders his freedom to sin. He is a slave to sin’s power."

Luke 1:77--"So that the Lord’s people will receive knowledge of their freedom through the forgiveness of their sins."

Acts 2:21--"And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be liberated into God’s freedom and peace."

Friday, June 19, 2020

God Speaks Through Change

CHANGE. It is not a kind word. Most of us do not think too highly of change. Change can come as the result of illness, job loss, death, even marriage, new baby, or new job or job responsibilities. Even though some of these are "happy" things, they still result in a change of some sort. The dictionary definition is "make or become different". Most of us get so used to our day in and day out routine that any "change" becomes an issue. 

        Proverbs 7:23--"Like a bird flying straight into a net.
    He had no clue his life was at stake; everything was about to change."

Take, for instance, our recent and on-going COVID-19 outbreak. Most of us were pushed into a sudden and abrupt change. A change in our day-to-day life; a change in our jobs; a change in our finances. For many of us what had been our typical daily routine was no more. This was quite a difficult change as we all had to not only learn a new daily routine, but many of us had to learn how to make due with less food for our families and less money for our bills. Many parents have had to learn how to teach their children and children have had to learn from their parents or grandparents. Teachers had to change how they were teaching and students had to change their mindset of learning. As we all begin to settle into our "new" routine, change will come again. 

Change as the result of a family death, or marriage break-up are difficult as well. These changes last a little longer than our COVID-19 event. During these changes, there really is no going back to what was normal. For these changes, a new routine and a new way of thinking is required and is often difficult to establish.

A new marriage or a new baby can result in good change and yet it is still change. There is still a new routine to establish and new ways of thinking. Sometimes this new change can bring a few hardships with it...babies that don't sleep at night, exhausted parents, couples whose personalities clash. These hardships will at some point....change! 

Isaiah 14:26--"Because I, God of earth and heaven,
        have devised a plan for the whole earth;
    I have reached out and am ready to effect change among the nations."

If there is one thing that is constant in this world, it is change! In fact, God calls upon each of us to change. We are born into a messed up world with a mindset of doing wrong things. That is just human nature. We are born sinful (with the propensity to do bad things). This doesn't necessarily mean killing people or stealing, but none of us can say we have never done something wrong since birth . That is sin...doing something wrong! The way that God provides for our change is through His Son, Jesus. If we believe that He took our eternal punishment and ask Him to be in charge of our lives, we will be changed.

Mark 1:15--"It’s time! The kingdom of God is near! Seek forgiveness, change your actions, and believe this good news!"

Nehemiah 1:9--"but if you have a change of heart and return to Me and walk according to My commands, then no matter how far you have gone, even to the places beyond the horizon, I will gather you and bring you to the place of My choosing, where My very name dwells.”

God asks us to change, but knows that we are born with that tendency to do bad things and that we can't alter the bad things that happen to us. He knows that we will need help. Who better to help us than God, Who created us and Who knows all about us? The other thing about God and change is that He doesn't. God Does Not Change. He has been the same God with the same character since the beginning of time. His expectations do not change; His thoughts do not change; His plans for us have never changed; and His love does not change! 

Hebrews 13:8--"Jesus the Anointed One is always the same: yesterday, today, and forever."

Malachi 3:6a--"Because I am the Eternal One, I never change..."

Change is a part of life. Sometimes good; sometimes bad. No matter the amount and type of change in our lives, isn't it wonderful to know that God is constant?