Earth Day


 

Since April 22, 1970 we’ve celebrated Earth Day annually. As I understand it, Earth Day is designed to make us more aware of how humanity is harming the planet and that we should to take better care of this world. Each year there is a different focus, but the ultimate message is, “stop messing up the planet.” I’m all for that. Let’s pick up the trash, recycle, care for the animals, and plant more trees. But, there is more to the earth than plants and animals.

God did command humanity to take care of the planet. Genesis 1:26-28 explains,

“Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

There are two words in this passage we might not use every day: dominion and subdue. I checked dictionary.com for the definition of both. Subdue means: to overpower by superior force; overcome. It also means to bring (land) under cultivation.

The word dominion explains further. There are several definitions of the word including:

  • The power or right of governing and controlling; sovereign authority
  • Rule; control; domination
  • A territory, usually of considerable size, in which a single ruler ship holds sway.
  • Lands or domains subject to sovereignty or control.

So, humanity has authority over the earth. We are to cultivate it, rule it, and take care of it. So yes, the focus of Earth Day is important, and grounded in Scripture.

 

I wonder how God feels about Earth Day.

It seems to me God has a special love for our planet. He created it – before he created man. But He did put man in charge of the earth, “over every living thing.” Perhaps we should remember that in addition to thousands of species of plants and animals, there are over seven billion people on our little planet. And God loves each one. Sometimes we forget John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” We should have at least an equal focus on people.

Let Earth Day include humanity as well. Let us show everyone the love of Christ and help them also become good stewards of the Earth

Blessings on your day.

Scripture: http://www.openbible.info

Image: Google Images

 

 

In The Eye Of The Storm


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Psalm 91:2

I will say to the Lord, ‘My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’” 

My family moved to Jacksonville, Florida a little over a year ago. When we made the decision to move I never considered that we would deal with hurricanes. For the second time in as many months, a huge storm drew near to us. Herminie came through Jacksonville as a tropical storm, but Matthew passed dangerously close to our coast line as a category 4 hurricane.  Schools and businesses closed in preparation for the storm. Meteorologists warned of the danger of the storm and explained it could reshape parts of our coastline. We stocked up on supplies and water and made provisions if we lost power. Millions of people living right on the coast were evacuated. As the hurricane drew near to us the wind and rain became frightening, and lasted for hours. I made several Facebook posts with storm updates and asking for prayers. I felt those prayers. Our Heavenly Father saw us through the storm. As I type this blog the storm has passed. We are waiting for morning to survey the damage.

We also face many metaphorical storms in life; job loss, illnesses, infertility, not getting that promotion, betrayal, and death to name a few. We try to control these storms, but we cannot. In some cases we just prolong the pain. The storms we experience leave different kinds of marks on our lives. Some of these storms will change us forever. But the one thing that will never change is God’s love for us. He will see us through these storms; He is faithful and in control. Psalm 33:4 tells us, “For the word of the Lord is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness.”

I don’t know what storm you are facing, or the severity. All I can tell you is to put your faith in God, and let Him have control of the winds and rain. Something beautiful awaits you on the other side of the storm. I’ve always experienced an unexpected blessing when the storm passes.

The events of the past few days remind me of the song “In The Eye of the Storm” recently released by Ryan Stevenson. May it bring you peace.

https://video.search.yahoo.com/yhs/search?hsimp=yhs-att_001&hspart=att&p=youtube+eye+of+the+storm+ryan+stevenson#id=4&vid=047eeca0aa8530c95519b676266aa85b&action=click

Psalm 107:29  He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed.

Image: Artist Unknown – found on Facebook 10/7/2016

The Gift of Another Day


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Psalm 90:12

Teach us to number our days and recognize how few they are; help us to spend them as we should.

Once every four years the calendar gives us an extra day. There’s a scientific reason – the earth rotates around the sun every 365 ¼ days. Those who created our calendar added an extra day every fourth year to make up for this. There’s actually more to it than my brief explanation, but you get the idea – we have the gift of another day this year.

How will we use the extra day?

We take so much of life for granted, especially those of us blessed with families, jobs, and good health. We race to get our commitments completed, then complain that we have too much to do – work, errands, children’s activities and the like. We don’t stop often enough to enjoy or appreciate life’s many blessings. I am guilty of rushing through life like there is always tomorrow.

But life is brief. We don’t know how much time we have. Tomorrow is not guaranteed.

Our extra day falls on a Monday this year, so how about celebrating our “leap day” this weekend? Leave your watch in a drawer and unplug for the day. Think about how you can enjoy – really appreciate – the many blessings our God has given to us. Connect with your friends and family and hold them tight. Savor each moment with them. Go on an outing. Gaze at a landscape, or a sunset. Take a nature walk. Stop to really look at flowers, or a lake, or the clouds. Become aware of the gifts we so often overlook. Live.

Psalm 118:24

This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.

Blessings on your “leap day.”

Scripture: www.biblegateway.com (The Living Bible Translation)

Images: google images

An Ash Wednesday Prayer


Ash Wednesday

Dear Heavenly Father,

Today we begin a season of self-examination and inner reflection. Open our hearts to see the truth of our words and our actions so that we see our lives through your eyes. We open our souls to your presence and ask you to change what needs to be changed. Lord, grant us the grace to emerge from the season of Lent with a more profound understanding of Your mercy and grace. Let your love wash over us, and seep deep into the broken places, healing and restoring our souls. Prepare our hearts for the joyous celebration of Easter.

Amen

Developing Patience


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 Psalm 37:7-9

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.

“Patience may be the trait we are most lacking.” Pastor David Alexander, First United Methodist Church, Mansfield, Texas

The other day I was listening to a previously recorded sermon as part of my quiet time. The above quote convicted me to the point I knew it was time to do something about my lack of patience because I don’t always display this beautiful trait. In fact, I think I usually fail in the patience category. Frequently, I’ve been short with my husband and kids. I’ve been impatient in traffic and people standing before me in line. I’ve been impatient waiting at the doctor’s office. The list goes on, and on…

Although we live in an instant gratification culture it doesn’t mean we have to live like everyone else. I decided it was time to develop this very necessary skill. What is patience and how can I develop it? Dictionary.com tells us patience is “an ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay and the ability to bear provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain without complaint, loss of temper, irritation or the like.” The word willingness is key. It means I have control. I also noticed where the word patience is in the Love Chapter. Notice 1 Corinthians 13:4-7:

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Patience is an act of love.

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Now the question becomes, “How can I develop patience?” There are probably dozens of suggestions, but these are the ones I came up with:

  • Recognize that there are some things you simply cannot control.
  • Recognize the things that make you act on impulse, and either avoid them or think about the reasons for your reactions
  • Look at the other person’s point of view
  • Slow down and practice delaying gratification.
  • Think before you speak. It may be as simple as counting to 10 before your respond.
  • Ask yourself, why are you in such a hurry? Will hurrying change anything?
  • Identify triggers that make you feel impatient and plan to avoid them.
  • Remind yourself that things do take time.
  • Remember that for every minute you are angry, you lose a minute of joy and peace.
  • Create space or margin in your life knowing that you will need the extra time to deal with the inevitable.

How about you?  Do you have any suggestions for developing patience? I would love to hear from you.

 Blessings on your day.

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Scripture: www.openbible.info

Image: Google Images

Shalom


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John 14:27

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

The Hebrew word shalom is often used as a greeting, and the word means peace. That’s a nice sentiment. But, there is always something that causes us to fret, to lose our peace. This week it’s been the stock market, but it can be weather, illness, broken relationships, and job loss – to name just a few. How can we embrace the peace Jesus gave us in John 14:27? Perhaps one reason is that we don’t fully understand the peace of God.

For my quiet time this year I’m using the One Year Devotions for Women, by Ann Spangler. The theme of the devotional is God’s Peace. Below is a quote from the January 7th entry:

“But what exactly is peace? When most of us think of peace, we think of an absence of conflict or the sense of tranquility we sometimes feel after a walk in the park or a day the beach. But the Hebrew word shalom is far brawnier than the English word for peace, encompassing these ideas and more.  Shalom contains the idea of completeness. It is the sum of all the blessings God can bestow – healing, prosperity, soundness, well-being, good relationships, perfection. It is what happens when God shines his face on you, when he turns toward you in all his greatness and brings you good.”[i] (Emphasis mine).

To be sure of the accuracy of the author’s claim I verified her definition with the Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance. The word shalom is so much more than a greeting. The word shalom is a powerful blessing!

We all struggle to remember to embrace the peace Jesus gave us. Try to remember the full meaning of the gift of shalom, so you truly feel the peace of Christ.

Numbers 6:23-26

“The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the people of Israel: you shall say to them,

‘The Lord bless you and keep you;the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.'”

  Shalom.

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Scripture: http://www.biblegateway.com

Image: google images

[i] Devotions for Women, Ann Spangler, Tyndale, 2012, Day 7.

A Fresh Journey Through The Scriptures


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I was busy tending to my daughter when I heard the doorbell ring followed by the thud of a package dropped on the doorstep. Knowing its contents I was a little annoyed at how carelessly the package was handled, but I reminded myself the book inside probably wasn’t damaged.

I had been looking forward to receiving this particular box for over a week. I tore open the package like a kid unwrapping a Christmas gift. Inside that box was my new Bible. I don’t really need a new Bible. It’s just that I decided to embark on a new adventure through the Scriptures and thought a new “vehicle” would help me get the most out of my upcoming journey.

Four times I’ve taken the challenge to read the Bible in one year, and each time was a blessing. This time, I’m taking a different approach. I’m going to read the Bible in three years. I know it sounds like I’m taking a half-hearted approach, but hear my plan.

  • Year 1: Read the New Testament, history between the testaments, and the study notes for each verse. Read a Psalm and a Proverb every day.
  • Year 2: Read ½ the Old Testament, (Genesis to Esther), history of the Israelites and the study notes for each verse. Read a Psalm and a Proverb each day.
  • Year 3: Read the second half of the Old Testament, (Ecclesiastes to Malachi), accompanying world history and study notes for each verse. Read a Psalm and a Proverb every day.

Instead of speed reading the Bible, I look forward to savoring every morsel. I want this trip through the Scriptures to be a personal exploration of the Bible. I also want to plant all of God’s Word deep in my heart and soul. To do that I need to take more time to mediate on individual verses and passages – something difficult to do when you intend to read the entire Bible in just one year.

So, for my three-year quest I bought a new Bible, in a different version. It’s a Study Bible with thousands of articles and dozens of maps. These tools should guide this new adventure like a compass and detailed map. Fortunately, I will also have a dedicated tour guide for my quest – God. Care to join me?

Blessings on your day.

*The Bible I selected is the ESV Study Bible.

 

Psalm 119: 18     Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.

2 Timothy 3:16-17

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

Psalm 119:105     Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

Joshua 1:8

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

Hebrews 4:12

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Scripture: http://www.openbible.info

Image: Google Images