Thursday, April 12, 2018

Bible Journal Psalm 23

Psalm 23 is a familiar and favorite scripture passage for many.   We sing verses from it in our hymns and songs at church.  We have heard sermons and homilies on it.  There are posters and mugs and plaques with the familiar poetic words everywhere.

Each time I read the words, I find a new insight.  Isn't that the exquisite beauty of reading the Bible?  Having it be new over and over again!  No wonder it's still the world's best selling book!
This time, the reading really spoke to me about how well God knows me.  He loves me in spite of myself!  He cares about me.  

....He calls me by my name!  The Lord is my shepherd. 

....He is aware of, and provides for, my needs.  I shall not want. 
....He provides rest when I am tired and stressed.  He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters.

....He soothes me when I am wearyHe restores my soul.
....He gently calls me back when I wander.  How patient He is with me!  He guides me along the right paths for His name's sake.

....When I am afraid, He calms me.  Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

....He gives me hope and abundance.  You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

....He promises to be with me always.  Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

I was contemplating how I wanted to journal this section in my Bible.  As I was leaving a meeting at church this week, I stopped by our secretary's office to say hello.  As we talked, I saw my answer.  There on a couch in her office were several little stuffed animal lambs and sheep.  Around each was a little tag with their names on the tag.  She had given each one of them a name based on the the 23rd Psalm!  I knew immediately that was what I would do for my page.  

I love that God is in the details! 



Monday, March 26, 2018

Many Seeds

"Very truly I tell you, 
unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground 
and dies, it remains a single seed. 
But if it dies, it produces many seeds." 
                                                      John 12:24
In my Bible journaling page today, I drew the wheat with the cross behind it, and the little sprouting wheat seed at the foot of the cross.  My intention was to create a visual reminder of the supreme sacrifice Jesus made for me; for us.  Jesus is the seed, the cross represents His death (the seed dies).  The sprouting seed at the foot of the cross represents the fruit resulting from the fallen seed's death, reaching deep into the ground, and opening to new life (resurrection) to produce many new seeds.  The stalk of wheat contains the many seeds (us).

In my study, I learned some interesting facts about wheat.  Two bushels of wheat seeds produce 40 to 50 bushels of yield!  One grain of wheat yields eight or more heads, with over 40 seeds per head.  That's 320 new seeds from just one seed!  Impressive. 

Jesus wants us, you and me, to die daily to our sinful nature, which will cause new life to spring up in us.  But, often, we want to cling to our old life, don't we?  That old life needs to be threshed and buried.  We cannot get life, and we cannot give life, without a little bit of dying.  Jesus gave up His very life in obedience to the Father.  But the last word, the Easter message, is not the suffering, but the resurrection!

When arrogance and pride dies, humility arises.
When selfishness dies, generosity of spirit arises.
When a judgemental and critical spirit dies, love and acceptance arise.

I want to bring honor and glory to God.  With God's grace, and the Holy Spirit's help, I can do that by my obedience to Him.  By dying to my way, daily, and going the way He leads. 

God bless!

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

This Path I Walk

"But He knows the way that I take;
when He has tested me,
I will come forth as gold."
                  Job 23:10 

This verse really opened up for me as I studied it for my Art Classes Bible journaling homework this week

There are countless nuggets of wisdom in this chapter, and even in this verse.  I have taken two pages of notes and a brainstorming page map from it.  

Here, I would like to share just one of the lessons I took away from this verse.  

God tests those whom He loves.  He knows every little detail of the path of our lives.  He is aware of our past, where we are now, and where our future path will lead us.  He knows the trials we have endured, and have yet to endure.  He uses those trials to strengthen and guide us; to purify us.   Just as gold is heated in fire to make it pure, we shall come out purified when our trial is over.
Job did not walk away from God.  He walked toward God, with an attitude of trust.

I pray, as I walk the path life has for me, that I never lose sight of God.  When the way is difficult, may I know that He is there, walking with me.  And when the trial is over, may my life bring glory and honor to God.  May I be changed profoundly, to be better equipped to be a witness to His grace and mercy.

The Bible journaling page resulting from my study...

Be blessed!

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Be Still, God's Got This!

"The Lord will fight for you;
you need only to be still."
   Exodus 14:14

This verse appears around the middle of Exodus 14.  The Israelites were terrified at the approaching Egyptians, and crying out to the Lord.  They were complaining to Moses, who was leading them out of Egypt.  They would rather have stayed in bondage and service to the Egyptians than risk dying in the desert trying to escape.

But Moses told them not to be afraid, that the Lord would deliver them.  He told them that the Egyptians they see today they will never see again.  "The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still."

You know the rest, the parting of the sea so the Israelites could pass through, then the closing of the path through the sea so the advancing Egyptians were engulfed, and the Israelites were saved.  The Israelites did not have to fight.  They just needed to be still, to trust in the Lord to fight for them.

As I dug deeper into this story, I began to think about my personal 'Egyptians.'  What am I a slave to?  The areas in my life where I cry out to God and complain.  The fears, doubts, issues, and times when I am afraid to take the steps God is asking me to take, and so remain hopelessly in bondage.   

'Be still,' God says.  Still: unruffled, calm, not moving, deep silence, fixed, stable, at rest, untroubled, tranquil. 

He will fight for me, he says.  Fight:  battle, go to war, deliverance, put to right what is unjust.  

And my favorite promise from this study; "The Egyptians you see today you will never see again."  That tells me that when God fights for us, he breaks the chains that hold us bound, and leads us through our fears.  We need only to be still.

I purpose today to give God my battles and let him fight for me.  I will rest in his grace and take comfort in his love for me.  

I have created a Bible journaling page for this verse....
Thank you for your kind comments and encouragement.  I always enjoy hearing from you.  

Be blessed,


Thursday, December 28, 2017

St. Francis of Assissi Prayer

 today is the feast day of St. Francis of Assissi

On my way to a staff meeting at church today, I was listening to a David Haas CD that I had recently purchased.   The St. Francis of Assissi prayer was just finishing up as I pulled into my parking spot, and I felt that glorious peace just filling me up.  Then Fr. John chose that prayer as the opening prayer today, and finally we finished with St. Francis' prayer yet one more time.  thinks God was trying to tell me something!

I call these times 'God-incidences.'

The line "to be understood as to understand" particularly resonates with me today.  I have been thinking about a particular person, and was feeling hurt that she doesn't understand, or seem to care to understand, how I feel about a certain situation.   I realize that I have not taken the time, or effort, to truly listen and understand how she feels, and her own particular set of circumstances, either.   I think I've got it now, God!  You don't have to hit me over the head...well, yes, I guess you do.  Thank you.

It reminds me of a blog post I had posted earlier last week.  I posted a picture of a card I had made, and the verse on the card said "God knows, and will comfort you."  Someone commented on my post, saying, "When I first read the verse on your lovely card, I thought it said 'God knows, and will confront you.' We got a chuckle out of that!   While God may not have literally hit me over the head, he sure got my attention this morning when he 'confronted' me.

What a loving, involved, and truly compassionate God we serve.  My choice to listen to that CD this morning, and Fr. John's choice to use St. Francis's prayers today....coincidence?  No, not at all....God is in the details!  

I invite you to read that prayer again today, perhaps before retiring tonight.  Really listen as God comforts and/or confronts you.

You Tube of Ryan Cayabyab singing Prayer of St. Francis

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Jesus Heals The Blind Man - Fourth Sunday of Lent

     Today we hear the second of three lovely stories from John’s Gospel.  It is the story of Jesus restoring sight to a man born blind, and we are invited to think about what it is to be spiritually blind.  Jesus said, “While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”  He is alluding to the time when he would no longer be with his followers.  Jesus was teaching them, and even now is calling us, to be His light in the world. 
     Questions - Jesus’ followers questioned why the man had been born blind.  Was it because of his sins?  Was it the sins of his parents?   Jesus, told them he was born blind so that God’s power could be shown in him.  Then Jesus talks about doing the work of God while it is still light.  
     Healing - The disciples must have been excited.  Knowing Jesus as well as they did, they probably knew He was going to heal the blind man.  Perhaps they wondered how he was going to do it.  Would there be a flash of lightning?  A ball of fire?  A boom of thunder?  No, Jesus used what was at hand.  He made mud from his own spit and dirt from the ground, and pasted it over the blind man’s eyes. Just as he had once used a young sheep herder with a simple sling and stone to defeat Goliath and the Philistines, Jesus chose ordinary mundane elements to heal this man.  God’s power was shown through this miracle, just as Jesus had said.
     Doubt - The Pharisees questioned the blind man, but despite the obvious evidence, they refused to believe that Jesus had healed him. They said he could not be from God, because he did not keep the Sabbath.  They even asked the man’s parents if he had indeed been born blind.  They became indignant when the man insisted that Jesus had healed him, and they threw the man out of the Temple.
     When I or someone I love is going through a painful or difficult circumstance, I question why it has to be.  Yet, I do know that God gives us grace to carry us through our trials.  When we handle our afflictions with grace and trust in God, we are a testament to His faithfulness and His love.  I often find that God puts someone in my path who is experiencing a trial that I had previously endured.  I am able to empathize with that person, and offer support and ideas that have helped me through.

     What is God calling me to do for him?  What is he calling you to do?  Am I ready to do what he asks of me?  Are you?   We may feel inadequate.  Indeed, on our own, we are.  However, God doesn’t call the able, he calls the available.  If he calls us to a particular task or purpose, then he will be faithful to supply us with the means and strengths and talents to do his will.  If God used sticks and stones and spit to do his will, then he surely can use us.  
     Jesus’ miracles seem hard for us to believe.  We live within the structure of time and space.  But God created the time and space, so he can certainly defy them, and easily perform miracles.  We serve a powerful God. Go to him, tell him how you need his help today.  Ask him how he can use you today to be his light in the world.


Sunday, December 8, 2013

Advent - A Time of Hope

IIn the gospel today, we hear about John the Baptist, living and preaching in the wilderness, dressed in rough clothing, eating locusts and wild honey.  His harsh warning that the kingdom of heaven is
near urges people to repent, as he points to Jesus as the mightier one.  He calls his hearers a bunch of snakes, telling them that axes will cut them down, threatening the Sadducees and Pharisees with hell.

     This gospel certainly contrasts the warm feelings we have enjoyed in our holiday preparations as we anticipate spending time with our loved ones this Christmas season.  The nearness of God's kingdom calls us to action - to repent, to be converted, to have a change of heart.  John's words
should raise questions we need to face and answer.   It is likely we have areas in our lives that have been neglected and that need attention.

How have we shown love to the people closest to us....our spouse, our children, our parents or friends?  How have we failed to show them love?  Have we neglected someone or failed to treat them as we should have?  What about ourselves? Do we care for ourselves by staying in shape, physically and spiritually?  

     We often take those closest to us for granted.  We may assume they know we love them, even if we haven’t told them so in a long while. Perhaps our daily cares, routines and habits leave us little energy to give our families and friends  the time to show them  that we love them. As we celebrate the love of God for us this Christmas, maybe we can be a little more kind to ourselves and begin taking care of ourselves.  Then perhaps we can give those we love more of  our attention, more of our care, concern and love, more of ourselves.

       We say we have faith in Christ, but does what we are doing reveal our faith and love in Jesus? What we do, our actions, gives meaning to our love.  If we are truly repentant, we want to change, to act on ways to improve.   We can let this Advent be a time to make some changes.  We know we cannot do this by our own will. Advent, however, gives us what we need to gives us gives us a Saviour!

       It has been said that where there is life, there is change.  Change requires action.  Think of a tree, whose glorious colored autumn leaves wither and fall when winter winds blow, only to return once again when spring bursts forth new buds which form new leaves.  This cycle would not be possible if the tree refused to change and let go of its leaves. Change is difficult for us because it comes with no guarantees that things will be better as a result.  The only guarantee we have is the blessing of a life
lived close to God.

      Advent is hope.  It is the promise and certainty of God’s presence in our lives in the ultimate gift of Jesus.  If we receive Him in our hearts, really receive, then His love will abide in us and give us the grace to love ourselves, and to fully share His love with those around us.

     May this Advent be a time of growth for each of us, and bring us to the fullness of God's love for us, as we pray, "come, Lord Jesus."