More on patience

10 Jan

As if to emphasize the memory verse for this week, this is what I read in my morning devotion from Streams in the Desert. I also noticed that God included a verse in Hebrews, which is the online class I started on Monday. So, yeah, I hear ya, Lord – this one is for me.

Made Perfect Through Sufferings

“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Rom. 8:18).

I kept for nearly a year the bottle-shaped cocoon of an emperor moth. It is very peculiar in its construction. The neck of the bottle had a narrow opening through which the mature insect forces its way. Therefore the abandoned cocoon is as perfect as one still inhabited with no tearing of the interlacing fibers having taken place. The great disproportion between the size of the opening and the size of the imprisoned insect makes one wonder how the exit is ever accomplished at all. Of course it is never accomplished without great labor and difficulty. It is believed that the pressure to which the moth’s body is subjected in passing through such a narrow opening is nature’s way of forcing the juices into the vessels of the wings, since they are less developed at the time of emerging from the cocoon than they are in other insects.

I happened to witness the first efforts of my imprisoned moth to escape from its long confinement. All morning I watched it patiently striving and struggling to be free. It never seemed able to get beyond a certain point, and at last my patience was exhausted. Very probably the confining fibers were drier and less elastic than if the cocoon had been left all winter on its native habitat, as nature meant it to be. In any case I thought I was wiser and more compassionate than its Maker, and I resolved to give it a helping hand. With the point of my scissors I snipped the confining threads to make the exit just a little easier, and lo! immediately, and with perfect ease, out crawled my moth dragging a huge swollen body and little shriveled wings. In vain I watched to see that marvelous process of expansion in which these silently and swiftly develop before my eyes; and as I traced the exquisite spots and markings of various colors which were all there in miniature, I longed to see these assume their ultimate size. I looked for my moth, one of the loveliest of its kind,  to appear in all its perfect beauty. But I looked in vain. My misplaced tenderness had proved its ruin. It never was anything but a stunted abortion, crawling painfully through that brief life which it should have spent flying through the air on rainbow wings.I have thought of  my moth often, especially when watching with pitiful eyes those who were struggling with sorrow, suffering, and distress. My tendency would be to quickly alleviate the discipline and give deliverance. Short-sighted man! How do I  know that one of these pangs or groans could be spared? The far-sighted, perfect love that seeks the perfection of its object does not weakly shrink from present, transient suffering. Our Father’s love is too true to be weak. Because He loves His children, He “disciplines us that we may share in His holiness” (Hebrews 12:10). With this glorious end in view, He does not relieve our crying. Made perfect through sufferings, as the Elder Brother was, we children of God are disciplined to make us obedient and brought to glory through much tribulation. –from a tract

Whew.
I wonder…how many moths have I stunted because of my impatience? I know there was one, okay, maybe two circumstances that I have forced to happen and the results were much like the aborted growth of the moth.  Not pretty and mingled with a lot of pain.
There were also times when my desire to help someone out of a tight situation made them miss out on a lesson God is trying to teach them. Not only did they miss out on God’s work in their life the first go round but guess what – they had to go through the same painful process again.
In both cases I see now that my impatience not only affected me but it affected someone else as well. I would never want to be a hindrance to what God has planned for somebody else. I really need to remember that. 

P.S. Ironically, my patience was again tried  this morning by this very post!  Get  thee behind me, satan. It seems WordPress does like to do hard returns and paragraph breaks. I happen to like using them.  So, I had to research html codes.  The upside? I learned something new. Whether it worked or not,  I’m hitting “publish” anyway.
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Patience…with joy

8 Jan

{Week 6}

Scripture Memory:

May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. (Colossians 1:11-12 ESV)

If last week was a prayer for my children, this week it’s a prayer for me.

Confession time: I have no patience whatsoever. N-O-N-E. If you want to see the ugly in me come out, make me wait. That’s been the running theme of my life so far.

Recently, I locked myself out of the office. I called Security and it took a long time for someone to come up. But something was different this time. Maybe it’s because I have already memorized these verses and they were somewhere deep in me already. That’s the only explanation I can think of because I did not get mad at:

  1. myself for forgetting the key,
  2. again at myself for not bringing my phone with me, and
  3. at the unknown security guard who seemed to be taking his sweet time.

I thought maybe God allowed this to happen since it’s the only time He can get me away from uhm, Instagram.  He finally had my undivided attention, no phone, no computer, no distraction. I decided to pace the hallway in prayer for a friend’s Mom who is very sick and not a believer. The waiting time became a time of prayer and thanksgiving. I was disappointed when I heard the elevator ding.

So really, God can give me the strength – through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to do what I can’t. Notice He made the provision of His glorious might first before He even mentioned patience. And not just the run of the mill patience, but patience with joy. (What an odd pairing, isn’t it? Usually patience – or more specifically, impatience – is coupled with a lot of grumbling and attitude.) He knew I would need divine help for this.

God wants us to be joyful while we wait. And why shouldn’t we? The answer lies in verse 12. No matter what happens we have a share of the inheritance from God!  Now, that is worth the wait.

The Prayers I Pray

4 Jan

{Week 5}

 Scripture Memory:

 And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. (Colossians 1:9-10 ESV)

Pastor Charles Stanley said that these are the best verses to pray over people especially the younger generation. He is right. On the days when I don’t know what to pray for my children, I default to these two. 

I ask God that:

  • they would know the will of God in their lives.
  • they would be filled with wisdom and understanding from above.
  • their lives would be a living testament to the God who created them and the Savior who redeemed them.

Three days ago we were fortunate enough to watch the Rose Bowl live in Pasadena. The announcer said that there were 93,359 people in attendance. Since I don’t understand football much at all, I spent a lot of time looking around. These college kids, they certainly love their teams. They raise their hands and they chant. They dangle their keys and make noise, oh did they make noise. They were so enthusiastic you couldn’t help but feel the excitement.

But I wished, no, prayed that all 93,359 of them would show the same exuberance and excitement for the things of God. Because what could be better than knowing the will of God and following that instead of chasing the wind? Or in this case, the football? Earthly victories are transitory. Sure it was great that my son’s school won (after 40 years) but that is not going to last.

In fact, in our case, the happiness was tempered by the fact that it took us an hour to find our car in the golf course that was converted into a parking lot. There’s nothing worse than walking aimlessly, in the cold, while it’s getting dark and hunger is setting in. Well, that is until I saw a college kid peeing in the grass (thank God it was already dark) and suddenly I wondered about the soggy grass underfoot.

The world makes many promises it cannot deliver. One cannot find lasting happiness going after number 1. Yes, the grass may look green but you don’t know what’s underneath it.

Someone once said that the saddest thing ever is to get to the end of your life only to find out you have been chasing the wrong thing. Chase after the things of God instead. Know God’s will from the start, then do what He says to do and the bearing of much fruit – fruit with eternal impact – will follow.

Faithfulness and Hope

3 Jan

{Weeks 3 & 4}

Faithfulness
Scripture Memory:

 just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf and has made known to us your love in the Spirit.
(Colossians 1:7-8 ESV)

 When I first read this my initial thought was: I wanted to be like Epaphras. He was commended for his faithfulness in his service for Christ. I prayed that my work be done not for the glory of self, nor men but always “as unto the Lord.” I suspect that is how Epaphras did his ministry, which would explain why he was so effective for the cause of the gospel.

Then a few days later, I looked at the verse again and I was still struck with the same word “faithfulness” but this time it was God’s. As I have shared before in my prior posts, Agent G and I were going through some growing pains. But God, oh He is always faithful!

I can’t help but give Him props for always letting me know He can hear me and He knows what is going on. And what did He use this time? Of all things, fortune cookies. I normally don’t put stock in what the fortune cookies say but in this case I take exception. I mean, if God can use a donkey to speak to a prophet, He can surely send a message thru a cookie. And send a message He did.

 This is what my husband’s fortune said:

 2012-03-02_07-27-56_958.jpg

(Uh yes, he who has an ear to hear, let him hear what the Spirit says.)

 This was mine:.

  2012-03-02_07-26-59_838.jpg

 These were both spot on. I looked around and listened for this tell-tale theme song because I was sure we just entered The Twilight Zone.

 I was speechless and beyond amazed that the Creator of heaven and earth, the God of the universe would take the time to – like it says in my memory verse – make known to me His love in the Spirit. I turned my face to hide a smile.

Thank you, Father!

Hope

Scripture Memory:

because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth,
(Colossians 1:5-6 ESV)

A double one again today. It seems God is always ready to open up these verses each time I look at them. If I had any doubt that God’s word is alive and active, my experience in the last few days would certainly dispel that notion!

The first one is from the phrase “the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth.”For most people the day they heard and understood the grace of God occur on the same day. In my case from the day I heard to the day I finally understood it took 16 years. My cousin, Tony, shared the gospel with me in the kitchen of our rental home in Daisy Place. We were eating dinner and I scoffed when he said if we accept Jesus Christ as my savior, all our sins are forgiven – past, present and future. That was 1987. I did not fully understand the grace of God in truth until 2003. It took three deaths – that of my maternal grandmother, my good friend and my mother – for everything to finally sink in. I finally got it. And I thought I was smart….

This morning the word hope caught my attention. February 28 has always been special to my husband and me. It was the day we started dating. We were young and so in love. I admit there are days when everything is difficult. But God! This morning, He gave me a special gift. I smiled when I saw it. Right there where that black blob is – wait, what IS that thing? A bird? A plane? Superman? Dirt on my window (most likely)? Anyway, right there – do you see it? The very faintest of rainbows curving down to the “N” in the sign. Just because He knows I love rainbows so much. It’s His way of saying there is hope, no matter how faint. It’s still there.

Yes, even in the midst of unidentified black blobs, the things that I don’t understand and dark clouds, overwhelming circumstances, dark emotions ~ there’s hope. Thank you, Father.

Ten Thousand Reasons

2 Jan

{Week 2}

This is a re-post as I try to catch up on my assignment-from-God to memorize Colossians.

Scripture Memory:

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you,

since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints,

(Colossians 1:3-4 ESV)
 
When I first memorized these two verses, the phrase that jumped out at me was on verse 3 “when we pray for you,” in particular the word “when.” I wrote down “continual intercession for my brothers and sisters in Christ should be a part of my daily prayer life. My prayers should not just be focused on my comfort and my needs alone (and there are many). Like my reading in Revelation 5 this morning, it says that my prayers are like incense in a golden bowl. May it be a pleasing aroma to God, my Father!”

That was on February 15th. I thought I was done. A short and concise post – for a change.

But at the last minute, God gave me something else.

As I have shared with a friend, so far life has been a tad hard the last couple of days, weeks,months, okay, really it’s the whole year. I suppose when you start 2012 with a visit to Urgent Care for your child it is sending you a message: “Girl ~ Hi, this is 2012. You’re in for a ride. Watch out!” Thanks, 2012 I hope the Mayans were right about you.

Inspite of the challenges though, I find myself clinging more to God lately in the form of a song. “Bless the Lord, o my soul, oh my soul, worship His holy name, sing like never before, O my soul, worship Your holy name.”

At home = sing. At church = sing. At work = sing (softly). In the shower = sing (LOUDLY). Earlier when I read Ann Voskamp’s blog, she had a link to a YouTube video – and I couldn’t believe it – it’s my song! Well, it’s Matt Redman’s actually but you know what I mean. I felt like I just received a kiss from God. I took out my headphones and spent my lunch hour just singing, praising and crying. I felt my soul soaring. That is my when eyes fell on Colossians 1:3 “We always thank God….” In this context, my song sounds even better especially after reading the rest of the lyrics (I was stuck in the refrain). I’m posting it below. May it bless you as it has blessed me.

Matt Redman – Ten Thousand Reasons (10,000 Reasons) (Bless the Lord), New Album – 10,000 reasons, Year: 2011

Bless the Lord, O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I’ll worship Your holy name

The sun comes up, it’s a new day dawning
It’s time to sing Your song again
Whatever may pass, and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes

Bless the Lord, O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I’ll worship Your holy name

You’re rich in love, and You’re slow to anger
Your name is great, and Your heart is kind
For all Your goodness I will keep on singing
Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find

Bless the Lord, O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I’ll worship Your holy name

And on that day when my strength is failing
The end draws near and my time has come
Still my soul will sing Your praise unending
Ten thousand years and then forevermore

Bless the Lord, O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I’ll worship Your holy name

Jesus, I’ll worship Your holy name
Lord, I’ll worship Your holy name

Sing like never before
O my soul
I’ll worship Your holy name
Jesus, I’ll worship Your holy name
I’ll worship Your holy name

May you find your 10,000 reasons to praise God today.

Beginning again, again

1 Jan

{Week 1}

In 2011, God laid it in my heart to memorize Colossians.  Not just a few verses but the entire 4 chapters. I failed miserably.

In 2012, I resolved to do the same. The “same” meaning to memorize, not to fail, but fail I did.

This year,  I’m reaaaaaaalllly going to do it. Memorize, not fail (there, I made that clear).  I mean, I’m setting up a brand new blog  just to hold myself accountable.

The next few posts will be repost from 2012:


Scripture Memory:

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,
To the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father.

(Colossians 1:1-2 ESV)

Paul became an apostle by the will of God. He was a Pharisee (Philippians 3:5-7) and in his own words, a “persecutor of the church.” But God (I love this phrase – anytime you see that it means something good is about to happen) had something in mind for him (see what I mean?). Something that is beyond his imaginings. Paul preached the gospel to the Gentiles and his writings live on today.

God can give someone a Damascus experience where the blindness and scales will fall afterwards. No one is beyond the reach of God’s mighty hand. Amen and Amen.

What hope that gives me!