Dec 11

TEMPLE: Finding Focus

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Where did 2017 go? What did we accomplish? What did we fail to accomplish? What do we want to focus on for 2018?

We face a brand-new year in 21 days. We open a fresh, blank calendar and wonder what we will scribble on it over the next 365 days. We look with excited expectation at what God will lead us to do; how He will grow our faith; what people He will place in our lives; how we will live in a way that shines His light around us.

One thing that helps me pay attention to what God might want to teach me is to find a focus word.  A single word, like a super condensed life verse, reminds me to pay attention, to seek understanding, to remain open to God at work in me and around me.

This year, my one-word focus has been temple. 2017 has been a year in which God has taught me about my health and the health of others. He has taught me to pay more attention to the Holy Spirit who has taken residence in this body—His temple. He has reinforced the truth that this body belongs to Him, that I am just its steward, and I should do a better job taking care of His stuff.

God has shown me His power in the little things that become big things, such as how a single word, used as a reminder and focus throughout the year is enough to teach me great big lessons and give me great big encouragement.

As I look forward to 2018, I also look forward to learning what new focus word God gives me. I have a few words *I* would like, but as in all things, whichever word He gives me will be exactly the perfect word I need  next year.

As I pray for my own focus word, I pray for you also, that God will give you clarity in your own life, that He will reveal new purposes (or old ones to keep working on), new ministries and new revelations about  how He sees your life as part of His ongoing plan.

Be blessed.

Dear Jesus, thank you for your plan and for including us in it. Please give us clarity and understanding on how you desire us to be your light. Please take our faith and grow it in astounding measure in 2018 for your glory. Amen.

Dec 04

BEING WONDER WOMAN

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Proverbs 31 basically describes Wonder Woman. She not only takes care of her family, but runs her own business, keeps everyone in line, makes wise investments and is respected by everyone she knows. She does it all.

Recently God has nudged me to write about humor in Scripture.

One of the pieces of humor I forever return to is Proverbs 31:21

When it snows, she (the noble woman) has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet [explanation added].

When I think about all the places on the face of this world where a woman should be afraid of losing her family members in the snow, Israel is definitely not on that list.

Israel might see a sprinkling of snow from time to time, but really—enough snow that a woman should fear for her household? Funny.

Recently, however, I have begun to reconsider that verse in a new light.

Dozens of verses in Scripture encourage us to be clothed in righteousness or wear the robe of salvation.

I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness (Isaiah 61:10).

When we get to the New Testament, we understand that Christ is the one who robes us:

for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ (Galatians 3:27).

In fact, the robe we are to wear is red, like Jesus’.

He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God (Revelation 19:13).

Back to the noble woman. The clothing she dresses her family in is red—maybe not so much that they may be seen against the white snow, but more importantly because she has dressed them in righteousness.

As a woman who loves Jesus, one of the noble woman’s duties and joys is to teach her family about Jesus. She is to encourage and nurture their faith. She is to show them how to live godly lives by words and by her own example. She is to clothe them in robes of righteousness—scarlet red, symbolizing the blood of Christ who is our salvation.

Then, when Jesus returns to take us with Him:

“These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Revelation 7:14).

Miraculously, our scarlet robes will be white through the washing in His scarlet blood. We will be safe with Him where there is no darkness, no fear, no danger and not even snow. Until then, part of what keeps us grounded, keeps us focused on Him and keeps us safe from evil is to be clothed in His righteousness.

Which just happens to be scarlet.

 

♦ ♦ ♦

Image courtesy of Pixabay

Nov 27

TEMPLE: Fighting Battles

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I nearly skipped posting this week. But God reminded me that I write to share my struggles in order to encourage others as He has encouraged me.

So here’s me sharing my struggle.

My whole life, I’ve known that if I ate breakfast, then I wanted bread before lunch. By noontime I needed a cookie. By 3 pm I had to have candy and by dinnertime I was so hungry I didn’t care what I ate. As long as it was a lot.

Over the years I have tried every diet to control cravings. The ones most successful have been to give up all carbohydrates—even many of the complex ones containing sugar: carrots, apples, bananas, whole grains.

But those left me with a chunk of meat and plain lettuce. They also left me unsatisfied, which meant I’d revert to the bad stuff. And too much of it.

Scripture tells us that the battle belongs to God. Not just the battle against evil.  Carbohydrate craving is a clear physical battle for me. I have tried to fight on my own. I finally feel ready to give Him that battle.

I recognize though that Jesus expects me to participate in the battle. So I will put on His armor and prepare.

Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Ephesians 6:14-17).

The belt of truth speaks the truth: obedience to the life God desires me to live includes fueling this body with the foods He provides, unpolluted or distorted by mankind. I am picturing this belt as a measuring tape.

The breastplate of righteousness protects my internal organs. My future is secure knowing I will eat from the tree of life in heaven. I shouldn’t speed up my entrance to heaven however by what I eat here.  What I put into this temple protects my health in this life.

The boots of peace ready my feet to go into the world to share the Jesus. And since I’m wearing such supportive footwear, I might as well go for a nice, long walk, as I run the endurance race of faith Paul tells us about.

The shield of faith reminds me that my faith is strong. It also reminds me of Jesus’ power at work in me through the Holy Spirit, right here inside this temple, ready to encourage me, help me resist temptation, nudge and nag me, and help me tell the difference between a craving and an actual need for fuel.

The helmet of salvation protects my right thinking and reminds me of what James said:

If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them (James 4:17).

The helmet also reminds me to keep my mind open to learning about health and applying it to my life. It reminds me to focus my thinking—not on “I’ll never eat another milk dud in my life”—but on, “wow, this apple is delicious!”

The sword which is the word of God. Scripture teaches and reminds us of God’s truth, such as these.

  • Why spend your money on food that does not give you strength? Why pay for food that does you no good? (Isaiah 55:2, NLT).

  • He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord (Deuteronomy 8:2:5).

  • Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?” (Matthew 6:25).

  • You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you (1 Chronicles 20:17).

  • I am the Lord who heals you (Exodus 15:26).

I am not embarking on another diet. I am embarking on the next part of my journey of faith—stepping out in confidence that the Holy Spirit is in me, encouraging me and teaching me to make the most of the one and only life I have on this side of eternity.

As 2017 ends, Jesus has nudged me to review my year of focusing on the word temple. He has shown me the importance of taking care of our own temples and the physical temples of other people in our lives.

One overall lesson is that stewardship over this earthly body is also part of my journey of faith. This aspect of what I eat is one more way He seeks me to surrender to His will.

Fortunately, He has taught me that in all things, His will is good and perfect. Why in heavens would I want my “only-sometimes good will” when His will is perfect—always?

I look forward with excited expectation at what you have planned, Jesus. Thank you for loving me so much that you made me teachable and care enough to work on turning me into the woman you desire me to become. Amen.

WHAT ABOUT YOU: Do you have a battle you need to give to the Lord to fight?

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