Sunday, January 31, 2016

"His Reminders" - 01/31/16 - Exodus 4-6

“I am God. I will bring you out from under the cruel hard labor of Egypt. I will rescue you from slavery. I will redeem you, intervening with great acts of judgment. I’ll take you as my own people and I’ll be God to you. You’ll know that I am God, your God who brings you out from under the cruel hard labor of Egypt. I’ll bring you into the land that I promised to give Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and give it to you as your own country. I AM God.

"But when Moses delivered this message to the Israelites, they didn’t even hear him—they were that beaten down in spirit by the harsh slave conditions." (6:6-9)

Isn't it sad that we become so self absorbed - we miss Him in action.

 Thinking back on all the moments when I would pray - and pray - for a situation to become better - I missed the little moments because I was so wrapped up in self.  Self pity, my time, my way. 

Thinking about all the years these people, mentioned in these verses, went through before they saw the "end of the rainbow".  And as they did, I will complain, lose patience, because God has the audacity to do things His way, His time.  My focus isn't on Him - only on the present circumstances I am in.  Or I am so concentrated on the unfairness, mistreatment - that I am only looking backwards and miss the train going forward. 

How often do I miss out on what He is doing all around me.  That He is in the process of putting all the pieces - or persons - together for His glory.   His time is perfect for all of us.  His time is what works.  He isn't leaving anyone out, behind, or pushing them ahead before they are ready.  Only He knows everything that is going on. 

Much like being in a tornado and focusing on the destruction left behind, we miss the miracle when half a home is virtually untouched and the other half gone.  Or how a person is thrown about coming to land without a scratch. 

The Israelites were missing His promise of rescue - of their new life and new home - because they could only focus on self and their misery.  They allowed their situation to beat their spirit down. 

How often do I do that?  Forgetting the times He tells me, "I AM GOD".  The times my faith and trust are not in Him, but in myself.  The times I allow life, situations, and self talk keep me a slave? 

Whenever I think about all the sinful choices I have/do make, I am overwhelmed at how much I have/do fall short of being Christlike.  And in my self absorption, I don't focus on the fact that I am forgiven.  For all my sins - past, present, and future.  It is then satan will step in to try and put his foot upon my head.  Kick me when I am down. 

That is where we become a slave to living a life without Christ.  satan doesn't want us to believe our Christ has already delivered us from the slavery of sin. satan wants us to believe his lies.  To believe  we will never be taken to His promised land. 

I love then how His Living Word comes in and trumps over satan.  How His living Word leans down and picks me up.  How His Living Word reminds me of all the progress I have made in, with, and through Him. 

His Living Word reminds me of the miracle of half a home standing untouched. 

His Living Word changes my focus back to Him.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

"God Saw" - 01/30/16 - Exodus 1-3

"God saw that he had stopped to look."(3:4)               

Notice "God saw that he had stopped to look".  God didn't go over and turn his head - making him look.  He didn't put the bush right in his path to stop him.  He didn't go over and yank him to the bush.  He was there.  He was ready.  He  watched.  He waited.  He "saw that he had stopped to look". 
Ever wonder how often you walk right by "the burning bush" God has placed for you?  How you become so immune to God, taking Him for granted, that you don't see, hear, feel Him?  How we become so wrapped up in self, the things of this world, we don't see the gifts He is handing out to us?  Or to be in such denial He is "I AM" ,  we don't hear or accept His accountability, His discipline?

Used to be I would be so wrapped up in "self",  in such a "pity party" or so consumed with anger, bitterness, thoughts of revenge - I missed His numerous blessings - in all situations.  Too numerous to count and repeatedly,  I missed them.  Didn't acknowledge them.  Much less enjoy them.  

 I didn't see the "silver lining in the clouds". 

Or His Hand at work when I thought all was out of control or against me.

Until now. 

It began to happen when I made it a priority to be in His Word each and every day.  To do more than skim the verses, as an act of habit or a check mark on the list, but to consume His Words and chew on them.  To write about The Words He has spoken through to me.  And during this new way of life - He has come in and transformed my heart, my mind, my vision - me.

I love the account of forgiveness here with Moses for killing the Egyptian.  It didn't come from his own people - his family - or from the Pharaoh.  So he ran.  He ran into the wilderness and there God gave him a new family and a new life.  He gave Him the gift of forgiveness at the burning bush.  He allowed Moses to stand on His Holy Ground.  In order to do so, Moses had to remove his sandals.  To accept God's terms to be able to move closer and stand before Him. 

Up to this point, I wonder if Moses ever thought about if God forgave him?  If the sin he had committed, was it too big for God to forgive.   Did he become so consumed with his new life that he "forgot" or buried it deep, pretending all was okay? 
How often have I done that?  In the past it was the only way I knew how "to survive" - it was my "self preservation".  And then He showed me through His Word, His family, His love - what I was doing wasn't burying - or surviving.  In actuality, I was only hiding me - the "me" whom He created me to be. 
So often I was like Moses, using some excuse or believing the lies,  that I couldn't be a vessel for Him because of my flaws.  I had not confessed them, repented from them, forgave myself of them.  In doing so, I still was wearing my sandals of sin.   Putting myself before God.  Believing  His gift of forgiveness through Christ wasn't enough.  Even after confessing and repenting - if I couldn't forgive me - then how could He. 

I love how God took the excuse Moses gave about his lack of elegant speech and told him like it was.  There isn't anything bigger than God!  There isn't anything that He can not overcome and use for His glory. 

Including my sins. 
One of those being I hadn't forgiven me.  Until His Word, His Godly Wisdom,  transformed my heart so now I am beginning to see and love "me" as He does.   Just as He did with Moses.  Removing the strongholds.  The lies.

"He who gets wisdom loves his own soul; He who keeps understanding will find good." 
(Proverbs 19:8)
I had to do as Moses -  I had to remove the sandals of sin to accept and believe in the gift of Him.

Friday, January 29, 2016

01/29/16 - Genesis 48-50 - "Forgiveness of Self"

After burying his father, Joseph went back to Egypt. All his brothers who had come with him to bury his father returned with him.

After the funeral, Joseph’s brothers talked among themselves: “What if Joseph is carrying a grudge and decides to pay us back for all the wrong we did him?”

So they sent Joseph a message, “Before his death, your father gave this command:
Tell Joseph, ‘Forgive your brothers’ sin—all that wrongdoing. They did treat you very badly.’
Will you do it? Will you forgive the sins of the servants of your father’s God?”

When Joseph received their message, he wept.

 Then the brothers went in person to him, threw themselves on the ground before him and said, “We’ll be your slaves.”

 Joseph replied, “Don’t be afraid.
Do I act for God?
Don’t you see, you planned evil against me but God used those same plans for my good, as you see all around you right now—life for many people.
Easy now, you have nothing to fear; I’ll take care of you and your children.”
He reassured them, speaking with them heart-to-heart." (50:14-21)

It  can be one of satan's strongest tools.  We can allow this tool to distort our vision, our minds and run.  Run without seeing, react without thinking things through.  We can resort to manipulation, lying, deceit, in attempt to save ourselves. 


Joseph had shown his brothers forgiveness many times over and yet they didn't believe or accept this gift.  It wasn't because of something Joseph did or didn't do - they picked up "fear" and ran with it.  Just as we often do.  God has forgiven us - it isn't His lacking - it is us.

They hadn't forgiven themselves for their sinful acts - just as we don't forgive ourselves. 

How satan loves when I do not extend the gift of forgiveness to my "self". he relishes the times I put my "self" above God and deem what I have done can not be forgiven. he looks forward to the time I carry the burden about me, coming along side to poke and prod with the stick of fear. he waits, licking his lips in anticipation to see if I shall resort to being unChristlike in attempt to cover my sins.

he doesn't want me to pick up the gift of The Cross.  My Savior.  Forgiveness.

God has promised when I accepted Christ as my Savior, I. am. saved. 

My sins are forgiven because of The Blood of my Christ.  Even sins which I have yet to commit.  Christ was and is the ultimate sacrifice.  It states in scripture I will be judged - for how my time and talents were spent - not my sins.  I have the greatest defense lawyer in the world!  He is standing at the ready, on my day in God's courts, to step in and say - "Sins Covered.  Sins Erased".
There isn't going to be a movie screen with "Sins of Deby" playing - Christ has erased them.  He has made me pure as white snow. 

There aren't any sins to film. 

I am forgiven.

Through Christ, my Savior, His blood. 

I am forgiven. 

He has forgiven me. Yesterday, today, and tomorrow. 


In taking up fear,  I think I have the right to not forgive my "self".  I feel it is my right to replay all my sins, over and over, while God has no memory of them.  Running in  fear, I try to nail myself upon a cross, thinking "self" will cover my sins. 

Each time I choose FEAR and unforgiveness of "self" -  

I am taking His greatest Gift and am shoving it back into His face. 
I am not taking in faith ABBA's sacrifice of His Only Beloved Son - didn't cover "my" sins.   
I cause Him to weep.
I am saying His way isn't enough. 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

"Choices In My Steps" - 01/28/16 - Genesis 46-47

"Joseph took good care of them—his father and brothers and all his father’s family, right down to the smallest baby. He made sure they had plenty of everything." (47:12)
What an example of being like our Christ is Joseph. Which is amazing considering He didn't intimately know Christ as we do when in the New Covenant.
And still there are moments when I, walking intimately with Him, elect not to be Christlike in my walk.  

This account of Joseph and his family is such an example of how all things are used for God's glory.  How we have to live with the consequences of our choices and still God comes along and redirects our journey to Him.  I don't know if God created a famine to bring Joseph together with his brothers.  I do know it is only because of Joseph's heart, the outcome of their joining brought glory to God.    If Joseph had of not been Christlike, their coming together could have resulted in imprisonment or death.

Joseph made the choice to focus on God and not himself.  He made the choice to forgive - even forgive what we would deem as the unforgivable. 

As Christ did/does. 
As God did/does. 

I love also how God is always present throughout the journey - even with Jacob.

"So Israel (Jacob) set out on the journey with everything he owned. He arrived at Beersheba and worshiped, offering sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac.  God spoke to Israel (Jacob) in a vision that night: “Jacob! Jacob!”  “Yes?” he said. “I’m listening.”God said, “I am the God of your father. Don’t be afraid of going down to Egypt. I’m going to make you a great nation there. I’ll go with you down to Egypt; I’ll also bring you back here. And when you die, Joseph will be with you; with his own hand he’ll close your eyes.” (46:1-4) 

He was reassured that the covenant God had handed down would be completed, even though he would be leaving The Promised Land. 

Joseph's Christlike heart led to a Christlike life touching even the Pharaoh.  
Choosing to not forgive breeds anger, resentment, manipulation, and selfishness (just to name a few).  We know by the reaction of Pharaoh, he trusted, loved, and honored Joseph - which he extended down to Joseph's family.

"Joseph  settled his father and brothers in Egypt, made them proud owners of choice land—it was the region of Rameses (that is, Goshen)—just as Pharaoh had ordered. Joseph took good care of them—his father and brothers and all his father’s family, right down to the smallest baby. He made sure they had plenty of everything." (47:11-12) 

Not renters, but owners of the land.  And through this God provided and blessed them with an abundance.  From the 70 members of Jacob's family came the 2 1/2 to 3 million in total of Israelites, who would be the ones leaving with Moses to return to The Promised Land. 

How many times in my life, and the times ahead, do I cause a detour because of my unChristlike way.  Hindsight is 20/20 - you would think I would learn by now. 

What I most come away with in studying Joseph, is how he was able to not take things personal and focus on God.  No matter the situation.  I am thankful, and blessed, ABBA is making me more aware of the moments I fail - convicting and helping me to change. 

This journey of life is so much better when I walk in His steps, not those of my own.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

"His Best" - 01/27/16 - Genesis 43-45

 "And now, can't you see that if I show up before your servant, my father, without the boy,
this son with whom his life is so bound up,
the moment he realizes the boy is gone, he'll die on the spot".(44:30)
"Don't worry about having to leave things behind; the best in all of Egypt will be yours.'"(45:20)

Whenever I have read this account of the reunion of Joseph and his brothers, I always wondered, "why all the tests".  It finally dawned on me one day, the testing was to bring about trust.  to bring about forgiveness.  to bring about faith.

 Joseph's brothers had never fessed up to their act in getting rid of him and believed what they had done was coming back to haunt them.  But Joseph had total faith in his ABBA, knowing all the trials he had went through were so he could be used by God.  He had totally forgiven his brothers.  Now they needed to forgive themselves. 

Jacob's blatant favoritism brought about the treatment and feelings Joseph's brothers held towards him. And when Joseph was gone, his favoritism went to his youngest son, Benjamin. 
He became Jacob's whole life.  

The giving up of Benjamin.
It saved the whole family from a sure death during the famine.

How often do we look at the trials and tribulations in life and wonder why. 
become angry. 
hold on even tighter to who or what we love most in life. 
love more than God. 

ABBA doesn't allow the trials because He hates.  His Love for us is so great, He wants only the best for us. 

And always the best for us is to love Him first and most.  There are times when the  best for us isn't always what we believe it to be, because we are unable to see the whole paradigm.  This is where trust comes in.  To let go and trust ABBA in all He has planned for us.  Forgiving ourselves and others for the times we sin or are sinned against.  To let go and let Him as we step out in faith, without any baggage pulling us down. 

 Knowing one day we will have it all.  Not here on earth, but with Him.  Eternity. 
His best.  The very best.  is yet to come. 


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

"For God's Glory" - 01/26/16 - Genesis 41-42

"Joseph answered, “Not I, but God." (41:16)

Joseph is such an example of being Christlike - for every recorded action towards him, he reacted in a kind way. 

Even to God. 

Was there ever a point in his life when he became angry and shook his fist at God?  He had such an air of trusting God about him.  After sharing his first dream to his family, and they got angry, he then shared the second dream he had.  I think I would have kept my mouth shut after the first one.  He is in a high position under Potiphar and then after being chased by Potiphar's wife, she accuses him of trying to rape her.  Scripture doesn't record if he tried to defend himself, or if he was allowed to.  Regardless, he ended up in jail.  He is then made in charge of the prison by the head jailer. 

Even in low places, God put Joseph in a position of authority.

And finally after two years, he was brought before Pharaoh.  There had to be something about Joseph that stood out and caused Pharaoh to entrust Joseph (a foreigner) with the power he gave him.  Joseph was second in command.  He came right after Pharaoh in the ranks.  I wonder if Potiphar was a little concerned?  After all, he was one of Pharaoh’s officials and the manager of his household.  Did Potiphar's wife have fear running through her veins?  They all had to have realized  there was something different about Joseph. 

Different in how he allowed God to shine through him and gave God all the glory. 

Because of how Joseph forgave his brothers, I am able to think Joseph probably forgave Potiphar and his wife.  Along with being a person of integrity and loving, he was humble.  He gave God The Glory for his abilities.  He wasn't concerned about a pat on the back.  I don't know what the proper procedure was for the speaking of different ranks, etc., but the head jailer had to have some connections.  Did Joseph ever try to get out for good behavior?  for knowing the dreams of the cup bearer/baker?  Was he waiting on God's time?

So much to glean from Joseph. 

How many moments do I grow angry and shake my fist, when things don't go my way or life is unfair?  How many times do I get wrapped up in patting myself on the back, or having others praise me, and not give The Glory to Him? 

Joseph never took his focus off of God.  No matter where he was or the situation he was in. 

Always - God came first. 

He had the opportunity to brag on himself, he could have held on to anger and bitterness, after two years of sitting in prison.  And in reply to Pharaoh trying to give him the glory - he replied,

“Not I, but God."

"Then Pharaoh gave Joseph an Egyptian name, Zaphenath-Paneah (God Speaks and He Lives)." (41:45) 

Because of who Joseph was and the way he lived,  Pharaoh's given name for Joseph represented what he saw - "God speaks and is alive".  What do people see when looking at me?  Do I live for Him and never lose focus on His face?  Do I make the most of all situations in trust and faith?  Do I give God The Glory? 

 "Joseph had two sons born to him before the years of famine came. Asenath, daughter of Potiphera the priest of On, was their mother. Joseph named the firstborn Manasseh (Forget), saying, “God made me forget all my hardships and my parental home.” He named his second son Ephraim (Double Prosperity), saying, “God has prospered me in the land of my sorrow.” (41:50-52)

He gave God The Glory in the name of his first son.  He was able to forget and move on.  In the name of the second son,  he gives thanks.  There, even in the land of his sorrow - God prospered him. 

God never left him - as He never leaves us. 

Joseph - such an example to follow...........

Monday, January 25, 2016

"He Gives Good" - 01/25/16 - Genesis 38-40

01/25/16 - Genesis 38-40

"He Gives Good"

"And it came about at that time, that Judah departed from his brothers,"(38:1)

It isn't by chance that in the middle of the account of Joseph - from growing up to being in jail - there is a section of Judah's life.  His Word - there isn't one word that is there by accident.  Each and every Word is God-inspired, God breathed. 

Joseph is the continuing history of the Israelites.
The account of Judah brings us back to the Savior - our Savior - my Savior. 

Both accounts, of Joseph and Judah, show us how humans bring mess into God's plan  - again. 
How favoritism continues to breed jealousy, division, evil in the family. 

It brings back to mind "God spoke to Cain: “Why this tantrum? Why the sulking? If you do well, won’t you be accepted? And if you don’t do well, sin is lying in wait for you, ready to pounce; it’s out to get you, you’ve got to master it.” (Gen 4:6-7)

Life 101 - It is unfair. 

There are times we do our best and still get the shaft, which is why it is essential to keep our eyes focused on His face, His ways.  To utilize His measuring stick, His Word.  To live and do all for Him.  To have faith that no matter what, He is in complete control and loves us more than anything. 

(Reminder - He gave His only Son - for you.)

"We" are all "His" favorite.

If we don't choose to live life like this, we will live it in the opposite manner.  There isn't an in between place.  We will allow sin to pounce on us and get us.  It will "master us".  And yes, this is a struggle we will have as long as we live on this world. 

A struggle we will fail to win at times. 

Which is exactly why we need His help.  His Helper.  His Grace and Mercy.  His Forgiveness.

And even though Judah chose to walk away from ABBA, I do find great hope in the account of his life, even when he had separated himself from his brothers to go and become a part of the world of Canaanites.

"The Canaanites were descendants of Can the grandson of Noah.  the religion of the Canaanites was an agricultural religion, with pronounced fertility motifs.  Their main gods were called the Baalim (Lords), and their consorts the Baalot (Ladies), or Asherah (singular), usually known by the personal plural name Ashtoret.  The god of the city of Shechem, which city the Israelites had absorbed peacefully under Joshua, was called Baal-berith (Lord of the Covenant) or El-berith (God of the Covenant).  Shechem became the first cultic center of the religious tribal confederacy (called an amphictyony by the Greeks) of the Isreaelites during the period of the judges.  When Shechem was excavated in the early 1960s, the temple of Baal-berith was partially reconstructed; the sacred pillar (generally a phallic symbol or, often, a representation of the ashera, the female fertility symbol) was placed in its original position before the entrance of the temple.

The Baalim and the Baalot, god and goddesses of the Earth, were believed to be the revitalizes of the forces of nature upon which agriculture depended.  The revitalization process involved a sacred marriage (hieros gamos), replete with sexual symbolic and actual activities between men, representing the Baalim, and the sacred temple prostitutes (gedeshot), representing the Baalot. (Judah visiting the prostitute was actually his act of worship.)  Cultic ceremonies involving sexual acts between male members of the agricultural communities and sacred prostitutes dedicated to the Baalim were focused on the Canaanite concept of sympathetic magic.  As the Baalim (through the actions of selected men) both symbolically and actually impregnated the sacred prostitutes in order to reproduce in kind, so also, it was believed the Baalim (as gods of the weather and the Earth) would send the rains (often identified with semen) to the Earth so that it might yield abundant harvest of grains and fruits.  Canaanite myths incorporating such fertility myths are represented in the mythological texts of the ancient city of Ugarit (modern Ras Shamra in northern Syria; though the high god El and his consort are important as the first pair of the pantheon, Baal and his sexually passionate sister-consort are significant in the creation of the world and the renewal of nature.

The religion of the Canaanite agriculturalists proved to be a strong attraction to the less sophisticated and nomadic-oriented Isreaelite tribes.  Many Isreaelists succumbed to the allurements of the fertility-laden rituals and practices of the Canaanite religion, partly because it was new and different from the yahwistic religion and, possible, because of a tendency of a rigorous faith and ethic to weaken under the influence of sexual attractions.  (Kind of sounds like the direction our world is going today.)  As the Canaaanites and the Israelites began to live in closer contact with each other, the faith of Israel tended to absorb some of the concepts and practices of the Canaanite religion (another proof of how essential it is to walk In God and His Word).  Some Israelites began to name their children after the Baalim; even one of the judges, Gideon, as also known by the name Jerubbaal ("Let Baal Contend").

As the syncretistic tendencies became further entrenched in the Israelite faith, the people began to lose the concept of their exclusiveness and their mission to be a witness to the nations, thus becoming weakened in resolve internally and liable to the oppression of other peoples".  (This hits so close to home and "how is my walk", "am I an oppression"?)

Why the great hope in the life of Judah? 

Because, God took from this lineage and brought from it our perfect Christ.  

When you trace back Christ lineage, you find those who allowed sin to master them.  The persons listed in this family tree are not perfect - they lived and absorbed the ways of the "Canaanites of the world".  

Just as I have and do and will.  

Being a child of God, I am listed as part of the lineage of Christ.  My part of the family tree isn't perfect, beautiful - it was a branch when looked upon should really have been cut off.  But this is where my awesome Daddy comes in. 

He takes what is rotten - the bad and the ugly and creates good from it. 
Just as He did with the life and choices of Judah - and all the others in Christ lineage. 

There are two large barberry bushes in the front yard bed.  They are very ugly right now without leaves, full of little thorns - much like The Ugly Cross and the thorns they put on His head. 

But it is full of life.  

Within the branches there is constant movement from the little birds feeding off of it.  I see them all puffed up, moving from branch to branch.  Even when the bushes looks completely dead in their dormant stage, they are giving food for continue living of the birds so they may bring forth new life this spring. 

Just as He did when it was thought all was lost.  When Christ died on The Cross.  

Even the little birds know to come to the bush, their feathers protecting them from the thorns.  It amazes me how their little bodies keep from freezing in this weather.  Am I drawn to The Cross, to Him in such the same way? 

It brings to mind how He loves me so much more than the birds.  How He provides and takes care of me.  How He has given me protection from the cold and thorns of life.  He has given me His Word to keep from becoming a part of the "Canaanite world" I live in.  He has given me eternal life within Him.

I stand amazed how He has taken my "Judah like steps" to become the "steps of being Christlike".  How He prevails.  How even through the bad, the ugly - comes God.  

How He took the ugliness of The Cross and gave us Good......

Sunday, January 24, 2016

"His Tree" - 01/24/16 - Genesis 35-37

"This is the family tree of Esau" (Gen 36:1)  


 Although Esau gave away his birthright and was tricked out of the firstborns blessing, God provided for him.  I often wonder what kind of man Esau was. 
He clearly accepted his brother back when he greeted him with 400 men and a kiss - instead of 400 men and death.  He invited Jacob to come back with him, didn't threaten him or scare him off.  And instead of moving Jacob out when their possessions became too great for the land to support them, he honored his father's blessing and took all he had and moved.  
How God took the "nothing" that Esau thought he was left with and built a family tree from him.  In speculation it seems Isaac and Esau were closer than Esau was to his mother.  After the tricks she pulled, I would think it would have been very hard for him to trust her. 
Abraham and Isaac were probably close too.  Isaac obeyed his father to the point of laying himself down on the alter to be the sacrifice.  And Abraham - through scriptures I discover he was a man who loved deeply. 
Perhaps that type of love is what was in Esau's core to make him the man he was - even after being deceived. 

This is another of the many things I find amazing about our Daddy. 
Even when it seems someone else gets the "best", He still takes care of us. 
He takes what we are and if we allow it, He builds up a tree.   
He loves us only in a way that is best for us.  It could be there was something about Esau that got in the way of being in the place God put Jacob.  When looking at things through my narrow vision, it doesn't seem fair that Jacob got the "prize".  There were many things which happened that didn't make Jacob's life a bed of roses.  
But, God does use everything for His glory.

When I look back at my life, I don't even feel I am the same person who lived those years.  The "Deby" outside of Christ is dead and gone. 
Thankfully, He has used all my past stumbling blocks as His stepping stones.  These stones have enabled me to have an intimate relationship with Him and help others find that intimacy in Him as well.  He has used my past mistakes in persons lives today to help encourage them, help prevent them from taking the same steps.  He has given me more of the gift of empathy.  Not as great as the gift of mercy - which is pretty much empathy in action.  
I smile when I think that He has given Curt the exact opposite and how we help balance each other out.

He has taken the life where I lived without Him and has grown it into a lineage for Him.   There were too many episodes in my life that I should have died.  From drugs, the pits of depression and suicide , to the places and people I surrounded myself with. 
He took a sapling which was trying to survive in the muck of the world and transplanted it into His fertile soil.  He has given me a marriage that is a miracle in itself.  Two sons, two daughter-in-loves, who follow Him.  Two grandchildren being trained up to Know intimacy "in" Him.  Acceptance and belonging with His family members. Forgiveness for past hurts.  And forgetfulness. 
Through the softening of my hardened heart He has also changed my eyes and mind.

How exciting knowing me and mine - His tree - are part of  His family tree. 

Saturday, January 23, 2016

"Open Arms" - 01/23/16 - Genesis 32-34

"I will soften him up with the succession of gifts. Then when he sees me face-to-face, maybe he'll be glad to welcome me." (32:20)

How often we convince ourselves that our giving, our acts of kindness, etc. are enough.  That they will "soften" our ABBA up.

Jacob was trying to be welcomed by Esau.  Obviously by Esau's acceptance, he had forgiven Jacob.  Forgiven him for a major offense.  Was it because "absence makes the heart grow fonder"?  Or had God transformed Esau's heart to be like His? 

It isn't our stuff ABBA wants.  It is our heart.  It is our soul.  It is our "self". 

If we are "doing" all the right things and our hearts are not in the right place, we won't be welcomed in.  He knows our hearts better than we do - we are unable to fool Him or pull the wool over His eyes.

So, as I go through my day - what is my motive for what I am "doing"?  Is it to bring Him or me glory?  Is it to do just enough to get His pat on the back or am I sacrificing?  What do I set my sites on every day?  Gain for Him or gain for me? 

If it is for me, I am trying to stand in quicksand.  He is the only firm ground. 

When we give Him our "self", there isn't any "maybe He'll be glad to welcome me."  

Because when we accept Christ, His arms were and are stretched out wide........

          in welcome. 

Friday, January 22, 2016

"Our Boss" - 01/22/16 - Genesis 30-31

“In the twenty years I’ve worked for you" (31:38)

Curt and I each had our first jobs when we were quite young.  Being raised on farms, this wasn't all that unusual.  In today's world it would be called child labor or even abuse, but I would not  trade the experience for the world. 

I love that I am a farm girl.  It has taught both of us the value of hard work, to be resourceful in tight situations, the joys and hardships of working in the elements, and most importantly - to wait for the harvest.  It taught us how to work with others and alone.  To recognize how we were part of a chain contributing to the care of others.  If we didn't work, someone else had to pick up the jobs and still do their own.  It taught us the importance of a person's word, the helping out of others and allowing others to help you out.  To be part of a community - yet still be on your own.   

It also taught me the difference between the big and little farmers.  The ways in which some accumulated their wealth and the ways some lost it.  I recognized very early on farming is a gamble.  You depended on so many elements for your "paycheck" at the end of the year - the weather, the soil, the markets, your equipment not breaking down, on timing.  Through the hard physical work, it strengthened my body to do the jobs I do today. 

God has blessed our business throughout these past 19 years.  He has taken it and grown it, even when the economy is failing.  Only because of Him.  Yes, we do work hard, but He is the one in
control.  In the early years I used to become so anxious and worried about bills, savings, the future. 

Not anymore.  

It isn't because we have grown rich in the sense of the world, it is because of growing more intimate with Him I finally recognized the fact this isn't our business - it is His and I rest in that.   

We work for Him - He is The Boss.  

In every single aspect of life - it is up to Him.  I pray and turn it over to Him with every bid I send out,  knowing it doesn't matter if the figures are right, etc.  The job becomes ours only if He wants us to have the work.  He has opened my eyes when working for self/man you really never get ahead.  I have found it isn't about the bank account or the status of the business, it is how my relationship is with Him. He has taken me from depending on the dollar for my security, my worth, my sense of being and placed myself "in" Him. 

He has and is using us, our home, this business, our everything, as His vessels for us to be His Warriors.  To touch others lives in a way we wouldn't be able to otherwise.  He has blessed my life over and over through the relationships which have become - only because of His using the "everything" of us.

I am so thankful through our work of being farm kids we are able to recognize Him in the all of "everything".  Our working roots have helped us become a team for Him.  I am so blessed my Curt is on board of using everything to bless others.  In how he watches and looks forward to the ways our ABBA uses us in helping someone out "together".  I love the joy and strength which comes from being part of His team. 

So - Who is your Boss?  Who do you work for?  Where is your security?  What is the measuring stick for your work ethics, your work performance?  Do you depend on Him or the paycheck? 

Jacob worked for Labon 20 years.  And throughout that time Labon tried to take everything from Jacob.  God is bigger - He provided. 

And today, Curt and I work and it seems the government is doing its best trying to take everything from us.  Opening up our statements for investments reveals the economy isn't in a good place.  We are getting older, our bodies are showing the wear and tear of our labor, we are getting tired.  And I could worry about our future, but I don't. 

We continue onward as His team, being stewards of all He has blessed us with.  We continue to look for ways to serve Him.  

And we rest in Him knowing,  as He did for Jacob, He does and will provide.  

Only because our faith rests in the knowing.  Without doubt.  He is "The Boss"......

Thursday, January 21, 2016

"The Birth of A Son" - 01/21/15 - Genesis 27-29

She said, "This time I'll praise God." So she named him Judah."(29:35)

My heart is always saddened when reading the account of Leah. 
Known as the one who "had nice eyes, but Rachel, her younger sister, was stunningly beautiful."  Born in a time when women were treated as property and valued only if they could produce sons.  In a time when she didn't have any say so about her life. 

 " Then Jacob said to Laban, "Give me my wife, for my time is completed, that I may go in to her."
Laban gathered all the men of the place and made a feast. 
Now in the evening he took his daughter Leah,
and brought her to him; and Jacob went in to her.   Laban also gave his maid Zilpah to his daughter Leah as a maid.  
So it came about in the morning that, behold, it was Leah!
And he said to Laban, "What is this you have done to me? Was it not for Rachel that I served with you? Why then have you deceived me?"(29:21-25)  
There isn't an account to tell us about the deep emotional parts of Leah's life. 
Did she secretly have a crush on Jacob?  Or was there another whom she dreamt of spending her life with?  Did she get along with Rebecca or was jealousy, envy a curse between them?  Did she dare cry out in protest when her father came to take her into Jacob's bed?  She had to have known how much Jacob and Rebecca's love was for each other and knew what was to come.  Were there tears running down the side of her face as she saw Jacob's face looking at her in the morning light?  Were her ears ringing from the sound of his voice in anger towards her father over his trickery?  And how did she handle being in the marriage bed after that.  Knowing Jacob was only there in the sense of duty to have sons. 
Three times we read of her delivering sons to Jacob.  With each one came the hope that perhaps, this one would be the one to win his heart to her. 
Her heart.  It could easily became hard and bitter.  Instead she turned to her ABBA. 
Instead of finding fulfillment in her life through another person, thing, she found it in her ABBA. 
A woman rejected.  A woman used without regard for her feelings. 
The woman who became the mother of a fourth son. 
“This time - this time -
I will praise The Lord.”
Therefore she named him Judah.(29:35)
In the midst of the life she was living, she named him "Judah".
It literally means "thanksgiving" or "praise".
Never knowing that her Judah, would be one, who is in direct linage to another son. 
Our Savior.  Our Christ.  Our Jesus.
How our ABBA takes the ones who are set apart by the world
and instead sets them aside for His Glory. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

"He Is The Source" - 01/20/16 - Genesis 25-26

"She went to God to find out what was going on." (Gen 25:22)

I stand in the supermarket line and my eyes wander over the covers of the magazines taking in the latest news.  There are affairs, divorce, weddings that cost millions, diets to make you thin yesterday, visits from aliens, the crash of the economy, and other tidbits of info. 
I listen to people in public places - eavesdrop if you will - not hearing the words, but the emotions of life all about me. 

A parent speaking lovingly to their child,  babies laughter ringing through the crowds.  The harsh yell a child receives from their caregiver, anger at the price of an item or the outrageous tax.  The voices of entitlement as rudeness prevails.  The grumblings, the snide remarks, the compliments, the happiness ringing out in seeing a long lost friend. 

I love to watch people - their eyes, their faces. Thinking about our ABBA creating each one of us in His image. Each one of us. With the exact same "ingredients". Yet, we are each "an original". 

Some who are so excited to walk through this world - even in a crowded place.  Some you can read anger, irritation as they bully their way through the crowd.  Others who are bent so low to the ground you are unable to take in their eyes, their face.  They walk without hope. 

The news is on and I wait.  I am waiting to hear it.  They report about all the bad, the evil in this place and so little about the good.  Is it no wonder our focus tends to be on the bad side of life? 

All these outlets of information to let me know what is going on. 

God designed me to be aware, to absorb - even when I don't want to.  As I listen to the voices of the world,  I am overwhelmed at times.  The state of this earth - so many do not even know His name - let alone Him.  The economy - no matter how hard we work and save - it is being taken away from us to be used by those who don't work. 

If I focus on the world, I could become so scared.

Where do I go to find out what is going on? 

"They "tumbled and kicked inside her" so much she turned to God." 

We walk in a world that is "tumbling and kicking" about us.  So much of it doesn't make sense as it goes against the Garden of Eden - the way He designed our world to be.  Before sin. 
There were times when I was so overwhelmed by the communication of this world, the emotions, the memories, the anxiousness about the future, the worries - I felt like I was on the treadmill of life - and it was at top speed.  I was so afraid of falling, not being able to keep up. 

Then I learned to go where it really matters. 

To Him for The Truth.  To dig into His Word and learn He is The Foundation and there is nothing new under the sun.  The world is made up of  lies which do nothing but spark fear within,  quickly turning into a raging fire - out of control. 

He has taught me, no matter what the world is presenting, He is bigger. 

He has trained my ears, eyes, heart to focus on Him, His ways. To look about and see Him in the crowds. In the despair, the anger, the fear - the evil - to see - He is there all around. I look and see He has placed His people - His Family - Warriors of His - which I am one of - at posts throughout this world. 
I went away from the world - "to God to find out what was going on".
I learned to "be still and know that He is God".

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

"FAITH" - 01/19/16 - Genesis 22-24

“On the mountain of God, He sees to it.” (22:14)

 Mountain of God. 

To get to there, we have to go through the valley - or a flood. 

Until we die - the journey continues - down through the valleys to the next mountain top.  Noah waited in the ark for 375 days before the next journey to a valley.  Abraham - a lifetime.

I can only imagine what was going through his mind.  How at times he probably wished that his faith wasn't so great.  How at times he wanted to take his Isaac and run back to the valley from which they had come.  To run away from God who he had chosen to obey - no matter the cost.

He had left his comfort zone, sent away his other son,  and now was told to use his remaining son as a sacrifice - all commands from the God he loved.  Looking back over his lifetime of memories as they climbed the mountain - he had to think how does this make sense.

Only God knows the whole paradigm.  We can't - so there will be many, many times in our journey of life that situations do not make sense.  At all.

What does make sense is that God wants us to give up everything to Him.  He wants to be our most loved, most cherished, most everything - our "I AM".  Because that is what is best for us.  Because that's how much He loves us.  Not every mountaintop experience is joyful, but the view enables us to see more than when in a valley.  It brings us closer to Him when we climb upward.  We have to lift our eyes up as we climb.  I am reminded of Lot's wife looking back and turning into a pillar of salt.  I wonder what prevented Abraham from turning back too.  Was it the knowing if he did it would turn his life to salt only instead of a life full of seasonings.  That it would be a life that lead to separation from God.  I don't know.  What I do know is he did exactly as commanded.  Even to the point of raising his knife to kill Isaac.

That. is. faith.

That is putting God first.

This passage of scripture is one of my most favorite because it shows me that God wants me to sacrifice "my Isaac" to Him.  That "my Isaac" is coming between Him and me - even if it is a "good Isaac".  The times when life is overwhelming - "God sees to it!"  Just as He supplied the ram for Abraham - He "sees to it" for me.  Nothing is too big for Him or out of His control.  I also love how this account between God and Abraham holds me accountable. 

What is my Isaac?  What do I need to sacrifice to Him?  To put Him first?  What do I love more than Him? 

Whom or what needs to be on my alter on the mountain of God?

Monday, January 18, 2016

"And See" - 01/18/16 - Genesis 19-21

"Then God opened her eyes and she saw"(21:19)

Those times - when all things bad seem to be larger than life. 
when it seems all we are able to do is focus on what isn't, what should be, what isn't fair. 
when we begin to believe the lies of fear and doubt. 
when we think we are alone. 
we aren't going to make it through.

 Those are the times when our ABBA comes to our rescue. 

 It may not be how we deem the rescue should be, but we aren't able to see the whole paradigm. 

 Only He is. 

 And it is in our rescue, He opens our eyes and we are able to see. 

To see and focus on Him.  Our ABBA who is always there.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

"All" - 01/17/16 - Genesis 16-18

"One of them said, "I'm coming back about this time next year. When I arrive, your wife Sarah will have a son." Sarah was listening at the tent opening, just behind the man.            
Abraham and Sarah were old by this time, very old. Sarah was far past the age for having babies.        
Sarah laughed within herself, "An old woman like me? Get pregnant? With this old man of a husband?"
God said to Abraham, "Why did Sarah laugh saying, 'Me? Have a baby? An old woman like me?'
Is anything too hard for God?
I'll be back about this time next year and Sarah will have a baby." (18:10-14)
How often do we look at things from our eyes and think "impossible"? 
How often do we forget it isn't about us - it is all about our ABBA.  His time.  His way. 
If He did everything  the way we think things "should" be, He wouldn't be God. 
The One in charge. 
Something we forget quite often.
If He didn't do things against all the odds, it wouldn't be as spectacular. 
If everything about Him was commonplace.  mundane. ordinary. 
it just wouldn't be Him. 
Look at all He does outside of the box and we still continue to take Him for granted. 
Still try to put ourselves in His place thinking we know better.  are better.  do better. 
When you really stop and think about it -  
Every single occurrence, no matter how big or small, is a miracle. 
Created by Him.  And only Him.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

"Looking Through His Eyes" - 01/16/16 - Genesis 12-15

"Lot looked. He saw the whole plain of the Jordan spread out, well watered (this was before God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah), like God’s garden, like Egypt, and stretching all the way to Zoar. Lot took the whole plain of the Jordan. Lot set out to the east.

That’s how they came to part company, uncle and nephew. Abram settled in Canaan; Lot settled in the cities of the plain and pitched his tent near Sodom.

The people of Sodom were evil—flagrant sinners against God.

 After Lot separated from him, God said to Abram, “Open your eyes, look around." (Genesis 13:10-14)

When the boys were little and something had to be divided, I had one divide and the other choose, to prevent any squabbles about unfairness.  Lot had the option of first choice and from the description, he chose the best.  At least what his eyes thought was "the best". 

And Abram...........

It doesn't say why God instructed him to, "open your eyes, look around".  I wonder if it is because Abram was envious and coveted Lot's choice and couldn't see that the land that remained was actually the "best choice".  If he allowed jealousy to seep in, blinding him of what God was giving him.

It does make me think of the many times I have been guilty of that though.  Of  when I am so focused on what I didn't get that I can not see what I am getting.  The times that I believe "the grass is greener".  How I am not focusing, not having faith in what He has given me. 

Abram's faith is so astounding!  He up and left all he had, taking his family with him, not knowing where they were heading, following God's command.  He was 75 years old.  I don't know how people aged back then, if 75 was compared to our 20's.  I do know that Abram left his comfort zone and headed out into the unknown - at any age that is hard.  I read of a man who had such faith and yet came up with his own plan for safety in saying his "knock out" of a wife was his sister.  And God used this plan to prepare Abram materialistically - he came out of this a very rich man. He and his family also came out of this alive.  God uses everything for His glory. 

So, the times I feel that I have been given the short end of the stick - do I "open my eyes and look around"?  Do I continue to allow sin become such a part of my heart that I don't recognize it in front of me?  How long do I stay in the self-pity state?  Do I become tolerant of sin?  The scripture points out in the middle of all this great land Lot was receiving there was the city of Sodom. 

"The people of Sodom were evil—

flagrant.  sinners.  against God." 

What is flagrant?  Disgraceful, monstrous, egregious. Flagrant, glaring, gross, outrageous, rank are adjectives suggesting extreme offensiveness. Flagrant with a root sense of flaming or flaring, suggests evil or immorality so evident that it cannot be ignored or overlooked: a flagrant violation of the law. Glaring meaning “shining brightly,” is similar to flagrant in emphasizing conspicuousness but usually lacks the imputation of immorality: a glaring error in computing the interest. Gross which basically signifies excessive size, is even more negative in implication than the foregoing two terms, suggesting a mistake or impropriety of major proportions: a gross miscarriage of justice. Outrageous describes acts so far beyond the limits of decent behavior or accepted standards as to be totally insupportable: an outrageous abuse of the public trust. Rank with its suggestion of bad odor, describes open offensiveness of the most objectionable kind, inviting total and unalloyed disapprobation: rank dishonesty, stinking to high heaven; Only rank stupidity would countenance such a step.

Lot freely settled in the cities of the plain and pitched his tent near Sodom."  Not pitched his tents temporarily, but "settled in".  He set up his home.  He was playing with fire.  He was allowing his comfort zone to be near the place of sin.  As a leader, he was conditioning his family to be tolerant and to "live" close to sin.  We need to "settle in" with God.  As far from sin as possible, for He is Holy and can not be a part of sin. 

Where do I "settle in"?  What sin do I tolerate?  Ignore?  Allow to become "the norm".  How often am I looking over the other side of the fence, desiring it so badly, that I am blind to the sin?  How often do I go on in faith with what He has given me? Where He is leading me?  How is my faith in "His choice"?

How often do I "not open my eyes" to the blessings that He has given me in the "short end of the stick"?