Sunday, July 28, 2019

God Bless You


Cell Phones Do Text Messaging
I’ve been thinking about these three little words since a friend used them to close a recent text message.

I replied, “Thank you, I receive that." In my mind that was like saying “amen” at the end of a prayer.

Amen is a word of agreement, like saying “it is so,” or “so be it.” 

To bless someone is to wish them well. What better way than to call upon God, who is greater than you, to make it happen?

One of my favorite blessings is in Numbers 6:24-26 (NKJV). It’s called “The Priestly Blessing.” Even today I love it when a pastor or priest closes a service with these words:

The LORD bless you and keep you;
The LORD make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;
The LORD lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.

Morning Coffee Goes Good With Bible Reading
While leading the great Exodus, God told Moses to instruct the priests to bless the people with those words.

Bible commentator, Matthew Henry, says the priestly blessing, though spoken to a group, was to be received individually.

The same principle of individuality is indicated in Romans 10:12 (NIV):  “. . . the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on Him . . . 

Saying “God Bless You” is a way of calling upon Him. But might I give a word of caution? Do not say it mindlessly. It’s NOT a breezy saying like Have A Nice Day.

I would suggest: 1) Don’t say “God Bless You” unless you really mean it, and 2) If someone says it to you, confirm it by saying, “I receive that.”

This three-word blessing can be powerful. 

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Propelled by Hope


Small Planes Need Propellers

Small planes and motor boats have something in common: propellers. Though they differ in size their purpose is the same: power to get moving.

Humans have a hidden propeller called hope. I think it gets us moving each day. 

In Arizona, as you drive from Wickenburg to Quartzsite, you'll find Hope. It's a tiny settlement in what some would say is "the middle of nowhere." But big signs on each end of town make me smile.

First I read "You Are Now Entering Hope." Seconds later I read "You Are Now Beyond Hope." I enjoy the town's sense of humor.

I always wonder who named this place? Did they find hope and stay there, or did it propel them on?

Even in a car equipped with air conditioning, my trip feels long. There's not much to break up the view. The land on both sides of the road is treeless, filled with lots of cactus and plenty of clear blue sky.
Covered Wagons Were A Rough Ride

I think of pioneers on this road over a century before me. Their trail was dusty, the sun was hot and covered wagons were not a soft ride. Their journey must have seemed endless, but history proves they did not give up.

Wagon trains plodded westward. People moved forward with hope. Some were to join family already established in the west. Others hoped to homestead land or find steady jobs. 

Hope propelled them from the known to the unknown on a daily basis.

I like the practical explanation of hope in Romans 8:24-25 which says, " . . . hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently."

Hope is a powerful four-letter word, but it's no shortcut in life.

Read the above definition again. Do you see a couple of words you might like to avoid? How about "wait" and "patiently." 

My mother-in-law, actually named Hope, lived up to her name. As a young mother, she contracted polio and was in an iron lung for months.

Told she would never walk again, she was sent home with braces. But hope burned strong in her heart. She wanted to walk freely.

When I met her years later, she did not even use a cane. I was surprised to hear her story. It was one of hope, faith, prayer and perseverance.
Deserts Do Have Life

Hope may seem no stronger than a whisper inside us at times, but don't push it down. Take it to heart, let it propel you.

When progress seems slow, don't give up . . . persevere!

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Ebenezer Who? Or What?


Was your first thought of Ebenezer Scrooge in Dicken's The Christmas Carol? That was about the only Ebenezer I knew until I heard it mentioned on a DVD.
A beautiful prairie setting

Love Comes Softly is the first in a series of movies based on books by Janet Oke. I'd say her stories are set in the same time frame as Little House on the Prairie.

The first time I saw it I was intrigued by the father's singing of a *hymn. It was Sunday, but it was not his town's turn for the circuit-riding preacher.

He still wanted to honor the Lord's Day, so He walked up to his favorite quiet place. He had set a bench on a hilltop where he could sing, read scripture and pray.
Who or What is Ebenezer?

As he sang, one phrase stood out: Here I raise my Ebenezer. It sounded very strange to me.

I forgot about it until one Sunday our church sang the same *song. It had a little different tempo and melody but there it was . . . the "Ebenezer" phrase. I decided I'd find out what it meant.

In 1 Samuel 7:5-12 the Israelite army was headed into battle at Mizpah. They requested the Prophet Samuel to pray for them. He also offered a sacrifice to God on their behalf.

When God gave a great victory, Samuel set up a stone and named it Ebenezer, meaning "stone of help" (1 Samuel 7:12).

The rock was to be a permanent memorial, a reminder that the LORD had helped them in their quest.
A sample Ebenezer

In the Book of Joshua, chapters three and four, another Ebenezer was created. Joshua appointed twelve men to each carry a rock from the Jordan river---one for each tribe of Israel. The rocks were then piled together at a place called Gilgal.

Joshua declared, "Our descendants will ask about these. Be sure they know it's a reminder of how God helped us cross the Jordan River."

I once created an Ebenezer. Well, not exactly me. The idea was mine, but my husband did the heavy lifting.

We lived in the country with three decorative olive trees next to the driveway. I decided it would be nice to ring each tree with some pretty rocks. Down to a dry river bed we went, in our little Opal.

I happily chose some rocks. They were really more like baby boulders, but my husband persevered. Our Opal station wagon was sagging in the back, but we made it home.

Every time I looked at those rocks, I was reminded of my husband's hard work and how much he loved me.
Rocks are not the only way to create a reminder

No rocks available? Get creative. An Ebenezer is simply a memorial, or reminder, to be thankful for something good that has happened in your life.

*Come Thou Fount of Many Blessings

Sunday, July 7, 2019

The Eyes Have It


I grew up with the concept that eyes are the windows of the soul. But an Arabic proverb says eyes are the spoons of speech. I’m intrigued by that idea.

The use of a spoon is so basic it begins in babyhood. In fact, we become acquainted with a spoon before we can even form words.

OK, Baby, Open Up
Spoons are a basic connection between baby and caregiver

It's fun to watch someone put great effort into getting a baby to accept a spoonful of food. Generally, the baby anticipates something good.

But have you seen how babies react to a spoonful of non-happy communication? Some turn their head, shut their eyes, and make faces or loud noises. They refuse the spoon as if it were a threat.

If eyes are the spoons of speech, they are an important communication tool. If you were forced to choose between a fork, a knife, or a spoon, which would you choose?

A knife can let things fall off and a fork can let things fall through. But a spoon with its rounded base and sturdy edge could get you a long way down the culinary road.

It’s not hard to see how eyes are an important part of communication. Do you enjoy listening to someone who talks with their head down? Or are you drawn to the speaker who looks you in the eye?

Artists Know That Eyes Communicate
How often do you notice spoons of communication such as a gleam of humor, a flash of anger, a look of compassion, or a pool of deep thought? The eyes have spoken and you decide whether to receive the spoon or not.

The psalmist said, “Turn my eyes away from worthless things” (Psalms 119:37). The same can be said of speech. 

Psalm 19:14 (NKJV) says, “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD." 

Whether you consider eyes as windows of the soul or spoons of speech, when it comes to communication the eyes have it!