Month: October 2022

Dirty Dishes

Walking out our faith in the mundane, repetitive, and sometimes tedious tasks of life can become wearisome if we don’t stand against it. Dirty dishes come to mind as one of these tiresome demands that never seems to be done— after we wash and put them away, they wind up in the sink, dirty and waiting for a repeat performance : )

As with all aspects of our lives, scripture addresses how we can overcome every challenge and walk in joy…even in the daily challenge of dirty dishes:

Scripture makes it clear that what we need is the grace of God to consistently complete underappreciated and undesirable tasks, while maintaining a good attitude. I believe the key here is to somehow find a way to be grateful, even as we “do the dirty dishes.” Here are some thoughts:

  • I have the physical strength to complete this needed task everyday.
  • We enjoyed good food that the Lord provided.
  • I had the ability and means to cook this food.
  • I had someone to share my meal with today.
  • I am providing for my family, but more importantly, I am pleasing the Lord.
  • I have clean water and cleanser to effectively clean the dishes.

Undoubtedly, you are able to easily add to this list or think of your own “washing dishes task” that challenges you— as (2 Corinthians 4:15-16) teaches:

God Still Likes You

The 11-17-22 post focused on Isaiah 40: 31; this week we will look at the verses just prior to this verse:

Isaiah 40: 27-28: Why do you say… “My way is hidden, from the Lord, and the justice due me escapes the notice of my God”? Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable.”

One morning during my devotion time, I was feeling resentful about some things that had taken place in my life when my eyes fell upon the above passage; but instead of reading it as it was actually written, I perceived it as saying, Why do you complain…” Similar to Jacob/Israel’s perception that God was failing to notice the injustice they were suffering, I felt that my plight was being overlooked by my Heavenly Father. However, the Holy Spirit spoke into my heart these questions by way of this passage, “Do you not know? Have you not heard?”

Yes, I knew God is the Everlasting Creator; that He is not subject to weariness or misunderstanding; that He is just…and so intellectually I understood that my complaint was baseless. Yet, I was in need of reassurance. “Creator” jumped off the page— God is the One who has brought everything into existence; He chose to bring me into existence. And the promises to His children are these concerning Himself: He does not become weary, which is defined as “having one’s patience, tolerance, or liking exhausted”; therefore, God does not tire of us or lose patience in dealing with our human imperfections. The upshot of my devotion time was this: God has not only loved and understood me; He still liked me.

Fight the Good Fight

In these times, one might speculate that, “Evil is going to have its way, so what is the use? I’m tired of fighting; I want relief from all of these discouraging problems.” Undoubtedly, the world has always been a challenging place, as the writings of the Apostle Paul attest to; yet he proclaimed that he could look back on his life and rejoice in the fact that he had finished life’s race with faithfulness. Galatians 6:9 encourages us to not allow ourselves to grow weary in well-doing— in other words, to keep up the good fight.

One of my favorite Bible passages is Isaiah 40:31 , which describes how we can gain the strength to keep fighting our earthly battles and not become wearied or weakened by the process:

“WAIT” is the key word in the passage since it is what is required of us so that we can carry out our spiritual journey without weariness and discouragement. Even more important to consider is the One on whom we wait— our Lord, the source of the strength we need. The literal Greek meaning for the word “wait” here is, (qavah) “to wait, look for, hope, and expect.” Waiting on the Lord is not merely sitting around, or even passively praying; it is actively and expectantly anticipating that the Lord will come through because He is faithful to His promises, and true to His holy nature. And so, as we lift our hearts in hopeful expectation of God’s goodness and power, we can run (expend much effort) the race set before us without becoming fatigued and devoid of strength; and, we can walk (perform our day-to-day tasks) and not grow faint (weak, discouraged or oppressed).

The outcome of this promise is this: We “mount up with wings like eagles.” In other words, we will soar by the power of the Holy Spirit above our circumstances with renewed strength and courage!

God Has Plans for You

Isaiah 55: 8-9– “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

Isaiah 48:17– Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you to profit, who leads you in the way you should go.”

Jeremiah 29:11– “For I know the plans that I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.”

Sometimes our lives might seem to be a jumbled mess— full of confusing circumstances and uncertain decision-making. Although there can be joy and beauty in our daily lives, the overall plan might seem unclear; in fact, we may question if we indeed have a real and meaningful purpose. Nevertheless, the Bible clearly demonstrates our Heavenly Father’s involvement in the lives of His children, and in the ordering of our steps on the path He sets before us (Proverbs 37:23-24; Proverbs 20:24 Job 14:16).

This truth was visibly demonstrated to me recently in the Quilt Garden at the NC Arboretum: As I observed the “quilt” of flowers, I was impressed with their beauty and color; yet they were mixed in a way that made any pattern impossible to discern:

I decided that I needed a higher perspective, so I climbed the steps above the garden and was immediately impressed with the precise pattern in which the flowers had been carefully planted:

So it is in our lives—since we are limited by our earthly viewpoint, our path may not make much sense until we are able to gain God’s higher perspective. As we continue to seek the Lord for His will and wisdom, we will increasingly discover that He has carefully planted and established our steps. After all, God knows the pattern and plan for our lives from the beginning to the end; and we have the reassuring promise that His Holy Spirit will guide us with the truths we need to fulfill our purpose (John 14:26; John 16: 13-14).

Do Not Be Stultified

Stultified: To be made useless or ineffectual

It has been said that repeating the same spiritual activities over and over will make you (and perhaps everyone over whom you have influence) stale; taken to the extreme, it can make you stultified. Matthew 16:9 states, “They worship Me in vain, teaching as doctrine the precepts of men.” Isaiah 29:13 admonishes worshipers in Jerusalem for drawing near to the Lord with their words while their hearts remained distant from Him. Instead of genuine worship born out of love and awe for the Lord, “Their worship of [Him was] but rules taught by men.” In contrast, the Holy Spirit enables our faith-walk to remain powerful and fresh on a on-going basis.

Therefore it is imperative that we persistently examine how we worship and serve the Lord. We need to make sure that our hearts are in the right place, and the familiarity and comfort of our church liturgy is not lulling us into insincere acts of worship and unfruitful works. Could it be that continuing to rest in the comfort of familiar “orders of worship” could actually render us less effective in our Christian walk? Thankfully Jesus has sent us our Helper– the Holy Spirit— who will guide,strengthen and help us to remain genuine and pleasing to the Lord throughout our spiritual journey (John 14:26; Romans 8:26; Galatians 5:22-23; Acts 1:8).

A Verse to Live By

Proverbs 19:23, ” The fear of the Lord tends to life: and he that has it shall abide satisfied; he shall not be visited with evil.”

A great way to read the book of Proverbs is to read a chapter for each day of the month— for example, read chapter 20 on say, November 20th. Although I have read through the book in this manner many times, I was particularly led recently to read Proverbs 19:23 on a day in which it was used to address my every concern that morning. The words are packed with meaning that contribute to the astounding application I discovered for my life:

  • “Fear”- Reverence; honor or respect felt or shown; honor/respect mixed with love and awe.
  • “Tend”– To move or develop one’s course in a particular direction; show tendency or inclination.
  • “Abide”– Remain; continue
  • Satisfied”– Content
  • “Visited”- Come upon
  • Evil” – Affliction; adversity; harm; wickedness

Once I took the meanings into account, the Holy Spirit counseled me in my heart that choosing to honor and respect (“fear”) the Lord at all times no matter what has happened is the necessary first step in moving and developing (“tend”) my life in the right direction. If I can continue to remain in His love for me and my love for Him (“abide”), then I will be filled and contented (“satisfied”) in life. Furthermore– and this is a huge benefit– affliction and adversity from the Adversary (“evil”) will not come upon and overtake me!

Muffins on the Rise

Over the years, I have consistently kept homemade muffins from my tried and true recipes on hand. The first step for any kind of muffin is mixing the dry ingredients (including baking soda or baking powder) so that when the liquid components are added, all ingredients can be mixed as quickly as possible. The reason for this process is that when the wet ingredients are added to the inactive leavening agent, the muffin mixture will be quickly activated and begin rising; then it is necessary to act immediately to get the muffins into the oven so that they do not deflate.

Perhaps by using this baking process as a metaphor, we can more clearly understand how we become empowered by the Holy Spirit: The Lord has given talents, gifts, and abilities that are to be used for service and glory to Him; but, they are essentially dormant or not spiritually effective until the Holy Spirit activates and empowers them (Eph. 3:16; Romans 12:6; 1 Tim. 4:14; 1 Cor. 2:12; 1 Cor. 12:7). At that time, it is imperative to act immediately in obedience to carry out God’s will before we question or doubt, and our conviction and enthusiasm “deflate”—at that time we are optimally prepared to be empowered and activated through His Holy Spirit!