Monthly Archives: April 2024

How many roses has God given you?

His love gifts are everywhere. Predawn coolness filled the room. I closed my eyes, relishing the feel of it on the bare skin of my arms. I pressed my palms around the mug of tea just the right temperature for sipping. Inhaling the cool air deep into my lungs, I put the tea on the window ledge and picked up the pencil, ready to continue my journaling with the Lord. My eyes paused, finally, on the profusion of pink roses swaying just outside my window. That’s when conviction came, that piercing within as you realize you have hurt someone you love most dearly,

“Oh, Father! I am so, so sorry! Forgive me! I remember the thrill of first seeing that this wild rose bush had climbed all the way to my second-floor window, letting me see two roses while sitting in this very chair. That delight lasted for days. Looking at them with gratitude was a thing between us, just You and me, throughout the day. And look at how many more roses You have caused to grow and blossom! Just look at them! Oh, when was the last time I thanked You for these beautiful flowers!”

How often do I take His specially chosen love gifts for granted?  That morning, I counted 22 roses in bloom or in bud. When had I begun taking this precious gift from God for granted? How would a human husband feel if his wife plunked the carefully chosen bouquet of her favorite flowers in a corner and never looked at them again? How many times the past few weeks since the roses began blooming had God nudged me to stop and sit down with Him and just thank Him, to just spend a few minutes specifically thanking Him for those roses?

It is fitting and appropriate to give thanks, to praise and to worship the Lord. The Bible is filled with verses telling us to give our thanks and our praise and our worship to God.  I Thessalonians 5:18 says: “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (I Thessalonians 5:18, NIV)

Why? It is appropriate.

 Rejoice in the Lord, O you [uncompromisingly] righteous [you upright in right standing with God]; for praise is becoming and appropriate for those who are upright [in heart]. (Psalm 33:1, AMPC, emphasis added)

Why is it appropriate? One of many reasons is because “God is good and His love endures forever”!   This fact is so vital for us to keep in mind that God repeats it multiple times in the Word, especially in Psalms. He even included an entire psalm that repeats this teaching. The phrase “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love endures forever” appears in each of the 26 verses of Psalm 136. Selah!

God delights in our praise and thanksgiving and worship. It pleases me greatly that praising God, thanking Him, and obeying Him whole-heartedly are gifts I can give to Him, little of course and by no means anywhere near what He deserves. However, when I keep Him first in my heart and love Him with all my heart, I know that gives Him delight

The Lord takes pleasure in those who reverently and worshipfully fear Him, in those who hope in His mercy and loving-kindness.  (Psalm 147:11, AMPC)

Being ungrateful is spiritually dangerous. When I complain—about anything—I open a door to the enemy. I am making a way for him to steal, kill and destroy the good things God has prepared for me, including an intimate relationship with Him.

God hates complaining. Read Psalm 78 slowly and prayerfully. Do you see how many times God was merciful and forgave Israel and did not destroy them? But do you see that eventually they got what their actions deserved?

Why do we become ungrateful? We get distracted by many things, our own desires, someone else’s agenda, and the ways of this dark world. This world is filled with “troubles, trials, distress and frustrations.” Just before Calvary, Jesus lovingly told His disciples that they would have “troubles, trials, distress and frustration” in this world. But He also told them “but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.] (John 16:33b, AMPC, emphasis added)

God understands and “imprints on His heart” that we are just frail human beings (Psalm 103) so He always, always, always provides a way to escape from temptations. That includes those that come from within our desperately wicked hearts (Jeremiah 17:9)  as well as those that come from living in this world. Paul told us:

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. (I Corinthians 10:13, NIV).

Praising and giving thanks protects me. When I consciously, purposefully, tell God “Thank You” for the little things that are right in front of me – a Bible to study, food to eat, a home to live in – I begin feeling gratitude, peace and hope. Expressing thanks to my heavenly Father helps me think about His great love toward me and about Who He is. How can I fear or complain when I am pondering the fact that the One Who holds the world in His loving hands dearly, dearly loves me? Like all His commands, the command to give God thanks is good for us.

Like gifts from a child. One of the first gifts a child gives is the head of a flower plucked from the back yard and lovingly presented in a chubby fist. Like the little drummer boy “I have no gift that’s fit to lay before a King” but I can give Him the very best of my heart. I can give Him my gratitude and my conscious awareness of Him. I can just sit down with Him and say,

“I love You Father! Thank You for those roses! Thank You for teaching me from Your Word. Thank You for leading me to have a closer relationship with You. It is so good to just sit in Your presence, Father. I love the peace I feel when my mind is on You.

Help me remember, please, to stop the busyness of my hands and sit down with You. Thank You that I feel Your love when I do that. Show me how to please You more, Lord.  Show me how You want me to live every hour of every day You give me on this earth. I love You Lord, I just love You. . . “

A stained white garment

A Communal Communion | Pictures of jesus christ, Communion, Jesus picturesStained, again. “Oh, no! Not again!”

As I closed my Bible and put it on the side table next to the rocker by the window,  I looked down at the little spatters of burgundy on my favorite white everyday top. I must have, once again, held the tiny communion cup too close when I’d opened it.

There have been seasons in my life where I take communion at home with the Lord every morning. For years, I used grape juice and bread or crackers, but a few months ago I purchased a box of pre-filled communion cups and wafers, like those used in many, perhaps most, churches. The plastic lid covering those cups is hard to remove.

In other seasons of life, I have taken communion at home as the Lord leads like, for example, when I am deeply convicted of sinning against the Lord or another person in some way, like this morning or when I want to commemorate or  celebrate something with the Lord.

God cares very much about celebrating important things by doing something concrete, like the Lord’s Supper and meeting with Him at church on the Sabbbath day. Consider also the feasts, the festivals, all the altars He commanded to be built in the Old Testament. And how about the twelve stones taken out of the river bed of the Jordan to celebrate the miraculous crossing of the river described in Joshua 4:1-11?

God’s ways to deal with sin. I hasten to say that this is my personal habit, something Holy Spirit has put on my heart to do after I heard about it from others. There is no verse in the Bible that tells us we must take the Lord’s Supper each time we are convicted of sin. The blood Jesus shed on the cross paid the full price for sin once and for all. By faith in His sacrifice my sins are forgiven and forgotten by God. The practice of bringing a sacrifice for sin to the temple was for God’s people before Jesus came.

Then Jesus came to earth and fulfilled the Law with His life, and His death, burial, and resurrection. Jesus made the way for us to be cleansed of sin and to have eternal life.

“For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life.” John 3:16, (AMPC, emphasis added.)

After Calvary, the age in which we now live, the God-prescribed way for believers in Jesus to be cleansed from sin as we go about our daily life is found in 1 John 1:9. God promises us: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (NIV)

5 Reasons to Use Hydrogen Peroxide for LaundryGetting those stains out. So what happened to my favorite everyday top? I remembered a household tip learned when I was a secretary for the Sheriff’s Office. Once when a deputy—wearing a snowy white uniform shirt—was fixing a jammed stapler he somehow got blood on his sleeve. Another deputy retrieved hydrogen peroxide from the clinic, poured a bit on each spot and rubbed. As she kept rubbing the liquid into the fabric, the hydrogen peroxide foamed away the blood stain. Completely.

I see several spiritual lessons in that process.

[1] Sin is an unavoidable part of being human, just as accidents are. In Romans 7:14-25 the Apostle Paul describes his struggle with sin. If you have never studied this passage, read it over first in the NIV or the NLT, then do a thorough study. In this passage Paul explains that, although he wants with all his heart to do what is right,  his human, sinful nature always fights against that. Yet Paul rejoices that God, through Jesus, delivers him. Paul says,

“(v. 21) I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. (22) I love God’s law with all my heart (23) but there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. (24) Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? (25) ‘Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: in my mind I really want to obey God’s law but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin. (NLT)”

I clearly remember the relief I felt the day I first understood the next verse, Romans 8:1.

“Therefore, [there is] now no condemnation [no adjudging guilty of wrong] for those who are in Christ Jesus, who live [and] walk not after the dictates of the flesh, but after the dictates of the Spirit.” (Romans 8:1, AMPC, emphasis added).

 God does not condemn me for how my human nature reacts any more than He condemns me for how my physical flesh reacts when I fall and scrape my knee.

[2] God has prepared the way to deal with all our sins. When we genuinely repent and turn away from our sins and toward God, our sins are blotted out (Acts 3:19). We are born again, as Jesus explained to Nicodemus in John 3:1-21. Then, as we live this new life of serving God, as we walk in the light, the blood of Jesus purifies us from all sin. How does that happen? As we saw earlier, when we confess our sins to God He forgives us. Look at this section of First John, which the NIV labels “Light and Darkness, Sin and Forgiveness.”

(5) This is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you: God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all. (6) If we claim to have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. (7) But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin.

(8) If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. (9) If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us form all unrighteousness. (10) If we claim we have not sinned, we make Him out to be a liar and His word is not in us.” (NIV, emphasis added)

General Ledger No. 1 Gold - NYPL's Public Domain Archive Public Domain ...[3] It is best to confess our sin immediately. Perhaps you have heard “It is best to keep short accounts with the Lord.” This pearl of wisdom comes from the Word. Leviticus 5:5 tells us “When you become  aware of your guilt in any of these ways, you must confess your sin.” (NLT)  Psalm 32:3 shows what happens when we refuse to confess our sin. “When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long.”(NLT)

If I had let that blouse with the grape juice stain sit in the laundry basket for a few days, it likely would not have come out. I had to interrupt what I had planned to do, find the prescribed cleaning agent, then take time to follow the prescribed procedure.

[4] We must be ever vigilant against sin. Whenever I wear my white blouse, I am extra careful about possible spills or stains and I glance down at it several times a day to be sure it remains unstained.

Once God cleans us up, He changes our basic habits and attitudes. He gives us a new nature, a new garment so to speak as He covers our sin with His righteousness. In the Bible, garment is a “symbol of covering, evil or righteous, defiled or beautiful.” (Interpreting the Symbols and Types, Kevin J. Conner, p. 144)

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, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. (Isaiah 61:10, NIV, emphasis added)

Once we are robed in His righteousness, we must watch daily to keep our garments clean, to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. (Philippians 2:12).

And look at what Jesus promises in Revelations 3:5:

“The one who is victorious will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life, but will acknowledge that name before my Father and His angels. (NIV)”

In the book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, recorded his musings upon the purpose of life. He told us to keep ourselves pure, to keep our garments white.  In Chapter Nine, after Solomon concludes that good and evil, death and life happen to everyone, he says it is best to go ahead and live your life. “There is hope only for the living. . . ‘It’s better to be a live dog than a dead lion!” (Ecclesiastes 9:4, NLT). Then Solomon continues:

“Go your way, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a cheerful heart [if you are righteous, wise, and in the hands of God]; for God has already accepted your works. Let your garments be always white [with purity], and let your head not lack [the] oil of gladness]. (Ecclesiastes 9:7-8, AMPC, emphasis added).

In Verse 10, Solomon counsels: “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.” (NIV).

That says to me that I am to live my life, with joy, keeping my heart pure before God by living in the light that comes from understanding the Word of God. I am to keep my heart clean before God by confessing any sin as soon as I am aware of it.

Washing with the water of the Word works. After rubbing out those stains on my blouse, I laid it across the back of the couch to dry out before putting it in the laundry basket. When I got back from errands, I picked up the blouse. I looked at every inch and could find no trace of stain. It was completely white. Consider these verses.

(25) Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church, and gave Himself up for her, (26) So that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the Word, (27) That He might present the church to Himself in glorious splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such things [that she might be holy and faultless]. (Ephesians 5:25-27, AMPC, emphasis added).

            Selah, oh my soul, selah! God loves me so much that He compares me to His bride. God has made the way—despite my frail human flesh—for me to be holy and without blame in His eyes. “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” (Genesis 18:14, KJV).