Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Door

Photo attribution here

Ask and it will be given to you;
 seek and you will find;
knock and the door will
 be opened to you.

Matthew 7:7


This is one of my favorite verses but not one that I actually follow every day.  Too many times I get right up to the door and am distracted by how the door looks.  I analyze whether I will like what's on the other side, thinking of all the possibilities of opening it.  What if I don't like it?  Where will this lead me?  Will it cost anything?  Who will be there?  Is there another door behind that one?  After my examination and thought process, I walk on, hoping for another door to appear.  I've missed many an opportunity using my powers of divination when God just wanted me to knock and enter and allow Him to bless me with what He had to offer.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Oh, To Be Called Precious

Photo attribution here
You should clothe yourselves instead
with the beauty that comes from
within, the unfading beauty of a
gentle and quiet spirit, which is so
precious to God.
1 Peter 3:4
{New Living Translation (NLT)
Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.}


I try to be fashion conscious: 
+nice clothes, even if some of them do come from 
Goodwill
+good makeup--Mary Kay for 40 years
+shoes--I have a pair that fits, not into shoes
+hair cut every 5 weeks or so.  I've let it go naturally gray
+jewelry--made by me.  Keeping up with style by looking at ads
+accessories--some made by me and a few items purchased that attracted me.

I guess I'm all set.
Wait...
Where's my gentle, quiet spirit?  I thought I had it with me when I came in.  Now, where did it go?
  
+Someone said something that didn't sit well with me.
+My husband's schedule interfered with mine.
+Someone got my parking place.
+I didn't get enough sleep last night.
+Etc., etc., etc.

Yeah, I have a little trouble with that spirit.  Guess I won't be His "precious" today.  I'm going to have to work on that. 
What?
I am precious to God, regardless?
Thank you, Lord.











Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Being a Fisher

Photo attribution here

Jesus said to them,
 "Come with me!
I will teach you how
to bring in people
 instead of fish."

Matthew 4:19 

The Holy Bible, Contemporary English Version,
copyright © 
American Bible Society, 1995.


This verse in this version struck me today.  There are reasons why Christians have jobs and the top one is not to make money.

Monday, February 25, 2013

So Many Plans

Photo attribution here

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord
plans to prosper you and not to harm you, 
plans to give you hope and a future. 
Then you will call on me
 and come and pray to me,
 and I will listen to you. 
You will seek me and find me 
when you seek me
 with all your heart. 
Jeremiah 29:11-13

So many things to do...so many people to see...so many birthdays and events...so much work...and all within one week.  
Life can get fairly full, can't it?
When weeks like this come I get overwhelmed with how much I have to do and lose perspective.  God has told me that He has plans for me, that He doesn't want to harm me with everything to be done.  I forget to seek Him in it all and go trudging forward to attack the week instead of thanking Him for the opportunities He has provided for me to serve others through Him.  I'm seeking you, Lord, to guide me through this week and discover the nuggets of your grace and wisdom as each event unfurls.  I may even come to the  point of liking this week.  I can always hope.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

True Source of Wisdom

Photo attribution here

For the Lord gives wisdom;
from his mouth come
knowledge and
understanding.
Proverbs 2:6



Are you having trouble making the right decisions?  Are you having trouble learning and knowing enough about a subject?  Are you having trouble understanding why or how something happens?  Seek the Lord's answers to life's questions.  He's always there to help one who wants to know about Him and his world...your world.  I'm seeking Him now for affirmation, going to His word so I can hear from His mouth--the only place to be to know His heart.


Friday, February 22, 2013

Music, Music, Music

Photo attribution here

Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous, it is fitting for the upright to praise him.  Sing to him a new song; play skillfully and shout for joy.
Psalm 33:1, 3


The semester is in full swing.  I've received half of my music from my seven vocal students, 24 pieces; music for a vocal recital scheduled for this term, 11 pieces; choral literature for Women's Choral Union, 8 pieces; substituting in the youth chorus for an accompanist who had surgery , 4 pieces; Sunday's music, 2 pieces.  Guess I'll be busy on my day off and this doesn't even compare to the other accompanists who are more accomplished that I.  One has almost 20 students!  I know some of the music is repeated over the years in the department but still...I can't even fathom the amount of time spent in learning that much.  At least, this semester's music is not daunting and my situation is more stable.  Did you grab the last line of scripture above?  "New song"...I've got plenty of those.  "Play skillfully"...I'm trying, Lord.  "Shout for joy"...hmmmm, practice is hard work and time-consuming...I've got the "shout" down pat...What did you say, Lord?  Yes, Lord, you gave me opportunity and ability (though limited), I'll do the best I can for you and work on the "joy" part...(smile).  Now, off to the practice room.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Hoping

Photo attribution here
To view this larger on black, click on the photo.

 Now faith is confidence 
in what we hope for
 and assurance about 
what we do not see.
Hebrews 11:1

I think I'm seeing buds on trees.  Maybe Spring is just around the corner...maybe.  We had freezing rain this morning.  It could be a "nipped in the bud" day.  I hope those little buds make it.  But...

I don't see the life flowing through every branch-- life that is hidden but coursing through every tree that is destined to bring forth flowers and leaves.  All I can do is hope and be assured that God cares enough to take care of the trees...
and me.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A Well-Watered Garden

Photo attribution here


If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.
The Lord will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.

Isaiah 58:9b-12

I'm needing Spring now.  Winter is almost over.  I can see the signs of grass trying to grow, daffodils blooming.  I even saw grape hyacinths yesterday but it is still cold--27 degrees this morning--brrrr.
Are our lives like Spring--raring to blossom, ready to bloom into the person God wants us to be?....Maybe the cold is still holding us back.  Maybe the water is not reaching us yet.  Maybe we've decided to be some plant that God didn't intend.  I'm not sure I'm doing my part if I'm reading what the Lord says.  If you are interested, Isaiah quotes the Lord in chapter 58 and tells us exactly what God intends for our lives.  When I look at this check list, I see that I'm a pitiful example of a well-watered garden.  I'm going to get the fertilizer now.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Love One Another

Photo attribution here
Dear friends, since God so loved us,
 we also ought to love one another. 
No one has ever seen God; 
but if we love one another, 
God lives in us 
and his love is 
made complete in us. 
1 John 2:11-12

"Love one another."  Now, why is that so difficult?  
Because:
He doesn't look like me.  They don't speak my language.  He doesn't smell good.  She wreaks of perfume.  She wears too much jewelry.  He has pimples.  She smiles too much.  They don't go to church.  He's too fat.  She's too skinny.  He's too tall.  She's too short.  They eat with their mouths open.  He snores.  She has a lisp. They live in (you name the place.)  Their house is ugly, too small, too large, on the "wrong" side of town.  They don't have a job.  They have a corporate job.  They have no style.  They're too stylish.  He wears a beard.  They have too many children.  They don't have children.  They don't like dogs.  She doesn't know how to play the piano.  He plays the piano but doesn't know how to sight read.....shall I go on?
I think we need to check our Love Status.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Lists

Photo attribution here

Love is patient, love is kind.
 It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
 It does not dishonor others,
it is not self-seeking,
it is not easily angered,
it keeps no record of wrongs.

1 Corinthians 13:4-5

I'm a list-keeper.  I get more things done and keep focused on the work-to-be-done if I mark things off as I accomplish each feat--yes, feat.  Work is daunting to me at times.  Sometimes I have so many things to do that I can't even get started and want to retreat. Instead of "flight" I choose "fight" and make a list.  Unfortunately, I also make lists of the bad things that happen so I can look over them and have a pity party--woe is me.  That's difficult to admit but true none the less.  I'm glad God doesn't make a list of the many times I've wronged Him.  He'd run out of paper.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Beautiful Morning



But I will sing of your strength,
 in the morning I will sing of your love;
for you are my fortress,
my refuge in times of trouble. 

Psalm 59:16


This is maybe not the best photo of a sunrise but It was beautiful to me this morning.  We're combining Valentine's Day and my husband's birthday with old friends from college so it should be fun and a needed break for my husband and me.  God gives us good gifts when we don't even deserve them--such as, a gorgeous hot pink sunrise.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

With An Everlasting Love

Photo Attribution here


    The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying:
    “I have loved you with an everlasting love;
     I have drawn you with unfailing kindness."
    Jeremiah 31:3 

So, "everlasting?"  Yes, forever.  
Happy Valentine's Day from your true love.



Wednesday, February 13, 2013

I Love My Rock

Photo attribution here

I love you, Lord, my strength.
The Lord
 is my rock,
 my fortress and my deliverer;
my God is my rock,
in whom I take refuge,
 my shield and the horn of my salvation,
 my stronghold. 

Psalm 18:1-2

This scripture is the beginning of the one I posted a while back stating that
He brought me out into a spacious place,he rescued me because
he delighted in me.
Psalm 18:19

So many times I've been rescued by God and never recognized it as God's doing.  I proceeded fulfilling  my agenda, saying, "Whew, that was close," and went on without a thought of thankfulness.
Oh, how He loves me, a love that delights in what I do for Him and I didn't even look back.

I'm beginning to recognize when God is at work in my life as I grow older.  I'm just beginning to be thankful for all He does and has done for me.  I'm enjoying being His "delightful one" and that's okay.  I'm His creation.
I love my Rock.






Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Love and Apples

This photo is by Janeen Smith, my daughter-in-law.
I happened on it yesterday as I was cleaning out
my saved emails.  I'm glad I saved it.

For the Lord's portion is his people,
Jacob his allotted inheritance.
In a desert land he found him, 
in a barren and howling waste.
He shielded him and cared for him;
he guarded him as the apple of his eye,
like an eagle that stirs up its nest
and hovers over its young,
that spread its wings to catch them
and carries them aloft.
Deuteronomy 32:9-11

I love the poetry of the Bible and especially this wording of the relationship of man to God--"the apple of his eye."  I'm not sure what this really means but I imagine it to be the reflection of light in one's pupil--that sparkle we see when someone is in love, happy or excited.  I think that is how God feels when we come into his presence.  I can only relate it to when I see my children and grandchildren or my husband when he's been away for a while. Yes, love.  How He Loves Us!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Faith in a Cup

Photo attribution: here

But I will sing of your strength, 
in the morning I will sing of your love; 
for you are my fortress,
 my refuge in times of trouble. 
Psalm 59:16

Every morning I am privileged to enjoy a couple of cups of coffee hoping that my brain will engage and I can think clearly.  I take my coffee over to the computer, click on my yahoo mail, find the verse of the day from Bible Gateway or another devotional I may receive that day and commune with God.  Could I do this without coffee first thing in the morning?  Yes, I have in the past on mission in Sweden, Greece, Bulgaria, Khazakstan and Senegal.  I can do without the coffee if I have to but I cannot do without my daily communion with God.  Can you?




Sunday, February 10, 2013

Love Speak

Photo attribution here

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, 
but do not have love, 
I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  
If I have the gift of prophecy 
and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, 
and if I have a faith that can move mountains, 
but do not have love, 
I am nothing.
1 Corinthians 13:1-2

    People look at the outward appearance,
     but the Lord looks at the heart.
    1  Samuel 16:7


Music From the Heart



 Be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with 

psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. 

Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord

Ephesians 4:18b-19 (NIV)

(I saw a photo like this on Flickr made in a book.  I used a hymnal.  Happy Singing in Church Day.)

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Blameless Heart



I will sing of your love and justice;
    to you, Lord, I will sing praise.
 
I will be careful to lead a blameless life
    when will you come to me?
I will conduct the affairs of my house
    with a blameless heart.
 
I will not look with approval
    on anything that is vile.
I hate what faithless people do;
    I will have no part in it.
 
The perverse of heart shall be far from me;
    I will have nothing to do with what is evil.

Whoever slanders their neighbor in secret,
    I will put to silence;
whoever has haughty eyes and a proud heart,
    I will not tolerate.

My eyes will be on the faithful in the land,
    that they may dwell with me;
the one whose walk is blameless
    will minister to me.

No one who practices deceit
    will dwell in my house;
no one who speaks falsely
    will stand in my presence.

Psalm 101:1-7 (NIV)

David was serious about keeping his house clean and that started from within himself.  He had his share of sin and was brought to his knees in repentance.  From that point on, he realized that that everything had to change--a far-reaching change that permeated his heart, his house, his city and me.  I'm still learning from David.

Friday, February 8, 2013

My Heart's Eyes

Photo attribution : http://www.flickr.com/photos/ngmmemuda/4036925475/

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people,
Ephesians 1:18

I love the wording in this verse (that I jotted down last summer) and just happened on this photo while browsing the "heart" photos in the Creative Commons on Flickr.  The photographer obviously used photoshop but I can't read Spanish so I'm not sure.  I HAD to use it to illustrate this scripture.
I believe The Message ((MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson) has the best interpretation of this verse as restated here in context.

That’s why, when I heard of the solid trust you have in the Master Jesus and your outpouring of love to all the followers of Jesus, I couldn’t stop thanking God for you—every time I prayed, I’d think of you and give thanks. But I do more than thank. I ask—ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory—to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for his followers, oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him—endless energy, boundless strength.
Ephesians 1:15-19 

We can live without many of our organs or parts of our body but we cannot live without a heart.  Without it we die.  We consider the heart as the seat of our emotions and affections, thus the use of heart-shaped candy boxes and cards, etc. on Valentine's Day.  However, I think that the scribes of God's word considered the word "heart" to be our intellect, our ability to reason--thus, "the eyes of the heart."




Thursday, February 7, 2013

Rock Collection



Today, 
if you hear his voice,
 do not harden your hearts.
Hebrews 4:7

Since it is February, the love month, I decided to post pictures of hearts.  Being a collector of outdoor goodies, I thought that a collection of rock hearts would be fun.  So, on our walks I've been looking for them and Voila!, I found a few because the path we travel everyday is covered with gravel.  Above is a photo of part of my collection. (By the way, my husband cannot understand my need of such things but was helping me look anyway--sweet man of mine.)

I think God has a collection of rock-hard hearts in his pocket.  He's waiting for them to melt so He can mold them into the purpose for which He has designed them. 
 It took many years for me to realize that my life would only count for God if I listened to His Word and molded my life around it.  I stated Christian citizenship yet my life was far from it.  As I aged, I also realized that I missed many opportunities for serving the King because I was too proud, too busy, too cute, too professional, too mother-y, too friend-y, too-- well, just selfish.  I'm feeling better about my heart now that a portion of my heart is moldable.
I'm still working on the other part.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Sweet Words

Photo attribution here

How sweet are your words to my taste,
    sweeter than honey to my mouth!
Psalm 119:103

I'm never disappointed when opening God's Word.  It puts a good taste in my mouth and allows me to have hope and joy.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Wise Heart

Photo attribution here.


My son, if your heart is wise,
    then my heart will be glad indeed;
my inmost being will rejoice
when your lips speak what is right.
Proverbs 23:14-16

This is such a cool photo.  It reminds me that God is always watching in love.  I'm imagining that He has sketched a love note for us here.  
 He's not always pleased with us, however, because of our words and actions.  I want God to be pleased with me and His Word teaches me how to do that.  Every day I find new nuggets of wisdom and evidence of his love for me, however, many of his promises come with stipulations such as the one above.  Our words are so important to Him.  I have to put my "importance" behind me and concentrate on speaking what is right--or not speaking at all.  Sometimes that is what is right.
    

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Seeking Hearts


Let the hearts of those who seek the Lord


rejoice.

Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name;
    make known among the nations what he has done.
Sing to him, sing praise to him;
tell of all his wonderful acts.
Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.
Look to the Lord and his strength;
seek his face always.

1 Chronicles16:8-11

Last year I decided to decorate all those little hearts.  It was soon after that time that we put our house on the market and then began the swirl of sorting through my stuff, giving some away and putting some in auction.  The only things I've created since have been a few scarves to accent my wardrobe.  I miss creating pretty things like the above little heart.  I don't even know where it is now.  As my life has changed over the past year, I have followed the words above: "Let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.  Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always."  We solemnly sought the Lord on a regular basis as we decided the right time to leave our beloved church family.  We've had to depend on the Lord's strength as we remodeled our rental house and made it our own.  Some days we were fresh out of strength and knew without a doubt that God was our provider.  We've seen God's hand in our lives as he has given us our "daily bread" in the multitude of ways we've used our musical abilities in the past few months.  It has not been easy but each adventure has been a gift.  We are nothing without Him.  Thank you, Lord, for continuing to count us worthy enough to live a while longer to serve you.

 

Sunday, February 3, 2013

My Heart is in the Rock

Photo attribution:  Klearchos Kapoutisis on Flickr


Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor depend on God;
he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Trust in him at all times, you people;
pour out your hearts to him,
for God is our refuge.


Psalm 62:6-8


Saturday, February 2, 2013

Thinking About the Heart of Things

Heart Thoughts Small Journal
photo from personal files

It is a land the Lord your God cares for; the eyes of the Lord your God are continually on it from the beginning of the year to its end. So if you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today—to love the Lord your God and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul then I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and olive oil.

Deuteronomy 11:12-14

God speaks to us throughout the Bible of His continual care.  We do have conditions, however, if we are to receive it.  Our whole being is to be absorbed in Him.  He is to be our Heart Thought.
I'm grateful to God for another year of life.  He has been my sword and shield this year, the ever-present source of help and comfort.  I've needed Him so much and look forward to another year to serve Him.


Friday, February 1, 2013

With All My Heart


The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
Deuteronomy 6:4-5

I thought I'd start February 2013, my birthday month, with photos of hearts and a reminder of who is to be our first love.

It snowed in West Tennessee last night!  I searched for a photo of a heart drawn in the snow on flickr but couldn't find one so I just drew one myself on our back deck.  Here's the proof we actually have snow at times.  It's so strange because just two days ago it was 70 degrees and now it's 20. I love surprises.  Thank you, Lord.