The Olive Leaves: “Expressions”- Part III

Would YOU do it?

Stop & abandon EVERYTHING that fills your normal routine; quit your day job and do the crazy thing? Well, that is just what this one man did, without question.  Without argument. Without hesitation.  Genesis 6 tells us that God came  to Noah and told him that the  earth was filled with too much violence and He is going to destroy the people and the earth; He told Noah to build an ark to save his family.

Why Noah?

“Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD….Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God.” Genesis 6:8 & 9. Can you  imagine what it might be like to be found in God’s favor! Can you imagine what it might feel like  to be considered blameless among all the other many, many people around you!

 So what was Noah’s response?

“By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family.” (Hebrews 11:7a) “Noah did everything just as God commanded him.” (Genesis 6:22).

What faith Noah had!  

He was so in tune with God… so in sync… he accepted the insanely crazy job asked of him and did it exactly as he was told.  Noah listened and obeyed.  That simply.

Talk about close walking with God!

I imagine Noah suffered criticism, and antagonistic jeering….perhaps persecution even…known as the “crazy lunatic” in town(?).  Yet, it also seems obvious that none of that matter to him.   He was confident in his actions because he had such a strong faith in God. Olive leaves seem appropriate to represent Noah. Lakesides Moms 021 We know that Noah did successfully build the ark and that the flood and destruction did come upon the people and the earth.  We know that after the flood a dove brought back an olive branch as a sign that the waters were dissipating and soon Noah and his family could get back onto dry land.

Olive leaves represent the promise upheld by God; the reward of listening, obeying, and walking close with Him. God saved Noah’s family.

We can see clearly that Enoch, Abel, and Noah each enjoyed a close and intimate walk with God and each were seen as righteous men, standing out from the others around them.  We see that God often asks His people to do things IN faith and, despite the cost of walking in faith, God always has a faithful response.

To Enoch, he gave eternal fellowship in heaven and spared him the suffering that goes along with dying.

To Abel, he spoke well of him and he gave him a legacy.

To Noah, he saved Noah & his family from destruction and gave them the honor of starting the human race afresh.

I love the pattern of God’d faithfulness!

No matter what He calls us to do in  faith…no matter what it might cost us…He always has a faithful response and rewards us for our faith in HIM.

I am left desiring a closer walk with God…aren’t you?

Walk the Walk : “Expressions” – Part IV posting tomorrow.

The Rock: “Expressions” – Part II

What was the murder weapon?

Having just my imagination…I am assuming it was something just like a rock – if not a rock itself!

Lakesides Moms 015 Motive? Jealously.  Green eyed jealousy for sure. This is what happened: “By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did.” Hebrews 11:4 That’s it. Simple right action before GOD.  Abel knew what was pleasing to God. “…Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock” Genesis 4:4a It was Abel’s faith in God that enabled him to be willing to give of his first fruits.  No questions asked.  He just did it.  He honored God and worshiped God with his offering and it pleased God. “By faith, he was commended a righteous man, when God spoke well of his offerings.  And by faith he still speaks, even though he is dead.”  Hebrews 11:4b

Imagine being commended by God?

Imagine being spoken well of by God?

As Enoch did….I am sure Abel did.

Abel surely must have had  a close walk with God too!

But what a cost!

Our Faith always comes with a cost.  It may be time, energy, money, relationships, inconvenience, criticism….

For Abel? It was death.  His faith in his offering brought him death.

And yet…

Scripture says “he still speaks.”

God, in His revealing in the scriptures, gave Abel as an example for us to follow today.

He gave Abel a legacy.

I sit back and wonder….

Is my faith righteous before God?

Do I offer my first fruits in honor and worship of God?

Is my walk in faith so pleasing to God?

So, I leave in pondering again…

What have been the costs of my faith walk?  Am I willing to express in faith and take on the costs?

This is the second glimpse into my sharing at Lakeside Christian Camp this past weekend.

Part III, tomorrow: Olive Leaves!

The Sandal – “Expressions” Part I

In my minds eye I see: The two leaned in and exchanged words. Only a murmur could be heard as they spoke in hushed tones.  Intense in their conversation, they paid no attention to anyone else around them.  Focused and committed, it was obvious the two were close friends! Out of the murmur came a belly – felt laugh.  Bursting forth with animation, the two laughed util the tears fell!  Holding their sides, their guffaws subsided and they began to take notice of the passer-by’s and walked for a moment in contented silence.

Comfortable.

Confident.

They walked.  And walked.

Every day they walked together.

They?  Who were they?

One was God, himself….the other was Enoch.

Do you know him?

His story is found in the book of Hebrews.  This is what was said of him: “By faith, Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death…God had taken him away.  For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God.”  Hebrews 11:5 Here’s where the sandal comes into the picture. Lakesides Moms 017 The Sandal represents Enoch and his walk with God.  It is clearly inferred that Enoch had a close walk with God and that pleased Him.  And as Enoch walked closely with God, he surely acted in a way that pleased God.  Sooooo much so…. God could not resist and just took him. Where?  To the heavenly realms. Why?  for eternal fellowship with God.

CAN. YOU. IMAGINE?

My mouth hangs open in thought for a moment!

What kind of  walk that must have been!

And then, I take a look at my own walk…..

how does it compare?

“And without faith it is impossible to please God….” Hebrews 11:6a

The next questions beg to ask… how strong is my faith?   How am I expressing my faith?   Am I pleasing God? And so I leave that to pondering. For me. For you…. This is a glimpse at Part I of what I shared this past weekend with about 70 women at the Lakeside Christian Camp and Conference Center in Pittsfield, MA.

Stay tuned for Part II & III & IV of this sharing!

47 Things on Thursday: T.G.I.F

Do you gear up and quote the familiar saying?

T.G.I.F.

Well everyone knows the meaning:  Thank God it’s Friday!

 Exuberance.  Relief.  Anticipation.

All these feelings describe the end-of-the-week-mentality and thankfulness that there will be 2 days to enjoy, separated from the work week.

Too soon however, the dreaded MONDAY lurks around the corner bringing about the sobering reality, on Sunday night, that forces us to get organized and prepare for the work week ahead.  You know what I mean…yes?

Two years ago, Chemo Mondays were always a drag for me –  dreaded beyond dread.  After several weeks of the routine, the side effects were predictable.  My body would meld into the couch and I would almost become the very fabric of the structure upon which I lay.  Fighting with every ounce of energy I had to survive these treatments, I could barely move.

My heart longed for healing and restoration.  Both my needs and the needs of my family were mumbled somewhere in between my moans and groans.  Often the requests lay deep in the recesses of my heart as unsaid desires.

YET. The LORD sustained and answered because He

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and

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He cares because each of us are HIS. Those who love Him, we are HIS children.  And like a mother, deeply and instinctively drawn to the loving care of her child, so is the LORD God, drawn to care for each one of us, especially when we are down so low that we can only mumble and desire. He knows what we need.  He cares.

“As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you;” Isaiah 66:13a

Do you have a desire deep inside your heart that you have been too weak to utter?  Take comfort in knowing that the LORD knows; He knows what’s in our heart before we even speak it.  We do not need long and lengthy, perfectly articulated words.

“…for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”  Matthew 6:8b

Have you been so overwhelmed that your words are mumbled?  Do you think you are not heard?  Think again.  God hears and He is preparing to meet your needs on all levels in a way that will grow you, fill you, and strengthen your faith.

“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19

God’s riches are too abundant for us to comprehend.  Yet, when we submit ourselves to resting in the LORD to answer and care, we can have the same T.G.I.F. mentality:

Exuberance. Relief. Anticipation.

Picture it.  Assume it. Claim it.

WHY?

Because He is

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and He desires us to be exuberant over the fact that He is both willing and able to bless us and care for us.

He desires us to feel and know that relief that comes when we trust in Him.

and He desires us to anticipate with faith, that He will always and forever be our one and only source of true sustaining power.

T.G.I.F

I take liberty to re-define the quote:  Thank God it’s Forever!

“For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.”  Psalm 100:5

We are not in for a two day hiatus — we are in for a lifetime of receiving God’s loving care….from here to eternity.

Tuesday Tidbit: I Did This on Purpose.

Where is the head of your bed?

Most people have the head of their beds against a wall.  I do not.  The head of my bed is in the middle of the room; it sits somewhat like an island.  As I lay upon my bed, I have direct viewing out a double set of windows which face east.  The morning sunshine pours in through the glass and tickles my face with a very pleasant, “good morning!”

Slowly I open my eyes and a contented smile comes over my face and I cannot resist the moment of thanking God for my cozy bed, the warm sun, and the new day.

 I did this on purpose.  I chucked all conventional rules of room arranging and specifically positioned my bed in this particular way so that I could always greet each day with a view out the windows at the tree tops and the sky.  Day or night, it is pleasing.  And, I feel peace.

The tidbit is this: We have to purpose ourselves and specifically arrange ourselves to turn toward the Lord Jesus Christ, author and perfecter of our faith.  Day or night, He is pleasing.  He is our Peace.

As the familiar old chorus calls us: “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.”

…listen to this:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nO4uIyz_d90

Can you agree these are troubled times we live in?  And, there are troubled times sure to continue to come.  All the more reason to chuck conventional plodding along in this life, and TURN to face the Son….and be delighted as He shines into your every new day! 

47 Things on Thursdays: Yes,We May Grimace…

The Judgment Free Zone exists! Planet Fitness declares it on their walls in four foot tall letters. Yet, my wonder wanders.

The myriad of people range in age and size and intensity of energy.  I wonder at the stories behind each one.  Is it vanity or health that drives them to press on?  Maybe it is both. In my case it is a little of both.  I want to look good to my husband and to myself as I look in the mirror. And, I’m recovering – trying to win back my body from the ravages of cancer.  I want good health.

This is my purpose.  This is why I don new sneakers, leave the comfort of my home, and push myself to learn how to operate the odd looking contraptions that tell me I will strengthen my muscles and re-shape my figure if I continue using them.

Two evenings ago after such an adventure on the many contraptions, using the phraseology of my young son, I sweat-ed!  I have not sweat-ed in a very long time….A smile altered my countenance and I felt a Hoorah! creep up inside me. Change is on the way.

This is my purpose isn’t it?  To change. To reshape. To make better.  I press on for the benefit of my overall health – physical and emotional.  I’ll be happier.  And if I am happier with myself and my body, then my husband will no doubt be happier as well.  It’s a win-win situation!  A boost for our relationship.

Pressing on means hard work doesn’t it?  Of course it does.  As I wander with my eyes, I can see it on the faces of those around me sharing in the exercise adventure.  Grimaces, quiet exhales of breath, pained expressions accompanied by droplets of perspiration are found no matter where I set my vision.  Everyone is pressing on to some degree.  Pushing themselves on purpose – for a purpose.

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I am triggered to wonder and wander to the question: what is God’s purpose for us?  Especially, what is God’s purpose when He allows hard things into our lives?  He allowed cancer and its ugly side effects into my life.  For why?  For what? Certainly He has allowed hard things into your life as well.

Be assured, GOD has  PURPOSE in what He allows and he has a plan for each of us to be changed, reshaped, and made better.  He presses on with His work so that we are given opportunity to press on in our work; our work is the exercising of trust and faith in God.  Romans 8:28 & 29 declare, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son,…”

Did you catch God’s purpose?  He desires us to be conformed to the image of his Son!  This is hard work, not for God, but for us to endure the trials and the difficult struggles.  We must push ourselves!  Yes, we may grimace, we may quietly exhale (although I have exhaled with a wailing guttural voice at times!).  We may have pained expressions and perspiration on our brow.  I urge you my friend to push yourself and use the odd contraptions — exercise trust and faith in your difficult trial.

For why?  For the purpose of being conformed to the image of His Son, Jesus.

For what?  For the glory of God.

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The gym fosters change for our physical body which in turn helps our emotional body.  The enduring of hard trials and exercising of trust and faith in God fosters change in our spiritual body.  In God’s purpose, for God’s purpose, with God’s purpose we are made better and we will be happier in Him. God is happier as we choose to press on with faith and trust in Him and become conformed.  It’s a win-win situation!  A boost for our relationship with God.

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Join me again next Thursday!   And don’t forget about Tuesday Tidbits…. next Tuesday I will share with you ways to learn contentment.