Devotions from My Garden: Soil Samples

Last year, I decided to expand my back garden by about two feet.  This grand scheme seemed urgently necessary.  My daughters had been begging me to grow tomatoes and cucumbers so we could “eat our own food” and my garden was packed full already.

Besides that, my girls live on strawberries and I had, in a moment of frugal inspiration, decided that growing our own berries would be cheaper than paying someone else to grow them for me.

Within a year, those determined little strawberry plants muscled in like they owned the whole joint.  They spread into every corner and began popping up in random unclaimed territory.

We needed more room.

So, I bought some inexpensive garden fencing, pulled on my gardening shoes and rolled up my sleeves for the job ahead.  I figured I’d dig a little and then plant and mulch.  In about two hours I’d be kicking back with a lemonade and surveying the finished product.

It only took one shovel dug down into the dirt to realize this may have been a bad idea.  At the very least, it would take much more work than I planned in order to create my idyllic backyard Eden.

Apparently, only about the first half inch of earth was actual dirt.  After that it wasn’t so much soil as pebbles, clay, and yes, even broken up blocks of cement.

This was not good earth.

It took intense digging out of the old mess, which had me on Motrin for a week afterwards to combat the back, leg and arm pain.  Then I dumped in bags of topsoil, manure, and fertilizer and mixed it all around to form an “earth soup” of sorts.

That was all just prep work before I planted and mulched, fenced in the area, and then kicked back to enjoy a cup of hot tea before bed time since my morning job had turned into an all-day project.

The truth is sometimes we God has to get down and dirty in our lives, too, digging out the pebbles, clay, and even cement that hinder what He intends to grow.

In the Parable of the Sower, Jesus reminded his disciples that there are different types of soil—people who are variably receptive to God’s Word.

The seed is scattered on:

  • Hard road with no growth: Some people are like the seed that falls on the hardened soil of the road. No sooner do they hear the Word than Satan snatches away what has been planted in them
  • Shallow Soil: And some are like the seed that lands in the gravel. When they first hear the Word, they respond with great enthusiasm. But there is such shallow soil of character that when the emotions wear off and some difficulty arrives, there is nothing to show for it.
  • Weedy Ground: The seed cast in the weeds represents the ones who hear the kingdom news but are overwhelmed with worries about all the things they have to do and all the things they want to get. The stress strangles what they heard, and nothing comes of it.
  • Good Earth: But the seed planted in the good earth represents those who hear the Word, embrace it, and produce a harvest beyond their wildest dreams (Mark 4:14-20, MSG).

This is a challenge to us as we share the Gospel with others.  Sometimes we are frustrated with a lack of growth and we keep shoving seeds into the soil.  We get pushy about it, edgy, and feel as if everything depends on us.

Yet, God patiently engages in intense soil preparation long before we see the first shoots of green push out of the earth.

This isn’t just about others, though. It’s also about the quality of the earth in our own lives.

The seed in the shallow soil and the weedy ground began to grow—a relationship with God had sprouted.  Yet when the initial emotional highs and excitement faded, the shallow-rooted plants didn’t last.  Then there’s the weedy ground where the sprouts of life were choked out by stress and busyness.

I’m content to live with weeds too much of the time, too “overwhelmed with worries about all the things I have to do” to stop and listen, receive, and act on the work God is doing.

So, He pulls out a shovel and starts digging out my mess of pebbles and cement.  He pours in fertilizer and rich dirt.  Then He yanks out the crabgrass and clover threatening to choke out life.

It’s like when you have all these plans and scheduled activities and your daughters get sick one . . . after . . . . the . . . . other, staking a claim to the couch and a bucket.

Instead of rushing here and there, I’ve pulled my most comfortable sweatshirt over my head and my favorite white socks on my feet.  I’ve brushed my hair back into a loose ponytail.

I’m prepping soup for the Crock Pot and bread for hot ham and cheese for the perfect dinner on a cool, gray and rainy day.

I’m cleaning up messes and  destroying germs with Lysol and Clorox.

And I’ve settled down at the kitchen table ready to sit with God for a while.  He’s been pulling weeds out of my life this week.  That means changing my plans and interrupting my schedule.

It also means, He’s trying to make something beautiful grow.

What’s He doing in your life?

Is He reminding you not to give up on others and what appears to be the hardened soil of their heart?

Is He asking you to dig your roots deeper in the ground so that you won’t topple over at the slightest wind or dry spell?

Is He yanking out some weeds that have been choking out His work in your heart?

It’s time to let the Master Gardener work unhindered so that we can become good earth and “produce a harvest beyond (our) wildest dreams.”

Here’s What I’m Making For Dinner:

More Devotions From My Garden:

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King

You Know Me

My first year as a teacher, I taught computers to all the students in grades one through seven at a Christian school.  Altogether, that was a little less than 200 kids, each with a unique name (sometimes particularly unique) and God-given personality.

I was determined to know all of them.  I made up name cards for the kids, designed seating charts, and quizzed myself with each class’s roster.

To me, it was worth it.  When I called a child by name and remembered her favorite things, it made her feel special and loved.

After school one Friday night during that first year, my husband and I strolled along in the local mall and stopped into the Christian bookstore where a little girl bounced along among the books and Veggie Tales videos.  She was one of my first grade students!  Seeing me, she ran over and gave me a hug.

Then, she looked up at me in confusion and asked, “Do you work here?”

“No, sweetie, I work at the school.  I’m just visiting the store like you are.”

She knew that she knew me.  She knew that she liked me well enough to give me a hug.  Yet, out of the context of the school, she couldn’t quite figure me out.

Don’t we all long to be known: really and truly, deep down and without disguise or dissembling . . . known?  We roll along happily enough, perhaps, and then we stop in the silence of a moment and question whether anyone in this world truly gets us.

Or maybe we hold onto deep secrets that we are too frightened to share with anyone for fear that they will know us and then they’ll reject us.  Anonymity may make us feel lonely, but at least we’re safe.

That’s one of the beauties of God, though.  He knows us and He loves us.

It’s a miracle we overlook so much of the time even though we’re miracle-watchers.  We rejoice over incredible healings and provision at just the right time.  We give God glory, appropriately, for the ways He shows off in our lives and in the lives of others.  He is worthy of our praise.

But who stands up on testimony Sunday at church and gives thanks for the miracle that God knows each of us through and through, personally, and passionately?

He–Almighty God—knows our name and even the names we dreamed up for our kids when we played house as seven-year-old girls.

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
     I have called you by name, you are mine (Isaiah 43:1b, ESV).

He—Creator of the Universe—keeps track of the hairs that we yanked loose onto our hairbrush this morning in our rush to pull back our ponytail.

Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Luke 12:7).

He—Alpha and Omega—knows what you say and the words you manage to hold back by biting your tongue.  He knows when your smile is genuine and when it’s just a distraction to hide pain.

“O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether” (Psalm 139:1-4, ESV).

It’s the miracle of knowing and loving.  It’s the miracle that caught Nathaniel’s attention in John 1.

Nathaniel didn’t believe Philip’s announcement that they’d found the Messiah.  He shrugged it off as news of just another false teacher.  This guy came from Nazareth of all places—a small insignificant town unworthy of a Savior!

Still, Nathaniel plodded along after Philip, accepting the invitation to “come and see” this religious teacher who did a pretty decent Messiah imitation.

Then, Jesus saw Nathanael headed His way and said, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” (John 1:47).

Nathaniel was shocked.  “How do you know me?” he asked.

Maybe this was the question of a skeptic.  A modern-day Nathaniel could very well say, “Who are you to act as if you know me?  Who are you to announce who I am and what I’m like.  You don’t know me!  You’ve never even met me!”

Jesus didn’t back down. He said, “‘Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.’  Nathaniel answered him, ‘Rabbi, you are the Son of God!  You are the King of Israel!”  (John 1:48-49, ESV).

“I saw you there, Nathaniel, and I discerned your deepest thoughts.  I know you.”

He knows you also and He loves you.

Not only that, He invites you to know Him.  For Nathaniel, this meant promising that “You will see greater things than these . . . you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man” (John 1:50-51).

David, the Psalmist who marveled that God who perceived his every thought and the inner workings of his heart, and saw him even when he was an unborn babe in his mother’s womb, also exclaimed:

How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
    How vast is the sum of them! (Psalm 139:17).

We’re never a face in the crowd to our God or the mysterious wallflower hanging out on the outskirts of the ballroom.  Instead, we rejoice in the miracle of being known and we respond to this passionate love by seeking to know Him, as well.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King

Weekend Walk, 02/25/2012

Hiding the Word:

My small group is reading through the Bible this year and we’ve made it to Leviticus.

(Insert audible groaning here.)

Most of the time, people complain about Leviticus being boring.  Or maybe they rejoice in its soporific side effects.  It has, after all, been the solution of many a person’s insomnia.

Whenever I read this book of the priestly laws God gave to Moses, however, I’m not as likely to say, “how boring,” as I am to say, “Ewwww . . . . gross!”

Leviticus with its gory splattering and smearing of blood from sacrifices and its detailed discussion of fungi, bodily discharges, and skin rashes is hardly comfortable reading.

But it’s really not meant to make me comfortable.  Leviticus, if anything, is designed to make me uncomfortable with the law and the sacrificial system.  It’s to remind us that we just can’t ever be pure enough to meet God’s holy standard.

We’d need constant sacrifices, ritual cleanings, and a priest all up in our personal business just to keep us from dropping dead in the outer ring of the tabernacle courtyard.

That’s why as I read Leviticus I am giving thanks and praise for our Savior, Jesus Christ, who became our once-for-all sacrifice.

Not only that, I’m flipping my Bible over to the New Testament book of Hebrews chapter 10, which tells us:

And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

 And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.  (Hebrews 10:10, 14).

This week, I’ll be meditating on verse 14 and giving thanks to Jesus for sacrificing so that I can be sanctified.

Weekend Rerun:

I Choose to Obey
Originally published 03/14/2011

“Therefore, my brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you.  Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain”
(1 Corinthians 15:58).

Today is piano lesson day in my house.  I stopped giving lessons to other students when my youngest daughter was born, but I still teach my older girls once a week.  At times, this may seem like a raw deal to my daughters, having a teacher there not just for lessons, but for practice time, as well.  They might not fully appreciate me hovering over their shoulders and correcting their mistakes all week.  I change their hand positions when they shift their fingers too far.  I show them the right notes when they stray to a wrong key.  I remind them of the OTHER song they were supposed to practice this week, not just the song they really like.

In many ways, me being their mom and their teacher has been helpful, not just because I make sure they practice the songs the right way all week long, but also because I’m there to encourage them each day to keep going and not give up.

In the beginning, my oldest daughter asked me to quit about once a week.  Any time she got a new song that was just a little bit harder than the last one, she thought it was a good time to give up.  One minute, she would be super excited about mastering her old lesson, playing it 20 times so I can hear how great she is, and then I’d turn the page to a new song.  Some new notes.  A new hand position.  A new skill.  And she’d be discouraged and a little afraid.  She’d tell me that what she had learned was enough , that she was a great piano player because of how well she could play “Old MacDonald,” so there was clearly no need to play “Aura Lee.”

But, I’m her teacher and mom and I know better.  I know the new song isn’t too hard and that if she just gave it one good practice session, she’d regain confidence. Within a week she’d have mastered it and be ready for something new.  So, I tell her, “Don’t give up.  Keep trying.  You can do it.  The best things in life take hard work and the effort is worth it.”

Today, I feel like giving up.  I’ve looked around at where I’m at and how hard it is, and I’ve thought, “I’ve gone far enough.  I’ve exerted enough effort.  It’s just too costly and time-consuming and emotionally draining and I think I need to stop.  Take a vacation.  Escape.  Quit and do something easier.  Settle for something less.  Did you really call me to this?  Did I hear correctly or am I just off doing my own thing?  I just can’t do this anymore, God.  I’m not seeing any results, blessing or reward, so this just doesn’t seem worth it.”

Have you been there?

Have you changed your 13th diaper for a morning and thought, “I’m over this.  I’m done.   Nine months old sounds like a perfectly reasonable time to potty train.”

Have you listened to yet another fight between your kids and wanted to scream and just shut the door and hide until your husband comes home?

Have you washed every dish and bit of clothing in your house only to find the sink and hampers filled by the evening and just been totally overwhelmed by the endlessness of it all?

Have you given everything you had in ministry only to see little tangible result and watched as someone else seemed to reap success with little effort, so you just want to pack it in?

Have you worked hard to get out of debt or saved to put money aside, only to face a totally unexpected bill or rising gas prices that cut into your budget, and find that you’re never any closer to your goals no matter how hard you work or cut expenses?  And you think, “What’s the point.  Why am I trying so hard?”

But, God’s our Teacher and our Father and He knows better.

He knows that sometimes we grow tired and weary and that in those moments, it’s hard to remember the vision He gave us or the call He placed on our hearts.  He knows we just want to escape sometimes and curl up in His lap for comfort and rest, but He encourages our hearts by telling us, “Don’t give up.  Don’t run away now, not when you’re so close to the reward.  It is worth it; it is all worth it.  Just take another step, go a little further.”

Today, I’ve felt a little like John the Baptist just before the end of his life.  This man had boldly proclaimed the coming Messiah, publicly baptized Jesus and personally witnessed the Holy Spirit descending like a dove with God’s voice from heaven proclaiming, “This is My Son, in whom I am well pleased.   It may seem like if anyone in Scripture had the assurance of his calling and confidence in his ministry, it was John.

Yet, when John was in prison, he sent some of his followers to Jesus to ask, “‘Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” (Matthew 11:2, NIV).

As he sat in that prison, preparing for death, John must have begun to wonder, “Was it worth it?  Did I put everything on the line for the truth or for a lie?  Should I just give up?  Did I hear wrong from God?  Should I have stayed in the desert and never stood before a crowd to preach at all?  Was this guy even the Messiah or has this all been for nothing?”

So, Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see:  The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor” (Matthew 11:4-5, NIV).   Jesus didn’t just send back a message of platitudes and inspirational quotes.  He gave John concrete evidence and specific reminders that God was at work and that it was all true and worth it.  Just like I tell my daughter at the piano, “Remember when you couldn’t play this song?  Now you can.  Remember when playing with hands together was hard?  Now it’s easy.”  I give her tangible signs of progress and success.

God gives us encouragement for those days when we question our call and think giving up sounds a whole lot better than persevering.

  • “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58, NIV).
  • “But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded” (2 Chronicles 15:7, NIV).
  • “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9, NIV).

These Scriptures remind me that it’s worth it, all the effort and sacrifice and heartache and time.  There’s a reward and blessing at the end of this as long as I don’t give up.  But, I can’t stop here.  I have to keep going, step after step after step. Even though I can’t see the end result, I can trust that to God.  All I can see is now and in this moment, I choose to obey.

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Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King

My Life As A Super Model

I was so proud of my first grader.  Really, it was one of those Mom moments when you’re just about busting at the seams with pride.

She had done such an incredible job on her first ever school project (good old Flat Stanley—remember him from this post?), that the teacher showed it around to the school staff and administration.  They decided to record her class presentation and air it on the school morning news program.

Of course, I was excited to see her “performance,” so the teacher very sweetly sent home a recording of her presentation when it was done.

And I about died.

My daughter clearly explained all about her project and what she learned.  Then she started talking about the different places we visited in our town and what she did there.

Pointing to a picture of our local Visitor Center, she said, “This is where people go when they are visiting Gloucester and find out all about it.  Only my mom said we couldn’t go in there because it has stuff that is too valuable and we might break the valuable stuff.”

Wait.  What did I say?

I mean, did those words really come out of my mouth?

And did she in fact tell the entire school population, teachers, staff and administration what I said?

Okay, maybe I remember telling my kids that we should probably skip going inside the Visitor Center and go somewhere with more space and fewer fragile knick-knacks that I couldn’t afford to pay for if we broke them.

After all I have three children, each with two hands.  That’s a lot of hands to keep under control when you walk into a small shop with eye-catching, breakable objects everywhere.

So, maybe I did say that.

This was an unmistakable reminder to me that being a mom makes me a super model.

By that I don’t mean I’m a highly made-up elegant fashionista strutting her stuff in 5-inch heels on a runway.

No, I’m the kind of super model who has three little women-of-God-in-training taking notes on everything I say and do.  Not only that, my biggest fans aren’t afraid to share my “words of wisdom” with the world around them.

That’s a pretty big crowd looking to see me show off my God fashion.

We are all walking, talking models for somebody.  Someone on this earth is watching you.  Maybe your kids.  Maybe your unsaved husband.  Perhaps it’s your coworkers or the girls in your small group.  It’s the neighbors.  It’s your friends.

That’s enough to make me shake in my boots (well, canvas sneakers.  Remember, I’m not that kind of super model).

What responsibility!

What privilege!

What trust God has placed in us, allowing us to be the earthly representatives of Him and His Son!  Unfortunately, how often we let Him down and mar His name with the grime of our own sin, selfishness, and mistakes.

For Jesus, this wasn’t a problem.  He never failed His Father or misrepresented grace to the world.  When Philip asked Jesus, “Lord, show us the Father,” Jesus’ answer was clear: “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father . . .Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?  The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does His works” (John 14:8, 9-10).

Those who saw Jesus walking and talking on earth saw God face to face.  We who only “see” Him in Scripture, can still see God’s intense compassion and shocking grace all over the Gospels.

We, however, are mistake-makers.  We’re fumblers.  We’re sometimes going to trip and fall down this runway.  So, it’s okay to be honest with the world and tell them that’s why we need a Savior—because we’re not perfect.  We’re not God.

But it’s also reason to work harder at this modeling gig we’ve been given and to keep in mind as we speak and act, that people are looking to see Jesus in us.

I personally am looking to Scripture for some super models of my own to emulate–like Mary, the teenage mother of Jesus Christ.  When Gabriel appeared to her with the overwhelming news that she, a virgin betrothed to Joseph, was going to have a baby who would be the Messiah and Savior of His people, she responded with submission and praise.

The song she sings after receiving God’s news is called the Magnificat and is found in Luke 1:46-55.  In her song, Mary refers to 12 different passages of Old Testament Scripture.  Twelve Scripture references in ten verses. . ..  now there’s a woman of the Word.

Even more importantly, we see her legacy of Bible knowledge in her kids.  When Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness, He quoted Scripture to defeat the devil’s lies.

Sure, we can say, of course Jesus knew God’s Word.  After all, He was divine!

But it wasn’t just Jesus.  Mary’s other son, James, wrote a book of the Bible that is often called the “Proverbs of the New Testament.” Within five chapters, James talks about Job, Elijah, Rahab and Abraham.  He refers to the books of Isaiah, Amos, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus and Deuteronomy.

In fact, his extensive references to Leviticus 19 have led some people to consider the book of James a commentary on this Old Testament passage.

He was a man of the Word.  Jesus was a teacher of the Word.  But, should we surprised?

After all, Mary, their super model mom, was a woman who loved Scripture.  That’s what her sons could learn from her.

What can others learn from you in your life as a super model?

You can read more devotionals on this topic here:

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King

Taste and See

If you heard the rumblings of the apocalypse at around 6:00 p.m. last Saturday night . . . that was me.

To be more accurate, it emanated from my home after I did something shocking.

I cooked two new recipes for dinner.  Not one experimental dish, but two.  In the same day.  For the same meal.

How did the world not end?

My oldest daughter has been getting better about trying new dishes and tasting before judging.  Even she, though, poked at the baked potato casserole with her fork like it was an animal on the side of the road and she didn’t know if it was dead or not.

“This looks gross.”  (It didn’t).

“It smells gross.”  (It didn’t.)

“I don’t like it.”

In true mom fashion, I answered, “How do you know if you haven’t tried it?”

I knew better than to serve up the potato side dish to my middle girl who never ceases to yell out, “I HATE potatoes” any time a spud threatens to come near the dinner table.  It’s as if after almost six years with the child I still need the constant reminder that potatoes on her plate cause the allergic reaction of a total meltdown.

Instead, I served up the barbecued chicken I’d made in my Crock Pot.  “I don’t like chicken.”  (She does).  “I don’t like barbecue.”  (She does.)

Eventually, I held up the tiniest shred of chicken on a fork and instead of biting it, she flicked out her tongue like a snake and licked the edge.  Then she grimaced and, in order to be truly dramatic, she actually shivered a little like it sent chills down her spine.

Because obviously that one drive-by licking was enough to judge the meal’s quality.

After the initial posturing of resistance, finally we ate and by the end of the meal, we decided it was good.  In fact, they were both recipe keepers.  Success!

Are you willing to experience God?  To do more than flick out your tongue for a Bible verse or two, a prayer in the night, a few Sundays in a pew, or a feeling of holiness during Lent?

Are you willing to give Him the chance to display His goodness through a season of difficulty and not give up on Him?

The Psalmist, filled with joy in knowing God, urged everyone around him to “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8).

It’s like he passed around a decadent piece of chocolate cake, so wonderful, so incredibly delicious, he simply couldn’t keep it to himself.

In this Psalm, though, David was encouraging more than just licking a little bit of God off the edge of a sample fork.  That’s the key to his testimony.

He wrote:

“I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.
This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him and saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them.

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!  Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! (Psalm 34:4-8).

Tasting God means seeking the Lord, looking to Him, even when we are full of fears, poor, facing troubles, and in need of deliverance.

It’s the reminder that God is good in every circumstance, in every time and place in our lives, no matter what we are going through.  But we can’t give up, shrug Him off, avoid Him, halfheartedly try Him out, or put Him in a box of limitations and expectations.

We have to let God be God.  Then we’ll see how good He is.

When we do, we just won’t be able to get enough of His goodness.  Peter wrote:

Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good (1 Peter 2:2-3, NIV). 

Tasting His goodness stirs up our God appetite. The more you read God’s Word, the more you’ll hunger and thirst for His Word.  The more you worship Him, the more you’ll long to worship Him.

Then, knowing how good God is, we just can’t keep Him to ourselves.  Just like the Psalmist, we’ll want to pass around the chocolate cake!  It will be our great testimony, even to skeptics and doubters. “Look what God did for me!  He is so good.  You have to taste and see.”

That’s exactly what Philip said to Nathaniel after discovering Jesus, the man he thought was the long-awaited Messiah.  Philip ran to Nathaniel and exclaimed, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph” (John 1:45).

Nathaniel was dubious and asked the skeptic’s question, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth.”

Philip’s answer was simple: “Come and see” (John 1:46).

If you’ve been refusing to really taste God’s goodness and reluctant to really try a relationship with Him, now is the time to seek Him.

If you’ve sunk your teeth into a relationship with Him and discovered His goodness, don’t push Him aside when difficulties arise.  Allow Him to display His goodness at all times.

If you’ve grown to love the goodness of God in your life, then feed the appetite for his presence and His Word.  You’ll never regret a few extra minutes of quiet time with a good God.

Then, share the goodness of God with others.  Live your life so that others will want to experience a relationship with Him and taste His goodness for themselves.

Recipe Links:

As much as my kids balked at first, these recipes really were delicious and the chicken was super easy to make in my Crock Pot! Here are the links:

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King

You Want Me To Pray What?

It was my baby’s first articulate prayer request for someone else.

During our nightly family prayer time, she usually doesn’t wait her turn. Whenever the Spirit moves, she just jumps in and starts talking to God, even if someone else is still pouring her heart out.

But that night, she waited for others to finish.  My daughters and I were snuggled up on the couch with our eyes closed while my husband was out for the night at rehearsal.  When my older daughters and I finished praying, we hopped up and headed to their bedroom.

She stopped us.

Holding up her little hands with two Band-Aids on her fingers, my baby girl prayed, “My fingers hurt.  Daddy come home.  Amen.”

Amen.

That night, my two-year-old took the first powerful step in an effective prayer life.  Yes, she prayed for her own little need, her two little scraped fingers that had been on her mind all afternoon.

Maybe she also wanted to show off her Mickey Mouse Band-Aids so God could see them.

But then she prayed on behalf of another—could her Daddy please come home safely and soon?

I’ve written in this space so many times that there is power in the time we spend on our knees for each other.

Yet, I’m still not sure if we truly realize the impact, the great spiritual weaponry that is ours when we intercede for those around us.

It is humblingWe say, “God, I’m overwhelmed here, but I’m not the only one.  She’s hurting also, so I choose to petition You on her behalf.”

It is faithWe say, “God, I’m going to trust my problems into Your care.  I’ve made my request.  I believe You’re going to take care of me, so I don’t need to focus only on myself.  Instead, I’m going to turn my gaze outward and lift others up.”

It is forgiving.

Wait, forgiving?  What does that have to do with anything?

Prayer for others is forgiving when we actually do what Jesus said—pray for our enemies, “pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).

I urge you to pause and consider this for more than the half second it took you to read that verse.  I never in my life realized the power of Jesus’ revolutionary call to intercession for our enemies until this year.

And it’s life-changing, I tell you.

In the past, when I was struggling with conflict, I would “pray for my enemy” with something that sounded like this:

Lord, why is he so blind?  Can’t he see that he’s in sin?  Please open his eyes and let Him know that You are God and You don’t tolerate disobedience.  Change his heart, God, and let Your Holy Spirit be heavy on him until he repents.

That seemed to qualify as praying for those who persecuted me.  Let me just check that super-spiritual box.

But Jesus’ prayer on behalf of his enemies didn’t sound anything like mine.  He asked, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).

I prayed for condemnation and Holy Spirit judgement on people who annoyed me.

Christ prayed for the blessing of forgiveness for those standing at the foot of his cross, jeering at him and waiting for him to die.

In the same way, Stephen, the first Christian martyr, prayed, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them” just as the final stones pelted his body and killed him (Acts 7:59).

Have you considered who Stephen was praying for in that moment?  One of the men standing by the coat rack cheering on the crowd was Saul—later the apostle Paul.

Stephen asked for God to forgive his persecutors and shortly afterward this same Saul sat on a roadside blinded by Jesus Christ himself, experiencing repentance and conversion.

Satan fully intends to tangle us up in bitterness and jealousy.  He wants to defeat our ministry and make us thoroughly unusable because we’re so riled up and distracted by dissension and arguments.

He just doesn’t know what to do when we pray shockingly humble prayers on behalf of others, particularly our enemies.  There’s power there.

There’s also blessing.

After Job’s long ordeal ended . . .his children dead  . . . his servants killed . . . his animals gone and his property destroyed . . . his own body covered in painful disease . . . .after all that, God spoke to Job and hushed the mouths of the “friends” who had spewed religious rhetoric and condemnation while Job sat next to them in pain.

In Sunday School class, you probably learned that God blessed Job even more than before.  Yet, the blessing wasn’t immediate.  Something had to happen first.

Scripture tells us, “After Job had prayed for his friends, the LORD restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before” (Job 42:10).

Job prayed for his so-called friends and then God blessed Job.

I’ve taken this to heart and I won’t lie to you: it is difficult, downright hard, and sometimes truly agonizing.

There are times when my blessings don’t sound like blessings.  The words I’m saying are right, but I’m forcing them out between clenched teeth.

Sometimes I need to start simple.

When I am jealous and full of envy . . .
When someone steps on my toes and hurts my feelings . . .
When someone does something I think is sinful and hurtful . . .
When a driver in the Wal-Mart parking lot drives me totally insane . . .

Then I pray for them—for blessing, for forgiveness, for their future.

I may never see the impact on their lives, but I see it in mine instantly.  God changes my heart as I humble myself, trust Him, and forgive.

You can read more devotionals on this topic here:

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King

Weekend Walk: 02/18/2012, Waiting for Domestic Inspiration

Hiding the Word:

I have this bad habit, a deep dark secret of my house-cleaning ways.

I wash the clothes, fold the clothes, put the clothes away.  The laundry is almost done.  All that remains are the persistently unmatched socks (how can all the clothes be clean and yet somehow there are solo socks?).  I also have a pile of clothes that need ironing (correction, clothes that need a tumble in the fluff cycle on my dryer).

About once a week, I push myself to actually complete this laundry mission.  Match the socks.  Fluff the wrinkly pile and hang the clothes up in the closet.

Other days, back into the dryer they go, waiting for when I have more time, more motivation, more self-discipline, more domestic inspiration, more . . . . something.

There are pieces of my life that sometimes seem stuffed in a dryer somewhere waiting for some attention.

I know that God doesn’t ignore me.  I know that I haven’t lost His attention or that He’s arbitrarily or lazily stashed me away for a day when He has more time, creativity, or inspiration.

Still, some days I feel impatient with the unfinished product and the incomplete picture.

So, my verse to meditate on and memorize this week is:

“being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus”
(Philippians 1:6).

I hope you’ll join me in meditating on this verse all week, posting it up at your stove, your desk, your car, and/or your bathroom mirror.  It’s a reminder that God’s work in us is a “good work” and He’s perpetually carrying it out in our lives.  He won’t leave us unfinished.

Weekend Rerun:

 

Strings Tied Around My Finger
Originally posted March 8, 2011

 

I had a crisis moment the other night.  When I was reading the Bible, it reminded me of something I had read and copied into my journal a few years ago.  So, I pulled out my recent journals and the one I needed was missing.

This might not seem huge to you, but it was sad and frustrating and a little worrying to me.  My journals aren’t personal diaries of my experiences and feelings.  They are records of the verses, quotes, prayers and thoughts I’ve had as God interacts with my life.  Oftentimes, I can vividly remember exactly where I was and what was happening in my life when I wrote an entry in my prayer journal.

The entry I was looking for that night was written while sitting at the Ben & Jerry’s in Yorktown, Virginia, eating a scoop of chocolate peanut butter ice cream on an incredibly sunny day.  I was struggling with some ministry issues and I copied down a quote from David Crowder’s book, Praise Habit, that encouraged me.  Of course, what really helps me remember this particular entry is the ice cream!

Losing my journal is like losing some of my testimony, the written record I keep of God at work in my life.   In the Bible, many of God’s people created monuments or kept mementos of times when God rescued them.  It was their way of remembering that God saved us then and He can save us again.

Samuel the prophet did this in 1 Samuel 7:12:  “Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the LORD has helped us.”  We often sing the hymn, Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing without realizing that when it says, “Here I raise my Ebenezer,” it’s referring to this monument Samuel created.  Literally, it means “a stone of help.”

Samuel’s stone reminded Israel of how God delivered them when they repented and returned to Him.  After rebelling against God and being punished as a result, “then all the people of Israel turned back to the LORD” (1 Samuel 7:2, NIV).  Following this new beginning, this repentance and restoration, God routed the enemy Philistines in a mighty and miraculous way.  All of Israel could see that God was faithful to save them as long as they walked in obedience.

But Samuel didn’t want the people to forget what God did in that place.  We humans are forgetful creatures.  God saves us.  We praise Him.  Things are good for a while.  Then a crisis occurs and we fret, we worry, we wonder, “Is God going to let me down this time?”

We need a string around our finger to help us remember who God is.  We need an Ebenezer, a record of what God has done, so when life is hard and we need healing and provision and intervention, we can look at the monuments of the past and say, “Look what God did for me.  He saved me here, and here, and here—-and He’ll do it again.”

That’s one reason our testimonies are so important.  It’s our way of reminding ourselves and encouraging others that God is still at work in people’s lives.  Every once in a while, our pastor takes the microphone around the church and we listen to others share, at first a little hesitantly, and then with great emotion and boldness, about how God has been real to them.   I love those Sundays because the testimony of others–their Ebenezer–reveals God to me.

The Bible is like “testimony” time to me also.  God passes the microphone around and different people share how God changed them.  Jonah gets up and says, “See, I’ve been struggling with obedience lately, but God . . .”  Sarah says, “I have something to confess.  Sometimes I like to ‘help’ God out with His plans, but God . . . “  Mary says, “I was just a really simple, God-fearing girl, but God . . . “

All these people in the Bible are broken, sinful, and imperfect, just like me, and yet they encountered God.  Their testimonies help me remember not just what God has done in my life, but what He has done in others’ lives throughout history.

Eugene Peterson wrote:

With a biblical memory, we have two thousand years of experience from which to make the off-the-cuff responses that are required each day in the life of faith.  If we are going to live adequately and maturely as the people of God, we need more data to work from than our own experience can give us.

Our lives are short.  Our experience with God is just a fraction of His activity here on earth.  So, when we look at life through the filter of our personal experiences alone, we miss out on what the Bible offers us.  By reading Scripture, we tap into 2000 years of people experiencing God.  We read the testimonies of people who lived a long time ago and find out they needed God as much as we do and He loved them and cared for them just as He loves and cares for us.

Thankfully, I found my missing journal the next day and—amazingly, if not miraculously—it was flipped open to the exact page I was looking for.

I hope you find ways this week to create Ebenezers in your life–a prayer journal,  testimony book or verse cards.  Don’t stop there, though.  Connect with other Christians who can share their testimonies, through church, small groups, community Bible studies, and by reading Christian books.  Then, dig deep into God’s Word and read it as if it were a testimony time of the saints written just for you.  All of these things will serve as strings tied around your finger, physical reminders of what God has done and what He will continue to do.

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Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King

The Winners Are. . . and Devotions from My Garden: The Storms May Come

Well, it’s the big giveaway announcement to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the blog!!!

I used a random number generator (random.org) to select two winners.  The winner of the amazing necklace and bracelet set from Rita Taylor is: Lynn Holt!!!!

The winner of the gardening gift basket is:  Theresa Nunn!!!!

Congratulations!!!  I’ll privately message each of you with more details about getting these prizes to you.  Thanks so much to all who commented, shared, and posted as part of the contest!

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Devotions From My Garden:The Storms May Come

My daffodils were a pitiful sight to see.

Duped by unseasonably warm weather, including a smattering of 70 degree days in December and January, they had poked their little green stems out of the earth early.

Too early.

By the second week of January, their yellow buds were eagerly waiting to open.  Now it’s mid-February and these early spring flowers have been in bloom for almost a month.

All this time, my daughters have been waiting, hoping, and even calling in requests to God for snow.  Our nightly family prayer time has become more like petitioning a weather man than a Holy God.

“Dear God, please let it snow and please let it be a really good snow and please let us have no school tomorrow because there’s so much snow.”

My seven-year-old explains the intricacies of the snow dance to me as taught to her by her teacher.  Apparently it involves dancing in the shower and singing at the top of your lungs for snow.

I told these snow bunnies of mine that winter weather at this point would be devastating to my lovely daffodils.  How could they survive February frosts much less the blizzard my daughters wanted?

I said, “We can have snow or we can have a pretty spring garden.  Not really both.”

They thought snow was the better option.

Meanwhile, I mourned my daffodils when a few mornings of thick frost left them wilted and droopy.  Then it snowed, a small, one-inch dusting, and I thought my flowers were doomed for sure.

This afternoon, I plodded past them on the way to the mailbox and felt the warmth of another spring-like day . . .  in February . . . and noticed that my daffodils were standing a little stronger and straighter.  They hadn’t died after all.  They hadn’t wilted away or rotted back into the ground.  They were lovely, bright, and cheerful, just as they should be.

I didn’t know how hardy they were, how strong and and able to withstand difficulty.

Sometimes we don’t know this about people, either.  We try to shield them from trials, hard times, or tough situations.

I do this with my children.  I know it.  I try to step out of the way and let them develop character and learn lessons without my intervention.  Yet, it’s hard when rescuing seems so easy.

We do this as Christians, too.  We pray away difficulty for others and ask for safety, health, blessing and goodness.  It’s not that the asking is wrong.  Jesus tells us we can ask. But, perhaps our prayers on their behalf would be more effective if we asked God to strengthen and encourage them, to walk with them through the difficult times, and to reveal Himself to them along the way.

Perhaps that’s why Paul tended to pray for the spiritual life of his fellow believers and not for their material well-being or comfort.  He didn’t end his letters with prayers for financial abundance, a new house or a better job.

Instead, he prayed, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).

He didn’t pray away hardship.  He prayed people through it.

In a similar way, we so often try to make the Christian walk sound easier than it is.  We want it to be appealing and simple.

So we sweep Jesus’ assertion that “in this world you will have trouble” under the rug and hope people just pay attention to lovely thoughts like “Jesus loves you” and “Ask and you will receive.”

It’s our Gospel filter.  We tell the stories about compassionate-Jesus, meek-and-mild-Jesus, “Blessed is everyone” Jesus, the great teacher Jesus and the famous healer-Jesus.

Jesus, however, tended to tell people the cost of discipleship.  He always knew the root issue, the stronghold, the one thing someone wouldn’t be willing to give up—and He asked for it.

Like the rich young ruler.  Jesus could have said, “Just believe in me.  You’re a great guy.  This step of faith is just going to seal the deal.”

Instead, Jesus saw the materialism in this seeker’s heart and “looking at him, loved him, and said to him, ‘You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.'” (Mark 10:21).

It says that Jesus “loved him” and out of that love, He asked for the hardest sacrifice, the one idol that would keep Christ from having lordship in his life.

In the same way, Paul and Barnabus assured early Christians that, “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).

It’s our way with people, usually, to try to shield them from frosts and from snow storms.  We think, “Surely this weather will kill their buds and destroy their blooms and their stems will rot into the ground.  They’ll never survive.”

Jesus, though, told people in advance that tough times were coming and that the Christian life was no guarantee of perpetual blessing, prosperity, or comfort.

Yet, He assured people that the sacrifice was worth it.  Yes, it might be tough, sometimes requiring the painful laying down of idols in our lives.  But Jesus would be with them, He would strengthen them, He would take them through it all and there was eternity to gain and God’s glory as a result.

It’s not that it can’t snow on the daffodils.  It’s that Christ will strengthen them for every storm.  This is true for our kids, learning tough lessons.  This is true for fellow believers, facing hard times.  This is true for non-Christians, learning the cost of discipleship.  God can care for them, even when the storms may come.

More Devotions From My Garden:

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King

Whatever You Do, Part II

Don’t forget the giveaway going on to celebrate the one-year anniversary of this blog!  You can read all about it here and posting a comment anywhere on the blog this week will enter you to win!!

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Just over a year ago, I sat at the kitchen table with my husband.  I told him that I had this insane, totally crazy idea that I couldn’t shake.

And I was trying to shake it.

“I don’t want to blog,” I said.  “I’m not a blogger.  I don’t have time to blog.  I don’t want to talk about me.  What in the world could I say day after day?  I’d probably write for a month and then have to stop.”

I tried to convince him that it was a stupid idea.

He looked at me and said, “If God wants you to do this, you need to do it.  None of that really matters.”

I don’t know what’s next, how long it’ll take, what it will look like.  All I can do is obey here and now, writing these devotionals as God directs.

In Whatever You Do, Part I, I wrote that we need to be faithful in the everyday tasks God has given us, giving Him glory in the smallest, most basic areas of our lives.

Life rolls along in its repetitious way—commuting to work, picking up kids, going to church, supervising the brushing of hair and teeth, making lunches and cooking dinners.

Then one day God asks us to do something crazy—like write a blog that you don’t want to write when you don’t have time to write it.

Or:

Start a new ministry.  Visit the nursing home regularly.  Take a missions trip across the globe.  Feed the hungry.  Foster or adopt children in need.  Make blankets for children in the hospital.  Volunteer at the local school.  Send shoes overseas.

This is the way ordinary people like you and me can have impact in this massive world.  We move when and where God tells us to move and we serve faithfully where He has placed us to serve.

Paul lived this kind of radically obedient life.  He was a tentmaker by trade and he had no qualms about setting up shop in a city and sewing tents during the moments he wasn’t teaching in the synagogue, writing the bulk of the New Testament, or preaching Christ to the Gentiles.

This is what he did in Corinth when he stayed and worked with Aquila and Priscilla—tentmakers and teachers in their own New Testament house church (Acts 18:1-3).

Paul easily could have lived out a tentmaking life with a small-town ministry to the local synagogue.  He could have made himself comfortable, happy and content there.

God, however, told him to pack his bags and get going.  So he did.  In all things, he submitted to God’s direction and timing.

During his second missionary journey, Paul wanted to travel to the Asian church of Ephesus, but “they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia” (Acts 16:6). Then, they “tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them” (Acts 16:7).

After all those “no’s”, you’d think Paul would be discouraged.

Instead, God sent him to Macedonia, where Paul became the first Christian missionary in Europe.  He baptized Lydia there and she started the first European church in her home.

God reached a continent because Paul was willing to do the crazy and unexpected in obedience to God’s call.

Even then, Paul could have settled into life as a missionary to Europe.  But now that the time was right, God released him to preach in Asia and off Paul went to Ephesus (Acts 18).

This world needs us to live obedient lives, just as Paul did, yielding to God and going where and when He tells us to go.

The people in our homes, our neighborhoods, our churches, our jobs need us to engage fully in the ministry God has given us in those places.  When God tells us to settle in and care for our families, we do.  When he tells us to minister in our community, we roll up our sleeves and serve.

But we refuse to slip into complacency, snuggling down into our comfortable nests and spending all our time tending our own chicks and redecorating our own spaces with sticks and straw.

So, if he tells us to pack our bags for a journey in radical obedience, we yank out the suitcase.

How do we discern this?  How do we know what to do when there is so much need in the homes in our neighborhood and in the countries we can’t even locate on the globe?

How can a small-town mom minister to the poorest of the poor?  How can a working woman in a local school save orphans?  How can an average girl serve widows?

How can any of us reach the world with Christ?

Elisabeth Elliott’s advice is just to “do the next thing.”

We don’t need to have a map for our entire mission on this earth.  Paul didn’t even know from one moment to the next whether he was headed to Asia or Europe or just setting up a tent business in town for a while.

But he did the next thing.  And then God gave him the next thing.  Then there was the thing after that.

In every instance, he obeyed, whether it was simple or difficult, logical or totally insane.

Has God given you a next thing?  Have you sat at the kitchen table telling someone how insane it is and how you don’t want to do it?  Has God asked you to do something that sounds impossible?  Has He opened your eyes and heart to need that you never noticed before?

Do the next thing.  Don’t worry about meeting every need or making the project a success.  Just take this step of obedience.  That’s how we change the world, one submissive bowing of the head and bending of the knee at a time.

You can read more devotionals on this topic here:

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King

Whatever You Do, Part I

Don’t forget the giveaway going on to celebrate the one-year anniversary of this blog!  You can read all about it here and posting a comment anywhere on the blog this week will enter you to win!!

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I’m not a crafty person.  I’m not a Pinterest pinner, a craft project blogger, or an Etsy addict. Oh, I admire the creativity of others (okay, perhaps ENVY their artsyness), but I’ve accepted my limits and stopped trying to feel comfortable in the aisles of Michael’s and Joann Fabrics.

Yet today I sit at my table with glitter, craft foam, stamps, stencils, markers, colored paper and scissors to complete one item on my day’s to-do list: Make personal Valentine’s for my three girls.

Years ago, a man from our church told me that you can do many great things for daughters, but there are only two necessary things: Let them know they are beautiful and let them know they are loved.

I’ve thought about this often.  Perhaps he is right.

If I remove these two primary insecurities, they will be free and brave enough to pursue their talents, develop their minds, take on difficult projects and reach out to people.

At least for today, this thought has inspired me to turn my limited crafting skill into the most basic of all art projects: a handmade card.  It’s not because I think the final outcome will be displayable or frameable.  I could buy a better-looking card for a few dollars off the Wal-Mart rack.

It’s because I know that my daughters feel special when I make things for them and I want them to know they are loved.

As I sit making a mess out of glue and paper, I think about a biography I’ve been reading of E.B.White, the American essayist and author of Stuart Little, Charlotte’s Web and The Trumpet of the Swan.

In the summer following college, White grabbed a friend and a car and drove completely across the United States—before highways existed to make this kind of national crisscrossing an all-American past-time.  They stopped in small towns and performed odd jobs or sold bits of White’s writing to local newspapers so they could buy food and gas.  They slept outside or in the car or wherever they could.  Arriving on the West Coast, White then hopped on a ship bound for Alaska.

Elbow deep now in glitter, I marvel that a human being would take off across the country without a plan, without connections, without a return date.

Crazy man, that E.B. White!

We’re so often people looking for purpose in life.  We want a grand vision, a neon sign.  We want impact.  We want to know the one reason we exist on this earth.

For E.B. White, this meant trekking without a plan and discovering himself while discovering America.  Even so, I’m not jealous of him for all of his wanderings and adventures.

For as much as we overlook the beauties of the everyday, I wonder if they are truly the key to God’s greatest plan for us.

Surely God receives big glory from big things.  The massive ministry, the arena packed full, the bestseller, the major miracle, the international program, the made-into-a-movie-story bring Him grand-scale recognition.

Yet I believe a daily life well-lived brings Him glory, too.  My marriage strong and lasting.  My daughters beautiful and loved, learning their Awana verses and showing kindness.  My small-town impact to the cashier at Wal-Mart.  My weekly shelving of books in the school library.  My prayer time each week for the school and its staff.

This means that instead of always ignoring today for the sake of the grand design of tomorrow, we give God glory in our jobs and our homes and relationships and churches.  We do what He has called us to do here, now, in this moment.  We do it faithfully.  We work at it with all our heart.

God had a great plan for Joseph’s life, yet it was worked out in days, months and years of serving as a slave in Potiphar’s house and then, as a prisoner himself, overseeing others locked in Egyptian jail cells.

Joseph’s ministry all that time involved washing dishes, working fields, carrying messages, figuring accounts, and managing property.  It was his integrity and faithful hard work in the everyday tasks that allowed God to use him more and more.

In Genesis 39, we are told “The Lord was with Joseph, and he became a successful man. . . . His master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord caused all that he did to succeed in his hands.  So Joseph found favor in his sight and attended him, and he made him overseer of his house and put him in charge of all that he had” (Genesis 39:2-4).

Had Joseph balked at the menial tasks of slavery or begrudgingly gave second-best efforts as he served in Potiphar’s house, he might have remained a slave or a prisoner his entire life.  He would never have become second-in-command to Pharaoh, overseeing Egypt and ultimately saving the nation from devastating famine.

Egypt may not have survived as a nation without Joseph.

Joseph’s father, Jacob, and his ten brothers and their families—the entire nation of Israel—may also have starved as the famine reached their land.

At least two nations depended on Joseph’s daily faithfulness to the tasks at hand.

Paul wrote:

“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17).

and

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God”
(1 Corinthians 10:31)

This is how we bring glory to God.  It’s in the making of a Valentine’s card and the packing of a lunch.  It’s in the shuffling of the wet laundry from washer to dryer.  It’s in the standing at the stove to prepare a meal.

It’s you at your desk.  It’s you in the classroom.  It’s you teaching Sunday School.  It’s you on your knees.  This is what brings Him glory.

You can read more devotionals on this topic here:

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King