Bible Verses about Rain

  • Leviticus 26:3-4 CSB
    “If you follow my statutes and faithfully observe my commands, I will give you rain at the right time, and the land will yield its produce, and the trees of the field will bear their fruit.
  • Deuteronomy 32:2 CSB
    Let my teaching fall like rain
    and my word settle like dew,
    like gentle rain on new grass
    and showers on tender plants.
  • 1 Kings 8:35-36 CSB
    When the skies are shut and there is no rain,
    because they have sinned against you,
    and they pray toward this place
    and praise your name,
    and they turn from their sins
    because you are afflicting them,
    36 may you hear in heaven
    and forgive the sin of your servants
    and your people Israel,
    so that you may teach them the good way
    they should walk in.
    May you send rain on your land
    that you gave your people for an inheritance.
  • Job 37:6-7 CSB
    For he says to the snow, “Fall to the earth,”
    and the torrential rains, his mighty torrential rains,
    serve as his sign to all mankind,
    so that all men may know his work.
  • Psalm 68:8 CSB
    the earth trembled and the skies poured rain
    before God, the God of Sinai,[a]
    before God, the God of Israel.
  • Psalm 72:6 CSB
    May the king be like rain that falls on the cut grass,
    like spring showers that water the earth.
  • Psalm 135:7 CSB
    He causes the clouds to rise from the ends of the earth.
    He makes lightning for the rain
    and brings the wind from his storehouses.
  • Psalm 147:8 CSB
    who covers the sky with clouds,
    prepares rain for the earth,
    and causes grass to grow on the hills.
  • Isaiah 45:8 CSB
    “Heavens, sprinkle from above,
    and let the skies shower righteousness.
    Let the earth open up
    so that salvation will sprout
    and righteousness will spring up with it.
    I, the Lord, have created it.
  • Isaiah 55:10-11 CSB
    For just as rain and snow fall from heaven
    and do not return there
    without saturating the earth
    and making it germinate and sprout,
    and providing seed to sow
    and food to eat,
    11 so my word that comes from my mouth
    will not return to me empty,
    but it will accomplish what I please
    and will prosper in what I send it to do.”
  • Jeremiah 14:22 CSB
    Can any of the worthless idols of the nations bring rain?
    Or can the skies alone give showers?
    Are you not the Lord our God?
    We therefore put our hope in you,
    for you have done all these things.
  • Ezekiel 34:26 CSB
     I will make them and the area around my hill a blessing: I will send down showers in their season; they will be showers of blessing.
  • Hosea 10:12 CSB
    Sow righteousness for yourselves
    and reap faithful love;
    break up your unplowed ground.
    It is time to seek the Lord
    until he comes and sends righteousness
    on you like the rain.
  • Joel 2:23 CSB
    Children of Zion, rejoice and be glad
    in the Lord your God,
    because he gives you the autumn rain
    for your vindication.[a]
    He sends showers for you,
    both autumn and spring rain as before.
  • Zechariah 10:1 CSB
    Ask the Lord for rain
    in the season of spring rain.
    The Lord makes the rain clouds,
    and he will give them showers of rain
    and crops in the field for everyone.
  • Matthew 5:45 CSB
    so that you may be children of your Father in heaven. For he causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
  • Acts 14:16-17 CSB
    In past generations he allowed all the nations to go their own way,  although he did not leave himself without a witness, since he did what is good by giving you rain from heaven and fruitful seasons and filling you with food and your[b] hearts with joy.”
  • James 5:17-18 CSB
    Elijah was a human being as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the land. 18 Then he prayed again, and the sky gave rain and the land produced its fruit.

Storing Up Treasure that Lasts

My son lined up his pirate loot after spending time at “Pirates Day” down along the river’s beach.

It was a good haul: Seaglass, plastic gold coins, colorful rocks, and a black eyepatch with the skull and crossbones.  He surveyed it with a bit of pride and then tucked every treasure away in his tiny black bag of “jewels.”

We followed a treasure map in order to gather all these rewards, and it is impressive in its array, colorful and plentiful, just about filling his pirate treasure pouch, which makes him feel vastly wealthy.

We know, of course, that it’s pretend treasure. It’s temporary at best and plenty valuable enough to  a four-year-old, but not something you can plop down in exchange for  anything more long-term.

Still, he’s satisfied.

Am I satisfied?  And if I am, should I be?

Are there places where I’ve mis-placed value, missing out on what has eternal  significance because I’m caught up  in what is temporary and here-and-now just because it looks worth having?

Are there places where I’m letting myself fret and freak out because it just seems oh-so-important  to solve this crisis, when it’s really better to relax and let go and trust and be at peace?

I think we all have this longing for the eternal and that means in the moments when we find the joy, or the comfort, or the peace, we want to hang on tightly for dear life and not ever, ever let go.

And then life tumbles us and shifts and the ground feels terribly shaky all over again.

In our family devotions, we read these verses from Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount:

“Don’t store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves don’t break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21 CSB). 

My kids mostly get it.  They tell me that we shouldn’t love money or  be too greedy, and that’s the truth.

But what about these other treasures on the earth, not money perhaps, but still temporary jewels that might fill a pouch, but can’t be carried into heaven?  Like accolades from others.  The encouragement of a kind word.  Being noticed.  Measurable impact. Likes and followers.

Or what about report cards and test scores? Or titles and positions and power?  The house, the car, the clothes…Feeling comfortable.  Feeling safe.

These are good things that we can turn into “ultimate things,” which makes us miss out on eternal things.

Jesus said our heart is where our treasure is.  We know He wants our heart, so what should I be treasuring?

What lasts absolutely forever, not for just a day or a year or a season?

His Word ENDURES.

Peter wrote:

but the word of the Lord endures forever. And this word is the gospel that was proclaimed to you (1 Peter 1:25 CSB).

The Word of the Lord lasts.  It endures.  Every single bit of time and effort we put into knowing His Word  makes a difference for eternity—and I don’t  mean head knowledge or doctrinal debates or memorizing facts and figures.  I mean the way His Word can till  the soil of our hearts, plant seeds,  and produce fruitfulness; the way His Word changes us.

It’s because the Bible is so much more than just words on the pages; it’s given to us by the Lord Himself and:

THE LORD REMAINS CONSTANT also.

That’s what it means when we’re told He never changes, He’s the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.  The Psalmist writes:

But you are the same,  and your years will never end.  Psalm 102:27 CSB

He is our treasure, our eternal reward of the highest value.

So, every single day, if I want to store up the treasure that will last, I seek His Word, I seek the Lord, and one more thing.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 says:

 Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart (CSB).

PEOPLE LAST, TOO.

This is the treasure with eternal value:  Loving Jesus.  Loving His Word.  Loving others like Jesus does.

That sets life topsy-turvy sometimes, because sometimes busyness appears so valuable and can make us feel so  important, but what really has value and what endures might be:

family dinner
a milkshake and some conversation after a hard day at school
reading the Bible at night with your kids
rocking a baby at midnight because he can’t sleep
coffee with a friend
devotions on the backporch in the early morning hours
a walk with the Lord on a sunny spring day.

That’s the treasure that endures.

 

The desperate longing for something that doesn’t change

“I would like to stay to a kid forever.”

That’s my son talking.  He’s happy to be four.  Who wouldn’t  be?

Most of my kids have wanted to rush right on through childhood and into adult life.  They try to plan out their whole lives while they’re still in middle school.

I’ve had to reassure my 11-year–old repeatedly this year that she doesn’t have to  choose a career in sixth grade.

But my son gets it.  He gets all the beauty of being four years old.

Specifically, this week,  he’s been thinking about his “little, soft blue blanket” and how he’d rather not give it up.

It doesn’t cover his whole body any more.   He snuggles into his blanket as best he can, but his feet inevitably stick out, so he needs  a supplemental blanket to provide full coverage.

But this blue blanket is loved.  I  dare to suggest he might be too big for it soon, and his answer is quick and clear:  “I would like to stay to a kid forever.”

He’s my resident Peter Pan, not wanting to grow up, and the comfort of the blue blanket makes never-ending childhood oh so worth it to him for now.

I appreciate his happiness with the “now,” the willingness  to  just enjoy all that life offers in the present tense.  He’s not worrying about the future or even trying to escape to the past.  He’s four and he’s pleased to be four.  That’s a beautiful thing.

But I also see in his little heart this desire for permanency, to cling maybe a little too strongly to  what is good but what won’t last.

The truth is he’s going to keep growing out of this blanket.  That day will surely come.

I understand his struggle, though, because I’ve been longing myself for something permanent, some reassurance that I won’t wake up to a new day and find life all shaky and unsure or find my feet sticking out of my favorite blanket.

I have this longing for peace,  peace in all  the places.  Peace in work and ministry and home and friendship.  No relational conflict.  No disappointment in people.  No workplace surprises.  No undercurrent of trouble unexpectedly rising to the surface.

But “in this world you will have trouble,” that’s what Jesus told us, and just when peace settles into one place, it seems it shatters in another.

That’s bad news for a girl like me who longs for the comfort of a perfect plan and knowing all the details in advance.

But here’s the good news.

All that shakiness in the world around me and all those times I’m tumbled headlong into another season of change or uncertainty makes me desperately long for solid ground, for a permanent, unshakeable place to stand.

This longing drives me right to Jesus.

Scripture tells us that we can have that safe place.  We can have an unmoving,  never-changing, solid, trustworthy foundation that we can count on no matter what earthquake rattles the ground beneath us.

Even if we get the phone call, the email, or the bad news, we can always return to this safe place, this refuge.

We can be confident in God’s character.

Hebrews tells us that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (13:8 CSB) and James reminds us that our heavenly Father “does not change like shifting shadows” (1:17 CSB).  The Psalmist prayed, “But you are the same, and your years will never end” (Psalm 102:27 CSB) and reminded us that God’s “faithful love will endure forever” (Psalm 138:8).

God has been strong in the past and He will be strong.  He has been able and He will be able.  He has been mighty  and He remains mighty.

No circumstance and no conflict changes His goodness or His compassion, His sovereignty or His power.  His love endures.  Right in the middle of whatever has tossed us into uncertainty or fear or fretting, God’s love remains steadfast and sure, and we can hide ourselves away in the shadow of that unfailing love.

 

We can be confident in God’s Word.

Jesus promised that “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” (Matthew 24:35 CSB) and the Psalmist declared, “Lord, your word is forever; it is firmly fixed in heaven” (Psalm 119:89 CSB). 

Peter said,

All flesh is like grass,
and all its glory like a flower of the grass.
The grass withers, and the flower falls,
25 but the word of the Lord endures forever  (1 Peter 1:24-25 CSB). 

Forever. 

Forever is what I need on the days my feet stick out of the blanket and I realize change is in the air.  Forever is what I need when I long for peace, but it seems elusive.

I can hide myself away in God and His Word without fear.

That’s What He Said

Psalm 33When my middle daughter turned six, we took her and some friends to the circus for her birthday.

Before the show, we ordered six Happy Meals from McDonald’s.  The cashier asked me each time, “Is this for a boy or a girl?”

For a girl.  All girls.  Six—yes, six—girls.

When we finally filled up every cup, unwrapped all the straws, and handed around the food, the manager popped around the corner to see us.  “Six girls!  Shew.  I just had to see all six of them.”

We assured him only three belonged to us.

At the circus, the birthday girl sat next to her friends on one end of the row.  My husband and I sat all the way on the other end. 

After each act, though, my brand new six-year-old shot all the way across six seats to climb into her Daddy’s lap.

She was scared.  Every time the music grew the least bit dramatic, she was sure the dragon in the show was coming out and it was a real dragon and it wanted to get her.

Sometimes you just need to be safe with Dad.

We need nothing less from God, open arms and the chance to climb up into His lap when life grows tense and what’s waiting behind the curtain feels ominous and overwhelming.

Later that night, I asked my girl, “Did you enjoy your birthday trip to the circus?”

“Yes,” she raved, “It was fun.  But I didn’t like that my friends kept saying, ‘The dragon is coming next!’ even when it wasn’t.  And they said “The dragon is real,” and it wasn’t.”

“Didn’t Mommy and Daddy tell you the dragon wasn’t real and you didn’t need to be afraid?”

“Mmmm-hmmmm.”

“And who do you think is most likely to tell the truth about things like that?  Mom and Dad or other kids?”

Pause for silent thought.

These were just friends, sweet, good friends who weren’t out to scare her or trick her.  They were making guesses and playing games.

Even so, she chose to listen to mistaken experts and believed their well-meaning false reports.

In the book of Matthew, some phrases jump off that page chapter after chapter:

“All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet . .. ” (Matthew 1:22).
“For this is what the prophet has written” (Matthew 2:5).
“And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet” (Matthew 2:15).
“Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled” (Matthew 2:17).
“So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets” (Matthew 2:23).
“This is He who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah” (Matthew 3:3).
This was “to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah” (Matthew 4:4).
“This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah” (Matthew 8:17 and 12:17).
In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah (Matthew 13:14).

Matthew tells us that God stays true to His Word.

Even though it seemed unlikely and impossible, even when it took a long time, He fulfilled every detail of His promises through Jesus.

 

In her book, The Shelter of God’s Promises, Sheila Walsh writes:

“The two Hebrew words we translate into English as “promise” are the words dabar, meaning “to say,” and omer, meaning “to speak.”  In other words, when God says something, when God speaks, that is as good as it gets He means what He says, and He says what He means.  It would appear as if we, humankind, had to invent the word promise because what we say or speak cannot always be trusted, so we upped the ante with a new word.  But when God speaks, He cannot lie” (p. 12).

The word “promise,” then, exists for our benefit, not God’s.  Every word He utters is truth, reliable truth, unwavering truth.

We combat other voices every day:

Well-meaning friends and family, even our fellow Christians, who make guesses and share opinions about what’s next for us.
Circumstances that scream reasonable-sounding assertions of hopelessness, abandonment, and utter despair.
The world shouting out its unfiltered opinion all day, every day.
Our internal dialogue with Satan’s interjections of shame, condemnation, and doubt.

But today, we can choose to ignore this fear-filled noise, climb up into Abba Father’s lap, and rest, knowing that we are His.  We are loved, safe, protected, and more, because that’s what He said is true.

Originally published on APRIL 23, 2012

20 Bible Verses for When You Need God’s Light

verseslight

  • Psalm 27:1 ESV
    The Lord is my light and my salvation;
        whom shall I fear?
    The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
        of whom shall I be afraid?
  • Psalm 119:105 ESV
    Your word is a lamp to my feet
        and a light to my path.
  • Psalm 119:130 ESV
    The unfolding of your words gives light;
        it imparts understanding to the simple.
  • Ecclesiastes 2:13 ESV
    Then I saw that there is more gain in wisdom than in folly, as there is more gain in light than in darkness.
  • Isaiah 60:1 ESV
    Arise, shine, for your light has come,
        and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
  • Matthew 4:16 ESV
    the people dwelling in darkness
        have seen a great light,
    and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death,
        on them a light has dawned.”
  • Matthew 5:14 ESV
    You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.
  • Matthew 5:16 ESV
    In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that[a] they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
  • Luke 11:34-35 ESV
    Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness.35 Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness.
  • John 1:5 ESV
    The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
  • John 8:12 ESV
    Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
  • John 9:5 ESV
    As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.
  • John 12:35
    So Jesus said to them, “The light is among you for a little while longer.Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going.
  • Romans 13:12 ESV
    The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.
  • 2 Corinthians 4:3-6 ESV
    And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
  • Ephesians 5:13-14 ESV
    But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible,14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,
    “Awake, O sleeper,
        and arise from the dead,
    and Christ will shine on you.”
  • James 1:7 ESV
    Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
  • 1 Peter 2:9 ESV
    But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
  • 1 John 1:7 ESV
    But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
  • Revelation 21:23 ESV
    And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.

Would You Like Some Peas With Your Worcestershire Sauce (And Other Quirky Eating Habits)

Peas were my dad’s favorite vegetable.  This is funny to me because when he ate them, he drowned them in Worcestershire sauce.

So, I wonder.

psalm63-5

Photo by Wacharaphong Sakoolwongveroj; 123rf.com

Did he really like peas?

Or did he like Worcestershire sauce?

We have our own familial mealtime quirks.

I eat a little of everything, some of this and some of that until it’s all gone.

My husband eats every last bite of vegetable first.  Because he hates vegetables.  And if you eat them first, you can cover over the taste with other, more palatable foods.  Like meat.

When I set the table for dinner, I routinely place a bottle of steak sauce next to my oldest daughter’s place.  She pours it on any food containing cheese.

I like cheese.

She doesn’t.

So, we compromise.  I cook dinners with cheese.  She creates a steak sauce puddle on her plate and eats without complaining.

My middle daughter is what scientific experts would call “a picky eater.”  She refuses to eat most foods, especially potatoes.  When I get all brave and try out a new recipe, I’m sure to hear from the complaints department, namely her.

“I don’t like this.”

“How do you know if you’ve never tasted it before?”

“I have tasted it” (she licks a speck of sauce off of her fork) “and I don’t like it.”

Alrighty then.

Then there is my baby girl.  I serve up a new recipe and say, “Taste this, babe, you’re going to like it.”

So, she tastes and most of the time, she swings her ponytail around and grins at me: “You’re right!  This is the best day ever.  This is too much deliciousness.”

Sigh.  I’m so thankful for her.

And I learn from her.

The Psalmist said,

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him (Ps. 34:8).

I think of my girl, willing to taste, and when she discovers goodness, she devours it and maybe even asks for more.

Because what good is goodness if we’re satisfied with just a taste?

How often are we unwilling to even take the taste-test challenge?  Too busy, too frantic, too frazzled, too scheduled, too independent, too hardhearted, too hardheaded…maybe it’s one of those or maybe it’s all of them, but we don’t even try.

Or maybe we taste, but after we experience God’s sweet goodness, we walk away?  We think, “That’s great and that’s enough.  It sure was good.  Maybe I’ll order that some day.”

Sometimes we’re too easily satisfied by things that don’t satisfy.

In Psalm 119, David tells us:

My soul faints with longing for your salvation,
but I have put my hope in your word (Psalm 119:81 NIV).

This is the holy hunger.

The more you eat of God’s Word, the hungrier you are for God’s Word.

When we come absolutely famished and starving into His Presence, He fills us up with Good.  All the junk we’ve been tossing down our throats in order to satisfy our souls now tastes like cardboard.

In my year of Pursuing the Presence of Christ, I learned how to say, ‘no’ last month.  This month, I’m Learning When To Say, “Yes.”

I’ve found that after saying, ‘no,’ I’ve gained a more discerning palate.

People keep asking me now that the school year has started, “What are you going to do with yourself?”

I wonder if they think I’m lounging around my house watching soap operas…..but after a week, I still haven’t found a spare moment for lounging.

Last year was frantic.  I held on tight to the reins of our home and our schedule.  I survived.

Somehow I practiced the spiritual disciplines in the midst of that.  I read the Bible through in a year, finished my Bible studies, and read my devotionals in the minivan, outside the ballet studio and in between play rehearsals and church activities.

Now, in this first week of quiet after all that noise, I found I’m starving for the Word of God, hungry for more than checking off my Bible reading plan, turning the pages of the devotional, or filling in blanks in the Bible study.

What is my first “yes” this month?  It’s not a program or an activity or a project.

It’s feeding my undernourished Spirit with my first chance to sit quiet and unrushed at His feet in far too long.

I have tasted the goodness of God.  Now I intend to clean my plate and maybe even lick off all the crumbs and drips of sauce when I’m done and ask for seconds.

I’m the sheep who has traveled through the wilderness and finally been placed in those green pastures.

Are you weary?  Rushed?  Downtrodden?  Hopeless?  Worn?  Discouraged?  Apathetic?

Come hungry to the Word of God.  Taste….feast…..and find the goodness of the Lord.

To read more about this 12-month journey of pursuing the presence of Christ, you can follow the links below!  Won’t you join me this month as I Learn When to Say, ‘Yes?’

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer 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.  Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2014 Heather King

Weekend Walk: Choices, Choices

Playdates at our house are often the same.  My daughters give their guest a grand tour of the playroom and their bedroom…

Three girls’ worth of Barbies, baby dolls, princesses, Polly Pockets, ponies, Strawberry Shortcake, puzzles, games, art supplies, doll house furniture, Play Doh, and dress up….

And pretty soon we’re spinning from one activity to the next.  By the time my girls set up 039the Barbie house, their guest is ready to play with puzzles.  Halfway through the first puzzle, their guest is ready to play a game.  A few turns into the game, their guest is ready to play princess.  After a few minutes of assigning princess names and creating back story, their guest is pulling out the Play Doh.

Is it any wonder?  With so many choices and so little time, we happily jump from activity to activity and, after all, who can complain about how well everyone sleeps that night?  We all have fun and it’s all a joy.

But it can be a little like me, especially at the start  of a new year when I’m spinning from good thing to good thing and I really just want to do it all.

We do it with fitness programs, spiritual disciplines, diets and savings plans. Given a million wonderful choices, we can try to do a million amazing things…and end up failing at all of them.

This year, I’ve been given or discovered four prayer books, three Bible reading programs, four Scripture memory plans, five devotionals, and three Bible studies to begin the year.

The thing about me is that I’d press through every day and finish all of them, maybe exhausted, stressed, hyperventilating and skimming through pages just so I can mark it off on my to-do list, but I’d do it.

There wouldn’t be any joy, though.  I wouldn’t really breathe in and out the beauty of God’s Word. I’d set my love relationship with my Savior firmly on business-only terms, focusing on tasks and accomplishing and not relaxing and being.

The truth is that doing a million things doesn’t always get us very far, but paring it all down and asking God to focus our hearts on one thing (or at least less than a million) can bring us joy and growth in the new year.

I started last night with Scripture memory, choosing from all the plans and programs and suggestions.  Sitting at my computer, I read through four Scripture memory plans and prayed.  Then I chose just one way of meditating on God’s Word, soaking in it, breathing it in, chewing on the thoughts and making this Holy Scripture part of the core of me.

This year I’ll be using my verses for the week on the blog to participate in Beth Moore’s Siesta Scripture Memory Team (SSMT).  Her plan is simple.  You choose the verse you want to memorize, whatever God has placed on your heart, and you leruthgrahamscripturesarn one verse about every two weeks.  By the end of 2013, we’ll have committed 24 verses to memory.

A dear friend brought me back Ruth Graham’s Scripture Treasures from her visit to Billy Graham’s library.  I was reading them through last night, pulling out beautiful verse after beautiful verse and many of my Scriptures for the year will come from these cards.

To begin, I’m reminding myself to keep it simple, keep the joy, give myself room to breathe and not suffocate myself with systems and plans that suck the air and the pleasure right out of this walk with God.

One thing I ask from the Lord,
    this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
    all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
    and to seek him in his temple (Psalm 27:4 NIV).

What about you?
How are you keeping it simple in the new year?  Did you choose one word to help focus your spiritual walk?  Did you find one Scripture memory plan or one Bible reading program to focus on?

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer 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.  Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in the Fall of 2013!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2013 Heather King

An Origami Failure Learns to Fold

I am a failure at origami.

My oldest daughter, crafty soul that she is, begged me to help her with some origami projects.  Knowing my handicap for all things artsy, crafty, and based on following a pattern, I decided that our best option was to purchase an origami book for kids, complete with simple step-by-step instructions and special papers.

Surely if children can supposedly follow these directions and magically fold panda bears and peacocks, I in all my grown-up wisdom could also understand and succeed in folding a paper zoo.  I can, after all, read, and that seemed to be the minimal requirement here.

I was wrong (of course).

Our origami sessions together typically go like this:

Open book, choose the simplest pattern we can find and then select an appropriate paper.

Fold the paper in half.  Then open it back up.

Fold it in half the other way.  Then open it back up.

Crease here, flip the paper, crease there.

Smile in confidence at one another in the assurance that we have finally mastered this whole origami thing.  Look at us!  Our paper absolutely totally matches the diagram in the book.
We return to the instructions with renewed confidence.

Reverse internal fold, flip, crease, outside reverse fold, open up, fold to center, reverse, flip, spin around, repeat, pull out the flap, push in and squash, inflate, rotate, fold and unfold, mountain fold.

Wait, what?

Pretty soon I’m sputtering in frustration and my daughter is just randomly folding and flipping her paper.  I’m talking to the book as if it could answer me, “What does that mean?  How do you do that?  How come you don’t show a picture of the step in between this and that?  Is this what it is supposed to look like?”

I begin sighing those deep-shoulder heaving sighs that say, “Oh, I should never have bought her this origami book for Christmas.”

Then I declare with supreme Mom-wisdom that what we really need here is a YouTube video with step-by-step instructions.  We Google search.  We find a video.  We pause it after each step and make our paper look like the paper on the computer screen.

We fold.  We create.  We conquer (sort of).

The fact is that I’m not adept at following picture patterns in books and matching my every move to the instructions given, not with origami, sewing, knitting or crafts of any kind.

I have too many questions that the pattern doesn’t answer and too many places where I can go wrong.  I can’t visualize the finished product and the steps needed to get there.

What’s true for me in arts and crafts is sometimes true in life also.  We all can choose the patterns for our lives and then we make continual choices, daily decisions, to yield, bend and fold . . . or not.

Paul tells us:

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will (Romans 12:2 NIV).

The pattern of the world isn’t meant for us.  The world’s priorities, its pursuits, its dialogue and messages, and its destination all fold us into a crazy mess of disorder and frustration.

We can choose instead to “follow the pattern of the sound words . . .in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 1:3 ESV) and to “obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance” (Romans 6:17 ESV).

Yes, Scripture is our pattern to follow and Christ is our model: the picture in the book that tells us what we should look like in the end.

Yet, while we may choose which pattern to follow, the world or the Word, God Himself takes a hands-on approach to our lives.  “We are God’s handiwork,” after all—the result of His efforts, the creation He forms and reforms daily (Ephesians 2:10).

So, He is at work folding and unfolding—sometimes moving us forward and then back again.

He creases us now, teaching us and working on us in ways that we won’t understand until years later when He uses those grooves as part of His plans for us and our ministry.

He flips us around.  He pushes us beyond what we thought were our limits.  Sometimes He trims our edges.

Sometimes we complain and balk at the confusing pattern as it unfolds.  We look at the folds He has made in us and think He must be getting it all wrong.  Surely this can’t become that.  It’s confusing and we don’t see and understand.

But He does.  He knows what it takes to transform a piece of paper into a penguin or a peacock.  He knows how to conform us “to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:29).

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 Rerun: Becoming a Zucchini Farmer

Last year, I had an abundance of zucchini in our garden.  This year, I’m overwhelmed by jalapeno peppers!   Here’s a weekend rerun devotional all about what to do with abundance.

Weekend Rerun:

Becoming a Zucchini Farmer
Originally posted on July 7, 2011

I’ve found my calling, my true gift and talent—growing zucchini.  So, I’m contemplating a new life as a zucchini farmer.

When we planned this mini-garden of ours, my daughters announced that they must grow and eat their own food.

Not knowing how well we could produce food we actually eat like tomatoes and cucumbers, I planted two spindly little zucchini sprouts in the garden.

I’d seen many fellow church-goers hand out this cucumber-wannabe to worshipers leaving the sanctuary.  “Would you like some?  Please, take it home!  We’re drowning in the stuff.”  So, I thought this must be one sure-fire vegetable to grow in our garden in case our other plants didn’t do well.

I didn’t expect that much success, just a guaranteed one or two veggies that my daughters could pose with in pictures and be proud about growing.

Then this one plant grew to monumental proportions and began producing mammoth zucchini.  I frantically began asking everyone I met, “How do you actually eat this stuff?”  Because we didn’t eat it, not often anyway.  I had no recipes for zucchini and whenever anyone said, “zucchini bread,” I stared at this zucchini the size of my daughter’s torso and wondered how that gets mixed up in a way appropriate for the bread pan.

This zucchini overload has me asking one question—what’s the point? What’s the point of having abundance if you don’t use it?  Sitting in my refrigerator or on my counter looking green and huge, this zucchini is pointless.  It is designed and intended for nourishment. Unused, it will rot and go to waste.

My question extends out to issues of faith.  What’s the point of spiritual gifts buried deep and hidden away?  God gives them to us, perhaps we even cultivate and harvest them. Then we let them sit unused.  Or perhaps we grow mystery vegetables in our garden, never actually identifying them.  Yes, we have gifts, but not knowing what they are, we simply pick the fruit, place it on the counter and toss into the garbage the rotten results over time.

While building the tabernacle, Moses instructed the Israelites: “Come, all of you who are skilled craftsmen, having special talents, and construct what God has commanded us” (Exodus 35:10 TLB).  That remains God’s desire—we apply our talents to God’s service, to the building of His ministry, His dwelling place, and His body.

Then there is also knowledge and discipleship.  What’s the point of study without application and life change?

There’s danger in notes and study and knowledge if our focus is on learning and not on our Savior.  Danger that knowledge itself will actually become our god.  Danger that we’ll fill our heads full of fascinating facts and never once experience life-change in the down and dirty areas of our heart and life.

What we study must become what we do.

Paul wrote to the Colossians, a church that had fallen into the danger zone, pursuing knowledge and learning to the exclusion of God:

See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ (Colossians 2:8).

They had become so excited about gaining knowledge, they had failed to filter what they were “learning.”  Not every book you read that quotes Scripture is actually scriptural.  It takes discernment rooted in God’s Word to determine the difference.

In his letter to Timothy, Paul declared that people had devoted

“themselves to myths and endless genealogies.  Such things promote controversial speculations rather than advancing God’s work—which is by faith. The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Some have departed from these and have turned to meaningless talk. They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm  (1 Timothy 1:3-7).

So, what’s the point?  When we’ve written down the original Greek of a word in Scripture and we’ve taken notes on our favorite preacher’s sermon, when we’ve copied whole devotionals into our journal and highlighted our book . . . then what?

We grow.  We know God rather than just know ABOUT God.  That’s the point.  Paul prayed for the Colossians that God would “fill you with the knowledge of His will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives” (Colossians 1:9).

If we’re reading without changing, listening without growing, learning without transformation, then it’s pointless abundance–a garden full of unusable fruit gone to waste as it rots on the vine.

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

Dumbo Always Makes Me Cry

Dumbo gets me ever time.  It’s the one Disney movie I remember bawling at as a kid. I haven’t gotten over it either, not after all these years.

Once one of my girls found a storybook at the library about Dumbo.  She checked it out and then climbed up in my lap at home so I could read it to her. At first it was easy.  Baby elephant with big ears . . . Blah blah blah . . .

Everyone makes fun of him, mocking and taunting (sniffle, sniffle).

The mommy tries to defend him and they lock her up.  Dumbo gets dragged away from her, their trunks locked in embrace until the last possible second . . .

Someone please pass the tissues!  I just can’t do this story without tears.

In fact, it’s hard for me to do this story at all.  I sent the book back to the library ahead of time and I can’t bring myself to watch the movie.  My response is always so intense.

Sure it’s a cartoon elephant who ultimately flies and makes friends, but it’s still a child hurt by the cruelty of others and taken away from his mama!

In Scripture, we see people reacting even more intensely than how I snatch at tissues at the slightest Dumbo provocation.  Not because of a fictional scenario, though.

They are hearing God’s Word.

Eighteen-year-old Josiah, for example, was king of Judah when a member of his court went to the temple to perform some administrative tasks.  There he met the High Priest, who announced that he “happened” to have found the Book of the Law.

So, the royal secretary read it and then read it aloud to King Josiah:

“When the king heard what was written in the book, God’s Revelation, he ripped his robes in dismay. And then he called for Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Acbor son of Micaiah, Shaphan the royal secretary, and Asaiah the king’s personal aide. He ordered them all: “Go and pray to God for me and for this people—for all Judah! Find out what we must do in response to what is written in this book that has just been found!” (2 Kings 22:11-13 MSG).

Josiah knew that God’s Word requires a response.

In the same way, when the exiles returned to Jerusalem and stood inside the rebuilt walls of the city, Ezra the High Priest read the Book of the Law of Moses to everyone.  Men and women and kids old enough to understood stood from morning until lunch time listening to him read Scripture aloud.

Just God’s Word.  And nothing else.  For hours and hours.

They didn’t yawn, tune it out, roll their eyes, poke their neighbor, or skip attending so they could do chores or kick back with the latest release of ancient Middle-eastern epic poetry.

Instead, “Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God, and all the people answered, ‘Amen, Amen,’ lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground” (Nehemiah 8:5-6).

At first, the people were filled with remorse and driven to repent.  Yet, Nehemiah (their governor) and the Levites (their priests) encouraged them to celebrate instead: “And all the people went their way to eat and drink and to send portions and to make great rejoicing, because they had understood the words that were declared to them” (Nehemiah 8:12 ESV).

Their response to Scripture was emotional and intense.

There was true repentance and grief over how their sins had broken the heart of God.

There was a hunger for more and the willingness to stay as long as it took to hear what God had to say.

There was passionate worship with shouts of “Amen” and bowing low to the ground in awe of Mighty God.

There was joy and celebration because “they had understood the words that were declared to them.”

 How do you respond to God’s Word?

If we pick it up and read it with unemotional disinterest or with a bored and distracted mind we are missing it!

We are missing out on all the power of Scripture to revolutionize our hearts and minds, driving us to repentance, inciting us to intensely passionate worship and filling us with the kind of joy that makes us want to tell everyone what we’ve learned.

Scripture can’t be a mandatory item on our to-do list or an occasional emotional pick-me-up we drag off the shelves and dust off anytime life gets hard.

It’s got to be life and breath and food and drink to us because it holds God’s very own words, so active and relevant in our lives!  As you read, pray and ask God, “How do you want me to respond to this?”

Maybe you’ll need some of my tissues or maybe you’ll dance, but either way you’ll be giving God’s Word the response it deserves.

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