Weekend Walk, 03/10/2012

Hiding the Word:

We’ve returned home after a long and exciting family day at our area Awana games.  Our two oldest girls competed in Sparks-A-Rama for the first time.  We cheered them on from the bleechers as they popped balloons, dodged balls, and ran like lightning-ish around the gym floor.

Our coaches and the kids worked hard for weeks to practice the games, to learn the rules, and to develop discipline, listening skills, teamwork and kindness.

I was so proud of our team. Not only that, but I loved the sweet cheerleading of my youngest daughter as she sat in the stands and picked her sisters out from the crowd.  Whether they were racing or sitting on the line while another team played, Catherine didn’t stop yelling, “Go, Toria! Go Lauren!”

We all need people in the stands cheering us on, whether we’re in the thick of the battle or resting for a few quiet moments.  God has commissioned us all with pom poms and asked us to call out our words of praise, perseverance, and encouragement for others.

So, that’s the verse that’s on my heart for the week.  It’s a challenge to each of us to be the cheerleader that someone else needs.

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:11, NIV).

Weekend Rerun:

The Giving of Courage
Originally Published 04/27/2011

 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing,
but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Hebrews 20:24-25 

My sweet baby girl is my cheerleader.  I finish putting the clothes in the dryer and she claps her hands excitedly for me.  I change her diaper; she shouts yay!  yay!  and applauds with enthusiasm.   I drop the last of her toys into the basket and she does a happy dance and showers me with praise.  When I slide the last puzzle piece into place with her, she cheers and shouts.  If you spent the tiniest bit of time in my home, you’d think I won an Olympic medal every hour all day long because my “crowd goes wild” just that often.  My little crowd of one tiny, joyful cheerleader.

Has someone been a cheerleader for you before? 

You sit tired in the pew at church after the rush of Sunday morning preparation, but you made it and all your children sit next to you with clean clothes on.  Small victories.  Then a comforting hand reaches across your shoulder and a friend tells you, “Great job.  You’re such a great mom.”

You push your cart through the grocery store and try to efficiently and frugally shop all while monitoring the arms and legs of your various kids and periodically reminding them to use “inside voices,” when an unknown woman whispers to you, “Your children are so well-behaved.”

You pour yourself out into the ministry you know God has called you to and yet there are those moments and days when you wonder if it really matters, if it does any good, if anybody is blessed by it, if it’s worth the time and effort you spend on it.  Then, you sort through the bills after collecting your mail and find buried in there a card from a friend, a note of appreciation and thanks, a prayer, a verse.

You’ve been struggling.  Life is hard.  You don’t know what decisions to make.  You’re hurting and overwhelmed.  Then an email arrives and a friend says, “I’m praying for you.”

God uses others to bring us these messages of hope and encouragement at just the right moments in our lives, filling needs we can’t even always identify. It’s one of the reasons He designed us to travel together—He knows our hearts sometimes need this cheerleading from others.  When we stray from the group, when we go off on our own and try to live faith solo, we are easy prey for attack.  The Israelites learned this on their journey out of Egypt: “Remember what the Amalekites did to you along the way when you came out of Egypt.  When you were weary and worn out, they met you on your journey and attacked all who were lagging behind; they had no fear of God” (Deuteronomy 25:17-18, NIV).

If your heart is weary and in need of some encouragement today, look to your right and your left for your group; be sure that you are connected and not lagging behind.  Perhaps the first step needs to come from you in a search for the Christian community that will walk alongside you and encourage you along the journey to the Promised Land.

But you can also ask God for the refreshing your heart needs.  He knows exactly what will fill your spirit, giving you strength to overcome fatigue, guidance when you need direction, laughter when your heart lacks joy.  As the Israelites journeyed in the wilderness, God led them to an oasis: “They came to Elim where there were twelve springs of water and seventy date palms, and they camped there beside the waters” (Exodus 15:27).    Priscilla Shirer writes: “‘Twelve springs of water’ to match the twelve tribes of Israel.  What a great illustration of God’s overwhelming care and specific concern for His people.  He knows exactly what it takes to refresh you.”

He is the shepherd who knows His sheep.  “He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters,  he refreshes my soul” (Psalm 23:2-3).  Sometimes we sheep feel the hunger and thirst; we know we are empty and in need of filling, but we depend on a Shepherd to guide us to the perfect place for refreshing and provision.

And when He has led us beside the waters so perfect and the green pastures so filling, we have a testimony to share with others, a story to help them along the way as well.  Like the Psalmist, we declare:

“Return to your rest, my soul,
for the LORD has been good to you.
For you, LORD, have delivered me from death,
my eyes from tears,
my feet from stumbling,
that I may walk before the LORD in the land of the living” (Psalm 116:7-8).

We who have received encouragement, in turn encourage others through our testimony.  This encouraging truly is the giving of courage, placing it into the heart of another.  Isn’t that what this cheerleading does? It renews our strength so that we persevere and press on.  God asks us to do this for one another, to stand on the sidelines of a race and cheer, shout, and applaud for the runners: Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:11, NIV).

How can you be a cheerleader for someone else today?

*********************************************************************************************************

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

I’m Not a Boy

Happy 100th post everyone!  I’m so thankful that through God’s grace we have made it this far and I pray that He will bless us with much more time together in the days ahead.

To celebrate with you and as a way to say thanks to you for reading these devotionals, I’m hosting a giveaway!  I hope you’ll post a comment anywhere on this website by Sunday, 07/17/2011 at midnight, and I’ll announce the winners in Monday’s post.

Now, onto today’s devotional:

I’m not a boy.
I’m not a good dancer.  I’m not easily offended.  I’m not a blonde or a red-head.
I’m not tall.
I’m not artistic.  I’m not quick to cry.
I’m not usually a fan of “chick flicks.”  I’m not much of a TV watcher.
I’m not from a small family.
I’m not a quick decision maker.
I’m not an extrovert.  I’m not athletic.  I’m not fond of “outside.”

We all define ourselves by lists of “I ams” and “I am nots.”

“Are you a Christian?”  I am.
“Are you fond of sports?”  I am not.

Is it any wonder that God has a list, too?  His “ams” and “am nots” through Scripture establish His character and give us reliable assurances in times of trouble.

We rest in safety because we know He is “I am.”

It’s the most powerful declaration of God’s identity in Scripture, when He tells Moses His name: “I AM WHO I AM . . .This is my name forever, the name you shall call me from generation to generation” (Exodus 3:14, 15).

My Bible notes that His name could also be read as: “I WILL BE WHAT I WILL BE.”

He is I am and I will be.  He is eternal.  He has existed before our human history began and He has walked through the entirety of our time on this planet and will still remain forever.

So, we can trust Him.  We can place in His capable hands all that frightens us because He knows where we have come from and where we are headed.

It’s more than that.  He tells us:

  • “I am with you” (Genesis 26:24).
  • “I am God Almighty” (Genesis 35:11).
  • “I am the LORD, who heals you” (Exodus 15:26).
  • “I am the LORD your God” (Exodus 16:12).
  • “I, the LORD your God, am holy” (Leviticus 19:2).
  • “For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior” (Isaiah 43:3).
  • “I am the LORD, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God” (Isaiah 45:5).
  • “I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.” (Isaiah 48:17).
  • “I am the LORD your God, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar—the Lord Almighty is His name” (Isaiah 51:15).

Can you read through this list of what God says about Himself, His “I ams” and not be in awe, not be filled with the desire to worship, not be comforted?

He is with you, there in the places of hurt and despair.  He heals you.  He is holy.  He is your Savior, pulling you out of the pit and redeeming you through the blood of His Son.  He is the only God.  He directs our steps.  He is Lord Almighty, in control of all creation, including the circumstances you find yourself in.

Praise God!

He doesn’t stop there, though.  He also has “am nots.”  Just as powerful, these are declarations of His dominion over all the fake gods that vie for our worship.

In Daniel 2:11, the magicians and advisers of King Nebuchadnezzar whine that no one can possibly tell the king what he dreamt except the gods, and “they do not live among humans.”

Not our God.  He made His dwelling among His people, directing them to “make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them” (Exodus 25:8).  He abandoned the glories of heaven and “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14).

He can say, “I am not distant from you.”

In Psalm 135:15-18, the Psalmist writes:

The idols of the nations are silver and gold, made by the hands of men.  They have mouths, but cannot speak; eyes, but they cannot see; they have ears, but cannot hear nor is the breath in their mouths.

Not our God.

Our God is the Shepherd who speaks to His sheep (John 10:27).  He is the God who sees us (Genesis 16:13) and hears our voices when we call to Him (Psalm 5:3).

He can say, “I am not ignorant of your need .”

And our God “is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?” (Numbers 23:19).

Colin Urquhart wrote, “God is the God of promise.  He keeps His word even when that seems impossible.”

He can say, “I am not a promise-breaker.”

It may feel difficult at times to believe in God’s nearness, responsiveness, concern, love and faithfulness because we are immersed in a pit of circumstances that blocks our view of Him.  And yet, He tells us all the things He is and all the things He is not and it is that Scriptural assurance of His character to which we cling.

We can rest in safety knowing that He is I AM.  We can rest in safety knowing all that He is not.

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 © 2011 Heather King

The Giving of Courage

 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing,
but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Hebrews 20:24-25 

My sweet baby girl is my cheerleader.  I finish putting the clothes in the dryer and she claps her hands excitedly for me.  I change her diaper; she shouts yay!  yay!  and applauds with enthusiasm.   I drop the last of her toys into the basket and she does a happy dance and showers me with praise.  When I slide the last puzzle piece into place with her, she cheers and shouts.  If you spent the tiniest bit of time in my home, you’d think I won an Olympic medal every hour all day long because my “crowd goes wild” just that often.  My little crowd of one tiny, joyful cheerleader.

Has someone been a cheerleader for you before? 

You sit tired in the pew at church after the rush of Sunday morning preparation, but you made it and all your children sit next to you with clean clothes on.  Small victories.  Then a comforting hand reaches across your shoulder and a friend tells you, “Great job.  You’re such a great mom.”

You push your cart through the grocery store and try to efficiently and frugally shop all while monitoring the arms and legs of your various  kids and periodically reminding them to use “inside voices,” when an unknown woman whispers to you, “Your children are so well-behaved.”

You pour yourself out into the ministry you know God has called you to and yet there are those moments and days when you wonder if it really matters, if it does any good, if anybody is blessed by it, if it’s worth the time and effort you spend on it.  Then, you sort through the bills after collecting your mail and find buried in there a card from a friend, a note of appreciation and thanks, a prayer, a verse.

You’ve been struggling.  Life is hard.  You don’t know what decisions to make.  You’re hurting and overwhelmed.  Then an email arrives and a friend says, “I’m praying for you.”

God uses others to bring us these messages of hope and encouragement at just the right moments in our lives, filling needs we can’t even always identify. It’s one of the reasons He designed us to travel together—He knows our hearts sometimes need this cheerleading from others.  When we stray from the group, when we go off on our own and try to live faith solo, we are easy prey for attack.  The Israelites learned this on their journey out of Egypt: “Remember what the Amalekites did to you along the way when you came out of Egypt.  When you were weary and worn out, they met you on your journey and attacked all who were lagging behind; they had no fear of God” (Deuteronomy 25:17-18, NIV).

If your heart is weary and in need of some encouragement today, look to your right and your left for your group; be sure that you are connected and not lagging behind.  Perhaps the first step needs to come from you in a search for the Christian community that will walk alongside you and encourage you along the journey to the Promised Land.

But you can also ask God for the refreshing your heart needs.  He knows exactly what will fill your spirit, giving you strength to overcome fatigue, guidance when you need direction, laughter when your heart lacks joy.  As the Israelites journeyed in the wilderness, God led them to an oasis: “They came to Elim where there were twelve springs of water and seventy date palms, and they camped there beside the waters” (Exodus 15:27).    Priscilla Shirer writes: “‘Twelve springs of water’ to match the twelve tribes of Israel.  What a great illustration of God’s overwhelming care and specific concern for His people.  He knows exactly what it takes to refresh you.”

He is the shepherd who knows His sheep.  “He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters,  he refreshes my soul” (Psalm 23:2-3).  Sometimes we sheep feel the hunger and thirst; we know we are empty and in need of filling, but we depend on a Shepherd to guide us to the perfect place for refreshing and provision.

And when He has led us beside the waters so perfect and the green pastures so filling, we have a testimony to share with others, a story to help them along the way as well.  Like the Psalmist, we declare:

“Return to your rest, my soul,
for the LORD has been good to you.
For you, LORD, have delivered me from death,
my eyes from tears,
my feet from stumbling,
that I may walk before the LORD in the land of the living” (Psalm 116:7-8).

We who have received encouragement, in turn encourage others through our testimony.  This encouraging truly is the giving of courage, placing it into the heart of another.  Isn’t that what this cheerleading does? It renews our strength so that we persevere and press on.  God asks us to do this for one another, to stand on the sidelines of a race and cheer, shout, and applaud for the runners: Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:11, NIV).

How can you be a cheerleader for someone else today?

*********************************************************************************************************

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 © 2011 Heather King

Marco Polo

My house really isn’t that big, so it’s a little surprising that my daughters can lose me in it.  And yet, it happens.  I’ll be in the room with my youngest daughter and then I leave to switch over the laundry or put something away in another room.  It’s not long before I hear the shuffle of her feet as she quickly searches for me in one room and then the next.   She doesn’t search long before she assumes the worst–that I’ve abandoned her and left her all alone in the house.  I can tell just by the sound of her voice that she’s standing at the back door and crying for me.

Of course, I would never abandon her.  So, I call out her name as loudly as I can, reassuring her that I’m still here.  Her crying pauses as she listens closely to my call.  Then after just a few seconds of this “Mommy Marco Polo,” she follows the sound of my voice to the one room she didn’t think to look in.  When she sees me, her face lights up for a moment and then she falls into my arms, crying for just a few seconds more as if to tell me how frightening it was to lose sight of me.

Sometimes in the everyday busyness and chaos of life, we can lose sight of God.  We are walking with Him and suddenly we notice that He’s taken another path, and we’re no longer by His side.  Maybe a life crisis or tragedy interrupts our communion with Him and we can’t seem to find God through the darkness we’re in.

It’s so comforting to me that God never really abandons us.  He doesn’t head out the door of our hearts and leave us all alone.   God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5, NIV) and  Brother Lawrence wrote, “You need not cry very loud; He is nearer to us than we think.”

Just like my daughter finds me as I call to her, we can also follow God’s voice to safety and reunion with Him and His purposes for us.

John 10:3- says:

The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice.  He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.  When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.

Sometimes our Shepherd opens the gate and calls out our name so that we’ll follow Him to a new place.  At first, we may think we’ve been abandoned when we no longer see our Shepherd by our side.  But, He’s simply leading us out and He’s issuing a truly personal call for us to join Him.  He knows you, His precious sheep, and He has called you by your name.  God not only loves the whole world, He loves you.  He not only died for everyone, He died for you.  He not only has the whole world in His hands, He has your world in His hands.

Because of His personal care for us, we don’t have to fear abandonment.  We don’t have to fear any circumstance in our life, any tragedy, any deficit, anything new, anything from our past.  God tells us, “Fear not, I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine” (Isaiah 43:1).

So, how do we succeed in this “Spiritual Marco Polo?”–this search for God in the dark places of life?  We know His voice from the time we’ve spent with Him, so even when we cannot see Him at work in our lives, we can hear His call.

This takes effort on our part.  It is a discipline to make time in our busy, fast-paced lives to focus on our Savior.  A.W. Tozer wrote, “God has not bowed to our nervous haste nor embraced the methods of our machine age.  It is well that we accept the hard truth now: The man who would know God must give time to Him!  He must count no time wasted which is spent in the cultivation of His acquaintance.”   We might grow in our faith a little when we listen to Christian speakers or read Christian books or take notes on the sermon on Sunday mornings, but only time spent in God’s presence, meditating on His Word to us in the Bible, really teaches us the sound of His voice.

We can argue that we’re too busy to study the Bible.  Our work schedule is too hectic to allow for significant time in prayer.  Our kids are too loud for us to spend any time in meditation.  Yet, the time to learn the Shepherd’s voice is before darkness.   Then, when we cannot see His face, we can still distinguish His voice and respond to His call.

******************************************************************************************************

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 © 2011 Heather King