January 16 – Law and Order

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The other day I was pulled over by a police officer as I traveled through a small town in Oklahoma. I rolled through a stop sign and by the time I realized what I had done, it was too late.

The kind officer stated to me the obvious and commenced to doing his job. Although I meant no harm and my actions were accidental, for all practical purposes, I had broken the law and thus warranted correction. That may sound a bit harsh, but in reality, law and order are the basic building blocks to everything that exists. And if they are not adhered to, chaos and confusion will destroy all that is good and right in the world.

God is the original law giver, so, His spoken words are literally ‘law in motion.’ And it is by that law all created things find their unique place and function in the grand scheme. This is insightful for all who desire to comprehend God’s way of establishing calm in the midst of chaos.

First, you have to accept the God-given right and responsibility to call forth law and order in a particular situation. At that point, don’t try to re-invent the wheel.

Take time to research laws God has already established. From Genesis to Deuteronomy, you will find all you would ever need to build a solid moral “right and wrong” compass. From there, order your steps accordingly. You may have to rename some things and get rid of others.

But whatever you do, make sure that your physical actions align with the laws you verbally legislate. And if you should ever find yourself floating through one of life’s stop signs like I did, refrain from the urge to complain. On the contrary, take time to thank the Good Lord for the reminder and make the needed adjustments, quickly, if possible!

 Then God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear;” and it was so. And God called the dry land Earth, and the gathering together of the waters He called Seas. And God saw that it was good. Genesis 1:9-10 NKJV

 Biblical Meditation: Isaiah 30:21 Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”January 

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January 11 – Read the Instructions

 

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How often have you started a book without reading the introduction? Or how about the time you tackled a project without bothering to check out the instruction manual? You are not alone.

Honestly, I really would rather skip the “basic first stuff.” It’s all because I want to be done before I ever get started. More times than not, I find myself back at the instructions, but only after much unnecessary confusion and frustration.

I think, “Surely I should be smart enough to figure this out!” Yet, for some strange reason, the simplest of solutions seem to elude me. That’s because instructions and introductions represent the starting place.

In order to understand the heart behind a person, place or thing, you have to go to the source of its origin. Over the years I have met people who desperately tried to make sense of their lives but who had no clue where to start.

Consequently, they often end up experimenting with a myriad of avenues only to end up at a dead-end road. Then they find they’ve settled for some intellectual, philosophical, hermeneutical hog wash.

But that’s really not necessary. There is a God and He has provided instructions with an introduction to His plan and purpose for humanity.

All you and I have to do is be willing to read and receive. In the Bible, found in the very first book, chapter, and verse, are the words, “In the beginning.” Also the same words are recorded at the beginning of the Apostle John’s account of Jesus (John 1:1-2).

What’s interesting to me is the fact that they were written by two different authors in two different time periods. Yet the essence of the message is still very much the same. In both accounts they say, “Stop and consider the origin, or the Source.” In other words, “Don’t take another step toward the future without learning how it all began.”

I don’t know about you, but that’s powerful stuff to me. Even though it takes a little extra effort, I have learned that this process will save me precious time and energy, and give me invaluable insight in the long run.

 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. John 1:1-2 NKJV In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1:1 NKJV

 Biblical Meditation: John 15:10 AMP If you keep My commandments [if you continue to obey My instructions], you will abide in My love and live on in it, just as I have obeyed My Father’s commandments and live on in His love.

January 9 – Obedience is Life and Death (Jenny)

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One of the sorest subjects around our house in our entire marriage involved an animal. Let me be more specific: a 120 pound black lab puppy. (He was not the first pet to be a part of this story, but I won’t go back that far!)

I completely dropped the ball when it came to helping this active and enthusiastic dog. Of all the obedience training I attempted to put in place while Lorenzo was at work, nothing seemed to stick! Several places on our home’s light beige carpet stuck around to prove my ineptness. In spite of all the success of my sisters and other friends and family with their pets, I just couldn’t get it to sink in.

Truthfully, I was too inconsistent to see any real progress! We do live in a society that values obedience training in our pets. And I know lots of animal lovers that do an amazing job. But the stakes really get high when we start talking about the pursuit of obedient children.

My husband has always said that whatever we see in our 2 year-old that goes uncorrected, “multiply that particular behavior” by a 16 year-old. It usually doesn’t give a pretty picture. Research has shown that the foundation to our children’s character is formed by the time they turn five.

What may look like cute antics right now in our toddlers won’t be so cute when they are ten, or older. In much the same way as our dog, (and even more so), our children are begging us for boundaries! They not only need to know “yes, no, who’s in charge, and I love you,” but they need to be trained how to respond in certain situations.

All of us have moments we need our children to stay close to us and not run off. So when our first three children were four and under, I would take them to the mall (a big, safe space) on a morning that wasn’t busy, and I would tell our older two that “our job today is to stay by mommy.”

Then we would walk around the mall, as I reminded them of the goal as I pushed the baby in the stroller. If one of them ran off, I would bring them back and give them a gentle reminder. After fifteen minutes of this kind of training, we’d all be ready for a reward.

Moments like that can really pay off in the long run. We can practice situations at home that will come up later, such as eating in a restaurant, sitting quietly through a wedding, etc.

Obedience doesn’t come just because we demand it, or even from using discipline, it comes from building a relationship. And it is life and death, because we can all face a time when a child tries to run towards a busy street. Then, obedience can save their life.

God loves an obedient heart. He’s certainly not into condemnation, nor does He hold our wrongs against us.

Mistakes will be made. But just as Jesus willingly went through the last moments of his life as God revealed His will to him, so should we cultivate the riches of obedience in our children. And their response to us will always reflect the level of our obedience to the Father as well. Spend time training your heritage towards obedience.

And these words which I am commanding you this day shall be [first] in your [own] minds and hearts; [then] you shall whet and sharpen them so as to make them penetrate, and teach and impress them diligently upon the [minds and] hearts of your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down and when you rise up. Deuteronomy 6:6,7 AMP

 Biblical Meditation: James 1:25

Favorite Source: Hints on Child Training by H. Clay Trumbull

November 30-Bullies and Other Giants in the Land

2 Chronicles 20:2 The Message Bible Jehoshaphat received this intelligence report: “A huge force is on its way from beyond the Dead Sea to fight you. There’s no time to waste-they’re already at Hazazon Tamar, the oasis of En Gedi.”

I first knew of the fight with the Bully when I came to the spot my sister and I met to walk home together. My sister wasn’t there. But I looked to my left, over by the cedar trees, there she was…an enormously big girl was all up in her face. I knew my sis and I could tell she was terrified. If I didn’t do something quick, this mountain of a girl was going to squash her! Just then, I saw my sister’s purse on the ground where she had dropped it in the midst of all the drama. I came behind the giant swinging my sister’s purse like a sling shot. WHAM! I clocked the bully in the head, grabbed my sister’s arm, and we ran for dear life.

I don’t advocate violence, but what do you do when you’re faced with a fight and you are overpowered and outmanned? This is a picture of the above incident with King Jehoshaphat. He was minding his own business when some bullies decided they wanted to fight. Jehoshaphat wanted no part of it. As a matter of fact, he was afraid of the outcome. He knew he couldn’t win.   But unlike me at eight years old, Jehoshaphat turned to God for help (vs. 3). He also got others to pray with him. Bullies come in many forms and in this life there’s no way around them. For you, the issue might be gigantic, but it’s minuscule to God! So what if there are giants in the land! There are no giants too big for your God!

 

November 25- The “Something” He Wants

Don’t waste your time on useless work, mere busywork, the barren pursuits of darkness. Expose these things for the sham they are. It’s a scandal when people waste their lives on things they must do in the darkness where no one will see. Rip the cover off those frauds and see how attractive they look in the light of Christ. Ephesians 5:11-14 The Message Bible

 I have come to realize there are a whole lot of actions that are permissible for me. I can act on them and they aren’t necessarily wrong and won’t cause any major problems for anybody, so I tell myself. If you are in any way tempted by such human tendencies as I am, may I be a source of encouraging insight to you today. Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean it’s the “something” He wants you doing. Don’t allow your selfishness to pull the wool over your own eyes; every step is ordained, planned and orchestrated by the Author and Father of all Creation. There is no such thing as a self-made man or woman at the end of the day. All that we are belongs to Him and He has established some guidelines to help us decipher His will for today. If you have any desire to stand before Him on that “tallying-up” day with a clear conscience and a completed work order, you will have to spend some face time with Him now – day by day! So don’t waste your time in the dark alleys of “I know what’s best for me.” Get on your knees and report for duty with the Master Foreman and get to working in the Light.

 

 

 

November 23-To Buf’ fet (buf-it) or to Buf fet’ (bu-fay): That is the Question!

I Corinthians 9:27

Therefore I do not run uncertainly (without definite aim). I do not box like one beating the air and striking without an adversary. But [like a boxer] I buffet my body [handle it roughly, discipline it by hardships] and subdue it, for fear that after proclaiming to others the Gospel and things pertaining to it, I myself should become unfit [not stand the test, be unapproved and rejected as a counterfeit]. Amplified

My daddy took me to my first “all–you-can-eat” restaurant when I was about 11. I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. It was breakfast, one of my very favorite meals. They had absolutely everything. Hot cakes, eggs anyway you wanted, sausage, bacon, hash browns, biscuits and gravy, everything. You can imagine what my plate looked like! This was not a morning to be eating oatmeal, if you know what I mean. This was the real deal. My daddy even let me have my own cup of coffee. By the time I was done, I was doing the Penguin shuffle! To say I overdid it was an understatement!

Over the years I’ve gotten better about moderation when I go to buffet- style restaurants, but I have to be intentional before I walk into the establishment or I will find myself going overboard. The problem isn’t the abundance of food at my disposal; it is my human tendency to get “just a little more.” Every person on the planet has this challenge in one area or another, because we are greedy and selfish by nature. You watch a couple of two-year-olds play together, it won’t be long before somebody’s crying about a toy they want and the other won’t give it back. Doesn’t matter that there are plenty of other toys to play with; no, they have got to have that one.

But here’s the deal, this word spelled “buffet” has another meaning. When you shift the accent it means “to deal harshly or to strike.” Every one of us has a continuing challenge when it comes to ourselves; we are going to either buf’ fet (restrain) or buf fet’ (indulge). As God’s master pieces, we have His Spirit living in us giving us the ability to know where we need to be aware. So, set your heart today on this nugget of I Corinthians 9:27. Let the Lord guide you as you train your “self.”

Lorenzo

 

November 20- No Need to Fuss

“If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, and do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, and God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.

Matthew 6:30-33

When I was a boy, I loved to get in the sun and throw shadows. I would be walking along and all of a sudden I’d come upon a wall. My shadow would make me look like I was ten feet tall. It was always fun to come up behind my buddies and make them think I was an adult or one of the big boys. Sometimes they would get all nervous until they realized it was just me.

Have you ever found yourself making a big fuss over something only to find out it was just a shadow? Growing up, penicillin was the wonder-cure for everything. My mom was a nurse, and if I ever even acted like I was coming down with something she would threaten to take me to the doctor to get a shot of penicillin in the backside!

One day the visit was inevitable and I got to fussing, “Momma, NO! I don’t need a shot. Please, Momma, It’s gonna hurt!” I worried myself sick all morning over that shot of penicillin and the mean doctor that was going to stick it to me. What I didn’t know is my mom worked with the doctor and had already arranged to give me the shot herself in his presence. I didn’t feel a thing, except a little foolish for making a big fuss over nothing!

Listen, life is no different then a shot of penicillin when God is your Papa. He’s not going to let anyone or anything stick it to you. Open your heart and hear what He’s saying to you today. He loves you and He knows your needs better than you do. All your problems are just sophisticated shadows that have no true power to harm you. Let His Word comfort and guide you. It matters not what the issues are. There’s no need to fuss, Daddy’s got you covered.

Lorenzo

Suggested Bible Meditation: Matthew 6:25-34 and Luke 12:22-34