February 18 – Classy Conversations

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Just because something may be true doesn’t mean you go around blabbing it. And sometimes things appear one way when truly they are not that way at all. Those are the moments when you might be glad you don’t open your big mouth.

As a kid, I had a hard time knowing when to be quiet. Back then I was smaller than everybody else so I tried to make up for it with my mouth. One day I let my mouth get me into a good-size mess with some ornery older boys and they decided to teach me a lesson. Several of the neighborhood kids and I were all hanging out at the playground at the end of the block.

All of a sudden, I found myself peddling my “banana seat” bicycle toward my house as fast as I could go. The boys I had smarted off to were about 14 or so and I was only 11. All I could think about was beating them to my front door and diving in before they got a hold of my neck. But as I bolted into my driveway, my dad pulled in.

He surveyed the situation and gave those bullies a few stout words about picking on me. Boy, don’t you know my chest was sticking way out. I thought to myself, “Yeah, you’re not so tough now!” After daddy finished chastising the boys and they rode off, he quickly turned around and got right in the middle of me.

In no uncertain terms, he gave me the “how come” about my mouth. “Son, you better learn when to keep your mouth shut or one of these days somebody might help you shut it!”

I didn’t know it then, but having “class” about when to speak and when to listen is a Biblical principle. I often counsel friends and family members to take their matters to God in prayer first and ask Him for wisdom before they start sharing their ideas with others.

The primary reason I’ve made this a permanent practice in my life is because I’ve come to realize the hard way that words are like toothpaste; once they’re out of the tube, there’s no getting them back inside! So today I invite you to join me in allowing God to further develop discretion in our discussions. And maybe, that way, nobody else will have a chance to!

The Character First I WILL’s for Discretion:

I WILL choose my words carefully

I WILL practice good manners

I WILL listen to criticism

I WILL not make fun of others

I WILL turn down any invitation to do wrong

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4:6 New International Version

 Biblical Meditation: James 1:19 My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry…

 

February 3 – The “Be” Blessing

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 There is an unprecedented blessing attached to just being. Often it is missed, looked over, or simply ignored in the daily hustle to get things done.

But every living creature has received it. Before any plant, animal or person could do a thing, the “be” blessing was activated.

Take humanity for instance. We are known as human beings, not human doings. Sure, throughout the course of our days on earth we “do” a lot of stuff, but that is not our primary purpose in the presence of our Creator.

He is pleased when we start and end each day with a conscious awareness that it is not what we do for Him that makes the greatest impact. It is, first and foremost, our acknowledgement of what He has done and is doing for us continuously.

We are His workmanship, His masterpiece, His clay! Our job is one of daily rejoicing in being and from that position joyfully molding to the wants and ways of the Master.

In my estimation, it is the “be” blessing which puts the “do” list in its proper perspective!

 And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” So the evening and the morning were the fifth day. Genesis 1:22-23

 Biblical Meditation: Isaiah 64:8 Yet, O Lord, You are our Father; we are the clay, and You our Potter, and we all are the work of Your hand.

January 31 – What Is “Acceptable?”

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There seems to be two ways to look at most things in life. What we accept and what we don’t. It just boils down to those two options. Whether you are looking at fixing a house, disciplining your children, or detailing your car, it’s important to know what is acceptable to you, preferably based on God’s Word.

I remember a time when you could eat off the floor of my little Honda Accord when I was 18 years old. Well, God has provided a new and better little Accord, but frankly, you couldn’t pay me to eat off the floor now! I have experienced a shift in my priorities!

Take time to decide what is acceptable to you in the important areas of your life. Is it “acceptable” to live in a miserable marriage, or do you have a part to play in fixing it? Is it “acceptable” to raise children who run around crazy and disrespect you? Is it “acceptable” to spin the gerbil wheel for eighty years and miss your God-given purpose?

 Know that what you decide, as it coincides with God’s way of doing things, will literally change what you see and experience. Pray and ask the Father to guide every quality decision and He will help you begin the small changes that must take place in your heart.

Jen 🙂

For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. Proverbs 23:7

 

January 24 – The Truth, and Nothing But the Truth

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 I was “truth-challenged” as a kid. My “make-believe muscles” were super-keen. It was fun to take a story and stretch it as far as I could. But, I found out eventually that I didn’t want the results of that kind of living.

I’ll never forget my first major wake-up call. I was in the sixth grade. During recess, several of the boys and I had a healthy game of football going when all of a sudden one of the new “tough girls” decided she wanted to play.

Things went fine until some of the boys starting being inappropriate with their tackling. Next thing I knew, I was in the office with the rest of the boys. The young lady had run to the principal saying she had been attacked. I knew that I hadn’t touched the girl, but who was going to believe me?

I was known for stretching the truth, especially if there were consequences to pay. Thankfully, I had parents who knew me and my mom started digging until she got to the bottom of the matter. But that day, something changed for me. I still had more growing to do in the area of my “yes being yes,” but I realized people will judge you by the standard you set. The you they know comes from the seeds you sow!

 If Christ is the Lord of your life, you have His nature of truthfulness living on the inside of you. But because you live in a world that thrives on lies, you have to cultivate a true heart by attending to true thoughts and actions. Feeding on God’s promises and precepts and His Word will establish a trustworthy foundation on the inside of you. If you are training up your children, this is an especially important area on which to work.

Here are five “I Wills” from the Character First curriculum that put truthfulness in a “doable” perspective: I WILL always tell the truth, I WILL encourage others to tell the truth, I WILL not cheat or steal, I WILL admit it when I am wrong, I WILL not exaggerate to make things seem different than what they are.

Embodying a lifestyle of the whole truth can only come by the help of God. Let our prayer today be one derived from hearts who love to be beacons of true light in the earth. For others to learn to trust God, they must be able to trust us!

 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6

Biblical Meditation: Psalm 15:1-3 LORD, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill? He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart and has no slander on his tongue, who does his neighbor no wrong and casts no slur on his fellowman.  

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 7 – Good Words (Jenny)

boise_valley_wheat_fieldLet me start by saying I don’t get a special letter every day, but I thought these words from a recent note from my husband were worth sharing:   You are truly God’s gift to me. Some days, you are the gentle soft touch that tells me I am loved and cherished. And some days, you are the burr under the saddle that tells me to kick it in gear, it’s time to go! But whatever the day and whatever the message, there is no other place I’d rather be than here doing life with you. You are my wife,  you are my friend.

With encouragement like that, I could climb the highest mountain! Yay!!! Through the process of time, we have lived and learned just a little. There’s been some good, bad, some ‘ugly’ we’d rather forget. We have learned how far gentle words can go. (And make no mistake; a ‘sharp tongue’ has often helped us fall flat on our faces!) No matter what situation we encounter, the tone of voice we choose and the emotions we put to use can make or break each moment of the day.

 In the New Testament, James goes into much detail about the power of the tongue. He really goes into specifics concerning the results of a tongue that’s out of control. I love to see the flip-side of consciously putting our tongues to good use, though. If the product of rough and callous words is unfavorable, how great can the results be when our words are kind?

 I grew up on a cattle and wheat farm. Everything I watched my daddy do involved a complete trust in reaping what he had sown. Our words are like that. The principle of “sowing and reaping” WILL work…for me, for you, for all of us. If you don’t give up, you’ll start to see wonderful results…one “good word” at a time!

A calm and undisturbed mind and heart are the life and health of the body, but envy, jealousy, and wrath are like rottenness of the bones. Proverbs 14:30 Message

 A gentle response defuses anger, but a sharp tongue kindles a temper-fire. Proverbs 15:1 Message

Biblical Meditation: James 3, Galatians 6:7-9

January 1 – In His Name

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The other day, my wife had one of our kids pick up some supplies from town. Our town is small, so periodically we have to go into a nearby town to shop.

She didn’t have any cash on her, so she sent her credit card. Now that credit card functions like a check, in many ways, because it tells the business you are trading goods and services with that you have a source of supply that will cover the purchase price. And if you should by chance fail to do so, they have a means to collect your name and personal information.

My son or daughter was just the “representative.” They went in our name and on our behalf. They were in no way obligated to “afford” the items on our list. And consequently, they have never had a problem with helping run to town in our stead.

Today’s focal verses are a beautiful reminder of our role as representative of Heaven’s Kingdom on Planet Earth. God has already established His Will and His Way. And He made sure it is well documented as His Word in the Book of Testaments, The Bible.

Every single day of our new lives in His son Jesus are to be spent mastering this one thing…Kingdom Deliveries! We don’t write the rules or laws, we just represent the Lawmaker. In His Name is our purpose and thus, our place of provision.

Matt. 18:18-20

18 Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven. 19 Again, verily I say unto you, that if two of you shall [a]agree in earth upon anything, whatsoever they shall desire, it shall be given them of my Father which is in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered together in my Name, there am I in the midst of them. (GNV)

18 “Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.19 “Again I say[a] to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” (NKJV)

18Truly I tell you, whatever you forbid and declare to be improper and unlawful on earth must be [a]what is already forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit and declare proper and lawful on earth must be [b]what is already permitted in heaven. 19Again I tell you, if two of you on earth agree (harmonize together, make a symphony together) about whatever [anything and [c]everything] they may ask, it will come to pass and be done for them by My Father in heaven. 20For wherever two or three are gathered (drawn together as My followers) in (into) My name, there I AM in the midst of them. (AMP)

Context of Meditation: Matthew 18:21-35