Thought for the day: Advice. Who do you go to for advice? Why? We all have that person, or people, we seek advice from when we are at a crossroads. The real question is: do you follow their advice? It has worked both ways for me. There are a handful of people who I go to. And by handful, I mean less than five. God is included in that count. Sometimes I listen and follow, other times…. Perhaps I didn’t like what they said (including God), so, I did my own thing anyway. You? I’m pretty sure, our stories of doing our own thing all turned out similar. Difficult, and stressful. Can you relate? Why, do we do that? Two words: pride, easy. Our pride that we know best gets in the way, and we want an easy, comfortable, life. Yet, we get the opposite. You? There was a man that at every trun in his life sought advice from God. Moses. He led the Israelites out of Egypt. No simple task. Throughout the Book of Exodus we can read over and over, he cried put to God. May we take his example and when we cry out to God for advice, DO what He says. “Then Moses cried out to the LORD,… So Moses did this…” Ex. 17:5-6 #spreadthewordacrosstheglobe #advicelistenanddo
Nooooooo, not yet!! It’s too early! I don’t want to think about it. I don’t have any money.
I’m sure that as soon as you read the title one or more of those thoughts raced to your mind. Christmas seems to bring that initial response out in people. Retailers seem to be setting up right after Labor Day, while Halloween and Christmas share isles, and Thanksgiving’s corner gets moved each year to a single shelf, on an end cap.
At this time, I will challenge each of us to move towards Christmas with a new outlook and focus. We have nine months until Christmas, and within nine months another event is anticipated with joy and excitement. This year won’t you please join me as we await the arrival of a birth! A birth of a baby boy.
Awaiting the arrival of a new born baby can be the most exciting time, and the most worrisome time. Emotions can be all over the place. It’s been a while since my children were born, however just four short years ago my family anxiously awaited the arrival of the youngest of my grandchildren.
During this study we will focus on the meaning of “Christ”mas, and what the birth of Jesus brings to a lost world. What His birth did for us, and Who He is.
“But you, Bethlehem, David’s country, the runt of the litter— From you will come the leader who will shepherd-rule Israel. He’ll be no upstart, no pretender. His family tree is ancient and distinguished.” Micah 5:2-3 MSG
This is a nine-month focus. The same term as a pregnancy. We will begin in April and go to December. Each month we will focus on one aspect of anticipating the arrival of a baby. There will be an item that I will ask you to place in your house and scripture readings for that item. Each item will lead to the expected arrival of our Lord and Saviors birth. To the true meaning of Christmas and celebration behind the commercialized holiday.
“The LORD says, “Shout and rejoice, O beautiful Jerusalem, for I am coming to live among you!” Zech. 2:10NLT
This idea came to me as we just moved through Easter. We celebrated His resurrection from the grave, and how he conquered death. But, it all began with His birth. God becoming a baby, born to a virgin, in a manger, surrounded by animals, and wrapped in swaddling cloths. Notice I said cloths, not clothes. Big difference. There was no fancy hospital, skilled doctors, and blankets.
With that I quickly counted on my fingers and wondered – how many months before Christmas? What do you know – nine months. The number of months a woman carries her child before giving birth.
I then took my thoughts down memory lane. What did I do, prepare for, and start stocking up on? Then took my thoughts on a stroll through Babies R Us. Mary, Jesus mother, did not have the luxury of Babies R Us, or the local store to begin stocking up. There were no registries, or showers, to provide much needed items. However, like any expectant mother I’m confident she did some preparing, and planning. Even if it was only mental preparation.
If you’ve never experienced giving birth to a child, or are expecting a child, you know mental preparation is just as important. Your life is about to CHANGE. And that is exactly what happed to the world when Jesus was born. Life CHANGED. That is what happens to us when we embrace Jesus as our Savior – our life CHANGES.
“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” Zech. 9:9 LB
If you’ve not had children of your own that’s ok, because I’m pretty sure you have anticipated the arrival of other babies. Family, or close friends, all welcoming in a new member to the family. You have seen, heard, or been a part of the anticipated arrival.
“Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.” Jer. 23:5 LB
So, what is it we do when we are anticipating the birth of a child.
- Pick out names
- Start to prepare a room – paint, buy furniture
- Begin to purchase necessities – until we know the gender we keep it neutral
- We stock up on diapers, wipes, and all the things we know we will need
- Purchase a few starter toys
We will begin this week with the announcement – the news that a baby is coming! And, based on conception this baby will be born at Christmas! The greatest present we will ever receive.
The announcement has been made! A baby is coming!
“There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.” Isa. 11:1 LB
Please join me in this nine-month focus as we are Moving towards “Christ”mas.
©Gentle Whisper Ministries 2017
*picture thehaystack, littledribble, pinterest
As the study of Daniel came to a close today I found the title Beth gave ironic, “Time Gives Way To Eternity.” (Moore – Daniel Lives of Integrity Words of Prophecy) What is the end, really becomes the beginning. So many times in life we get so caught up in the ending, and look at it as a bad thing.
What if we changed our perspective and instead said,
“This is just the beginning for a new thing!” In Revelation Jesus says, “Look! I am making everything new.” (Rev. 21:5a HCSB)
Even Daniel, as the book closes in chapter twelve, is told by God, “As for you go on your way to the end, you will rest, then…” (Dn. 12:13a HCSB). The word “then” indicates a next thing, something else, and it’s not over. What is it in your life that appears, by all the surrounding circumstances, to be the end?
In my life I have had several things that I thought was the end, however given some time it was not. When one job would end and I would think, I’ll never find another job, one would present itself. When a relationship would end, another would begin. Maybe not right away, which is a good thing. You may be thinking, well it was the end because of a death. I cannot say if that person will be in heaven or not and you will see them again, only God knows. What I can say to you is:
“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. There is no favoritism with God.” (Ro. 10:13 & Ro. 2:11 HCSB)
Isn’t that refreshing! Everyone! No favoritism! In my family my brothers and I have a joke with our parents that one of us is the favorite. Since I am the only girl, my line is “I am the favorite daughter!” Of course by reverse logic, as my youngest brother likes to point out, the opposite would also be true. I’d be the least favorite, ha-ha! Either way, there’s a favorite. Our mother, like any other mother, takes the politically correct route by saying each of us is her favorite by position in the family, or by career. That’s safe because there’s only one oldest, one middle, and one youngest, and we each have our own careers. One is not better or more loved than the other. The same is with God – no favorites.
As life moves us through our planned out journey each step builds on the other. As we go through twists, turns, trials, and triumphs we take with us a piece of that experience into the next place, path, and purpose. Take a moment to reflect on your life. What have you learned, and gained, from each experience? Did you think at a particular moment –this is the end? Yet, you are still here.
Earlier this week, I will share with you, it was not good for me. I was feeling like everything was hopeless. I called one of my best friends and shared my frustrations, thoughts, and feeling with her. Since I know her and the struggles she has, I knew she would agree with me. That’s what I was looking for. I can’t be the only one that knows who to call when I want someone on my side. I wasn’t looking for encouragement. The invitation was to join in on my pity party. Can you relate? Do you do the same thing? Can I just tell you, I had my party hooked up! Balloons, streamers, confetti – it was an all-out event full of “woe is me’s,” and I had someone to join me! Together we were having one of the best pity parties until – another One showed up.
This is what happens when a child of God throws a fit, and thinks it’s the end. The Holy Spirit in the midst of the party interceded, in the weak moment of: woe is me, all is lost, it’s the end – He shows up “and helps us in our weakness.” (Ro. 8:26a NLT). At that the party was over, and she and I laughed! Our sorrow turned to joy! Oh don’t get me wrong the troubles are still there. Just not as prevalent because
“We know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” (Ro. 8:28 NLT).
God has no favorites, and in fact waited for two of His children to get together before intervening and ending the pity party. Your sorrow will turn to joy, as a new thing begins.
When we find our self in the wilderness, and the forest thick before us, with darkness surrounding, dig deep in the recess of our memory and proclaim,
“forget all that (whatever is in front of you, behind you, covering you) – it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun (by ending what was)! Do you not see it?” (Isa. 43:18-19a NLT parenthesis mine)
So what we think is the end is really the beginning.
Dear one, like Daniel, your story is not over. Girlfriend, guy friend, we have eternity ahead of us. The time with God will be for an eternity. How do you even begin to measure that? I am such a goal-oriented, people person, that given any opportunity to make a list, and I’m on it! I’m your girl! Thinking of eternity for me, gives me time to make quite the to-do list, and sitting at the top will rest these words:
“Then the One seated on the throne said, “Look! I am making everything new.” (Rev. 21:5a HCSB)
©Gentle Whisper Ministries 2014 – re-post, edited, Dec. 2016
*picture by thehappinesszone, deviantart, webmastergrade
This week our challenge proved to be a bit different. Our challenge was not just focusing on His promise, which imparted the majority of the work on God. This week, our verse had us praying that God. The God of our Lord Jesus Christ would give us wisdom and revelation.
Friends, I could hardly stand it when I noticed my part in the prayer! This past week it wasn’t just focusing on one of His promises with an expectation for him to show up, but instead we had to take the initiative, and ask. Did anyone else notice that?
I will admit I was a bit anxious with all that I asked of God. Were you?
- A spirit of wisdom
- Revelation in the knowledge of Him
- Mind to be enlightened
- To know the hope of His calling
- His inheritance, and immeasurable greatness of His power!
And if that is not enough I will know all of that according to His vast strength!
Now do you see it?! This challenge was to draw us closer to Him, and to know Him better. This week my fellow sojourners we asked God to know him better. And, I don’t know about you but I have felt a bit overwhelmed. That’s quite the list.
In Jer. 29:33 he says, if you seek me you will find me. I am seeking Him, are you? He is letting me find Him, is he you? Oh I pray He is. Friends there is nothing in this world like it!
Yet with all of that, due to my current circumstances of impending unemployment starring me down, five words grabbed my attention.
To know the hope of His calling
“What eye did not see and ear did not hear, and what never entered the human mind – God prepared this for those who love Him.” 1 Cor. 2:9-10 HCSB
I recently celebrated a birthday, and looking back on my life I never expected at my age to be in the position I am in. Some of you may be able to relate, like me –
- You had a good career – until the company restructured.
- You had a plan mapped out for a new career – until that ended.
- You had been is a good financial position – until laid off.
- You had freedom from worries many others dealt with – until my finances dwindled.
Now it’s –
- Seasonal job to seasonal job, or part time to part time.
- Making just enough to pay the bills.
- Having worries that used to be foreign seem like friends.
I share all of this not for you to feel sorry for me. No way! It is to say – I understand what others went through. Your path may be different, it may consist of a broken relationship, health issues, addictions, or another issue. Whatever your issue I bet you never expected it, or wanted it.
The verses this week had me asking – what is the hope of my calling? Do you ever wonder that? If like me you worked in a vocation for a long time, only to have it end, and no doors open back up to it – you may find yourself asking the same question?
Perhaps if you are an empty nester, find yourself single after years of marriage, or being in a relationship, all of a sudden, you may find yourself asking the same question? Even those that have just retired may have asked – now what is my calling?
And maybe not. You might be one that knows. Good for you. However, for some of us – the search is just beginning, or is continuing.
First I had to know what the word calling meant. Like any good student I looked it up.
The Strongest Strongs Exhaustive Concordance defines it as “a situation, station in life, vocation” (p. 2817)
Have you ever had a question about something, really desired the answer, then sought out to get an answer, and when you see the answer you think – that’s it? Yep, that was my thought. Since those five words “to know the hope of His calling” have weighed on me for the last few years I think I was thinking the answer would show up there. Instead it solidified the question even deeper. And with that – I got my spade shovel out and began to dig deeper looking up more verses with the same meaning.
“He has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given to us in Crist Jesus.” 2 Ti. 1:9 HCSB
Ah-ha! A new version of the word “call” the sixth one in. Yes, I looked it up and it says “to invite, A higher authority has invited you.”
Have you ever felt like Charlie Brown? Invited me to what? Friends, please tell me I am not alone here, and that you too have had a question in which the answer was not immediate. Yet, like a good solider, we forge on with the answer still waiting to be conquered.
Then, it happened at work one day, a co-worker said to me, “your responsibility is to live life for YOU, and do what makes you happy.” Right then, the light went on. It was so bright I thought I was going to have to put my sunglasses on. I responded immediately with, “Incorrect my friend. My responsibility is to live life for Christ. To glorify Him, and along the way perhaps introduce others to Him. That is my responsibility.”
Girlfriend, guy friend, that is your responsibility too! That is our calling. Jump back one verse in 2 Ti. 1, and look at verse 8.
“So don’t be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord…Instead, share in suffering for the gospel, relying on the power of God” 2 Ti. 1:8 HCSB
Let’s not allow the word suffering to deter us, we know we will have troubles, and hard times. Instead, let’s look at the last six words – “relying on the power of God.” What was in our week five verse? Yes! Also, that we would know –
“the immeasurable greatness of His power to us who believe, according to the working of His vast strength.” Eph 1:19 HCSB
With my God, the Father of my Lord Jesus Christ, and I, climb this mountain in front of me. Each rock we scale, each trail we take, each pebble that jerks my feet as I climb higher to the calling He has for me, I will remain hopeful that in its fullness it will be made known to me. And yours to you.
Along the journey, with the premise always shining bright to guide us, we recall God is not a man that lies. Num. 23:19. With that we can rely on the last four weeks of promises:
- If we look for Him, He will let us find him. Jer. 29:13-14
- Not to be afraid, or discouraged. Isa. 41:10
- He will provide ALL of our needs. Mt. 6:33
- He is on our side. Ez. 36:7
In the words of my bible study teacher “Isn’t this RICH?!” I love it, as all of His promises entwine with each other and our lives! Do you?
As week five ends and we move into week six, keep climbing. Keep forging on, for goodness sakes, get on your belly and crawl if you have to, just keep going towards the hope of our calling!
“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations…teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always to the end of the age.” Mt. 28:19-20 HCSB
That is our calling. Who are you telling? Who are you inviting to church and/or a bible study?
©Gentle Whisper Ministries 2016
*picture by quotesgram, pinterest, and 123rf
“Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Mt. 4:19 NKJV
I was reminded of that when, I saw a picture of two of my grandsons participating in imaginary fishing. The caption of the picture was “garage fishing.”
They were ready one had a make shift fishing pole with blue tape as the string, and the other used a bat as his pole. They had their fishing hats on, and camo shoes. According to a four year old, and a two year old, camo crocks are important so the fish will not detect your feet.
In one picture they sat quietly, on the concrete steps, feet in the concrete water, patiently waiting for the fish in the concrete to take the imaginary bait. They had assumed the fisherman pose of patiently waiting. You can’t make noise when you fish. It will scare them away. They fish quite a bit with their father. He has taught them a few tricks of the trade.
When you fish you have to have the right bait to catch the fish you are after. I can only imagine what the bait was on the end of the blue tape. And, what kind of fish would be attracted to it.
When you fish you have to be in the right spot. If you are located where no fish are you can sit all day, and not catch a thing. Seated firmly on the side of the concrete pond their fish finder said, “The catch would be plentiful.”
You have to have the right pole, and line. If you fish in rivers, and reservoirs, your pole and line is vastly different to catch Cat Fish, and Bass, than it is for deep sea fishing for Swordfish, or Shark. For concrete fishing they were well equipped.
As I looked at their picture, and immediately hit the “like” button, I was reminded of two other brothers that were fishermen.
“And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen.” Mt. 4:18
You and I are fishermen. We sit on our concrete steps, with our feet in the concrete pond.
Our step is our workplace, neighborhood, grocery store, gym, and right in our own homes. It is the places we go to.
Our concrete pond is anywhere our feet land.
We may not be using a stick, or a bat, with tape on the end for our fishing pole. At least I hope not. Especially a bat; instead may we use words of encouragement, and truth.
“Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you are doing” 1 Th. 5:11 NKJV
As the boys sat side by side, I imagine they encouraged each other. They said, “Look here comes a fish,” or “move your pole over here.” Things fishermen say. Maybe even “oh that one got away, but you’ll get the next one.” If you have ever fished that may sound familiar. You may even have a few more lines of your own. And, as the fishermen encourage each other, it is always in love, and friendship. It is by their actions, and our actions, as fishermen that we draw the fish in. The bait of our actions will draw the fish in, or scare them away.
“All of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous.” 1 Pe. 3:8 NKJV
As we bait our lines again preparing ourselves for the next fish. We steady ourselves with patience. A person that fishes will tell you, sometimes they are out all day before they get one catch. It takes perseverance to wait for the paper fish in the concrete pond.
We as fishermen are called to have the same patience, and perseverance as we fish in our concrete ponds. One may get away; one may take the bait, but not stay around; some days there will be no fish to be found; but in it all stay the course – feet steadied, pole baited, and ready. They will come. And don’t forget – the camo crocks!
“Strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy, giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers.” Col. 1:11-12 NKJV
In the other picture they had put all their skills to use at the concrete pond. It had paid off as they held their catch high, and proud! It was a successful day at the concrete pond! The paper fish hung on the blue tape line connected to the blue tape bait. The fishermen’s patience paid off.
Our concrete pond may not produce paper fish. But, our concrete pond is filled with hungry people, waiting to be encouraged, waiting to heal he paper cut in their heart, waiting to know that there is a God that loves and cares about them. Our concrete pond is filled with plenty of people, but the on the sides there are few fishermen with a baited pole.
“The harvest is truly plentiful, but the laborers are few.” Mt. 9:37 NKJV
May you, and I, go fishing with our Heavenly Father. He will teach us his tricks of the trade.
“They immediately left their nets and followed Him.” Mt. 4:20 NKJV
See you at the concrete pond!
©Gentle Whisper Ministries 2015
There are people that are only in your life for a moment, yet their words stay long after they’ve gone.
One day at work I met a young man. This young man was smiling, and though his exterior gave the impression of a cactus his character peeked through when I spoke to him. His spirit was kind, gentle, and helpful. I imagine the cactus exterior was due to a rough life, and the environment that surrounded him.
But for a moment, in our conversation, he allowed his true self to relax. The conversation was brief, and consisted of me trying to get him to see the importance of doing his work. One of the questions I pose is “what do you want to be when you grow up?” That is a question I still ask myself. My goal is to determine how much schooling they will need in hopes to spark some motivation for the task at hand.
The answers are for the most part typical for teenagers. You can probably guess. Yes. The normal six-figure professions: doctor, attorney, engineer, dentist, or professional sports player. Those seem to be the most popular. But, that day was different.
At first he was reluctant to say. That caused me to wonder if it was illegal, immoral. Or both. Breathe. I didn’t say anything. However, staying true to my inquisitive nature I continued to ask. Curiosity was moving quickly to a 10 on the rector scale. What came out next stunned me.
Have you ever asked a question expecting to get a standard answer? In fact, your expectations were so high that you had already prepared an answer. That’s where I was. But, not this time.
He looked at me, smiled, put his hand on the back of his neck, and said “I want to be a welder.”
The last word stopped my breathing mid-breath. Long enough for me to have just enough oxygen to repeat “a welder.” I quickly regained composure and smiled.
As I thought, what an honest answer I said “How wonderful! What an excellent profession, we could use some good welders!” It was like a breath of fresh air. A welder. Not a profession that TV glamorizes, or one society may deem better than the others. Not that there is anything wrong with any professional profession. We need good doctors, engineers, attorneys, etc… but, not everyone can be those. But, a welder. I loved it!
I’ve not forgotten those words. And lately I’ve asked myself – Isn’t that what Jesus does for us? You could say Jesus is a welder.
When a welder welds he turns up the heat. The flame is extremely hot, and sparks fly, as the objects are solidified. When Jesus welds he puts things together, or when broken back together. Isn’t that what happens when Jesus gets out the torch? Things in your life begin to heat up.
Us to God “and all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ…for God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself.” 2 Cor. 5:18-19 NLT
Us to the Holy Spirit: “when you believed – were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.” Eph. 1:13b HCSB
Our hurts: “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Ps. 147:3 HCSB
Our memory: “Impress these words of Mine on your hearts and souls, bind them as a sign on your hands.” Dt. 11:18a HCSB
Not only does a welder weld together, but a welder can weld two pieces apart. He does this to reinforce, and reorganize our lives for His purpose.
“Every branch in Me that does not produce fruit He removes, and He prunes every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce more fruit.” Jn. 15:2 HCSB
There is great importance in being a welder. A welder makes sure that two objects are bound together, and can withstand tremendous weight, and stress. Just think about the Golden Gate Bridge, millions of cars and trucks travel over the bridge daily. What if there was no welder when the bridge was being made? Or one that was unskilled. It would most likely collapse when they tried to cross it. But, when a skilled welder works the two, or more, objects bound together can withstand much more than as a single unit.
Not only is Christ a welder, but doesn’t He call us to be welders too?
We who are in Him are to weld:
Ourselves to the gospel: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes.” Ro. 1:16a HCSB
Others to Christ: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations…teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you.” Mt. 28:19-20 HCSB
As time has passed his words have remained “I want to be a welder.” I pray that God allows him to be one. And I thank him for sharing those six words which has caused me to think upon The Welder. The One that secures me in Himself. The One that also says – you are a welder too.
“Just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please men, but rather God, who examines our hearts.” 1 Th. 2:4 HCSB
I want to be a welder. Do you?
©Gentle Whisper Ministries 2015
*picture by instructables