Where’s Your Ninevah?

statue of a man“Where’s your Nineveh? Where’s the place you never want to go?”

These are questions Priscilla Shirer asks in her book, Awaken.

We’ve heard the story of Jonah and his outright refusal to take God’s message of repentance to the barbaric Assyrians in the terrifying capital city of Nineveh. Who could blame him? Jonah knew what the Assyrians did to people they didn’t like. Especially people who were Israelites and followed the One True God. And it wasn’t pleasant or pretty.

We know Jonah ran away, boarded a ship, was tossed overboard, swallowed by a large fish, and spit out on dry land before he proceeded to Nineveh like God originally told him.

We know the Ninevites repented and Jonah pouted.

In Priscilla’s devotion she asks us to look at the places or people where God is calling us to go. Those Ninevites, if you will, who we don’t really feel comfortable around. Those people with a reputation for being pretty rough. The ones who are nothing like us at all.

She says if we want to see God’s harvest, then we need to say yes to his call. We need to go to our Nineveh. Priscilla says to say no “is to invite the chaotic distress and confusion that put Jonah in the belly of a great fish.”

It is to say, “Where you lead me, God, I will follow. Where you send me I will go.” However, putting feet to those words, requires something more than words. It requires action.

Where’s your Nineveh? Who are your Assyrians? Where do you feel God is calling you to go?

After you answer those questions, are you willing to go? Or like Jonah, will you run?

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But the very first day when Jonah entered the city and began to preach, the people repented. Jonah shouted to the crowds that gathered around him, “Forty days from now Nineveh will be destroyed!” And they believed him and declared a fast; from the king on down, everyone put on sackcloth—the rough, coarse garments worn at times of mourning. Jonah 3:4-5 (TLB)

You can find my December Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Thankful for the Fleas

man praying

Thankful for the fleas? Seriously? Betsie and Corrie ten Boom were.

Near the end of World War II when Corrie ten Boom and her sister Betsie first entered their barracks at the notorious women’s death camp, Ravensbruck, where over ninety-six thousand women died, besides the stench of backed up plumbing and rancid bedding, they discovered their new residence was swarming with fleas. As Betsie prayed, she told Corrie they were to be thankful in all circumstances. Even for the fleas.

Corrie agreed to be thankful the two of them were still together. She agreed to be thankful they were able to smuggle in their Bible. But when Betsie told Corrie to be thankful for the fleas, she balked. Surely God did not expect Corrie to be thankful for the fleas that bit her.

It wasn’t until Betsie was assigned to a knitting job in their barracks with some of the other prisoners, that Corrie understood to be thankful for the fleas. You see, because of the fleas, the guards refused to enter the barracks. Without the guards coming in, Betsie was able to read aloud from their forbidden Bible to the other ladies in the group. Not only did the fleas allow Betsie to read the Bible to those around her, it also protected the women in the barracks from being assaulted by the male guards.

Not only during this time of Thanksgiving, but everyday, may we be like Betsie and Corrie. May we decide to be thankful for the fleas, however they manifest themselves in our lives.

Oh come, let us sing to the Lord!
Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation.

Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving;
Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.
For the Lordis the great God,
And the great King above all gods.
In His hand are the deep places of the earth;
The heights of the hills are His also.
The sea is His, for He made it;
And His hands formed the dry land.

Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.
For He is our God,
And we are the people of His pasture,
And the sheep of His hand.

Today, if you will hear His voice:
“Do not harden your hearts, as in the rebellion,
As in the day of trial in the wilderness,
When your fathers tested Me;
They tried Me, though they saw My work.
For forty years I was grieved with that generation,
And said, ‘It is a people who go astray in their hearts,
And they do not know My ways.’
So I swore in My wrath,
‘They shall not enter My rest.’ ” Psalm 95

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You can find my November Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Photo by Terren Hurst on Unsplash

Gratitude Finds a Way to Give Thanks

autumn leavesGratitude finds a way to give thanks. Do you believe it? That’s what the minister said this past Sunday leading up to Thanksgiving. He also mentioned the familiar verse of Paul’s; give thanks in all circumstances.

Well, moments earlier, as I prepared to leave the Sunday school classroom where I meet with the ladies in my class, something happened which, depending on your perspective, could be viewed as funny, humorous, crazy, embarrassing, or mortifying. However you might view it, the incident proved gratitude finds a way to give thanks.

Let me explain.

Our ladies’ class recently moved to a new classroom. In doing so, we gave up the closet where our curriculum and other belongings are kept. It’s a long story. At the end of our time together, I left the ladies and went to our previous room to retrieve our study guides for the upcoming quarter.

I returned to our room, passed out the books, and sat down for the closing prayer. When I stood to leave, I felt a very weird sensation on my legs.

When I looked down, I needed a minute to figure out what was on the floor. Encircling my feet was my half-slip. It had slid off my body when I stood. It really was funny, actually. I stepped out of the slip, picked it up, and somehow managed to cram it into my very small purse.

So, here’s where the minister’s message on gratitude finds a way to give thanks makes its way into this post and into my life.

·         My slip stayed put in our opening session of men and women before we dismissed to individual classrooms.  

·         When I went into our old classroom for the books, a man was already seated in the room waiting for his class to begin. My slip stayed where it was supposed to while I gathered our books and left that room.

·         My slip did not fall off while I was in the hall between the two classrooms.

·         My slip did not fall off as I walked between our classroom and the sanctuary to begin service. Besides being embarrassed if it had, I probably would have tripped with the thing around my ankles, and who can say how that would have ended? But from past experiences, I’m thinking a trip to the emergency room may have been in the mix.

·         My slip did not fall off in the service, nor did it fall off as I left the church building.

Instead of any of those less-than-optimal scenarios, God kept my slip in place until I stood up in a room among female friends. He provided enough space in my small purse for me to stuff the unmentionable. You need to understand, when I say small, I mean small. And most importantly, it was my slip which fell off, not my skirt.

As I think about what happened, I look beyond a fallen half-slip, and consider all the many reasons I have in my life for gratitude to find a way to give thanks.

What about you? How have you experienced ways for gratitude to find a way to give thanks in your life?

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I bless the holy name of God with all my heart. Yes, I will bless the Lord and not forget the glorious things he does for me.

He forgives all my sins. He heals me. He ransoms me from hell. He surrounds me with loving-kindness and tender mercies. He fills my life with good things! My youth is renewed like the eagle’s! He gives justice to all who are treated unfairly. He revealed his will and nature to Moses and the people of Israel.

He is merciful and tender toward those who don’t deserve it; he is slow to get angry and full of kindness and love. He never bears a grudge, nor remains angry forever. He has not punished us as we deserve for all our sins, for his mercy toward those who fear and honor him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth. He has removed our sins as far away from us as the east is from the west. He is like a father to us, tender and sympathetic to those who reverence him. For he knows we are but dust and that our days are few and brief, like grass, like flowers, blown by the wind and gone forever.

But the loving-kindness of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting to those who reverence him; his salvation is to children’s children of those who are faithful to his covenant and remember to obey him!

The Lord has made the heavens his throne; from there he rules over everything there is. Bless the Lord, you mighty angels of his who carry out his orders, listening for each of his commands. Yes, bless the Lord, you armies of his angels who serve him constantly.

Let everything everywhere bless the Lord. And how I bless him too! Psalm 103 (TLB)

You can find my November Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Pause for Poetry-But God

mountain lake

But God

Annie Johnson Flint

I know not, but God knows; Oh, blessed rest from fear!
All my unfolding days to Him are plain and clear.

Each anxious, puzzled “Why?” From doubt or dread that grows,
Finds answer in this thought; I know not, but He knows.

I cannot, but God can; Oh, balm for all my care!
The burden that I drop his hand will lift and bear,

Though eagle pinions tire — I walk where once I ran —
This is my strength, to know I cannot, but God can.

I see not, but God sees; Oh, all-sufficient light!
My dark and hidden way to Him is always bright.

My strained and peering eyes may close in restful ease,
And I in peace may sleep; I see not, but He sees.

Annie Johnson Flint

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You can find my November Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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The Bus Isn’t Leaving

On October 30, 2021, our sweet friend and neighbor, Ron Staley, was handed the keys to his mansion in Glory. He is survived by his wife Marsha, daughter Lynn, son Jim, 5 grandchildren, and sister. Plus his best little buddy, Jo-Jo.

I’m not sure how long it will be before I stop looking across the street to wave at Ron, expecting him to greet me with a big smile and thumbs up in return. I expect it to be quite some time, though.

During Ron’s memorial service this past Saturday, one of his nephews said when Ron watched his son and daughter, whom he coached, play tennis, if they missed a point, Ron reacted as if he missed the point. If they scored a point, Ron reacted as if he scored the point.

Referencing Psalm 23, he went on to say that’s what a good leader, a good shepherd, does. A good shepherd feels what we feel. He mourns when we mourn. He rejoices when we rejoice.

I liked that picture of a good parent. A good leader. A good shepherd. Ron wasn’t distant in his children’s lives. He was an active participant. Coaching them not only through tennis, but through life as well.

It’s the same with our relationship with our Heavenly Father, isn’t it? God is not a distant father. He is an active, hands-on, walk alongside us coach. A Father who wants us to do our best. In those times when we can’t return a shot and miss a point, God aches with us. In those times when we score the point and win the match, God celebrates with us.

Ron’s daughter shared some of the lessons she learned from her father. Here are a few of the things on Lynn’s list, to give you a brief glimpse of the man she called dad.

  • Always give your best effort.
  • Always have a Plan B.
  • Give people the benefit of the doubt until they prove you wrong.
  • Everyone is dealing with something.
  • There are two sides to every story.
  • Luck is where preparation meets opportunity.

Although you may have heard most, if not all, of the above sayings before, I’m thinking you may not have heard this last one. “The bus isn’t leaving.” (Stop rushing.) I can almost hear Ron, in his Reading, Pennsylvania accent, say that.

And maybe, our Father in Heaven might say the same thing to us. Stop rushing through this life. The bus isn’t leaving quite yet. Pay attention to those around you. Lean in. Take time to listen to their stories. Lend a hand when you can. Ache when they ache. Celebrate when they celebrate. We’re all in this together.

As far as I know, Ron never said the following to Lynn, but it’s something my dad said to me, and I’d like to share it in this post. “Life’s too short to hold a grudge.”

Ron will be dearly missed by his family and all those who knew him. Pilot and I consider it a deep privilege to have called him friend.

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“Let not your heart be troubled. You are trusting God, now trust in me. There are many homes up there where my Father lives, and I am going to prepare them for your coming. When everything is ready, then I will come and get you, so that you can always be with me where I am. If this weren’t so, I would tell you plainly. And you know where I am going and how to get there.” John 14:1-4 (TLB)

You can find my November Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Remembering Our Veterans

Navy buglerHappy Veteran’s Day to all those who are serving, and who have served in our military. Thank you very much for your sacrifices. Thanks also for the sacrifices of your families. This post originally appeared here on November 7, 2013. I thought it worth repeating. I hope you agree. This post gives a little background of the origins of Veteran’s Day if you’re interested.

My dad didn’t talk much about his experiences in World War II. Although I wish he had, I understand why he didn’t. Although being on a Naval vessel during the attack on Pearl Harbor is something he never forgot, it was not something he cared to share.

There were a few things my dad did tell me, though.

He told me how difficult it was to watch the buddy he fought next to get killed while Dad remained physically unscathed.

He told me how he walked into a restaurant and someone he knew was shocked. They’d heard Dad’s ship was destroyed. It was, but Dad had been tendered to another ship to take over for their deceased gunner before Dad’s ship was hit.

My father told me how much it hurt to come back to the States, the country he’d proudly fought and sacrificed for in the Pacific Fleet, to see a sign in front of a business that said, Sailors and dogs keep off the grass. He put his life on the line for this?

In researching the Tuskegee Airmen of World War II, I spoke with Dr. Bickham, Col. Harold H. Brown, and Mr. Harold Alston, Sr. In talking with these men, they told me of the sacrifices they made to help defeat Hitler overseas and Jim Crow at home. These men faced much worse than signs telling them to keep off the grass.

And here’s where Jesus comes in. Jesus left his throne in glory to come to this earth as a man to fight for us. To win the victory over sin for us. He endured all things we humans endure, to pay the price for our freedom from Satan’s claws of death.

Jesus knew the joys. The pains. The prejudices. The humiliation. The betrayal. The love. The loss.

While I can sympathize and get upset about the unfair treatment others face, unless I’ve walked a mile in their moccasins I cannot truly comprehend the raw emotions and pain events in their lives cause.

But Jesus can.

He won the victory. He is the conqueror. His death and resurrection bought our freedom. Praise God.

Know a veteran? Tell them thanks.

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It’s obvious, of course, that he (Jesus) didn’t go to all this trouble for angels. It was for people like us, children of Abraham. That’s why he had to enter into every detail of human life. Then, when he came before God as high priest to get rid of the people’s sins, he would have already experienced it all himself—all the pain, all the testing—and would be able to help where help was needed. Hebrews 2:16-18 (MSG)

You can find my November Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Is What I’m Hearing From God?

BibleIn her book, What Happens When Women Say Yes to God, Lysa Terkeurst suggests there are five key questions we should ask our self when we wonder, Is what I’m hearing from God?

  1. Does what I’m hearing line up with Scripture?
  2. Is it consistent with God’s character?
  3. Is it being confirmed through messages I’m hearing at church or studying in my quiet time?
  4. Is it beyond me?
  5. Would it please God?

Does what I’m hearing line up with Scripture?

God will not tell us to do something that contradicts his Word. That sounds easy enough, but if we aren’t spending time reading and studying God’s Word, how will we be able to discern if what we’re hearing lines up with what God said? We have to know what the Scriptures say. Knowing the Scriptures doesn’t necessarily mean memorizing chapter and verse, it means reading the Bible for our self. As we read, ask what it says to us. Ask what it says about God.

Is it consistent with God’s character?

God won’t tell us to do anything that doesn’t line up with who he is. A good starting point into God’s character is the list of the Fruit of the Spirit found in Galatians 5:22-23. The Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Is it being confirmed?

My cousin William always told me to look for three confirmations whenever I wonder how to proceed in something I feel God is saying to me. Yesterday, a verse of Scripture I read in my Sunday school lesson earlier that week popped up in four separate unconnected things I read. You think God’s trying to tell me something? I sure do. Now I need to figure out exactly what.

Is it beyond me?

Do we sense God is calling us to do something beyond our ability? Something we can only accomplish through his strength? If so, this is an opportunity to watch him work through us. Think Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt to the Promised Land. That was way beyond Moses’ ability to be sure.

Would it please God?

For this final question, I like how Lysa puts it. You see, if what you are doing pleases God, then even if what you thought you heard from him wasn’t his voice, you still please him. Pause and read that sentence again. As long as what we do pleases God, it’s all good, right?

In conclusion to Lysa’s list she adds, These five questions are your starting place. The more you practice listening for God’s voice, the more it becomes a natural part of your daily life. God wants you to hear from him.

How marvelous is that? The Creator God who spoke the world into being and knit us together in our mother’s womb wants a personal relationship with us. He wants us to hear when he speaks to us. He wants us to know we are loved, and know that his perfect love casts out all fear. Even the fear of stepping out in faith to do what he calls us to do.

Are there any of Lysa’s key questions you go to first when deciding if what you’re hearing is from God?

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But the fruit produced by the Holy Spirit within you is divine love in all its varied expressions: joy that overflows, peace that subdues, patience that endures, kindness in action, a life full of virtue, faith that prevails, gentleness of heart, and strength of spirit. Never set the law above these qualities, for they are meant to be limitless. Galatians 5:22-23 (TPT)

You can find my November Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Photo by Rod Long on Unsplash

Jesus Love Us

statue of Jesus with childrenLast month Pilot and I returned to our monthly ministry of assisting with church service at a local assisted-living facility. He leads singing. I give a devotion. Because of COVID shutdowns over the past year and a half, we’ve not been able to be there.

What a joy to be back with these dear saints in the Lord. Mixed with the joy, is the sadness that comes with knowing some of our sweet friends are now at home with the Lord.

Usually, near the end of our time together, Pilot asks if anyone has a song they’d like to sing. One song I suggest we sing is Jesus Loves Me. It warms my heart and makes my eyes misty to hear these beloved souls sing with all they have in them, the words to a song some learned as children close to a century ago.

But the biggest thing about their singing is this: some of those in attendance reside in the Memory Care Unit of the facility. They may not remember many things, but they remember Jesus loves them.

Jesus tells us we are to humble ourselves and become like little children before him. We are also told to welcome children, because when we do, we welcome Jesus.

Some may look at the group of senior adults who assemble in our little worship service, and dismiss their worth or their value. But I’m here to tell you, their worth is beyond measure. They are valuable. And although some may now have child-like minds, they are more than welcome in the Kingdom of Heaven. Amen?

Was Jesus Loves Me one of the songs you learned as a child?

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About that time the disciples came to Jesus to ask which of them would be greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven!

Jesus called a small child over to him and set the little fellow down among them, and said, “Unless you turn to God from your sins and become as little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. Therefore anyone who humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. And any of you who welcomes a little child like this because you are mine is welcoming me and caring for me. But if any of you causes one of these little ones who trusts in me to lose his faith, it would be better for you to have a rock tied to your neck and be thrown into the sea. Matthew 18:1-6 (TLB)

Jesus love me!

This I know,

For the Bible tells me so.

Little ones to Him belong;

They are weak but He is strong.

Jesus loves me!

He will stay

Close beside me all the way.

Thou hast bled and died for me;

I will henceforth live for Thee.

Chorus:
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
The Bible tells me so.

–Anna B. Warner, 1820 -1915

You can find my October Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Prime the Pump

hand water pumpAlthough my grandparents in Georgia had indoor plumbing, they also had an outdoor hand pump on the back porch. As someone who grew up in the suburbs of Washington, D. C., that pump fascinated me. If you are unfamiliar with the way a hand pump works, you have to prime the pump first.

To do that, you pour a glassful of water into the pump. If not, it won’t matter how much you pump the handle, you won’t produce a drop of water from the well. Once the water starts to flow, you need to keep pumping the pump handle until you have all the water you want.

But one thing to remember, make sure you fill a glass with water for the next time before you quit pumping. That is extremely important. You can’t pump water if you don’t have that water to get it started.

By now you may be wondering where I’m going with this, so I’ll tell you.

Love.

In 1 John, John goes a little bit around in a circle to tell us as children of God, we must love one another, because God is love, and love comes from God. Sort of like the water in a hand pump. We can ask God to help us love others, but it isn’t until we make the effort to love that it will be accomplished. We have to use our glass of love that came from God’s well and prime the pump with it, so God’s love will flow through us to others.

God takes that little glass of love we reserved from the love he gives, and brings up love from his never-ending well for us to give to others. Before you know it, the love is pouring freely.

We could stand at that pump all day long, pumping our little hearts out, but unless we prime the pump first, experience the love of the Father, we won’t draw anything from our well.

If we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is made complete in us. That’s what John tells us.

As a child on my grandparent’s back porch, to my small arms, getting that water started was quite the chore. Sometimes, an older relative stepped in to help get the water flowing.

Sometimes, as a child of God, it is difficult to prime the pump to get the flow of love started. Especially when God calls us to love those who have hurt us, those co-workers or neighbors who drive us absolutely crazy, those who don’t share our religious belief, those who don’t share our values-political or otherwise. It can be difficult.

That’s when we call on the God who is love. The God who loved us first. The God who demonstrated his love for us the day he allowed his precious son to die in our place.

So, my friends, we may never have the opportunity to prime a hand pump to draw water, but since God so loved us, we do have the opportunity to prime the pump of his love and draw from his deep well. But when we do, it’s important to remember, you can’t pump water, or love, if you don’t have a glassful in the first place.

It’s a circle. God is love. Love comes from God. Since God loved us, we are to love others. If we love others, God lives in us, and his love is brought to fullness in us.

Have you ever primed a pump to draw water? If so, did you do it because you wanted to, or because you had to?

Leave a comment below to share your thoughts on the subject. If you think others would appreciate reading this, please share it through the social media buttons.

Dear friends, let us love one another, because love comes from God. Whoever loves is a child of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. And God showed his love for us by sending his only Son into the world, so that we might have life through him. This is what love is: it is not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the means by which our sins are forgiven. 1 John 4:7-10 (GNT)

You can find my October Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

Image by Markus Distelrath from Pixabay

Pause for Poetry-Dear Restless Heart

Dear restless heart, be still; don’t fret and worry so;

God has a thousand ways His love and help to show;

Just trust, and trust, and trust, until His will you know.

 

Dear restless heart, be still, for peace is God’s own smile,

His love can every wrong and sorrow reconcile;

Just love, and love, and love, and calmly wait awhile.

 

Dear restless heart, be brave; don’t moan and sorrow so,

He hath a meaning kind in chilly winds that blow;

Just hope, and hope, and hope, until you braver grow.

 

Dear restless heart, repose upon His breast this hour,

His grace is strength and life, His love is bloom and flower;

Just rest, and rest, and rest, within His tender power.

 

Dear restless heart, be still! Don’t struggle to be free;

God’s life is in your life, from Him you may not flee;

Just pray, and pray, and pray, till you have faith to see.

Edith Willis Linn

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You can find my October Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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