God Desires Relationship

woman looking at the crossThe book of Jeremiah in the Old Testament was written in the years leading up to the fall of Jerusalem at the hands of the Babylonians. Throughout this book, God shows his people he desires relationship with them. Yet, the people refused to humble themselves in the Lord’s sight, get rid of their idols, and worship God alone.

God gave the people plenty of time, plenty of warnings, and plenty of opportunities to turn from their wicked ways, repent, and be restored. But they wouldn’t listen.

The people exchanged the glory of being in God’s presence for worthless idols made by their own hands. They abandoned the Lord and embraced idols. God pointed out to the people they were the ones who turned their backs on him, yet, in times of trouble, he was the one they cried out to.

At one point, God told the people to cry out to the idols they made if they were so great. Let them save you. Which, of course, the idols were impotent to do.
The destruction that fell on Jerusalem was the people’s own doing. God is a just God. Not a capricious god. His prophets warned the people over and over and over. The people’s stubborn hearts refused to listen. Their destruction was because of their own choices.

As the Babylonians tightened the net around Judah, the people asked Jeremiah to pray to his God on their behalf. It’s interesting they didn’t say pray to our God. They stated they would do whatever the Lord said. Jeremiah knew better.

Jeremiah told the people they weren’t being honest. They would do whatever they wanted to do, just like always. They didn’t obey before. They wouldn’t obey now.

Just as God was patient with the Israelites, he is patient with us. God desires relationship. He desires we repent and turn from the things we’ve placed before him. God’s goal is restoration. Us to him. Him to us.

God wants us to come to him as our God. Because of Christ Jesus’ sacrifice we can. Even though our sins are as scarlet, just like those of the Israelite’s, God desires relationship with us.

We may not think we are worshiping any idols like the Israelites did, but is there anything we think about more than we think about God? Do we filter his words through our will instead of God’s, and distort his words to suit ourselves?

If so, it’s possible we might have an idol in our heart that needs removed. Then we can have a new heart that connects us with God’s heart.

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For you were not being honest when you sent me to pray to the Lord your God for you. You said, ‘Just tell us what the Lord our God says, and we will do it!’ And today I have told you exactly what he said, but you will not obey the Lord your God any better now than you have in the past. Jeremiah 42:20-21 (NLT)

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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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?

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.

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

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.

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?

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.

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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buttons.

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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3-Minute Devotions to Laugh and Reflect Book Review

Within the pages of 3-Minute Devotions to Laugh and Reflect by Christopher D. Hudson and Stan Campbell, with cartoon artwork by Dennis Fletcher, you will find 90 devotions which combine clever cartoons to tickle your funny bone, alongside serious devotions to reflect on. Hence, the title.

The cartoons catch your eye first, then send you to the devotions. While the cartoons bring a smile, the short devotions leave you with a spiritual message. You might find yourself on the pages of 3-Minute Devotions to Laugh and Reflect, or you might find someone you know. Either way, there is something for everyone looking for devotions sprinkled with humor to start your day.

Here’s an example.

One cartoon shows a salesman in a used book store telling the lady looking at a copy of the Bible…”A bit of highlighting in Matthew, but Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, and Obadiah are like new.”

That made me giggle. The devotion points out that while we have favorite sections of the Bible we return to, we must remember the Bible is a unified story. We need to read the entire book.

Amen?

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House for a fair and honest review, which is exactly what I gave.

Have you read this book? If so, what was your impression of it?

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.

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.

“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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Gluten-free Lemon Butter Chicken Recipe

lemon butter chicken over riceThis delicious gluten-free Lemon Butter Chicken recipe blends lemon and butter together to deliver a marvelous taste that’s hard to beat.

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced in half lengthwise
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
  • ¾ cup gluten-free flour
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 lemons, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • ½ cup fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Pound chicken breasts with a mallet until all are an equal thickness. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon olive oil. (It may take more oil to cook the chicken.)

Coat each chicken breast with gluten-free flour, shaking off any excess. Working in batches, place half of the chicken pieces in skillet and cook 3-4 minutes, then flip and cook 3 minutes longer. Transfer to a baking dish.

Heat remaining tablespoon of oil in skillet and cook remaining chicken. Place in baking dish.

Add butter and garlic to skillet and cook 30 seconds over medium-low heat.

Add lemon slices and lemon juice. Cook 2-3 minutes, flipping the lemons in the pan.

Pour lemon butter mixture over chicken.

Bake 15-20 minutes, or until internal temperature of chicken reaches 165 degrees F. Remove from oven and sprinkle with parsley if using.

Enjoy!

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

I wish you well.

Sandy

A Deep Divide Book Review

Grand Canyon

A Deep Divide by Kimberley Woodhouse is an historical romance set in 1905. The story begins in 1891 Boston with eight-year-old heiress Emma Grace McMurray’s kidnapping. From there, it moves to 1900 Boston with her disappearance after her father informs Emma Grace she will marry whomever he chooses. He tells Emma Grace her future husband will be whichever man can bring a profitable business alliance.

The story picks up again in 1905 in Arizona Territory, after Emma Grace changes her last name, and works as a Harvey Girl waitress at the El Tovar Hotel on the Grand Canyon’s rim.

While working at the El Tovar, a relationship develops between Emma Grace and one of her wealthy customers, Ray Wilkins, Jr. In order for their relationship to grow, she must learn to trust Ray with the truth as trouble threatens.

The author’s many uses of what, to me, seemed as if she was preaching a sermon instead of telling a story, pulled me from Emma Grace and Ray’s story, making it difficult to re-engage.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House for a fair and honest review, which is exactly what I gave.

Have you read this book? If so, what was your impression of it?

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

I wish you well.

Sandy

Please enter your email address on the form located on the right sidebar to sign up to receive posts every Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. Thanks!