Archived Devotions | Pearls of Promise | Page 61

My Kitchen Table

     Ever since I rededicated my life to Christ in 1993, I’ve spent my quiet time with God at the kitchen table.  When we lived in Connecticut, I studied his Word at the kitchen table, the kitchen table represented my place of solitude in San Antonio and now here in Flower Mound, even though I now have a desk in our bedroom, I sit writing this devotion at our kitchen table.  There is something about the light that beams into the breakfast area.  The windows surrounding the kitchen table usually provide the best view of God’s beautiful handiwork.  The kitchen table is where I greet the Lord in the morning and many times, spend time with him in the afternoon.

     I can remember that our view from the kitchen table in San Antonio needed some “sprucing up” so one day my husband and I bought two Crepe Myrtle trees and planted them outside the window so I could see them blossom.  It seemed as my faith grew, so did the Crepe Myrtles.  They were a daily reminder to me of the splendor of God’s creation and every spring, I anticipated their pink blooms.      

     When we found out we were moving from San Antonio to Flower Mound, I went through many emotions about leaving my home town.   I would miss my extended family members, my wonderful friends, the church we attended and lastly, I knew I would miss the now, more mature, Crepe Myrtles for in a way they were symbolic of my spiritual journey.

     When we bought our house in Flower Mound, the trees and spring flowers had not yet bloomed so I did not know the surprise that awaited me on moving weekend in late May.  As we drove up to our new neighborhood, I was awestruck as the streets were lined with Crepe Myrtles while our yard was colorfully landscaped with numerous Crepe Myrtles in the front and backyards.  For me, it was God’s way of reconfirming that our move was his will and that our lives and spiritual walk would blossom even more through this move.  Four years later, I still anticipate the Crepe Myrtle’s blooms each season and as I look back, I am thankful for God’s reassurance during a very difficult time.

The Greatest Commandment

About seven years ago, I was studying Deuteronomy in my Old Testament seminary class where we came across these famous Biblical words known as the “Shema” in the Jewish culture.  For the Jews, the words are an affirmation of Judaism and a declaration of faith in God:

“Hear, O Israel:  The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.  These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.  Impress them on your children.   Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”

 

My professor noted these words are also in the New Testament. When Jesus is asked by an expert in the law to name the greatest commandment in Matthew 22:36,37 he replies, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”  My professor reminded us to pay careful attention to what is written in red letters!   I thought, if God saw these words as important enough to write them on the doorframes of your houses and if Jesus thought it was the greatest commandment, then I needed to find a plaque with these words on them to post in my own home to remind me daily of how I am to love God.

For two years I searched for some kind of plaque to post over the doorframe of my house.  I looked at every Christian book store I came across and even checked for it on line, but was never able to come up with anything.  I asked a local Christian gift shop owner to see if she could find anything like this and she came back empty, saying, “It simply doesn’t exist.”  However, she had a thought.  One of her vendors in Louisiana made custom plaques and was looking for something new so she passed this option by the vendor who loved the idea and created a beautiful plaque with the Shema on it.  The first one ever produced is sitting above my door.

What does it mean to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and strength?”  I believe you can compare it to the time you fell in love with your spouse.  You wanted to spend all your time with them.  Your thoughts were focused on them.  You could not wait to see them.  You wanted to learn everything about them so you studied them!  God wants us to feel the same way about Him.  He wants our hearts to belong to Him.  He wants us to spend time with him every day in Bible study and in prayer.  He wants our thoughts to be centered on him.  He desires that we yearn for Him.  In Isaiah 54:5, scripture even tells us that God is our husband:  “For your Maker is your husband—the Lord Almighty is his name—the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth.”

Do you love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and strength?  I know I want to, but I believe I’ve failed God many times in this area.  I am distracted by other things that pull me away from the place I should be resting in.  Many times, I simply pray, “Lord, help me to love you more.”  The beauty about God is that through his strength we can keep the greatest commandment and through our commitment to love Him with all our heart, our lives will be forever changed.

Where Can You Find God? The Answer May Surprise You!

     How do you know when God is speaking to you?  For me, I know that when I get multiple messages on the same subject, I need to pay attention.  This week, through three different readings, the Lord spoke to me on the same subject, “praise.”  I have always realized the importance of praising God, but I will confess I am a closet “praiser.”  I am not one to raise my hands in church toward the heavens nor am I one to vocally shout “Praise God!” when there is an answered prayer.  Although I love Christian hymns and music, I am not prone to singing at the top of my lungs in honor of the Lord.  However, I do praise God at home on bended knee every day and I love to listen to Christian contemporary music inside my home while I’m cleaning the house.  I praise Him for His creation as I admire his handiwork outside my kitchen window. But is it enough?

     What I realized is that I did not see the bigger picture concerning praise.  When we praise God, we draw Him nearer to us.  Psalm 22:3 in the King James Version states, “But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.”  God lives in our praises!   According to Nancy Leigh DeMoss in her book, “A Place of Quiet Rest,” praising the Lord is a cure for spiritual dryness.  When David was fleeing from King Saul, he was fearful for his life, hiding out in caves, hungry and thirsty, but in Psalm 63:1-5 he praises God despite his circumstances: 

 

“O God, you are my God.  I seek you, my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.  So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory.  Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. So I will bless you as long as I live.  I will lift up my hands and call on your name.”

 

     As I read this, I realized that if God seems distant at any time, I can find Him by praising him!  When we bless the Lord through our words, raise our hands in praise to the Lord or sing to the Lord, it’s an invitation to God to fill us and to inhabit our praises. 

     This concept reminded me of an experience 16 years ago.  I was driving in my car from Stratford, Connecticut to Boston, Massachusetts when I popped in a tape by singer Rod Stewart.  The song, “Have I Told You Lately” came on.  As I listened to the words. I thought, “Wow, that is a very spiritual song and I began to sing it at the top of my lungs over and over to God:  “Have I told you lately that I love you?  Have I told you there’s no one else above you?  Fill my heart with gladness, take away all my sadness.  Ease my troubles; that’s what you do.”

     What happened after that day was amazing!  Almost everywhere I went, the song “Have I Told You Lately” played.  It played when I was at the grocery store.  It played when I was at the drug store.  It played at the restaurants I went to.  I’ll admit, it was a little spooky but I realized God was playing the song back to me.  My praises had brought him very near, so close that I could almost touch Him.  To this day, this song will play at key times when I am struggling with an issue.  It is God’s and my song!

     For me, the message is, I need to get back to the business of praising God.  I had become lax in it and because of that, spiritually dry at times.  Remember the words of Psalm 43:5:

 

“Why are you downcast, O my soul?

Why so disturbed within me?

Put your hope in God for I will yet praise him,

my Savior and my God.

 

Praise God!  He is worthy to be praised!

Standing in the Gap

My son, Kyle, is now a proud Texas A & M Aggie.  It was a long process getting there because, despite good grades, he was not accepted into A & M out of high school.  I think I was more disappointed than he was because I knew how much he wanted to attend Texas A & M, but when we talked about it, Kyle comforted me by saying, “Mom I prayed that if I was supposed to go to Texas A & M that it would happen.  If I wasn’t supposed to go, I prayed that God would close the door.”  Well, for at least his freshman year, God closed the door and Kyle attended another university.

During this past year, one of the prayers I prayed for my son was for his college future.  I knew he would apply again to Texas A & M, so I asked that the Lord would make it clear where Kyle was supposed to finish out his college education.  If it was Texas A & M, I asked God to make it abundantly clear.  Last week, I received a text message from Kyle right before my Bible study.  The group I lead saw me well up with tears of joy as I read God’s answer to our prayer for Kyle.  He had been accepted into Texas A & M! This week, we made a day trip to College Station, secured an apartment for him and purchased some furniture. That same day, Kyle found out he had a job in College Station!  My husband, Kyle and I all agreed that the timing belonged to the Lord and that because the timing was now right, everything fell into place.

In Ezekiel, intercessory prayer like this is referred to as “standing in the gap.”  Unfortunately, in Ezekiel 22:30, God was looking for a man to stand in the gap for Israel by praying for Israel’s repentance of sins and salvation but he could find no one who was willing to do this.  There was no one who interceded on behalf of their people or their country and the Lord was disappointed.

Intercessory prayer has become an important aspect of my life over the past few years.  I pray daily for others but every couple of weeks, my prayer partner Donna and I get on our knees and “stand in the gap” for our family, friends, church, country and ourselves.  We have seen amazing answers to specific prayers.  Work situations have changed for the better, marriages have improved and we’ve seen God work in our children and in our own lives.  An article I read on intercessory prayer stated that through our prayers, we might be literally breaking down the “gates of hell” in someone’s life.  My accountability group prayed regularly for a nephew of one of our group members who was addicted to drugs.  He has now overcome his habit and is a Christ follower.  Our prayers are that powerful!

James 4:2 says, “You do not have, because you do not ask God.”  It’s important to take the time to ask.  The answer will not always be “yes” but if we don’t take the time to pray, we can’t expect any answer whatsoever. Are you willing to “stand in the gap” for those close to you?  Are you willing to be the one to cry out to God on behalf of another?  God is looking for someone to do that so lives and situations can be transformed through the power of prayer.

Blinded by the Light

I wonder what the weather was like when the Apostle Paul journeyed down the road to Damascus?  Because of Paul’s treacherous plans to murder disciples of the Lord or to drag them into prison, I can picture dark ominous clouds overhead, literally close to weeping for its persecuted saints; but there’s no guarantee that it was not a sunny day when Paul was stopped dead in his tracks by the brilliant light of the Lord.  You see Paul thought he was enlightened; he thought he had clear vision.  He believed he had a purpose and a plan that came directly from God.  Yes, I think it might have been a sunny day as Paul traveled to Damascus, determined to fulfill his duties as a Pharisee.

Perhaps Psalm 36:9 can shed some light on this concept for it says “in your light we see light.”  “In your light we see light?”  This made me think about going to the dermatologist.  When I have a dermatologist appointment, it’s usually daylight.  There are lights on in the office, but it’s not until the doctor shines a very bright light on my face that he sees what is truly going on.  He sees all the blemishes and imperfections, and unfortunately, he sees the lines!  He can now tell if there is a cancer growing that I don’t know about.  The light within the light exposes what is really true.

According to The New Interpreter’s Bible, “In your light we see light” means in God’s light there is his favor, his salvation, his deliverance and it is the opposite of darkness.  It might be perfectly bright outside but until the light of Jesus shines on us, we don’t know that we truly need deliverance from our sins and that we need what this light has to offer.

So I think when Paul was blinded by the light of the glory of Jesus Christ, Paul saw light in the light.  Jesus revealed Paul’s imperfections; Paul realized that his mission was a cancer, was misguided and the journey he was on was truly dark, even though it appeared to be in the light.  He had tried to destroy the “light in the light” but you know what, the light always prevails and this time, it transformed Paul into one of the greatest evangelists of all time.

According to Acts 13:7, Paul says the Lord commanded him to be a light for the Gentiles.  Paul, like Jesus, is called to be a light in the light to people living in the Hellenistic period, a period of time where there was a great deal of intellectualism and enlightenment, but within the light of the Hellenists, there was darkness and they still needed to know the Savior.

Just like Paul, each of us probably thought at one time we were walking in the light when we really weren’t.  We had no idea it was truly dark until Jesus’ light shined his light on us exposing us for what we really are, blemishes and all.  And just like Paul, we are told that we as Christians are to be the light of the world.

Our world today is much like the Hellenistic world, full of information, thanks to the world wide-web and cable television, but despite this overload of information, there are plenty of enlightened people who don’t think they need the Lord.  Yes, the sun is shining in their world but they live in spiritual darkness and need us to shine our light on them. The brilliant light of Jesus reflecting off of us can have such a powerful impact on our family, our friends and our neighbors, so much so that they too will be drawn to the light within the light and may realize that what they thought was the right path, was really all wrong.

So is our light on, or is it off?  Can people see the blazing fire of our faith from miles away or is our smoldering fire unnoticeable?  My prayer is that others will see our light in the light and that it will shine so bright that those around you are blinded by its glory and just like Paul, will be transformed.

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