Devotion of the Week | Pearls of Promise | Page 113

Musings from the Book of Psalms by Marilyn Moon Mansfield

Marilyn MansfieldToday’s guest blogger is Marilyn Moon Mansfield,a certified personality trainer with 20-plus years of elementary and secular teaching, training, and speaking experience. Through her presentations, she demonstrates effective techniques to overcome some of the most difficult relationship obstacle: the ability to communicate with those that are “wired” differently than ourselves! 

With humor and inspiration, Marilyn shares how we were prewired and designed at birth with certain behavior patterns and tendencies. Her life-changing message supplies people with tools needed to immediately enhance all their relationships, personally and professionally. Marilyn is a wife, mom and is an active member of her church choir. To connect with Marilyn, email her at: Marilyn@MarilynMoonMansfield.com. Marilyn also enjoys digging into the Scripture and today she shares what she discovered in the book of Psalms.

PsalmsI spent my day with someone I have known for as long as I can remember.  I have heard of and about him many times. He is an author. He has several chapters recorded in the book of Psalms in the Bible.

His name is David.

In the Bible, David is referred to as a “Man after God’s Own Heart,” yet so much of his writing is lamenting, filled with anguish to the point of death. Emotion runs rampant throughout the pages. He questions God, asking Him why he does not do something with the evils of the world since He has the power to do so. He actually BEGS God to send relief or let him go to the grave because he does not think he can take it anymore. In the next breath, he expresses how God fills him with joy in His presence with eternal pleasures! Before you can breathe a sigh of relief, he returns to his desperation point, begging God to rescue him from his enemies and to bring down his pursuers. David’s writings read like a suspenseful, action-packed movie with the good guys going head to head with the bad guys.

So, how does this relate to the modern day 21st Century Christian?

It tells me we are all human. It tells me that even though we may be one who is “After God’s own heart,” we still live in a fallen world and bad things happen to good people. The Psalms encourage “righteousness” and link that action with better living, even when it doesn’t seem to change the circumstances. However, over and over at various intervals during the pages of his writings, God gives David some signs of his goodness because he is able to say things such as “Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.”

Heart in CloudsThrough it all, David never loses sight of the power and awesomeness of God.  He says, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.  Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.”

So, when my life is not what I think it should be, wish it had been or wish it were, I have to say as David said, “The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart.  The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the Lord are sure and altogether righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold, they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb. By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.”

So, as a believer I should not expect to feel like everyday is a holiday because I am a born again believer. What I should expect is to be tested and tried, and sometimes tested and tried to a perceived point of no return. Yet knowing I am walking with God, according to his precepts, I know He is not surprised by what I am feeling, whether it’s good or bad.

To those who always seem to project spiritual emotional bliss at any given moment of the day, I wonder.

Have you walked the paths of David?

Have you had to hide in the cave of desperation?

Have you felt the loneliness of heart where no one seemed to care?

Have you nursed a thorn in your side that rubs you raw almost everyday of your life?

God’s word tells us, “That joy comes in the morning. Weeping only lasts for the night.” For some, the night turns into months and then years.

So what happens when the trials persist, the answers don’t come and the pain still exists?

For me, it is to look and find glimpses of God’s goodness in small things,

Like an unexpected call from a friend,

A red light that turns green before you have to stop,

A computer problem that seemingly fixes itself.

But, to expect to FEEL happy and giddy all the time as some portray what being a Christian is, either I am not a Christian, or the ones who do that are fakes. We shouldn’t continue to confuse others by making them think something is wrong with them because they are not always “rockin’ and rollin’” to the beat of the new prosperity gospel being shared these days. We should stop portraying Christianity like “If you TAKE it, you’ll get a high.” Jesus is Lord…not a Rock Star.  He is to be Honored, Respected, Awed, Revered and Worshipped, not just because his name is mentioned in a song.

He should be Worshipped because He is the Great I AM.

Because He Demands it.

To be a Christ follower is not for the faint of heart.

So, spending my day with David has renewed my strength and encouraged me to keep on keeping on, even when I’m being chased by the evils of this world.

 

 

 

 

Verdict: Guilty!

 

jury

My jury summons asked a question. “Do you want to serve on a jury?” I am going to be honest and tell you I said, “no.” Jury duty is never convenient. On paper, it was a busy week and I wasn’t sure how I could fit it in.

But I turned my paperwork in, and yesterday, the dreaded day arrived. God began to work on my bad attitude the minute I woke up. Jesus Calling was all about letting go of control. I couldn’t control whether I’d be chosen or not and it was making me a little anxious. I admitted my disgruntlement on Facebook and someone said “God always puts us there where he needs us!” Then another said, “Don’t think it’s wrong to not want to, but we have to be careful that we don’t tell God no when he says go. Nobody wants to end up in the belly of a big fish.” (Maybe I’m a little like Jonah, but at least I was driving in the right direction.)

I am thankful for my Christian sisters who speak truth into my heart.

Convicted, I prayed on the way to court, saying, “Oh, alright. Lord if you want me to do jury duty, I’ll do it, but I want to go on record that I’m not excited about it.”

Once I arrived, the first person I ran into was a cute, bubbly blonde who was all dressed up in a bright turquoise suit. She asked me, “Are you here for jury duty?” “I answered “yes” then she said, “I’m SO EXCITED.”

Really? She apparently wanted to be selected for a jury and was happy to be there. I wondered if she was the exception to the rule. There had to be others like me.

I sat down in a sea of other potential jurors. I tried to get some work done but prayed silently, If there is anyone I am supposed to talk to I pray a conversation will start up. As soon as I prayed that, the woman to my right began to speak.

She told me she really did not want to be selected. I knew there was someone else who had the same attitude I had.

I asked her why it was not convenient for her. She then explained that she was the co-chair for a major event on Sunday and needed to work on the event this week. I found out I was attending the same event she was in charge of. What were the odds of that happening? She could have pushed her jury duty back a month but that didn’t work for her, because her son was scheduled for surgery the next month and she needed to be available for him. I could feel her tension increasing as she explained her situation.

The verdict was in and I was guilty.

I had only been thinking about myself when there were others with more pressing matters to take care of than I had.  I wanted to attend a luncheon the following day, but the women next to me was overseeing an entire event. At that moment I prayed I’d be the one selected for jury duty and not the woman next to me.

I was willing to trade my desire to be freed of this responsibility so that someone else could be free. I thought, Isn’t that what Jesus did for us on the cross?

I was convinced the Lord would take me up on my offer, but then my new friend’s name was called for a jury. Oh no! I looked at her in disbelief and said, “I am so sorry.” I was disappointed God didn’t release her. However, it was just a few minutes later when the bailiff announced that their particular jury trial had been cancelled because of a settlement in the case, and the jury was let go after all. I hugged my new friend and was elated for her, even though I suspected I would soon be serving on a jury.

I learned a few lessons from my day at court. First, it is my civic duty to make myself available to serve on a jury. We are one of the few countries that allow its people to decide the fate of another. I am thankful for the freedom we have in the United States.

I also realized I was not putting others before myself. Philippians 2:4 says, Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (ESV) My agenda was no more important than anyone else’s.

And most important, my schedule belongs to God. From the moment I received my jury summons, I was resistant to serving. Instead, my life should be a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God. If that was part of his plan for me, I needed to go willingly and with anticipation of what the Lord would teach me in the process.

So how did it turn out?

While I was not immediately released, I was ultimately not selected to serve on a jury. Believe it or not, when my name was not called, I was actually a little disappointed.

The Basket and the River by Jacqueline Hooks

Jackie Hooks Jacqueline Hooks is our guest blogger today. This is what she says about herself and her ministry:  “I am an everyday ordinary gal who started following Jesus less than a decade ago, and has fallen madly in love with the Carpenter King who saved my life and my marriage.  My husband and I are raising “four holy moly messes” (Jake 10, Jude 9, Grace 7 and Joshua 1).  I am technically a stay at home mom, but I rarely find myself at home, and the soap opera and bon bon life hasn’t found its way into my living room just yet.  I do occasionally allow for a small celebration when all the laundry is clean AND folded at the SAME TIME on the SAME  DAY…and that is typically twice a decade.

In 2012, God called me to begin Pruning Hooks Ministry.  Pruning Hooks is a grass roots group of “Everyday ordinary women serving Jesus allowing their everyday ordinary lives to become extraordinary”. It is a ministry founded on the principal that Jesus wants your daily life, and following Him is a lifestyle of loving and serving and walking with Jesus…no event needed…just a Savior and our hands and feet.   Jesus has called us to serve lunch and breakfast five days a week to Generation One Academy, provide monthly meals to residents of medical housing, love on teen moms in our area, help and encourage single moms and meet the needs of anyone God places in our path. Pruning Hooks gathers each month to listen to an ordinary woman share her Jesus Story which always encourages and reminds us how our amazing God works inside the every day. Because He wants our everyday …plain and simple.

And I write.  Writing has been the tool Jesus gave me from the very beginning of my life to navigate every treacherous road I have walked.  There are boxes of poetry notebooks and short stories stashed somewhere in my mom’s attic to prove it.  My hope is that my words inspire and encourage you to see Jesus in your everyday too.  He is right here waiting for each of us, in the daily mess, hoping we see He wants so much more from us and for us than we could ever imagine.  I pray my writing will lead you to Him.”

Visit Jacqueline’s website at: http://www.pruninghooks.com or like her on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Pruning-Hooks-Ministries/173578226122133

Fingernails[4]I am running late this morning.  We got in from out of town, and I hit snooze 982 times on my alarm which equals about two hours of time, and I woke up at 7am instead of 5:15.  That will jolt you out of bed on the first day back to school after Spring Break.  Luckily, all outfits had been picked out the night before, and the plan was for leftover donuts for breakfast (feel free to judge that breakfast), and the kids had already planned on buying lunch too.  It actually wasn’t a bad morning.  Everyone seemed to move pretty quickly through eating, brushing teeth, finding jackets and shoes.  The baby woke up at the perfect time and he even got breakfast before we were out the door to take the big kids to school.  It was smooth and easy and there were lots of pats on the back reserved for me and my morning awesomeness.

Since we were running so late we decided to drive to school instead of walking with friends.  Waiting in the drop off line is a nightmare.  Always.  People cut in line, hold up traffic, and break all sorts of laws all while trying desperately to get their kids to school on time. I have to turn up the “Jesus Music” super loud so I don’t yell horrible things out the window to the other parents I will likely see in the hall someday.  It’s a crazy balancing act of kindness and stupidity all while keeping your place in the longest line ever.   Jake opted to hop out of the car when we were close to his entrance.  Jude got out shortly after him when we were close to his classroom too.  So, it was just me and Grace and Joshua who isn’t much for conversation at 14 months old.  Grace moved up from the back of the minivan to the captain’s chair.  She looked cuter than cute today partly because she had decided to wear a green frog hat my mom had bought her this weekend…partly because she is missing loads of teeth…partly because she is my girl and she owns a large portion of my heart.  We were talking about her incredible hat when I could feel the tears welling up and spilling all over my face.

“Grace, I love you more than anything.”

“You’re my favorite girl in the whole wide world.”

Ribbit“And YOU are my favorite Mommy,” says Grace.  And she hops out of the car.  Leaving behind the conversation we have pretty often when I feel the tears welling up and spilling over.  Always the same.  Always have to let her know just how much I love her.  You see, I am afraid someone is going to steal and hurt my daughter.  Because someone stole and hurt me.

This is how it feels to be a Mommy who lives inside the delicate balancing act of knowing fear and pain and the reality that bad things can happen to very good little girls, and living in victory with Jesus.  This is my daily tight rope and today, this morning, it feels like fear is going to win and I am going to lock all the car doors, take Grace back home where I can see her every second of every day and protect her from everyone. And I am Jochebed once again.  Making my tiny basket to hold everything I hold dear.  Knowing I will place my baby in a river y’all.  A river.  Knowing I will place my baby in a basket and put the basket in the river.  Some days it feels like too much.

In Exodus 1:22 – 2:10 we meet Jochebed, Moses’ mother (her name is revealed in Exodus 6: 20).  Pharaoh has issued an order that every Hebrew boy born will be thrown into the Nile River, and Jochebed gives birth to a son.  Oh the terror that must have consumed her heart when she saw the face of her precious baby boy, knowing his fate was to die.  And in that moment, of seeing his face, she chose instead to be courageous and brave and bold.  She would hide him.  And for three months she did just that, but there was a point when she could no longer keep her baby hidden, and she began to make a basket.  Coated with tar and pitch.  A basket she must have prayed over.  A basket she cared so completely about.  A basket that she lay at the feet of God hoping that He would have absolute care and control over her precious basket carrying her priceless bundle.  She put her baby inside a basket in a river.  And trusted in God.  And I can’t even imagine the scene at the edge of that river that day.  As she held herself together to not cause a commotion.  As she said a million and four things to insure her child knew how much she loved him.  As the tears welled up and spilled over, and she could not watch and she could not breathe and she could not believe that God would ask her for the basket and the baby and the unbelievable amount of faith required to simply watch the basket float away.

Grace You AreYou see, I am Jochebed.  I am placing my baby, my adorably quirky frog hat wearing princess in a basket every day.  My basket is not made up of tar and pitch.  My basket is made with words of love and encouragement and hugs and kisses…sometimes an annoying amount…because I have to let her know…she has to know how loved she is…in case someone steals her…in case the statistics are true…in case the river is too deep, and the current too fast and the basket goes under…I have to know she knows…

And as my car pulls away from school…

And my precious basket is skipping into her classroom…

God whispers into my ear,

I HAVE THE BASKET…

 AND THE RIVER TOO.

He has the river y’all.  For all of us broken mommies out there…Know this:  He has the river too.  He is carrying that basket we made down the river and He heard every single one of our heart wrenching prayers and He saw every single one of our tears welling up and spilling over and He knew …

He has the river too.

“But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar and pitch.  The she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the banks of the Nile.”

 (Exodus 2:3)

 

Irrevocable

Running girl            Have you ever questioned God’s call on your life?

            Maybe you felt a tug to teach Sunday school, help out with the youth or sing in the choir. Before you ever got involved, you knew beyond a shadow of a doubt the Lord asked you to do it. But lately, because of some bumps in the road, you’re not so sure anymore, and you’re running in the opposite direction.

            I’m guilty of wearing my running shoes, what about you?

            In 2005, I felt a strong calling from God to minister to women. An unusual directive in light of the fact I’d always worked in a man’s world, first as a television sportscaster, then later in a job at an airport.  That’s one of the reasons I knew this pull to women’s ministry was from the Lord. He infused me with a love for women and I wanted to help them in any way I could.

            So for about eight years, first leading the ladies at the church, then through the Pearls of Promise ministry outside the church, I had a desire to teach women how to overcome the dysfunction in their past or current lives. I had grown up in a difficult childhood and it was my heart to share how the love and strength of Christ helped me to overcome and how it can provide women freedom from the past.

            But after a busy and fruitful ministry season in 2013, there was a personnel shakeup in Pearls of Promise. After that, things slowed down to a halt and several friends told me not to worry; God wanted me to rest to prepare me for what was ahead. I wondered if that was really it.

            I questioned my call. How could this happen? Did God change his mind? Did he remove his blessing?

            Then my husband lost his job, so I began to believe I needed to go back to work in the marketplace and put the ministry aside. The key phrase here is I began to believe. This is not what the Lord intended.

            So I ran after full-time work and God began to show me I was running in the wrong direction.  After a command to stop and spend time at his feet in his Word, one of the first verses that popped off the page was Romans 11:29: “God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable.”

            The Webster Dictionary definition for irrevocable is: “not possible to revoke.” The definition of “revoke” is to” to officially cancel the power or effect of.”

            So putting it together, It is impossible to cancel the power or effect of God’s call.

            Early in the morning, snuggled in my blanket, my father was lovingly telling me my call to minister to women had not changed. The call I received in 2005 was the same in 2014. Running away to a full-time job was not the answer. Running back to the loving arms of God was. The call to reach women through the Pearls of Promise ministry was impossible to cancel and God made that clear to me. I needed to trust him with our finances and that he’d provide for the ministry. 

            Praise the Lord for his clear direction and the power of his call.

            Are you discouraged about where you are serving? Are you running the opposite direction of God’s call on your life because it’s gotten too tough and sometimes unfair?

            Remember, his calling on your life is irrevocable. If you are musician, there’s a reason you hear the voice of God through the notes you play.  If you love to sing, it’s not a fluke that worship music sends chills down your spine when you participate in song. If you teach, then watching someone understand a new concept probably thrills you. It’s in your DNA, designed by God.

            The difficulties you are facing may be God’s way of forcing you to re-center. The Lord may want to teach you a new, improved way to facilitate the call he’s placed on your life. That’s what has happened to me and I’m so happy I didn’t make a terrible mistake by giving up on the dream of reaching women for Christ.

            So don’t run away from the God’s call on your life. The Lord may package it in different ways throughout your years but no matter what, it’s what your father in heaven wants you to do. 

            Don’t get discouraged.

            Just like your call, the love of God is also irrevocable and many times through his loving guidance, the Lord will put you back on track when you’re headed the wrong way.

            It’s time to put the running shoes away.

Closed Doors

 Closed door 2            Have you ever prayed for God’s clear direction and asked Him to close the doors if you weren’t supposed to walk through them?

            I am searching for a job for the first time in over ten years and asked the Lord to only open the door to the position I am supposed to take and close all others.

            What I realized is you have to be ready for the consequences of that prayer. It stings when the door slams, uh… I mean… gently closes in your face. It’s humbling when God says no.

            I sometimes get down when there’s no response to a resume or rejection comes.

            Is that how you react when God closes a door in your life?

            My husband responds to my long face with a reminder, “Didn’t you pray for God to close the doors if it’s not what He wants for you?”

            I find myself with a case of “yeah buts” when he says that.  “Yeah, but I thought working at the race track would be really cool.” “Yeah, but I am so qualified for that job.” “Yeah, but they don’t know what I can do!”

            I prayed the same door closing prayer when my son, Kyle, began his job search.  We prayed for God’s clear direction and that Kyle would get a job where the Lord wanted him to work.  He had lots of interest from impressive companies but only received one job offer.  That’s crystal clear.

            When we ask God to close doors, we must trust Him and believe He shuts the doors for a reason and that 

            He has a better plan

            He has a better place or

            He has a different person for you.

            We can’t take the rejection personally because God is in control. Instead, we should praise the Lord for closing the doors. He’s only doing what we asked.

            Proverbs 3:5-6 is a staple passage we should all store in our mind pantry. Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

            I want God to be in control of my life, don’t you? It’s not just about a job. I don’t want to walk through any door He has not opened. Only He knows what is best for us and what’s on the other side of that door. When we don’t pray for God to go before us, we enter at our own risk.

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