Devotion of the Week | Pearls of Promise | Page 123

Be the Poem by Tina Hunt

DAISYMARIE - WIN_20140322_103153 (2)[1]Today’s guest blogger is Tina Hunt. Tina’s passion is communicating and connecting through the spoken and written word. For over twenty years Tina was a pastor, a chaplain, and a counselor. Her speaking is characterized as energetic, entertaining, and encouraging, and her writing is practical and leaves you with the feeling you’re sitting together sharing a cup of something warm together. You can find devotions by Tina published on line at ChristianDevotions.us and InspireAFire.com, in print in The Secret Place, and included in the devotional published by Pearls of Promise Ministry.  She also has a blog where she shares book reviews and spiritual reflections, www.PotOfManna.wordpress.com.

pen-and-paper-designRecently this phrase has popped up a few times on my Facebook feed. It appears that it is part of a longer phrase: if you can’t be the poet, be the poem.

As I pondered these few words I remembered something Paul wrote to the Ephesian believers: For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago (Ephesians 2:10, NLT).

The word that Paul uses for ‘masterpiece’ is the Greek word ποίημα {poy’-ay-mah}. We are God’s poem.

Why do we write poems? To convey thoughts, for enjoyment—our own and for others.

The Westminster Shorter Catechism tells us that our chief purpose or end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.

Be the poem. Be the poem you were created to be. What message do we give to others about God? God the Father. God the Creator. God the Poet. What story can he only tell through us? Why do we hesitate to do that, to be that?

We all have dark days, those days when we feel purpose-less. On those days, we need to remind ourselves: we are God’s masterpiece. Our picture hangs in the Lourve of God’s heart. We are all over his refrigerator. Quit doubting it—be His masterpiece.

I’m sometimes one of those doubters. Looking back at choices I’ve made, I’m left to wonder if I’m not more of a mess than a masterpiece. But then I’m reminded of a story tucked in the book of Jeremiah.

God instructs Jeremiah to go to the potter’s house. When he’s there he watches the potter at the wheel. He’s making a vessel, but it’s not turning out right. Here’s the way Jeremiah describes it: the jar he was making did not turn out as he had hoped, so he crushed it into a lump of clay again and started over (Jeremiah 18:4, NLT).

Too often we get to the part where when things aren’t turning out as we hoped, or the way we imagine God hopes, we walk away. We get to the crushing and we think we’re done. But that’s not how God works! Notice, even the crushing has a purpose—it’s how God starts over.

Julia Cameron wrote the book, The Sound of Paper. It’s a delightful treatise on developing our creativity. When I bought it the only sound of paper I was hearing was the scrunching up of pieces of paper that represented all the bad beginnings of my writing.

Maybe the problem was my trying to be the poet, when I was supposed to be the poem, to tell the story I was created to tell.

A prayer for today: God, as we consider the beauty of your creation, we often fail to include ourselves. We are your masterpiece, your poem. Help us in our lives today to convey your message and purpose, and to bring glory to your name.

Popcorn Prayers

 

 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

popcorn makerA few years ago, my husband bought one of those old-fashioned popcorn poppers, the type that is free standing and what you used to see at venues like movie theatres and carnivals. At first, I wondered why we needed something like that, but after a few years of having it around, I’ve enjoyed the flavor of the popcorn and have fun watching the process. The popping starts out slow, with a pop here and a pop there, but then there’s a flurry of fluffy popcorn flying around inside the machine. I never get tired of watching it.

When we pray without ceasing, it’s a lot like popping popcorn. I’ve been entering unknown territory lately and find myself lifting up quick popcorn prayers before I attend any event or meeting because I am uncomfortable in new situations. I pray:

1)    To relax

2)    For favor

3)    For wisdom

4)    That I will only say what the Lord wants me to say

5)    That I will connect with who God wants me to connect with

God can take those prayer kernels and transform them into beautiful answers. They’re quick prayers on the way to the event but I always feel better if I have covered what I am doing.

Do you pray before you go anywhere, even the grocery store?

Yesterday, I had a lovely lunch at a new friend’s house. It was someone I connected with at a luncheon event. After I prayed my popcorn prayer, she was the first person I met, and I found out she had lived in my hometown of San Antonio for twenty years. We had an immediate connection. She is a fabulous faith-based artist who we will introduce in the upcoming weeks on the Pearls website and facebook page. I am convinced she was one of the people God wanted me to connect with at the luncheon I attended because I had a dream of putting original art with spiritual messages on the Pearls facebook page. The problem was I am not artistic! God knew my desire and provided someone who loves using her art to reach others for Christ.

When we pray our popcorn prayers before any situation, we can experience Philippians 4:6-7, which tells us it’s the key to replacing our anxiety about a scenario with God’s peace. Only God knows what’s ahead.

I have learned to pray popcorn prayers the minute I get into the car. Prayers for safety, protection and that the Lord would order my day.

popcornPop. Pop. Pop. It works!

My anxiety level goes down knowing my Father in heaven is taking my hard kernels and making them into something fluffy and beautiful.

What about you? Have you lifted up your popcorn prayers to God lately? It doesn’t matter how many there are. His bowl is big enough to handle them all. LBW

 

 

 

 

 

 

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)

 

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