Sunday, July 20, 2008
" Before each young woman was taken to the king's bed, she was given the prescribed twelve months of beauty treatments--six months with oil of myrrh, followed by six months with special perfumes and ointments. "--Esther 2:12
Talk about a long time preparing for a date! It took 12 months for Esther to get ready to meet the king of Persia--and she was young and beautiful when she started! Wouldn't we like to spend a year in a spa getting gorgeous? Now that would be reveling in feminine beauty preparations; all the department store beauty potions rolled into one fancy package. What a makeover that would be!
Of course, there was more than beauty preparation going on in the palace. Esther was in training-- learning to practice feminine arts to win a king. But Esther was more than just another female trying to win a beauty contest. Esther's character pleased the king's eunuch and her wisdom and willingness to take a risk for God won her people's freedom and the respect of a powerful king.
Beauty is more than skin deep. Real beauty comes from the heart. First Peter 3:12 says that a women's beauty should be that of the inner self. The ageless beauty of a gentle and womanly spirit is highly valued in God's sight. This gentle and quiet spirit is a woman who is at peace with herself and with God. What better antidote to a violent, impersonal and competitive society than the beauty of a woman whose peaceful spirit blesses everyone she meets?
A woman who is at home in her own skin is able to be a comfortable and compassionate companion, helping others become comfortable with themselves. Clad in casual cottons or costly silks, a woman who is confident in her femininity rejoices in the fragrances, textures, sights and sounds of God's world. She surrounds herself and those she loves with beauty and thoughtful comforts. When you walk into the home of such a woman, you can sense a spirit of peace and sacredness immediately.
Strident voices may tell us that we are not good enough and will never measure up to today's artificial and airbrushed standards of female beauty. But we can cultivate gentle strength, love of beauty, and a quiet nurturing spirit instead of trying to fit into the world's mold. Our femininity is a gift from God, and we can enjoy being a woman at any age. By all means, enjoy the feminine arts offered to today's woman. But remember Esther's brave spirit and never forget that lasting beauty comes from a heart heart that is at peace with God, ready to offer a womanly touch to heal a hurting world!
1. Remember that lasting beauty begins in the heart.
2. Stop comparing myself with others. Have a peaceful and quiet spirit.
3.Enjoy my femininity.
4. Be compassionate and empathetic towards others.
5. Be positive and cheerful when I am with others.
6. Allow God's spirit to calm my heart when I am anxious.
Things to Do:
1. Ask God today to reveal to you what special feminine gifts you can develop.
2. Sit quietly for 15 minutes and reflect on what God is doing in your life.
3. Take a fragrant bubble bath.
4. Write in your journal what makes you feel feminine.
5. Place fresh flowers and lighted candles on your dining table while at dinner tonight.
6. Buy something beautiful for your home.
7. Buy or make something beautiful to wear.
Things to Remember:
Characteristics which define beauty are wholeness, harmony and radiance.-- Thomas Aquinas
Beauty is God's handwriting. Welcome it in every fair face, every fair day, every fair flower.--Charles Kingsley
'Who is this', they ask, 'arising like the dawn, as fair as the moon, as bright as the sun, as majestic as an army with banners?'---
Song of Solomon 6:10 NLT
Thank you for teaching us that true beauty comes from the heart. It is more important to be fair, kind, comforting, peaceful and loving toward others than to have all the perfumes and oils in the world. It is what's in our hearts that matters more than our outward beauty. After all, you look not at out outward appearance, but at our inward beauty...what we carry in our hearts. Help us to be worthy of your gifts. In your name we pray, A-men
Saturday, July 19, 2008
God said, " I will never fail you. I will never leave you."
A woman's day is filled with many demands. Family, work, church, and community involvement can all be satisfying social outlets. But sometimes there is an empty space that others can't fill, a time without activities that distract and delight you. Perhaps your best friend is unavailable, your husband or children are busy with their own projects. You may be experiencing a life change, such as an empty nest with the kids gone and little to do. Suddenly you're feeling pretty lonely.
The lesson tells me that we can change how we respond to feelings of loneliness. Loneliness comes when we are feeling separated from others---and separated from God. We also can be alone is solitude, and not be lonely. Loneliness is the empty ache in the heart, while choosing solitude can make for a time of contented al oneness that does not need company to share its pursuits. We can turn the pain of loneliness into the quiet contentment of solitude, if we are willing to make some choices.
First of all, understand that we are not alone in our loneliness. It's all part of the human condition--everyone has times of loneliness and sadness. God is with us in those lonely times when we feel like "a pelican of the wilderness", as the psalmist wrote. Know that the sorrow of loneliness is like a spiritual wilderness. Remember that God has met his people most intimately and tenderly in the wilderness. When our friends and loved ones are not available, we can still enjoy communication with God.
Second, do not allow the pain of loneliness to close our hearts. When our heart is closed, others cannot enter. We unconsciously push people away when we withdraw too far from intimacy and closeness to lick our emotional injuries. Like a wounded animal, we attack those who want to help us. It's one thing to withdraw from others for a time of rest and personal refreshment. It's another to disconnect and stay disconnected. If we keep pushing others out of our life, we'll eventually find we've pushed God out of our life too. We must choose to open our heart and connect again.
Remember that we don't have to stay lonely. We can choose to reach out in spite of our pain. We are to be quick to forgive when others hurt us or let us down. We are to take our loneliness to God. who will comfort the lonely. Let God fill our empty heart with love.
1. Be quiet and listen to God's whispers in the dark.
2. Remember that God is with me in my solitude.
3. Trust that this season of loneliness will pass in God's time.
4. Choose to have a positive attitude instead of a self-pitying one.
5. Be willing to ask for help instead of proudly insisting on doing everything alone.
6. Be compassionate to others who may be lonely too.
7. Open my heart to share greater intimacy with God.
THINGS TO DO:
1. Invite someone over for dinner or tea, or make a meal to take to someone at his or her home.
2. Put a picture in your wallet or purse to look at when you want to be reminded that you are loved.
3. Listen to worship music.
4. Call a friend or send a post card or e-mail to someone you haven't seen for a long time.
5. Take a long walk in the sunshine, rain, wind--whatever the weather--go out and get some exercise in nature.
6. Read a psalm or scripture aloud.
7. Volunteer at your church or a local community organization.
Things to Remember:
When you have closed your doors and darkened your room, remember never to say that you are alone, for you are not alone. God is within and your genius is within.--Epictetus
The soul hardly ever realizes it, but whether he is a believer or not, his loneliness is really a homesickness for God.--
Hubert Van Zeller
Thank you so much for never leaving us. It is we who leave you. Thank you for assuring us that we are never alone. Help us to realize that we have choices to make, and that we can combat our feelings of loneliness. I am so grateful that I'll never be alone again. In your precious name I pray, A-men
Thursday, July 17, 2008
" I don't mean to say that I have already achieved these things, or that I have already reached perfection! But I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ Jesus saved me for and wants me to be."--Philippians 3:12
This is my true account of what happened to me today. I felt I needed to share it with all of my Spark friends.
I am trying to kick a bad behavior from this morning. I answered my dear husband in a very not- so- nice tone of voice this morning when he was being helpful and I was feeling frustrated. He called me on it, and then I became defensive. I am not proud of my attitude this morning. I have been told since I was a child that my tone of voice would get me in trouble time after time, and my parents were correct. This has truly followed me into adulthood, and I need to work on that character defect.
Then I had this all or nothing thought. " If I can't even be nice to my husband, I am not worthy to be writing all I am writing for Spark. I am a hypocrite . I don't practice what I talk and write about. Maybe I should just leave Spark."
I went on and finished de-cluttering our guest room. While doing that, God spoke to me! He showed me how that was the enemy talking to me and I was listing to him rather than telling him that wasn't true and to leave me alone. I came back and apologized to my husband and all is well now. I know I have to count to 10 before I speak when I am frustrated and not take my being upset out on another person who is trying to help me. When I sat down to read my affirmations for today, this is what was staring me in the face from Joyce Meyer.
One of the things that causes problems in relationships is the unrealistic expectation of perfection. In dealing with people, you must remember that it is impossible for them to behave perfectly. It is impossible for people, no matter how wonderful they are, to never make mistakes or say the wrong thing at the wrong time.
Needless to say, that is exactly what I needed to read about and for myself today. I even shared it with my dear husband Arjay, and we both laughed about it. Wait until you hear this...that was yesterday's reading that I never got to. WOW--God even has a sense of humor. LOL
Here is some of what I read in my lesson for today in the book I am blogging from.
Here is a prescription for frustration. Try to do everything perfect all the time ! It is so easy for us to get caught up in plans and create unrealistic expectations of who we are and what we should be. The lesson suggests that we memorize this motto:
" DO YOUR BEST AND LET GOD DO THE REST."
Life is a gift, but it is a gift with grit. Some days are not going to be perfect. Some days you'll try and achieve a goal and fall short. Tempers flair, rooms get messy, bodies get sick, and clothes wrinkle . That's part of life.
What is our definition of a perfect woman? a perfect relationship? a perfect career? a perfect marriage? a perfect child? Does our definition of 'perfect' get in the way of enjoying life as it really is? Can we become more comfortable with seeing ourselves as someone who is loved and forgiven by God? Can we appreciate the beauty of home, family, relationships, work and worship as works in progress instead of lacking in polished perfection?
The next time we have a bad- hair day, the lesson suggests that we) make a decision that we're not going to let it frustrate us. Instead we are to concentrate our energy on other, more positive parts of our life. Remember that the people who know and love us usually look past the bad hair and see the real us. They're looking at our heart and not our hair. Wee are to give ourselves grace the next time we start worrying about the way our clothes, home, career, personality, or love life don't measure up to some artificial standard in a magazine. That's an airbrushed fantasy, not earthy reality.
The lesson says we are to relax and learn to love the imperfections. recognize that God creates beauty out of imperfection. The knot in the grain of a fine wool, the wrinkles on an older face that has seen and accepted a long life, the weathered look of old leather that is soft as butter, the broken-in shoes that are so comfortable to wear, and the nubby texture of a hand-knit garment are all reminders that perfection is in the eye of the beholder. We are people in progress, and when we give ourselves to the processes of God, we'll discover a new and more beautiful definition of grace and perfection.
1. Do my best and let God do the rest.
2. Be thankful for life as it is rather than as i wish it could be.
3. Not judge a gift by the package it comes in.
4. Be appreciative of the small things in life.
5. Relax and be easier on myself and others.
6. Redefine my definition of perfection to include the beauty of imperfection.
THINGS TO DO :
1. Post a copy of 2 Corinthians 12:9 over your make-up mirror.
2. Start a craft or art project that that can teach you about the process of creativity-- and think about the way you are in process in God's hands.
3. Write in your journal about perfection; what you think it is , how you have tried to achieve it, and ways you can redefine perfection to embrace your life as it truly is.
4. Go to an antique shop and think about the families that have used these heirlooms and why that makes them beautiful, even with worn spots and broken edges.
Bible Verse to post over your desk or mirror: 1 Corinthians 12:9
He said to me,": My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness."
A Thought to Remember:
Perfection never exists apart form imperfection; just as good health cannot exist without our feeling effort, fatigue, hunger or thirst, heat or cold; yet none of these prevent the enjoyment of good health.--Henri De Tourville
Dear God, Thank you so much for making us perfect in your sight. Help us to remember that we cannot be perfect in our sight. Let us remember that Your Grace is sufficient for us. Help us to define a new definition of perfection that will allow us to enjoy our life and love others as they are. Help us to accept ourselves, and yet be able to be a work in progress. You are the potter, we are the clay. In your precious name we pray, A-Men
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
" He has removed our rebellious acts as far away from us as the east is from the west." Psalm 103:12
Did you know that forgiveness is the act of pardoning one another IN SPITE of their errors, shortcomings, or wrong actions? Wow..I'm not sure of those words 'I n spite of '. But then I thought how God forgave us..you and me. God is a God of grace and pardon who sent his own son Jesus to die for all of mankind. You and I are part of mankind. Christ in his death and resurrection triumphed over sin. To be forgiven is to be identified with Christ in the full victory of His crucifixion and resurrection. Imagine that! His forgiveness is complete.
I love what Dwight L. Moody once said. " God has cast out our confessed sins into the depths of the sea, and He's even put a' No Fishing ' sign over the spot!. I remember some of the words to a song about Jesus saying something like, "Sin? What sin? Your sin has been cast into the sea of Forgotteness." I know I loved the song. Sorry I can't remember all of the words correctly. But I know you get the idea.
The Bible promises that if we confess our sins to God, He is faithful and just and will forgive our sins. In the Lord's Prayer, we ask God to "forgive us our sins as we forgive those who have sinned against us." (We say 'sins' in my church, The First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) rather than trespaasses.)
Even though we are commanded to forgive others as we have been forgiven by God, sometimes we may have trouble moving from intellectual assent in true forgiveness. A friend can let us down. We may become a victim of a crime. Someone we trusted betrays us. I know it's hard for me to forgive when I've been hurt, as it is hard for you as well, I'm sure. It is so difficult to forgive those who hurt or mistreat our loved ones, especially our children. As women we are very protective of our family , and we are more apt to seek revenge rather than offer forgiveness if someone has been hurt in our family. But our anger or bitterness doesn't resolve the problem. It only makes matters worse.
We must go to God when it's difficult to forgive and ask Him for the ability to forgive. This kind of forgiveness becomes healing gift. God is then released to work in a situation and change it. If we resist forgiveness, we stay locked in the same situation , facing one another and waiting for the other person to admit to wrongdoing. Forgiveness is an act of pardon. When you pardon others and yourself, God is released to to create a new dynamic
of reconciliation and transformation-turning a negative situation into an opportunity for positive change. The gift of forgiveness can release us from the cycle of wrongdoing and blame.
Choosing to forgive is a big step toward breaking the chain of pain and enter into freedom. It takes a lot of courage to let go of the past, release the pain, and allow forgiveness to enter your heart. It means we have to stop judging who is right and who is wrong. We learn to look past the behavior of those who have hurt you and begin to see their pain and their need for forgiveness. When we are tempted to judge or criticize others it is suggested that we replace our negative thoughts with a more loving attitude. We must also forgive ourselves.
When the situation is too difficult and complex to understand, forgiveness can release us from having to judge. This allows God to work in the situation as He will. It's best to turn the responsibility over to God and concentrate on doing our part to make things right. Give the gift of forgiveness as an offering to God, trusting that he will work all things together for our good.
C. F Spurgeon said, " We are certain that there is forgiveness, because there is a gospel, and the very essence of the gospel lies in the proclamation of the pardon of sin. " Open the door to love through forgiveness. Let love transcend trespasses or sins. Let love transform our relationships. Forgive.
1. Forgive others when they hurt me or let me down.
2. Give myself and others room to make mistakes.
3. Remember that God tells me i am worthy of love.
4. Know that God's forgiveness is a free gift; not something I earn.
5. Remember that we are all struggling and we are all recipients of God's grace, mercy and forgiveness.
6. Choose to be like my Savior and forgive even in difficult situations.
THINGS TO DO
1. Go to someone you have offended and ask for forgiveness.
2. Forgive someone you have been holding a grudge against.
3. Pray a silent prayer for peace, love and wholeness for our country.
4. Send a thank-you not to someone who has helped or forgiven you.
5. Let someone cut ahead of you in line at the bank or grocery store.
6. Make an appointment and talk with a counselor about how to deal with guilt, anger, and grief caused by the hurtful acts of others.
A Thought to Remember:
We need not perfect ourselves to earn the right to be loved. Love and mercy are not prizes for good behavior; they are the ingredients that allow us to heal and to become more fully human! By Wayne Muller
Thank you for loving us so much that you died to forgive our sins for ever. Our sins of the past and our sins of the future. are no more. They are buried in the Sea of Forgottness. There is no fishing allowed there, so we can't bring them back to the surface again. May we give you the things that are to difficult for us to handle so that you may help us forgive and so that you can work our a change for us and in us. We love and trust you Lord. A-men
Sunday, July 13, 2008
" May the Lord make your love grow and overflow to each other and to everyone else just as our love overflows toward you."
--1 Thessalonians 3: 12
Hospitality : Love in the Family Circle
Hospitality. I'm sure we've all heard the word before. We are taught to be hospitable to others. But, I wasn't familiar with the definition of the word. HOSPITALITY is the gift of welcome, of caring for one another and caring for strangers. It is an open hand, an open heart. When we practice the art of hospitality, we reflect the heart of God, who welcomes all into His kingdom
when they knock on His door and seek entrance. I learned today that the Greek word translated as hospitality in the New Testament literally means, " love of strangers" ! How beautiful is that?
The Bible tells us that Abraham hosted angels, he invited strangers into his home, washed their feet, and fed them. The early church was famous for hospitality and for sharing with those in need. Then there was Martha and Mary entertaining Jesus and his friends at their home in Bethany. Jesus always crossed boundaries in the name of love. He mingled with the rich and the poor, the Jew and the Gentile, important religious leaders, and those of low repute. Here is a beautiful thought I read. In Revelation the story is told of the supper of the Lamb, where all nations will come to feast in the new Jerusalem that represents the kingdom of God fulfilled.
The greatest image of hospitality is in the image of the Communion meal. When Jesus met with his disciples in the Upper Room the night before he was crucified, He broke bread and drank wine with them. He washed their feet and told them about the kingdom of God and His love for them. This is the picture of Christ's hospitality toward us and our hospitality toward one another.
Hospitality begins in the heart, not in the size of our home, the lavishness of our table, or the elegance of our decor. We don't need a fancy feast, just our loving hearts and willing hands. We can show uor love for God by caring for others. We can care for others both inside and outside our homes. The Rule of St. Benedict says in Matthew 25:35, Let all guests that come be received like Christ, for He will say, "I was a stranger and you took me in."
When we open the door of out homes, we open the doors to our heart as well. A simple glass of water, or a cup of tea will suffice. Nothing fancy, just your love is enough. Show that you care. Hospitality is also taking food or flowers to an ill or grieving person. It can be watching a friend's child so they can run to the store. Offering our skills and talents to those in need is showing hospitality to others. Jesus said, " You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Matthew 22:39
1. Be open to new ideas, tolerant of strangers, and willing to extend hospitality to those who are different from me.
2. Look for the positive in people, appreciate differences and enjoy the ways we are the same.
3. Open my heart to new possibilities for reaching out to others with hospitality and grace.
4. Re,member that I am loved by God and have unique gifts to offer others.
5. Care about the people in my home as much as I care for people who visit my home.
THINGS TO DO:
1. Incite a handful of friends over for coffee and desert.
2. Invite another Christian worker to have dinner with you and your family.
3. Pamper a discouraged friend with a special tea celebration. 4.Visit a shut in or someone in a nursing home or hospital.
A thought to ponder by Peri Wolfman: " I learned early on that setting a table is so much more than just laying down knives and forks. It is creating a setting for food and conversation, setting a mood and an aura that lingers long after what was served and who said what is forgotten."
Proverbs 24:3-4 " Through wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches."
Please help us to be hospitable to others without grumbling, and look for opportunities to care for others. Let us use the gifts and talents you have given us to help someone else in need. In your precious name we pray. A-men
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