Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Change Your Garment


68 months ago, I married my best friend.  That translates into five years and eight months.  It seems like forever.  And two states, four apartments, three jobs, four kids, and two home businesses later we are still in love!

My devotion book this morning shared the story of a beggar who was invitied to dine with, and then lvie with the king.  He was provided new clothing and sat at the king’s table, yet he carried his old raggedy clothing with him everywhere because he never knew when he would need them.

Of course the spiritual parallel of the story is that we have been given a change of clothing by the King of Kings at salvation.  We have been invited to dine at His table, to live in His palace, and to enjoy all of the benefits of His royalty.  He offers it all to us through Christ.  Yet we cling to our rags of the flesh, carrying around old habits and besetting sins “just in case we ever need them.”  We do not fully realize the change and transformation that has been offered to us.  I fall into this trap too many times – just not quite willing to let completely go of who I was and to fully become who I am in Christ.

As I thought on this fictional tale and its spiritual lesson, I thought of the fact that today is one of our “anniversaries” as a married couple.  My husband and I have a game to see who can remember that it is the 26th of the month, and tell the other person first.  I usually lose, but today I won.  In fact, Ben texted me to say it is a score of about 65 to 3!

[Hamilton]0026Five years and eight months ago I was getting ready to say “I do” and change my life forever.  I was going to change my name, where I lived, and who I lived with.  In preparation for that important, life-changing ceremony, I changed my clothes.  I put on my best dress – a new white garment picked especially for that day. 

When I accepted Christ at salvation, my life changed spiritually – forever.  My home was changed from earth to heaven, and I was seated in heaven with Christ.  I was offered a new “dress” of purity and holiness.  Why is it that spiritually I so often refuse the new garment which has been hand-picked for me by God?  Today I want to live in my new clothes, and leave my rags behind.

Isaiah 61:3  To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.

Zechariah 3:3-4  Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel.  4 And he answered and spake unto those that stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Who is my neighbor?

In Luke 10 we find the story of the Good Samaritan.  Jesus was prompted to teach this lesson by a question from a young lawyer who asked, “Who is my neighbor?”  Jesus illustrated the love and selflessness of a “neighbor” through the story of the Good Samaritan. 

Several times in Scripture we find that the second greatest commandment is to love our neighbor as ourselves.  I am sure that many of us fail to keep this commandment on a regular basis.  We are so often consumed with ourselves, our schedule, our needs, our property, our family, etc. that we don’t even see the people around us.

Romans 13:8  Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.

Recently my daughter asked me, “Who is that, Mommy?” as she pointed to our neighbor on the sidewalk.  I replied, “That’s our neighbor,” and then explained that a neighbor lives next door to us.  Almost immediately I realized that while this definition would do for now, there is much more to a neighbor than just living next door.

Warren Wiersbe said, “My neighbor has less to do with geography and more to do with opportunity.”

You see, it’s not just the people next door, as I told my daughter.  It’s everyone around us – those “Divine appointments” that God allows into our lives each day.  People that we contact in business, play, and all around us.  I wonder how many of these “neighbors” or “opportunities” I have missed because I was so focused on my own agenda?

And yet, while the scope of a neighbor is very broad, I also realized that I must reach the neighbor next door.  God gives us opportunities to reach people all around us, but He plopped an easy, obvious “opportuntiy” right out our front doors.  It’s not just the people next door, but that’s a great place to start. 

Now that the weather is warmer and our kids are meeting play mates in the neighborhood, I am looking forward to building relationships with my neighbors on our new street.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Look In the Mirror


I was challenged recently as I read through 1 Peter 3.  This passage speaks to wives and their relationship with their husbands.  It tells us that the unsaved husband may be won without his wife saying a word, as he observes her behavior.  Then Peter addresses the way we should adorn ourselves as women.

1 Peter 3:3-4  Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel;  4 But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.

My journal reads,

Too often I worry about my outside appearance because that is what people will see, but I do not take time to care for my inner man.  Though the outside may give testimony to the inner man, the latter is far more important and should be addressed first.

How much time do we spend in front of the mirror?  Smoothing wrinkles.  Covering blemishes.  Brushing hair.  We want to look good when we go out and are around other people.  Should we not show the same care for our inner man?  We need to take time to look into the mirror of God’s Word and allow Him to smooth the wrinkles and wash away the blemishes of sin.  We need Him to set our lives in order so that when we minister to other people, they see Him reflecting from our inner mirror. 

My desire is to care for my spiritual life just as much, if not more, than I care for my physical appearance each day.  This takes intentional decisions.  It won’t just happen on its own or “fall into place.”  I must purpose to take time to look into the mirror each morning.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A Godly Father

Daddy quote jpg

Though we are a few days past Father’s Day, I wanted to share a few thoughts that have been running through my mind.  Each Sunday our Pastor reads a passage of Scripture during the beginning of the service, before he gets to the message.  On Sunday, he read from Colossians 3.  Though it wasn’t the text of his sermon, the verses were applicable to fathers. 

Colossians 3:12-24  Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;  13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.  14 And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.  15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.  16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.  17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.  19 Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.  21 Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.  23 And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;  24 Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.

As I have watched my husband interacting with our four children recently, I have felt overwhelmingly blessed that he is striving to be a Biblical father and husband.

A Biblical Father:

  • Seeks the things that are above – (verse 1-3).  Realizing that he is seated with Christ, he lives and enjoys all of the benefits of the Christ life while walking here on earth.
  • Lives the attributes of Christ in his daily life – holiness, mercy, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering.  My husband is far more patient with our children than I am, showing them mercy while being consistent in discipline.
  • Lets peace rule his heart – not at strife or quarrel with others; at peace knowing that whatever God has allowed is God’s will for his life right now.  Sometimes I feel so overwhelmed and I say “I can’t handle this.”  Ben always responds by reminding me that I can handle it because God has allowed it.  “In acceptance lieth peace”, and when we accept this as God’s will for us for now, His peace rules in the heart.
  • Dwells in the Word of God – makes that quiet time a priority.  With four little children in the house, its hard to find a consistent time of peace and quiet.  But the Biblical father will always find it, knowing that if he is to lead his family in spiritual things, he must walk in God’s Word.
  • Takes care of his wife – sometimes the best thing my husband can do for our children to take care of me.  Many times when I am overwhelmed, stressed, sick, or just tired and have had a rough day, he sends me out of the house for a while to have some quiet time just to myself.  He takes care of things at home so I can come back re-charged to fulfill my duties in the home.  Though I know he loves me all the time, at these times when he shows extra care for me, I feel especially loved.
  • Lovingly disciplines, without provoking to anger – with consistency and in the Biblical manner, the Godly father will discipline his children as he molds their character according to God’s Word.  Our children are learning from their Daddy to be polite, use manners, exhibit kindness and sharing, and obey.  Sometimes its hard to discipline them over and over again for the same thing, but the Biblical Father does it because he takes his responsibility seriously.  He also recognizes that it will serve them well in the future.
  • Leads the home in spiritual things – it’s exciting to me to see my husband teach our children about the things of God.  Elaine was wearing a shirt that said “Praise the Lord.”  Daddy took the opportunity to teach her what praise means, and then he reinforced it several times throughout the day.  Both of my older children are starting to pray on their own, without promptings, and to understand some things in family devotions. 

    Ben also tries to make sure I get some moments for quiet time with the Lord even when things seem to be spinning out of control at home.  And many times I get a call or a text at random points through the day to tell me he is praying for me…especially when my day is difficult.  He may not be here to assist me with an extra set of hands as I care for the kiddos, but he has done something far more helpful in bringing me before the Heavenly Father in prayer.

I’m thankful for the husband God gave me, and the father that he is to our children.  They have a special Daddy, for sure, and one day they will realize just how blessed they are!