Thursday, 30 June 2011

Proverbs 23

These are the verses in Proverbs 23 that stood out for me today:

Vs 3:  Do not desire his delicacies, for they are deceptive food.
In context this is about eating from a ruler's table, but what comes to mind is to not 'want' what others have, whatever that may be.


Vs 19:  Hear, my son, and be wise; and guide your heart in the way.
Vs 26:  My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways.
Look how God calls out to us to listen, hear, submit our hearts to Him.  He wants to guide us in His ways and prosper us with life, good life.



Vs 24:  The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice, and he who begets a wise child will delight in him.
Vs 25:  Let your father and your mother be glad, and let her who bore you rejoice.
My folks are not born-again, but both acknowledge that my life is different, that my husband and I seem to have a strong, respectful marriage, and that my children are different.  I would like to think all these 'differences' they see are because of Christ, my Lord and Saviour.

I would like to believe my children will succeed in Christ even more than my husband and I and that these verses will be true of us.

This is a short one today, but nevertheless, just as practical and true.
How has God shown you His truth today?

God bless
Tracy

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Prayer

These are my feelings on prayer.

When I think about prayer, I think about David.  He cried out to God in his misery and heart-ache.  He cried out in his frustration and anger.  And that gives me hope for my prayer life.  I have done a lot of that!  BUT.... David also constantly praised the Lord, blessed the Lord, thanked the Lord, repented before the the Lord, humbled himself before the Lord.
The point is - he had a very open and honest relationship with God - He was able to come before the Lord with EVERY emotion because he TRUSTED God with his life, feelings and heart-ache.



My experiences
I grew up in a non-Christian home so praying does not come naturally to me.  I always forget to say grace over our food.  When my girls were little and I put them to bed at night, I always said the same prayer - short and sweet and to the point (probably due to a lack of imagination).  My daughter once called me on it and said to me 'you always pray the same thing!'  And I retorted, 'yes, but I always mean it!'  Which was true.

I've never really had this magnificent wordy prayer life but knowing that praying has such a huge impact on my life I have tried to put 'prayer plans' into action.

For example:
When we eat out we always say grace.  Not for the benefit of the other patrons, but so we acknowledge God for the food and thank Him for it.




As it does not come naturally for me to pray in general, I got into the habit of using those little prayer books by Stormie O Martian to pray a little something:

  • for my husband (Power of the praying wife), 
  • for my girls (power of the praying parent), 
  • for my marriage (Power of prayer to change your marriage) and 
  • for myself (Power of the praying woman).

It is amazing how differently you feel about someone you pray for!  And these little prayers really helped someone like me to pray about things I would not ordinarily have thought about, for example, a God fearing spouse for my daughters in the future, their career choices, etc.  Also over time I could add to those prayers and be more specific, more personal.

Having said all that, I believe that as I walk through my day, driving kids to school, doing washing, tidying up, admin work for my husband, constantly chatting to the Lord, praising, thanking, lots of supplication, I am praying.  Prayer is communication with the Lord and you get better at it the more you do it.

My encouragement to you - God does not judge 'how you pray' if you are genuine, and find you wanting - He wants communication with us - so COMMUNICATE!  In all the ways you know how to communicate:  talk, sing, praise, etc.  God just wants to hear from us all the time!  He loves hearing from us, not only when going through a trial, but all the time!


I Thes 5 v 17:  Keep on praying.

God bless
Tracy

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Proverbs 22

The definition of a Proverb:   A short pithy saying in frequent and widespread use that expresses a basic truth or practical precept.
I think this is a very apt definition of a Proverb.  I constantly am amazed out how PRACTICAL and full of TRUTH each Proverb is.  So, in saying so, here are those verse that stood out for me today:

The Lord is maker of us all
Vs 2:  The rich and the poor have this in common, the Lord is maker of them all.
I think on some level (if we're being honest) we all think we are better than someone (or is it just me?).... better looking?  Wealthier?  Cleverer?  More spiritual?  Better connected?  There are many 'measuring sticks' we humans use to 'judge' our standing in life.  God despises all of them.  We are all equal in His eyes, equally valuable!  Why?  We are His creation, created in His image!  For Him, that is good enough - for us - it should be too!


Vs 6:  Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.
This verse must give many parents hope whose children have grown up and left home and gone their own ways.  We are still at the 'training up' stage and my heart's desire is that neither of my girls depart from the Lord.  Life is so difficult as it is - without God - it is so much worse!  But this is a promise we can hold onto should our children take a different path.


Vs 10:  Cast out the scoffer, and contention will leave, yes, strife and reproach will cease.


and
Vs 24+25:  Make no friendship with an angry man, and with a furious man do not go, lest you learn his ways and set a snare for your soul.
These verses tell me about friendships I should avoid.


Vs 20+21:  Have I not written to you excellent things of counsels and knowledge, that I may make you know the certainty of the words of truth, that you may answer words of truth to those who send to you?
Knowing God's word equips you with the TRUTH.
My bible has an explanation that says equipped:
  • To evangelize
  • To counsel others
  • For using spiritual gifts from God
  • To do battle with the devil
God's word - Equipping us!
God's word is so much more than a bunch of books bound together for a good read.  God's word gives life, wisdom, guidance, prophecy, truth and warning.  Its becoming abundantly clear to me how important 'knowing' God's word is!

I'd love to hear your thoughts.

God bless
Tracy
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Monday, 27 June 2011

Living a life of Thankfulness - Part 2

God wants us to live a life of thankfulness.  I think if we do, it demonstrates that we

  1. acknowledge Him as our Lord and Savior, and the source of all good gifts, and
  2. It keeps us humble as we don't look to pat ourselves on the back.
For example:  Instead of me saying to myself - 'awesome veggie soup Tracy (it is winter here)', I say , 'Thanks Lord, for all the veggies I can put in this soup and for how nourishing it is.'

Simplistic, but it makes the point.

Ps 50 v 23:  He who brings an offering of praise and thanksgiving honours and glorifies Me; and he who orders his way aright, to him I will demonstrate the salvation of God.
God says in His word that He prefers thanksgiving to sacrifice of material things.


He says for us to give thanks always.
Eph 5 v 20:  Giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.


Even when you pray to the Lord, He wants you to give thanks.
Phil 4 v 6:  Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with THANKSGIVING, let your requests be known to God.




The picture I have in my mind is of a pot on the stove (God), and we are in the pot and we need to cover ourselves with the juices of thanksgiving.  We need to keep topping the pot up with thanksgiving and stew in the juice, so as God puts the temperature up, we absorb thankfulness into every cell of our being.  We should be so steeped in thanksgiving that the pot never dries out, never gets burnt on the bottom, and we become flavoured with thanksgiving.  So flavoursome, so as to draw others - to Christ!

Col 2 v 7:  Rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with THANKSGIVING.



I think the most important times to give thanks is when you least want to.  Kids driving you insane?  Thank God for them, it changes how you feel about them in that moment.  Work boring you to death?  Thank God for it, and thank Him for what He may be bringing your way work wise in the future, etc.  I think the times of true testing of our faith are the times we most need to give thanks.

I am starting to realize how life changing a thankful heart and attitude can impact my life.  I had no idea.  I sat in church, have heard it often, but putting it into practice - gives thankfulness and my relationship with God a whole new dimension.

God is amazing!

How has being thankful to God changed your life?



God bless
Tracy

Friday, 24 June 2011

Living a life of Thankfulness - Part 1


Before 3 weeks ago I had never heard of  Ann Voskamp's book 'One Thousand Gifts' but bouncing around all the blogs I visit and follow, you cannot fail to see it.  Everyone seems to be listing their blessings and gifts as they see it from the Lord and I was intrigued.  So I looked for her book, found it, and am busy reading it.  I am STUNNED!  How pale has been my thanksgiving in comparison!


I have been mulling over all this new information and what it means for me.

So,
1.  I have started a list of things I'm thankful for, but that doesn't seem enough.  Doesn't seem to make an impact, although Ann V does say to keep doing it until it becomes part of who you are.


In my quiet time I read the following scripture:
Ps 89 v 1:  I will sing of the tender mercies of the Lord forever!  Young and old will HEAR of your faithfulness.

Thus,
2.  I feel God is saying not to only list all these gifts to be thankful for from Him, but to verbalize it - tell someone - In the telling of it is the hearing of it and thus it starts to become part of you.  Faith comes from 'hearing', so maybe a thankful attitude also develops better from 'hearing'.

I Thes 5 v 18:  No matter what happens, ALWAYS be thankful, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.



Thus,
3.  I want to develop thanksgiving in myself even if circumstances don't reflect anything to be thankful for.  For example, in our darker days years back our vehicle broke down and we had no money to fix it.  We could not generate and income because we needed the vehicle to work, but I was thankful for my husband's friend who took it upon himself to fix the bakkie (a pick-up truck).  I was thankful for his wife who took my kids to school for me.  I was thankful to her for taking me to the shop for my basics for home.

I have been failing on the thankful scale of late.  I'm more irritated by what goes wrong than thankful for all the gifts and blessing hidden in the open for me to see.  Maybe thats why God led me to all you lovely ladies who have been practicing and blogging about thankfulness.  He wanted me to see, learn and grow.


I am thankful for Ann V's book because it has me focusing on thankfulness and what God's word says about it.

One thing she says in her book which sticks with me, is thankfulness comes before the miracle.  That is encouraging me to be thankful for the things I hope for in faith.  Thankfulness is helping me practice my faith more.


I hope in some small way I have encouraged you in your walk of thankfulness as many of you have encouraged me.


God bless
Tracy

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Proverbs 21

Lets get straight into it!

Vs 1:  The king's heart is like a stream of water directed by the Lord, He turns it wherever He pleases.
This is an excellent goal - to have our hearts directed by the Lord, turning it where He wants it to go!
Which way is God directing you?

Vs 2:  People may think they are doing what is right, but the Lord examines the heart.
Its all about motives.  Ask yourself why you want to do something.  Why do you want to be involved?  Is it to look good?  Or is it a genuine desire to do what you feel God want you to do?  Often when I have done something and it goes wrong, when I look closer, my motives were not pure.  I did it for a response, or to look good, or to feel better about myself.  When in fact, I should be doing it for God.

What are your motives?
Vs 9:  It is better to live alone in the corner of an attic that with a contentious wife in a lovely home.
Vs 19:  It is better to live alone in the desert than with a crabby, complaining wife.
Okay, so now I just feel picked on!
Is this me? Yikes

Vs 23:  Whoever guards his mouth and tongue keeps his soul from troubles
Okay, so this one helps me not be represented in vss 9 and 19!

Vs 31:  The horse is prepared for the day of battle, but deliverance is of the Lord.
This speaks of making preparations, plans, etc.  Without the Lord these plans will come to nothing or at least they won't be anywhere near as effective or productive as with the Lord.

We need God in our Planning!
We are nothing without the Lord.  My need of the Lord is great and His grace and mercy to lead me and guide me, despite my stubbornness and my faults, is humbling.

What verse in this chapter stands out for you?

God bless
Tracy

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

It's ALL God's


Ps 24 v 1-2:  The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it.  The world and all its people belong to Him.  For He laid the earth's foundations on the seas and built it on the oceans depths


Isaiah 66 v 1-2:  This is what the Lord says: "Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool.  Could you ever build Me a temple as good as that?  Could you build a dwelling place for Me?  My hands have made both heaven and earth, and they are mine.  I, the Lord, have spoken."



Lev 25 v 23:  And remember, the land must never be sold on a permanent basis because it really belongs to Me.  You are only foreigners and tenants living with Me.

I was paging through my bible wondering what to blog about.  I have lots of ideas floating around my mind, just nothing coming together, but in paging through, these 3 scriptures popped out one after another.

In thinking about them I thought that as homeowners we think we look after our stuff, big and small.  When we loan something from someone, eg a power tool or whatever, we like to think we look after it and return it in as good a condition as we got it.

As someone who might rent a property - we'd like to think we look after it as if it were our own.  I will say, though, my kids tend to be haphazard about looking after things.  But if they save and buy something with their hard-saved moneys, they definitely look after THAT purchase pretty well.


I think the above scriptures should firstly put into perspective that nothing is ours!  Everything is the Lord's!  He may give it to us for a season, be it property, favour with man (in business maybe?), children, relationships.  But all these things are loaned to us for God's purposes - not ours!  (Please don't think I am discounting anyone who has had loss.  I would hate to do that.  I am just mulling over these scriptures and what they seem to mean. I am in no way belittling or oversimplifying someone's loss!)  And in loaning these things to us, He expects us to look after them as if they are ours.

Job 1 v21:  And he said, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return there.  The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away.  Blessed be the name of the Lord."

This verse was at a time of huge loss for Job.  It may sound very harsh and seem that the Lord is playing with our lives - BUT - He isn't!  Like Job, we have to accept and acknowledge that God knows best, thank Him at all times no matter how we feel, even if it hurts like crazy. ...Blessed by the name of the Lord!

I want to say here that God sees the bigger picture and we don't - but in fact - God is the bigger picture.

TRUST HIM -THANK HIM - ALWAYS

TRUST HIM - in your times of blessedness and in your times of trial
THANK HIM - ALWAYS

God bless
Tracy

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Proverbs 20

2/3rds through my study of Proverbs and I discover new stuff all the time.

Vs 3:  Avoiding a quarrel is a mark of honour; only fools insist on fighting.


I think this is pretty self-explanatory.  Its something I know I battle with, especially with my husband.  I'm sure I've read it before but it really is making an impact on me today.  I'm learning to re-emphasize as I read scripture.  For example, instead of seeing, "don't fight - because its honourable not to"  I'm seeing, "I want to be honourable, so therefore I won't start a fight."  Do you see what I'm saying?



Vs 9:  Who can say, "I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?"
This verse seems so random in this chapter, but nothing about God's word is random!  For me, this is a reminder, in the middle of Proverbs, not to think I know everything, or get comfortable in my salvation.  Daily, we need to come before the Lord and humble ourselves, repent of the big and small problems in our lives, and seek His guidance.  As David says, we should ask God to look into our hearts and expose anything that is not good, so we can deal with it.
Just to emphasize:
Vs 27:  The Lord's searchlight penetrates the human spirit, exposing every hidden motive.

Vs 10 and vs 14.  I think verse 14 is an example of vs 10:
Vs 10:  The lord despises double standards of every kind.
Vs 14:  The buyer haggles over the price, saying, "its worthless," then brags about getting a bargain.

Vs 17:  Bread gained by deceit is sweet to a man, but afterward his mouth will be filled with gravel.
Maybe this is why evil never seems to be satisfied:  The thief needs to steal again, the con-artist needs to con again and the stakes get higher.  They never reach a place of satisfaction.

V 19:  A gossip tells secrets, so don't hang around with someone who talks too much.
Hang around with people who will encourage you to be a better person.  Hang around with those who you value and esteem and their ways will rub off on you.

You often see the opposite is true, bad company corrupts!  We as Christians need to know our strengths.  I don't ever want to be responsible for dragging someone down because I was not strong enough to stand as a Christian.  At the same time, if I sense someone could influence me negatively then I must walk away - immediately - the bible says - run from evil!

Vs 22:  Don't say, "I will get even for this wrong."  Wait for the Lord to handle the matter.
This is really a tough one.  Waiting on the Lord when someone has hurt you is hard.  But God's dealing of a matter is ALWAYS the PERFECT solution!  I think His timing sometimes has a lot to do with the state of our hearts.  If we are not ready to forgive, we delay God's working in the situation.


As per usual, much food for thought.
God bless
Tracy

Monday, 20 June 2011

Marriage - Have I learnt anything?


In July we have been married for 23 years.  I consider that to be awesome!  There have definitely been plenty ups and downs but I would like to jot down 2 things that I have learnt over the years.  I may have learnt them but I don't always practice them, so this is a reminder to 'self' and if this in any way shape or form, encourages you, well that is just awesome too!


What have I learnt:
One of my best investments in my marriage has been the book, Fascinating Womanhood, by Helen Andelin.  I have bought so many of them over the years for friends and family because the principles in it are sound.  Its not a 'Christian' book but its written by a 'Christian' woman and her foundation is biblical.  I'm just going to mention two of the guidelines in it that have helped me.



  1. Helen Andelin says to see our husbands as a coin.  It has 2 sides.  One side has listed all the good things about your husband, ie: he's handsome, great smile, broad shoulders, generous, loves the Lord, great dad, etc.  and on the other side of the coin, his bad points. (best not to list those, right?!).  We should focus only on the good side of the coin.  Esteem him for those characteristics, bring those good things to the fore.  Whenever the 'dark' side of the coin becomes obvious, turn it over in your mind and think on the good side of the coin, a sort of positive re-inforcement if you will.  It will definitely help you look at your husband differently.  I know when I am hassled or upset I will naturally go to the negative, dark side of the coin and then that is what comes to the fore.
  2. The other point I'd like to make is that we women give our men what 'we' want and not what they 'need'.  We give them 'love' because that is what we want/need.  We should be esteeming them and they in return give us the 'love' we need.  For example, if you esteem your husband in his ability to be a good bread-winner (remember, he is the bread-winner, God is the provider).  And you tell him how much you appreciate it and all his sacrifices, you esteem him and in his being validated, he will turn round and shower you with love. (in the perfect world, the way you want to be showered - but you get my point?).  I used to think if I constantly tell him how wonderful he is he'll get a big head and there will be no stopping him from bragging etc.  But just the opposite is true.  The more you 'genuinely' esteem him and show your appreciation, the less will be his need to find validation elsewhere or blow his own trumpet so to speak.
These are just 2 things I have learnt over the years that have helped me to be a better wife.  There are plenty more and maybe I'll do future posts on different points that have helped.

Eph 5 v 33:  Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love is own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects (esteems) her husband.

    What is that one big thing, that has really helped you improve your marriage? 
    I look forward to hearing from you.

    God bless
    Tracy

    Friday, 17 June 2011

    Proverbs 19

    Vs 5:  A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who speaks lies will not escape.
    I like this verse because apart from the fact that it should keep me from lying, it also comforts me to know that those who have lied to me or about me will not escape the consequences.
    Just to reiterate:
    Vs 9:  A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who speaks lies shall perish.



    Vs 13-14:  13 A foolish son is the ruin of his father, and the contentions of a wife are a continual dripping. 
    14  Houses and riches are an inheritance from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the Lord.

    No really - me - can't be!  Often, in anger I have gone to the word looking for correction for my husband - yes, him - and what does the Lord bring to the fore - yes, you got it - my behaviour!

    Vs 17:  He who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord, and He will pay back what he has given.
    You can't out give God!  And God owes no man!

    Vs 21:  There are many plans in a man's heart, nevertheless the Lord's council - that will stand.
    This is an encouragement to cling to God's will or seek His will in your life, as that is what will last.

    Vs 27:  Cease listening to instruction, my son, and you will stray from the words of knowledge. 
    This is an exhortation to remain in the word - constantly seek the Lord and His word.  It is definitely true of me that if I ease off on my quiet times or skip church one time too many, I can feel the slide backwards.  My temper gets frayed quicker, more things hassle me, etc.


    Again, Proverbs has provided much guidance.

    God bless
    Tracy

    Thursday, 16 June 2011

    Friendship

    What does God's word say about friendship?

    Prov 17 v 17:  A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.


    Prov 27 v 10(a):  Do not forsake your own friend or your father's friend.

    To help me think about friendship I tried to think about what I expect of my friends and what I like.  Then take all that and ask myself what kind of friend am I?

    Well,
    • I like loyalty
    • I like being able to pick up where we left off last time even if its months later
    • I like when my friends accept that my husband comes first
    • I like laughter
    • I like deep conversations in an environment of trust and understanding
    • I like been given space, time if necessary, and then not be 'guilted out' for it
    • I like honesty - you can tell me if you have a problem with me

      What kind of a friend am I?  Well, I'd like to think the list above applies to me but I'm sure I fall short and could improve as a friend.  But this list is good to look at and measure myself against it.  Where can I maybe improve?  Maybe I should ask my friends that? (gulp)







      The ultimate friendship - Friendship with God

      Ps 25 v 14:  Friendship with the Lord is reserved for those who fear Him.  With them He shares the secrets of His covenant.


      Ex 33 v 11(a):  So the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.


      Jms 2 v 23:  And the scripture was fulfilled which says, "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness."  And he was called the friend of God.

      Wouldn't a friendship with God be awesome?  Imagine speaking with Him face to face as Moses did.  They say Moses is the only man who has seen the face of God and lived.

      What do these scriptures say about being a friend of God?

      • Fear Him (Holy respect).  I think as we seek wisdom in His word, He reveals His secrets to us.  A sign of His friendship?
      • Moses spoke with God face to face.  What was special about him?  Well, what comes to mind is his obedience.  And Abraham?  We all know he is recorded for his faith.  And maybe we can add David here, for his humility, his great love of God, his desire to be right with God.
      These are the things God looks for when seeking friendship with us.



      The bible also talks about another friendship - friendship with the world

      Jms 4 v 4:  Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?  Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself on enemy of God.

      God - or - the world?
      Want to be friends with God? - This is not the way to go about it.  You are either a friend of God - or a friend of the world.  I choose God.  Even though the path is hard and narrow, the rewards - living in eternity with Christ - are great - Out of this world!






      My encouragement to you, call a friend today.  Encourage her.  Know that God wants to be your friend and seek to be obedient, faithful and humble in seeking His friendship.


      God bless
      Tracy

      Wednesday, 15 June 2011

      Proverbs 18

      As with all the other chapters there are so many treasures, precious gems in these verses.  These are the ones that stood out for me:


      Vs 6:  A fool's lips enter into contention, and his mouth calls for blows.
      When I read this I burst out laughing - I was sitting in the lounge and my daughter looked at me oddly and stated 'people don't often burst out laughing when reading their bibles!'  But I could just imagine someone talking rubbish and getting smacked for it.  Kind of suffering the consequences of your actions immediately!  You could read vs 6 as:  A fool talking nonsense is asking for a slap!


      Vs 10:  The name of the Lord is a strong tower;  The righteous run to it and are safe.
      This is one of my favourite verses as I run to the Lord often and when reading His word I begin to feel safe.

      Vs 12:  Before destruction the heart of a man is haughty, and before honour is humility.
      This reminds me of  Haman and Mordecai in the book of Esther.  Haman was so full of himself in his assumed victory in having Mordecai put to death.  He paraded around arrogantly, made a big public display of building a gallows for Mordecai and then - his destruction - he got hung on his own gallows, and Mordecai - a humble man - he was honoured.


      Vs 21:  He who finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favour from the Lord.
      Well, say no more!  Actually - we need to strive to be worthy of this statement.  I want my husband to feel he has found a good thing - in me - and see my being his wife as favour from the Lord!  I still need plenty of work!


      Vs 24:  A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
      This is great encouragement to be friendly, don't you think?  I cannot sit around my home and gripe about having no friends because this verse tells me to do something about it.  Do you want friends?  Go out there and be friendly - invite someone for tea, invite someone over for dinner!  It's possibly the beginning of an amazing friendship.  You will never know unless you take that first step of friendliness.

      Let me know your thoughts on the above - I love hearing from you
      God bless
      Tracy

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