Today –The Day the Lord Has Made

This is the day the LORD has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.  Psalm 118:24

This verse was my devotional verse for this morning, and it made me immediately think of a song written by Leslie Norman Garrett, This is the Day.  Born in 1943 on the island of Matamata, New Zealand, Leslie graduated from Faith Bible School, and is currently a minister at the Christian Family Center in Maddington, Australia. He lectures at Hebron Bible College and has traveled widely, speaking at conventions and churches.

“This Is the Day” originally appeared in Mr. Garrett’s collection, Scripture in Song (1967). Since that time a number of stanzas have been added through oral tradition, including “This is the day when he rose again” and “This is the day that the Spirit comes.”  The tune is Garrett’s arrangement of a Fiji folk tune.

The direct quotation of Psalm 118:24 places this praise song in good company with many other hymns and Christian pieces.  Wouldn’t we be happier if we woke up and sang it every morning?

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Oblivious!

“He who made the Pleiades and Orion, and turns deep darkness into morning, and darkens the day into night, who calls for the waters of the sea, and pours them out upon the surface of the earth, the Lord is his name …”Amos 5:8

We’ve been reading through the minor prophets in our weekly Bible study (in case you didn’t know, minor does not mean less important, simply shorter).  It can be pretty depressing reading.  God is angry with His people.  They’ve become oblivious to the God of the universe and all that He does for them.  Their religious services are empty rituals. They can’t wait for the feast days to be over so they can go back to their buying and selling.  They bribe and cheat and live in comfort while others are starving.

I can’t help but think that in the United States these days we are very much the same.  Do we look around our life every day and admire the beautiful creation that God has made?  Or are we too busy to give it a thought?  Are we grateful for our health, our spouse, our home and our children?  Or do we take them for granted as we continually wish for more “stuff.”?  Are church events the highlight of our week?  Or a duty we perform to look good in the eyes of others?  Do we hope to earn more so we can help the needy?  Or so we can buy more for ourselves?

The prophets remind us that we dare not ignore our God and the world around us.

“Seek good, and not evil, that you may live;  and so the Lord, the God of hosts, will be with you, as you have said.  Hate evil, and love good, and establish justice in the gate.  It may be that the Lord, the God of hosts, will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.”  Amos 5:14-15

Don’t be oblivious!

Who is the One for You?

My devotional reading this morning included these verses from Psalm 147:

“He heals the broken-hearted, and binds up their wounds.

He determines the number of stars, He gives to all of them their names.

This Psalm of praise reminded me of God’s power — in our lives and in the world.  God is the One we can turn to and trust because He is truly in control of everything.  Then the Keith Green song, You Are the One for Me, came to my mind.  Keith had a Jewish background and was raised in a Christian Scientist home.  He experimented with Eastern religions, but eventually came to know that Jesus Christ was the One for him.  He’s the One for you, too.  He’s the ruler of your life and the ruler of the world.

 

H.E.A.R.

I’m conducting an experiment.  I got this idea from a book I reviewed recently, Disciple Her, by Kandi Gallaty.  She recommended a journaling technique I’m trying out as part of my own spiritual discipline.  It’s based on the acronym H.E.A.R.  So far, I’ve been doing well, using the verse from my daily devotional as a starting point.  Here is one of my first tries:

Highlight:

“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love.  Honor one another above yourselves.”  Romans 12:10

Explain:

The apostle Paul is speaking to the believers in the Roman church.  After setting forth the basics of faith in Christ, he here moves on to practical application — in this instance, how we as believers should behave as members of Christ’s body.  Church members should love one another as family, sacrificially, always being willing to put the needs of others first.

Apply (generally and specifically):

These verses apply to believers today as well.  How can we love outsiders into our fellowship if we are not sincerely devoted to one another in a close, loving way?  Without sacrificial love, we are in danger of turning into a religious “club”– simply a group of people who adhere to a particular philosophy of life.  This means I must love all of my fellow members this way.  I must listen carefully and respectfully to their opinions, and do my best to understand and meet their needs.

Respond:

Heavenly Father, I ask for your help.  It is difficult for me to put others first, because I like having things go my way.  Sometimes I feel angry, or hurt or unappreciated. I often become irritable when my routines are disrupted.  Show me how to put those feeling aside and do what’s best for others, even the others who seem unlikeable.  Help me to love my fellow members sacrificially by reminding me of the example Jesus, who lived and died for me.

Amen.

If anyone else decided to give this journaling method a try, I would love to hear from you.  God loves you and so do I!

 

More Than One Angel by Billie Hughes Locke–Book Review

Billie Hughes, who wrote this book, was the speaker at our congregation’s Valentine’s Day Dinner this year.  A friend purchased her book for me, and I finally had time to read and review it.

Anyone who has experienced difficulties in relationships will empathize with Billie’s story.  She was a difficult child in a neglectful family.  She ran away to marry as a teenager.  By the age of twenty-one she was the mother of four children;  one child died and another was born with serious facial deformities.  Her marriage ended, and she leaped into a second marriage that was also difficult.  Eventually she divorced again.  Billie said she didn’t need just one angel, she needed a band of them!

Throughout her life, Billie struggled to educate and improve herself.  She obtained a high school diploma and became a master barber with several shops of her own.  Somewhere along the line, she began to realize that God, not material success, is the key to contentment.  She prayed and studied the Bible. She learned to forgive She realized that her basic problem is trust and commented:

“How could I trust someone I couldn’t even see, to handle my life?  Everyone else in my life had always had more important things to do than care for me.  Why would God be different?”

She admitted that her theology was mixed up, but it was a start.  With a third marriage, she achieved a more peaceful life and became a writer and speaker, emphasizing that God can do the impossible and any life can turn around.  Her book is sprinkled with small miracles and what I call God-cidences, that lead her to a deeper relationship with Him.

I find a couple of big problems with this book.  First, nowhere in Billie’s faith story does she mention a church, Pastor, or community of other Christians.  Possibly, she has these things, and simply didn’t talk about them, but I would find that unusual.  In my experience, I have learned and grown the most when in a relationship with other Christians.  We need to be mentored and to mentor others.  (Hmmm… remember our “one-anothers” monthly theme?).  Billie does have some Christian friends who influence her, but I get no sense of the stable, progressive Christian growth a church home provides.

Second, I am disturbed when near the end of the book, Billie makes this statement to her son:

“You are the master of your destiny at this point.  Everything you really need is right inside you.  All I can do is pray for you.”

This is definitely some mixed-up theology.  God is the master of our destiny, and all that we need is in Him, not ourselves.  It is another example of stinkin’ thinkin’ that sounds good, but doesn’t stand up to correct doctrine and interpretation of the Scriptures.

My Verdict?  Two stars.  Read it if you want to enjoy Billie’s story, but not for sound theology.

 

A Day of Small Things

“Then the word of the Lord came to me: ‘The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this temple;  his hands will complete it.  Then you will know that the Lord Almighty has sent me to you.  Who despises the day of small things?  Men will rejoice when they see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel.”  Zechariah 4:8-10

 

In this reading the prophet Zechariah, is encouraging the Jews who had returned from exile in Babylon to complete the building of God’s temple, which had stalled.  Many of the older Jews were disheartened because they realized that the new temple would not match the grandeur of the old one.  Zechariah encourages them to think positively:  God is pleased when His people do the right thing, regardless of the size of the enterprise.  This passage gives me hope for our congregation.  We are small, but we can still do God’s work where He has planted us.  To be honest, aren’t the small things what most of us are able to do?  We can show hospitality to a neighbor, kindness to those we meet;  we can bear someone’s burdens for a day or an hour;  we can pray for the world.  These may seem like small, everyday tasks, but they add up to a lifetime of love and doing God’s will.  This quote by Issac Penington (a Quaker) was in one of my daily devotional readings, and I would like to share it with you this morning:

“Oh!  look not after great things:  small breathings, small desires after the Lord, if true and pure are sweet beginnings of life.  Take heed of despising ‘the day of small things,’ by looking after some visitation, proportional to thy distress according to thy eye.  Nay, thou must become a child;  thou must lose thy own will quite by degrees.  Thou must wait for life to be measured out by the Father, and be content with what proportion, and what time, He shall please to measure.”

For most of us, today will be a day of small things.  Do those small things well, and leave the big picture in God’s hands.

 

Disciple Her by Kandi Gallaty–Book Review

This book is a great resource for any individual or church interested in beginning Discipleship groups.  Kandi shares her experience, working with other women (usually for one year) and establishing spiritual disciplines such as prayer, journaling Bible study, Bible memorization.  At that point, the members are equipped to go forth and start D-groups of their own.  If you have the spiritual gifts of shepherding and/or encouragement, this book will inspire and motivate you.  According to the forward, Kandi

“… has defined what discipleship is, and outlined a pathway for investing in other women.”

Disciple Her

 

An appendix at the back of the book includes:

sample covenants for the D-groups,  a suggested reading list, a sample journaling process, a worksheet for planning your own group, a Bible reading plan and more.  I especially appreciated her plan for journaling.  Although I love to write, I have never been particularly successful at journaling.  Kandi’s model is H.E.A.R —

  • Highlight the passage you are studying each day
  • Explain the background and meaning of the verse
  • Apply the verse generally and specifically to your own life
  • Respond to the verse in prayer

I plan to give this method a try!

I also appreciated her explanation of the MARCS of a disciple.  They should be:

  • Missional
  • Accountable
  • Reproducible
  • Communal
  • Scriptural

Does your life show all of these marks?

As an interesting, aside, Kandi’s husband Robby wrote the series of books that include Bearing Fruit, Firmly Planted and Growing Up.  I believe I reviewed one of these on our blog some time ago, and highly recommended it.

VERDICT:  5 stars.  This book is a must for the Women’s Ministry of the church.

If you wish to purchase it go to the link below:

Disciple Her

The Lutheran Ladies received a free copy of this book in return for an honest and fair review – Disclaimer pursuant to FTC 16 CFR Part 255