Bible, Bird Nests, Christian, Conversation, Faith, Guidance, Life Lessons, Nature, Trees, winter

SIMPLE CONVERSATIONS

 

road

Do you ever have conversations with God? You know, just talk to him as you drive along or walk down the street by yourself.

I do.

All the time.

It’s different from praying in church or over a list of people and concerns.

It’s more like talking to a friend.

Stay with me here.

Before you call me crazy and jump off this page, hear me out.

I can’t say I’ve ever heard God’s voice audibly. And I can’t exactly explain how I differentiate what I hear from my own thoughts, but I’ll try.

Be Wise

For one thing, as a Christian, I know there are lots of voices out there. So I use the Bible as my point of reference when I evaluate what I think I’ve heard, mainly the New Testament. (Lots of things have been done in the name of God that He had nothing to do with.)

If it involves important decisions, I run it past someone I respect spiritually. I also ask myself if it’s just my wishful thinking. And I do my best not rush into anything.

How Do Answers Come?

Sometimes I get my answer when I read or hear the same thing several different places. (After the third time, I really pay attention.)

Or a Bible verse may play over and over in my mind the way one did at the beginning of the year. If you missed that post, you can still read it here.

Other times, an answer will come in the form of a new thought that leads me to do a little research, which gives me a new perspective.

Consider the Trees

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As I walked down the street one afternoon recently, I heard,

Slow down.

No need to rush.

Look around  you.

See the deciduous trees?

This is their season of rest.

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I began to look closely at the beauty of barren branches. Some reached upward like slender ballerinas.

 

Others stood guard like sturdy He-men, arms outspread.

Some were old and ragged, missing limbs. Others leaned in one direction, stretching toward the sun.

Each was beautiful in its own way.

tree4Questions Are Okay

“But Lord,” I said, “aren’t they doing something that I can’t see? Like putting down roots deep in the earth?” (And, yes. I talk to him the way I might talk to you.)

Look it up, I heard.

So when I got home, I Googled What do deciduous trees do in winter?

I found, according to Mother Nature Network, Northern Woodlands and several other sources, deciduous trees go through a dormant period in the winter similar to animals hibernating.

Webster’s Dictionary notes dormancy as being marked by a suspension of activity. It’s a resting phase in which essential life processes continue at a minimum rate.

“Okay,” I said. “But if that means you want me to slow down even more, you’ll have to help me let go of saying yes when I shouldn’t, falling back into striving, and measuring my worth by what I achieve.”

What I Heard

Just meet me every morning with your Bible and your journal. Sit with me. Be present to Me. Tell me what’s on your heart. Then listen.  Allow Me to restore your soul. I’ll show you how to be present in the moment so that later you can be truly present to those around you.

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Be still and know that I am God.

Be still and know I am.

Be still and know.

Be still.

Be.

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Just BE in the presence of the Great I AM.

My Answer

“Here I am, Lord.”

What about you?

Can you identify your own particular season of life ?

I’d love to hear about it.

 

And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,”
when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.

Isaiah 30:21

 

Bible, Devotionals, Life Lessons

Journey Through Acts with Jill

Meet Jill

jillheadshotToday, I want to introduce you to my friend, Jill McSheehy, of Russellville, Arkansas. I met Jill through a Christian writers group and often stand amazed at all she accomplishes. In addition to seeing about her husband and two young children, Jill blogs regularly about gardening, as well as her faith. She’s also written two other books. Learn more at her website.

 

As I looked through my copy of Journey Through Acts, I was impressed by the amount of work that must have gone its production.

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Here’s a sample of what you’ll encounter through the study. After reading it, I have a feeling you’ll want to join us.

Have Courage

I’ll never forget the day. The hope of spring with the warm sun and bright yellow jonquils contrasted with dread and fear in my heart. We had just made the decision to seek in-home hospice care for my mom as cancer overtook her body. On that beautiful spring day, we were to meet her hospice nurse for the first time. With my heart in such a tender, fragile state, I couldn’t believe my eyes when the nurse assigned to my mom happened to be my best friend’s neighbor. Small world.

Later that day, I met, also for the first time, the ladies my mom hired to help with cleaning the house while she was unable to do so. I was shocked to see my own neighbor standing in the doorway to Mom’s house! Again, small world. This was not a coincidence. I knew that God used these two women to tangibly show that He was with me. He knew that the next few weeks would be the hardest I’d ever endured. But knowing He was with me gave me courage to face the unknown as I walked down that lonely road with my mom.

In Acts 23, we watch Paul, under arrest by Roman authorities in Jerusalem, go toe-to-toe with his accusers — the Jewish religious leaders who want him dead. The following night, Jesus visits Paul with the words, “Have courage!” After rejection by his Jewish brothers and seeing no evangelistic fruit from his effort, it’s not surprising that Paul may have experienced some discouragement. Not only that, but his journey is only beginning.

He spends the next two years as a prisoner in Caesarea before he heads to Rome. On the way to Rome he encounters a seemingly hopeless shipwreck. Then, once in Rome, he’ll remain a prisoner under house arrest for another two years before he, at last, is freed. But in today’s reading, he is at the beginning of this long journey that lay ahead. How kind is our Lord to encourage him at this beginning? But, as the saying goes, “he ain’t seen nothin’ yet.”

Clearly Jesus visits him not only to encourage him after the turmoil he has already endured but to give him strength for the many struggles that lay ahead for him.

When we’re walking in God’s will and find ourselves traveling a difficult, unknown road, Jesus provides His word to give us strength and encouragement for the journey. He comforts us through the words, hugs, and love of the people He places in our path. He may not give us a road map, but what He gives us is everything we need.

In the final days of my mom’s life, the strength I read about in Scripture became real to me. With every fear, with every concern, with every unknown, He met me. If you find yourself on an unknown journey, seek the strength of the Lord. The circumstances may not be easy. They may be downright awful. But with the strength and presence of Jesus, you’ll have courage to face it all and glorify God through it.

What about your own difficult times? Can you look back and see the kindness of our Lord to walk with you along the way? Don’t you have to admit you’re stronger now than you were before that time of difficulty? And aren’t you better able to comfort those who go through similar times now? Our pain has purpose!

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Filling the Need

During a Sunday School lesson, my youth leader led us in an activity to go along with the week’s lesson on Barnabas. He gave each of us small “certificates” printed with the words, “Barnabas Award” and instructed us to write the name of someone we thought was an encourager. I don’t remember to whom I gave the certificate, but I was surprised when my friend Hope gave me hers. I never saw myself as an encourager, but she apparently saw something in me. To this day I have that certificate, and looking back, she was the one who encouraged me, because she saw something in me that I didn’t.

Most of Acts 11 deals with the birth of the church at Antioch, the first church consisting of both Jews and Gentiles. This church explodes in growth, and after the church in Jerusalem hears rumors of this, they send Barnabas — the man who previously took a risk and brought Saul to the disciples — to investigate this news.

Barnabas finds not only a rapidly-growing church in numbers but in spirit. He found the Antioch church made up of people filled with the Holy Spirit and committed to the Lord.

Written between the lines is something else Barnabas sees — a need. Perhaps it is the need for a leader. Perhaps it is a need for a Christian well-versed in the Old Testament to teach the new church the fullness of truth. Perhaps Barnabas simply knows that Saul had been sent by Jesus to proclaim truth to the Gentiles, and what better place to start than a new church plant full of them. We’re not quite sure what need Barnabas sees, but we do know what he does next. He travels to Tarsus to find Saul and brings him to Antioch where they teach together in the church for a year.

Antioch soon begins to establish itself as a hub for missionary activity in the land of the Gentiles. They’re a discipling church and a sending church. And these characteristics exist in the Antioch church because Barnabas sees a need and seeks to fill it.

What happens when you see a need? Do you immediate think you’re the one to fill it? Or do you search for someone else to do it? Perhaps someone who can do it better than you? The example set by Barnabas in this passage indicates that perhaps the most discerning and effective action is to find a person whom God has equipped and bring that person to the ministry. It builds up the body of Christ and does what Barnabas did best — encourages others in their specific gifts.

Who can you encourage today to use their gift?

Today’s guest post is taken from Jill McSheehy’s new Bible Study, Journey through Acts. Click here to order your copy, and enter the code RIDGE15 to get 15% off and free shipping!

(Link to product: http://journeywithjill.net/product/journey-through-acts/)

Jill is also hosting a Journey through Acts Facebook group starting January 16th, where she will provide weekly video lessons and discussions. Members of the group also will get free downloadable memory verse cards. Click here for more information. (Link: http://journeywithjill.net/product/membership-journey-acts-facebook-group/)