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1 Timothy 6:10 Click on this link to read the passage. You may select your preferred version of the Bible after the link opens.

Timothy warns us against the love of money which causes us to turn our eyes away from God. This principal comes to mind when I watch the flocks of Pine Siskins that have covered our bird feeders this winter. Most of these birds are content to gather together and enjoy the free food. But there are a few in each flock that are determined to claim the whole dish for themselves and agressively chase all others away. We onlookers laugh at the absurdity of it all, as the tiny bird could not eat the pile of seeds in the dish. Furthermore, while the bird so relentlessly defends his claim he doesn’t have time to eat.

God owns everything. He promises to care for us, his flock. If we trusted Him to keep his promises, we wouldn’t have to expend so much energy guarding our posessions. Is God watching out His window in heaven and laughing at our pettiness? Let us keep our eyes on Jesus and allow the Heavenly Father to bless us out of his unlimited supply.

Father God, help us to keep our eyes focused on You. Restore our trust when our anxious thoughts take our eyes off of You, and restoreYour peace. Enable us to be satisfied with Your provisions and to hold them with open generous hands.

Copyright © 2009 by Janice Green

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Several years ago when I was struggling in a marriage that eventually failed, I was going through a time of depression and low morale. As I drove down the street that turned beside the Post Office in our town I was suddenly aware of two cardinals fluttering up and down immediately in front of me. One of the birds hit the hood of my car and dropped into the street.

I immediately parked my car and got out to lift the bird from the street and laid it on the grass. I was remembering a time when a bird flew into a window and only knocked itself out, later to recover and fly away. I hoped that the cardinal might revive in a similar way since I had been driving fairly slowly. But the bird showed no signs of life. The other bird watched from a near-by tree.

I circled the block several times in the next two or three hours but my cardinal did not revive. I was reminded of the scripture about how God notices when even a sparrow falls to the ground. Read Matthew 10:28-31.

If I cared enough to circle the block so many times for this little red cardinal that I night not have even noticed had it not flown into my car, how much more God cares about me and the things that were weighing me down. I returned home comforted by God’s love.

I’ve always loved the song “His Eye is on the Sparrow.” Perhaps you will find comfort in it as well. This is a link to Sandi Patti singing it on UTube.

Father, Thank you for watching over me through your infinite love and compassion. Thank you for helping me through many troubles. Help me to remember the times you showed me your love when I become burdened with the cares of today. Help me keep my eye on you like you keep your eye on the sparrow and on me so I can be filled with your eternal joy.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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James 5:7-11 Click on this link to read the passage. You may select your preferred version of the Bible after the link opens.

James teaches us to be patient when we go through suffering. How easy it is to turn to fretting instead of faith. We are reminded to think like the farmer who has to trust God to send the rain at the right time and trust God with the timing in our lives.

It is also important for us to remember how God uses suffering to build character in his beloved children. We may feel we are being punished, but punishment and discipline are not necessarily the same. Punishment is often the direct response to outright sin and is intended to cause pain or bring justice. God is always working toward the future. He disciplines those he loves (Hebrews 2:6) to prepare them for service in his kingdom. Discipline may not be in response to a great sin, it may be more like sandpaper working on some rough edges. But the end purpose of discipline is to prepare us for service in the future.

James reminds us not to grumble against one another. It is so easy to give in to grumbling when we struggle with the events around us. Our grumbling stands in the face of developing patience and works against us. God is not pleased when we grumble.

Job was a patient man who held to his faith in God against all odds. By looking to Job and others in the Bible such as Joseph in Egypt, we may find the courage and strength to help us persevere in our times of suffering.

Father God, strengthen our hearts when we are hurting. Help us to trust in you for courage and strength.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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Matthew 6 Click on this link to read the passage. You may select your preferred version of the Bible after the link opens.

As I read this chapter the same message seemed to come to me over and over…  It isn’t about me – it is all about Jesus Christ.  We must not fast and pray to be seen by men because it isn’t about us, and we will never steal Jesus’ glory.  Our possessions shouldn’t be hoarded for our own benefit here on earth – they are meant to be used to glorify Christ and to draw others to him.  If our hearts are in our earthly treasures we will waste away with nothing to show for our life on earth.  If we hold our treasures with open hands and allow God to work through us, then he will supply our every need, clothing us like the flowers in the fields and providing for us like the birds of the air.

Now if I can just remember this until tomorrow.  How easy it is to get our eyes off Christ and onto ourselves and our own circumstances.

Father, help us to embed these verses firmly into our hearts and our thoughts. Help us hold your blessings with open hands and a spirit of sharing.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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Hebrews 12:1-3  Click on link to read passage. You may select your own version of the Bible after the link opens.

This passage is such a wonderful challenge. How many of us truly recognize the baggage we carry around with us? What are the things that pull us away from a relationship with Christ? What is it that keeps us from extending Christ’s love to the sick, lonely and/or hurting people around us? Busy-ness? Business profits? Poorly utilized idle time? Self-centeredness? Pride? Worry?

Hebrews 12:1 commands us to cast off those things that hinder us. I have a lot of cluter in my life – both physical and personal demands I allow to be made on my time. How freeing it would be to cast it all off and to run the race with total abandon. May God help me through this process.

It is easy to get overwhelmed by our circumstances and to allow them to pull us down. Verse two tells us how to rise above them – to fix our eyes on Jesus keeping in mind how he endured even death on the cross to obtain his goal. Whatever our burdens are, they can’t begin to compare with what Christ endured, yet he not only endured it, he did it for the “joy set before him.” He set the example for us by looking above and beyond the current circumstances to the joy of heaven that awaited him. We can have that same joy. Let us not lose heart.

Father God, help us to recognize and cast off those idols and distractions that keep us from fellowshiping with you and from serving you. Help us to run the race with joy and abandon.

 

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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A week and a half ago I had cataract and corrective surgery on one eye. As the eye heals my vision in that eye continues to improve so that my once extremely near-sighted left eye is becoming closer and closer to 20/20. Meanwhile my right eye continues to be extremely near-sighted without correction and 20/20 with correction which includes a bi-focal lens.  My glasses have become glasses as the left lens was removed following surgery.

My new “bionic” left eye should be a source of joy to me except that it wants to argue with my right eye. I have been continually evaluating each situation and deciding which eye(s) to use… Driving calls for my glasses and bionic eye, while indoor activities are more pleasant without the glasses.  Reading and using the computer are a draw considering my bi-focals are less effective than they used to be and I have been able to pull my glasses off to read anyway. I now feel cross-eyed when wearing the glasses.

Sunday morning I had a pity party as tears rolled down my cheeks during the worship service. I will not be able to have surgery on my right eye for several months for various reasons, and this could turn into a year or more, maybe never. So I have begun to feel very betrayed by my doctor who didn’t prepare me for this battle between my eyes which has become so distracting.

We have campmeetings this week at Hemingway Campground, so I have been wrestling with my anger toward my doctor as well as wrestling with depression and despair over the possibility that this disorientation may go on for some time. Meanwhile I recognize that I have been continuing to draw more and more into myself.

I feel myself coming under conviction – my attitude has not been bringing glory to God. We sing “His Grace is Sufficient for Me” and I see my hypocrisy in my complaining spirit. I am allowing my eyes to rob me of my joy in the Lord. Doesn’t God’s word tell us to give thanks in everything? (1 Thessalonians 5:18) I am resolving to praise God for my eyes, and to wear my glasses with greater resolve that my eyes will make the necessary adjustments with God’s help. I also desire to walk more closely with Jesus so that I may sing “His Grace is Sufficient for Me” without reservations, with his joy bubbling in my heart. As he promises in his word may I draw near to him so that he will draw near to me. (James 4:8)

     22  Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24  Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!  Luke 12:22-24 (NIV)

     This teaching begins with the word “Therefore” which means we need to look at the preceding verses.  Jesus had just told the Diciples the parable of the rich man who planned to store up all his riches for himself, only to have his life come to an end that very night.  So when Jesus tells his Disciples not to worry, he is telling them not to be overly concerned about saving and hoarding to meet our own needs. 

     God urges us to observe the birds of the air and consider how he cares for them.  They only need to gather food every day.  They neither plant nor store up food for tomorrow.  God cares for the birds.  But he values us much more than the birds.  We can trust him to care for us.

     I am reminded of how God provided manna for the Israelites in the desert.  If the people tried to store up extra for the days ahead the manna spoiled.  They were to only gather as much as they needed.  God was teaching the Israelites to trust him to provide for them.

     Likewise, we are to trust God with our tomorrows.  God expects us to work and make a living, but we should not concern ourselves with storing up wealth so we can take life easy and indulge in our own pleasures.  Neither should we worry that we might not be able to earn enough or save enough.  If we are diligent and not lazy, we need not worry about our tomorrows.

     Lord, help us to so abide in your love and care that we will naturally trust you to provide for all of our needs.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life ? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? Luke 12:25-26 (NIV) 

     Do not worry – this is so easy to say, but it can be harder to follow through on this command. I suppose every age has it’s own set of things we can allow ourselves to worry about. I’ve been through most of them by now, but still don’t seem to get it at times. I draw closer to retirement and wish and worry all in the same breath.

     But when we fall into the worry trap we waste precious energy that could be channelled into more productive activity. But even more grievous is the fact that when we worry we are subconsciously expressing our lack of faith in God’s ability to take care of us. 

     When I read verse 24 I wonder where we draw the line between worry and personal responsibility. I don’t believe God means for us to throw all caution to the wind and live irresponsibly, expecting God and/or other people to pick up the slack. From the time Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden of Eden until now man has been under the curse of a fallen world. Each must labor and deal with the thorns in his/her field. Even the birds have to gather their own food.

     But it is one thing to have to work and quite another to render ourselves unable to work because of undue fretting and worry. We can trust God to be faithful and to bless our efforts, so that we may eat the fruit of our hands.

     Lord help us always to trust in your ability to provide and your eagerness to do so.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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1Do not fret because of evil men
     or be envious of those who do wrong;
2 for like the grass they will soon wither,
     like green plants they will soon die away.

3 Trust in the LORD and do good;
     dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
4 Delight yourself in the LORD
     and he will give you the desires of your heart.

5 Commit your way to the LORD;
     trust in him and he will do this:
6 He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn,
     the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.

7 Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him;
     do not fret when men succeed in their ways,
     when they carry out their wicked schemes.

8 Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
     do not fret–it leads only to evil.
9 For evil men will be cut off,
     but those who hope in the LORD will inherit the land.

10 A little while, and the wicked will be no more;
     though you look for them, they will not be found.
11 But the meek will inherit the land
  (Psalm 37:1-11  NIV)

 Do not fret because of…  how I needed to read those words. 

I have allowed myself to be anxious over so many things…  my job, my wish to retire, my realization that I don’t have enough years or money in my retirement account, my desire to find a publisher for my book, my need for more time for my many projects… which takes me back to the beginning of this list of things to fret over. 

When I remember that my times are in God’s hands, and that He is perfectly capable of watching over me and supplying all my needs, I feel ashamed to have to admit all the things that I let myself fret over. 

I especially like verse 4: Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.  When I read this verse it reminds me of the reason why I may still be fretting.  I am not keeping my eyes on him, I am putting them on my fretting.  I hope that this blog will help me to do a better job of keeping my eyes on him.  I hope it will help me to feel more accountable to spend more time in his word.

Verses 5 and 6 seem to affirm this revelation:  Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.    Lord Jesus, help me to focus on you and to let you direct my paths.  Help me to turn over my anxious thoughts so I can be more productive in my day to day life.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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