Forget-me-nots

 

 

As I came out of the grocery store the other day, I noticed a lady sitting at a small table. She was volunteering her time to raise funds for the Alzheimer Society. Since my background is in Long Term Care nursing, this is a subject of both interest and concern to me. After I  deposited my ‘widow’s mite’ (lol) she gave me a package of Forget-me-not seeds – which I think is a great symbol for that worthy cause.

Later in the day, I was weeding in my garden. Along with the weeds, I pulled  several old Forget-me-not plants that had finished flowering and had gone to seed (they are great self-sowers). I dumped everything onto the compost pile and as I looked down, I noticed that my pants were absolutely covered with Forget-me-not seed pods! 

The tiny pods are covered with minuscule velcro-like hooks which do an excellent job of sticking to whatever they brush against. There was no simple brushing off the pant legs for me! I had to pluck each one off by hand only to have them stick to the ridges of my fingers! And the more I looked, the more I found – including between my toes!! I think it took me about 10 minutes to become ‘seedless’.

The seeds of this plant are an excellent physical match for their name – they make sure that no one will forget them!

Both the plant’s name and the nature of the seeds led me to think about God and His Word.

Deu 8:11 Beware that you do not forget Jehovah your God, in not keeping His commandments, and His judgments, and His statutes, which I command you today,

The clinging seeds reminded me of the following Bible verses:

Pro 7:2,3 Keep my commandments and live; and keep my law as the pupil of your eye. Bind them upon your fingers; write them upon the tablet of your heart.

Deu 11:18 Therefore you shall lay up these my words in your hearts and in your souls, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, so that they may be as frontlets between your eyes.

At some point in time, perhaps as early as the 4th or 3rd century B.C., the above scripture was taken to be a literal command and so began the tradition of the wearing of phylacteries or tefillin by Jewish men.

Wikipedia explains:

“Tefillin (Askhenazic: /ˈtfɪln/; Israeli Hebrew: [tfiˈlin], תפילין), also called phylacteries (/fɪˈlæktərz/ from Ancient Greek φυλακτήριον phylacterion, form of phylássein, φυλάσσειν meaning “to guard, protect”), are a set of small black leather boxes containing scrolls of parchment inscribed with verses from the Torah. They are worn by male observant Jews during weekday morning prayers.Image result for tefillin clipart

The arm-tefillin, or shel yad, is placed on the upper arm, and the strap wrapped around the arm/hand, hand and fingers; while the head-tefillin, or shel rosh, is placed above the forehead. The Torah commands that they should be worn to serve as a “sign” and “remembrance” that God brought the children of Israel out of Egypt.” 

 

 

For an excellent article on the history and usage of phylacteries, check out:  http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/12125-phylacteries

In doing a word study of “forget” as it pertains to God, I found it interesting to note that all of the scripture verses I found were in the Old Testament. In His Word, God was constantly reminding the Israelites to not forget His commandments and to remember His deliverance of, and, goodness to them.

Deu 4:23 Take heed to yourselves, lest you forget the covenant of Jehovah your God, which He made with you, and make you a graven image, a likeness of anything which Jehovah your God has forbidden you.

Deu 6:12 you shall be on guard lest you forget Jehovah who brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of slaves.

Psa 78:7 so that they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep His Commandments;

Psa 103:2 Bless Jehovah, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits;

Psa 119:16 I will delight myself in Your Precepts; I will not forget Your Word.

Psa 119:83 For I am like a wineskin in the smoke; I do not forget Your Precepts.

Psa 119:93 I will never forget Your Commandments; for with them You have given me life.

Psa 119:153 RESH: Look on my affliction, and deliver me; for I do not forget Your Law.

Pro 3:1 My son, forget not my law; but let your heart keep my commandments;

Although the above scriptures were written to the people of the Old Testament, they still serve as excellent reminders of the important things that we should not forget about our Heavenly Father – His covenant with us; His deliverance; His mighty works; His benefits; His Word; His precepts and commands; and His law.

I would also add that we should never forget His love for us, nor His grace or mercy.

Perhaps the New Testament does not use “do not forget” in the same manner as in the Old Testament because, rather than having instructions from and about God written on external things like stone and paper, as in the Old Testament times, we, who have received Jesus Christ as our Saviour, have these things ‘written’ on our internal ‘hearts’ through the indwelling presence of God’s holy spirit.

Alzheimers can have a devastating effect on our physical lives. Forgetting God, who He is and what He has done, as well as all His goodness, also has drastic consequences!

Job 8:13 So are the paths of all who forget God; and the hope of the ungodly shall perish. 

Psa 9:17 The wicked shall be turned into hell, all the nations that forget God. 

This is my prayer for you:

Rev 3:3 Remember then how you have received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. 

 

Blessings

 

Edit note: Although I tried my best to find an image of forget-me-nots that was copyright free, I guess the one I chose was not as I see that it was replaced by a notice of “no hot-linking” (whatever that is). My apologies to all concerned.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Identity Crisis

 

When Moses was on the mountain talking to God, who was in the form of a burning bush, Moses asked who he should say had sent him with a message to Israel. God answered:

 Exo 3:14 And God said to Moses, I AM THAT I AM.

Wow! What an incredible sense of identity!

I have always struggled with the issue of “self”. As a “people pleaser”, I have always tried to accommodate other’s; have always “adapted” myself to the person(s) or situation. I was an internal “shape shifter”. I tried very hard to be the daughter, wife, mother, friend, employee, and Christian that I thought everyone, including God,  wanted me to be. I built my life around what I could do and be for others.

Image result for copyright free images of identity crisis tomato

When the world of my life collapsed around me, my life changed drastically, and I lost all the identities in which I had been living. I was no longer a wife. My children had left home so I was no longer a parent. I lost my home so I was no longer a home-maker. I had to move away so I was no longer a member of my community, a neighbour or a friend. And I had to leave my church and my ministry so I was no longer a leader.

I felt cast adrift and completely lost.

After a while, I decided to try to make the best of the situation by taking the time to try and figure out who I really was inside and who I wanted to be. I wish that I could say that I had an epiphany and got it all figured out – but I didn’t.

However, I was greatly helped when I discovered a list of verses from the Bible which outlined the Truth of who and what I am in Jesus Christ. Here is a list of  “I AM” statements from Neil Anderson’s “Living Free in Christ”:

Image result for who i am in christ

I think that I should print this list and stick it somewhere I can read it every day in hopes that it might finally sink into this thick skull of mine!

I pray that we all will stop carrying around false ID!

Blessings

 

Father’s Day re-blog

 

 

I was going to write about Father’s Day today when I realized that everything I had wanted to say, I had already said in last year’s post on Father’s Day. So here is the link to last year’s post: Father’s Day

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY 🙂

Pro 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it. 

Col 3:21 Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they be discouraged. 

Eph 6:4 And fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. 

(Image from fathersdayprintables.com)

 

Striving vs. Living

Image result for image of striving

Strive: 1. To make efforts; to use exertions; to endeavor with earnestness; to labor hard; applicable to exertions of body or mind. (Merriam Webster Dictionary 1828)

I think that I have spent a good part of my life striving – striving to be a good daughter, a good sister, a good wife, a good mother, a good neighbour, a good friend, a good employee, a good member of society, a good church member. I definitely strove to be a “good” Christian. I worked VERY hard at trying to please God – at least, striving for what I thought would please God.

Unfortunately, I never felt like my striving was enough – for anybody – especially God. The more I strove the more defeated and condemned I felt. The more striving I did, the less living I enjoyed.

This inner conflict was made worse by the fact that I was attending, what I now realize was, a very legalistic church. My “spiritual” life at that time seemed to be made up of a lot of “can’t do this” and “shouldn’t do that’s”. One would think that as a type “A” perfectionist personality, that type of living, all kinds of black and white rules, would suit me well. In reality, all it did was make me ever more conscious of the fact that, no matter how hard I  strove, I couldn’t do any of it on a consistent basis. That made me feel like there was no way I would ever be “good enough” for God, which in turn caused me to feel condemned and defeated. I eventually left that denomination.

My first breakthrough in this battle came after pouring out my concerns to a pastor from a home fellowship that I had started attending. He advised me that when I read the Bible, to take any verse that described who and what we are , and what we have in Jesus Christ, and make it personal and put “I am” into the verse.

For example:

Rom 3:24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus; 

To get that into my thick skull, I would insert “I have been” justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus;

Note to self – I have been justified (made righteous before God) by God’s grace through my faith in Jesus Christ, NOT by my striving to be good enough!

Romans 6: 1-14 talks about the fact that when we accept Jesus Christ, we share in his death and resurrection. Spiritually, this means that :

Rom 6:7 For he that is dead is freed from sin. 

Note to self – because I have accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior, I share in his death and I am freed from sin – NOT by striving to obey rules and regulations.

Col 2:10 And you are complete in Him,

Note to self – I am complete (made full and perfect) in Jesus Christ, NOT by my striving to do everything perfectly.

I read and re-read these truths over and over again until The Truth of them took hold deep inside of me. Now I no longer walk around with the burden of striving to be good enough for God.

Although I was no longer under the bondage of guilt and condemnation for my sins, I remained under bondage worrying that I wasn’t doing enough for God. I kept hearing the verse from Matthew in which Jesus tells his disciples to “go and teach all nations…”. I would feel inadequate and guilty every time I heard a message about evangelism.

I involved myself in a wide variety of volunteer community service organizations as well as church ministry. I found that I loved teaching the rightly divided word of truth to believers but was very uncomfortable with approaching unbelievers with the gospel – no standing on street corners waving signs for me!

A personal crisis changed my life dramatically and everything that I had been striving to do for God was lost in the aftermath of the storm. I was left feeling COMPLETELY  useless in the Kingdom of God as well as in my own world. I REALLY struggled with a HUGE feeling of having no purpose in life – mine or God’s. I felt cast adrift with no sense of direction. I kept thinking “what is the point of life in this world if I am not using mine to serve God and humanity”??? For me, life without a worthwhile purpose, has no purpose at all.

I received a breakthrough in this struggle after participating in a group study of Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life

Through that study I discovered the truth that the main purpose for my life was to have a close and loving relationship with my Heavenly Father, my Abba. This is something that I am able to do 24/7, whether or not I am attending church, carrying out ministry or volunteer work, or just staying at home.

I must confess though, that because I am a “do-er” type of person, and because I know the great need of this world and have a sense of urgency, I can still struggle with the feeling that I need/should be “doing” more. But I try to allow God to be the one to open up opportunities for ministry rather than me “chasing” them. I also try to remember to “bloom where I am planted”, which at this time, is looking after my beloved husband, and “being there” for my sons and mother, all of whom are struggling with various life’s challenges.

Now, instead of always feeling like I need to be constantly striving to carry out some sort of “work” for God, I spend much more time enjoying living with Him – no matter what I am doing.

I pray that you experience the freedom in exchanging striving for living.

 Joh 8:32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. 

Php 4:7 And the peace of God which passes all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 

 

Grace vs. Mercy

Image result for grace and mercy

In a recent Bible study of the Book of Job, the question arose as to the difference between God’s mercy and God’s grace.

A word study of the definitions of both those terms may lead one to believe that they both mean one and the same thing. Although there are similarities, there are some major differences.

Webster’s Dictionary of 1828 defines grace as:

1. Favor; good will; kindness; disposition to oblige another; as a grant made as an act of grace.

2. Appropriately, the free unmerited love and favor of God, the spring and source of all the benefits men receive from him.

Whereas mercy is defined as:

1. That benevolence, mildness or tenderness of heart which disposes a person to overlook injuries, or to treat an offender better than he deserves; the disposition that tempers justice, and induces an injured person to forgive trespasses and injuries, and to forbear punishment, or inflict less than law or justice will warrant. In this sense, there is perhaps no word in our language precisely synonymous with mercy. That which comes nearest to it is grace. It implies benevolence, tenderness, mildness, pity or compassion, and clemency, but exercised only towards offenders. Mercy is a distinguishing attribute of the Supreme Being.

 

In simpler terms,” grace is God giving us something we do not deserve; while mercy is God not giving us something we do deserve.” [in a punishment sense] (Compelling Truth )

Rom 5:15 But, not as the offence so also is the free gift; for if by the offence of the one the many did die, much more did the grace of God, and the free gift in grace of the one man Jesus Christ, abound to the many;

Rom 6:14 For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under Law, but under grace. 

Grace has often been defined as “unmerited favour”, meaning that we have done nothing to earn or deserve it.

Rom 11:6 But if by grace, then it is no more of works; otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it is of works, then it is no more of grace; otherwise work is no more work. 

 

Mercy basically means that God does not give us “our just desserts” – or the punishment we deserve when we have done something that we shouldn’t have or not done something we should have.

Psa 103:10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
Psa 103:11 For as the heavens are high above the earth, so is His mercy toward those who fear Him.

Eph. 2:4,5 His great love with which He loved us, (even when we were dead in sins)


The apostle Paul says this about himself and the mercy extended to him:

1Ti 1:12 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who strengthened me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry–
1Ti 1:13 the one who before [as Saul] was a blasphemer and a persecutor and insolent. But I obtained mercy, because being ignorant, I did it in unbelief.

 

Grace and mercy are two important aspects of God’s character.

Psa 86:15 But You, O God, are God full of pity, and gracious, long-suffering, and rich in mercy and truth.

Psa 103:8 Jehovah is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and rich in mercy.

Eph 2:4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love with which He loved us
Eph 2:5 (even when we were dead in sins) has made us alive together with Christ (by grace you are saved),
Eph 2:6 and has raised us up together and made us sit together in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus,

 

I pray that you will acknowledge God’s mercy and accept His grace in your life.

2Jn 1:3 Grace will be with you, mercy and peace from God the Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.

Blessings

(Image credit: “56: Daily Inspirational Bible Verse” by Tito & Eva MarieBalangue (CC BY 2.0) via Pediaa.Com)

ALS

May is also ALS Awareness Month. ALS stands for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. It is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that is 100% fatal. It may be more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

Recently, my women’s fellowship group watched a DVD series entitled Ed’s Story. The series tells the wonderfully moving story of Pastor Ed Dobson’s battle with ALS. The series’ discussion questions provoked some deep and wonderful discussion and sharing within our small group. I highly recommend this DVD series.

Our church family includes someone who has recently been diagnosed with ALS so watching this series was particularly poignant and applicable.

For more ALS information and support, please check out the following websites.

ALS Canada

ALS Association

Blessings