Feb 212011

I hung up the phone and sat down heavily at my desk. I had just completed a phone conversation at work that had not gone well.  I sat quietly, letting discouragement and disillusionment invade. I could feel my spirit sinking lower. I was in no condition to be productive. I felt… well, stuck.

Have you ever felt that way? Blocked, stuck, down? Have you felt those negative influences affecting your relationships, your work performance, your faith?

I need to break some news to you. I am not writing today about what to do with discouragement. Right now, I’m not interested in blasting sunshine into your day. In fact,  my drive to write today has nothing to do with me and my troubles or even about what you might be facing.

This is about God and what He has done and can do.

I’ve got bragging rights on this.

That day as I sat at my desk, I turned to God and said, “Look, God, I am down right now and I need help. What do You have for me right now? I need… something…”

I waited…. waited for a sign, for words, for something, anything from Him.

Do you hear God speak? Many of us struggle with that whole concept. Does God still speak with an audible voice? When I hear others say “God told me…”, does it make me feel like a second-rate Christian?

So, I sat at my desk, letting my request hang in the air….

“Psalm 71”, the thought, voice, impression came to me. Did I hear it? Did I feel it? Did I think it? Dream it?

“Really, Psalm 71?”, I thought? “How odd, I don’t really know anything about Psalm 71!”

So, I did the only thing that I could think to do. I picked up my Bible and turned to Psalm 71. It had one single verse underlined in it from some time back. Why Psalm 71?

So, I started to read. In my Bible, it is one page, 24 verses. At first, it seemed to begin like many other Psalms, but then, as I let the words flow through me, I realized that it had just the message my heart needed to hear on that day. I read it several times and several times more over the next few days.

Now this is my Psalm! God gave it to me just in time, just when I needed those very words. I am so thankful for Psalm 71, but more than that, I am thankful for my Father’s voice. Did I hear it? Maybe. Did I hear it with my ears? Maybe, Maybe not. I don’t really care. All I need is the knowledge that He spoke and that the message I received was just for me.

…and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds. Psalm 71:17 NIV.

Father, thank You for speaking! Yes, I brag on You for answering me in such a cool way.  Forgive me for not listening more.

Feb 102011

In my mother’s kitchen, there is a fridge. On the fridge there is an old piece of paper. On the paper is a drawing of a very strangely shaped lion drawn years ago by one of my nieces.  It gets lots of attention. Sooner or later, everyone who visits the kitchen sees the lion and hears the story about who drew it and when. My niece knows that it still hangs on the fridge and that her grandma has bragging rights on it!

Now, she is a quite accomplished young sketch artist. While part of her might be embarrassed that this earlier creation of marginal artistic value is still featured in a place of honor, I think that another part of her is pleasured to know that her art is valued by someone she loves, someone who loves her back.

Bragging gets a lot of bad press. Most of the time, it is negative only when self promoting or when it is used to devalue someone else. There is one time when bragging is always okay. It is when we brag about our Father in heaven. While I have spoken about this in passing before, I felt impressed to focus on it today.

Our Father loves to hear His children tell stories about Him! One way to worship is to tell stories about Him. One way to build faith, yours and that of those around you, is by sharing what He has done for you and in you.

But as for me, I will always have hope;
   I will praise you more and more. 
My mouth will tell of your righteousness,
   of your salvation all day long,
   though I know not its measure.
Psalm 71:14-15 NIV.

Is that great or what! David was so good at bragging on God. I just love these words, “I will praise you more and more.” David even says that he is going to brag about how good God is, even though he doesn’t know how to measure it!

When God does something for or in you, don’t keep it a secret! Tell about it! Tell your husband. Tell your wife. Tell your kids! Tell your work colleagues! Tell about it at church! Make a news event of it! Share it freely!

Father, let me boldly share what You do in me with those around me. Let my words make You happy! Let my stories bring a faith blessing to others.

Feb 072011

 Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small cake of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. I kings 17:13 NIV

For this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the LORD gives rain on the land.’” verse 14.

“Easy for you to say,” thought the woman, “You’ll say whatever you can to get the first, and probably only, cake.” Cynicism written all over her face, she looked again at the man. His eyes never wavered, focusing ever deeper until she felt they would pierce her very soul.

“Give”, she heard the now familiar voice say again. She whirled around and seeing no one, turned back to the man and with a slight tilt of her head, beckoned him to follow her.

Inside the small hut, man and son watched as she poured the last of the oil, the last of the meal into a small bowl. Mixing it with her fingers, she made a simple dough and placed it on a hot rock close to the small fire she had built. All three watched as the dough slowly baked. The smell caused hunger pangs to surface. Her stomach complained loudly and her embarrassed laugh startled them, breaking the silence.

Finally, she loosened the cake from the rock and handed it to the man. Mother and son watched as he looked to heaven with thanks and as he slowly ate their last meal. Finally swallowing the last bite, he gestured for her to look into the clay jar she had just emptied of meal. She hesitated, her brow furrowing with stress. Finally she reached a hand into the jar, feeling for the bottom.

Shock and wonder filled her eyes as pulled her hand out- filled with meal!

let this very short video clip wash over you and speak to you.

God wants you, and me, to give. Give when it doesn’t make sense. Give when it doesn’t seem fair. Give when it is our last. God grows us the most when we give like Him.

Father, give me the faith to give when You speak. Help me to trust You to care for me.  Grow me to be more like You.

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