It takes hands to build a house, but only hearts can build a home.

Author Unknown

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

ASH WEDNESDAY



Joel 2:12-18

Yet even now, says the Lord, return to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments. Return to the Lord, your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and repents of evil...


We were all formed from the same elements or chemicals inside of our mothers, and when we die, our bodies will eventually become nothing more than those same elements

Lent is a time for each of us to increase our knowledge of the "faith that is in us" in order that we can fulfill our vocation as Christians to extend this rich blessing of faith to others. We accomplish personal renewal and revitalization of our faith through penance, prayer and instruction.

Renewing our sense of who we really are before God is the core of the Lenten experience. It is so easy to forget, and thus we fall into habits of sin, ways of thinking and living that are contrary to God's will

O Lord and Ruler of Life,
take from me the spirit of idleness, despair, cupidity, and empty talking.
Yea, O Lord grant that I may see my own sins and not judge my brother.
For thou art blessed forever and ever. Amen


The ashes are a reminder that we all come from the earth; that we are all made up of the same elements, no matter who we are; and that these elements are the same ones that make up everyone and everything on earth

Our Lenten spiritual preparation should not be confined only to "giving up" things; we should "take on" things, also ­ extra prayers, for example, especially family prayers. If your family has not already established some form of family prayer, Lent is a good time to begin. We are prepared to do something special during this season. Praying together as a family, in our busy times, is difficult, so do set aside some time this Lent to do it.

May our worship and prayer and penitence this day be sustained throughout these 40 days of Lent. Bring us refreshed and renewed to the celebration of Christ’s resurrection at Easter

'ON YA' - ma

Friday, February 24, 2006

REFLECTIONS FOR LENT



http://www.journeytothecross.org

I've been blessed by the daily devotions on this site for a few years and wanted to share the link to it with you.

As we get into Lent, I'll try to add some more links for you - there are a couple in the side bar of this journal already.

I'll be forgoing my Bible Study notes for now as I'll be reflecting on these same links for my Lenten devotions. If I discover something else to share along the way I'll post as needed.

May we all be refreshed and renewed during this time of Hope for us all .

'On Ya' - ma

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Thoughts of Spring

The Independent Apple Branch

It was a glorious spring morning. The warm sun shown down on the cottony-white layers of blossoms that covered the old apple orchard. The calm, still air was filled with the sound of buzzing as swarms of bees delighted themselves with the sweet nectar. They flitted from one branch to another, pollinating the flowers as they went and ensuring that in the fall, these same trees would be loaded with apples. Everyone and everything was totally at peace. Everyone and everything that is, except for the one unhappy apple branch . . .

"Why do I have to be attached to this tree?" He muttered to the buzzing bees. "I would fair much better if I was on my own! I could prove the world that you don't have to be attached to a tree to make it!"

And with this, he tried to shake itself off the tree, but it was to no avail.

"Can't anyone help me break free??" He cried in complete despair.

"Why would you want to be separated from your tree?" Asked a neighboring branch. "You need its vitality and support to survive!"

"I need NOTHING!" Shouted the branch. "My tree is restraining me. I feel like a prisoner. I want to be free and be able to do my own thing and prove myself to the world."

"You are not a prisoner," replied the other branch. "Your tree loves…"

"Stop with your nonsense!" Interrupted the dissatisfied branch. "I know what is best for me! Can anyone help me break free from my tree?"

"I can!" Boomed the thunder.

All of a sudden the sky was darkened by massive, menacing clouds. Lightning seemed to appear out from nowhere, striking the tree in question, breaking the rebellious branch from its mother trunk and sending it plummeting to the orchard floor.

"Oh thank you," cried the branch. "You have made it possible for the world to be able to see what I can do!"

As the days went by, a new sound could be heard over the buzzing of the bees in the orchard: "I can do it. I can do it! I can make it on my own!"

However the branch's buds were turning gray.

"It's not MY fault!" Reasoned the rebellious branch. "That other branch shouldn't have interfered with what I wanted to do!"

The other branches didn't pay any attention to him, however. They were too busy enjoying their snowy-white blossoms and all the attention they were receiving from the bees.

The independent branch soon began to see that he was the ONLY branch with wilting buds. Nothing he could do would make those flowers open. "Maybe if I had a drink!" He thought. But this thought just served to remind him of how desperately thirsty he had become. "Someone, please help me," he pleaded. "I need a drink!"

All of a sudden he heard footsteps. The gardener was coming! He would surely be able to provide him with some water! And he would most DEFINITELY compliment him for succeeding in becoming so independent!

But that's not what the gardener said at all. As the rebellious branch felt himself being picked up and transported out of the orchard, the only words he could hear from the gardener's mouth was: "Sure a pity!" He didn't fully understand these words, however, and he repeated over and over again: "See everyone? I knew I could make it on my own!"

Only too late he found out, to his horror, that his fate would be FAR from ideal: "No, no, no," he cried. "Not he fire! I didn't do anything wrong. I wanted to prove myself and live independently. No, no. Not the fire!"

But the smoke prevented him from seeing the tears in the gardener's eyes.

One day the Master Gardener pronounced these words: "Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." John 15:4-5

I received this little story in an e-mail this morning and thought you might enjoy it too!

'On Ya' - ma

Saturday, February 11, 2006

WHAT'S NEW AT MY HOUSE

WHAT'S NEW AT MY HOUSE

I cannot seem to figure out why my links go way down to the bottom of my blog, but if you want they are listed at the bottom in the side bar.

A WISE WOMAN




I’ve fallen behind in my Bible study ...The days sometimes get away from me too fast.

I Samuel 25

In verse 1 we see the death of Samuel. Samuel was a good man, and faithful to the end..That is the last we hear of Samuel.

Next we meet Nabal and his wife Abigail.

David and his men always protected their fellow Israelites and they protected Nabal’s animals and herdsmen. As was the custom, David requested provisions from Nabal and he insulted David and his men discourteously and sent them away.

If Abigail had been like her husband the result would have been a tragedy.

Abigail prepared gifts for David and his men and when she reached David , she asked him to forgive her wicked husband. Because of this David did not seek revenge.

Abigail then returned home to find her husband throwing a party. Afterwards she told Nabal about what she had done and he died 10 days later.

The Bible teaches the incontrovertible law of sowing and reaping.

Galatians 6:7

Make no mistake God is not to be mocked, for a person will reap only what he sows.


In verse 39 David gives us a wonderful lesson for anyone dealing with dreadful people.

David said…Blessed be the Lord who has requited the insult I have received at the hand of Nabal and who restrained the hand of His servant from doing evil, but has punished Nabal for his own evil deeds.

The Lord worked through Abigail to keep David from punishing Nabal. We should remember that vengeance is the Lord’s, not ours.

David then took Abigail as his wife. He went a little overboard in the marriage department. We can be happy for Abigail, but polygamy is never God’s will.

Genisis 2:24

…That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife and the two of them become one body.



Deuteronomy 17 says that Kings were told not to multiply wives or their heart will be led astray. David knew that he was to be God’s next king and already he had disobeyed one of God’s commands.

God’s Word will once again be proved as we see David being led astray.

May we take God at His Word and not have to learn everything the hard way.

So often we receive good advise and ignore it. Wouldn’t life be much simpler if we didn’t have to prove every thing for ourselves. Some lessons are very tough to learn.

Next time we’ll take a look at David’s fears and frustrations.

‘On Ya’ - ma

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

RESPECT



I Samuel 24

God Chisels character into the heart of David


Saul came after David with 3000 men. Saul enterend the cave where David and his men were hiding. David could have esily killed Saul, instead he crept up to cut off a piece of his robe. Inspite of all that Saul had done, David then became conscience-stricken for cutting King Saul’s robe and said the LORD forbid I should do such a thing… He still felt that he had to respect God’s anointed King.

David’s actions show us that he was greatly influenced by the Holy Spirit

His conscience was immediately stricken. When the Holy Spirit dwells in a person He uses conscience for a BASIS OF OUR CONVICTIONS.

David’s sin was not against Saul, but against God

David met conviction with a change of behavior
He responded to his Spirit stricken convictions immediately. Sometimes we often fight conviction and don’t want to yield to the Spirit


As we grow closer to God our sensitivity and discernment of wrong doing will increase. If we are filled with the Holy Spirit, conviction will be met with a change of behavior.

David exercised great restraint. He had a chance for revenge and did not take it. A moments’ revenge, however , is not worth alienation from God

If we are filled with the Holy Spirit we will obey.


David respected God more than he desired revenge.

In 1 Samuel 24:6 we read The LORD forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the LORD’s anointed. David wirthdrew from taking the life of Saul out of respect for God.


When we are threatened, hurt or afraid, we often want to get back at the person that caused the hurt. We think that will make us feel better. In this chapter we are reminded to let the Holy Spirit do his restraining work.

Our lesson for today -- Don’t loose your respect for God by trying to take revenge.

In the next lesson we'll take a look at a very smart woman

‘On Ya’ - ma

Sunday, February 05, 2006

COUNT YOUR MANY BLESSINGS



I will sacrifice a free will offering to you;
I will praise your name O LORD,
For it is good.

Psalm 54:6



I Samuel 23

God’s faithfulness always appears brighter when our lives look bleak and grey. Today we will look at God’s faithfulness shinning brightly in David’s life.

David continued to evade Saul but he did more than hide. He defended his people, even when he was betrayed.

David was faced with a battle against the Phillistines. If he went into battle with them and defend the Israelites, he would put his own men and his own life at risk.

He was a man that sought God’s heart. He inquired of the Lord.

And in I Samuel 23: 2 we see that the Lord answered him…Go attack the Phillistines and save Keilah. His men were afraid and David once again returned to the Lord.
Once again the Lord told him to attack. In 1 Samuel 23:4-6 we see that they did indeed fight and saved Keilah.

David did not shame his men for not trusting in the Lord, He went back and asked God for his direction again.He did not go back to the Lord a second time because he doubted but only wanted to make certain of the Lord’s direction. God knew that David was concerned about his people.

We too can ask God for direction. We can ask, not because we doubt, but because we want to be certain of His plans for us. We don’t really question God’s plan, but we question our own understanding. To doubt God is a serious offence, but to double-check our understanding of God’s will is prudent.

After rescuing Keilah, David asked God what to do

God answered that Saul was still pursuing him and that the citizens of Keilah would betray him and give him over to Saul.

David fled to the dessert of Ziph. Saul did come after David and his friend Jonathan came to help David.

In 1 Samuel 23:16-18 we read…The two of them made a covenant before the Lord.

Jonathan was a minister of encouragement to David. He confirmed God’s calling on David’s life. He said…You will be King over Israel.

When we have been betrayed and hurt by others we can remember that we can always trust our dear Lord. He will fulfill His promises to us.

Psalm 54 shows what David was inspired by God to write after the Ziphites told Saul of his whereabouts. The Psalm begins…Save me O God by your name. David had many names for God because God was his life.
God is your life and mine as well.

Despite his human frailty David was a man after God’s own heart. At the end of the Psalm David responded to his helplessness by offering a free will sacrifice to God.

In Deuteronomy 16:10 we read what a free will offering was all about.

…It was to be in proportion to the blessings the Lord your God has given you.

Like David we can count our blessings even when we are betrayed. David is a good example for all of us.

Count your many blessings, name them one by one
Count your many blessings, see what God has done


I thank our dear Lord for His many blessings to me. I don’t lead a golden life – I have been betrayed and hurt many times. But God lifts me up and keeps me going every time.

‘On Ya’ - ma

Friday, February 03, 2006

Saul's Fall




I will praise you forever for what you have done; in your name will I hope, for your name is good. I will praise you in the presence of your saints. Psalm 52:9



I Samuel 22

The once potentially noble Saul had fallen. Saul sent for Ahimelech and his family. The priest told him that David was loyal to Saul. This enraged Saul and he ordered the murder of all the priests. Only one – Abiathar, Ahimelech’s son – escaped. Abiathar fled to join David and told him about the murders.

David told Abiathar…Stay with me don’t be afraid: the man who is seeking your life is seeking mine also. You will be safe with me . verses 22-23

In Psalm 52:7 David speaks of Saul

Here now is the man that did not make God his stronghold, but trusted in his great wealth and grew strong by destroying others.

We all have met people that have made themselves feel bigger or stronger by putting down others. This is often a sign of insecurity. If we allow our insecurities to govern our lives, we too can become destroyers.

When David heard the news of the terrible slaughter he did 4 things:

1 He placed blame where it should have been – On evil Saul
2 He reminded himself that God will repay evil
3 He placed his hope solely in God
4 He reminded himself that God is God


In the face of horror, we should turn to the Word – our only hope in times of trouble

We can keep having faith , even in the most dreadful of circumstances.

Tomorrow we’ll look at I Sameul 23. This chapter shows God’s faithfulness shinning brightly in the bleakness of disaster.

‘On Ya’ - ma

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

CRY OUT TO THE LORD




Psalm 142

I pour out my complaint before him;
Before him I tell my trouble.
When my spirit grows faint with in me
It is you who know my way

Verses 2&3


David had fled from a jealouse king and was separated from his new wife and best friend and forced to beg bread from the priest of Nob.

In 1 Samuel 22 we read that
Then he left Gath and escaped to the cave of Adullam.

His brothers and those who were in distress or debt or discontented gathered with him and he became their leader.

David wrote Psalm 142 after entering this cave. This Psalm offers some insights into David’s heart which provide an example for all of us.

First of all when he was overwhelmed with unfair treatment and difficult circumstances, he prayed. Next he cried outloud. There is no better outlet than crying out loud to God.

The third insight we read about is that he poured out his complaint to God . We too can tell God our troubles. In Psalm 62: 8 he encourages others to Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.

In Psalm 142:3 he said When my spirit grows faint within me, it is you who know my way.

God does know our ways. He is always there to help and guide us.

David longed for God’s presence. God always responded to David’s cry for help.

We need to be specific and personal in our prayer lives and cry out to God just as David did

God needed to bring David to this lowly position before He could raise him up to stand on solid ground. We will see David rise to be a great ruler, a forerunner of the King of Kings.

I know that times of distress and devastation come in to our lives. I have experienced a few of those moments. In my distress I cried out to the Lord, trusting that he would help me to overcome and go on with my life.

In tomorrow’s study we’ll see more about the fall of King Saul.

‘On Ya’ - ma