Sunday, January 31, 2010

Quite Moments With God -- All Good Things Come From God

I received a gift yesterday. The memory of my five-year-old granddaughter's joy-filled face.

After church, our women's ministry team provided a meal along with a raffle. We're raising money for the ministry fund. It was a fun time spent with friends over good food and with hopes of winning something special.

My granddaughter Olivia was on pins and needles, hoping to win a gift basket filled with items meant especially for a little girl. She'd put all of her tickets in that one gift box. When it was time to draw for that very special prize I believe Olivia was holding her breath. Her eyes were bright with anticipation, and when her name was called she leaped out of her chair and walked up to accept her prize.

With her arms wrapped around the over-sized gift box, she headed back to her seat, no doubt feeling like she'd won the lottery. Her expression shone with excitement and joy. That look stayed with me all day. I can see it now--pure joy unencumbered by life's circumstances. My little granddaughter has been through a lot of sorrow recently, but that's not what she was thinking about at that moment. All she knew was that she'd won the prize she wanted.

I too, have had special moments in my life. I've had some extraordinary gifts bestowed upon me--more than I can count. Sadly, I too often forget the gifts and become focused on circumstances. And as I envision my granddaughter's special moment and realize she was thinking of nothing but the gift, I'm reminded how far off the mark my life can sometimes be.

God has given me much to be thankful for--precious people to love and who love me, purpose in life, and much more than I need to sustain me. The apostle Paul said all we need to be content is enough food and clothing. I have much more and yet there are days when contentment seems far from my grasp. When I realize my ingratitude, tears fill my eyes and I wonder does my selfishness wound my Lord, who has given me so much?

God is good. My life is blessed. I want to shout, "THANK YOU! THANK YOU, GOD." And then I whisper, "Please forgive me. Forgive me for forgetting your goodness."

He has surrounded me with love and beaty. I have more than I could even think to ask for and more than I deserve. It is my prayer that I remember the precious moments, the blessings showered upon me, and the greatest gift of all--Christ. And may I give back . . . every day.

We have more than we know. Look at the blessings, see them and remember that all good things come from God.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Quiet Moments With God -- Still In Love?

When I think back to my first weeks as a believer I remember a woman who was so in love with her Savior that she couldn't keep from telling others about Him . . . all the time. In truth, I was so enthusiastic about my Lord that it might have been good to lock me up for a couple of months. :-)

I couldn't stop talking about Him. I had to tell everyone what He'd done for me. Thankfulness and joy were overflowing. I remember spending hours on the phone with a friend every night -- all we did was read scriptures to one another. We were thrilled over every word.

When I consider the kind of Christian I am today, I wonder if I've lost a little something. I still love God, I'm still serving Him, and I want to know Him more and more, but I've become accustomed to His presence and sometimes forget how amazing it is to belong to Him. And the exultant joy is often controlled.

In all relationships, over time, there is a growing steadiness and deepening of understanding between the two. It's like that with my husband and I. I don't get gooseflesh every time he touches me the way I used to. But I love him more today than I did forty years ago when we first fell in love. However, I miss those days when all I thought about was him.

All is not lost. We don't have to settle for the status quo. We can recapture some of that early spark, and in fact, my husband and I have. It takes a desire and the will to do so. There's a lot to be said for joy-filled relationships and ardent hearts. But they don't happen by accident. We decide what kind of relationships we have with others, including that of our Lord.

Although there are seasons of desert living in our Christian walk, which have a purpose, we aren't supposed to live there. If our marriage with the Lord feels flat there's a remedy. He offers us fellowship, love and passion. It is ours to possess, if only we will take the time to unite with Him. Look around and recognize His presence. Open up to Him. Spend time with God, in His Word, in prayer and worship. Listen to Him.

Hebrews 12:2 says, "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame."

Remember who He is and all that He has done to insure that each of us have a place in His kingdom. Fall back in love. God hasn't changed. He still loves us just as He always has. Truly remember Him and once again inexpressible joy will lighten your hearts.

Grace and peace to you from God.

Bonnie Leon

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Tips For Triumphant Living -- Never Thirst

Most of us know the story about Jesus meeting the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4. Today, I want to focus on one verse -- 14, which says, "But whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."

While reading from "My Utmost For His Highest" I was reminded of this verse. Christ offers us an everlasting spring of life. We need only to believe and accept God's gift. I've experienced this flowing spring, but I've also known dry places. And the question comes to mind--why do we experience stale, empty days?

If our spirits feel stale there are some questions we can ask ourselves. Am I giving all of me to God? Have I opened myself up to Him in every way? Do I try to hide parts of myself from Him? (Of course that's impossible--God knows even the number of hairs on our heads). And what is the source of my strength? If it's anything other than the Lord it's inadequate and the result will be the dwindling of freshness in our spirits. Of course the well will never run dry--eternal life is just that, eternal. However, we can limit the blessings God longs to bestow upon us.

I was particularly struck by Oswald Chamber's statement, "If you are depending on something else as your source of freshness and strength, you will not realize when His power is gone." That was a stunner--we won't even know. Not until we need His strength, that is. A frightening thought. It makes me feel defenseless and vulnerable.

May we seek Him above all else, rely on him completely. And recognize that we are nothing without the Lord. Until the day I draw my last breath, I pray for the freshness of the spirit and that I will be filled and overflowing. When the spirit of flows, others will know God's great love.

The never-ending supply of life comes from God, there is no other source. So, tap in. God rejoices over everyone who comes to Him.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Monday, January 18, 2010

Quiet Moments With God -- Finding Shelter

Several years ago, my husband and I were traveling across Texas. The weather looked ominous, but it wasn't tornado season so we weren't concerned, even though the clouds did look peculiar to us west coast travelers.

The music on the country western radio station, we were listening to, was interrupted by a warning message. That happens all the time here in Oregon, and it's always a test. We weren't worried. But the warning was followed by a loud rasping siren-type noise. A tornado warning was in effect for the county we were traveling through.

It was startling and I was instantly tense, especially when I looked at the countryside around us and wondered where we could possibly take shelter if a tornado did roar toward us. There were no towns within miles, nor rest areas. There weren't even any ditches as far as I could tell. I felt absolutely vulnerable. I knew that choosing the proper shelter in a storm could make the difference in whether a person lived or died, and I had no clue what to do. I prayed and was rewarded by the peace of God.

The day ended without our facing any kind of emergency. We saw amazing cloud formations, and that night we slept in a town located in the only watch box on the weather map. Still, we were free of worry and slept soundly. We'd taken refuge in the one who truly had control over our lives. God knows and sees it all. He knew exactly where we were and He watched over us.

Psalm 37:39 - 40 says, "The Lord rescues the godly; he is their fortress in times of trouble. The Lord helps them, rescuing them from the wicked. He sees them and they find shelter in Him."

My husband and I weren't alone in the Texas wilderness. God's hand was upon us. We were sheltered by Him.

No matter what kind of storms we face, finding the right shelter makes all the difference. When we turn to the Lord, we know the refuge he offers is sturdy, dependable and full of mercy. When we need Him, He will hide us beneath the shadow of his wings. I can't think of a better place to rest.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Monday, January 04, 2010

Tips For Triumphant Living -- A Little Magic

It's a new year and a lot of us have made New Year's resolutions or simply decided that "this year will be different". However, let's not leap into change willy-nilly. That can get us into trouble or may spell defeat.

Different is not necessarily better. So before we move forward let's take a look at last year. What was good about it? It might help to write out a list of the positive events or aspects of our lives in 2009. Likely you'll be encouraged. Let's not dump the good stuff just because we want change.

The next step would be to look at what we didn't like and need to change. List those as well. Post both your lists somewhere you will see them every day to remind you of your decision and to offer hope for better tomorrows.

I'll bet we have many similar goals. However, whatever it is that we hope to accomplish we've first got to think about how it lines up with God's Word and His will. Is what we want something He wants? To find the answer we need to contemplate on our goals, see what scripture has to say about them and do some praying.

When we're confident we're walking a path God would be happy with, we can be certain it's something we can accomplish. He doesn't ask us to do what cannot be done. And lets not forget that we don't have to rely on our own strength. God's strength is enough.

It's easy to imagine and dream about our aspirations, but doing them is another matter. The doing can be tedious, difficult and often requires diligence and flexibility. It takes place in the day to day grind. And is usually not nearly so grand as we had imagined. But to be good doesn't necessarily mean something must be grand.

I have a lot of changes I'd like to make this year, but today I'll only mention one--my schedule. I'm all over the place with it. I'm a night owl so getting up and getting to work happens in all kinds of ways at all different hours. If I get too few hours sleep I'm not much good during the day. So, first off I've got to get to bed earlier. I'm working on how to make that happen. Once my work day begins, I've got to stay focused. The phone and my email can and must wait. The difficulty in this is that I'm the one who controls me. I must choose--my way or God's way. His is always the best. His Word is clear about being self disciplined.

If I can work more diligently I'll have more free time for fun and maybe even a little exercise. I see myself as The Little Engine That Could -- I think I can, I think I can. I am weak but He is strong. I can do what God asks if I don't give up and if I rely on the One who makes me able.

So no matter what it is that you've decided needs improvement this year, move forward with confidence. Don't listen to that voice in your head that says you can't. What is it that God wants to change in you? Listen to Him, believe and obey and then wait for the magic.

Grace and peace to you from God.