Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Squirrels and Birds


Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” – Philippians 2:3-4

One of our favorite things to do here around the house is just to watch the wildlife.  We put out corn in two squirrel feeders, bird seed for the birds, and just sit and watch them.  We listening to the birds sing, watching for the occasional rabbit or wild turkey to come around, and pass the time in complete peace.
But lately we’ve had a lot more squirrels than usual.  I counted NINE hanging out around the feeding tree.  Many of them are very small, just babies, and we love to watch them hop through the yard precariously to the tree and eat from their little hands.

The birds are amazing to watch.  Yellow Finches, paired with Blue Birds and red Cardinals, just make my eyes happy!  We watch the tiny Titmouse as it hops down the tree, and then back up the tree the same way.  The red headed woodpecker we do believe it has gotten drunk of humming bird juice, as he wants to punch holes in our aluminum gutter.  He sounds like a machine gun going off in the middle of our peace and quiet! 
And yes, the humming birds.  They are so greedy for the sweet water we feed them that they cannot even move far from the feeder.  We watched as one would come drink for a while, then go rest in a tree branch while watching the feeder.  The moment a fellow hummingbird attempted to get a drink, he would buzz in and attack to shoo all others away.

If there’s one attribute that squirrels and birds have in common, I would say it is selfishness.  The squirrels will run each other and even the occasional rabbit away from the food.  They eat on separate sides of the tree, knowing that if they are seen, it’s time to scamper up the tree to safety, and wait until their foe isn’t watching to move back down to the food.  The birds will swoop in, get the food, and fly away, or as the Blue Jay’s do, fend off any others that dare eat!
This past weekend while we were watching the birds something happened that was amazing.  In the midst of good conversation with our friend Megan, a cardinal did something that stopped us midsentence!  He came down the tree, got a few seeds of food, and then carried it up the tree to give it to another cardinal – from one beak to the other.  He did it several times as we sat there just in awe of the love he was showing to the female cardinal.  It was fascinating because it was so unlike all the others we were watching.

I do believe God never shows you anything like that in life without using it to teach you a lesson. 
Days later I’m reading His word and they come back to mind – the greedy squirrels and birds, and the two cardinals.  We’re all much like the greedy ones, and sometimes – possibly rarely even – like the cardinals.  We look out for our own interest before anyone else’s.  Think about it.  When we cut the pizza, do we pull the piece with the most pepperoni to our plate?  Do we look for the best piece of fried chicken and put it on our plate before anyone else can take it?  Of course we do! 

But it doesn’t stop at food.  We fail to share our time.  Perhaps that’s one way in which I am the greediest.  I enjoy time with my hubby and alone time so much that I rarely spend it with anyone else.  We also fail to share God’s word.  Seriously, if you know it and don’t share it, that is sin, for James 4:17 says those “who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.”  We fail to give as much as we should of what we control.  Yet by keeping it, we only hurt ourselves as it begins to control how we live and pulls us away from God’s plan.
Jesus continually teaches us to “love one another as I have loved you”, and “love thy neighbor as thyself” and to “look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others”.  Galatians 5:22 gives the fruits of the Spirit, purposefully naming LOVE as the first. 

When Paul speaks of Timothy in Philippians 2:19-24 he compares him to the rest saying of them, “For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus.  Can that not be said of all of us? 
We need more Timothy’s in this world.  We need those who will show others love, instead of being self-centered.  We need those who will give not only of their possessions, but of their hearts and their time. 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Be an Elijah

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms.  Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.  And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.  Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.” – James 5:13-18

As a church, I think one of the greatest ways we doubt God is in healing.  We pray for our friends and family to be healed, and they sometimes get better, and sometimes get sick again, and sometimes die sick.  Yes, death is part of God’s plan, and sickness opens the door to Heaven sometimes. 
But when our brothers and sisters are sick, how often do we DO WHAT GODS WORD SAYS.  How often do we take them before the spiritual leaders of the church, anoint them with oil in the name of Jesus, and pray over them that their sins be forgiven and God release them from that sickness? Rarely.

Yet, God’s word says this is the path to them being healed.  Confession leads to healing! 
“The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”  Oh, don’t go looking for someone who is without sin in this world to pray.  You’ll never find them!  Look for those who are righteous!  We who have been saved by the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ, are the righteous!  Our fervent – never give up – prayers can change circumstances.  I’ve seen it far too many times.  Yet, our faith puts a leash on our prayer life, because we only trust God for the things we can believe He will do. 

Stop putting God in a box!  Take Him out of the boxed in reality of your mind and realize that with God, ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE.  Realize that He is the same God that listened to Elijah’s prayers, and He is listening to yours.  James 4:2 clearly says that we do not have the things we desire because we do not ASK.  We don’t ask because we have no faith that God will give us our petitions.  And yes, some of our petitions are based on our own selfish desires, and no friend, you won’t get them.  God is a good Father, and He knows when the million dollar lottery will cause you to walk away from Him, turn on your friends and family (or they would turn on you), and He forbids such evil to come into your life. 
We’ve all read Psalms 37:4, which says “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.”  But we’ve misunderstood this verse to say that whatever our heart desires, God will give.  NO.  When you delight in the Lord, he gives you the DESIRES of your heart, and they align with His purpose for you, which is to give you a hope and a future, making you into what He designed you to be.  It’s not the foolish desires of your heart he fulfills.  How horrible that would be if He did that for each and every person who prayed for them! Think about that for a while. 

Elijah prayed EARNESTLY (continually, without fail, never giving up on God) that it would not rain, and God stopped the rain for three and a half years!  But why did God do it?  Because when Elijah asked for it, it was to make a believer out of Ahab. His words concerning the matter point to God’s abilities, not his own.  He said in 1 Kings 17:1 “As the Lord God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word.”  Immediately God provided water for him, and food. He continued to provide for him during the drought.  Elijah had a full ministry within the drought years.  This was God’s purpose!  It wasn’t simply to say “OK Elijah, whatever you want son, I’ll just give it to you.” No, Elijah was praying in accordance to God’s desires that had been placed in his heart.  And God delivered!
Elijah seems like a man far above any man we know today.  Who of us could pray this prayer and God answer, we think.  Yet, God’s word clearly says “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours”.  Now, why would James make that point if it wasn’t to say to us, to even say to me, “Faithie, you CAN BE an Elijah!”.  The only difference is us, in me even, and Elijah, is that we have not allowed God to invade our hearts to the point of changing out desires into His so that all our actions become God’s actions.

If you want to see the impossible, believe in the one who can do the impossible.  Let Him give you desires in your heart to see His will.