100 Lollipops, 100 Days

Back in the day when my kids were is school, Day 100, the one hundredth day of school, was a big event.  I can remember counting out 100 lollipops for them to take in to class on that day.  Seeing and counting out the lollipops really helped the kids (and ME!!) get a good, solid grasp of the concept of 100.  Today was Day 100 for me!!!

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One hundred days ago I started attending a women’s discipleship group in my church and began to read my Bible more relationally.  As I read every day, I take notes on what I read and write my responses.  My responses are directed to the one who breathed the Word.  The response might take the form of  a question, a confession, a praise – depends what I read.  Because I tend to read pretty fast, I have intentionally limited myself to reading only one chapter per day – my purpose is to really let the Word soak into my mind and heart; I want to know the author and let His word change me, not just get to a certain goal.  It has been a great “100 Days”!

How appropriate it was for me to read John Chapter 3 today, Day 100.  Many of the words in this chapter were already familiar and much loved but I had to pause at one verse, verse 14,   “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; “. 

Jesus is referring an incident described in Numbers 21.  The Israelites were grumbling against God and Moses – again!  God sends fiery serpents into the camp, the snake bite caused intense pain and death.  When Moses intercedes on their behalf God instructs Moses to make a fiery serpent on a standard and lift it up for all to see.  Those who look at this bronze serpent will live…

Nicodemus would have known exactly what Jesus was describing but the imagery is not so common to us.  In the days of the Romans a standard was a long pole with a crosspiece – usually holding a flag or a plaque.  A standard was used to indicate the army company, cohort or division; there was often a metal emblem at the top of the pole.  An army would follow their standard into battle or during a victory parade so the standard had to be tall enough to be visible at a distance.  The standard had to be carried straight up in the air so all could see.  The standard looked like a large cross.  Moses was told to put a bronze serpent on the standard, bronze in the Bible often indicates judgement.  Anyone bitten by the fiery serpent had to look to the standard to be healed.

The implication of Jesus’ reference to this event was a reminder to me of the incredible healing power found at the foot of the cross of Christ, especially after being bitten by the fiery serpent!   Because the Son of Man was lifted up on a cross:

  • my severed relationship with God can now be healed.
  • my sins can be forgiven.
  • damaged relationships can be healed.
  • broken hearts can be healed.
  • and yes, sometimes, physical illnesses can be healed.

There are some who will not look at the cross, some who will not look to Jesus.  There are some who would rather seek “Retail Therapy”, pop a pill, stop for a drink or 2 or 3.  All of these solutions will work, for a day or just a moment but then the pain, the disappointment, the disillusion returns – those that have been bitten by the serpent may look and act alive, but inside they are dying.

In Numbers 21, God said to simply look at the cross and be healed.  Jesus tells Nicodemus to do the same thing and John records Jesus words for us too.   Jesus also tells Nicodemus (John 3:15) “…so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.”  Looking up at the cross can bring healing today and believing in Him who died on the cross gives the gift of eternal life…My relational response to these Bible verses??  100 lollipops? Temporary treats!  Eternity in heaven?  The Greatest Gift!!  Girlfriends,  I’m RUNNIN’ to the Cross!!

 

Extraordinary Moment/Ordinary Day

How many of your days are simply ordinary? You wake up, get dressed, chug some coffee, take care of the kids, get ready for work, run errands, get through the day, go to sleep, wake up and “lather, rinse, repeat” – the same old routine the next day. Sometimes you can go through it with your eyes closed, your brain off, you have done it so many times…

Exodus 3 opens with Moses pasturing the flock of his father in law, Jethro. The same thing he did every day and had done every day for years. I suspect Moses would understand our modern, concept of “autopilot”, he probably felt that way about the sheep, the same stinky, noisy, boring sheep…day after day.  Moses was on autopilot.

So Moses said, “I must turn aside now and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up.”  When the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” 

At first Moses must have just glimpsed the glow of the bush burning. And then his brain caught up with his eyes, “Say, what??” Moses was on sheep duty, he had his agenda, stick with the sheep, don’t lose any, get them fed, get them water, bring them home.  Although it may not seem like it, Moses had a choice here – He could have kept his nose pointed at the sheep.   But, he decides to turn aside to get a closer look. His feet were moving in one direction, now he abruptly shifts around to “see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up”. What do you do with those unexpected moments/unexpected encounters?? How do you respond to those interruptions to your sheep herding??

Now, do not miss this…”When the LORD saw that he turned aside to look…”  God was watching as Moses was just shepherding his sheep, being ordinary. God was patiently waiting, would Moses notice and stop or just ignore and move on?  God sees that He has Moses’ attention. NOW, God speaks and calls his name, Moses, Moses!

Don’t miss the extraordinary in your ordinary day!  If you are like me, most of your days are pretty ordinary, not a lot of change or excitement.  I try to make it a point every day to be “on the alert”.  You just never know when there will be amazing!

Turn aside for those God moments!  It only takes seconds, whatever the moment may be, a beautiful sunset, a little leaping lizard (this IS Florida – they are everywhere!), a child’s question, someone says hello!  Pause, enjoy and thank God for the moment, the person, the opportunity.

God is watching expectantly and waiting patiently for our response!  God is paying attention and expects us to respond.  Is my response pleasing to Him, helpful, friendly, genuine or am I distracted, going through the motions, ignoring the marvels and people He has allowed into my path?

God will speak!!! He reminds me of a favorite Bible verse, He brings a song to my mind.  I sense His presence, sometimes He reminds me of something I need to so, someone I need to call, someone calls me.  He gives an answer to a problem or situation.  I do not hear Him audibly but I definitely hear His voice!

Take good care of your sheep and keep your eyes open, there could be an extraordinary moment just around the corner!  Trust and Test God on this!

 

The God Who Sees

The other day I realized that I have had more time by myself in the past 8 months than I’ve had in the past 28+ years!  Moving to Florida where you know absolutely no one can be like that!!  So much “alone time” has allowed to do many of the things I enjoy but has also resulted in some lonely hours.  In those darker moments, it is easy to feel completely forgotten and virtually invisible.

Hagar must have been overwhelmed with loneliness and despair sitting near a spring in the wilderness (Genesis 16:7).  She had slept with her boss’s husband (Sarai’s husband, Abram) and was now pregnant by him.  Not too surprisingly, Sarai “treats her harshly” and Hagar flees.  In this wilderness place, Hagar is found by the angel of the LORD who speaks to her and tells her to return and submit to Sarai’s authority over her.  Hagar was in this predicament because of Sarai!  Sarai had told Abram to sleep with Hagar hoping that Hagar would conceive so she, Sarai, would “obtain children through her” (Gen. 16:2)!

I love how Hagar does not seem surprised at all to be talking to the angel of the LORD in the middle of this wilderness!  Don’t you love it when you hear from God in an unexpected place?

After her conversation with the angel of the Lord, Hagar “called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, “You are a God who sees” (Gen. 16:13).  Hagar was an Egyptian, yet she KNEW she had just had an encounter with the one true God and that He SAW her.  God saw not just a slave, not just her dire situation, but HER – the person, the woman who had felt invisible and forgotten.  The angel of the LORD had assured Hagar that the child she bore also had a future filled with too many descendants to count (Gen. 16;10).  He told her to name the child Ishmael “because the LORD has given heed to your affliction.” (Gen. 16:11).  Although it is not recorded here I think we can safely assume that before the angel of the LORD appeared, Hagar was loudly sobbing and complaining.  The Lord did not simply hear her, He heeded her, He was listening attentively.  God was fully present, alert, listening and watching.

God, who saw Hagar in her despair and loneliness had a plan for Hagar and her child, He has a plan for me.  He knows my moments of loneliness, He knows your darker moments.  Not only does He see me, He understands me completely.  He HEEDS my afflictions, I have His undivided attention.  God permits loneliness, and afflictions, for His purpose and my good.  He has not and cannot forget me – even in Florida!!!  The same God who saw Hagar in the wilderness, sees me – I LOVE that about Him!!!!

P.S.  Not to worry, God is making sure there are less lonely moments every day!

 

The First Step

Hello and welcome to my first foray into blogging!! It seems a brief introduction is appropriate…

My name is Betty, I am very privileged to be living a long-time dream of the “Salt-Life” on the beautiful Gulf Coast of Florida.  I am a very ordinary lady who serves an extraordinary God.  Married with 3 grown children, I have been walking with God for the past 22 years.  God has given me so much and one of His best gifts is a love of His Word; I love to read, study, discuss, learn and teach the Bible.

These years walking with God have been the most difficult and the best years of my earthly life.  The Word has enabled me to get through the tough stuff and keep the right perspective on the good stuff!  The Word has equipped me to be a blessing to others and blessed me constantly!  The Word has taught me who God is, who Jesus is, who the Holy Spirit is and who I am!!!  The Word is my map, my guidebook, my textbook, my microscope, my magnifying glass, my mirror, my flashlight, my spotlight, my hammer, my anvil, my sword, my refuge and so much more.

I have been praying about sharing what God has taught and continues to teach me.  God and others  have been clear, just take the next step so that is what I am doing – thus, this blog, my next, first step!!

I pray you find blessing, encouragement and also challenge as I share with you, the State of My Heart…