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Feasting or Striving…

Feasting or Striving - blog 3-2020

Photo by Rebecca on Unsplash

If you have a dog, then you know how sensitive their hearing is when it comes to anything that might possibly be related to food!

We have a little 8-pound Maltese/poodle/mutt rescue dog who just turned 10 years old. And not slowing down anytime soon. He lounges around the house sleeping away most of the day, but open any kind of package or clank around the mixing bowls, and he goes into a dead run, straight for the kitchen.

I was making a double batch of chili the other day for a meeting that was happening at our house, and there was a lot of food prep. I had just put fresh water and food in his bowls for our little Max, but that soon proved to not be good enough.

As I opened up cans of beans (no shame…I’ve got other things to do that soak four different kinds of beans overnight, etc. etc.), cooking the ground turkey, onions, and celery and portioning out the spices. Oh yeah, the kitchen was smelling fantastic! And Max was right there for all the action!

God is so good in giving me insight into my relationship with Him through everyday tasks, and today was no different. 

I watched Max scurry around the kitchen furiously searching for scraps or random bits of food that had fallen on the floor. I heard the Holy Spirit whisper to my heart, “You do the same thing sometimes.” What? Was the Lord really comparing me to my dog?! Then I heard Him say,

“I have provided all the nourishment you need yet you still scurry around looking for scraps that will never satisfy you.”

Whoa! He was right of course!

Let’s see if anything of these things resonate with you too…

When I get my feelings hurt (yes, even after 50 that still happens friends!) many times my first reaction is to complain about it to whoever will listen. I’ll call a friend, text someone else, or verbal vomit to my husband. I’m not looking for them to fix the problem, I just “want to be heard.” I want my side of the story to matter the most.

Honestly, I’m not looking for a solution to my heart issues, I’m searching for vindication in my quest to be upset. After all, don’t I have the right to be upset after being hurt?

Philippians 2:3-4 AMP,Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit [through factional motives, or strife], but with [an attitude of] humility [being neither arrogant nor self-righteous], regard others as more important than yourselves. Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.

Hmmm…looks like I don’t have that “right” after all.

This is what I mean by ‘striving for scraps’: we will feel sad, hurt, frustrated, annoyed, mad, etc., but we do not have the right to stay that way. 

God has given us the most amazing gift of the Holy Spirit, and each time we choose our emotions over giving our hurts to the Lord, we are striving for scraps.

I Peter 5:6-8 gives us the perfect solution to whatever is causing us offense:

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God [set aside self-righteous pride], so that He may exalt you [to a place of honor in His service] at the appropriate time, casting all your cares [all your anxieties, all your worries, and all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares about you [with deepest affection, and watches over you very carefully]. Be sober [well balanced and self-disciplined], be alert and cautious at all times. That enemy of yours, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion [fiercely hungry], seeking someone to devour.

The Lord does not want us to come to Him some of the time, or most of the time to give Him our concerns. He wants us to come to Him ALL the time with ALL the things!

Years ago, after something happened with a friend, I felt offended and upset. I was venting to one of my daughters and she said, “Mom, you just need to give this to the Lord. It’s not doing you any good to be upset.”

I don’t know about you, but being parented by your adult children is not my favorite ~ especially when they are right!

I was immediately upset with her and unceremoniously replied, “Oh yes it does! I have a right to be mad, and I’m going to be mad for a while. Don’t tell me that I can’t be mad.”

Seriously, who’s the adult and who’s the child in this scenario?

Anyway, she was of course, right!

The Lord doesn’t want us to walk around mad, upset, or angry. It does not accomplish anything good! It is not beneficial to our life. And it can create more problems than you started with.

Instead of feasting on “the right to be mad”, what would have been better is to feast on God’s Word. Everything we need is right there. We don’t need to scurry around grasping for justification for our actions. We have to stop running around attempting to be filled by what the world says will work for our situation.

Turning to the Lord to answer us in various circumstances shows maturity. It means that we know our hearts will truly be filled only in His truth. By trusting what the Lord has taught us in scripture and by quieting ourselves to listen to the instruction of the Holy Spirit, we will not be tempted to scurry about like a dog looking for scraps.

Hebrews 5:13-14, 13 For everyone who lives on milk is [doctrinally inexperienced and] unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a spiritual infant. 14 But solid food is for the [spiritually] mature, whose senses are trained by practice to distinguish between what is morally good and what is evil.

We are mature when we eat the solid food of God’s Word. 

When we feast, we are taking our time to enjoy the company of our host. 

When we strive, we are completely ignoring the bounty set before us. 

If you were invited to a dinner party, you wouldn’t bring your own food or scurry about the kitchen attempting to make something “better” than what had been prepared. You would arrive, ready to be treated to scrumptious food and delightful companionship.

That is how it is with the Lord. He’s provided everything you need to rest and relax in Him.

Sit down and feast! 

So my friend, when you feel like you deserve to be mad, or right, or sense that life is spinning out of control; take a step back and really look at the situation. When you keep telling people about the same problems over and over again, but still refuse to take anyone’s advice; when you walk around feeling like you deserve to act the way that you are because you got your feelings hurt; these are moments the Holy Spirit is waving a big red spiritual flag in your face!

STOP!

Stop the striving. Stop the scurrying. Stop the selfishness.

Trust in the good words of scripture and feast on His truths ~ the Lord will never lead you astray!

Blessings,

René

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Alive and Rested…

girl sitting by water - REST - for 2-12-20 blog

Photo by léa b on Unsplash

Recently, I heard a fantastic word on festooning scripture. You may have read my previous blog (And then it was a New Year…) on this subject. So, I thought I today, I would share with you the reflections I experienced while using Psalm 23 to practice.

Pastor Christine Suh, Pastor of Spiritual Formation at Fellowship Monrovia, was the guest speaker at the Fellowship Moms Bible Study.

Festooning basically means “to decorate”. Pastor Christine then shared that she would teach us how to festoon scripture into our soul. That definitely caused me to pause. She also explained the beautiful benefits of time spent personalizing scripture to our current life circumstances.

I’ll also add, that God’s Word is not a merely a story book. It’s not a place where we can see how scripture fits into our life, or how God fits into our life. Quite the opposite. Spending time in God’s Word shows us how we are to live with God as the center of our life and how we can live so as to honor Him and glorify Him through all that we do. 

To festoon is to personalize. And because God’s word is alive, He can personalize it to us every time we decide to spend time with Him. That’s the heart of the good Father. He knows His children and what make each one of us respond to His voice.

As Pastor Christine continued with her teaching, she also showed how most passages have three parts:

  • Orientation
  • Disorientation
  • Reorientation

I love this so much because these three qualities speak of how He works in our life to show us our path and purpose. God is the God of order and not chaos, so in no way do I want to confuse you at all. Let me be clear ~ God is ALWAYS oriented perfectly! We as humans are the ones who get disoriented and confused. This is why scripture is written the way it is:

  • God gives us perfect direction ~ every time.
  • When we get disoriented, God is there to keep us stabilized with the truth of His Word.
  • Finally, God is there to refocus us and remind us Who is He, what He can do, and what our path is.

With that, I welcome you to join me in this exercise of festooning scripture! Go ahead and first read through Psalm 23 (printed at the bottom of this blog using the Amplified Bible version). After each verse, these are my first initial thoughts and feelings as I personalized this scripture.

Here we go ~

(Orientation)

Vs.1 “The LORD is my Shepherd [to feed, to guide and to shield me], I shall not want.

~ Thank you, Jesus, that You are always faithful to lead me on the path You have set forth for me to travel. In that path, there is no fear of being lost, in danger, or abandoned. No matter what, You will always provide for me all that I need. It may not be what I think I want, but it will be exactly what you have planned to satisfy my needs.

Vs.2 He lets me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still and quiet waters.

~ I’m grateful that You take me by the hand and gently lead me to places where I can find rest from my weariness; to places where I am able to rest in a peaceful state, and my mind is given rest from the distractions around me. I am thankful that there are opportunities that You provide for rest, and when my eyes are on You, I am able to see those times for what they are.

Vs.3 He refreshes and restores my soul (life); He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.

~ You are gracious Lord to bring refreshment to my soul through your Living Word, through prayer, all with the opportunity to bring You glory & praise. I’m so thankful that by pausing in my day to read scripture, pray, and apply it to my life, that I can be refreshed even through the storms when they arise.

(Disorientation)

Vs.4 Even though I walk through the [sunless] valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort and console me.

~ You know there will be times where I will allow my thoughts to wander away from Your truths & promises, causing confusion, disorientation, doubt, and fear. BUT ~ Your loving discipline will bring me back & Holy Spirit will wash my heart & mind clean with God’s truth over & for my life. I am grateful for Your gift of a comforter in the Holy Spirit.

(Reorientation)

Vs.5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You have anointed and refreshed my head with oil; My cup overflows.

~ I’m humbled Lord by how You want to celebrate me; how You intend to gather me to Your presence to bless me beyond measure with all Your love and protection, guidance and rejoicing. With You there is nothing that I lack. When I’m filled with You, the overflow of my life will be unmistakably filled with You.

Vs.6 Surely goodness and mercy and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life, And I shall dwell forever [throughout all my days] in the house and in the presence of the LORD.”

~ You have called me by name, You have reconciled me to Your heart, You have come to save my soul and not condemn me. With You there is safety and joy, and that whatever trials and events come my way to cause disorientation, You will cover them and bring me to a place of peace. Forever!!

Whoa ~ such refreshment! Praise God!

I would love to encourage you to choose a scripture, maybe start with your favorite Psalm, and give it a try. When we truly meditate on God’s word and what He has to say to us, our soul cannot help but feel refreshed and renewed! Our soul and spirit long to be with the Father and what a beautiful privilege and blessing we have to openly read scripture and share with others what the Lord has done in our life.

Let your soul be festooned with the everlasting and perfect Word of God!

Blessings,

René

(Psalm 23 AMP) The Lord, the Psalmist’s Shepherd.

A Psalm of David.

23 The Lord is my Shepherd [to feed, to guide and to shield me],
I shall not want.

2 He lets me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still and quiet waters.

3 He refreshes and restores my soul (life);
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
for His name’s sake.

4 Even though I walk through the [sunless] [a]valley of the shadow of death,

I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort and console me.

5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You have anointed and refreshed my head with [b]oil;
My cup overflows.

6 Surely goodness and mercy and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life,
And I shall dwell forever [throughout all my days] in the house and in the presence of the Lord.