What are you giving?

Most days, as part of our school day, Isaac and I do a bible study or devotional.  Recently we read Genesis 4:1-7.  It’s the story of Cain and Abel.  In the scripture it reads “Cain brought some of his harvest and gave it as an offering to the Lord.  Abel too, brought an offering: the first-born lamb of one of his sheep.”

Prior to reading this scripture I had been struggling, reaching out to God, but feeling as if I was being held at an arms length.  But, as I read it with Isaac, one word stood out as if it was written in neon letters…”some”.  Cain brought “some” of his harvest and gave it to the Lord.  And if you know the story, then you know that his offering was found to be lacking.  It was lacking to such an extent that the Lord refused to accept it.

How many times have I come before the Lord with “some” of me.  How many times have I read my bible, gone to church, or prayed as a part of my routine, and not from my heart.  God was giving me a message – loud and clear.  He doesn’t want my half-hearted measures – he wants ALL of me!  My feelings of distance and being kept at arms length suddenly made so much sense.

Absolutely I believe that God wants a relationship with all of us.  But I also feel as if at some point in the development of that relationship he calls us to step up.  We can’t hold anything back from God.  He wants us to acknowledge that everything we have comes from him.  That’s what Abel did.  That is the reason that his offering was acceptable and Cain’s wasn’t.  Abel said “look at this beautiful, first-born lamb.  If not for God, I would not have this blessing.  I will, I must give it to him.”  In contrast, Cain said “I worked hard for all of this food, I gave the sweat off  my brow, the ache in my back.  I’ll give something of what I have earned to God because I should.

How many times in my own life can I see Abel?  How many more times do I see Cain? God wants to fill our lives with blessings.  It is part of the reason Jesus taught us to pray “give us this day our daily bread.”  But we also need to surrender our pride, our insistence on self-reliance and acknowledge that truly “all things come of thee, and of thine own, have we given thee.”

The world of 2020 wants you to believe that you are responsible for you.  But I want you to pause for a moment and consider the idea that a worldly view, puts you in Cain’s position.  You’ve heard the quote, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift––that is why it is called the present.”  Each day is indeed a gift – from our Lord and when we come to him…when I come to him, I want to come to him like Abel…appreciating his blessings and giving him my very best.

This week Isaac and I have tried to keep the idea of giving God our best as our focus, and I think that it has brought each of us into a closer communion with him.  Are you giving God the best you have to offer?

God bless!

Meredith

 

 

 

ONE REASON, AND ONE REASON ONLY.

I don’t know if it’s because my kids are getting older, or because I tend to do most of my shopping online now instead of at the mall, or if it’s simply that my heart is changing…but this year I have found myself focused more on the birth of a child then on Santa, and stuff.

Earlier this year a new show about Jesus came into being.  Called THE CHOSEN, it is a re-examining of the life of Christ, all of it paid for through the biggest crowdfunding ever raised.  The show is truly special and worth seeing, if you haven’t (especially the Christmas special that started it all).  But the reason I mention it, is that I recently watched a little video from them about the significance of the swaddling clothes.

All of my life I have believed that the swaddling clothes were partly an indication of the financial status of Mary and Joseph – to show that the king of the world was born like the least of us.  And hey, I swaddled all of my children, it’s been a common practice among mothers for centuries.  But what I didn’t know, was that the shepherds to whom the angels appeared were the shepherds who were raising the Passover lambs.  These lambs had to be flawless…perfect, without blemish.  And in order to ensure that they were…they were swaddled.

This Christmas as you sit down to celebrate with family and friends I pray that you spend a moment thinking about the child who was born to be the perfect sacrifice.  The child who would one day die for our sins, for one reason, and one reason only…to bring us to God.  For me, that is the gift I will be celebrating receiving this Christmas.  Glory to God in the highest.

God bless you!

Meredith

Here is a link to the Facebook page of THE CHOSEN for any of you that are interested.  https://www.facebook.com/InsideTheChosen/

MORE BLESSINGS!

Another round of “Thank Yous” from THE BOOK OF RUTH.

Thank you so much…

Jared Boggess
Kyle Jamison
Lauren
Waller Hastings
Johnny McCloskey
Agnieszka
Mark Britt
Tom
James Pedrick
Josh
Levi Calip-Richardson
Leigh M
Gerald Lange
Kyle
Jake Campbell
Paul Watt
Scott Behren
Billy
Christopher Lowe
David T
Candido
Andrew Dalhouse
Bailey Gould
Travis Curtis
Luke Italiano
Madeline Turnipseed
Tiffany U
Everett
Nelly
Brett DaSilva
Janice Hamm
Ty Boucher
Wayne Kiehne
Scott Beasley
Mark
Cynthia Connell
Dustin Carr
Allison Bork
Michael Yuhasz
Jennifer
Kelly W
Aaron Plattner
Daniel
Richard Libera

THANK YOU SO MUCH – TBOR KICKSTARTER

Here is the next round of thank yous to my AMAZING backers from THE BOOK OF RUTH.

Thank you SO MUCH…!

Joi W.
Heather McKenzie
Darby
Christine Parman
Hector Miray
Michael Sukow
Gwynllan Walker
Matthew
Jessica Adkins
Steven Paradise
Jon McQuery
Christopher Weedin
Mark H
Jamaal
Amy
Nina F
Lindsay
Chip Brown
Steve Orlando
Frank DiCola
Larry Y.
Jason Fabok
Landon Cheben
Jesse Wightman
Hartman
Kevin Yong
Kevin Corcoran
Yanira C.
Rhonda Reynolds
Chloe Cunningham
Isabelle Angell
Jonathan Dusseau
Sally T
Aaron Keck
Haley Martin
Thomas DeVries
Mark Lopez
Andrew Nusbaum
Natalie Boow
Doug TenNapel
Ken Gilbert
Paolo B
Alecia
Vanessa Bodell
Mike
Keely F
Wayne Jamel
Rob W
Laura Morrison
Diana L

IT’S JUST SOOOO HARD!

Why is it that almost the second you decide to try to do better, temptation comes to show you just how weak you really are?  I think that probably applies to most things that tempt us, chocolate cake when you are on a diet, a new pair of shoes when you are watching your spending.  How are we supposed to win?!

Today for my bible study I was reading Ecclesiastes and James.  Both chapters specifically addressed my biggest failing as a Christian…my tongue.  James 3 is even appropriately titled Taming the Tongue. 

“…but no man can tame the tongue.  It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.”  James 3:8.

“With  our tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men who have been made in God’s likeness.”  James 3:9

“Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing.” James 3:10

Guilty, guilty, guilty.  I have often wondered why, when we were created by God to praise and love him, it is so darn hard to live up to his standards?  I think it must be a big reason why so many people have fallen away from “religion”.  Once you get past the whole feel good “Jesus comes to save the world and forgive our sins part” there’s an expectation, a call to live a better life, to set a higher standard for your behaviour.  And just like you felt guilt when you did something wrong as a child, you feel badly, guilty about not living up to being the person you know God is calling you to be.  It’s easier to just walk away, especially in those early days.

Last night as I was driving Isaac back from his riding lesson I heard a song on the radio (see below), and it really drove home something that I think we all need to remember.  It’s good to be alive.  God gave us life to enjoy it.  A relationship with God is about feeling better, not worse.  Feeling not good enough, living with guilt… that is a lie told by the enemy, and one I’ve fallen victim too far too often.  When we feel as if we aren’t living up to God’s standards we should be turning toward him, not away.

I’ve been pretty honest here about how my own faith has ebbed and flowed over the years.  It’s even possible that I might stray away again, like a lost sheep.  But I feel grateful that, for right now, I am so tied to my Lord.  The more I have thrown myself at him whole-heartedly, the more I have felt his presence in my life on a daily basis.  And that’s why it is so darn frustrating to recognize at times that I am just as awful a sinner as I ever was, and that ole tongue is the major source of my failing.  But I also take comfort from the words of Ecclesiastes 7, verse 20 that I read this morning…”There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins.”  and verse 18 “the man who fears God will avoid all extremes.” 

I am a sinner.  I will always be a sinner.  Just like my own children, as a child of God I will continue to make mistakes, to fall down.  And just as I would pick up my own children, wipe their tears and forgive them for any of their failings or mistakes, so too does God forgive me.  All I have to do is ask.  And truth be told, we are probably never fair to ourselves.  I believe that the Spirit lives in me, and is changing me into the person God calls me to be.  Some days he just chips off smaller pieces of this piece of clay than others.  God knows all things.  He knows when I’m having a bad day, when I’m stressed out, when I’m feeling out of control.  He also knows the days when I’ve got it all together.  I think he expects more from us in those times that we are more capable (just as we would with our own children).  Maybe some days, instead of chipping of pieces of this piece of clay, he just holds me in his hands and pours his love out onto me.

I pray for all those people who are struggling with their faith and with those feelings of not being good enough. God sent his only son into the world so that, while we might feel those things, we wouldn’t have to live with the burden of guilt for our failures.  I pray that instead of turning away from God in those times, we instead turn ourselves more fully toward him.

God bless,

Meredith

USING THE RIGHT WORDS.

The quest for the “perfect” Christmas can make this an exhausting time of year for many.  I have found myself increasingly in that category as the years go by.  I’ve lost the joy of buying presents, putting up the Christmas decorations, baking.  Instead of looking forward to these activities they have become a chore; another box to tick.  I begrudge the way they pull me out of my routine.

But even as that is happening, I can feel the call of that baby.  The Incarnation.  It’s not a word that I grew up with or using with any regularity, and while many of us are familiar with the miracle of the Resurrection, I sometimes feel that we are missing out on the meaning of the gift we are truly celebrating on December 25.  The Incarnation – God became man.  Just saying the word, dwelling on that, the “perfectness” of that gift, I find my heart filled with the joy that I thought I was missing.  I find myself filled with love; love of God and mankind.

Jesus isn’t just the reason for the season; the love that fills peoples hearts at this time of year, that makes them more generous, more courteous, more kind — THAT IS JESUS.  Jesus isn’t just the reason for the season, Jesus is the season.  God incarnated.  God made man.  The miracle of that birth stretches across centuries, across generations, across racial, and cultural divides to give us a glimpse of something truly special.

When I find myself dwelling on that miracle, I realize that I need to approach each of my Christmas “tasks” as an act of thanksgiving, an act of celebration of the miracle of the virgin birth.  James 2:26 says “as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.”  If I have faith and if I believe “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:11. then I need to look no further to find meaning in Christmas.  I need to approach each and everything I do (my deeds), as a part of my Christmas celebrations, as an act of love; as a gift offered before that baby boy. At this time of year, it isn’t just about my faith, it’s about offering up my deeds, to let them be my offering, just as the wise men offered their gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh.  Over the next few weeks I don’t want to celebrate Christmas, I want to celebrate the magic of, the miracle of the Incarnation.  God made man.  Halleluiah!

MERRY INCARNATION!

God bless,

Meredith

THANK YOU – ROUND TWO

And here’s the second group of “Thank yous” for my amazing backers.

THANK YOU SO MUCH…
Andy Schmidt
Andy Mahoney
Wilco
Kris Bather
John
Robert L Vaughn
Lola
Marshall Hinson
Lucas Brandon
Simon
Jay Lofstead
Bert Maes
S. J. Malarkey
Brian Rodman
Leon Glaser
Jim Kosmicki
Tyler Sexson
Kevin R.
Jackie Y.
Brian Ross
Ewa Boldok
Paul Cassella
Korana
Stephen Disney
David Wade
Jake Modica
Jeff & Erin W.
John Wimmer
Kathryn Calamia
Faiz M.
Michelle Tennant
Daniel Verbit