Friday, January 29, 2010

The Olive Tree

This morning I came across a verse that caught my attention and really encouraged me to stop and think for a moment. I read it in the NKJV but I am giving it to you in the amplified version..
But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God; I trust in and confidently rely on the loving-kindness and the mercy of God forever and ever.
I will thank You and confide in You forever, because You have done it [delivered me and kept me safe]. I will wait on, hope in and expect in Your name, for it is good, in the presence of Your saints (Your kind and pious ones). ~Psalm 52: 8-9

Why did this David, the psalmist here, reference himself to the olive tree? My Bible said that it was not a common practice to plant an olive tree in the temple courts so why did David reference this "in the house of God"? I looked up some information about the olive tree and here is what I found...Align Center

Olive trees live long with a life expectancy of 500 years.
It made me think to myself, how am I living out my faith? Is my faith persistent, tenacious, perseverant? Am I confidently relying on God? Will it last my life time?

Olive trees withstand heavy pruning.
When God prunes me how do I react? It is much easier to wither and die in our faith then to accept pain or challenges and praise Him anyway. I need to wait on, hope in and expect in God to be with me during these times.

The olive three is not easily uprooted.
Are my faith roots strong enough to be tough, powerful enough to stand for His cause, and guarded by scripture? Does the Holy spirit serve as my guide and does scripture feed my soul daily?
The trunk is typically gnarled and twisted. The older an olive tree is, the broader and gnarlier its trunk appears.
What does my life look like? How does the basis of my faith appear despite that? Do others see the grace of God in and though me, or do they see life's hardness and resulting callouses? Though life can leave us twisted and gnarled we can but grow closer to God and His calling because of it. We can be beautiful in Him and for Him.

The olive tree is said to be one of the most significant plants in the Bible. It is one of the first plants mentioned in the Bible. Knowing it's strength and durability, it would make sense that it was an olive leaf that a dove brought back to Noah to demonstrate that the flood was over.
We can overcome conflict and adversity. We can overcome weaknesses. We can overcome strongholds. We can even overcome sin if we just trust in Gods unfailing love and praise Him. Praise Him for the good and praise Him for the bad.

Over the years, the olive has been the symbol of peace, wisdom, glory, fertility, power and pureness.
Could we all use a little of those words in our life and ministry? Peace to build a unifying body in Christ, wisdom to teach and or discern, glory for God with the fruit (fertility) that comes from our serving Him, a demonstrated power that can only come from the Holy Spirit at work in and through us, and holiness (pureness) demonstrated in our daily lives. Let me be greedy here as I seek to have all these things!

The oil from the olive tree has scientific proven health-given benefits.
God's evidence has shown that we too can be spiritually beneficial to those we serve. To have the gift of God's spirit working in and through our lives, leading others to His love and grace is what we are all called to do in every aspect of our lives. Too often we get too busy in the here and now and forget the eternal work before us.

I desire to be an olive tree flourishing in this world for kingdom purposes. To take from the words of Christ in Acts 26:18:
"To open their eyes that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may thus receive forgiveness and release from their sins and a place and portion among those who are consecrated and purified by faith in Me".

Seriously, how is your service to God going? David was going though a rough time in his life when he wrote the 52nd Psalm. He declared he wanted to be strong in the Lord. So I asked myself and I ask you....are you an olive tree flourishing for Him? God made me think about it today in terms of the olive tree and I give it to you to think about. May we all be encouraged by this thought!

His Maidservant, Pamela

Thursday, January 14, 2010

And Yet We Will Praise Him

Last night I laid in bed watching the news on Haiti. My heart is aching for those people as I'm sure yours is. When I finally turned off the TV I laid my head into my pillow and pulled the blankets tight and I felt guilty that I was able to fall asleep in such a nice bed, safe, secure...unlike the open parks of Haiti. We are so blessed. Can you even imagine being in their shoes right now?

Like you, I want to be there, helping them, holding the frighten children, nursing the wounds...but I can't. We can send money. It's not enough is it? We can pray and pray we will. I know I am praying God will use this to show Himself in a most powerful and amazing way. More importantly, I can praise God. I must praise God. We must praise God.

Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed," says the LORD, who has compassion on you. ~ Isaiah 54:10

No matter what this earth holds for us, heaven holds so much more. Therefore, we praise Him in spite of the grueling pictures of dead bodies, bloodied victims, and dusty frightened faces.We have to keep focused on the eternal. May we all demonstrate His love, gentleness, and kindness as if we were there in Haiti with those beautiful people.

"Let the beloved of the LORD rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the LORD loves rests between his shoulders." ~ Deut. 33:12

Resting in Him~Pamela

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Gold Nuggets and Moon pies

This morning I was blessed to find a piece of scripture that seemed like a gold nugget of promise...

And I—in righteousness I will see your face; when I awake, I will be satisfied with seeing your likeness. ~Ps 17:15

Immediately I longed for those words "I will see your face". Can you imagine seeing the face of God? As I look at the chair on the other side of this table, could I imagine God in it? Could I imagine seeing the face of God in my husband who always sits in it? Can I see God in the face of my never satisfied teenager, or the stranger in line at the grocery store with me? Can I see the face of God in the beauty of this white blanket on the ground outside that brings the cold I so dislike?

If we want to see the face of God, we I must look for it...everywhere. How is it going to happen? Clearly it requires righteousness (ie: doing the right thing). Though we can not be perfect, a life striving to be holy, to live according to God's commands in the scripture will enable us to see His face, in creation, in the people around us, even in our circumstances. Our first beautiful heavenly promise in this scripture: a guarantee to see His Holiness by living according to His standards.

So now I ask, what is your routine when you crawl out of bed each morning? I was out of my Advil PM so my night was a little bit restless. Lots of dreams, one in which I was eating the most heavenly Moon Pie-this is obviously related to my diet and lack of sugar in it-I am not a Moon Pie fan so to speak, but in my dream it was the best chocolate marsh mellow treat ever! Anyway, I couldn't sleep so at 0530 I crawled out of bed, went to the bathroom, brushed my teeth (groaning at my morning hair in the mirror) and then God brought me to this verse I posted. Why do I share this now?

When I meditated on the second part of this verse...

"...when I awake, I will be satisfied with seeing your likeness."

...of course I thought about what I had seen in the mirror this morning. What did you see in the mirror this morning? Did you see His likeness? Did I?

For years I avoided mirrors. I hated the things I had done, the things I had become. It took some training to once again look in a mirror and reflect on the real me-not my hair, not my weight, not the age It took conditioning to see myself as Christ sees me and now not a morning, afternoon, or evening goes by without looking into a mirror and asking..."what did God see in you today?"

On one eternal day we will look into a mirror and see His likeness...finally...purely...holy. Until then, we have to continue to condition our self for that moment. The second promise we have in this piece of scripture: the eternal promise of seeing His likeness reflected in and through us.

Send out your light and your truth; let them guide me. Let them lead me to your holy mountain, to the place where you live. ~ Ps 43:3

BTW, I have been to the store and now have my Advil PM ready if needed so I will have no more "diet nightmares".

His Maidservant~Pamela

P.S. I recommend "Behind Those Eyes" by Lisa Whittle if you ever had a "mirror" problem like me. Transformational book!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Keep Tough, Be Gentle

We are snowed in here this morning. I got up early anyway, spent some time with God, on Face Book, and even in the laundry room. In the quietness of the morning while the girls slept in I even got to spend some time in the book I am reading. Little did I know it would shoot such an arrow of conviction to my heart.

Gentleness. A simple word. Easily understood, right? Easily carried out in action, right? RIGHT? Here is the arrow that stabbed me this morning....

""Not to be gentle is sin." ~ George Bethune, 1839

I don't know about you but this humbled me. I thought about my work relationships and the students I teach at the college...OK, I'm good there, I think, most of the time I'm considerate (but those other times? SIN).

I thought about my patients-got it! At least 99% of the time (the other 1%-SIN).

Then I thought about my family. Oh have my responses been to them? My abrupt or hurtful words-SIN. My inattentiveness to their needs-SIN. My short fuse-SIN.

What I thought might be good in my life, I instead found to be rather ugly more times than not as I measured it to the thoughts of Jerry Bridges in his book "The Practice of Godliness":
  • A profile of gentleness as it should be in our lives will first include actively seeking to make others feel at ease, or "restful" in our presence (Matthew 11:28-29)
  • We should be sensitive to others opinions and ideals
  • We should also avoid displaying our commitment to Christian discipline in such a way to make others feel guilty
  • Gentleness will demonstrate respect for the personal dignity of the other person.
  • When necessary, it will seek to change a wrong opinion or attitude by persuasion and kindness, not by domination or intimidation.
  • Gentleness will also avoid blunt speech and abrupt manner, instead seeking to answer everyone with sensitivity and respect, ready to show consideration toward all (Phil. 4:5).
  • He is sensitive to the reaction of others to his words and considerate of how others may feel about what he says.
  • The gentle Christan will not feel threatened by opposition or resent those who oppose him (2 Tim 2).
  • The gentle Christian will not degrade or belittle or gossip about the brother who falls into some sin.
  • Instead of insisting on the letter of the law, [the gentle Christian] ask "what is the right thing to do in this situation?"
Gentleness is a character trait of God and we are called to live this out...

But you, [insert your name here], are a woman of God; so run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. ~ 1 Tim. 6:11 (NLT)
Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. ~ Colossians 3:12 (NKJV)

To be gentle requires God's wisdom...

But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. ~ James 3:17 (NLT)

Do you value gentleness as much as God does? He is the perfect imitator of gentleness. You see it in one of my favorite verses in Isaiah 40:11:

He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His arm, And carry them in His bosom, And gently lead those who are with young.

Gentleness is not meant for the weak-it requires the power of God in your life. I know I am praying for Him to work through me in this area, that I would be able to scoop down and help someone in need, to be be kind, gentle, and considerate in my words and actions. I plan to start at home. It will require a toughness on my part to be consistent, to actively practice His character trait of gentleness. How's your "gentleness meter" reading today friend?

Keep tough, be gentle....
His Maidservant~Pamela