Today I want to talk about Awakens' overarching
ideas, what we saw as recurring themes in this book.
I see a constant reminder that we are daughters
of the King, royalty and precious! As such we also
have responsibilities that come with that privilege.
We each have struggles, and disappointments, but
also we're given gifts and talents that help us shine.
God hopes we use all of this to His glory and our
enrichment of spirit.
Priscilla has a way of asking the hard questions. Isn't that what we want though? It gives us a chance to
re-evaluate who we are and who we belong to. As
His daughter we are each so beautiful, precious, special, and desired. Doesn't that make you want to SHINE for our Daddy?
What was your final takeaway from Awaken? Mine was: Finding regular time for God, and joining Him in routine relationship where the heart grows wise and strong, becoming a precious princess who adores her Daddy.
"Give yourself permission to wait, remembering
that waiting is not the same as inactivity."
Do you like waiting? Waiting isn't too bad if you
have something else to do - you know, some-
thing that keeps you preoccupied while the minutes drag by. I sometimes take a book, or tablet to read when I know I am going to be waiting. Still, my internal clock knows when we're 10 minutes beyond what I thought would be a reasonable wait. I end up like this poor lady, obsessed by the clock, I loathe wasting time.
We seem to be a culture ruled by time. Example: Designing Your Own Planner is trending now. You can buy the cutest stickers, quotes, whatever to decorate that planner where you then enter all the things coming up that have control over some portion of your time. So, you can design your planners look, but you can't design your allotment of time. Or can you?
We all have the same amount of minutes in our day. Everyone gets 1,440 minutes to work, love, learn, read, or sleep, etc. I could argue that most of us have each one of those minutes assigned to a specific priority before our day even begins, couldn't you?
When we live in that culture it's not a surprise that finding time for devotions is difficult. We prioritize our time expenditures using tools like planners because we realize how precious time is and how much we have to cram into into each minute of each day.
“Show me, Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is." Psalm 39.4
This makes the argument that God has given each one of us an assigned amount of time, right? Is it reasonable then to assume that He knows how much time we need to accomplish all He gives us? And do you believe that He would give us that time and NOT take into account time we need to be with him each day? Really?
The truth is, if you turn over your schedule to him and spend time WITH HIM, the day goes remarkably better. Why would that be? Because you took time to fill your heart with what it needed for that day because the One who knows what is coming for each of us is also the One who gives us what we need for our very best in each day.
Taking the time for God each day is the best way to streamline your out-of-control schedule of whirling busyness. Trust me. Trust God. Quit looking at the clock!
"If you don't want to be reckless, careless, or foolish in heart, fear God." [Pg 316]
Her statement made me think of admonitions and blessings found in the Bible around fearing the Lord. Here's one, "But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you."
1 Samuel 12.24
Samuel had served the Lord since his youth. But the people he was given to direct were so short-sighted that stumbling was inevitable. They couldn't understand the relationship Samuel shared with his God even though they had been given a glimpse. But really, such a relationship was beyond them.
Do you know someone who has a relationship with God like Samuel had? Do they seem to be centered (grounded in their heart and actions)? Are they wise (a word expressing not just smart choices, but the appropriate use of those choices accomplishing the best for all concerned)? Do they display a rare understanding of God's attributes, specifically his holiness which we accept as non-negotiable in ALL situations? And so, do they display the fear of God?
The fear of God is not hard to develop if you have a couple things: An open heart, and time. The open heart gives you the ability to listen to God. You can pray for it if you don't think you have it. God would love that! He would bless you with a very open heart. And time, well, we all have 24 hours in each day to spend as we see fit, so no excuse there.
If you have both that's amazing. Hang on because God is about to take your life into the 'beyond breathtaking' zone where things happen that you can't imagine, things you KNOW are God's doing. If you have only one of those qualities, that's good, God can work with that! Ask him, he'll show you! If you don't believe you have either one, you are like most of us he works with, one of whom he loves and cherishes and calls his daughter, and of whom HE NEVER GIVES UP WOO-ING, persistently drawing you into that Samuel-relationship.
Why would he do that? Because he loves you - and he knows that relationship, the one he wants so desperately to share with you, it's totally attainable!
In our reading this week (on Day 70) Priscilla teaches using the journey of Paul and his traveling companions in Acts 28 which ended in the destruction of their ship. What a mess!
Her lesson is God is not deterred by storms, and that in fact, they can be the tool he uses to bring us to a place we may not have sought on our own. I agree. And, I would add that storms also leave a terrible mess in their wake like a plow through hard ground scattering total disorder, clods and ruts everywhere.
Farming is a large industry here. We are familiar with planting and how it works. To work the ground every tractor has various plowing implements, some are quite intimidating.
First, a chisel plow is used to break up the hard ground. This plow has long sharp teeth (think of the scariest parts of Jurassic Park). Those teeth dig into the ground without any concern for what's within their reach. They create a horrible mess.
The next tool used is a disc plow. It has rows of discs that spin resembling the sharp wheel of a pizza-cutter. This is the time when raptors can be seen circling overhead, waiting to feast on the remains of small rats, voles, and even bunnies who couldn't get out of the way of those discs slicing through the soil.
The final tool is called a lay-off plow. It makes the rows for planting. It is the least scary of all the implements, but it can still be deadly for small creatures who couldn't find their way out of the deep mess to safety.
That's often how our messes turn out, isn't it? Getting out of the mess to safety can become much more difficult than imagined. The Lord tells us a couple things to remember when we make a mess and want to find our way back to normalcy.
"He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us."
Ps 103. 10-12 NKJV
"He doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve, nor pay us back in full for our wrongs. As high as heaven is over the earth, so strong is his love to those who fear him. And as far as sunrise is from sunset, he has separated us from our sins." Ps 103.10-12 The Message
That's such a powerful image, isn't it. Basically saying, there's no limit to how much He loves us, and how fully He forgives us and restores us to normalcy --- all as if we hadn't sinned. No more mess.
This week I would like to talk about 'control.' It can be a tough word and an
even tougher concept.
In Awaken, on Day 61, Priscilla writes, "We inhale, we exhale, we give it all we've got--work our connections, perfect our resume, exert our finest skill, invest money toward its success--only to be disappointed with the outcome, our best effort insufficient. When will we learn to hand the thing over?" Is the issue control? Who has it, and who wants it? When looking at definitions of the word control, one descriptor repeats: Power. Hum.
When I pray for a concern the idea is that by praying to God about it, I can then release it. I let that anxiety, fear, hope or whatever rise freely into the arms of God. In the Bible our prayers are often associated with the sweet fragrance of incense. Scripture tells us our prayers rise above the Altar of Incense creating 'a sweet aroma to God.'
God had given Moses explicit instructions for each piece of furniture that would go within the Tabernacle. And of note, He also gave Moses a detailed recipe for the incense itself, and even told Moses that NO one should make any incense for himself that he should smell it. [Exodus 30:37-38] Clearly, our prayers are IMPORTANT to God, akin to that precious aroma which He cherishes as only His. He desires to hear my prayers and to give me the remedy or blessing I express in that prayer.
Why would I hold onto those needs then as if I can fix it when he's more of everything than I am? It's like the tug of war in my brain that's trying to control such stuff, as if I can, in my own strength, do it all. How do you think that would work??
This week I found Priscilla’s devotional,
In Between, particularly relevant, and with camping season nearing, especially fun to talk about, because you can’t mention our rapidly-approaching camping season without remembering smores.
I was surprised to read that smores came into fashion over two centuries ago. Who would
have imagined that the 1800’s would come up with such an enduring idea? Did you know there are scores of smore recipes - the limits of your imagination seem to be the only boundary to that smore goodness.
You can make smores with drizzled caramel over the marshmallow or pecan smores which have sprinkled pecan pieces on the marshmallow, or add brown-sugar-cinnamon mixture on that fluffy, heavenly middle. You can add berry-jelly dollops on that marshmallow --- I've seen bacon smores, and waffles smores, smores made with cookies, or my back to a more traditional and personal favorite --- dip the assembled smore (chocolate graham cracker, dark-chocolate, pecan, caramel-drizzled marshmallow) in melted coating chocolate and wait 5 minutes~! YUM Now that’s worthy of a campfire.
So Priscilla’s mention of ‘the in-between’ triggered the smores' heavenly center in my mind. The context of this reading is to allow the work that God is doing in us during our quiet times to take root as we are being prepared for that next service. I don’t like the in-between times; they haven’t always gone well for me. Often they are filled with refining. But, I do see the purpose of them, and even occasionally, I have found them strangely encouraging, because I can already imagine a new opportunity to serve Him, all of which reminds me of the process of building that perfect smore - and the taste of that exciting effort.
So, be adventurous! Trust God with a different recipe and look forward to a new experience!
Sometimes gifts are things we don't readily recognize as gifts. You can probably think of some examples in your life.
Was the loss of a favorite job a gift? Did that new career course lead you to fulfill abilities you didn't know you had? Did that, in turn, lead to your future spouse, the blessing of children, your beautiful life now?
That's how God often works. In the middle of what we consider the crud of life we realize he had a bigger plan, and that event which turned our life upside down, we now call a gift.
Priscilla writes, "The Father has graciously endowed you with a spiritual spark worthy of serving His kingdom..." [Pg 232] She's speaking of the need to fan our faith to keep it blazing!
"In speaking of the angels he says, 'He makes his angels spirits, and his servants flames of fire.”
Matthew Henry's Commentary writes of this: "How the angels are qualified for this service; he makes them spirits and a flame of fire, that is, he endows them with light and zeal, with activity and ability, readiness and resolution to do his pleasure: ..."
We too are supplied by his power and filled with light and zeal, ability, readiness, and resolution because we have seen his power at work in all our circumstances.
In this weeks reading I liked Priscilla’s comments about the roles we all play as leaders. She explains we do not need to lead a large group, or even enjoy local celebrity to inspire someone. Isn’t that the definition of leading?
“No matter what seat you occupy, if there is another individual looking to you for direction,
even just one, you’re operating from a seat of leadership.” [Pg 207]
We all leave impressions with others throughout our day, and whether they’re good or bad, we have the potential to affect others, even one, by that example. When we offer inspiration we are leading.
A stay-at-home mom has a significant leadership role because she influences that young, impressionable mind. That ‘mom-inspiration’ becomes a part in the creation of key foundational components which will undergird and shape that future life. You are leading.
Say you’re waiting in the grocery store check-out line and you notice a person in front of you is anxiously watching their bill as it grows. When they’re total appears you hear them say they don’t have enough money. You see their embarrassment and understand their need. Do you offer help? Perhaps they are short 25 cents -- or 25 dollars, it doesn’t matter. Do you step up?
Why can we call helping this person an act of leadership? Because people are watching. Those watching may never say a word, but you are creating an impression. You are setting an example as many wonder, ‘Are you just a nice person?’ Or, perhaps they ask themselves, ‘Are you a Christian?’ Christ led by example. So too, you are leading.
This week I have chosen a rather strong passage from Priscilla’s devotional, Results May Vary,” on pages 171-173.
She writes, “… some believers are willing to do the hard work of appro-priating and utilizing the spiritual
nutrients being offered them, while others sit back in apathetic indolence. Without proactive and intentional action, they find themselves lacking the
fruit they admire in others.”
Yikes. Priscilla generally has an unassuming manner to her writing, often using carrots to promote forward-looking change rather than sticks, but not today. This passage brought about my following thoughts about spending our precious time planting seeds so we grow lots of flowers.
It’s hard for women in this culture to find regular time with God. Pressures today abound with the larger role many women play in the workplace. Time spent maintaining a household while hopefully finding some scrap of time for husband and children becomes more than challenging. A woman’s life today is ridiculously crammed, when are we supposed to have time to plant seeds?
Priscilla’s words are based in the truth that each one of us is responsible for growing our faith.
“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure." Philippians 2.12-13
Sometimes understanding the Bible can be challenging because the original text was written so long ago to a different people in a different culture. However, we are all human, whether today or two thousand years ago, so God can speak to us all. We are responsible to listen, understand, and apply that teaching. An easy way to better understand a passage is to read that verse in a different translation of the Bible. Here’s what I mean. Below is Philippians 2.12-13 in The Message Bible.
“What I’m getting at, friends, is that you should simply keep on doing what you’ve done from the beginning. When I was living among you, you lived in responsive obedience. Now that I’m separated from you, keep it up. Better yet, redouble your efforts. Be energetic in your life of salvation, reverent and sensitive before God. That energy is God’s energy, an energy deep within you, God himself willing and working at what will give him the most pleasure.” [emphasis mine]
I underlined a bit of it so we could pull out those basic thoughts. Be energetic. Be reverent. Be sensitive to God. How can those things happen without taking time for God? They can’t. Further on Priscilla writes, "... Each of us must individually do the work of tending to the seed that's been planted--renewing our minds, yielding to His Spirit, devoting ourselves to prayer, and living with a God-centered perspective." So, I have to ask again, "How do flowers grow without time planting?"
From your host:
The Lord has given me a desire to encourage you, to see your understanding
of His love grow. He is the Knower of Our Everything, and yet he died for us.
There is no greater, empowering love. As we read and share we will gain new insight into His love and how it works in our life.
Let's join together
as we read Awaken.
~ Andi Hines
Writer, Teacher, MASF