Author Archives: gardnlady

Song of Solomon 1-3; Psalm 94; Matthew 18

I’ve spent the last few weekends going through boxes in my basement. I have run across pictures I had forgotten, relived memories of special occasions, and gotten to see the faces of loved ones who have passed away—my mom, dad, brother, grandparents. In one corner of the basement are all the boxes I brought from my mother’s house after she died. They have been untouched for five years. One box, in particular, contained an old brown picture album with the black pages where the pictures were neatly held in place at the corners. As I went through the pictures, I wish so much my mother was there. She would have remembered who everyone was. She would have reminded me of the details of stories I thought I’d never forget—yet I have. I wanted to ask her so many questions. I wish I had written names on the back of pictures or written down the stories of our relatives and their lives. There was so much wisdom that was shared by generations but forgotten over time.

Reading through the parables in Matthew 18, I thought of Jesus and how important it was for him to share the words his father gave him for us. How blessed we are to have them written down so we won’t forget! I can imagine a sense of urgency each day that he was here knowing it was only a short amount of time before he would be gone from the disciples. As he taught them, they listened to the stories, and, unlike me with all the stories my mom shared, they remembered them. I’ve read these stories many times over the years but they have changed. They have become personal. It’s almost as if, in my mind’s eye, I can see Jesus looking past the people he’s with and looking directly at me as he speaks. I feel like he really wants me to get it!

In this chapter, there were some harsh words of warning against causing another to sin:

6“But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.

His teaching on the lost sheep reminded me of my own story and how I was once that lost sheep he came and rescued. 14“In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.” Thank you, Jesus, for coming after me!

He gives us a story on forgiveness and how important it is—especially considering how much we’ve been forgiven!  22Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”

Psalm 94 reminds me that I am blessed to have the Lord’s teaching, even if it comes in the form of discipline. His words are meant to protect me.

12 Blessed is the one you discipline, Lord,
the one you teach from your law;
13 you grant them relief from days of trouble,
till a pit is dug for the wicked.

I am so thankful that God has not left me here without any kind of direction. I have his Word and his Spirit to guide me. I love to imagine myself sitting on the ground, legs crisscrossed, at the feet of Jesus listening intently as he teaches about the goodness of his Father. He tells me of his great love for me—ME—that lost sheep who had almost given up. Who is such a sinner. Yet he tells me I’m forgiven, and because of that, I’m to forgive others.

Heavenly Father, your love continually amazes me. The depth of love you have for us is shown through Jesus. I pray I will always sit at his feet and listen to his stories—stories of you. In His name I pray.

Cindy (gardnlady)

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Matthew, Psalms

Proverbs 9-12; Matthew 8

As I read through today’s passages, the theme of “storms” stood out for me—maybe because they really are such a part of life. They come in all intensities. Some are threatening but never materialize. Some hit but then blow over quickly leaving minimal damage. Then there are the ones that hover for days and leave great destruction in their wake. That’s the kind of storm that changes the landscape of everything familiar. By the grace of God, I am thankful I’ve survived them all! But, I certainly did not do it in my own strength. However, those storms are when I’ve learned some of the most profound lessons from God about God.

I must admit, some of the storms have been of my own doing.

29 The way of the Lord is a refuge for the blameless,
but it is the ruin of those who do evil.

Instead of following “the way of the LORD”, I chose my own way and I can assure it was a storm I could have avoided. All the signs were there: the dark clouds, the wind, and the change in barometer. Instead of heading to my refuge to wait it out, I headed straight into the storm. That storm was probably the beginning of wisdom for me. (Job 28:8–And he said to the human race, “The fear of the Lord—that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding.”)

Then, there was the storm that was not of my doing. Choices were made by others that changed the course of my life and took me in a completely different direction. That storm is where I learned to stand on the truth of God. Sometimes the weather was so bad I couldn’t see in front of me but God was my lighthouse that led the way. That storm changed the landscape of everything familiar. At the end of that storm, there were people no longer in my life and I realized the great pain of letting go was God’s way of showing me how to let him in. Through that I found a life I didn’t know was possible.

25 When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone,
but the righteous stand firm forever.

Then there was the one that I thought was a storm, but turned out to be a blessing. Oh yes, while I was going through it, it looked like a storm and I thought I would drown. But truthfully, when it was over, all I could do was marvel at God’s faithfulness. There was a purpose to that storm unlike any of the others. I went into it gripped with fear but THAT one, above all the others, was where I witnessed Jesus rebuke the winds and the waves. I witnessed a miracle!

26 He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.

As long as I have breath in my body, the opportunity for storms in my life exists. But God has shown me how to weather them. He’s taught me where to go (under his wings), what to do (trust him), and to ride out the storm with him as my captain. I know that he alone is my safe haven.

Heavenly Father, I am so thankful for your faithfulness in my life. I would not be where I am today without your guidance as we passed through some choppy waters. I thought for sure I was going to go under but you always kept my head above water. Forgive me for the times I doubted. In Jesus name, Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

Leave a comment

Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Matthew, Proverbs

1 Kings 3; 2 Chronicles 1; 2 Corinthians 12; Psalm 78

Today’s readings reminded me of how present God is in our lives and how he hears our prayers. We can cry out to him when we need direction and we need healing. We may not get the answer we want but we can trust in his goodness. It starts with Solomon:

At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.”

Solomon answered, “You have shown great kindness to your servant, my father David, because he was faithful to you and righteous and upright in heart. You have continued this great kindness to him and have given him a son to sit on his throne this very day.

“Now, Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?” (1 Kings 3:5-9) NIV

Solomon offers sacrifices to the Lord, and cries out to him for direction on how to be king and lead the people of Israel. God answers his prayer and gives him the gift of wisdom to rule wisely.

Paul cries out when he has been afflicted:

Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Cor. 12:7b-10) NIV

Paul’s prayer was not answered as he had prayed. God did not remove the “thorn”. God’s answer made Paul realize that he would be a better representative of Christ for any suffering he might endure. Paul endured much hardship, persecution and difficulty that can only be accounted to the very presence of God with him.

That same God is with me every day. Psalm 78 reminds me how quickly I can forget his presence and all he has done in my life. It is a reminder of the story of the Israelites and how God was with them from the beginning. I have my own story of parting seas, manna in the wilderness, and Promised Land victories over my enemies. When I feel weak, I pull out my journals and reread the story of God working in my life. He’s held me when I cried and reprimanded me when I needed correction. There are prayers he didn’t answer that now, looking back, were a blessing. Then, there are the prayers that were answered in ways I didn’t expect that far surpassed my imagination. Through it all I know I am dearly loved and never alone.

Lord, your presence is everything and I am so thankful that you call me your child. Sometimes I get caught up in my circumstances and take my eyes off Jesus. That is when I start to sink. But you quickly reach out and catch me. I am so grateful you are ever-present, as close as a whispered prayer, and always have my best interest at heart. I know I’ve not always followed through and had to go around the same mountain a time or two, but you’ve patiently allowed me to see your way is far better. You are the solid rock beneath my feet. I love you more each day. Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

 

Leave a comment

Filed under 2 Corinthians, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Psalms

2 Samuel 9-10; 1 Chr. 18-19; 2 Cor. 2

God has given us an example of true friendship in the persons of David and Jonathan. There was something that clicked between them and they became fast friends and brothers at the heart. They were loyal to each other, pledged to protect each other, and there was a shared feeling of love between them. David promised he would always be kind and take care of Jonathan’s family (1 Sam 20:14-15). Here we see David fulfilling his promise:

The king asked, “Is there no one still alive from the house of Saul to whom I can show God’s kindness?”

Ziba answered the king, “There is still a son of Jonathan; he is lame in both feet.”

“Where is he?” the king asked.

Ziba answered, “He is at the house of Makir son of Ammiel in Lo Debar.”

So King David had him brought from Lo Debar, from the house of Makir son of Ammiel.

When Mephibosheth son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, came to David, he bowed down to pay him honor.

David said, “Mephibosheth!”

“At your service,” he replied.

“Don’t be afraid,” David said to him, “for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will always eat at my table.” (2 Sam 9:3-7) NIV

This story of Mephibosheth made me realize I have my own such story. While I have had many friends in my life, I only had one I would consider a Jonathan. I met her while we were in Celebrate Recovery. We were both broken people in need of healing. I truly believe God answered my prayer for a Godly friend.  As our friendship deepened, she adopted me as part of her family and I was included in all family gatherings. This hurting woman (me) needed the love and connection she provided and my home became an emotional safe haven for her. Together we grew in our relationship with God and shared what He was teaching each of us. We traveled places, laughed, and watched movies—we had so much in common. She was there for me when my mother died.

Needless to say, I was devastated when God called her home unexpectedly a short time later. But what has come out of this friendship has been a relationship with her mother. After my friend passed away, her mom (whom I had gotten to know quite well), said “you’ve lost a mother, I’ve lost a daughter; maybe we can be that for each other!” I knew my friend so well and her mom could talk to me about all the struggles my friend had been having. She felt safe sharing with me because she knew I loved her daughter like a sister. I still visit her often, we call each other, and love each other. God has blessed us with such a sweet friendship. It did not take away the pain for either of us, we still grieved our losses. But He provided that bond through someone we both loved.

David’s heart of compassion, his loyalty, and his devotion to God and his people are only part of what made David such a great king. In the very next chapter, his character is doubted.

David thought, “I will show kindness to Hanun son of Nahash, just as his father showed kindness to me.” So David sent a delegation to express his sympathy to Hanun concerning his father.

When David’s men came to the land of the Ammonites, the Ammonite commanders said to Hanun their lord, “Do you think David is honoring your father by sending envoys to you to express sympathy? Hasn’t David sent them to you only to explore the city and spy it out and overthrow it?” So Hanun seized David’s envoys, shaved off half of each man’s beard, cut off their garments at the buttocks, and sent them away. (2 Sam 10:2-4)

Why do the words of the Ammonite commanders remind me so much of the serpent in the Garden? They placed doubt in the mind of the Hanun. And so begins a war that never needed to happen. Talk about getting bad advice. It is sad to live in a world where we’ve come to doubt people’s motives and believe they are out to get us. Instead of talking to the envoys first, they assumed the worst. David had the best of intentions and the men he sent to honor Nahash are humiliated. In one chapter, Mephibosheth believes David and is blessed by his kindness. In the very next chapter, the Ammonites don’t trust David’s kindness and war erupts.

16 To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task? (2 Cor 2:16).

I think Paul hit that point right on! We are called to love as Jesus did. Not everyone is going to believe we can love expecting nothing in return. Not everyone believed Jesus was the real deal either. But it never stopped him from being loving to everyone—even the ones who betrayed and denied him. From these readings, my takeaway is to treat everyone with kindness but to expect opposition.

Lord, please don’t let me be dissuaded from loving people no matter how I am treated. It is very easy to turn against people in general because of ways I’ve been treated. But then I remember all the people who have loved me when I was not very lovable. May I have a David heart and look for ways to be kind to people. In Jesus name, Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

1 Samuel 31; 1 Chronicles 10

11 When all the inhabitants of Jabesh Gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul, 12 all their valiant men went and took the bodies of Saul and his sons and brought them to Jabesh. Then they buried their bones under the great tree in Jabesh, and they fasted seven days.

13 Saul died because he was unfaithful to the Lord; he did not keep the word of the Lord and even consulted a medium for guidance, 14 and did not inquire of the Lord. So the Lord put him to death and turned the kingdom over to David son of Jesse. (I Chron 10:11-14) NIV

The valiant men of Jabesh Gilead were the same ones who had turned to Saul to save them from the Amalekites. The Lord was with Saul and Samuel as they fought through the night to protect the city (1 Samuel 11). At that time, Saul was quick to give the glory to God for their victory. In his honor, these men rescued the bodies of Saul and his sons and gave them a proper burial. In tribute, they fasted for seven days. I love that they were willing to risk their lives to do such a noble act.

Time changed Saul and he started depending less and less on the LORD and more on himself and other gods. He decided to do what was right in his own eyes. He chose not to wait on God’s timing but took matters into his own hands. He half-heartedly worshiped the Lord. This was not the kind of king God wanted leading the Israelites—he wanted a man after God’s own heart. And thus ends the reign of Saul—the one who was “asked for”–and enters the reign of David. Saul experienced a spiritual death in his life long before his physical death.

Unfortunately I see a little of Saul in myself sometimes. How often do I trust in myself and my own plans without even thinking of inquiring of God? How often do I ask other people for their advice, or seek wisdom from books or Google rather than seeking answers from God? I know there are times I’ve rushed ahead of Him and done things in my own timing. I’ve learned over the years, that is never a good idea. It usually does not turn out well. How grateful I am to have a God of second chances (and third, and fourth).

Abba, Father, I have tried living life without you and it is so much better with you in it. I want to be a woman after your own heart.  I think of the Psalm, “better is one day in your court than thousands elsewhere” and know just how special the time we spend together is. Sometimes it is difficult to pull myself away. Thank you for your patience and lovingkindness towards me when I think I’m too busy to sit with you. I especially thank you for never being too busy for me. In Jesus name, Amen.

Cindy (gardnlady)

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

1 Samuel 22; 1 Corinthians 6; Psalms 34, 35, 17

A certain man in Maon, who had property there at Carmel, was very wealthy. He had a thousand goats and three thousand sheep, which he was shearing in Carmel. His name was Nabal and his wife’s name was Abigail. She was an intelligent and beautiful woman, but her husband was surly and mean in his dealings—he was a Calebite.

23 When Abigail saw David, she quickly got off her donkey and bowed down before David with her face to the ground. 24 She fell at his feet and said: “Pardon your servant, my lord, and let me speak to you; hear what your servant has to say. 25 Please pay no attention, my lord, to that wicked man Nabal. He is just like his name—his name means Fool, and folly goes with him. And as for me, your servant, I did not see the men my lord sent. 26 And now, my lord, as surely as the Lord your God lives and as you live, since the Lord has kept you from bloodshed and from avenging yourself with your own hands, may your enemies and all who are intent on harming my lord be like Nabal. 27 And let this gift, which your servant has brought to my lord, be given to the men who follow you.

We are told in 1 Samuel 25:25 that the name Nabal means fool. What caused him to have that name?  I remember agonizing over choosing the names of my children before they were born—after all, they were going to have it the rest of their life.  My granddaughter had a heart defect the doctors found when she was still in utero.  They knew she would need surgery as soon as she was born so my daughter specifically chose a name that meant “strength” as she knew her daughter would need it to survive. In my mind, she was defining the kind of life she wanted for her daughter.  Did Nabal’s family give that name to him when he was born or was it changed later in life?  Since he was “surly and mean”, did he come from a family that expected him to be that way?

A name like “fool” can certainly shape your life. It seems to me you either accept it and live up to what people expect you to be, or you do the opposite and spend your life trying to prove that you are not what your name implies.  By his own wife’s words, we are told he lived up to his name.

On the other hand, the name Abigail means “father’s joy” or “joy of the father”. I can picture Abigail being twirled around in her father’s arms as a child dearly loved.  “She was an intelligent and beautiful woman” yet somehow she ended up being married to Nabal.  Perhaps her family was poor or had fallen into hard times and her father thought he was doing what was best for his daughter by offering her in marriage to a wealthy man.

28 “Please forgive your servant’s presumption. The Lord your God will certainly make a lasting dynasty for my lord, because you fight the Lord’s battles, and no wrongdoing will be found in you as long as you live. 29 Even though someone is pursuing you to take your life, the life of my lord will be bound securely in the bundle of the living by the Lord your God, but the lives of your enemies he will hurl away as from the pocket of a sling. 30 When the Lord has fulfilled for my lord every good thing he promised concerning him and has appointed him ruler over Israel, 31 my lord will not have on his conscience the staggering burden of needless bloodshed or of having avenged himself. And when the Lord your God has brought my lord success, remember your servant.”

Abigail knew exactly who David was, that he was running away from Saul, and that he was destined to be ruler over Israel while her husband had no clue. She really was intelligent. Nabal was vain, ungrateful, and couldn’t be bothered when approached by David’s men.  Yet Abigail knew exactly how to act.  She was well prepared to feed David’s army (who has 200 loaves of bread lying around?) as she directed her household to pull all the food together so quickly.  Then, she wisely humbled herself before him.  I think this took David by surprise!  He had his mind set on destroying Nabal and his household—he was not expecting such graciousness!  God saved David from his own “folly” that day by Abigail’s quick actions.

In a way, the story reminds me of the plot of a romance novel. Saul is chasing our hero, David.  While David is hiding out, he provides protection to a local ranch owner, Nabal, as he sheers his sheep.  When his army runs out of food, David sends his men to politely ask for some provisions from this wealthy ranch owner.  The surly, mean husband sends them away—after all, he never asked for David’s help.  In an emotional reaction to his refusal for aide, David decides he is going to kill the males of the household.  The servants come back to report everything to the intelligent and beautiful wife, our heroine in the story.  She quickly assesses the situation and saves her household from destruction—and David from doing something he might later regret.  He recognizes her true value. They have a moment but each goes their own way. Upon finding out the entire story, the husband has a stroke, and then dies.  Hearing of Nabal’s death, David, who was so impressed by Abigail, offers to marry her.  Then she lives happily ever after as the second wife to the King of Israel.

I waited patiently for the Lord;he turned to me and heard my cry.He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.He put a new song in my mouth,a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him.

I know those verses fill me with gratitude as I think of God’s faithfulness in my own life. I know David wrote them.  I wonder if he ever read them to Abigail and she could see God’s hand working in her own life.  Maybe she realized she was her heavenly “Father’s joy” after all!

Lord, I know names are important to you. I thank you for the greatest name of all, Jesus.  He alone is our salvation as his names says.   My name means bringer of peace.  True peace only comes from knowing Jesus.  I pray for the opportunity to bring that peace to others.  In Jesus precious name.  Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

From the archives. Originally published September 1, 2017.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Judges 12-16; Mark 14

29 Peter said, “Everyone else may stumble in their faith, but I will not.”

Haven’t I said those same words! I just knew I was strong in an area where God had been working but when the rug was pulled out from under me, I was not. I wasn’t prepared when something triggered that deep, emotional pain from my past.  I felt God whisper 1 Cor. 10:12 into my heart: “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!”

37He said to Peter, “Simon, are you sleeping? Couldn’t you stay awake with me for one hour? 38 Stay awake and pray for strength against temptation. The spirit wants to do what is right, but the body is weak.”

And therein lies my problem. I think I’ve got everything under control! That issue I had, it’s in the past—or so I thought. God and I had worked together for years on breaking free from that habit, that old way of dealing with the pain of the past. I was free but I made the mistake of taking that freedom for granted. I need to “stay awake and pray for strength against temptation” for it is always going to be there. I cannot fall spiritually asleep, I must be vigilant. My flesh is weak and sometimes it is just easier to give in than fight. Now I’m learning, when I’ve come to the end of my strength, the Spirit has more than enough. All I have to do is ask for it.

72 At once, the rooster crowed the second time. Then Peter remembered what Jesus had told him: “Before the rooster crows twice, you will say three times that you don’t know me.” Then Peter lost control of himself and began to cry.

For three years Jesus poured himself into the disciples. Of the twelve, Peter, the rock as Jesus named him, John, and James were his closest companions. Peter, in particular, has stood out as a leader and strong in his faith—until he wasn’t. At that moment, he didn’t want to be associated with Jesus because he feared for his life. Isn’t that my story as well? I was strong until I wasn’t.

Jesus has been pouring himself into me for a lot longer than three years. I may not have said those exact words but there are so many instances I can think of where to me it is just like denying I know him. I have been in a conversation where someone is gossiping and my spirit told me to walk away but I didn’t—I denied him. I didn’t want people to associate me as “different” (a Jesus follower). That time I clearly heard I was supposed to go help someone and I didn’t follow through, I denied him. When I didn’t grab the opportunity to ask someone I knew was dying if they were assured they were going to heaven, I was denying Jesus. I didn’t want to make someone uncomfortable—isn’t THAT a lie from the devil? There are many times I feel like I have disappointed him and just like Peter I have cried and I have asked for forgiveness.

Jesus knew Peter would struggle with his faith, that is why he prayed for him (Luke 22:31). He also knew Peter would get past it and continue spreading the gospel. Jesus restored his dignity and assured Peter he still had plenty of work for him to do (“feed my sheep)”. Peter was given new hope and new purpose!

I, too, have a Savior who sees my weaknesses and continues to love me and pour Himself into me. I am dearly loved.  He has given me new hope and new purpose. That is praise worthy!

Thank you Jesus for never giving up on me. You know my heart is set on you. Help me to stay awake and be vigilant for the times temptation comes my way. Help me to overcome any fear of proclaiming I am Yours. Give me opportunities to serve others and tell them all about You. In your precious name I pray, Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

 

 

 

 

1 Comment

Filed under 66 Books, Mark