Extra Portion

35 And let them gather all the food of those good years that come, and lay up corn under the hand of Pharaoh, and let them keep food in the cities. 36 And that food shall be for store to the land against the seven years of famine, which shall be in the land of Egypt; that the land perish not through the famine.

Genesis 41:35-36

We often say at work that it is either a feast or a famine. We either have more work than we can do, or we have nothing to do. The same is often true in the writing life. I either have so many ideas I don’t know what to do with them, or I am drawing a blank. The key is to follow Joseph’s suggestion to Pharaoh about storing up during the feast time for the famine.

There have been several times over the last 6 months that I have had almost an overwhelming number of ideas and concepts for books and articles rain down on me. I was blessed with having a chunk of time and opportunity for multiple Bible studies and for listening to podcasts and sermons. I was also blessed to take a writing seminar that jump started my writing practice. Suddenly I had all of these breakthroughs with projects that I had been stuck on for ages, plus ideas for even more. What was I going to do with all these ideas whirling around in my brain?

I decided to start an idea box, project notebooks, and a journal. When I have an idea for an article or blog post, I put it on an index card or sticky note and put it in a little decorative cardboard box. I also write down ideas for novels on sticky notes and keep all the related notes in a notebook for that project. The other things God shows me I write in a journal every night to clear my mind and get ready for rest. I store these revelations for times of famine.

And it came to pass, that on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for one man: and all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses. 23And he said unto them, This is that which the LORD hath said, To morrow is the rest of the holy sabbath unto the LORD: bake that which ye will bake to day, and seethe that ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning. 24 And they laid it up till the morning, as Moses bade: and it did not stink, neither was there any worm therein. 25 And Moses said, Eat that to day; for to day is a sabbath unto the LORD: to day ye shall not find it in the field. 26 Six days ye shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is the sabbath, in it there shall be none.

Exodus 16:22-26

Right now I am under a couple of writing deadlines, and usually I spend most of Friday morning coming up with an idea for my blog posts and working it out for submission. I really don’t have that kind of time for the month of October because I need to work on other projects. Last week as I was listening to podcasts and reading God gave me enough rough ideas for five blog posts. He gave me enough ideas ahead of time that I could meet my deadlines and still get some much needed rest.

God knows what is coming, and He provides the extra portion that we need. Instead of eating until we are sick at the feast put some aside for times of famine. Then we can call upon the storehouse to maintain us. For the same reason we should study the Bible and memorize scripture when we have the opportunity so that we will have a supply to draw from during seasons of spiritual famine. So, when God gives you a double portion, store it in your heart (or idea box) so that you have a source of inspiration come the next dry spell.

Heart’s Desire

Why doesn’t God answer my prayer?

How many times have you heard someone ask this question? How many times have you asked this question? The Bible says in Psalm 37:4 that he will give us the desires of our heart. Usually, the request is for something good, so why isn’t God fulfilling our heart’s desire?

Many times we take verses or phrases out of context without looking at the complete picture. We see the promise, but we don’t look at the requirements for the fulfillment of the promise, or we don’t look at the specifics of the verse in its context.

Delight thyself also in the Lord: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.

Psalms 37:4-5

The first part of Psalms 37:4 says “delight thyself also in the Lord.” What does it mean to delight thyself in the Lord? It means to make God your greatest desire and, like King David, be a person after God’s own heart. If we want what God wants, then we will have the desires of our hearts. While what we are asking for may be good in and of itself, it may not be the best or it may be for the wrong reasons.

So they did eat, and were well filled: for he gave them their own desire; 30 They were not estranged from their lust. But while their meat was yet in their mouths, 31 The wrath of God came upon them, and slew the fattest of them, and smote down the chosen men of Israel.

Psalms 78:29-31

The Israelites were wandering through the desert and cried out for meat. So, what’s wrong with meat? They were hungry, so why shouldn’t they ask for meat? First, they weren’t starving. God had been providing food for them each day. Second, manna was considered food of the angels, the best of the best. The issue wasn’t so much their request as it was their attitude. They were ungrateful. God had provided more than enough food on a daily basis, and they didn’t even have to go find it. It magically appeared each morning. They also were asking for common meat when they were getting the food of the angels.

The results are very different as well. When we commit our way unto God and trust in Him, he will bring about the best for us. The result of asking for desires out of our sinful nature is destruction. The phrase “be careful what you ask for” is very appropriate in this situation. How many times have you begged and pleaded for something only to find out what you wanted had negative consequences? You wanted to stay up late, so you woke up tired and grumpy. You wanted to have another doughnut, so you ended up sick and uncomfortable. The Israelites wanted meat, so they ate until they were sick, and then suffered the wrath of God for their ungrateful attitudes.

You see, it wasn’t that they asked for meat. God had rescued them from the hands of Egyptian bondage through signs and miracles. God had parted the waters so that they could cross on dry land and watch their enemies drowned in the same water. They had been given water out of a rock and manna from Heaven on a daily basis, but it was never enough. The sinful nature is never satisfied, but a spiritual nature that makes God’s desires their own is content. The truth is we don’t know what is best for us. We can’t see what the future holds, but God can. He only wants the best for us, so if we delight in him and let Him have His way, then we will have more than we ever dreamed possible.

Yea, they turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel.

Psalms 78:41

Nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:37), but we can get in the way of God’s blessings when we try to tell Him what to do and how to do it. Someone sang a song at church recently that said I pray that you would “keep me in your will so I won’t be in your way.” When we delight in God, we will be given more than we ever thought possible.

Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us. Ephesians 3:20

He wants so much more for us than we even can imagine. So, delight yourself in the Lord and be a person after God’s own heart, and then watch what He will do.

Daily Benefits

Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah.

Psalm 68:19

Modern society frequently is obsessed with stuff, never content. We often complain about what we don’t have because we forget what we do have. For example, I had needed my house to be switched from a fuse box to a breaker box, partially because I couldn’t add a plug to move my refrigerator or add a dishwasher until it was replaced and reallocated. When it was finally completed and I could move my fridge, I was so excited because I could finally finish some projects and reattach the water line for filtered water dispenser. Every time I went in the kitchen and used the dispenser, I smiled. Soon, however, I noticed other things I “needed” in the house. My joy started to dissipate because I was focused on what I didn’t have instead of with the things God had already given me.

Psalm 68 says we are daily loaded with benefits from God. Loaded means stacked high, overflowing, more than we need. Every day God gives us benefits that we take for granted, starting with getting up in the morning to a new day. I’ve seen a lot of posts on social media about 2020 being such a horrible year, and I have been prone to agree with them, yet God gave us another year, which is not a gift everyone was given. Most of the people complaining still had what they needed for every day survival. Above that God gives us little blessings as well, but we can only see them if we look for them.

So, take a moment and look around at what you do have. If you can read this, then you probably have a roof over your head, electricity, and electronics. Think back over your day. Did anything good happen? Was there a kind word, a door held open, a chat with friends or neighbors, the love of a pet, or just a ray of sunshine on a drab day? We look at the news and social media and think about all the bad things out there, but do we look at the good things? If you dig a little deeper, you can find stories of neighbors helping neighbors, people trying to meet needs and giving of themselves. The good is still out there.

When you feel yourself overwhelmed by all the bad news and negativity, turn off the television or social media and take out a piece of paper and a pen. Make a list of things to be thankful for in your life. Start with where you are sitting and look around. What do you have here and now? Start with the four walls around you and then move further out into your neighborhood, your country, your world.

I bet you can come up with at least 5 things to be grateful for; actually, I bet your paper can’t hold all the benefits God has given you if you really think about it. Maybe start a gratitude journal. The enemy wants us to focus on perceived needs which are usually just wants in disguise, but God says meditate on His word (Joshua 1:8) because it will keep us focused and grounded on what is true.

What benefit are your grateful for today? I am grateful to have access to a dentist but even more grateful I don’t have to see him again until next year. I am grateful the rain gives me an excuse not to mow the yard. I am grateful for a little furball who snuggles close and purrs even if she emits warmth like a heating pad on a hot summer day. I am grateful for a car that keeps moving even though mechanics warned me years ago that I needed to replace it. I am thankful for a God who gives daily blessings even when we complain. How about you?

A few of my favorite things:

Soul Food

setting table

Our church is famous for its socials. We always have an impressive spread with delicious dishes and enough of a variety to surely please anyone. But, it’s not just about the food. It is a time for everyone to slow down for a moment and sit down together with people that don’t normally see every day and catch up. The same is true of the Father’s Table.

Psalm 23:5 says, “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.” The Shepherd provides for His sheep. My church fellowships have nothing in comparison to what God provides at His table. He gives a lavish banquet that is masterfully arranged so that it feeds our soul with His goodness.

What exactly does God provide? Sure, He provides physical food and water, but He also provides “soul” food. Where do you get this food? One of the ways Satan tempted Jesus, Matthew 4:4 gives Jesus’ response: “But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” The BreadWord of God is food for our soul, and it is a bountiful buffet. When we dig into the Word, we find comfort, peace, and guidance. We find the answers to our questions. This soul food satisfies in a way that physical food never will. When we eat of this food and drink of this drink, we will never hunger or thirst again (John 6:35).

Not only does His Word feed our soul, but so does His Presence. When we sit down at the table, we don’t eat alone. God joins us. He set the table so that we could spend time with Him and gain comfort from His Presence. In Psalm 23:6, David ends the psalm with a desire to “dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” The house of the Lord is anywhere that God is present, so we can dwell in His presence and eat at His table every day. Charles Spurgeon described it this way:

“While I am here I will be a child at home with my God; the whole world shall be his house to me; and when I ascend into the upper chamber, I shall not change my company, nor even change the house; I shall only go to dwell in the upper storey of the house of the Lord for ever.”

So, let’s dwell in God’s house and pull up a chair to God’s Table every day. There we will find comfort in His presence and food for our souls.

De-cluttering

My devotional this morning was from Whispers of Rest by Bonnie Gray. At the end of each devotional, she gives ideas on how to practice soul care and includes scientific studies that back up her suggestions. Today the suggestion was on decluttering and how clutter causes increases in cortisol, a stress hormone, while decreases in clutter reduced the levels of cortisol. She suggesting purging what does not spark joy.

Marie Kondo offers the same advice in her Netflix show Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. Her show tries to help people get rid of clutter and organize their home. Some critics claim that asking the question does it spark joy is only enabling hoarders to hold on to their piles of stuff. However, her show has helped people significantly reduce clutter and create a more restful and organized living space. Her concept is good even if people twist it to fit their own agendas.

In Exodus 16, God provided the Israelites with manna every day. There was always just enough, never too much or too little. No matter how much they gathered, there was always just enough for the day ahead. This is still true today. God promises to give us what we need for this day, no more, no less. Most people hoard out of fear or greed, neither reason is healthy. Yes, we should be responsible and work, but worrying and piling up possessions out of fear only leaves us tired and unsatisfied. We need to trust the daily manna from God, be obedient today, and trust God to work out the details. Don’t be enslaved by things.

So, take a moment today and do some de-cluttering. I think we need it at a physical, mental and spiritual level. When you take a moment to de-clutter one small corner of your home, you free yourself on all levels because you have one less thing to think about, you have more space to breathe, and it helps you to relax so that you can focus your mind and spirit because what good is having “stuff” if you never use it? If you know someone who needs something you aren’t using, give it to them. It will free you, give you a sense of satisfaction that you were able to help someone, and it will bless the person you give it to.

Now pardon me, if you will, I have to go follow my own advice…there is a small closet crammed with clothes that I can’t wear that need to bless someone else and free up some breathing space for me. #thebonniegray #whispersofrest

Daily Bread

If you watch enough television, you see a lot of commercials for banking and investments, planning your future financially. While I think we should be responsible with money, I think too many people are falling prey to the world’s mindset about wealth and independence.

When the Israelites were in the desert before they reached the Promised Land, God gave them daily manna, literally bread for the day. He provided for their needs on a daily basis, and no matter how they tried, the manna would not last overnight except for on the Sabbath as God ordained. Even one of the best known prayers in scripture says “Give us this day our daily bread.” The point was to teach them dependence on Him.

In the parable about the stewards who are left in charge of money, two invested their shares and made a profit for their master, and one did nothing except hold onto his share. Two of them did the best that they could with what they had been entrusted, while the third hoarded his share in fear. I think the point here is to make the most of what you have been given for your master, Jesus Christ, because what we have was given to us by Him. We are only stewards.

Sometimes we get caught up in the idea of saving for the future and making investments out of fear. The rich man decided to build another barn to store up his riches, but he didn’t live to enjoy them. Only God knows the future. He is the one we should trust for our daily bread. The Christian journey is one of learning to depend on Christ, while the dream of being independently wealthy is a world view centered on self-reliance. As Christians, we are children of the King who owns everything and will give us what we need if we rely on Him. Our purpose is to make the most of what he has given us this day. If it be riches, then use them wisely for the building of His kingdom and not the building of a new storage shed. If it be but a pittance, like the poor widow’s mite, give it in thankfulness. Find a balance between wasting what you’ve been given and hoarding it in fear of the future.

Be a good steward…and remember…you are only a steward. It is God’s to give and take as He pleases for His purposes. It is ours to do the best we can with what we have been given and to trust in His providence for our daily bread.