Tagged with "love"
The Art of the Ear: When God Speaks Tags: Christian blog Christian devotional Christian Writers Creation encouragement God God's voice help horses Inspiration listening love

But whoever listens to Me will dwell safely and will be secure, without fear of evil”—Proverbs 1:33.

                                                                                                     

Giving God our ear. Hmmmmm. What does that look like? How does God speak to us? Many ask this.

For me, His voice has different “sounds”: He gives a strong impression in my spirit about a particular situation ... a gut feeling, if you will; The truths in His Word will come alive as I read and revelation hits me right between the eyes; He will move on someone to be His voice, giving me an encouraging word; He’ll give me a dream while I’m sleeping; Or, He may use pictures in His amazing Creation to illustrate His character.

When He speaks to me through His Creation, that’s incredibly cool. One time, I was out feeding the horses trying to work through some stuff in my head. I glanced up and saw the most magnificent full rainbow I’d ever seen— and a double one to boot. The colors were so vibrant and alive. I ran to the trailer and grabbed my camera. As I stared at that rainbow, profound thoughts eased my mind: Our Creator created incredible beauty out of mere mist; Every rainbow from the very first one is the same—the same colors, the same lines, the same form. They don’t change. He doesn’t change. His promises never change. In this world, we can’t count on anything. But we can count on Him—encouragement I needed right then and a word in due season. (Isaiah 52:7)

He used a gentle breeze to encourage an acquaintance of mine. She was reading her Bible outside, troubled by a circumstance she faced. The breeze kept blowing the pages to a certain scripture. Every time she tried to turn back to the previous spot where she was reading, the breeze would flip the pages right back to that other place. She finally looked down where the breeze stopped—there she found the answer to her problem.

He likes to speak through people to give His encouraging words. Years ago I was asked to sing at a trail ride in Texas. When I pulled up on the ranch, my heart was heavy. I had a new truck, two beautiful horses and looked as though I hadn’t a care in the world. But on the inside, I was hurting and scared. I had two jobs: one in an office, one on a ranch. A “friend” betrayed me and stole the ranch job—the one I had based my truck payment on. Single, with no other means of extra support, I was afraid of losing everything.

A few days before I drove to the trail ride, I prayed, “Lord, please make yourself real to me.” Until then, I did not believe the Lord really knew I existed—unless I hung out with people I thought were spiritual. Let me tell ya, the devil had deceived me good!

I parked my rig and made my way over to a big oak tree. I leaned against it, quietly watching the other singers on the stage. A man and his wife, whom I had never met, walked up. “I have a word for you from the Lord,” he said. That man “read my mail.” He told me, “The Lord said, ‘all your needs are already taken care of.’” I was floored. I had not told a soul what I was going through, not even my closest friends. How in the world did this guy know my situation?

One week later, I received some cleaning jobs that perfectly dovetailed with my day job at the office. The wages from the cleaning jobs covered my old ranch wages to the dollar.

Two months later, the same man gave me another word from the Lord: I would be given one job that would take care of all my needs. Within three months, I quit my cleaning jobs because the office I worked for offered me a higher position in another department with a lot more pay.

I have learned that He is always directing us with that still small voice of His ... or trying to. I’ve blown right over the top of it— more than once, I’m afraid. One time, He impressed on Bruce, my husband and me to clean up the pine needles under the high-line our horses were tethered to. We didn’t, getting distracted with some other project. Our “Hoover”-horse, Rocky, decided he very much liked the taste of pine needles, proceeding to suck up every strand in the area. He promptly colicked. We were way out in the National Forest with no phone service. Prayer and the painkiller Banamine played veterinarian. He was pooping pine needles for the next day and a half, but he pulled through.

In all my years with horses in the mountains, I have never seen them eat pine needles. I never, ever imagined that Rocky would do that. But it didn’t matter what I thought or what my experience was. The Lord told us to rake up the pine needles ... period. He knew what would happen. Lesson learned ... again!

Fine-tuning the art of the ear takes practice. Sometimes total resurrection. But it’s an art worth bringing back to life. It means laying down our own desires and agendas. It takes not just being hearers of the Word of God, but doers of what He’s asked us to do. (James 1:22-25)

And the reward? We can live a life of victory and peace, encouraging others in the same. (John 15:12-13)

Listen ... Listen ... Listen ...

“Love’s Sacrificial Mindset” by Carol Hind Tags: Love sacrifice God's Love

A Disturbing Narrative

There’s a story in the Bible, which grabs at my heartstrings whenever I read it. I’m troubled by the tragedy that unfolds, by the unnecessary waste of a young life, by the foolishness of a man’s vow, by the fact that our sovereign God did not intervene to save this young woman. It is hard to understand love’s sacrificial mindset.

I’m referring to the story of Jephthah’s daughter.  Have you read it? If not, or should you need to refresh your memory, it can be found at Judges 11:29-40.  In order for you to fully appreciate the message of this article, you will need to be familiar with this disturbing tale.

A Devoted Daughter

Now I’ve often heard about the special bond between a father and his daughter. It is not something to which I can relate, since I didn’t have that kind of relationship with my biological father. However, having walked with God for some years now, I believe I’m beginning to enjoy a similar bond with my Heavenly Father.

There is no doubt in my mind that Jephthah’s daughter loved her father very much. She was obviously watching and waiting for this mighty man of valour to return home from war.  As soon as she sees him, she runs out to meet him. She’s overjoyed at his safe return. She celebrates his triumph in customary fashion, with tambourines and dancing.  Alas, her love and devotion for Jephthah becomes her undoing. Her love for her father costs her life.

Now let’s apply this scenario to ourselves on a spiritual level. Do we love our Father God to the extent that it costs us our lives? I’m not referring to a literal death here. I’m referring to the demise of our old way of thinking and living, which runs counter to God’s commands, his word and his will. I’m referring to our constant challenge as believers.

“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)

Do we love God with ALL of our heart, soul and strength as He requires? Have we crucified our flesh with its affections, appetites and desires, as His word demands? (Deuteronomy 6:5; Galatians 5:24).

Whilst I reflected on the various elements of this story, I wondered: where was Jephthah’s wife? I imagined her busy at home, tidying up, or preparing a special home-coming meal. And then I remembered Martha.

Martha, who hadn’t chosen the ‘better part’. Martha, who became preoccupied with serving food instead of sitting at Jesus’ feet. Are we like this? Too busy with our personal business, or too busy ‘serving the Lord’ to sit at his feet, to make him a priority in our lives?

If this is the case, may I remind you of Jesus’s words in Matthew 10:38-39? (See Amplified Bible). May I remind you that to be his disciples, we are required to lose our lower life (the life focused only on earthly quests and concerns) and pursue the higher (God-quality and spiritually focused) life?

https://womenofwarfare.wordpress.com/

God’s Measure of True Love

Now, with regards to our relationship with the Lord, we learn from Revelation 3:16, that He prefers we are cold, rather than lukewarm. Fellow Christian writers and readers, let us not be deceived into thinking we are ok because we go to church, participate in Christian activities and believe in God. Don’t forget, the devils also believe! So let me ask you—are you guilty of loving God with your lips, whilst your lifestyle declares otherwise?

Jesus revealed in no uncertain terms that there will be those who are convinced they are in the right place with God, working his works etc., but the Lord will turn to them and say: I never knew you; depart from me. And let’s not forget the five foolish virgins who found themselves shut out from the marriage feast, to whom the same damning words were spoken: I do not know you!

Are we paying heed to these stark warnings? Do we take them seriously? Do we yet understand love’s sacrificial mindset?

The ‘S’ Factor!

God requires an intimate knowledge of him. Relationship. Not words. Not unfulfilled intentions.

It can be easy in this age of grace to become careless. To be like the prodigal son, to avail ourselves of the rich resources of God’s Kingdom (his love, forgiveness, grace) and squander them selfishly, without care or consideration for the high price paid for us to enjoy our inheritance.

Wake up daughters of Zion! Wake up to the fact that the only life worth living is in our Father’s house, under his protection, submitted to his rules and regulations.

Wake up to the fact that we have an enemy, who hates us, and seeks to deceive and destroy us 24/7. Those suggestions that we can take God’s resources and use them for our own ends, where do you think they emanate from? Satan of course! Embraced and endorsed by our selfish inclinations, by our own carnal appetites and agendas.

We don’t even have to commit terrible sins.  Just not be fruitful.  Just not be concerned about the issues on God’s heart. Just be too busy with our personal dreams and desires to care about the needs of our neighbour, to participate meaningfully in the work of God’s kingdom, to fall on our knees and pray.

Daughters of Zion, I speak to myself and I speak to you all – wake up! Let us understand love’s sacrificial mindset.

Love’s Mature Outlook

Moving on, I’d like to focus on another admirable quality of Jephthah’s loving daughter. She is not bitter with her father, or about her fate. How about you?  Have your experiences of life caused you to become angry with God, resentful about your experiences and negative about your future?

Dear reader, I suffered many years of spiritual malaise because of wrong attitudes. I carried around in my heart an ever increasing record of offenses and was both inwardly and outwardly hostile towards those who hurt me. Yes, life can be unfair. However, spiritual maturity, faith and trust in our Father God, enables us to overcome and carry on with the right attitude.

https://womenofwarfare.wordpress.com/

Cultivate A Friendship Circle

Jephthah’s daughter called upon her friends and shared her sorrow. They mourned with her.  Do you have good, genuine, spiritual friends whom you can call and depend upon when needed? Who will pray for, and support you if, or when things fall apart?

Now don’t be discouraged if you don’t have such supportive friendships. There’s always the help and counsel of the three Godhead members to fall back on. In fact, you should be pursuing close fellowship with them anyway.

I believe your relationship with each (Father God, Jesus, Holy Spirit), is vital to your spiritual health and strength. Your relationship with them should not be superficial.  But deep. Strong. Like Paul’s—so that you are convinced in your heart that NOTHING can separate you from God’s love.

The Heroine’s Finale

As mentioned at the beginning, the story of Jephthah’s daughter always tugs at my heart.  I usually take issue with God about it. Why did he allow her to die?  It seems so harsh and unfair. I’ve never really gotten an answer.

However, I do acknowledge that God’s ways are higher than my thoughts and ways.  We are not qualified to judge.  Yet isn’t this how we can feel about the things we face in our own lives sometimes—about that false accusation, that persecution, that sudden catastrophe?

Unfair!

Jephthah’s daughter may have lost her life but she made history. God saw to it that she was inscribed within the pages of the Book of books.

There are those seeking to make history, to make a name for themselves, to make it according to worldly standards but in doing so, lose their own lives—whether literally, mentally, or spiritually.

Dear readers, let’s make sure we aren’t so foolish as to gain the whole world, yet lose our own soul.

Let’s remember we are not our own, we’ve been bought with a price. Let’s ensure that when all is done and dusted, our names appear in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

Join us in the RUBY community for more inspirational posts and discover opportunities to connect with other Christian women.

 

https://womenofwarfare.wordpress.com/

I’d describe myself as a God-seeker and recovering perfectionist. From an early age my love of words and insatiable appetite for stories kindled a passion for writing. I’ve enjoyed modest publishing success both in print and online and spent several rewarding years as one of a team of editors for a Christian women’s publication. I like to write devotionals, inspirational articles and poems and occasionally a short story. My blogs are Women of Warfare and Purpose Driven Achiever where you can read inspirational and thought-provoking articles.

Carol Hind Links

“The Wisdom of Women on the Meaning of Love” by Deb Ilardi Tags: Wisdom Women Love Deb Ilardi Ilardi

Wisdom of Women

How do you tell a great story? Mabel asked her friend Gertrude.

Mabel imagined herself a great writer. Gert grinned, and quietly said It has to be about love. Her face soft, her eyes turned up at the corner, she sat back in her chair, proud for coming to such a magnificent conclusion.

Gert recalled her cousin Sophia telling her. I know exactly what love is Gertie. Maybe you will be lucky enough to fall into love. Nick is the man for me. He understands me. He’s my missing piece, my better half. I’m going to spend the rest of my life thanking him for making me so happy.

Gertrude had fallen in love and remembered that conversation while rocking her baby to sleep one night. Tears slid from her eyes. Nick had been abusive and critical, spent Sophia’s savings, broke her heirloom china and left her alone. Sophia was wrong about love.

Her thoughts were interrupted by Mabel’s rapidly tapping pencil. Come on Gertrude, you have to give me more than that to go on, she moaned.

I have a friend who is in love, Gertrude rambled. She says that you love when you are ready to give up everything for someone else.

Mabel smirked, tried to hide or soften her reaction to Gertrude’s ridiculous idea. She sighed impatiently.

I think I can help you get started Mabel, People always enjoy a good love story. When I was eleven my Aunt Grace took me for a walk. This is what she told me…when you love a boy, Gertie, you will feel very different. It is amazing to kiss, to be held in someone’s arms and gazed upon as if you were a sparkling diamond. That leaves you feeling important, cared for and protected. You realize good things about yourself for the first time. He looked at you so long with those eyes filled with care. You must be beautiful. He held you as if you might break. You must be precious. And there is more.

He told everyone he was going to spend his life with you. You must be intelligent, fascinating, and creative. He sold his bicycle to buy you an engagement ring. You must be priceless. He wants to build you a house, sleep with you in his arms all the rest of his days. He must know you are worth every sacrifice.

When you are loved, you start to see love around you. You see a teenager smiling at a baby, a woman arranging flowers in a florist window, a policeman holding the hand of an elderly man as he crosses a city street. Doves flying in pairs.

Just then, Mabel’s granddaughter Kimberly walked into the room. She held three cups of tea and asked if she could join them. “I heard you talking about love,” she said. Her smile was radiant.

She was intrigued by these older women. It was not unusual for her to join them, armed with tea, a deck of cards or a checker game board. Kimberly always made Mabel and Gertrude feel loved.

Well Mabel is writing another story, said Gertrude… I said it should be about love. What do you think?

Kimberly passed out warm teacups and gently sat in the chair between them. She was recently graduated from college and working with young children.

Yellow Tea Cup

Grandma, we sang together when I was little. Remember Shower the People You Love With Love? You explained that love has many meanings. You said if we could come up with one definition and put it into a bottle everyone would want to buy it. I tried to talk you into doing that and you laughed.

You said that love never means the same thing two days in a row. It is one of those amazing words that get used too often, used for the wrong things, even misused; that love changes, love is an evolving experience. I wrote that down and thought about it all through high school and college. Love is an evolving experience. I thought you were amazing then and I think you are amazing now.’ She smiled, finished her tea and stood to leave.

Give me a big hug and kiss beautiful girl, Mabel said softly. I want one too, said Gertrude. And with care, poise and love, Kimberly kissed and hugged them both.

I might never get this book written Gertrude, said Mabel, tears glistening in her eyes. Gertrude thought her heart would burst. Love, she thought, is as alive as we are, as different as every living thing and every piece of art or gown or greeting card. Love happened, didn’t ever stay the same, and existed whenever you realized that you were special.

She opened her mouth and said to Mabel, Your story has to be about experiences of love and how you can’t hold them; you need to enjoy them and let them go.

Mabel looked back at her friend, shaking her head and then her finger in Gertrude’s direction. Girlfriend, you are just confusing me. I will never get this story written.

They smiled and reached out to hold hands as they finished their tea.

 

Deb Ilardi is a registered nurse and has written professionally for decades. She was the Clinical Editor of School Nurse News from 2001-20016. Now she is retired and living in NC with her husband where she enjoys life near the ocean as a freelance writer.

“Love in Bloom” by Pat Jeanne Davis Tags: Love in Bloom Pat Jeanne Davis Pat Jeanne Davis Love Bloom

Love in Bloom

Kate pulled her long, brown hair into a ponytail and looked out on the yard of her new home where robins hopped about, snatching up a meal. The sun shone brightly, announcing the approach of spring. Finally! She visualized a row of multi-colored flowers bordering her driveway.

She squelched a sigh. Had she made the right decision to move so far away from family and friends? At the time, a new position seemed too good an opportunity to pass up. A change had been long overdue, Kate reasoned. And not having a special someone in her life provided further cause to accept the offer. Still, the cold winter had lasted far too long, and she missed the familiar faces back home.

Kate stepped away from the window. With a full schedule next week, Saturday was the only time she had to return to Freddy’s Garden Center. Perhaps the promised shipment of flowers had arrived. She grabbed her car keys.

When Kate entered the nursery, she spotted a figure working at a metal counter surrounded by plants and pots. As she approached, he turned and fixed his blue eyes on her for what seemed like minutes.

“Back so soon?” he asked, grinning.

“You’re the one I saw two weeks ago.”

He rubbed his chin. “You came back just to see me.”

Kate flashed a smile. “Can you help me choose flowers for my yard?”

He laughed, revealing straight white teeth. “I’m your man.” He slapped his palms together to dislodge the dirt. “The name’s Fred.”

She took his big hand in hers, intrigued by his friendly manner. “Kate.”

“Let’s see. You told me you’d moved here recently and wanted flowers that bloomed a long time and didn’t need much care.”

“You remembered.”

Fred gestured for her to follow him. “That’s my job,” he said over his shoulder. “Another supply came in yesterday. You’re in luck.”

They moved down rows of wooden tables overflowing with tulips and daffodils. Kate felt like a schoolgirl on a field trip as she half-ran to keep up, then nearly crashed into him when he stopped and turned around.

“I moved here two years ago to be closer to my eleven-year-old son and opened this garden center last spring,” he said.

Surprised by Fred’s revelation, Kate’s eyes drifted to the bare space on his ring finger. Why hadn’t she done more with her hair and put on a little makeup before coming out this morning? She met his gaze. “It sounds like you’ve been transplanted like these flowers.”

A ghost of a smile crept over his face. “Like yourself.”

Kate nodded. “Came here six months ago after accepting a new position.”

Hyacinths scattered blue, purple, and pink around her. She drew in the sweet fragrance and listened to chimes swaying in a warm breeze.

Fred selected a tray of flowers with little faces. His hand caressed the petals as if they were friends. “Pansies provide a variety of colors that last for months.” He moved to the next table. “The lush blooms on these begonias are hardy as well.”

“I’ll take both.”

He picked up a large white bag. “You’ll need potting soil. I’ll get my son to take these to check-out and to your car. That’s him over there.” Fred motioned for his son.

“Well, what do you know,” Kate said as the boy approached. “Billy is in my class!”

Billy’s eyes widened in recognition. “Miss Haley!”

Fred wiped his forehead with the back of his hand. “I finally get to meet the Miss Haley.”

Billy kicked a stone with the toe of his shoe. A sheepish grin spread across his face.

Kate scrambled for something to say to break the awkward silence. “Lucky you, working here with your Dad.”

He looked at his father before taking the flowers and bag. “Yep, I know.”

Fred tousled his son’s blond hair. “I’m the lucky one.”

After Billy left, Fred turned to Kate, pulling his baseball cap forward over his dark, curly hair. “He wasn’t exaggerating when he said you’re pretty.”

Kate managed a smile and lowered her head, feeling her cheeks grow warm.

“And he’s always going on about how you make science come alive.”

“Happy to hear that.” She laughed. “I wish I had that much success with plants.” Or with men.

Fred laughed too. “You’ll need these.” As he handed her a trowel and gardening gloves, their hands touched. Did he feel the same attraction?

Fred shifted his feet. “Take this slip up front and tell them I said to give you a gardening book.” He cleared his throat before speaking again. “If you need any further help, I’m your man.”

“Thanks.” Of course he was her man. Kate recalled her first trip here. Fred answered every question, even the ones she quickly thought up just so she could look into those captivating blue eyes while he answered.

He started walking toward another customer.

“I want to put in some other things,” Kate called after him.

He headed back to where she stood. Her pulse quickened.

“What do you have in mind?”

Kate shrugged. “I need some suggestions.”

“Maybe some shrubs,” he said. “If you like, I could stop by next Saturday, take a look at your yard and give you a few ideas.”

“Sounds good. I’ll keep an eye out.” Kate’s casual tone masked the excitement within. Her heart surged with the wonder of spring and the prospect of a fresh start.

“Write your address here. If you have no one to put them in, just remember, I’m your man. And don’t worry about not having a green thumb.” He winked. “I’ll teach you what you need to know.”

Kate craned her neck to keep him in view as he walked off. Fred glanced back and their eyes met, leaving her with a promise of good things to come.

 

Pat Jeanne Davis writes from her home in Philadelphia, Pa. She is married and mom to two sons. Pat loves to work in her flower garden and travel. She has completed two historical inspirational novels and is represented by Leslie H. Stobbe and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. She loves to hear from her readers. Please visit her at www.patjeannedavis.com

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