Walk Humbly

My husband, the gardener, loved his spring flowers and so do I!

I sometimes ask God what He wants me to do in a particular situation. You know, “Should I spend money to go to this event?” or “Should I take that job?”

It’s wonderful when I feel that He has given me a clear answer but often we must decide within broad parameters. Here is one verse that gives us a few boundaries for our choices.

“What does the Lord require of you…but to act justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6: 8 (New International Version)

In my Hebrew class I learned that the Biblical word for “just” can sometimes be translated as “righteous”.  Living with integrity in a virtuous, fair, and upright way in all situations sounds daunting but this is what the Lord requires of us.

I picture a person who stands tall spiritually, by doing the right thing at work; not billing more hours than is right and treating others fairly. This person is recognized as someone who is trustworthy and making a positive difference in the world.

You become just by choosing to do the right thing.

Mother Theresa loved mercy and spent her life caring for the poor, sick, and dying but you don’t have to go to India and be a missionary (unless God is calling you to do that!).

Love mercy where you are. Reach out in kindness and compassion to the people around you. That includes family, friends, neighbours, and everyone you meet as you go about your business.

  • Give generously of your time and money for the good of others.
  • Forgive the people who have wronged you.
  • Act with compassion, not impatience, when you don’t agree with someone.

I love the Amplified Bible interpretation of “walk humbly”, “setting aside any overblown sense of importance or self-righteousness”!

This “overblown sense of our own importance” shows up in the way we expect others to meet our needs or act in a certain way. Close relationships are the hardest place to get this right.

The only way to truly follow God is to let go of our own concerns each day. Listening and obeying the Word of the Lord requires a humility that doesn’t come naturally.

The choice is always yours. You can choose to be the boss of your own life and manage all the problems that arise OR walk humbly with your God in simple, child-like faith and the other requirements of the Lord will follow.

Start walking humbly with your God then you will find that it’s natural to act justly and love mercy!

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#flourish #flourishinaworldfullofpeople #encouragement #walkhumbly #actjustly #lovemercy #motivation

Authenticity

I’m reading a book by Brené Brown that has me thinking about how to live a “wholehearted life”. She says: “Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.” *

There is much pressure in our society to do, be and have what others seem to do, be or have.

The message is clear that if you don’t own your home, have a respectable job, a perfect relationship, or a big bank balance, that you aren’t quite good enough. People don’t have to tell you that, you feel it inside.

Worse than that, is the pressure to look a certain way.

If your hair is grey you need to dye it. If you’re the “wrong” shape, you focus on how you should eat differently or exercise more and feel guilty if you don’t. No wonder there is so much on social media about needing that extra cup of coffee or glass of wine!

Some of the lies that plague me are that I should have earned a master’s degree, I’m too old to reach some of my goals and that I might not have enough money to enjoy old age. (When does old age start, anyway?)

I often don’t live up to my own expectations. That’s when I need a friend to counter the lies I am telling myself, with the truth of God’s word.

Ephesians 2: 10 says: For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Read that verse again – slowly!

We are created by God for His purposes. This sets us free from self-doubt, blame, and expectations. We have important Kingdom things to do!

What lies from the enemy of our souls are you believing? Take time to sit in God’s presence and listen. Ask Him to tell you the truth about who you are in His eyes. You can ask Him how He sees you and what name He calls you. You might be surprised at what He tells you.

Authenticity is a daily practice.

No one gets it right all the time so encouraging each other to hear God’s heart is part of our work.

Right now, I encourage you to get my book, Flourish in a World Full of People, and do (or redo) a few of the exercises. If you are like me, you read the book and planned to do the work later.

Pick one chapter to read and start practicing today. Gratitude, forgiveness, saying “No”, getting a new perspective…

Click here if you don’t already have a copy and order Brené’s book at the same time!

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*The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown

He is Risen!

Those are probably the most profound words ever spoken – after “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”

This week let’s take time to relive the Easter story.

The busyness of life and watered-down faith traditions can obscure the power of what Jesus the Messiah did for all people. This week, imagine the scenes anew by putting yourself into the stories.

Read John 12: 12 – 19 and rejoice with the people as they followed the man named Yeshua (Jesus) on a young donkey down from the Mount of Olives into Jerusalem.

“Hosanna! Blessed is the King of Israel”  

They believed that He was the King prophesied many centuries earlier who would rescue them from the slavery of the Roman government. The religious leaders in the temple were alarmed about losing their hold on the people.

All four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John tell the awful story of His arrest, “trial” and crucifixion. (Read John chapters 18 and 19) Imagine the anguish that His family and the disciples – His friends – must have felt as they saw their teacher suffer and die.

Now read the part where a few of His closest friends went to the tomb to prepare Jesus’ body for proper burial in John 20: 1 – 9.

Angels celebrated His birth, comforted Him in the wilderness and now made sure that He wasn’t stolen by grave robbers. He wasn’t dead but alive!

The story may be familiar but every year it feels new and an amazing possibility for us. Jesus is not just alive for Himself. He rose so that He could rescue us from the slavery of the “prince of this world”.

Our slavery isn’t chains and whips. Our chains are belief systems we structure based on the difficult situations we experience as we stumble through life. Emotions, poor decisions, blame, a lack of forgiveness all flow from these beliefs. 

Jesus Christ died so that we could be set free. Believe in Jesus and ask Him to live in your heart. It’s so easy, even a little child can do it. The hard part comes after that decision…

Walking with Him every day – for the rest of your life.

We do that by getting to know Him through the Bible stories. Talking to Him (pray without ceasing) and of course, that means listening as well as talking, forgiving as He forgives us, taking care of His children, our family members, neighbours, the poor, people around the world etc…every day.

HE IS RISEN INDEED!

It’s time to celebrate! Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!

It’s the Little Things

Like many others, I sometimes experience fatigue and anxiety this year.

Here are some of the ways I have found to cope.

  • Create something to look forward to every week.

My favourite time of the week is Friday evening. Shabbat or Sabbath starts at sundown on Friday and goes until an hour after sundown on Saturday. Rest is God’s idea. “And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he rested from all his work of creation.” Genesis 2: 3.

One of the 10 Commandments is: “Observe the sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the Lord your God has commanded you.” Deuteronomy 5: 12 – 15

Jewish people light candles, eat challah bread, and drink wine every Friday night. They often buy flowers to take home for the family Shabbat dinner. It is a weekly celebration of food, family, and faith.

I look forward to a glass of wine and a special dinner on Fridays even if I am alone.

  • Buy yourself some flowers. Tulips or daffodils are available now in the grocery store and when the weather is warmer, I buy from a roadside stand or farmers’ market.
  • Get outside. Take a walk in a beautiful place like a park or forest or beach. Breathe deeply and slowly. Notice your surroundings. Use all your senses. Do you feel God all around you?

Sometimes a drive is better when the weather is cold. Drive somewhere you don’t usually go. Stop to get a coffee and park where you can enjoy a lovely view.

  • Rearrange your furniture. Pushing things around not only gives me a new view of my room but forces me to clean under the heavy stuff and vacuum blinds or wash windows! Those “chores” are Wednesday or Thursday jobs so I can enjoy my pretty clean room on Friday night with my wine and a bowl of chips!
  • Decorate for spring. Many of us decorate our homes for Christmas but do you also decorate for other times of the year? At the end of January, I put away all the red and green from my mantle and changed it to pink and pale blue and white. A string of tiny lights draped randomly makes me smile when they come on every night.
  • Find ways to rest. Listen to music that moves you. Watch a funny show. Read a novel or magazine that gives you ideas and hope. Have tea with a friend on a video chat.

Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. It is a day of rest so find ways to change your daily pace.

We’re almost through winter and March brings spring, new life, Easter…hope.

There is always hope!

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Leave Room For God

Most mornings, I start my day with coffee and a message from Oswald Chambers. His little daily devotional book My Utmost for His Highest,originally published in 1935, has inspired me with his wisdom for many years. Here’s a quote from January 25:

“Keep your life so constantly in touch with God that His surprising power can break through at any point. Live in a constant state of expectancy and leave room for God to come in as He decides.”

Have you experienced “His surprising power”?

Maybe it has become so ordinary that you don’t notice when He steps into your circumstances. Or maybe you feel that it is just coincidence. How can you know the difference?

I believe that when we start being thankful all day, every day, no matter what our surroundings seem to tell us, we will see (and hear) God more often.

Think back to a recent time when things seemed to work out unexpectedly. Money or a job came to you at just the right time. You were in a rush to get somewhere and suddenly there was a parking spot in front of your destination. A person you have been thinking about calls to encourage you – out of the blue.

I understand that life isn’t always that way. Family members do get sick, bills sometimes go unpaid and maybe you believe it’s selfish to pray for a parking spot.

Life can be difficult which is why leaving room for God to come in is so important.

If you haven’t noticed that good things happen to you all the time, maybe it’s time to sit down with God and ask Him why things seem so hard. Where is He when you need Him?

Hearing His voice is challenging at first but there are a few things you can do to open your ears. Start by reading the scriptures, even just a few verses at a time. Have you read the whole Bible? If not, maybe this year is your time!

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” Psalm 119: 105

My sister-in-law called a friend she hadn’t seen for awhile and as they talked, she asked the friend if she could send an encouraging email then forwarded my message about Shalom in 2021. The friend said she really needed that message when it arrived!

Watch for God “coincidences” and act when you get the nudge to reach out to someone else.

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