Wednesday, December 31, 2014

My Goal for 2015 in One Word: Simplify

I have a friend who makes necklaces with a word printed on them.

A few years ago, I ordered a necklace with the word CONTENT on it, as a reminder to be content with what I have. I based it off of Hebrews 13:5-6.

At the end of this year, I ordered a necklace with the word SIMPLIFY on it, because that is my goal for the upcoming year.

I want to simplify my schedule. In the 4 years I have been married, my husband has shown me that spaces between activities are beneficial for both of us. While I can go all day from one thing to another, I am more relaxed when I have space between my activities.

I want to simplify my possessions. Matthew 6:21 tells us that where our treasure is, our hearts also are. I want to cut the ties to treasures that keep my heart focused on possessions. I want less stuff, so others can have more. I want to use what possessions I do have, not be controlled by them.

I want to simplify my meals. I read in a book recently that one homemaker has a go-to meal for company: a soup, a homemade bread, and a fruit-based dessert. There is a lot of room for creativity within these categories, but it is a simpler menu.

I want to simplify, so the noise dies down in my life, because it is in the silences that God speaks. How can I hear His still, small voice over the radio, the audio-books, the calendar, the stuff I need to take care of, the to do list, etc.? By quieting down the distractions, I can better listen.

As I think about the upcoming years, I have other words I hope to one day get: PEACE, HOSPITALITY, JUSTICE, but for today, for 2015, my word of the year is SIMPLIFY.

What would be your word, your goal for the upcoming year?

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Answer to 2 Chronicles 7:14

Many churches quote 2 Chronicles 7:14 & apply it to the US: "if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land."

This is a beautiful passage, with specific actions to do, but if we are fasting & humbling, why aren't things changing in the US?

I think Isaiah 58 holds that answer:
Our Complaint
"...they seem eager to know my ways as if they were a nation that does what is right and has not forsaken the commands of its God...‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and you have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed?’..." (verses 2-3a)

Our Problem
"Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please and exploit all your workers. Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife, and in striking each other with wicked fists. You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high. Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for people to humble themselves? Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and for lying in sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord?..." (verses 3b-5)

What God Wants When We Fast
"“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?" (verses 6-7)
God's Promise
"Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. “If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail...“If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the Lord’s holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, then you will find your joy in the Lord, and I will cause you to ride in triumph on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.” For the mouth of the Lord has spoken." (verses 8-14)

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