Sunday, January 26, 2014

Beliefs vs. Limits

Someone* wisely said: "A picture is worth a thousand words." So this year, in addition to my thousands of words, I'll post at least one picture - in a "word-less" post each month. Be blessed
 
 
References:
* Arthur Brisbane (said it in 1911)/Frederick R. Barnard (printed it in 1921)


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Act quickly

2 Samuel 5:22-25
Again the Philistines came up and camped in Rephaim Valley. David prayed to the Lord again and got this answer: “Don’t go up the valley. Go around them to the other side of their army. Attack them from the other side of the balsam trees. When you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees, you must act quickly because that is the sign that the Lord has gone out in front of you to defeat the Philistines.” David did what the Lord commanded him to do, and he defeated the Philistines. He chased them from Geba to Gezer, killing them all along the way. (Easy-to-Read Version, emphasis mine)
When I read this passage recently, my eyes and heart stuck with 2 words: "act quickly." God in His infinite wisdom knew that David may have wanted to reconsult and possibly reconfirm what the Lord had said with others - like some of us like to do with the excuse that the Bible says: "At the mouth of 2 or 3..."

David succeeded against the Philistines because he "acted quickly;" he had a window of opportunity within which to take action. I then started asking myself, and now you by extension, "How may times have I not succeeded in something because I dilly-dallied and dwaddled after hearing God's clear directions?" My family and I have both suffered loss by delaying action - unfortunately, I was the bottleneck in some of those instances. We've also enjoyed tremendous gains when I (we) acted quickly based on divine instructions.

One thing I learned from enduring losses and enjoying gains is you must know how God speaks to you and more, importantly, trust and obey Him (act) quickly - for there's no other way to be happy in Jesus.

Have you asked for and received divine directions? Congratulations - now ACT QUICKLY so you don't miss your window of opportunity. God prosper you as you proceed. AMEN!


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Exhale...

Today, at an event organized by Alberta CAs Community Ambassadors, Mr Sam Kolias* ended a rather inspiring speech with the analogy of inhaling and exhaling.

He said that accumulating things is like breathing in...and breathing in...and breathing in. When you continue breathing in, sooner than later, you'll suffocate and die. Conversely,  when you breathe out - and give of all you have, you get the breath of life. He ended by saying: "Giving is Living."

God never ceases to amaze me. Earlier today, I published the "Paying it foward" post** only for the same message to be reinforced in other words. Indeed, once has God spoken and twice have we heard... Whatever you do this year, if you want to enjoy the life of abundance God promises, you must EXHALE...and be a blessing to others.

Living in the Overflow requires a flow-through after God's blessings have flowed to you. In Gen 12:2-3,*** God was clear that His expectation from Abraham was that he'd be a blessing after he's blessed.  That expectation has not changed. It's not about waiting to get more before you give. Start with what's in your hand today...start today.

If you need ideas or suggestions on how to be a blessing in your community,  Beryl and I wilĺ be more than happy to share some suggestions - email us: sapphireandberyl@gmail.com.

God bless you as you become and remain a blessing.  1, 2, 3...EXHALE...

References:
*http://albertaventure.com/2010/05/sam-kolias-chairman-and-ceo-boardwalk-real-estate-investment-trust/
** http://sapphire-and-beryl.blogspot.ca/2014/01/paying-it-forward.html
*** Gen 12: 2-3 -I will bless you and make your descendants into a great nation. You will become famous and be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you, but I will put a curse on anyone who puts a curse on you. Everyone on earth will be blessed because of you. (CEV)

Paying it forward...

Have you heard that phrase? In recent times, it has become a more commonly used phrase especially in the corporate world. Well, did you know that it's a very old phrase? Although Wikipedia cited older uses of the phrase, these ones stuck a cord with me:

"Ralph Waldo Emerson, in his 1841 essay Compensation wrote: "In the order of nature we cannot render benefits to those from whom we receive them, or only seldom. But the benefit we receive must be rendered again, line for line, deed for deed, cent for cent, to somebody."
In 1916, Lily Hardy Hammond wrote, "You don't pay love back; you pay it forward.""*

According to the Urban Dictionary: the phrase means "when someone does a good deed for you, instead of paying them back, pay it forward by doing a good deed for someone else."**

When you look at the definition of the phrase, you'll see it has some root in the Golden rule: 
So always; [So in everything] 
Do to others what [Treat others as] you want them to do to [treat] you.***

This scripture and then the "paying it forward" phrase dropped in my heart late last year - when I was blessed with a time of retreat and rest. In addition to rest, it was a great time for refreshment and reflection. The more I meditated on the verse, it was obvious that God expects us to always be proactively good and kind to others - not because of what we expect from them (in return). Note that the verse doesn't say: "Do to others as they or others have done to you" - that will be a "garbage rule."

There are at least 2 lessons to note from this verse and phrase:
  • We really don't have any control over how others will (want to or) actually treat us - but we have absolute control over how we treat others. 
  • We must never treat people the way they (or others) treated us - we should treat them how we want to be treated...hopefully even better than they (or others) treated us.
The wisest man who ever lived put it this way:
The merciful, kind, and generous man benefits himself [for his deeds return to bless him], but he who is cruel and callous [to the wants of others] brings on himself retribution.****
It may seem that you're doing others a favour when you are kind to them or paying it forward, the truth is you are really being kind to yourself and your generations to come...

“I hope the fruits of my labor are ripe for many generations to come.” ~ Donovan Nichols

The Bible is replete with examples of people who benefited from their parents' kindness***** or vice versa. Indeed, kindness is a seed which we must never stop planting, trusting God that our children, grandchildren and further will eat the fruits of those seeds. Stay kind...


References:

*** Matthew 7:12a - Expanded Bible
**** Proverbs 11:17 - Amplified
***** 2 Samuel 9: 1 - David asked, “Is there anyone left in Saul’s family to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” (Amplified)

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Short but not sweet

Last year when sending someone an email with my contact details I reminded myself to use 'mobile number' not the usual 'cell number.' Yes I know that 'cell' is short for 'cellular' however I've decided to stick with 'mobile' so I don't speak things I never want into my life.

I wonder how much thought we put to the words we use - short form or long form. Many verses in the Bible especially in the book of Proverbs advise us on the use of our words. 
I believe that the advice covers shortened words - well, I extend the advice for myself. 
I particularly like this set:

Prov  18:20-21 - People will be rewarded for what they say [From the fruit of the mouth of a person is their stomach satisfied]; they will be rewarded by how they speak [the yield/gain of their lips satisfies]. What you say can mean [In the power of the tongue are] life or death. Those who speak with care [love it] will be rewarded [eat its fruit]. (Expanded Bible)

Whether you go with shortened or elongated words, like Joel Osteen says: 
"You can change your world by changing your words...
Remember, death and life are in the power of the tongue."

So consciously and continuously speak words of the world you want for yourself.

Welcome to my Year of Overflow...what is it for you?

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Loaded and labelled...

Phil 4:13 says: I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency].
(Amplified)

In other words,
Irrespective of what the devil may want you to believe, that verse means: 
We're not lacking or lagging, rather,
we're loaded and labeled for success in all and anything that faces us this year.

Believe and declare that the remaining 360 days of the year...
 Have a great and victorious year ahead - challenge after challenge.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

What's your WAY?

Happy New Year! Last year, I shared one of my prized gifts from God with us (http://sapphire-and-beryl.blogspot.ca/2013/01/sharing-my-gift.html). As the year wrapped up, I was asking myself if I needed to close the loop and share how God brought His Word to pass and my WAY* for 2014. I didn't feel a release to do that - after all, it's not about me; it's about the King and His Word! Well, this morning, after my QT, I checked my emails and found this...sharing an excerpt.

Do you remember yesterday's post**? Again, I'm amazed at how God strings things together...

Only 3 things needed

As we step into a new year, you need only 3 things to succeed. This song my mother taught me as a child is still accurate today.

Day by day
Day by day
Oh Dear Lord
Three things I pray
To see Thee more clearly
Love Thee more dearly
Follow Thee more nearly
Day by day
 
May the Lord answer our prayer...each and everyday of this year and our lives. Happy New Year!


Bibs or Aprons?

I was challenged when I read the article below (courtesy AllWorship.com), to look at my life and my service to God and wonder…. … am I wearing a bib or an apron?
As you read I pray that the Lord will also take you through a path of Self & Service assessment.

I recently visited a fast-growing church in Minnesota to learn from their staff. It was a privilege to witness their passion for doing high quality ministry in Jesus' name. I left with some new insights and renewed passion for the Gospel. One of the phrases that I heard while I was there was, "We want our members to wear aprons, not bibs."

Here's what they meant:
  • Bibs are for people who only want to be fed.
  • Bibs are for those who are not yet ready or willing to feed themselves.
  • Bibs are for those who are more interested in being served than in serving.
  • Bibs are for those who insist that the church exists for them and their needs.
  • Bibs are for babes in the faith, those who haven't caught God's vision for the church, or those who are not yet of the faith.

  • Aprons are for those who have a heart to serve others in Jesus' name.
  • Aprons are for those who know that they are the church.
  • Aprons are for those who don't mind getting their hands dirty.
  • Aprons are for those who take the time daily to feed their spiritual hunger.
  • Aprons are for those who are growing in faith, and hunger to help others grow.

Church growth consultant, Win Arn, interviewed thousands of Christians in America several years ago and asked them, what they though the church existed for. Eighty-eight percent said, "The church exists to serve my needs and the needs of my family." In other words, 88% of Christians in America are still wearing bibs.

On the night when He was betrayed, just hours before He was crucified, the very Son of God took off His outer garments, wrapped a towel around His waist, and washed His disciples' feet. When He was done He said, "I have just given you an example to follow." In other words, Jesus called His disciples to wear aprons, not bibs. In Matthew, Jesus is recorded as saying, "For even I, the Son of Man, came here not to be served but to serve others, and to give my life as a ransom for many." He also said, "If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give it up for me, you will find it." Jesus calls us to wear aprons, not bibs.

Which are you wearing?
Bringing It Home.... [life application]
  1. How would you answer the question, "Why does the church exist?" Does your answer reflect your bib or your apron?
  2. How can you help others in your Christian community to trade their bib for an apron?
  3. If you're not already serving in a ministry in your church, make a commitment to begin this month. What a wonderful New Year resolution that would be...for others.
In Matthew 20:28, Jesus tells us: "For even I, the Son of Man, came here not to be served but to serve others, and to give my life as a ransom for many."

"Lord Jesus, thank You for feeding me daily with Your word. Fill me with Your redeeming love. Open my eyes to clearly see the needs of those around me, and then open my hands to serve them. Each day, strengthen me with Your Spirit, so that I might choose to wear an apron, not a bib. This I pray in Your name. Amen."
~Author Unknown~