J is for Jealous

 Be careful not to forget the covenant of the Lord your God that he made with you; do not make for yourselves an idol in the form of anything the Lord your God has forbidden.  For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God. (Deuteronomy 4:23-24)

Continuing the Alphabet Challenge, I chose Jealous for my “J” word.

Hunter loves our grandactives. He gets excited when they visit. He plays with them and allows them to crawl on him and use him for a pillow. Yep, it’s all fun and games until I pay attention to one of the children. At that point, Hunter gets jealous. He demands my undivided attention, especially when other people enter the house or call on the phone.

Although Hunter’s got a good handle on it, he’s not the only one in our house with a jealous streak. The grandactives all do their share of “Bee, hold me.” “Bee, watch this.” “Bee, come here.” “Bee, I want … .” All of their demands stem from their desire to have my undivided attention. They’re jealous.

Then again, I must confess I, too, have my own “green-eyed monster” to learn to control.

Jealousy is one of those traits we all abhor. We correct our kids. We chastise ourselves. We work pretty hard to overcome the nasty self-centeredness that leads to jealousy—a most intolerable sin.

But wait …

God says He is a jealous God. What’s up with that? He cannot sin. Is there such a thing as righteous jealousy?

Apparently, there is. God becomes jealous when we flirt with other gods and put earthly pleasures before Him. He calls it idol worship. He wants all of our love, affection, and allegiance without exception. He wants us to devote our lives to Him, to worship Him alone, and to seek His face daily. He wants our undivided attention when we come to Him in prayer. He has the right to such demands. He is our Creator, our Sustainer, and our Father.

Since He is my Father, I think I have inherited His jealous streak. But unlike the Lord, I have to check mine and be sure I’m jealous over righteous things—like the time I spend with Him, and the time I spend with my family.

How about you? What “J” word comes to your mind when you think about God? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks


In a Dry Place

I will make rivers flow on barren heights, and springs within the valleys. I will turn the desert into pools of water, and the parched ground into springs. (Isaiah 41:18)

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the Cape Code Sand Dunes, which I’d visited many years ago. The dunes covered miles of land with no water in sight. I suppose if we’d walked far enough we would’ve come to the ocean. As refreshing as the “big lake” would’ve appeared, it wouldn’t have quenched our thirst. A dip in salt water may sooth a sweaty body. However, it does nothing to comfort a dehydrated body.

We didn’t walk the width of the dunes the day I visited, but we did walk miles and carried canteens of water to prevent dehydration. While we explored, the blazing sun burned our backs through our shirts. The sizzling sand scourged our feet through our sneakers. The glare from both the sun and sand stung our eyes. Yet, we plodded on, searching, digging, and sifting. No one forced us to endure the heat. We chose our own course all for the thrill of unearthing a piece of glass.

That excursion was the closest I’ve ever come to trudging across a physical desert. Nevertheless, I have spent plenty of time in spiritual deserts. I moped and struggled for years for lack of productivity, wondering why here and why now. And where exactly was “here?” How do I escape? My soul cried out with the Psalmists who penned, “How long, oh Lord? Why are You silent? Have You forgotten me forever? Turn Your face toward Your child and rescue me?” Although He seemed distant and far too quiet, the Lord had purpose in leading me through that parched land.

Here are a few things I learned during that “desert experience:”

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Next week:

We’ll be starting a study on Rocks. Yes, Rocks! When mentioned in the Bible, Rocks can be metaphoric and quiet enlightening. Our first Rock is found in Genesis 49:22-26.

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

The Power of Water

 

“Whoever drinks the water I [Jesus] give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:14)

Hunter water dish

EMPTY!


At 8:00 this morning, the heat and humidity began to rise. Going for a two-mile walk just about did Hunter and me in. We came home invigorated, yet panting and sweating. I poured water into the dog’s dish then filled a glass for myself. And the race was on. We gulped up our H20 like we’d just crossed Death Valley. Nothing quenches thirst like a tall glass of ice water.

Our bodies crave water for good reason. We’re 55-60% water depending on our gender. You knew that, right? But different parts of our bodies contain different percentages of water. For instance, our brains are 70% water. Our blood is more than 80% water. And our lungs are 90% water. Think about that. Our lungs consist of 90% water, yet we can drown on a small amount of water in our lungs (http://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/earth/geophysics/h2o3.htm). We are truly intricately and wonderfully formed.

We cannot exist without water. However as soothing to the body and soul as it is, water is dangerous and destructive. Ask anyone who has lived through a flash flood, a hurricane, or a tsunami.

Here’s the thing:

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Next week:

We’ll consider dry ground. Is it the path of the enemy or of God? Prepare by reading Isaiah 41:17-20

See you in a twinkling,
Brenda K. Hendricks

I is for Impartial

“Now let the fear of the Lord be on you. Judge carefully, for with the Lord our God there is no injustice
or partiality or bribery.” (2 Chronicles 19:7)

Continuing the Alphabet Challenge, I chose Impartial for my “I” word.

“Mother always loved you best.” The punchline of Tommy and Dick Smothers always got a laugh from their audience. Maybe because it hit so close to home. Parents are often accused of showing partiality to certain children. In our family, my mother showed favoritism toward my older sisters and my brother. Of course if you asked any of them, they’d tell you she favored me.

The truth, for most families, is the obedient child receives rewards while the rebellious child reaps consequences. Godly parents are impartial. They offer the same rewards and consequences to all their children. Each child choices which course he/she takes, thereby, determines whether he/she receives favors or punishment.

And we’re the same way with our Heavenly Father. We rebel. We turn our backs. We refuse to obey. Then we accuse God of showing partiality. But God offers mercy and grace to all who will come to Him with a repentant heart (2 Peter 3:9).

How about you? What “I” word comes to mind that describes God?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

Fueling Optimism

Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’” (Ezekiel 37:9)

Wayne's Trout 4 webDo you remember the commercial for a carpet cleaner in which the lady kept saying, “It’s okay” in a sickening sweet voice every time someone yelled, “Johnny just spilled … ?” I wanted to slap that lady silly while screaming, “It’s NOT okay. Teach that kid some manners. Sit him on a seat at the table where he belongs.” And then at the end, the lady’s friend, apparently the mother of the klutzy kid, chimes in with her own gotta-brush-my-teeth-to-avoid-cavities sweet tone, “It’s okay!”

That kind of “Pollyanna” attitude cleans the carpet about as well as it helps cope with daily stressors. Tough stains take knuckle-scrappin’, elbow-bendin’, muscle-tautin’ work to remove. And whether daily stressors or huge disasters threaten our tranquility, relief comes through more effort than a cheery “It’s okay.”

Fueling optimism involves a more solid conviction than merely reciting “positive” quotes and Scripture verses.

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How about you? How do you fuel optimism to get through these trying times?

Next Week:

We’ll consider the power of water. Please prepare by studying John 4:7-15

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

 

H is for Helper

So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” (Hebrews 13:6)

Continuing the alphabet challenge, H if for Helper:

Pray for HelpIn preparation for the PA Renaissance Faire, I’m making fairy princess wings and dragon wings. And my grandactives volunteer their help without hesitation, pulling out the pins as I instruct them. Acquiring help for certain projects comes easily, especially when you have volunteers.

However other tasks, I stubbornly work on myself, refusing to seek assistance—like the day I decided to strip the paper off my living room walls and replace it with a fresh coat of paint. The endeavor turned out to be almost more than I could handle. I got the project finished by myself. But it took about three times longer than I thought it would. Through the ordeal, I learned a valuable lesson … I can’t do what I did thirty years ago, or at least not so gracefully. Bottom line: there’s no shame in asking for help.

Most of us trudge through life in much the same way too headstrong to seek help. We take on unnecessary struggles, stress, and heartache that way. If the Lord is our helper like the above verse suggests, we should call out to Him for help before we find ourselves “waist deep in tacky strips of steamed-off wallpaper.” Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit as our comforter, guide, and yes, helper (John 14:16-17, 26; 15:26).

I don’t know about you, but I’m learning to ease the stress in everyday life by asking for help early in the morning.

How about you? What H words come to mind that describe our God?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

Good Deeds—Spiritual Weapons

 “You are the light of the world … let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14 and 16).

Who has not looked at the sky in admiration and wonderment of its vastness and beauty?

Who has not looked at the sky in admiration and wonderment of its vastness and beauty?

Light is amazing, don’t you think? Without it, we’d all be like moles running around in a dark world, bumping into everything, and mindlessly tunneling in endless circles.

Not only that, nothing could grow. And there’d be no color. What a bleak picture!

Yet, God, in His infinite wisdom, created light as part of His first day’s work. Then, He separated the light from the darkness. But He didn’t stop there. The fourth day, He fashioned the sun, moon, and stars to govern the seasons and tides on the earth. How marvelous is His passion for His creation!

As though all that light wasn’t enough, He sent the Light of the world, His Son Jesus Christ, so we wouldn’t have to live in spiritual darkness. It gets even better. Jesus, in turn, imputed His light in every believer that we may shine in the darkness like the sun. With the Light of Jesus Christ, our spirits grow and produce an array of color for the world to see, enjoy, and even crave. The Light dissipates darkness and sends the enemy running.

How do we let our light shine for Jesus?

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Next week:

We’ll talk about fueling optimism. Prepare by studying Ezekiel 37:1-3.

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks