Category Archives: Refined by the Word

Exodus Part 2…Just like asking for a snack <3

I am reading through Exodus this week and I mean deep in Exodus. The past few days have been the details of the sacrifices and the Ten Commandments and then the plans and directions and patterns for the Tabernacle. 

It is incredible to me to read the intricate instructions and to think about the craftsmanship required for the metal work, hardware, curtains, coverings and garments for the priests. There are recipes for incense and directions for embroidery along with specific gem stones to be cut, engraved and placed in filigree settings of gold. Quite honestly, it makes my head spin. 

I am such a blend of learning styles I want to grab a ruler and pencil and chart out the dimensions and I have googled the colors and various items that would make up the patterns in fabric and such. 

It is stretching me to visualize this nation of people, fresh from escaping slavery and in the middle of nowhere, making all of these items that would take one of us years and years to learn the art. 

How on earth? 

They made bricks and tended animals and were oppressed for a long time. And here they were weaving pomegranates and almond blossoms into curtains and hems. 

The secret of their ability is given in Exodus 28:3 and 31: 1-11. God filled certain people with the wisdom and skills to be able to do this magnificent and highly technical work. He filled them with His Spirit to do these things. 

It makes me think about how much we need God’s Spirit in us to fill us so we are equipped to do the things He has purposed us to do with excellence. 

In Matthew 7:9-12 God compares asking Him for His Spirit to fill us to a child asking for food. 

We know how this works. 

Around 3:00 on days I watch our four grandchildren, I can guarantee you all four of them are going to ask for a snack.

Their lunch was digested long ago and they are hungry. Dinner is a long way off in their minds and so they do what kids have done since there were kids under adults feet. They lobby for something to fill their tummies before they head off to play. 

When I am watching them I am careful to give them something with a little protein and not much carbs or sugar so they have energy to get them through til dinner without ruining their appetites. And I certainly wouldn’t give them something harmful. 

And that is how God tells us to ask for His Spirit. The kids ask for a snack because they have a need and they know I can fill it AND they know I won’t give them a rock or a snake…or something that is bad for them. 

In the same way, God hopes we realize our lack and emptiness and call out to Him for what we need. 

He instructs us to acknowledge our need and to recognize He is the only one who has the resources to meet and exceed our expectations. 

We are to simply ask God for His Spirit because we need it and want it…we are lacking something that is necessary for us to live and do what needs to be done…and we can trust He will give it to us and it will be good for us and will not harm us. 

Why do we overcomplicate it?

Imagine what we could be doing with excellence if we would just ask God to fill us with His Spirit and make us fit to do the things He has put on our hearts to do. 

Try it. 

Ask earnestly for the filling of His Spirit into you. 

I can’t wait to see what happens <3

Exodus musings Part 1 <3

I have in mind something I want to send out tomorrow but it is churning in my brain so much, I decided to break it into two parts. 

As you know if you stop by here fairly regularly, I am committed to reading through the Bible this  year.

Since I know me, and I have looked at our calendar for the next few months, and reading through the bible isn’t my first “rodeo”… I am reading ahead right now because I will be facing some weeks in February and March where I might need to have some slack built in. 

That being said, I am in Exodus 30-33 today and if you are reading through with me and are behind that, DO NOT…I repeat DO NOT… get discouraged or feel you are behind.

Take a breath. You are fine…carry on with your plan and just humor me with my musings for where I am currently reading.

I have some observations after having spent the last few days on Mt Sinai with Moses and in no particular order, here they are:

<3 God gives extremely detailed directions on every single aspect of design and engineering of the building of the Tabernacle.

Every time I read through this section, my head spins. I am one of those people who has multiple learning style dysfunction. 

I need to see it, hear it and do it before I get it. 

I am thankful to live in the age of YouTube tutorials if you get my drift. 

Many times I have to pull up a knitting video as I hold my needles in exactly the same position as the hands on the screen and I hit repeat frequently until my own brain can execute the stitch. When I come to that same stitch a few rows later in the pattern…back we go to YouTube, because retention is also a problem I have. 

So as I read the various directions God gives, my mind is trying to make pictures of fabric and gold rings and beaten metal laid over cherubim and then I have to step away. Because have mercy…they were refugees on the lam out in the desert!!!!

<3 Side note. I constantly want to ask God what Moses wrote the directions down on.

We know the Ten Commandments were on stone tablets, but did Moses have to remember all those details and then come down and speak them to the craftsman or did God provide some kind of writing material? (Perhaps we can see why I need extra time built into my reading plan since my mind tends to ask a LOT of questions…)

And can we just stop for a minute and think about how much intelligence God gave Moses for all of this? 

It’s amazing to me. Simply amazing. 

And we know it is true because there were a whole lot of witnesses to the whole giving of the information and making of the Tabernacle and I doubt you could get that many people to all go along with a hoax or fake news. Things went as is written and it truly is incredibly interesting and powerful.

If you have ever even sewn a simple smock in Home Ec or learned to sew on a button, built a bird house from a kit or tried to follow any kind of pattern…I think you can appreciate the amount of skill and workmanship that went into all of this.

<3 Every time I read about the beautiful gold altar and the fine linen and deep blue garments of Aaron and his sons and then picture them splashing animal blood all over everything I have to stop and really take that image in. 

Think about the labor and creativity and skill that would go into all of these objects.

These were embroidered and polished and made of the absolute best and finest of materials…out in the desert, as we mentioned…and then all of this pinnacle of human effort is sprinkled with animal blood. 

And as I read that I thought of me, dressed in my Sunday best, sitting amongst my family and friends who I love so dearly also in their Sunday best, quietly and reverently praying as we pass the communion trays while a gifted and talented praise team leads us in perfect pitch with skillfully made instruments of the most sophisticated kind on a stage that someone has worked to make dramatic and well-appointed….and as we lift that little wafer off the silver plate and toss back the thimble full of grape juice we are basically saying that without the covering of the sacrificial blood of Jesus Christ we don’t amount to anything more than the ash we will return to. 

Our best and most beautiful and finest efforts are nothing unless they are covered by the Blood of Jesus. 

So there’s my thoughts today. 

You are so precious to Him. 

You were worth leaving heaven for and dying for and you are covered when you receive Him as your price paid. 

Bless you as you mull that over today <3

Wrapping up Genesis <3

We are two weeks into the New Year and it is a very good time to check in with all of you who said you want to read your bible this year and see how you are doing. 

If you have put it off, you only need to kick it up a notch and you will be caught up in no time. I started setting my timer for 15 minutes of reading each morning and I am able to get two extra pages in each day.

As I mentioned at the start of this year, it doesn’t hurt to read ahead for the busier weeks or the more difficult passages will come and then you are already ahead of schedule. 

Several have asked what I am using as my plan and this year is a straight read-through of Genesis to Revelation. 

I have enjoyed the past few days revisiting the story of Joseph since I did the Kelly Minter study “Finding God Faithful” this past summer. 

Doing a study on a portion of Scripture is so helpful to put it in perspective and adding to your knowledge and understanding opens up new layers on every future reading of what had become a “familiar” passage. 

One thing I noticed this time as I read about the brothers returning to their home country with plenty of grain and one brother still held in prison back in Egypt, is Jacob’s response to the news. 

As the brothers share the news that Simeon is being held hostage until they return with Benjamin, they are emptying their sacks of grain and find all the money they had paid is in the bags. 

Their father sees all of this and is so upset because he knows it will appear a theft in the eyes of the Egyptians. But his response is so intriguing.

“And Jacob their father said to them, ‘You have bereaved me: Joseph is no more, Simeon is no more, and you want to take Benjamin. All these things are against me.”

Genesis 42:36 NKJV

As a third party viewer standing back several thousand years, I see the selfishness of this statement. 

Yes, there is much grief that has come on this man in the loss of a son and another son in prison, but have mercy.

No mention of Simeon’s fate for his own life. No thought for what this will mean for Benjamin to leave the safety of home and go with this band of brothers back down to Egypt to face who knows what kind of punishment for the silver it looks like they kept. 

Just a woe-is-me, why does this kind of stuff happen to me response from the dad. 

I can shake my head at yet another example of why Jacob is an odd pick for being one of the patriarchs of the faith until I look no farther than my own selfish self. 

I cringe when I realize how often a disruption to my day has caused me to spiral into a self-pity litany of all the ways things go wrong for poor, poor, pitiful me and I have totally missed the personal struggle of others who are facing the upheaval that has sent a ripple across my pond. 

How good of God to not edit His Word by covering over the human character traits of those who were chosen to be the main threads in the tapestry of the story of Redemption. 

In reading these accounts of real people with real flaws and real family drama, we can see more clearly the character of God and our great need for Him. Scripture opens my eyes to the parts of me that need to be exposed, confessed, repented of and then opened to the work of the Holy Spirit to transform me from what I was to what He can make me to be <3

A post on a post-it note…kind of <3

I have been gifted a lot of really nice bookmarks over the years, but typically my pages are kept for my next reading with some scrap of paper or note I have written. 

I have one of my morning devotions bookmarked with a page torn off of a St. Jude’s notepad with these words written on it:

“Sat – Monday would work – she can make reservation if you would prefer – she doesn’t mind odd hours + will work to make arrangements or you can” 

I also have another note, also in my handwriting but different mood with an arrow pointing to the memo above and it says:

“I have no idea what this note means”

I hang on to it in case, some day, I am asked about what time frame would work for some unknown woman’s schedule so I can let her know if we found odd or regular hours for the reservation to whatever event and then we can determine who will be making the arrangements. 

Sometimes I wonder how Russ lives with me and doesn’t lose his sanity.

But on a more serious level, I have another page marker (also on a St. Jude’s notepad sheet….what would I do without all the free notepads and address labels?) in a different devotion and I read this one and pray it every morning. 

On this paper I have jotted a prayer. 

I don’t remember if I wrote this particular prayer, and since I haven’t given any credit to anyone as a quote, I am assuming I did…but then again…I can’t remember why I wrote the other note and if some female friend or relative is sitting by her phone waiting for me to text back with the plan for making reservations…so maybe I did read it somewhere.

If so – many thanks to whoever wrote it originally – it sounds better than what I could write so I must have gotten it somewhere.… and if you know who wrote it, let me know so I can give him/her credit…or make a reservation Saturday – Monday, even if it’s odd hours…

The words I wrote on down are:

“Prayer for us when we are hurt:

God, keep my anger from becoming meaness.

Keep my sorrow from collapsing into self-pity.

Keep my heart soft enough to keep breaking.

Keep my anger turned towards justice, not cruelty.

Remind me that all of this, every bit of it is for love.

Keep me fiercely kind. Amen”

I love that prayer even though it means a lot of surrender each and every day. 

Fiercely kind is something that takes guts in this day and age. 

I have always been hyper-sensitive; which is great when compassion is needed and well-received, but it means a lot of bumps and bruises when you are out there in the trenches and dealing with people who like to play rough. 

It means learning how to put up healthy boundaries without building walls. 

It involves a determined effort to let God heal and console when knocked down and then sucking it up and getting back in the game. 

It requires an understanding that God wired me to notice things others don’t, not so I can be in the know but so I can be on my knees. 

It asks me to be vulnerable enough let my heart get broken, but to never give up on making it available to help others.

It remembers the example of Christ who extended forgiveness to those who didn’t even know to ask for it.

It means feeling alone a lot, and odd, and misunderstood; so that God can work empathy into my interactions with others who seem so different from me, but are really just trying to make it through the stuff of life on planet earth

How about you? 

I hope you are doing well at getting up when you are knocked down.

I hope you are developing some healthy boundaries so you can operate well in the gifts and callings God has given you. 

I hope your heart is staying soft and your anger is turned to justice and that you are remembering that it is love that covers over a multitude of sin.

God’s love, on the Cross…where Christ forgave us and died for us, who didn’t deserve it one little bit…that kind of love…covers over a multitude of sins and it is available to those who have received His salvation…so that we can be….fiercely kind <3

A late start…but it is Monday <3

I am moving a bit slow this morning due to a new kind of head cold that seems to have snuck up on the scene where I thought I was turning the corner on a cough that has persisted through the holidays. 

It is discouraging to say the least. I was hoping to attack today with renewed energy. Instead, I have lingered over my quiet time and even taken a nap. 

So in my foggy state, I am sharing two separate thoughts that I hope somehow tie together in your mind as well as they do mine. 

Because one of the things I find every time I do a complete read-through of the Bible is that I discover some new things about God and His character that call me to live differently in this world.

Invariably, I am also given an even deeper understanding of how I am called to be a follower by dying to myself and living for God’s purposes in ways that stretch me as layers of selfishness continue to be peeled away. 

My Genesis reading this morning covered chapters 22-25 and my first thought is from the account of Abraham’s servant traveling back to his home land to find a wife for his son Isaac from among his family who remained back there. 

The servant takes an oath to find a wife for Isaac and bring her back with him. He would only be free to go if she refused to leave that land and come with him. 

Here are the aspects of this story that particularly touched my heart this morning as they have in past reading. 

The servant prays a pray asking for God to act in a clear and miraculous way, but it is not out of selfish motives. 

The prayer is not a prayer for HIM to succeed, but for God to show kindness “to my master Abraham.” (vv. 12 and 27)

This morning, it occurs to me that this servant’s testimony and joy regarding God’s faithfulness and kindness was in what He did for someone else. 

Think about that while I share my second thought.

In a book I am reading entitled Your Best Life in Jesus’ Easy Yoke by Bill Gaultiere, the author shares a story he heard once of a Quaker named John Woolman who worked as a tailor many centuries ago.

Because of his hard work and skill at his craft, he developed a good reputation and a growing list of clients and prosperous shop.  

But he realized that to continue to take on more clients and have to hire workers and expand his business would mean less and less time to also develop his relationship with Christ. 

He did the unthinkable in a capitalist world…he did not worry about losing money or work and instead he accepted the work he could manage and sent the overflow to other tailors who also needed business. 

 How different are these two mind-sets to us, even us who walk with Christ and seek to learn His ways? 

As I read Scripture, I am reminded how much of my thinking is shaped and etched with the culture I live in and the mindset of my here and now, of my own experiences and my own perspectives. 

It is refreshing to me to let God speak to me about the better way as I meditate on His Word and the examples of those, both in Scripture and through the generations, who have chosen to walk in step with Jesus instead of the world. 

What if the joy of my testimony was about how God showed faithfulness and kindness to those He calls me to serve?

What if I had the courage to turn down any good thing that keeps me from the best thing

Interesting thoughts to ponder, right? 

Have a good Monday and I will check in with you tomorrow…hopefully rested and on the mend!