April 22, 2018

Renewed


Psalm 23:1-3 
The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake.

One of my walking routes takes me to a small lake that was recently put in when a new park was built near my neighborhood. By the time I reach this destination I am ready for a rest before returning home.

This lake has become a respite for a weary body and a weary heart. Sometimes the weariness is from the long walk especially in the days of summer. Sometimes it is the stresses of this world pressing in as if they are all mine to fix.

As soon as I come around the curve in the part of the trail where I can first see the rippling waters of the lake stretch out before me, I immediately sense a lifting of heaviness from my shoulders.

In that moment it seems as if there is nothing as peaceful as gazing across the shimmering waters.
In that moment I am reminded of the psalmist’s words, “He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul.” I love the imagery in Psalm 23:2-3 of green pastures and still waters, both places of beauty…offerings of calm and serenity and perfect ingredients for renewal that restores the soul.
In all the turmoil of this world and all the turmoil of our hearts – Jesus, our Shepherd, comes to us and quiets and calms our trembling hearts and our innermost groanings. Like the soothing waters lapping the shore of the small lake, my heart is soothed.
In one deep breath I am changed as only He can change me. He restores my soul again and renews my weary being.
I thank Him for His faithfulness in the renewal my heart knows once more because I know it comes from the Lord who is my Shepherd.

April 20, 2018

A Recipe from Devotions from the Heart

I thought it might be fun to do something different. The only other recipe I have ever posted was a cookie recipe at Christmas.

Well, this Whipping Cream Pound Cake will be the second recipe from Devotions from the Heart.

I asked for this recipe after having a delicious slice of it at a family reunion last summer in Sweetwater, Texas. Randy's cousin Valerie had made it and shared that it was a favorite of hers. It can be addictive, so go ahead and slice a big slice.




WHIPPING CREAM POUND CAKE


Ingredients:

  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup butter (2 sticks)
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions:

Grease and flour tube (or Bundt) pan and set out eggs and butter to allow them to come to room temperature. 

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for one minute after each addition. Sift the flour and add it to the creamed mixture alternately with the whipping cream. Mix until fully incorporated.

Stir in the vanilla.

Pour into prepared pan and place in a cold oven. Turn the oven to 300 and bake for 80-90 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely before removing from pan. (In my oven it was ready in 70 minutes.)

Serve with berries and whip cream.

April 15, 2018

First, Not Finally

Far too often I hear variations of this statement: “I’ve tried everything I know to do, and nothing is working, so now I’ll give it to God (or now I just have to trust God).”

When bad news comes, we are presented with a choice. We can give it to God first, with a heart full of trust; or we can give it everything we have in our own strength first and eventually, after multiple failed efforts, give it to God.

This important choice to trust doesn’t mean everything suddenly turns to sunshine and roses.

Circumstances do not instantly resolve themselves and fall perfectly into place. That’s not how it works. Instead, we find that our choice to trust God will bring a presence of peace we didn’t have before. This is the kind of peace we read about in Isaiah 26:3: You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.”

When I follow the pattern of first instead of finally, I am comforted. I know God is in control, and trusting Him allows me to approach every difficulty or stress with a much calmer state of mind. When I fall into the pattern of finally instead of first, I ultimately regret that I didn’t give it to God in the first place.
           
When will we learn to take everything to God, which is what we need to do first instead of finally?
    
Let’s take our challenges to Him in prayer…
    
Lord, we give these situations to you; they are in your hands. You have the answers. We know you are with us, and we trust you with our life challenges. Please lead and guide us, and grant us wisdom. We know these circumstances are not ours to handle alone. Amen.”

Proverbs 3:5
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding.

April 8, 2018

Ask for Wisdom


Proverbs 3:13-14 
Happy is the man who finds wisdom,
And the man who gains understanding;
For her proceeds are better than the profits of silver,
And her gain than fine gold.
 


The circles I have been going around and around in my mind recently made me think about the importance of wisdom. I don’t come by it naturally but I desperately need it.

As in the great wisdom of King Solomon.

As in the wisdom written about extensively by Solomon in the book of Proverbs.

I want wisdom that will help me navigate through the choices and decisions in my life. Don’t we all? Oh how many times I have faltered because I didn’t pursue the wisest path. I want to do better in this area of my life.

In the book of James scripture tells us that all we have to do is ask for wisdom and it will be generously given.

James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

What if I ask God for wisdom to discern which direction to go, or how to move forward from my present position, or wisdom to know what changes may need to be made?

And what if I ask for wisdom regarding a decision…but I don’t receive an answer?

If He hasn’t revealed something to me or pointed me in a specific direction or provided a focus, then maybe I am not supposed to know yet.

What do I do with that?

Maybe realizing that His timing isn’t the same as mine is exhibiting wisdom on my part.

Then, what do I do next?

I will remember the verse in James and keep asking God for wisdom and continue to seek His direction.

I think this is the wise thing to do.

James 3:17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.

April 2, 2018

Overflowing Blessings Just Ahead


How many times have you thought about giving up and then when you least expected it, God did something that totally surprised you in an answer to prayer?

It is a familiar and well known story from the book of Exodus, Moses leading the Israelite nation out of Egypt and across the sea where God miraculously piled up the waters and made a way for them to safely cross over on dry land. After God destroys the pursuing army of Pharoah by drowning them in the same sea the Israelites just safely crossed, this nation of people begin their wilderness journey to the Promised Land.

In Chapter 15 after the harrowing journey from Egypt and across the parted Red Sea, Moses sings a song of praise and deliverance. From there they begin their wilderness journey and on the third day they are tired and thirsty in a place called Marah where the water is bitter, but the Lord commands Moses to cast a tree into the water which made it sweet and drinkable. This was done because of the outcry of the people.

Yet, just a couple verses later they arrive at Elim where there were twelve wells of water and seventy palm trees. Every time I read verse 27 I think about the times I have almost given up on something I have prayed about or asked God.

God knew they were almost there. He knew the oasis was just ahead. He wanted them to learn to trust Him. I think we can all agree if we have read the book of Exodus that they waffled between trust and complaining quite regularly, and complaining was more frequent than trust.

How many times have you thought about giving up and then when you least expected it, God did something that totally surprised you in an answer to prayer?

I want to live my life expecting the blessing around the corner. It may take longer than I expect sometimes. There may be dry and difficult seasons and my trust may be tested as I continue to wait and ask. But because I have seen God work in wonderful ways over a lifetime, I still believe that around the corner an overflowing and abundant blessing waits for me.

Exodus 15:27 Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve wells of water and seventy palm trees; so they camped there by the waters.