The Book Fair (#jammed daily devo, day 179)

June #jammed: Under the Blanket of Grace.

Day 179: Wise choices.

Careful words make for a careful life.” Proverbs 13:3 (Message)June 28

“Do not get a toy.” I sternly stared into my six-year-old’s eyes as I slid her book fair money into her folder.

“What about books that come with a toy….” she plotted and ployed in search of the perimeters of her choices.

“Lauren.” That was the last warned tone I advised her with before zipping up her book bag and kissing her ‘bye’ for the day.

After days of begging me for a specific book that ‘needed’ to be squeezed onto her overcrowded book shelf, fresh possibilities were creeping into her mind along with the ten dollar bill swimming around in her backpack. She was preparing me for a decision she might make, and fishing around to find out what would happen …

Today’s verse reminds us of the careful choices we must make with our words. We are all prone to take our emotion out on those around us instead of looking inward reflectively, and upward prayerfully before we speak. Words are a preface to action.

Those that say anything they want to are often prepared to justify actions, as well. “Those who are the loudest are not the most loyal.” Steven Furtick. The ones who let fear swallow their words often allow themselves to be pulled into situations and conversations that make them feel uncomfortable.

The only way to find middle-ground is through Christ. Jesus came to give the perfect example of when to speak and what Truth to stand on. The Holy Spirit is upon us when we walk with Christ, and it is through His power that we are able to control our tongue or exert the courage to speak up. Through moments of prayer He helps us interpret what’s appropriate to say …or not say.

Bounding out of school and down the sidewalk adjacent to the pick-up line, in her purple ruffled coat and Chewbacca book bag, wearing the biggest smile I’ve ever seen on her face …came my daughter with her spoils from the book fair. A giant, purple cat poster that said “Mermaid at Heart.”

We never talked about a poster. She didn’t ask, and I didn’t say no.

“Don’t worry, Mom!” she assured me …“it was the same price as my book…”

Be still my heart.

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Father, Praise You for the humorous way in which You teach us life lessons. Thank You for my little Lo’s sparkling spirit, and for the reminder to choose my words carefully. Forgive us for letting our words, or lack thereof, take center-stage, and grant us the peace and guidance of Your Spirit to help us know what to say and when to say it. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Get the conversation started by commenting below, and let’s encourage one another as we face life in 2017 armed with grace! 

#greatgrace17

Happy Talking …or not,

Megs

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The Spontaneous Delivery (#jammed daily devo, day 178)

June #jammed: Under the Blanket of Grace.

Day 178: Out of character.

“I tell you this: on the day of judgment, people will be called to account for every careless word they have ever said.” Matthew 12:36 (VOICE)June 27

Ding-dong…

The doorbell at dinnertime usually means somebody is at the door trying to sell something …and I usually stay out of sight until they get tired of waiting and move onto the next house.

Ding-dong.

Thinking this was a persistent salesman, I let my dog out the back door thinking that this would surely get rid of the problem. It didn’t. There he stood, on the front porch, and as I peaked out the window I saw flowers in his hand. A dozen roses, in fact.

Clearly, I was not expecting flowers on that day. Apologizing over and over to the delivery man, I came back inside with an arm full of beautiful red roses.

“Mommy, oh my goodness!!!” My little girls exclaimed as I set them on the counter and read the card, but my heart didn’t need to read the card. I knew why. Precious words that will outweigh many hard days that are sure to come as we grow old.

Today’s verse tells us what we can expect in consequence for our poorly chosen words. That’s terrifying, when we think about our impatience and our constant clawing to be right. It’s just what we do. It’s part of the reason why we need Grace in the first place.

The Greek for ‘word’ (rhema) reveals that it’s not just completely formed words and proper sentences that are included in today’s verse, but rather “any sound produced by the voice and having definite meaning.”

The frightening reality of life is that we will all be judged at the end of it. But the encouraging part is the Judge we will answer to. The One who knows us. Knows our hearts. Judges by the heart. Sent us a piece of His heart, to earth, to ensure we would not be lost on account of our poor choice of words. By following His Word, we can move closer and closer to a heart like Jesus’.

When we pray for a heart like His, God hears our prayers. Bit’s of hardness begin to be scraped off when we accept Christ as our Savior. Little by little, that heart changes, becoming a little holier each day until we step foot in heaven. We may never escape the sinful nature of ourselves, but our hearts can change. God is God of the impossible.

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Father, Praise You for Your just judgement. Thank You for making a way for us to be forgiven for the poor choices we make when we speak. Forgive us for misusing our words, and for any negative effect something we have said has had on another’s heart. Bless our hearts to be more like Jesus’ everyday. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Get the conversation started by commenting below, and let’s encourage one another as we face life in 2017 armed with grace! 

#greatgrace17

Happy Speaking,

Megs

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The Journal (#jammed daily devo, day 177)

June #jammed: Under the Blanket of Grace.

Day 177: Accepting responsibility.

“Now stay focused on Jesus, who designed and perfected our faith. He endured the cross and ignored the shame of that death because He focused on the joy that was set before Him; and now He is seated beside God on the throne, a place of honor.” Hebrews 12:June 26

“Mom,” she whimpered, “everyone else’s journals are covered in stickers already.”

“Well, I write in it every time you give it to me,” I reassured her, “I love writing to you.”

“Why don’t you take it out of my bag and write in it more?” she demanded.

Typical. She forgets to put it on my desk, so logically it’s all my fault that it’s not been written in enough.

“ignored the shame of death.” When we are tempted to look around and blame, today’s verse is a helpful piece of our Savior’s character to savor. He chose to ignore the shame of His death on the cross. When we have to admit we are wrong or put our egos to death, that’s not the first emotion that we reach to embrace. We want to pitch blame! On someone …anyone!

“He focused on the joy that was set before Him.”

He knew that His obedient death on the cross meant a seat beside His Father’s throne in heaven. When we put our egos to death, shame does not have to rise up. Let the hope of Grace fill the gap between accepting responsibility for sin and accepting forgiveness from Him.

Even though I know I can pull it out of her bag whenever I want …and sometimes do …I really want my daughter to accept responsibility for her responsibilities while the risk and consequence is as low as a journal without as many stickers on it as her classmates.

She stubbornly argued for an hour about why it was my fault before moving on to why it was her dad’s fault, too.

 

Over and over as she dug her feet in and resisted acknowledging her lack of responsibility. The next morning, the journal was on my desk. And I wrote about half a dozen entries worth. Jesus not only forgives us, He blesses us with abundant love. 

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Father, Praise You for Jesus. Thank You for the opportunity to reflect upon His character as an example of how to handle ourselves. Forgive us for neglecting to acknowledge You sovereign hand in our situations. Strengthen us to follow Christ’s example. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Get the conversation started by commenting below, and let’s encourage one another as we face life in 2017 armed with grace! 

#greatgrace17

Happy Humility,

Megs

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The Little Gymnast (#jammed daily devo, day 176)

June #jammed: Under the Blanket of Grace.

Day 176: Resilience.

But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,June 25
    though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me
    one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old,
    from ancient times.” Micah 5:2

Every time she’s up on those bars my heart skips a beat. Brave little thing. Granted, there are coaches spotting her and basically holding on to her …but still …brave to try that. If my wiggly daughter ever slows down enough to concentrate, she may actually be skilled enough to accomplish something with that bravery out the mats. We’ll see.

It always amazes me -the big potential inside this little person.

This verse in Micah is describing a leader that will come out of a small place. The place is Bethlehem, and the leader is Jesus. Big potential inside a little place.

Ephrathah-The region in which Bethlehem was located.

ruler-Ultimately Christ, who will rule for God the Father.

origins . . . from of old -His beginnings were much earlier than his human birth.

from ancient times- Within history, and even from eternity. (NIV Notes)

When something seems too small to be possible, God is at work. That’s just the kind of work He loves the most. Just the kind of people He loves to use the most. The seemingly small. The unlikely.

We struggle with qualification when we fail to remember how great our God is.

Jesus wasn’t just born in Bethlehem on a whim, and His existence didn’t begin with His birth on earth. Nor do the plans God has for our lives begin when we are born …or we buy- in. Jesus died for us on the cross before we were even born. Began praying for us before we knew Him. Knows us now because He knew us then.

Our dreams lie in our willingness to believe …in Jesus.

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Father, Praise You for Jesus’ humble birth in Bethlehem. Thank You for revealing so much of Your sweet character through those circumstances, and fulfilled prophesies. Forgive us for not trusting You and Your plan for our lives, and help us to believe and have faith. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Get the conversation started by commenting below, and let’s encourage one another as we face life in 2017 armed with grace! 

#greatgrace17

Happy Believing,

Megs

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The Day without “Good-bye” Kisses (#jammed daily devo, day 175)

June #jammed: Under the Blanket of Grace.

Day 175: Don’t turn away.

“Men, if you had listened to my warning, we would still be safe in Crete and would have avoided this damage and loss.” Acts 27:21

June 24

All the way to school, I lectured her. And when it was time for her to get out of the car, she got out and walked away. No hugs. No blown kisses and excessive lingering and stalling while I nervously looked behind me to make sure we weren’t holding up the line. Not that day. That day she was a mission to escape.

In today’s verse, Paul reminded the men on a shipwrecked boat that if they would have listened to him all of the “damage and loss” would have been avoided.

Despite the damage and loss, they all lived on.

Despite my daughter’s dismissal, the day rolled on.

When we let our soapbox stand taller than our faith, damage and loss occurs. It’s never worth the lost time invested in trying to prove our authority.

Can you imagine Paul, as they all float on pieces of the boat to shore? Like a mother who has given her child ample warning and they choose not to head it anyway …

And the men …trying not to let their pride be swallowed up by the sea …literally.

Jesus is not an “I told you so” Savior. He’s an “I knew you would” Redeemer. Grace doesn’t dig it’s feet in and wonder why. Grace knew why before we wondered, what if?

Though we wander and toil through life, He doesn’t begrudge us. He doesn’t turn His back or give up on us. The consequence of sin will still sting, but His love will endure forever.

What if we, as parents, cut the lecture time in half. What if we, instead, pray more and talk less? Praying into disciplinary measures helps us acknowledge the true Author of life …ours and our children’s. It removes sole authority from our imperfect solutions and allows us to spotlight unconditional love …perhaps patience beyond even our own understanding …when we seek to love as He loves.

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Father, Praise You for enduring and endearing Love. Thank You for Grace. Forgive us for running around over and over, and bless us to right our ships again and again as we chart a course to follow Christ. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Get the conversation started by commenting below, and let’s encourage one another as we face life in 2017 armed with grace! 

#greatgrace17

Happy Tongue-biting,

Megs

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