Tag Archives: Faithfulness

My Faithful Savior – A Triolet

Many things in this life are uncertain, causing even the faithful to struggle and doubt. Even at such times, or maybe even more so then, I am thankful that God has promised that He will never leave me or forsake me.

I am reminded of the words of the Apostle Paul:

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NIV).

For Thankful Thursday today I have written another triolet, this one about the faithfulness of my Savior and my God, Jesus Christ.

My Faithful Savior

My faithful Savior will always be near
In my struggles and pain, when I doubt
that anything will ever change
My faithful Savior will always be near

I know someday He will exchange
the tears I cry for a glorious crown
My faithful Savior will always be near
In my struggles and pain, when I doubt

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First Things First – A Poem

This poem was born of the realization (or more appropriately, a reminder) that I do not have it within myself to love or to live in peace apart from my Savior. I don’t know how to be gentle or faithful without His Holy Spirit to give me what it takes to exhibit those qualities. “We love because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19 (NIV).

First Things First

If I am to give
a love so kind
I first must receive
His love Divine

If I am to live
in perfect peace
to Him I must
my fears release

If I am ever to speak
with gentleness
or live a life
of faithfulness

First I must know
the faithful One
God’s own Holy
redeeming Son

Submitted for Open Link Night at dVerse Poets Pub! I was #5! Head on over and read some more poetry.

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Manna for the Day

When the Israelites were wandering in the wilderness for 40 years, God provided them with food called manna. The word “manna” is a Hebrew word that literally means “what is it?” The Israelites didn’t know what it was, but they discovered that it was nutritious and filling. They were instructed to gather only as much manna as they needed for each day, except the day before the Sabbath when they were to gather enough for two days. They discovered that if they gathered any extra it would spoil. See Exodus 16 (NIV).

Gathering only as much as was needed was a definite test in trusting God to provide. Because He is faithful and trustworthy, God always came through and there was always enough manna.

This past year of blogging, I have discovered that trusting God for what to write is kind of like trusting Him to provide manna in the desert. There have been times when I thought I would write ahead, spend a Saturday writing for the following week. Occasionally this worked when I really wasn’t going to have time to write the following week, like before we headed off to vacation. But other times I just couldn’t seem to think of anything to write ahead.

Last week, for example, while I was off work for the week before Christmas I was going to write this whole week’s worth of blog posts so I didn’t have to do any writing this final week of the year. But for some reason I just couldn’t get it done. I was left to trust God to provide something to write. So far He has come through, and knowing how faithful and trustworthy He is I know He will provide for the remainder of the week.

This is just one of many lessons in trust that we can learn from the story of the manna God provided in the desert. We all go through desert times. We all have times when it seems we can barely get through each day as we wander in seek of the promised land. It is during these times that we must trust in God to provide. I’ve discovered for myself that He always does.

But the Israelites didn’t wander in the desert wilderness forever. Eventually they reached the promised land, which was flowing with milk and honey and an abundance of good foods. Although they still were called to trust God, it was more of a “big picture” trust and not a daily food thing.

I think it is the same for us. Sometimes God takes us through wilderness experiences so we learn to trust daily for some basic and distinct need. He uses these times of intense trusting to teach us about big picture trust so that we will not forget Him when we emerge from the wilderness into the promised land.

We must always remember to trust God in and for all things. As James reminded us, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17 (NIV). Whether we are in the desert wilderness or the promised land, our faithful and trustworthy God will provide for what we need.

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On Being a Faithful Steward

The other day I received this great Dietrich Bonhoeffer quote in my email inbox as a “Quotemeal” from Heartlight.org:

There remains for us only the very narrow way, often extremely difficult to find, of living every day as though it were our last, and yet living in faith and responsibility as though there were to be a great future.

This made me think of the seeming dichotomy between Christians being citizens of Heaven and not of earth, while at the same time living as if preservation of the gift of earth that God has given us is our most important aim.

Just as a tenant may be less likely to take as good of care of a house as the owner, so it seems that one who claims to be a citizen of Heaven would be less likely to take good care of the earth they are merely “renting” for a time. But appearances are not always what they seem to be, and dichotomies are meant to converge in the Kingdom of God.

Those of us who claim citizenship in Heaven are called by our King to nonetheless take the utmost care of our present home and make the most of our current situation here on earth, all to the glory of our King.

As part of the parable of the shrewd manager, Jesus said:

“If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities. And if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven? And if you are not faithful with other people’s things, why should you be trusted with things of your own?” Luke 16:10-12 (NLT).

Humans have been entrusted with the care of this earth, and if we don’t take good care of it how will we ever be trusted with the care of any part of Heaven? As Christians, we are entrusted with sharing the Gospel with others in a loving and humble way. If we do not take great care with this responsibility here on earth, how will we be trusted with greater responsibility in God’s Kingdom? As Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, “Now, a person who is put in charge as a manager must be faithful.” 1 Corinthians 4:2 (NLT). We must be faithful citizens of Heaven, and we show our faithfulness by caring for those things and those people God has put us in charge of in this life and on this earth.

Are you living as if today may be your last here on this earth, while simultaneously living as if you have a whole lifetime ahead of you to do the work that God has put before you? As Bonhoeffer said, this is a narrow way and can be difficult to find. But God, through His Holy Spirit, will show us the way.

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Faithfulness Gentleness Self-Control – A Poem about Fruit

This is the third in a series of poems (actually one long poem spread out over three weeks, or nine small poems crammed into three weeks, depending on how you look at it). This is my Thankful Thursday tribute to the Fruit of the Holy Spirit, for which I am eternally grateful even if I don’t always exhibit all these characteristics in equal number. The Fruit of the Spirit is set out by Paul in his letter to the Galatians:

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT).

I have to confess that this part of the poem gave me the greatest challenge. As I wrote the stanza for each of the characteristics of the fruit of the Spirit, first Love, Joy, and Peace, followed by Patience, Kindness, and Goodness, all was going well and the words just flowed. As I came to Faithfulness, the words continued to come to me. Then I came to Gentleness, and nothing. I realized I truly had no idea what Gentleness looked like, so I moved on to Self-Control and all was well again.

But each time I came back to Gentleness, I had no idea what to write. So I prayed and asked the Holy Spirit to show me what Gentleness was. Over the two weeks following my first prayer, He showed me what Gentleness was by how the opposite was often exhibited in my own speech. And so I was finally able to finish the poem in time for this week’s  promised posting. And for that I am thankful.

Faithfulness Gentleness Self-Control

Faithfulness —
A
lmighty God is faithful
I
desire to be faithful, too
T
he key is to call on the Spirit
H
is power to teach and renew
F
illed with His grace and mercy
U
nder the Law no more
L
oving the blessings He outpours
N
ow my heart remains faithful
E
ven as my flesh cries, “Rebel!”
S
pirit, come fill me full measure
S
weet Savior, it’s You I adore

Gentleness —
E
ach of my words softly spoken
N
o sharpness of tongue shall I heed
T
he Spirit in control of my tongue
L
est another’s spirit I bleed
E
ven in meekness is the Spirit’s strength
N
ow for mercy and tenderness I plead
E
‘er they cease to come to me
S
weetness of soul, overtake all harshness
S
avior, by You I am freed

Self-Control —
E
scape the trap of the devil
L
ying in wait with a snare
F
lee his temptations to wander
-
(he whispers,)
Cavort with sin if you dare”
Out,” declares the Spirit with power
No lies will be believed here”
T
riumph over temptation
R
emain in the Spirit, stand tall
O
utwit the devil by His glory
L
ove to do good above all

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Fruit of the Spirit

Continuing with the thought from my post yesterday, I want to write about the fruit of the Spirit that is set forth in Galatians.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-25.

One thing I’ve noticed about this verse is that it uses the singular “fruit” rather than the plural “fruits.” Each of the characteristics listed is not a separate and distinct fruit, but is one characteristic of a single fruit that is born of the Holy Spirit. Just as you might describe the fruit of an orange tree as juicy, sweet, round, orange, segmented, full of vitamins, and thick-skinned, so Paul describes the fruit of the Spirit by its many qualities or characteristics.

If, then, there is only one fruit, as a follower of Christ must I exhibit all of the characteristics of the fruit of the Spirit? Must I be loving, joyful, peaceful, forbearing, kind, good, faithful, gentle, AND self-controlled? I think that the answer to this question is a resounding YES!

If I am in step with the Spirit of God I will exhibit these qualities in some measure. Having contemplated this scripture before this is the conclusion I have always reached. I don’t get to pick and choose which characteristics I will exhibit because unlike choosing a piece of fruit from a bowl full of apples, oranges, grapes, bananas, and kiwi, there is but one fruit of the Spirit to choose.

So why, then, do I not exhibit all of these characteristics in large measure all of the time? Why am I at times not completely kind and loving? Why do I sometimes become impatient and somewhat less than gentle with my neighbor? Why do I not consistently maintain the ability to always eat properly and in proportion to the amount of food I need to survive at a healthy weight? Is it because the Spirit is not generating those qualities in me? Here I think the answer is a resounding NO!

The problem is not with the power and ability of the Spirit of God to produce the fruit of the Spirit in my life. The problem is that I try to produce these qualities on my own so that I might take credit for my own kindness, faithfulness, and peacefulness. The Spirit is willing and able; I know because I have experienced an increase in these qualities in myself when I rely on Him. But I sometimes forget to rely on His power when I am in need of these qualities (which is pretty much always).

So does this mean that I do not have the Spirit of God living in me as He promised if I believe? Going back to the analogy of the orange, I come to the conclusion that the answer again is no. Although an orange has all of the characteristics I listed above, each individual orange has them in different measures. Some oranges have so little juice they seem almost dry; others could fill a glass with juice on their own. Some oranges are so sweet it’s almost like eating honey; others are more sour with only a hint of sweetness. Some oranges are bright orange; others, not yet ripe, are mostly green on the outside. They are all, nonetheless, oranges. None is perfect, just as on his own no Christian is perfect. The ideal orange exists only in Spirit, just as the ideal Christian exists only in Spirit.

I may not be perfect on my own, and never will be. But I choose the fruit of the Spirit. As I purpose to rely more on the power of God’s Holy Spirit living in me, He will cultivate the characteristics of the fruit of the Spirit in my life. Then to Him will go all the glory for the love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control in me.

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Praise for Sunshine and More

This past weekend I participated in the American Cancer Society Relay for Life in Hoquiam, Washington. If you are at all familiar with this area of the country, you know that it rains, a lot, in Hoquiam. It is in Grays Harbor, which is actually named for Captain Gray, but the name fits the usual weather patterns for the area.

The event is outside, though we did have a tent. But to really participate you have to spend a lot of time walking around a track, and if it is raining you are going to get wet and cold. I don’t like to be either of these things. So last week I began to pray (and I am sure I was not the only one), and one of the things I prayed for was no rain for the event. I did bring my raincoat, and was ready for rain, but I had prayed for no rain and was confident God would be faithful to bless all those who give up their time and energy for this important fundraising event.

When I left my house in Oregon on Friday morning for the 2 1/2 hour drive to my sister’s house, it was raining. Most of the way up I-5 it was raining. But as I turned off onto Highway 12 towards Grays Harbor, the rain stopped. When I arrived at my sister’s, there were clouds but no rain. By the time we arrived at the event site in Hoquiam at 4:30 Friday afternoon, not only was there no rain, there were blue skies! The evening was fabulous. That night I slept a bit in the tent, and awoke at 5:30 a.m. to bright sunshine coming into the tent. The skies were blue and the sun shone all day long. When we left the site at 6:15 p.m. on Saturday it was 74 degrees!!

Our team raised over $2,000, and the event as a whole raised over $460,000 towards research to cure cancer and improve the lives of those touched by cancer. The whole event was amazing.

I stayed the night at my sister’s on Saturday night. When I woke up Sunday morning and looked outside, it was pouring down rain. And it rained non-stop on my drive home to Oregon. Who says God doesn’t have a sense of humor?

When I got home, I changed my verse of the week to James 1:5-6, which says:

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.

In this instance, I did not doubt, though I had every reason to. And God was faithful to provide the perfect weather to lift the spirits of those who walked in memory and honor of loves ones who have battled cancer.

Other prayers were answered this weekend as well. First, I had opportunities to share my faith with others in a way that was welcomed, and God gave me the right words. Second, I prayed that I would not be in pain today because of all the walking. When I participated in this event last year, I felt awful on Monday and could not stay at work all day. But this year, I’m fine and in no more discomfort than I would have been without participating in the Relay for Life. Third, I got to spend some great quality time with my sister, who I don’t see enough of. It was a wonderful weekend that I praise God for. I can’t wait until we get to do it again next year!

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The Shortest Chapter

The shortest chapter in all of the Bible is Psalm 117, which says:

 1 Praise the LORD, all you nations;
       extol him, all you peoples.

 2 For great is his love toward us,
       and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever.
       Praise the LORD.

The last sentence has a footnote in the NIV version as posted on www.Biblegateway.com which says that the Hebrew for this phrase is Hallelu Yah. I love that word hallelujah. It is in so many songs and is just such a beautiful word when sung, especially when you realize what it means – Praise the Lord.

I remember when my son was in the 4th grade he was going through a class at church so that he could take his first communion and understand what it meant. One night on the way home he complained to me that the teacher had asked if anyone knew what the word hallelujah meant. He raised his hand and answered that it meant “Praise the Lord.” She “corrected” him by saying that it meant “yippee” or “hooray.” He was so upset because he knew what it meant and that she was wrong.

Although at his young age he couldn’t articulate why her response bothered him so (it might have been partly that he had been “corrected” in front of his friends), I think deep down he understood that she had taken the most important part of the phrase out – and that is the Lord. We often say yippee or hooray about things, but unless we are saying “yippee to the Lord” or “hooray for the Lord” we are forgetting who is the source of the thing we are happy about.

Psalm 117 is the shortest chapter in the Bible, but it is packed with so much wisdom. It tells us what is important for us to do – Praise the Lord. And why should we praise Him? Because He loves us so, He is always faithful and will be forever. If we remember this, we will be filled with joy and gratitude.

Sometimes great gifts come in small packages and great pieces of wisdom come in just a few words. Hallelujah!

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