Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Thankfulness:From Hand to Heart Day 1



Today's verse:

“When you sacrifice a thank offering to the Lord, sacrifice it in such a way that it will be accepted on your behalf." Leviticus 22:29 NIV

   This verse is probably not what you were expecting, however, for me, it is exactly what I needed. The Old Testament is full of seemingly strange laws and regulations, not the least of which is the "thanks offering". However, when you look at the thank offering, also called a fellowship offering, (Leviticus 7:11-13) or an offering of thanksgiving, you realize that it actually made quite a bit of sense.
    This special offering was given by those who were in right standing with God. This was someone who understood their place in the covenant relationship and wanted to express gratitude. Yet, even then it still had to be given according to the standards. This was a yeast bread offering in most cases-essentially, breaking bread with God. Sharing what you have with Him, even though He is completely self-sufficient. He enjoys our company-isn't that the craziest thought? But it's true. He made us and He loves to hear from us.

   Today, ready your heart for this season of gratitude. You will have to make some sacrifices, of time and energy, of letting go of some things and replacing them with others. Your offering of thanks during this season will need to be given in an acceptable way. Christ offered Himself to redeem us-to allow us to enter into the covenant through His blood. (Hebrews 9:14-15) But, we still need our feet washed at times.(John 13:10) As you pray today, thank Christ for His sacrifice.

Today's reflection questions:

"How can I ready my heart to offer a sacrifice of thanks to God? What does a thank offering really look like for me?" 

Looking for the printable scripture writing plan? Or another day of the "Thankfulness: From Hand to Heart" study? Find them here!

30 Days of Thankfulness: From Hand to Heart

    I am so excited to share this latest project with you! Of course, I am releasing it at the last possible minute, I hope all you "planners" can forgive me for that! I love to spend the whole month of November focusing on gratitude. Some may think that is cliched, or tired, but I think that it is the perfect time to really hone in on what the Lord has done for me. I've done a variety of things in the past, listing specific numbers of things each day, or posting a photo on Instagram (follow me on Instagram, I'm "larapea" or on Facebook for those types of things!) but this year I wanted something a little different. I wanted to incorporate thankfulness into my daily quiet time. I wanted to really see what the Bible says about gratitude. All this came together in a daily scripture writing plan!

    Scripture writing is a great discipline, and it activates different parts of your brain than simply reading. It truly takes it from your hand to your heart. When I spend time copying scripture by hand I take the time to really absorb it, to see each word and let it resonate. These 30 verses are specifically centered on gratitude and thankfulness, perfect for November. You can find a simple notebook, or even just some index cards, to write each day's verse. You can try out those fancy hand lettering skills you've been working on, you can use your best cursive, or you can print like a gradeschooler! It doesn't really matter, as long as you get it done. I've made a free printable so the scripture writing plan is easy to follow!

   I only chose a single verse for each day, this isn't meant to be tedious. However, you will certainly benefit if you read the surrounding verses.This is the perfect addition to your daily devotional time.  But if you are really looking for a Bible study that stands on it's own,  I will also be posting a reflection question here on the blog each day that you can use to expand your quiet time. If you answer the question each day in a notebook, you will have a beautiful reflective journal by the end of the month.
Looking for the printable? Find it here!
    The scripture writing plan printable is oh-so-basic, but it is functional and easy to use. The image above is a photo, so don't print that one. Find the link underneath it, or here. Print it out for easy reference, and then be sure to come back here each day to follow along, if you have time. The Lord is so deserving of our praise and thanks, I can't wait to spend 30 days glorifying Him in that way.

I'll collect each day's links here, for easy access, so you can bookmark this page in your browser! I'll also be sharing it on Facebook, so you can check-in there. 


Looking for the thoughts for the day? Links will be activated daily!

Day 22
Day 23
Day 24
Day 25
Day 26
Day 27
Day 28
Day 29
Day 30




Monday, October 23, 2017

To Gideyon, That Time You Asked the Tough Question


Dear Gideyon,
                  Do you remember this summer, when we were driving back from Michigan, and I was belting out that song on the radio? You might not, because it probably wasn't that big of deal to you-and you are probably wondering why, four months later, I am finally answering that question you asked. Well, because I have been mulling my answer over all that time, trying to find the right words, because I feel like tough questions deserve well-thought out answers. 

    So, the song came on the radio: "Bulletproof", by Citizen Way. I exclaimed, "I love this song! It's one of my favorites right now." And I started singing along (because, of course, I know every word.) And the refrain goes:

"I--------I don't have to fear no more,
worry no more,
And I--------I don't have to fear no more,
worry no more."
And you said, "Why is it adults always say things they don't believe in?".

Ugh. Nobody likes questions like that. But that absolutely does not mean you should not ask them. Actually, oftentimes those are the very questions you must ask to really get to the bottom of things.

   Now, at the time, I did not give you the brush-off. I said something, although it was phrased very poorly, and sounded kind of trite. The kind of answer I hate to give, much less get. No one likes a fake who does not know what they are talking about.

   But, as I have chewed on this question, for months now, I have finally come up with what I think is an acceptable answer:

Because we *want* to believe them.

   With my whole heart (ignoring the double negatives) I want to believe that I don't have to fear anymore, or worry anymore. This is the twist, though: I *know* it is true-I don't have to worry or fear anymore. But often I stand in my own way, and I don't live like that. I talk about having enough money to pay for bills, or what will happen if yet another war starts, or how I would fall apart if someone I loved died. So I don't live that way.

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life..." 
Matthew 6:25 NIV

   But I sing those words at the top of my lungs because I serve a God who isn't changed in the slightest by my inconsistency. Who longs to comfort me when I am worried, and promises me that I do not have to fear.

"This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus.There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love." 1 John 4:17-18 NIV
  Because I want to believe them, sometimes desperately, I have to say them to myself, over and over. I sing the same songs, again and again, I quote the verses, repeating them endlessly, praying that the repetition will move them from my head to my heart. I cling to what I know is true, even when I am not strong enough to believe it, to live it out.

    Because my lack of action in no way dilutes or diminishes the truth of that statement. Fortunately, my belief, or lack thereof, does not at all affect the truthfulness of the Truth.

"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever." Hebrews 13:8 NIV 
  I first learned that verse in Spanish class, in high school. For the longest time, I had to say it in Spanish to remember how to say it in English. But it didn't matter what language I said it in, it was still the same. It didn't matter whether I said it twenty years ago (Eek! I'm so old!) or if I say it today. It doesn't matter whether I believe it or not. He doesn't rely on me to be who He is. He is the same, no matter who I am.
   
    So, instead of wanting Him to be more like me, because no one likes someone flighty, someone who can never make up their mind, someone who is one way one day, and different the next, I choose to focus on trying to become more like Him. Some days I do better than others. Some days, I allow the words I sing to change me, to help me see that I can be more like He is.

    And some days, I just sing them because I know them, and I want to remember them, because on those days I just can't seem to get it together. And I try to remember what Paul says here:

"“My grace is enough for you: for where there is weakness, my power is shown the more completely.” Therefore, I have cheerfully made up my mind to be proud of my weaknesses, because they mean a deeper experience of the power of Christ. I can even enjoy weaknesses, suffering, privations, persecutions and difficulties for Christ’s sake. For my very weakness makes me strong in Him." 
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (Phillips)
     He reminds me that He can be strong enough to overcome my unbelief, strong enough to help me live out what I believe. Strong enough that when I worry, He isn't scared, that He can show me in that what it truly means to fully trust Him.

   So know this: I don't ever want you to think I'm the "do as I say, not as I do" kind of adult. No one likes a two-face (except maybe the Joker...). I want to be able to have honest, open conversations. I want you to listen to me, not just because I am an adult, but because I love you and you feel like I not only believe these things, but I work hard to live them out. I will never be perfect this side of heaven. I want you to know that those things I keep saying to myself aren't true because I say them, but because He does.

   You can ask the hard questions, because He is strong enough to answer them, and because when you do, you remind me that my faith is more than just reading my Bible for a few minutes every day and going to church on Sunday. It is my moment-by-moment choices, and people are watching. I'm a little further along this thing called life, and I want to be able to help you all I can. Because I love you so much, I think you're awesome, and I know God has amazing plans for you. I pray constantly that He will help me to live in a way that shows you more of Him. And always feel free to help me do, not just say, the things I know to be true. Because I know, but I *want* to believe, too.

I love you. I hope you're never afraid to ask me the tough questions. I promise to listen.

                                                                                                        Love,
                                                                                                          Aunt Clare

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