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Thoughts From "Streams In the Desert"

Dear Friends,

As I sat in my office today pondering what "thought" I would send out, I grabbed an old devotional book sitting on my desk, and just out of curiosity turned to see the devotion for today. It fit well with the times we are in, so I will share it with you. I also grabbed another from a friend's feed on Facebook. I had seen it years ago, but it also struck me as so very pertinent to the present time. So, today, you get two short thoughts to ponder! Enjoy.
"As they began to sing and praise, the LORD set ambushes against the men...
who were invading Judah and they were defeated." I Chronicles 20:22

"Oh, if only we would worry less about our problems and sing and praise more! There are thousands of things that shackle us which could be turned into instruments of music if we just knew how to do it. Think of those people who ponder, meditate, and weigh the affairs of life, and who continually try to figure out the mysterious workings of God's providence, wondering why they suffer burdens and are buffeted and battle on every front. How different their lives would be, and how much more joyful, if they would stop indulging in a self-centered pursuit of answers and would instead lift their experiences to God and praise Him for them and in them. It is easier to sing your worries away than to reason them away.
Think of the birds. They are the first to sing each day, and they have fewer worries than anything else in creation. And don't forget to sing in the evening, which is what robins do when they are finished with their daily work. Once they have flown their last flight of the day and gathered the last bit of food, they find a treetop from which to sing a song of praise. Oh, that we might sing morning and evening, offering up song after song of continual praise throughout our day."

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"You are holding a cup of coffee when someone comes along and bumps into you, making you spill your coffee everywhere. Why did you spill the coffee? You spilled your coffee because that's what was in your cup. Had there been tea in your cup you would have spilled tea.

The point is this: whatever is in your cup is what will spill out. Therefore, when life comes along and shakes you (which will happen) whatever is inside of you will come out. It's easy to fake it until you get rattled. So, we have to ask ourselves, "What's in my cup?" When life gets tough, what spills out? Joy, gratefulness, peace and humility? Or do anger, bitterness and harsh words or reactions come out? You choose. Today let's work towards filling our cups with gratitude, forgiveness, joy, words of affirmation, kindness, gentleness and love for others."
As we know, it's not always a simple choice. Sometimes those negative things come out even when we try to suppress them, or work diligently in the hopes that the opposite will come out. And yes, it's because they are there that they come out. But often they are there (and are so stubbornly rooted there) because we have not resolved the issues that feed them and cause them to come out even when we are trying to keep them from coming out! What we need in such cases is God's grace in uprooting our idols. His grace in helping us to move beyond bitterness, abuse, betrayal and past hurts. We need His grace to help do away with destructive ingrained attitudes like self-pity and entitlement and pride.
For we can try our hardest to act kind and gentle and grateful, but if all those things are rooted deep in our hearts and souls, just choosing to act a certain way will not be enough. For as the illustration points out, if coffee is in the cup, coffee will come out. And it will come out even if we choose or desire or yearn with all our heart that pure water would come out! "Lord, change what influences and controls our hearts, so that even when we are caught off guard, what comes out in those unexpected and unguarded times will be a reflection of your holy presence within us."

Living in His Grace, Pastor Jeff

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