Making Time for Quiet

In an interview for Costco Connection, Melinda Gates discussed the need for periods of silence in her life.  “I take a lot of time for silence…Because only in that quiet time can you shut out the noise of the world and really take in what you’ve heard and what you’ve seen.”  (‘This Woman’s Work, by Stephanie E. Ponder, Costco Connection May 2019)

Gates was discussing the humanitarian work she does to improve the lives of women and children around the world and her strategy to keep from being overwhelmed.  She went on to say, “I’ve seen a lot of misery and even death in the developing world.  But you have to take that in and you have to process it.”

Gates is correct in that there is much pain and suffering in the world.  For those who seeking ways to assist others in need, the options are limitless and many times overwhelming.  We must recognize that individually we cannot do everything.  But, we can do some thing.

So, how does one decide what challenge(s) to tackle?  I believe that Melinda Gates is absolutely correct in that one must make ‘time for silence.’  It is necessary to shut out all ‘the noise of the world’ and process in order to decide on the plans of action that will be helpful to those who in need.  I would take it one step further–in the times of silence we need to listen for God’s voice to direct our paths.  Stillness allows us to shut out the voices that are not God’s and to focus on what He is telling us.  In Psalm 46:10, we are told to “Be still and know that I am God.”

If we are still and take the time to listen to God’s voice, He will direct our paths, as a shepherd leads his sheep. God will show us the problems that He is calling us to solve.  When I take the time to sit in silence and listen for His voice, I can be sure that my actions will produce good results. “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord.”  Psalm 37:23

Twyla Paris wrote about this in the lyrics to her song ‘Where He Leads Me:’

There are many wondrous voices,

Day and night they fill the air,

But there is one so small and quiet,

I would know it anywhere,

In the city or in the wilderness,

There’s a ringing crystal clear,

And to be every close beside Him,

When He calls me I will hear.

 

I encourage you to make time daily to spend in quiet fellowship with the Lord and to listen for His still, quiet voice directing your footsteps.

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A Song of Deliverance

My grandmother was a labor and delivery nurse at Grandview Hospital in Sellersville, PA, for about 40 years.  She helped delivered thousands of babies in the Sellersville-Souderton-Telford area.  Many of the mothers stayed in contact with her and remembered her with great affection.

When I was grown and my husband and I would visit her,  we liked to take her to do her shopping.  This was often quite a challenge, as she was constantly being stopped by women whose babies and grandbabies she had delivered.   They wanted to thank her for her care and show her the ‘fruit of her labors.’

I recently came across this passage that my grandmother wrote about one delivery and how God intervened in the life of this family.

A Song of Deliverance, by Mildred Boaman, R.N.

The morning sun had just peeped over the hills surrounding the hospital.  And inside its corridors the busy activities of the day had begun. Already one patient in mild labor had been admitted to the obstetrical unit.

She was accompanied by her husband who had returned home from a combat zone.  He had been discharged from the Army just in the nick of time to be present with her for this important happening.  Both of them avowedly wanted children and now the expectation of their dreams were being fulfilled.  Their future looked bright.

Labor for the woman progressed normally, and within a short time she was place on a litter and transferred to the delivery room.  At 12:30 pm the blessed event occurred and both parents rejoiced over the birth of a sweet baby girl. The doll-like infant was wrapped in a piece of swaddling cloth and put into a heated crib where she received the routine infant care.

Shortly thereafter, a serious crisis arose; the mother had developed a complication and her joy was followed by hours of stress and strain. Due to a hemorrhage in a cul-de-sac, an issue of blood flowed freely from its hidden source.  And the administration of oxytocic drugs, the bio-manual compression of the uterus and the ligating of veins did not stem the flood-tide.

It raged on like a storm out of control.  The patient went into a deep state of shock, and death seemed inevitable until the power and might of God flooded that delivery room. Then the flow of blood ceased as suddenly as it started.

Twenty-six years have passed since that almost fateful day, but its memory lingers on.  Each year she visits me in my home, bringing along a tangible gift.  A prayer of praise and Thanksgiving for her miraculous recovery wells up in my heart.  It is my gift to her.

But God, the giver of all good gifts, gave her the most priceless on–Life.  He compassed her about with a song of deliverance.

“Thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance.”  Psalm 32:7

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Building on a Solid Foundation

My granddaughters love the song, “The Wise Man Built His House Upon the Rock.”  They’re too young to understand what it means to build on a solid foundation, but they enjoy dong the hand motions, and it is instilling into them the need to build their lives on the solid foundation of Jesus Christ.

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The song is based on a portion of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.  This teaching is found in Matthew 7: 24 – 27:

“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.

“But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”

My husband is a civil engineer.  Recently, a client had to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to remove soil from a building site that would not have properly supported the building and replace it with soil that would compact properly.  It was a lot of money for ‘dirt’ and it was painful for the client to write that check.  However, in the long run, it will save a lot of money over having to repair a damaged foundation.

Several years ago, the owner of a commercial building being erected near my office made a different, and very costly, decision. He took a chance that the engineer was wrong and poured his foundation on the existing soil.  When the building began to be erected, the foundation cracked.  The owner was then forced to tear out all the construction that had been done, replace the soil, and start again. He wasted much time and money–much more than if he had done the job properly the first time.

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We make these same type of decisions with our lives.  We can build on the firm foundation of Jesus Christ in the beginning and avoid costly mistakes and much heartbreak.  Or we can decide to do things our way until our foundation cracks and our world falls apart, before turning to the master builder for help.

Following Jesus does have a cost.  We have remove the ‘bad dirt’ of selfish ambitions and worldly pleasures.  In exchange, we build our lives on a structure that is strong and doesn’t crumble when the storms of life come our way. Unfortunately, many people don’t want to remove the bad dirt from their lives; they delay the decision to follow Jesus until storms destroy the life that they have build on a weak foundation.  Fortunately, Jesus does respond to them when they call out to Him from the rubble of their lives.  He cleans away the debris and provides a firm foundation for them to start the rebuilding process.  He cannot, however, reverse the clock–time has been wasted and heartache has ensued.  Any many times the problem which arose from a weak foundation have implications and cost for the rest of a person’s life.

Have you built your life on the firm foundation of Jesus Christ?  If not, I urge you do not delay any further.  Only with Jesus as your foundation will you be able to stand firm against the storms of life.

Having a Generous Heart

Our motives are important to God. Giving grudgingly or by force is not viewed by God as generosity.  Generosity has to flow from a willingness to help others.  As we more fully grasp the depths of God’s love for us, our love for our fellow man should increase.

When the young lawyer asked Jesus what commandment was the greatest, Jesus replied, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself. ”  Matthew 22: 38 – 40

Paul provided instructions to the Corinthians on how they should prepare gifts for those in need, “Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren to go to you ahead of time, and prepare your generous gift beforehand, which you had previously promised, that it may be ready as a matter of generosity and not as a grudging obligation.”  2 Corinthians 9:5 

If we truly love God, that love will overflow into love for people.  Thankfulness for the many blessing God has bestowed will manifest itself in sharing those blessings with others.

Jesus taught His disciples to give without expectations, “Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back. But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. ” Luke 6:30 – 35

God supplies our needs and has extended generosity to each us through the sacrifice of Christ on the cross.  We, in turn, should be generous with those in need whom God puts in our path.

Ask God to open your eyes to see those around you who are in need.  Seek His guidance on how to share the blessings He has bestowed on you with others.  Be His hands extended.

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Generosity is a Response to God’s Saving Grace

God exemplified true generosity by providing a means of salvation for all who will accept His free gift.  Romans 5:8 tells us, “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  Jesus is the only perfect person who has ever lived on this earth.  The rest of us are not perfect.  We do not deserve to be saved.  Yet, Jesus went to the cross and paid the price for our sins.   Jesus’s sacrifice was a manifestation of God’s love and generosity.

Because God is generous to us, we should be generous with others.  Generosity should flow from the hearts of Christians in response to God’s love for us.  He has given us so much and we, in turn, give a portion of  it to those around us who are in need.  James tells us that “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this:  to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.”  James 1:27

In the seventh chapter of Zechariah, the people of Israel are crying out to God for relief from their oppressors. They protest that they have prayed, fasted, and mourned.  The Lord tells Zechariah that they are just going through the motions, without having a right heart.  If there hearts were right, they would take care of those in need.  “Execute true justice, show mercy and compassion everyone to his brother. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor. Let none of you plan evil in his heart against his brother.”  Zechariah 7: 9, 10

James goes on to say that true faith is demonstrated when we take actions to help our fellow man. “If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”  James 2: 15 – 17

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Generosity should not be confused with socialism or income distribution. God has never directed His people to take care of those who are able but unwilling to care for themselves.  In fact, Paul wrote that “the one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”  2 Thessalonians 3: 10 

Generosity is to be shown to widows, orphans, and those who are in true need of help.  We should take every opportunity to help those who need help as an outpouring of gratitude to God for His love for us and as a means to demonstrate to those in need that God loves and cares for them.

Seek Wisdom from God

Many times recently, as I have listened to the news, I have wondered what has happened to the sanity, reason, and wisdom of those who lead our nation.  Many of our elected leaders, particularly those that identify as socialist or progressive, are espousing ideas that seem designed to destroy the fabric of our nation.  How can a nation continue to exist if it advocates for the murder of babies who were ‘accidently’ born alive after a botched abortion?  How can we protect our citizens if we refuse to protect our borders?  How can we encourage diligence, innovation, and a strong work ethic if we hand out money to anyone who chooses not to work?

Every day politicians are getting behind these radical and dangerous ideas.  It can be discouraging and downright frightening.  And I would be truly terrified, if I put my faith in our government and politicians. Thankfully, I don’t.

My faith is firmly established in Jesus Christ.  Jesus has overcome this world, sin, and death.  He has already won the victory over Satan and evil.  And He promises victory to us as we put our faith and trust in Him.  “Everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.”  1 John 5: 4, 5

The problems we are facing in America today have their root in our failure to follow the Lord’s commands and honor Him.  Many people have rejected God and fail to worship Him.  Instead of following Biblical principals, they do whatever they think is right.  Without a Biblical foundation, however, there is no standard of what is right and what is wrong.  We are in a time of ‘political correctness’ where right and wrong change almost daily, based on the whims of those who are most vocal.

In the first chapter of Romans, Paul tells us that creation reveals God to us. When we reject God and His truths, we become foolish.  In verses 21 – 22, we read “For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools.”

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I encourage each of you to pray daily for our elected leaders to seek God and ask Him for true wisdom to lead this nation according to God’s ordinances.  He promises to give wisdom to those who ask Him.  “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” James 1:5

In Deuteronomy 4:6-7, God told Israel to carefully observe His statutes, “for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’  What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to him?”

That is my desire for our nation!

 

Blessings from Generosity

God has always instructed His people to be generous to the poor, and He has promised to bless those who obey this instruction.  When God freed  the Israelites after 400 years of captivity in Egypt, He set down rules that they were to follow in order to maintain a right relationship with Him.  Included in those instructions was the command to open their hands to their poor brothers and to willingly lend to those in need, in order to meet their needs.  In return, God promised to bless all the works of their hands.

“If there is among you a poor man of your brethren, within any of the gates in your land which the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your poor brother,  but you shall open your hand wide to him and willingly lend him sufficient for his need, whatever he needs….You shall surely give to him, and your heart should not be grieved when you give to him, because for this thing the Lord your God will bless you in all your works and in all to which you put your hand. For the poor will never cease from the land; therefore I command you, saying, ‘You shall open your hand wide to your brother, to your poor and your needy, in your land.’ ”         Deuteronomy 15: 7 – 11

 

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God continues to bless His people today, as we show generosity and care for the poor in our communities.  Those who open their hearts and their pocketbooks receive many blessings in return.

Chief among these blessings is happiness.  In “The Paradox of Generosity,” authors Christian Smith and Hilary Davidson report that generosity is associated with increased personal happiness, a sense of purpose, and overall better health.  This should not be surprising to Christians, as God promised happiness to those who are generous: “He who despises his neighbor sins; But he who has mercy on the poor, happy is he.” Proverbs 14:21

God promises many other blessings to the generous.  These blessings include: 

  • Abundance   “The generous soul will be made rich, And he who waters will also be watered himself.” Proverbs 11:25
  • Financial Repayment “He who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord,
    And He will pay back what he has given.” Proverbs 19:17 and “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”Luke 6:38
  • Bountiful Harvests.  “But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” 2 Corinthians 9: 6
  • Needs will be Met  “He who gives to the poor will not lack, But he who hides his eyes will have many curses.” Proverbs 28:27
  • Blessings “He who has a generous eye will be blessed, For he gives of his bread to the poor.”  Proverbs 22:9

My desire is to honor God in the way that I live my life.   In Proverbs 14:31, God makes it clear that we honor Him when we obey His command to be kind to those in need. “He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Make, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.”  Proverbs 14:31

I encourage you to make it your desire to honor God, and to reap the blessings promised from Him, by being generous to those in need.