Noah’s Ark – Part 3

Searching His Word
Seeking His Heart

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8.  TAKE CARE OF YOUR ANIMALS AS IF THEY WERE THE LAST ONES ON EARTH.

What due diligence Noah must have felt as he cared for the animals. What a weighty responsibility. Future growth depended on it.

Our 21st century animals might include a cat or dog or gerbil. We feed them, walk them, cuddle and play with them. They are our responsibility.

We also have some two-legged “animals” in our homes as well. No matter their age, we are charged with their care. The care list changes through the years but does not diminish. You will always be their mother or father or grandparent or aunt or uncle. Treat them as if they are the last ones on earth. 

“… As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” John 13:34 (That includes family members!)

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9. DON’T FORGET —  WE’RE ALL IN THE SAME BOAT

I’m reminded during this political election season that we all have differing opinions about a myriad of issues. The moral decline, however, has caused our opinions to take frightening actions and verbiage on all sides. 

May we remember who we are in Christ and that, just as He has allowed us to live in the land of the free, it comes with a commensurate amount of responsibility to love and respect our fellow American citizens. We’re all in the same boat (country.)

“By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35

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10. STAY BELOW DECK DURING THE STORM

Oh, to be counted as a righteous person “who walks with God” as Noah did. I can imagine that it was during one of those knee-bending times that God spoke to Noah and gave  the command to build the ark. As we yield to Him, He reveals in numerous ways what He intends for next steps in our lives.

Then, there are times when He intends us to just plain use common sense. If it’s storming, by golly, seek shelter! And there in our protected place, we find Him near, comforting and guiding—all the while encouraging us to trust Him. 

Can’t you just see Noah hunkered down receiving this comfort and encouragement?

I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust.” Psalm 91:2

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11. REMEMBER THAT THE ARK WAS BUILT BY AMATEURS AND THE TITANIC WAS BUILT BY PROFESSIONALS

Ah yes, and what was the motivation? Noah was motivated by God and the need to preserve man and animal. The Titanic came out of pride to be the biggest and best.

Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends of flesh for his strength… Jeremiah 17:5 But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord. Jeremiah 17:7

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I find myself back to that word trust again. Trust Him in the storms, depend on Him for our motivation, love our fellow boat friends and family. Good goals as we navigate the waters of life.

~ Joyce ~

 

50th Wedding Anniversary

Searching His Word   Seeking His Heart

Searching His Word
Seeking His Heart

A personal narrative this week. This Saturday will mark fifty years of marriage for my husband and me. I always thought that just happened to old people! But here we are at this special milestone.

They say opposites attract, but that can cause some problems. In our case, we had many similarities—both coming from Christian families, believers ourselves, both music majors, outgoing, organized—perfectly compatible, right? Well, simalarities can cause problems, too.

While Jim worked on his Masters in Church Music at the seminary, I taught music in elementary school. We moved on to serve in music ministry at a church in Somerset, KY where I served as Children’s Choir Coordinator and he as the Minister of Music.

As long as we remained in our own boxes (he with the overall music program and me with children), everything went smoothly, but there were times I had ideas that reached into his domain or he dictated things in my domain. The protection of turf began.

At first we offered subtle suggestions. When one didn’t embrace the suggestion, the other became defensive. As we looked back after a few years, we realized that we were getting in each other’s box. As children came along, the territory lines continued. 

How easy it is to fall into destructive habits; finding faults, being critical, etc.

Every couple has their “thing.” We became aware of our challenge and worked to correct it, hoping to follow Paul’s encouragement.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. I Corinthians 13:4-5

Ouch, that last one gets too close to home. I rather imagine keeping records, whether on paper or in minds, is a sticking point in many marriages.

We tend to number the offensives without putting enough love deposits in each other’s love bank to compensate. I remember the shame I felt when I started to practice holding my tongue in certain settings. After about the fifth time, I realized how critical I had become. Words that hurt or demean were just about to roll out automatically. It does indeed take patience and kindness to retrain ourselves. 

Over the years, we have worked very hard on our marriage, because any relationship requires careful, continual balance. I often write a note on wedding cards encouraging the new couple to give heed to communication and to work toward caring for their spouse’s needs more than their own needs. Finally, I urge them to plan on simply working hard on their marriage.

Paul also declared that;

[Love] always protects, always hopes, always perseveres. I Corinthians 13:7

I used to wonder when we would ever get to that place where I saw older couples who seemed settled and more in love than ever. I believe we’re there.

God has guided us through many challenges. Challenges will still come, but I can say that I love and enjoy Jim Cordell with all my heart and look forward to many more years to call him my husband.

~ Joyce ~

Fear – What Are We to Do?

Searching His Word   Seeking His Heart

Searching His Word
Seeking His Heart

I read my niece’s facebook entry last week –

“I took my daughter to a movie today and immediately eyed the exit as one of my first thoughts was, ‘What if someone comes in shooting?’ “

She went on to reiterate other situations where she was becoming more vigilant, all the while realizing that many people across the world live in

“… constant credible terror. I wish the world were only filled with love,” she said.

I taught our Sunday School class at church last Sunday by beginning a new series called “Faith > Fear.” Oh that we would work toward faith greater than our fears. The lesson started in the beginning—the Garden of Eden. 

Yes, there was a time when all was “filled with love.” The beautiful garden was the picture of peace and harmony, but the tempter reared his beguiling head. God chose to make his creation in His image with the gift of choice. Eve chose to engage with the tempter, who opened her mind to doubt, her heart to desire, which led her will to disobedience. Thus the downward spiral began.

The terrorists of today, like those through the centuries, are not filled with love, but are driven by hate. The Almighty God, who created our universe and everything in it, sent His Son in human form so that we might understand this love. God IS love. Jesus said in a hundred ways, “They will know you are my disciples if you have love for one another.”

So how do we deal with this fear that looms in technicolor every time we see one more new’s story about 15 people shot here, 120 bombed there, a truck swerving to kill over 100 innocent people as they watch the fireworks, or 6 police officers gunned down. We had been seeing a report about every other month; now it seems weekly, or even daily.

I believe a part of the frustration and anxiety is the fact that we feel so little control. Too many people, too many nations, too many unknowns. When we feel we have no control, the fear begins to terrorize us. Indeed, we have little, if any control over these situations; we only have control over our feelings about it. John takes us right back to love.

… But perfect love drives out fear. I John 4:18

I struggle with facing my fears about current conditions. I know I don’t have the strength on my own. I read reports of Christians in war-torn countries who are being beheaded, burned to death, stabbed in front of their children, or drug into the sex slavery trade. Many of them determine ahead of time that they as individuals or as family units will refuse to denounce their Christian faith.

I can not come to that kind of faith without praying for God’s strength to help me face my fears, can you? It’s best we start practicing!

For this week, I close with this quote:

Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is the ability to forge ahead and refuse to be paralyzed by our fears. Dennis Wiles

FAITH > FEAR

~ Joyce ~ 

The Fruit of the Spirit – Love

Searching His Word   Seeking His Heart

Searching His Word
Seeking His Heart

In the next few weeks, we will take a look at the fruit of the Spirit. We will find that the emphasis is not so much on what the Holy Spirit causes us to do, but how He causes us to be.

Jesus taught his disciples that when He went away, He would send another counselor (besides Himself) who would be with them forever—the Spirit of truth.

“The Holy Spirit will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” John 14:26

Jesus went on to give them that wonderful passage about the vine and the branches. He is the vine from which we draw our source of spiritual life. We stay alive and fruitful only when we, as branches, stay connected to the vine.

Paul gives us a delightful list of the fruit our branches will bear with the help of the Holy Spirit. We call it, of course, “the fruit of the Spirit.” But first Paul lists the acts of our sinful nature—like sexual immorality, idolatry, hatred, jealousy, etc. Then he tells us:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Galatians 5:22-23

Today, we begin with “love.” Ah, sweet love. It is why Jesus came. It encompasses what He taught. It defines how He lived. It is the reason He died for you and me.

Likewise, He expects it of us.

“This is my command: Love each other.” John 15:17

Truly, this is our hearts desire, but what if we don’t even like someone much less have love for the person? Permit me to share an experience from my days at Georgetown College.

I couldn’t wait to participate in a Bible study/discussion group led by a well-respected teacher on campus. We gathered for our first meeting and all went well. However, one guy in the group just turned me off. Jake wasn’t very attractive and was a bit effeminate. I found myself cringing any time he made a comment.

I thought about my attitude and felt ashamed that such little things would get in my way of friendship. It occurred to me that in the normal flow of relationships, you first notice people, have experience with them, like them, and then grow to love them. But what if I couldn’t get to the “liking” stage? 

At this point, I believe the Lord Himself planted a thought in my mind. What if I prayed to “love” Jake first? Even if I didn’t like him, perhaps the Lord would help me to love him. I fully focused on this idea for weeks. Then, after we were well into the study, I became aware of a new attitude breaking through. Not only was I learning to love Jake as a brother in Christ, I was actually beginning to like him!

Could it be that there is someone in your life that you need to “love” into “like”? What breakthrough might God be ready to reveal to you? As we stay connected to the Vine, the Spirit will give the gift of love.

 Next week—JOY.

~ Joyce ~