Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Small Seed for 12-31-14

Complete Faith Despite Crushing Troubles.

"We are happy to tell other churches about your patience and complete faith in God, in spite of all the crushing troubles and hardships you are going through." 2 Thessalonians 1:4

Do you know a believer who is slammed with one thing after another. I know several that are dealing with on-going, terrible health conditions. I am constantly amazed at their attitudes. They have such joy, despite their circumstances (or perhaps because of them?). 

I know God works in our weaknesses. He can refine us through our troubles. And joy can be had even as the bad stuff is happening.

Today, pray for yourself, that you will have "patience and complete faith in God" no matter what comes your way. Also, pray for someone, today, who is going through a rough time. Is there anything you can do to show Christ's love to him/her?

Is there someone you know who has the "patience and complete faith" that the verse talks about?

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Small Seed for 12-30-14

Entirely Pure and Devoted to God.

"May the God of peace himself make you entirely pure and devoted to God; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept strong and blameless until the day when our Lord Jesus Christ comes back again." 
1 Thessalonians 5:23

What jumps out to me in this verse is "entirely pure and devoted to God".  I want to be that.

Pure - like the white of snow (free of stains or blemishes)

Devoted - wholly seeking and working and pleasing. Heart, body, soul, mind, and strength. Everything.

How do I do become that? Well, the opening of the verse tells me how. God does it. "May the God of peace himself make you..." 

Heavenly Father, I can't do it myself. You are the one to make me "entirely pure and devoted" to you. Make it be so. In Jesus' name. Amen.

What stands out to you in this verse?

Monday, December 29, 2014

Small Seed Devo for 12-29-14

Don't Smother The Holy Spirit.

"Do not smother the Holy Spirit." (TLB) or "Quench not the Spirit." (KJV) 1 Thessalonians 5:19 

Wow!  Don't we do this?! We try to put God in a box instead of expecting great (and different and unusual) things. The Holy Spirit can do anything. Let me repeat that. ANYTHING. Who are we to smother Him and what He can do. 

1 Thessalonians goes on to talk about those who prophesy and how we should not scoff. (Uh Oh, convicted.) It reminded me of a few months ago. I made a comment about people who speak in tongues. I've never experienced that and it just seems so bizarre. Then, my co-worker said that she sometimes prays in tongues. She said that one time, in church, it just happened and ever since then, she sometimes prays in tongues. I was ashamed of myself. I know speaking in tongues is in the Bible, so why am I so narrow-minded?!

So, who am I to smother the Holy Spirit? I should test it and if I find it holds with the Bible, then accept it. Good lesson.

Have you smothered the Holy Spirit? Care to share? I promise I won't scoff - I've learned my lesson!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Book Review: Not A Silent Night

"Not A Silent Night" by Adam Hamilton is not what I expected.

I chose to read this book because I recently acted out a skit where I played Mary, reflecting on the birth of Jesus. I thought this might be a delightful read, but I was disappointed.

Dawn’s Recommendation: 1 Star out of 5

What I liked: It was a short read. I liked the cover. I loved the one opening paragraph, it had a great hook. I enjoyed the section on how Jesus astounded the temple priests (as a 12 year old), how Jesus dumbfounded them and even scared them a little with his knowledge and understanding. But, that's about all I liked.  I gave a low rating due to expectations the title sets for the book (more on that later).

What I didn’t like: First, I think the author was trying too hard to be innovative, starting Mary’s reflections at the end of Jesus life and moving backward. Not sure why he did that, except to maybe make it fit for Christmas. I know my brain likes to move in order of events.

Also, because little is said about parts of Mary’s life, I felt like the author added filler that was distracting. Like, the speculation of where and when Mary died according to Catholics and Orthodox Christians.

I would have liked to read more about what Mary’s inner thoughts might have been. The sub-title of the book, “Mary Looks Back to Bethlehem”, led me to believe that the book would be more like that: Mary’s reflections. Often the book read more like a sermon. 

Overall, it was just not what I thought it would be. I don’t enjoy giving a poor book review and I think the main reason I didn’t like the book is because the title misleads readers. A title sets an expectation. “Not A Silent Night” sets the expectation that I would get to read more about Mary’s thoughts, struggles, and worries surrounding Jesus’ birth (or even leading up to it). The sub-title “Mary Looks Back to Bethlehem” sets the expectation that readers will get Mary’s reflection (and insight to her thoughts). Both titles would lead the reader to believe the whole book was about the birth of Jesus.  Only one section is about that, the rest is about moments in Scripture where Mary is with Jesus -- throughout his life. If the title was: “Moments with Mary and Jesus” or something that fit better – I’d have given it a much higher rating. It’s not a bad book. It’s well written. It just didn't meet my expectations.

Note: The book got high recommendations from many reviewers on Amazon. Hmmm?

Have you read this book? If so, what did you think?

Friday, December 26, 2014

Small Seed for 12-26-14

Beloved and Faithful Helper?

"Tychicus will give you a full report about how I am getting along. He is a beloved brother and faithful helper who serves with me in the Lord’s work. I have sent him to you for this very purpose—to let you know how we are doing and to encourage you." Colossians 4:7-8

My guess is many don't quote this passage of Scripture much. It's a normal (if not boring) part of any letter to a friend, sharing how someone helps them. But, it speaks to me this day after Christmas. As I I reflect on my year, what would a friend write about me? Would he call me by any of the words that Paul calls Tychicus: "beloved", "sister", "faithful", "helper", "servant", "encourager"? I hope so, but I see areas that I need to improve in. Less self. More love. Goals to strive toward.

How about you?

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Small Seed for 12-25-14

Proclaim The Good News.

"And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord." Luke 2:8-11

"Pray that I will proclaim this message as clearly as I should. Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone." Colossians 4:4-6

Merry Christmas, friends! The news from the angels is "for all the people". It's not just for me, or for you. It is meant to be shared, proclaimed! I imagine Paul in a jail cell, petitioning God, pleading in prayer for opportunities to share the Good News, that bars not hold him back. Aren't we to be like that?! I want to, but I'm afraid sometimes. I'm bolder than I used to be, but I have a long way to go. Lord, help me. Give me opportunities and help me make the most of them. Give me the words. Nudge me to speak.

What holds you back from shouting the Good News? Won't you take that to God in prayer and ask for help?

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Small Seed for 12-24-14

Devote Yourselves To Prayer.

"Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart." Colossians 4:2

Oh, if we only would! Devotion to prayer is more than just a quick prayer lifted up on the way to work. It is time, alone, away from distractions (isn't that so needed right now?!), kneeling to an awesome God who wants to fellowship with us. 

And, have an alert yours alert? Mine feels sluggish, but I need alertness when I pray, so that I can hear God. It's not a one-sided conversation. He has things to tell me. He has plans for me. I don't want to miss hearing His voice!

And, have a thankful heart. Yes, Lord, help me with that. Help me not grumble. Remind me of all you have done for me. You saved me, for goodness sake! 

Let's devote precious time for prayer today, setting our minds and hearts to hear and thank and talk with the Lord. Doesn't that sound divine?

What does "devotion" to prayer mean to you?

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Small Seed for 12-23-14

God Chose You.

"...God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience." Colossians 3:12

Focus on those first three words. GOD CHOSE YOU

How does that change your day? Your life? 

For me, I'm tearing up as I type this. It changes everything. I can't wrap my head around it. God chose me. Why? I'm so undeserving. So broken. A mess. A sinner. And yet, he loves me. He wants me. He chose me.

How can I respond to that? He tells us how. "clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience". 

Each day is new and fresh. We will fail, but He chose us. We can start again. Trying to be more like Christ.

How does this verse affect you?

Monday, December 22, 2014

Small Seed for 12-22-14

Think About The Things Of Heaven.

"Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth." Colossians 3:1-2 (NLT)

It's almost Christmas and a new year. For some it has not been a good year. Loss, furlough, stress are just a few pressures some have dealt with. Colossians reminds us where our focus should be....heaven. As you contemplate a small baby lying in a manger, think also what he represents and where he lives now.  

Instead of focusing on earthly problems, take a few minutes and think on what heaven is like. What are the sights, the smells, the feelings you might associate with heaven? Share them in Comments. 

How does it help you to focus on heaven instead of your problems here?

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Friday, December 19, 2014

Small Seed for 12-19-14

Christ Can Help You Reconcile.

"All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation." 2 Corinthians 5:18

I've been talking all week about reconciliation because it weighs on my heart this Christmas (due to my family). In closing out Small Seeds for this week, I wanted to end with this hope.

Sometimes, we might not be able to forgive others. We might feel trapped by the sin of hate and anger. They gnaw at us like cancer. We can't or don't want to let it go. But, to hold on to that for long, it's bad for us. 

We can't do it ourselves, but there is one who can forgive, through us -- extending forgiveness to others (even when we can't) and His name is Jesus Christ. If He could reconcile us to our Father in heaven, making us right with Him, can't he also help us reconcile with people? Let Him help. Call on His name.

Do it right now.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Small Seed for 12-18-14

If Two Agree, It Will Be Done.

"Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever ye loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven." Matthew 18:18-19

Oh, how I hang my hope on this Scripture! When I need prayer, I call in reinforcements based off this Scripture! "If two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done..." I am not too proud to ask. I email friends. I put in a prayer request with our prayer line. I ask my husband to pray with me. With two or more asking, God will surely come to aid!

Do you need to call in reinforcements for prayer? I'm available. Email me. Or, get friends or relatives to join with you. There is mighty power when two or more pray.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Small Seed for 12-17-14

Reconciliation - A Better Gift.

"Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you; leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift." Matthew 5:23-24

I love this Scripture. It reminds us that the most important thing is Love and Peace in God's eyes. It is so important that God wants that first. Before you serve Him, praise Him, or worship Him (all gifts to God), He wants you to be reconciled with your brother. 

Who do you need reconciled with? Will you take the step? Remember, you aren't doing it alone. God is with you.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Small Seed for 12-16-14

What We Need To Do This Christmas.

"Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all. See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all." 1  Thessalonians 5:14-15

These are some tough things to do. Which one speaks to you the most - the one you need to work on?

Warn the unruly - 

comfort the fainthearted - 

Uphold the Weak - 

Be patient - 

Prevent others from doing harm to others - 

Pursue what is good -

For me, I blew "patience" this past week. I had an older gentleman come into my office for training and he had no computer skills. I showed him how to use a mouse. How to use the shift key, etc. I had patience as he muttered and cursed for an hour. I had patience as I continuously had to help him zoom back out (he kept clicking the Zoom In on the mouse).  But, I lost my composure when his foot kicked the power cord and the computer re-booted. He lost his training. All of it. 

He was past frustration. I know I sighed audibly and did not give him any words of comfort. He will have to come back next week and take it all over again. Lord, help me to handle it better next time.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Small Seed for 12-15-14

Make Peace This Christmas.

"Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another." Romans 14-19

Our Sunday School teacher asked today, "What is holding you back from having a wonderful Christmas?" 

Someone answered, "Grief." 

I didn't answer out loud, but I thought, "Family discord."

Several members of my family are fighting and are not speaking to each other. It's on my mind all the time and I lift it up in prayer, all the time. I pray that they can get past blame and anger and focus on peace.

God's peace is more than we can comprehend. It saves us. It redeems us. It gives us God's power -- sometimes to forgive, even when we can't ourselves. 

I pray this Christmas for you. That whatever is holding you back from experiencing God's full and abundant life, that you turn to the author of peace....and then, in gratitude, you extend peace to others.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Small Seed for 12-11-14

Whose Your Daddy? 

"Do not touch my anointed ones; do my prophets no harm.” 1 Chronicles 16:22 (NIV)

Have you ever had a profound moment where you knew that God had protected you or averted some danger? It happened to me in Philly with a troop of Girl Scouts. We were on South Street and it got dark and we were making our way back to the van when a car of men yelled vulgar things at our girls. I, as Mama Bear, jumped to shield the girls, yelling Mama things like, “Watch your mouth!”. Later that night, as I prayed on the camp cot, God revealed to me that He had saved us from harm. Did the men have a gun? What might have happened? I don’t know, but I do know that I am thankful to be “anointed”, thankful to call God my Father and my protector. 

Do you feel God’s protection and love?

Prayer focus: Cities and Crime
Action Step: Show love in some way to another person. Suggestion: Pack your child’s favorite dessert in their lunch box with a note.