Choosing The Good Portion - 2019

Indeed

~ Choose the Good Portion – Week Eight ~

God saw all that he had made, and it was very good indeed.  Evening came and then morning: the sixth day.

~ Genesis 1:31 CSB ~

When our first two daughters were little my husband and I decided to build them a big lumber and beams play set.  When it was finished and we were ready to show them the big surprise, we talked to them about how this brand-new play set was because we wanted to show them that we loved them and it was a way for us to spend time playing together as a family.  We told them, “Have fun and enjoy every part of the play set and sandy area.  You have to stay in these boundaries of the backyard though and  cannot go on the road.”  We warned them that the road is dangerous, and they could be hurt.

Head on back to Genesis chapter one with me for a moment.  Each day ends with God looking at all that He created for us, and He sees that it is GOOD!  However, we see something a bit different on day six, the final day of creation.  The day that He finished decorating our temporary home, making it look, smell, and feel like love for us, was, I believe, a day of great excitement for God.  This day was what it was all about!  Day six was when He got to create us, His children and start spending time in relationship with us!  What’s different about the end of this day, is that He didn’t look upon it and say that it was good.  He looked upon it and saw that it was VERY GOOD INDEED!

Have you ever looked up the word indeed?  I have.  I’m nerdy that way.  I like to know the truth and fullness of all things.   And let me tell you that there’s a LOT within the indeed that wraps up Genesis chapter one.  If you were to get in touch with your nerd-self and look up the word indeed you would find in its meaning, “confirming something already suggested” and “introduction of a further, stronger and more surprising point”.

When God ends this beautiful love song of Genesis 1 with the words “very good indeed”.  He’s confirming something that His creation already suggests.  He’s confirming, “Yes, indeed, I love you!”  And in that same word that confirms His love for us, He is also setting the stage to introduce us to a stronger more surprising point.  Stay tuned for what that surprise is!

Like I said in last week’s post, Genesis chapter one is just the first six days of the most amazing love story and it’s introducing us to all that is available to us when we choose the good portion of relationship with Him!

Now, let’s look at the next chapter when He puts man in the garden of Eden.  This place is like paradise!  Everything was set up in such a way that Adam and Eve would never want for food and would never have to work for it.  They could literally play and laze the day away while God used nature to take care of them.

Right away God shows His love for us, by not forcing anything upon us.  See, He didn’t want to create little robots that were programmed to love Him.  God is a loving father and love does not insist on its own way (1 Corinthians 13:5).  He wanted us to choose Him, just as He chose us.  So, He created the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  And He wasn’t a drill sergeant father with a lot of rules and expectations.  He had only one.  Don’t eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

God says, “I love you so much that I have provided for your every need.  There are lots and LOTS of trees with amazing fruit to eat from, including that of the tree of life.   Enjoy yourselves!  Have fun!  Eat, drink and be merry!  But I have one rule.  Don’t eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  Its poison will destroy you.”

This is just like when my husband and I showed our littles their new play set and talked of all the fun to be had, but also had to warn them of the dangers of the road.  Here God is warning Adam and Eve of the dangers of the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  And just as every one of our four children ignored our warning to not go on the road at one point in their life or another, so Adam and Eve decided to ignore God’s warning.  They ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

You may wonder, as I used, to why God created a tree with fruit they couldn’t eat.  Well, that goes back to what I said earlier.  He created us for relationship with Him, but He didn’t want to force himself upon us.  He wants us to choose Him like He chose us.  Without the tree of knowledge of good and evil we wouldn’t have a choice.  Relationship with God would then be forced.  And who wants to be in a pre-arranged relationship?

When our kids didn’t stay in the designated play area.  When their curiosity lead them out of the safe area we created for them and onto the road where it’s dangerous, our children received a time out and had to go sit inside.  Adam’s and Eve’s choice to indulge their curiosity and leave the safe place God created for them meant they could no longer stay in the garden.  They would now have to leave, and life would become difficult for them.

It is here where God’s love is once again revealed.  When God sends them away from the garden of Eden, we don’t see Him become a tyrannical leader.  He never tells them, now here’s all the rules and this is the only way you can please me.  He just sends them out to live their life telling them that because they made the wrong choice, life will now be harder than God intended it to be.

And life outside the garden would definitely be much harder.  When God created Eden it was His loving daddy way of creating a safety net with parental guidelines for his children to play and live without care or worry.  But choices have consequences and this consequence took them outside of the garden.  Outside of Eden, outside of that safety net, there are far more choices, far more trees with fruit that hold poison and destruction for humanity.  But, without choices we don’t realize our need for our Heavenly Father.  And, friends, we NEED Him!  We need to choose the good portion of relationship with Him and let Him love us like He’s always desired since the beginning of time.

And here is that surprise mentioned earlier!  This is where the indeed meaning of “introducing of a further, stronger more surprising point” comes into play.  This is where God begins to introduce us to JESUS!

Pray this with me…

Heavenly Father, thank you for loving us so gently and not insisting on your own way.  Thank you for being loving, kind and patient with us, even when we reject your warnings and rebel against your loving ways.   Thank you that you made things so simple that all we need to do is be loved by you and engage in relationship with you.  Reveal to us where we’re making wrong choices.   Reveal to us where we’re choosing our way instead of the good portion of love and relationship with you.  Father, continue to beckon us to your side and help our hearts be open to the way that you love us.  Help us to embrace that love and fully submerge ourselves in you.  May we learn to love as you love.

* Take time to read these scriptures today:

– Genesis 1:31 – CSB – God saw all that he had made, and it was very good indeed.  Evening came and then morning: the sixth day.

– Genesis 2:15 – 17 – The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.  And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

– 1 Corinthians 13:4 – 7 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude.  It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

* Think About It:

Read Genesis 1:31 in the Christian Standard Bible and think on the meaning of indeed.   Journal how God confirms His love for you with the word INDEED!  And then, tell Him of your love for Him!

Blessings to you as you Choose the Good Portion today!

 

All biblical references are ESV unless otherwise noted.

 

 

 

 

Choosing The Good Portion - 2019

Creation Sings of Love

~ Choose the Good Portion – Week Seven ~

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

~ Genesis 1:1 ~

I would say I’m a pretty creative person.  And one way that I enjoy expressing my creativity is to decorate and set up my home!  Something I enjoy doing the most is coming alongside my husband as we redecorate our kids’ bedrooms!  We let them choose the theme and the wall color and then my handsome sidekick and I spend a lot of time thinking, designing, drawing, shopping for deals, and planning the perfect space for our kiddos!

Once we know exactly what we want we ship all the kiddos off to Grandpa’s and Grandma’s for a three-day weekend.  Up to this point, they know nothing about their new space except for the theme and color they’ve chosen.  And we keep it that way until they’re back home for the big reveal!  After the kiddos are out of the house and in the care of grandparents, my husband and I go to the empty, void space that is about to become something new and wonderful for our child and get to work.

It’s with excitement and anticipation, that my hubby and I give the room new color and build special shelving or stands for this new space.  We know exactly where we want each item that we’ve bought or built.  We know exactly where lighting should go to reflect the beauty of this new space.  We have planned every detail out so that the space reflects our child’s personality and lets them know how much we love them as an individual.

The thing I love most is when we’re all done and have arrived back home from picking our kiddos up from their grandparents’ house.  This is when we get to watch the expressions on our children’s faces and hear the excitement and joy over what their father and I created for them.  I love, love, LOVE these moments!

This is kind of the same way that the greatest love story begins.  This love story is of how God loves us, His children, and how He showed that love to us before we were even created, before the foundation of the world was ever laid.

I learned something pretty cool a few months ago on an Annie F. Downs podcast with Ellie Holcomb.  Did you know that the very first chapter of the Bible, Genesis 1, was originally written in the form of an old Hebrew poem?  I did not know that until this past November. (Want to know more? You can check out Tim Keller’s message here .  VERY COOL!)

The original form is a poem that flows with rhythm like that of a song.  Ellie Holcomb came up with the idea from Tim Keller’s message that God sang creation into existence.  I’d like to take it a step further and say that He sang it while thinking of how much He loved us.  Meaning, God sang the first love song!

See, God wanted relationship with us so bad!  He wanted to create people, but before He could create people, he had to make a space for us.  And like my husband and I when we’re creating and decorating our kids’ bedrooms, God created the universe while thinking about our hearts, our desires, our interests, our needs, and so much more.  He did this because He wanted to show us how much He loves us!

He looked into a great empty and void expanse, just like my husband and I look into the emptiness of our child’s room, and He began to set things in place.  He set the planets on perfect paths so that life could be sustained on the one that would be our home, Earth.  He added light so that we could see both night and day.  He set more lights in the sky, countless stars and amazing beauty, for us to gaze upon in the evenings.  He then looked more closely at the space where we would live our lives and thought of us, wanting to create things of beauty and necessity.  He created land and water, and caused the earth to rise up out of itself and form large masses of mountains and rolling hills.  He created thunderous waterfalls and soft lapping waves.  He created flowers of beauty in every color you can imagine and trees that would bear abundant fruit.  He created water and land creatures that are as beautiful and majestic as their Creator.

In the same way that my husband and I completely finish every detail of our kids’ bedrooms before we show them their new space, so did God with us.  God added every last detail and decoration, down to the last grain of sand, placing in perfect position, before He called us to earth by creating us.  This is how much He loves us.  He created the beautiful universe for us!

Do you love mountains?  God created them just for you!  For you to hike in and gaze on their amazing height and width with awe!

Do you love the ocean?  God created it just for you!  He created the beautiful teal water and it’s rolling waves to crash upon soft, white sand, performing a beautiful song of nature just for you!

Do you love strawberries?  God created them just for you!  The plump, bright redness that is so juicy tart and sweet at the same time, that’s from Him!

Do you love sunrises and sunsets?  God created them and continues to masterfully paint beautiful bright colors in the sky for you every morning and evening!

Guys, this whole creation thing is just the beginning.  It’s just the first six days of the most amazing, and never-ending love story.  If there is one truth I hope you get ahold of by the end of 2019, its how EXTRAVAGANTLY our Father in Heaven loves you!  His love is not conditional.  It has no limits. No end.  Just as He has always been and always will be, so is His love for you!

The good portion is relationship and God wants to have a relationship with you!  The greatest commandment is love.  Guess what!  GOD IS LOVE!  And the whole earth is filled with His demonstration of love for you!  Look no further than your Creator for love and the most important and amazing relationship you will ever have!

Pray this with me…

Oh, Father, thank you for the extravagant love that you lavish upon us.  Thank you for knowing us, our hearts, our desires, our needs and for taking care of them before we were even born.  Thank you for creating a space and temporary home for us that is so amazingly beautiful.  Father, I pray that you will help us to find time at your feet, in your word so that we can be rooted and grounded in your truths and promises.  Give us the strength to comprehend the breadth, and length, and height, and depth of your love and that we will be filled to fullness of you.  Continue to draw us closer to you, Lord.  Beckon us to the good portion of relationship with you and help us to drink full up on the greatest of loves!

* Take time to read these scriptures today:

– Psalm 119:64 – The earth, O Lord, is full of your steadfast love; teach me your statutes!

– Romans 1:20 – For his invisible attributes, namely his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made…

– Ephesians 1:4 CSB – For he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in love before him.

– Ephesians 3:14-19  – For this reason I bow my knees before the father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith – that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

* Think About It:

Take time today to read Genesis chapter one, the entire thing, as the beautiful poem and song of creation and love that God composed for you.  Maybe even read it in a few different versions!  I’m big on journaling!  Journal any thoughts that come to mind!

Blessings to you as you Choose the Good Portion today!

 

All biblical references are ESV unless otherwise noted.

 

Choosing The Good Portion - 2019

The Greatest

~ Choose the Good Portion – Week Six ~

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the greatest commandment.  And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

~ Matthew 22:37 – 39 ~

I had told my son to head up stairs, brush his teeth, get his pajamas on, grab his favorite book, and to tell me when he was heading up to my bedroom.  It was his turn to sleep with me while Daddy was out of town for work.  He did as he was supposed to in a very timely and respectful manner and when he informed me that he was heading up to my room I said, “I’ll be up as soon as I’m finished tucking your sisters in.”

My youngest daughter had forgotten one of her snugglies downstairs and when I went down to get it for her, I noticed a few towels had been left unfolded and weren’t put away.   I hollered up the stairs to my son that it would be just a moment longer as I put the now folded towels away.  I brought the towels to the kitchen and noticed a few dirty dishes that hadn’t made it into the dishwasher, as I was putting these in the dishwasher, my little man yelled down the stairs, “Mama, are you commin’?” “Yep, right after I put these dishes in the dishwasher.”

All, I wish I could say I had kept my word to my sweet boy.  Instead, I have to admit to the opposite.  I allowed myself to get distracted by thing, after thing, after thing, that I thought needed to get done at that point in time.  By the time I got upstairs my sweet boy was already asleep with his reptile book held in his arm.

I had missed out on an opportunity to choose the good portion of relationship with my son and love on him like Jesus instructs me to, because of the distraction of things that were not important.

If you’ve been following along, you’re probably noticing a pattern here with me.  A pattern of missing out because one distraction leads to another.  Hearts are the most valuable thing on earth.  I tell this to my kids all the time.  When I choose “doing” over relationship with my family and friends, I’m not upholding the message that I’m speaking.  I’m showing them that cleanliness, doing, and achieving are more valuable than their hearts.

When God first started working on my Martha-ism years ago, I thought it was because he wanted me to set aside my distraction and anxiety to make more room for time at His feet. But that wasn’t it at all.  It was that He wanted me to set aside distraction and anxiety, brought on by myths that I had taken on as truths.  He wanted me to set aside what I thought was important, for what God says is important.  He wanted me to learn to value what He valued.  To care about what He cares about.  And what He cares most about are hearts.  Loving on them and relating to them.

That’s what this story of Martha and Mary is about.  Martha had bought into the myth of doing what others said she ought to do or what she thought she had to do.  Mary choose the necessary thing, the good portion.  If you read last weeks post you know that this one necessary thing, the good portion, is relationship.  How do I know this?

Well, let’s look at what Jesus says in Matthew 22:37-39 when asked what the greatest commandment is…

“You shall love the Lord you God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind…you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Jesus says the GREATEST commandment is LOVE.  How fitting that the greatest commandment is love, when the one necessary thing, the good portion, is RELATIONSHIP!  This isn’t a coincidence!  We were created to be loved and to love!  We were created for Relationship!

When we can fully understand the good portion of relationship and God’s love, then we won’t get caught up in the Martha-ism of distraction and anxiety.  If we fully believe how much we’re loved and how much He wants to be with us, then we can carry on the second greatest commandment “to love others” in a fuller and more amazing way.

I don’t want to live a life full of distraction and anxiety that leads to regrets and missed opportunities.  That’s an empty life.  I want a life that’s FULL of the portions of LOVE and RELATIONSHIP!  They are the necessary things.  They are the greatest!

Pray this with me…

Sweet Father, we thank you that you cannot deny yourself and that you remain true to who you are, because God we forget so often that you are a God of love and relationship.  You have never asked us to clean up and act a certain way before we can have a relationship with you.  You just tell us to come as we are.  God, we thank you for the “but God” stories in our lives; it’s in those stories that we learn more and more about who you are and grow closer to you our Father and friend.  Help us to set aside the things that are not of you, the myths that keep us in distraction and anxiety.  Help us to remember that when we choose the good portion at your feet and take the time to grow our relationship with you that we will be able to relate with others in a much fuller capacity.  God help us to love you with all our hearts, with everything we’ve got so that we can love people the way that you love us.

* Take time to read these scriptures today:

– Deuteronomy 6:5-7 (MSG) – Love God, your God, with your whole heart; love him with all that’s in you, love him with all you’ve got!  Write these commandments that I’ve given you today on your hearts.   Get them inside of you and then get them inside your children.  Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning to when you fall into bed at night.

– Matthew 22:36-39 – “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the great and first commandment.  And a second is like it; You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

– 1 John 3:18 (ISV) – Little children, we must stop expressing love merely by our words and manner of speech, we must love also in action and in truth.

– 1 John 4:11-12 – Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  No one has ever seen God; if we love on another, God abides in us and he love is perfected in us.

* Think About It:

Take the time to do some inward searching and answer a couple questions that may be hard to answer truthfully, but do it anyway, Friend!  In what ways are you choosing things, or doing, over relationship and showing love to the people in your life?  What ways are you speaking love but not acting it out?  Choose one thing to give up today and replace it with relationship and love.

Blessings to you as you Choose the Good Portion today!

All biblical references are ESV unless otherwise noted.

 

Choosing The Good Portion - 2019

The Necessary Thing

~ Choose the Good Portion – Week Five ~

“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary.  Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

~ Luke 10:41-42 ~

I was sitting with my family on the floor playing a game.  There was a whole lot of laughter and a bit of light-hearted, competitive joking going back and forth as everyone tried to outsmart and outwit the five other opponents gathered around.   Everyone was entirely in the moment of this game…except for me.

I was trying to be in the moment. I took my turn when it was my turn, half listened to the playful banter and I laughed when everyone else laughed.  For the most part I think everyone was buying into the farce that I was in full participation, but the dirty kitchen counters had a pretty good chunk of my attention as well.  As much as I desired this time with my family, I couldn’t push away the desire to hurry this game up so that I could clean.

Sadly, this is a norm for me.  I desperately love my family and love spending time with them.  No matter what we’re doing; traveling, hiking, playing a game, or just sitting around our home, I LOVE moments with my family!  If you were to ask me what tops my “Favorite Things” list, I would tell you relationships and moments.  I love building on my relationships with precious moments and gathering memories with my favorite people!

If you know me, you know that I spend a lot of time cultivating both relationships and moments.  But the odd thing is that as I try to cultivate relationships and moments, it’s a rare occasion when I am completely in a moment and able to fully engage in the relationships I love so much.  I am so easily distracted by the voice of my to-do list or something that may be worrying me that it’s almost impossible for me to be fully present in a moment.

This part of my personality, this tendency to be distracted and anxious, is a part of me that I wish I could easily turn off.  I know this Martha side of me has a purpose, and it has been a great asset when it comes to serving and getting things done.  But it’s near impossible to ignore when things need to be done, and since things always need to be done, my Martha station is almost always playing in my head.  Its volume is usually higher than the volume of the thing I value most…relationship.

Late this past summer, my husband and I were playing with our kids on the prairie of our land and I was so full of peace and joy…for a moment.  And suddenly I started thinking of how much I wish it could always be like this, and that thought led me to think of all that was coming up in our week.  And the feeling of peace and joy was washed away by a wave of exhaustion.

“God, I’m exhausted.” I said, as I sat there on the hill.  I told Him of how I was tired of the ever growing to do list, tired of the full schedule, tired of running here and there, tired of not having the time to be with my family the way that I really wanted to.  And He prompted me to read the story of Martha and Mary in Luke chapter ten.

God chose that sunny Sunday afternoon to speak to my exhausted and anxious state and teach me that there is so much more to this story of two sisters and their two different choices.  A couple weeks ago I shared that God used my son to teach me that time at Jesus’ feet was more than I thought it was.  This time He taught me that there is more to the good portion than reading His word and praying.

Reading your Bible and having conversation with God are so important, and I don’t want to undervalue them in anyway and that is why I spent time touching on them.  But they are not the “one thing that is necessary”.   They are not the “good portion”.  They are part of it, but not IT.

When Jesus gently chastises Martha, he didn’t say, “Martha, Martha, Mary has chosen to read her bible and talk with me.”  He told her, “…one thing is necessary.  Mary has chosen the good portion”.  So, what is the good portion?  What is the one necessary thing?

What Jesus is referring to when He says “the good portion” is fellowship.  Which translates into relationship.  In today’s language we could translate it, “Martha, Martha, you are worried about the dirty dishes but those don’t matter.  Only one thing matters, and Mary has chosen it.  Mary has chosen relationship, and I will not stop her from choosing relationship with me.”

Relationship is what the good portion is all about, and it’s what God is all about too.  Relationship is the one thing that is necessary.  From the beginning of time it was God’s desire to have a relationship with you and me.  On the sixth day of creation He created Adam and then said, “It’s not good for man to be alone…I’ll make him a companion.” And God made Eve.  In the second chapter of the Bible God created relationship!

But wait there’s more!  Even before God created the relationship between Adam and Eve we see another relationship in Genesis 1:26. When God created man he said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.”  The “us” and “our” is referring to the very first relationship.  The relationship between God, the father, Jesus, His son, and the Holy spirit.  We were created not in their physical image, but to resemble their spirit.  A spirit that desires relationship!

When God started opening my eyes to relationship being the good portion, I realized why my favorite things are relationships and moments.  It’s the thing that everyone desires; love, belonging, relationship.  Why do we desire it?  Because God created us with hearts that desire relationship with him (Jeremiah 24:7).  And it is our relationship with God that spills out into our relationship with others.

As someone who gets distracted by to-do’s and anxious over a full schedule, or concerns of this world, God is teaching me that every moment is a moment to choose the good portion of relationship with Him and others.  Things are going to come up, our schedules are going to get full, our to-do lists will always grow.  It’s part of life.  But what are you doing with all that time in between the busy-ness?  Are you cultivating relationship with God?  Are you using the moments you have with your family or friends, to build relationship with them?  And here’s one for Marthas like me…are you prioritizing relationship over things that don’t really need to happen when you think they need to happen?

Pray this with me…

Father, I thank you that you created us for relationship.  Thank you for drawing our hearts towards relationship with you.  Help us to set aside the things that aren’t of you; the things that distract us, cause anxiety, and steal our peace.  God help us to value what you value and show us how to prioritize so that our days are structured according to your plan.  May we fully realize that every moment is a moment to build relationship with you and the people that you have put in our lives.  May the voice that beckons us to relationship be so loud that it shuts out the voices of distraction and anxiety.

* Take time to read these scriptures today:

– Genesis 2:18 (MSG) – God said, “It is not good for the Man to be alone; I’ll make him a helper, a companion.”

– Jeremiah 24:7 – I will give them a heart to know that I am the Lord, and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart.

– 1 John 3:1 – See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God, and so we are.

* Think About It:

Relationship is important to God.  He desires to be your friend, your BFF!  Think about your closest friendship and what you value most about it.  Do you see that same trait in your friendship with God?  If not, talk with Him and start working towards that kind of friendship with God.  You won’t regret it!

Blessings to you as you Choose the Good Portion today!

 

All biblical references are ESV unless otherwise noted.