Beauty for Ashes

Isaiah 61:2-3
He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the lord’s favor has come, and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies. To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the lord has planted for his own glory.

Sunday, April 10, 2016
By Kimberly Butler
Pin It

This morning, I am reflecting on the verse:
Romans 12:2
"Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect."

I love this verse. I've always took it to mean that we would be transformed  (changed) by learning about God and his word. I think I must have gotten that I idea from the next line, "...you may DISCERN..." and although I am certain that learning about God is exactly what he wants us to do, I'm not certain, this morning, that this verse specifically refers to learning.  Today I noticed the word, "renew."

I looked it up, and I think that this definition is what it means...

"give fresh life or strength to.
'she would face the future with renewed determination'
synonyms: revive, regenerate, revitalize, reinvigorate, re-energize, restore, resuscitate, breathe new life into, rekindle
'something to renew her interest in life"'

In my life of go, go, go, my sacrifice is not work. Work is easy. Work is what I do naturally. So what is the "sacrifice" that verse 1 is referring to? Possibly, it's that we sacrifice WORK itself. In our century we have classified "sabbath rest" as an old testament law, that doesn't apply to us anymore than animal sacrifice. It seems antiquated, at best. But in studying scripture, I'm learning more and more (but with still so much to more to learn) what the idea of "fulfilling the law" might mean.

So what does this new testament scripture have to do with the Law of Moses? I think this idea of renewal, is the same idea of God's commandment of Sabbath rest.  I'm learning, and hope to continue to learn, how God INTENDED for us to be at peace  And that with stopping long enough to RENEW our minds, HE can give us the wisdom we need to discern His will and what is good in his sight.
Sacrifice is what I have to give up by stopping work for a moment.  What will I not accomplish on a Sunday, or an hour a day, given to rest and worship?

The answer to that question, I have found in Leviticus 25.

6 “The land will have a year of rest, but you will still have enough food. There will be enough food for your men and women servants. There will be food for your hired workers and for the foreigners living in your country. 7 And there will be enough food for your cattle and other animals to eat."

God not only commanded a weekly sabbath but also a yearly sabbath. Every 7 years, his people were commanded to STOP working for the WHOLE year. What a great God to build in this rest for his people. And I believe that they thought then, what I am thinking now. "But how will we eat, pay the bills...." But God, who is the provider of all, reminds us, that if we obey, he will provide for us. How refreshing, how RENEWING!

Long post, but simple thought, We all need to learn to obey God, by RESTING, by RENEWING, and he will provide ALL that we need!

Have a blessed and renewing day!

 
Thursday, March 03, 2016
By Kimberly Butler
Pin It

This morning, will you join me in prayer for all people, especially of our great nation, during this crucial time of choosing the path for our future. We, as a Nation, and even as individual families, seem to have irreconcilable antithetical visions for our path.  And even though diversity is a wonderful quality of our land, this spirt of rivalry does not "feel" like healthy competition. It feels like a great divide.  So this morning, my prayer has led me to see that our hearts, all of our hearts, need to he softened. We need soften hearts toward each other, but more importantly, toward God. So, this verse comes to mind:

 

Jeremiah 24:7

'I will give them a heart to know Me, for I am the LORD; and they will be My people, and I will be their God, for they will return to Me with their whole heart.'

 

So not just now, or today, but continually, "without ceasing," let us pray together that God will do with us what he did before with his people,  give us a heart to know him as Lord, and be HIS people, and we will return to him with our WHOLE heart!

 

If this is us, a people that return to God with our whole heart, we will make choices that reflect him, and our future will be his path, one that we do not have to fear. 

 

So simply, all day, every day, let our hearts' cry be, "Lord, give us a heart to know you!"

 

Have a blessed day!

Tags: Beauty, Nation
 
Monday, January 18, 2016
By Kimberly Butler
Pin It

This morning, as I think about the famous speech, with which we are ALL SO familiar, "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin..." I am truthfully not moved by these words. Why? Am I a racist? Not hardly, because these words, alone, are incomplete. Lets continue on. “...They will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character,” these are the words with power.

We live in a world of pointing fingers-a politically correct world that has no concern for character, only appearance. “You can't say that, you sound...” or you can't do that, you look...” We say we want to be equal, and that we want to be TREATED equally, and that sounds nice. However, those are emphases on OTHERS actions. This morning, in my prayer for this great nation, I am praying not that I am treated equally, or others are treated equally; I am praying with this in mind...

Romans 5:3-5 – “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

 

The people who lived through the civil rights movement had been through great trials, ones that I cannot possibly understand. Through those trials, however, they gained endurance, and through endurance, they gained character. So, I am sure that MLK, Jr., had great insight, that many of these people could be judged on his or her character, and be found worthy.

 

Fast forward 52 years later. In our PC world, we are so quick to yell, “that offends me!” We give trophies to every player, we are afraid to speak truth, because truth can be offensive. We are a people who demand respect, without having the character of being worthy of respect. We vote for candidates BECAUSE they are black, or white, or a man, or a woman, instead of on MLK, Jr's wise criteria, “content of their character.” We won't be real with people because of the way we might be PERCEIVED, instead of doing what is right. Truth is truth, even when it's offensive. Love is love, even when it's tough.

 

The challenge this morning, is not to change the world. The challenge, on this great holiday, is to change yourself. Don't get angry when people are unfair to you. The way people treat you has NEVER been an indicator of your character, only a reflection of theirs. Don't scream injustice if you don't get what you want. Be the kind of person that people want to hire, and promote. Be the kind of person that lifts up others, and prays for them, EVEN when they persecute you. Know in your heart that you are valuable, and you are WORTHY, because you are a child of God.

 

This is not a Washington agenda, or company policy. Character can not come from legislation. It only comes from you. You are the ONLY person in the world who has power to change your character. Once you change, people around you will see your lead, and naturally follow. Be the person your want to follow. Be the leader this world needs. And once we all take that personal responsibility to be in charge of our own character, change in the world will follow. When that happens, we will live in a world, that when judged by our character, we will be found worthy!

 

Let me leave you with the words of another great leader...

“What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family.” -Mother Teresa

 

Start at home, in your own heart and in your own family. Teach your children to have value for themselves and for others, and social change will happen.

 

 

Have a BLESSED HOLIDAY! 

 
Saturday, October 03, 2015
By Kimberly Butler
Pin It

Today I am mourning the loss of people I don't know. Approximately 10 people have been murdered in cold blood, because of their faith in Christ Jesus. The persecution of Christians in THIS land has been few and far between, but yet, it has happened again.

In prayer and meditation, I have come to the conclusion that I agree with the coward shooter in one way. Yes, today, they will see the Lord of lords and King of kings. They will enter a heavenly home. We (Christians, and specifically, the families of those who were slaughtered) are left with the turmoil, heart-ache, and the questions of where do we go from here? Pain, heart-ache, confusion...these are not good qualities. These feelings lead to fear. Fear of God is good. But God's word warns about the fear of man.

"Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but trusting the LORD means safety." (Proverbs 29:25)

Many thoughts from this verse come flooding in, and I'd like to take a moment to share, in hopes to give you both hope and direction.

One

If we fear man, those who intend to do us harm, we live crippled lives. This is also, like the verse "If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it." (Matthew 16:25) Being willing to live boldly and fully, trusting that this life is temporary, and this next life is eternal, will allow us true freedom. In trying to live safely, hanging on to life, then in reality, this is how we lose it. Don't allow the evil people of this world to cause you to fear.

Two

Trusting in the Lord means safety. I know, it seems that those who trusted in the Lord in Oregon were far from safe. It is BECAUSE of their faith that they were murdered. But have faith, don't lose heart. GREAT IS THEIR REWARD IN HEAVEN! Trusting in the Lord, means that we also trust his plan. Sometimes that plan doesn't look like our plan. Sometimes, we are so busy planning our lives, that we forget to ask God what HIS plan is. Sometimes, I think we get this picture of God being a giant Santa Claus in the sky. He is ALL good, yes, but what he sees is far greater than what we see. "For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:9) Part of faith is letting go to our ideals, knowing that He who is greater than us, has your best interest at heart.

"What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?" (Romans 8:31) Just because someone is against us in the earthly realm, doesn't mean they have any power against us in the spiritual realm, in the realm that is eternal. And if Paul's words aren't compelling enough. Lets look to Jesus, "But I'll tell you whom to fear. Fear God, who has the power to kill you and then throw you into hell. Yes, he's the one to fear." (Luke 12:5)

Three

In reading scripture, there is NO question about whom we should fear, however, we are human, and because of that we will fail. But thankfully, Christ has made a way for that too. Yesterday, my post was about the mercy of Christ, and how perfectly does that apply to today? Even during his last moments on earth, before HIS brutal crucifixion Christ was thinking about us. All of his disciples would scatter and deny him. And he told them this in advance. But he wasn't angry. Jesus had a plan..."But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail. So WHEN you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:32) When we fail Him, and we will, don't accept the condemnation of the evil one. Accept the mercy of Christ. I imagine there were kids at the college who did believe in Christ, but when they saw what would be their outcome if they said yes, they lost heart and denied Christ. But what GOOD NEWS for them as well! Accept the mercy of Christ! Repent and turn to HIM and get back to work helping others. What a great story of redemption!

As followers of Christ, we truly have hope. We have hope that NO ONE without him could begin to understand. Fear? Yes, but fear the the almighty God who has power over heaven and hell.

Four

In looking up the scripture in Proverbs about fear of man, I couldn't help but notice the following 2 verses.

"Many seek the ruler’s favor, but justice comes from the LORD." (Proverbs 29:26)

My thoughts come back to the people of our great Nation with this verse. Many people will look to leadership to deal with these horrors. And my prayer in this is simple, THAT THEY STOP! Our leadership thinks the answer to this problem is more gun control. HOW FAR OFF BASE could this response possibly be? Not only are we trying to deal with symptoms, not problems, these measures will actually make the problem worse. As frustrated and disappointed as I am with this cold-hearted and foolish response, this verse reminds me that our president (or "RULER") is not the source of justice. God is. Even though we will continue to have to live with the effects of our government's decisions, we know that these effects are at best only temporary. Our faith is not of the rulers of this world, and today that gives me GREAT peace.

"The righteous despise the unjust; the wicked despise the godly." (Proverbs 29:27)

Since the beginning of time, descension has existed between the godly and the wicked. Today, this theme still rings true. No one is righteous or godly without God's great grace, but those of us who have accepted this mercy, will continually be at odds with those who haven't. It's not a pretty principle, but it's truth. Does that mean that we get to act on our ideas? No. Even within the state of our current feelings, our actions must be in align with the word of God.

"For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places." (Ephesians 6:12) Being against something in the heavenly realm in not the same as being against something in this earthly realm. I think its important to remember, that even though God doesn't change, how that "looks" from an earthy perspective does. We see God in the old testament speaking directly to Abraham and Moses. Then in the new testament, through Christ, and then often through dreams. Sometimes he says stay and wait, and sometimes he says go and fight. Because of this, I don't believe that there is a "pat" answer to all of the decisions in our lives, especially when events of this world give us real reasons to fear. But what does stand the test of time is faith in God.

"Look to God’s instructions and teachings! People who contradict his word are completely in the dark. They will go from one place to another, weary and hungry. And because they are hungry, they will rage and curse their king and their God. They will look up to heaven and down at the earth, but wherever they look, there will be trouble and anguish and dark despair. They will be thrown out into the darkness." (Isaiah 8:20-22) This is a great description of those looking for answers away from God. They are in the dark, and they are ill because they are hungry and tired. They rage and curse and they find trouble and sadness. Guys, does this not sound like our world?

So the hope is this, God is in control. "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

The direction in this, Don't give up, follow Him. Seek Him in ALL you do, and when you fail, allow His mercy to wash over you, pick you up and set you right again. Do you stand? Do you fight? Do you wait? I don't know, that's between you and God, but "...whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." (1 Cor 10:31b) "Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take." (Proverbs 3:6)

I pray you have a day full of peace that passes understanding and a joy DEEP in your heart!

Tags: Beauty
 
Friday, October 02, 2015
By Kimberly Butler
Pin It

Luke 22 NLT
31“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat. 32But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen your brothers.”

This verse has brought both a little more understanding, and a lot more peace this morning.  It's funny to me, how I can read, and read a certain verse over, and over, and then, see something new.

First of all, Christ has PLEADED in prayer for His disciples. This verse doesn't necessarily say He pleads in prayer for me, but it does paint a picture of His nature, which we know does not change.  Jesus knows, at this point, that He is about to hand himself over to be crucified, and yet His concern is not for Himself, but His friends. And not only that, but He knows that they WILL fail Him.

God's mercy is so much larger than I can possibly imagine. As I read this, the lyrics to the song, "What Do I Know of Holy," come to my mind. "Where have I even stood, but the shore along Your ocean?" As soon as I start to think I have an inkling of an idea about God, I realize I've barely glimpsed the surface of His majesty.

These few verses tell me that even though He knows exactly how we will fail, he's neither surprised nor condemning. He is allowing for mercy. "Don't give up when you fail. Repent and get back to the job of helping others." [Paraphrased]

I don't know why He's so good, and merciful, and patience, but I am so glad HE IS!

Today as you walk through this day, remember that Jesus loved you so much that He was willing to die for you, even though He knew you would fail, over and over. But even before He died, He gave us hope, and a way.

Don't loose faith WHEN you fail..."So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen your brothers.”

Have a blessed and peaceful day.

Tags: Beauty