Don’t take my promises!

What gets you through a boring or tough day?

I like to look forward to a yummy meal or a fun time out. Maybe a vacation, or a project with one of my kids.

But some days nothing gets me through except for clinging to promises like the one found in the Bible, in the book of Jeremiah, chapter 29, verse 11:

“I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord. “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you; plans to give you a hope and a future.”

Several months ago this promise came up in conversation with a friend (I don’t remember how). His response was that it is funny how everyone claims that promise when it is not one that we can use anymore. Why? Because it is an Old Testament promise to the Jews, and since Jesus came, none of those are in effect any longer.

I had to agree that Jesus did change a lot with the New Testament, Jeremiah is definitely in the Old Testament, and I was not born a Jew, but something didn’t seem quite right with my friends’ comment. However it was made off-handedly at the start of a social function, so I had little time to ponder it. And with the buzz of the holidays, it was pushed from my mind.

Last week, I was found to be in need of that promise at the end of a particularly mundane day, and wondered, can I really claim it?

Then I remembered what the Bible says about me being grafted into all of the promises given to the Jews since I have become part of God’s family by trusting in Jesus death and resurrection. The Bible also says that Jesus came to fulfill all of the Old Testament promises, not to get rid of them. Therefore, the promise in Jeremiah that God is for me and has good things for me still stands.

Thanks, God, for not letting anyone take your promises away from us!

What’s one of your favorite promises in the Bible?

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Squirrelly

Two weekends ago our family was able to spend a little time along the North Shore. For non-Minnesotans, that is the north shore of Lake Superior. When looking at a map, it really seems to be more the west shore of Lake Superior, but for some reason, unknown to me, we call it the North Shore. Can any of you Duluthians tell me why it is called the North Shore?

We visited Tettegouche State Park, getting there just before lunch. After hiking about 15 minutes we found a beautiful overlook at the start of Shovel Point. Another couple was just finishing up eating as we arrived. As they moved on, we settled into our usual picnic lunch of summer sausage, chips, baby carrots, apple wedges and juice boxes.

We had been munching about 3 minutes when my husband noticed we had a visitor. It never ceases to amaze me that the squirrels in protected wildlife areas are so much more tame than the squirrels in my own back yard. I guess it makes sense, as there are not numerous people sitting in my yard eating food everyday, leaving behind crumbs and purposely throwing out snacks. But I still find it to be an oxymoron to find tame wildlife in the wild, and wild wildlife in my suburban neighborhood.

I know that Funyuns and potato chips are not healthy food for red squirrels. They really aren’t very healthy for people, either. But he was so cute, we just couldn’t help but leave him some. When he came across a tiny piece of chip, he quickly ate it. But the apple wedge was grabbed up and whisked off down the boardwalk.

A minute or so later, he was back looking for more. This time, he found the Funyun. He took a nibble, then decided that should be whisked off, too. We were done with our lunch so took off after him, trying to see where his cache was. We saw him zip up into an evergreen, then jump back down and disappear deeper into the woods.

Upon close inspection of the evergreen,
this is what we found about five feet up!

Hopefully he remembers where he put it before someone else comes along to enjoy it! The next day, while driving home in a soft rain, I wondered about the Funyun, hoping it had been enjoyed before the rain melted it away.

This made me think of Matthew 6:19-20:  “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.”

God so gently prepares us

I have heard numerous sermons on verse one of Genesis 12, how one day, out of the blue (literally!),  God called Abram to leave his land and people and go to a new place where God promised to make him a great nation. And Abram, who had been happily puttering about, living his life, with no thought in the world about anything else,  faithfully just got up and left with his household.

Wow! That is faith – to just change direction with no warning. I was always a bit disheartened by this story, because I know myself too well. I require a lot of warning before I am ready to make significant changes. I am getting better at trusting God, but I still don’t think I would have been able to turn and rip up my life so quickly.

However, while doing my assigned Bible reading this morning (ok, so the reading was assigned for Wednesday, Aug 24. But better late than never!) of Genesis, Chapter 11, I read the following:

“Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, the wife of his son Abram, and together they set out from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to Canaan. But when they came to Haran, they settled there. Terah lived 205 years, and died in Haran.”

Wow! That really gave me hope. God had already been preparing Abram’s heart. God gave Abram a taste of what it is like to move from your home, by prompting his father, Terah, to move the family from Ur to Haran.

God gave Abram a sense of what it is like to be obedient to authority, even when it means plans you made are interrupted. The Bible says that Terah had planned to go to Canaan, but stopped in Haran. Abram had expected to go to Canaan, but was stopped by someone in authority over him.

Most importantly, God put a glimmer of the dream of living in Canaan into Abram’s heart, so that when God called Abram, Abram would be ready to respond. Abram had expected to be living somewhere other than Haran. So when God called him, it probably felt more like, “Cool, I was hoping to get moving again some day.” And less like, “What, you want me to just uproot everything and go to where?”

I am sure there was a bit of the, “you want me to do what?” feeling. But I am so happy to see that God made sure there was some of the, “Cool, I was wondering when this dream would come to fruition!” feeling, too.

Even then, He humored us

While reading through Chapter 2 of Gensis, I had to smile. You know how it is when you want your child to realize something on their own, so you casusally lead them through various circumstances that, unbeknownst to them, will help them make the right decision.

I am coming up blank right now when trying to think of a time that I did that, though I know that I have. Of course when I try it, it has varying results. Those kids can reallly be surprising!

But God always knows how we will respond, so there He was in the Garden of Eden leading Adam along. God had to have known that none of the animals would make a suitable partner for Adam. But God wanted to Adam to decide that for himself.

Just think how much more excited Adam was about Eve than if God had just created her at the same time. Now he anticipated a partner. Had she been there from the start, he would not have realized how lonely he would be without her.

Even at the very beginning, God humored us, letting us think that we discovered something for ourselves, all the while, directing us to it without us even realizing. Thanks, God!

I have no clue!

Every so often, I get to asking God, “Why do you give me a creative brain, but then give me the example of Christ, who did nothing except for what you told him to do?” I just don’t get it. It seems like a waste of a brain, if I am not supposed to think up my own plans.

However, today, my scripture reading was Psalm 8. Verses 4 – 6 say this, “What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet.”

As I let that sink in again, that I, along with the rest of humanity, am supposed to be taking care of this earth, not to mention helping with the Great Commission, suddenly, I couldn’t imagine trying to do anything without asking God first.

I have no clue how to help the earth, and am powerless to turn a human heart towards God. When I was 20 I may have thought I had some answers. But at 40, I know that the full truth of most situations is beyond my human knowing.

God, the next time I am being prideful, remind me of all that you really want me to do. That’ll keep me clinging to You!