The Entrance, The Summer Adventure Series, Day 29

The Entrance

“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it,” Matthew 7:13-14 NKJV.

I recently attended a venue that was on high security alert. Normally, there were several entrances open to the event, but this day, there were only three. Each person lined up and waited their turn, and then we had to open our bags for searches, and walk through a metal detector. Once cleared, we were then scanned by another hand-held wand by the security guard. State police were posted at the gates and anyone who attempted to bypass security was greeted by the officers and their strong presence.

Personally, I appreciated the extra security. With so many threats and potential dangers, knowing the State police and the security company took the situation seriously and worked extra diligently to detect and neutralize a threat, was comforting. Yes, it did take longer to enter, but knowing that every other person there was going through the same protocols meant that there was a certain level of security and we did not need to be anxious.

God’s gate to eternity has its own security as well. No, it’s not angels standing guard with wands or metal detectors at the gate; it is the truth that Jesus Christ is the only Way (John 14:6). If God had several different gates available, then we would all be trying to figure out which gate we could slide through the easiest. We would be wondering if we would be stopped by security and told we could not enter, or we would try to find some way to avoid the spiritual detectors or bypass His path.

With only one entrance, with Jesus as the only Way to Heaven, we are safe. We know when we put our trust in Him, we are able to enter and no one is going to kick us out or tell us we came in the wrong way. It gives us security—Jesus has done all the work to open the gate and make it available to us. It gives us comfort—Jesus has provided the peace and security to keep all eternity in His hands for us, and there is no line in which to wait. He accepts us the moment we believe. As His children, coming in through faith and trust in our Lord Jesus Christ, we have access and no one can tell us otherwise.

Thought-provoker: Have we entered through the one safe gate in Jesus Christ, and if we have, are we telling others about the One Way?

Lord, thank You for the peace and security that comes from only having one Way to trust You with our eternity, and that Way is through faith and trust in Jesus Christ. Help us to share Your one Way with others today. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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The Flea Medicine, The Summer Adventure Series, Day 28

Only two more days left of The Summer Adventure Series.  Thank you so much for being a part of the journey! If you haven’t read all of the series, you can catch up on the blog–just click on the link, or go to today. Blessings, Tammy

The Flea Medicine

How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! Psalm 19:9-10, ESV.

One of the summertime issues we have with Ava are the fleas. Ava likes to go out for walks every morning, and the fleas are ready and waiting to make her skin their new home. We bathe her twice a week with flea shampoo and we even get medicine from the vet to prevent them. We do our best to keep the fleas off of her because they irritate her, make her scratch all the time, and she keeps me awake at night pacing back and forth and digging at her ears and collar. But, with the medicine, she is calm, she only scratches her collar occasionally and we both get a better night’s sleep.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we had sin-repellant that worked like the flea shampoo and medicine? What if we could apply something in our lives and it would keep the sin away? Instead of being frustrated and losing sleep over the sin and temptations, what if we could be calm and get a good night’s sleep with a clean conscience?

We can. The sin-repellant God has given us is His Word. The more time we spend in His Word, the less likely sin can get a grip in our lives. The more we seek His Word, the less we will wander from the pure principles of holy living He provides. I understand that sinless perfection is not something we will grasp this side of Glory (Philippians 3:12-14), but just like Ava’s repelling of the fleas, the more we stay away from the sin and temptations by focusing on the Word, the less irritation and damage sin can do in our lives.

Starting today, I think it is time we repel the sin and temptations of this world by spending more time dipping ourselves in the sin-repellant of God’s Word. Will you join me?

Thought-provoker: are we spending enough time in God’s Word that we are less likely to be enticed by sin? If not, where do we need to make changes in our schedules or in our habits so that we can live more sin-repellant?

Abba, thank You for Your Word that repels sin and helps us to live how You want us to live. Please give us the desire and the follow-through to spend time in Your Word today, and every day. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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The Hug, The Summer Adventure Series, Day 27

The Hug

So if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and individual members of it, I Corinthians 12:26-27, HCSB.

We weren’t sure exactly what to do. Dear friends of ours had lost their husband, father and our friend to a difficult disease. We knew he had the illness, but his body had managed it for years. Then, in two weeks, he was gone. What do you say to a nineteen year old who has just lost his dad? What do you say to his sisters? To his mom?

We went through the “normal” expectations for a funeral. We brought food, we went to the viewing, and we were there for the funeral. We did our best not to intrude, but to be there for our grieving friends. We grieved with them. But, there was a moment when we realized it wasn’t anything we could say, it wasn’t the food we brought or the card we had sent—even though each one of those things was important and we needed it to do them. It was being there with them at that particular moment that let them know how important they are in our lives, and how much we would miss their husband/dad. And it was a hug that triggered it.

When a nineteen year old young man, trying to be brave and strong for his newly widowed mom and hurting sisters, looked at us with tears in his eyes and could not say a word, I just hugged him. We never said a word; we didn’t need to. In that moment, he knew we were suffering with him, and we would be there with them for the days ahead. So many times I hear people say, “I’m not going to go to the funeral because I don’t know what to say.” Just be there. Show up and let them know that the body of Christ hurts with them. Let them know they are still connected.

In the days since the funeral, we have watched the family persevere and make tough decisions. We’ve also seen them smile again as graduation came for one of the sisters and life’s little joys returned—birthdays, a new kitten, and a remodeling project done well. We rejoiced in those moments too, because we are connected. Be there when you can and be a part of the body—it’s how we all find the way to keep functioning.

Thought-provoker: Have we ever taken the time to consider that our presence matters?

Lord, thank You that we are connected. Thank You that our sorrows and our joys are shared in the body of Christ. Help us be there for each other today, and in the days ahead. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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The Halter, The Summer Adventure Series, Day 26

The Halter

Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying: “You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created,” Revelation 4:9-11, NKJV.

Our daughter has shown horses since she was little. She has worked hard and learned the technical skills, as well as the proper form, tack, and clothing to wear for the different classes and events. This past year, she and Dancer were awarded a leather halter for being the High Point Reserve Champions in their division. It is a very nice halter, and Dancer gets to wear it. Charity puts it on her when she is taking her to a big show, for certain classes, and even for pictures. It looks quite good on Dancer as the darkly oiled leather stands out against Dancer’s chestnut coloring.

The reality of the halter, though, is that it belongs to Charity. Charity worked with Dancer many, many hours to learn the proper movements and the correct signals to win the classes that led to the honor of High Point Reserve. Charity cleaned all the saddles, bridles, pads and clothing and it was Charity who took Dancer to the shows, paid all the fees, took care of the stalls and rode Dancer in the shows. Yes, Dancer participated as the horse member of the pair, but Charity was the one who made the decisions and gave direction to the team. Dancer had to be willing to do what Charity asked, and when she did, she was there for the ride.

One day, we will be given crowns to wear in Heaven. We will be awarded for the perseverance of the saints and for the work we have done for the kingdom. And what will we do with those crowns? We will cast them at the feet of Jesus, the One who made it possible for us to not only be in Heaven through His sacrifice, but also gave us the gifts and talents that enabled us to serve Him and further His kingdom. He did the work, He provided, He gave the direction. We just had to be willing, and in doing so, we will win. We will be awarded, and the glory all goes right back to Him. Because, just like Dancer, we will get to wear the award, but it doesn’t belong to us, it belongs to our Savior and Lord who made all of it possible.

Thought-provoker: Do we realize the crowns we will receive belong to the Savior? We owe Him everything—do we live like that is true? How does it show in our lives now? How will we affect eternity?

Lord, thank You for allowing us the privilege to wear the crowns! We will be so grateful to cast them at Your feet and give You the glory when we see You. Help us to live in the reality that it is all You and we are to be willing to do whatever You ask of us. We give You the glory both now and forever. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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June 25th, The Summer Adventure Series, Day 25

June 25th

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change, James 1:17, ESV.

Please don’t send me any hate mail or quit reading because of what I am about to say. It is exactly six months until Christmas! When you have nineteen nieces and nephews you cannot wait until the week before Christmas to do the shopping, so I look forward to this date every year as a reminder to check the Christmas list and check which ones I still need to shop for, and which ones are set and ready in my gift closet.

I do look forward to Christmas. It’s not the presents that get me really excited, although I do enjoy giving gifts. It’s the time spent with friends and family. It’s time to see the twinkling lights and enjoy the decorations. It’s time to have special outings and socials. Our church choir starts practicing for the Cantata in September, and that gives us time to see each other and reconnect after a long summer. Family members get in touch, or get together, for the holidays and friends have parties or special occasions to see each other. Yes, sometimes it is busy, but it is good to be active and connecting with others. And so, I start planning for those times in June.

I wonder if our Savior looks forward to June 25th too. Besides being a day He has created, I stop and think if He hopes that we will remember. Will we remember that He came, not just at Christmas, and will we live each day in light of His gift? Will we stop and spend some time planning ahead, and looking forward to celebrating with the friends and family He has given us? Does He hope for us to spend time thanking Him during the summer, when there aren’t constant reminders of the holidays, food, lights and decorations, and fun? Does He wait for us to pause and take a moment to think about what He has done and what good gifts He has given us?

I hope He does, and I hope we will. It’s good to have June 25th to remind us that we can be thankful for the good gifts He gives each day, not just at the holidays. It’s good to look forward to what is coming in just a few short months. After all, Christmas will be here before we know it!

Thought-provoker: Do we have reminders that help us to be grateful for relationships and God-given gifts? Are we grateful more often than just December?

Lord, thank You for loving us so much that You give us good things all year, not just at Christmas. As we reach the halfway mark of this year, help us to live gratefully through the rest of the year and to show others just how good You are. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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The Seatbelt, The Summer Adventure Series, Day 24

The Seatbelt

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess that[a] Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God,” I John 4:1-3a, NKJV.

I have a confession to make: I strongly dislike rollercoasters. I avoid them at every opportunity, at every amusement park. Not only do they make me sick and cause severe headaches, the anxiety as the cars tick up the big hill and then plunge down the other side is more than I can accept as “amusement.” It may stem from childhood nightmares as I rode rollercoasters back when they just had roll-down bars and those never really made me feel secure.

On a recent family vacation, we decided that I would try some of the roller coasters at the park. When I sat down in the first one, the attendant said, “Please fasten your seatbelt.” What a novel idea! They put seatbelts on a thrill ride. This gave me a sense of security as I realized I could only slide in the seat as far as the seatbelt would allow. The same safety harness that I am required to use in my car is now on an amusement ride. Once I had clicked the seatbelt, I tugged on it. I pulled it snugly around my waist and I pulled the shoulder strap. I wanted to be sure it would not come undone. Then the attendant came by again, and he checked the belt to make sure it was working properly. I did not doubt that the seatbelt was there for my safety; I just wanted to be sure it worked.

Testing the spirits is similar to tugging on that seatbelt. God’s Word works, and it keeps us secure from danger in this life, but sometimes, we need to tug on it and make sure we know it’s working. We need to study out doctrines and learn more about the gracious God we love and serve, and we do that through putting pressure on the teachings we are receiving. If they are from God, they stand firm and hold. If they are not, they will crash and burn and not be able to withstand the pressure of the light and truth in our lives. Personally, I prefer the seatbelt that is going to keep me safe and secure as I ride this roller coaster of life, so I am glad God’s Word stands! I am also thankful for the attendants in life—those pastors, teachers and counselors—who faithfully proclaim the truth and gently tug on that seatbelt for me to give me the added security of knowing the truth stands and they are standing with me upon it.

Thought-provoker: Are we secure in the truth and testing the teachings that come into our lives to be sure they line up with God’s Word?

Abba, thank You that Your Word stands and is the seatbelt that keeps us secure in this life. Please help us to check the spiritual seatbelt and make sure we are secure in the truth today. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Sneak Peak #2, The Summer Adventure Series, Day 23

Okay, here it is–sneak peak #2 into Devotions from Everyday Jobs, my new book planned to be out this fall! Hope you enjoy and I look forward to seeing you tomorrow. Blessings, Tammy

The Hair Stylist

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear,” Ephesians 4:29 ESV.

She is one my best acquaintances. Even though I only see her once every six to eight weeks, I look forward to our visits. She is very well trained in her trade, and her skills help me to feel more confident and prepared as I go about doing my calling. She usually spends about an hour with me, and her perky personality and perceptive insights help to bring out the best in me. Well, at least the best in my hair–she is my hair stylist.

She does a great job of matching my hairstyle to my personality. When I decided I wanted to go short, she gave me a sleek bob. When I decided to let my hair grow long, she kept the bangs trimmed and the ends tipped so they would grow. When I was in between the short and the long styles, and frustrated by the lack of progress, she encouraged me to wait it out a little longer and not make a rash decision. I am glad she was persuasive, because eight weeks later, my hair was touching my shoulders and back in my good graces. She listens to me and asks questions about what is going on in my life. She intuitively senses if I need a change, a boost in confidence that she can provide with a new look, or if I just need a little tune-up. She can even tell if I need some “pampering”—a wash and condition along with a blow dry and style, or if I am doing well and just need a cut-and-go. When I leave her place, I feel pretty and confident and willing to take on the world. She gives me the instructions and shows me the methods I need to be able to replicate her styling when I get home. And every eight weeks, she does it again to help me feel good about my appearance.

We should be the hair stylists of the Christian realm. No, I am not asking any of you to pick up your scissors and attempt to change my look. I am referring to the confidence instilling and paying attention to the needs of others around us. We should hear the weariness in others’ voices, be perceptive of discouragement or frustration, and we should encourage them back to their confidence in Christ. Sometimes, we need to “pamper” a discouraged friend—go the extra mile, do something special, to let her know she is loved and is needed as a member of the family of God. Be a hair stylist—go restore someone’s confidence.

Thought-provoker: Are we encouraging others and restoring confidence in God in those around us?

Lord, help us to see those who are discouraged and be willing to come alongside. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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