Sunday, February 27, 2022

Be Quick to Listen

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. James 1:19-20

Hello Friends!
Before I discuss the verse and page today, I want to take a moment to pray for the people of Ukraine and everyone affected. Lord, we know that You are sovereign. What is happening now was not a surprise to You. In fact, You can use it for Your good purpose. Father God, please be with the people of Ukraine. Give them strength, courage, and safety. I pray for the governments of the world, that they will seek Your wisdom, that You will guide them. I pray that Putin will turn to You. I pray that many will be led to You, that they will find Light in this darkness. Help us, Lord! In Jesus' name, Amen.

If only our world leaders and the rest of us would heed this verse, our world would be a very different place. Is this not a perfect verse to guide us in how we relate to others in this day and age? We're all so sure we're right. And, we definitely have to speak our peace. Far be it from us to be silent. We must be heard even if that means yelling over everyone else. And if we do stop talking long enough to actually have a conversation with someone, so often instead of listening to each other, we're just thinking about how we're going to respond to prove them wrong. Can anyone disagree without getting angry these days? It sure doesn't seem like it. 

We are doing the exact opposite of this verse. W are slow to listen, quick to speak, and quick to get angry. And sadly, believers- true believers and professing believers alike- are often some of the biggest culprits of this. Let's remember Whose name we bear. Yes, we must stand for truth. But we must do it humbly and lovingly and in a way that glorifies Jesus. If we don't, we won't win anyone over to Him.

Page details: I used the following Sweet 'n Sassy Stamps sets: Watch Your Mouth and God is Love. I used watercolor crayons for the background and colored pencils to color in the flowers.

Pray, church, pray, and listen. Have a blessed week. Andrea


Saturday, February 26, 2022

Clean the Inside First...

Hi friends,

I must admit, I'm a little pedantic about making sure that cups, plates and cutlery are properly clean before we use them. The idea of drinking out of a cup that still has crusty remains of a previous beverage in it makes me want to gag! It doesn't matter how pretty the mug might be on the outside, if it's dirty on the inside, then I don't want to drink from it. 

Jesus uses this analogy when rebuking the Pharisees in Matthew 23. He tells them that it is pointless cleaning the outside of the cup and dish, while neglecting to clean the inside. This was a reflection of their lives. They made sure the external looked good, right, and proper. They washed their hands in a certain way and tithed exactly the right amount of even the smallest things. Yet on the inside they were filled with greed, self-indulgence, hypocrisy, and lawlessness. Jesus didn't care how beautiful things looked on the outside when the inside was rotten to the core.

It's easy for us to view the Pharisees as the 'bad guys' of the Bible, like the villain in a pantomime. But I think we tend to have more in common with these guys than many of us would care to admit. Just think about the amount of money and time that is spent on the beauty industry, making sure we have the right skin care products, makeup, hair styles, fashion, etc. And then compare that to the time and money spent on caring for our insides - our spiritual health. I suspect that there are out-of-balance priorities that need to be owned and addressed by many of us. Even if it's not an obsession with fashion or beauty, but an obsession with making sure we do the right things externally, so people will think we are 'good Christians.' We may have a list of 'dos' and 'don'ts' that we try to stick carefully to, making sure we tick the right boxes. But even this - the seemingly 'good' activity of a Christian - can reveal a focus on externals rather than internals. We need to pay attention to the health of our heart, our thinking, our interior life. Jesus made it very clear to the Pharisees that he sees straight through outward pretences and sees straight into the heart. And he cares more about what's in there than how shiny we look on the outside.

I combined I Like Big Cups with God is Good to create the mug, colouring the image and the background with watercolours. The text was created using a combination of alpha sets: Happy Alpha, Skinny Minnie Alpha, and Mini Bold Print Alpha

Let's be people who pay attention to the inside more than we concern ourselves with external things.

Be blessed...

x Amy x

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Let Us Love

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. 1 John 4:7

Hi friends! It's Valentine's Day. And to be honest, I've never really liked this "holiday." I have always thought that it's a made-up, "Hallmark" holiday just so people will spend money on each other. I mean, do we really need a holiday to show our love to each other? I hope not.

But personal feelings aside, I will take this day to talk about God's love and what receiving that love should encourage us to do. God's love is immeasurable. It's never-ending. It's active. It's Jesus hanging on the cross for every single one of us. 

There's a very familiar passage about love in 1 Corinthians:
  • Verses 1-3: "If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing." What these verses are saying is that what we do is not eternally meaningful if it is not done in love. If we are just going through the motions, we need to stop and re-evaluate. God wants us lovingly serving others.
  • Verses 4-8a, "Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not boast. It is not proud. It does not dishonor others. It is not self-seeking. It is not easily angered. It keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails." When I read these verses, I see Christ's love through and through. It is an amazing love that we can strive for but only achieve through the Holy Spirit.
Since God loves us, we are called to love others. When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was, He said this, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: love your neighbor as yourself." (Matt 22:37-39) God didn't tell us to judge others or tell them all the things they're doing wrong. He told us to love Him and to love others. This love seeks the highest good in the one loved. Our world needs love. Church, we are not doing a good job in loving others as Jesus loves us! I'm not saying we should condone sin. We shouldn't. But we are all sinners. And people will be more open to changing their lives and following Jesus when they're not put on the defensive, when they feel loved. Sinners were drawn to Jesus. Why? He certainly didn't condone their sin. But they felt His love. And that drew them in. Oh, that we might love like that.

Page details: I used the following Sweet 'n Sassy Stamps sets: God is Love and Grunge Elements 3. It's a super simple page! I applied distress oxide ink to the page and spritzed it with water. The ink reacts to the water and lightens where the water droplets were. Then, I stamped the verse and images. Journaling pages don't have to be all involved. Simple is good too. Time with God is the best!

Have a blessed week! Andrea

Saturday, February 12, 2022

Ears to hear...

Hi friends,

There's a lot in the Bible about hearing and listening. The Shema that the Israelites declare daily begins with "Hear O Israel..." and Proverbs is full of instructions to listen to wisdom and instruction. We find this continues in the New Testament, as Jesus uses a peculiar phrase quite often in the Gospels: "Whoever has ears to hear let them hear."

This might sound a little strange to us as it's not the kind of thing we go around saying. But if you think about it, not everyone who has ears actually hears. There are those who are fully or partially deaf, and those who have selective hearing and choose only to hear what they want to hear. And this applies to the listening that we are to do with our spirit too. Some people are spiritually deaf and cannot hear the words of God as coming from him. And there are some who have selective spiritual hearing - they only hear what they choose to hear. They are not open to hearing those things that challenge them or make them uncomfortable.

Jesus issues an invitation to those who have ears to hear, to hear/listen to his words. This requires both attention and humility. In the midst of our busy lives, we need to make time to slow down, to quiet ourselves, and to pay attention to the words of Jesus. We can't expect for him to blast his words through the noise of our lives with some sort of spiritual megaphone! On occasion, God does speak like that but it isn't the norm. And we need to listen with humility, because the words of Jesus are challenging. If we come to his words with an attitude of superiority or 'togetherness' we will likely be offended, or simply miss the truth of what he is saying. We all have ears, both physical and spiritual, and Jesus is calling us to use those ears to listen to his voice.

I used the new Watch Your Mouth set on this page, along with Peony Cluster, Chunky Lowercase Alpha, and Art Deco Alpha. The background was created with acrylic paints and I coloured with images in with coloured pencils.

Let's be people who use our spiritual ears to listen attentively to Jesus.

Be blessed...

x Amy x