Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 One Thing! Challenge: The End... and Another Beginning!

"He who testifies to these things says, 'Surely I am coming soon.' Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen."
Revelation 22:20-21

Last year, under the leadership of Pastor Mike, our church committed to read the entire Bible together during 2010.  We planned to be on the same page each day as we let the Lord speak to us through His Word.  It has been an amazing year, and I am blessed to belong to such a Bible centered fellowship of believers!  Through difficulties and change, Pastor Mike led and taught us by his faithful example.  For this, I am extraordinarily grateful.

This is the last day of the One Thing! Challenge.  I didn't manage to get through the year perfectly -- there were days that I missed -- but the practice of a disciplined Bible plan helped me in my spiritual growth, and it gave me the accountability to read my Bible on days when I might otherwise have missed out on God's great gift to us.  In an attempt to finish strong, I made it an almost daily habit to post my One Thing! thoughts on this blog starting in October.  What a blessing this year of Bible study has been!

2011 will see me reading the Chronological Bible, and I look forward to another great year of reading as the Lord instructs me through His Word!

One Thing: Jesus is coming soon!  Be faithful as He is faithful!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

One Thing: Peace

"True instruction was in his mouth, and no wrong was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and he turned many from iniquity."
Malachi 2:6

Peace.  Do we really know what it means to have peace, and, if we do, what steps are we taking to have peace?  Am I being a peacemaker?  I do so want to have peace in my life and relationships!

I have found that peace is often the hardest to achieve when I feel I am right about something and others don't see it my way.  That is exactly what this verse in Malachi is addressing.  We need to take care that we do speak truth and are not wrong when we speak, but we are to walk in peace and uprightness at the same time.  That is the hard part!

Peace can be difficult to walk in when there is a "point" to be made and we want to persuade others about the correctness of our ideas and behavior. But what are we trying to accomplish?  It is my desire to turn many from iniquity, and how does Malachi 2:6 instruct us to do this?  We are to speak truth while walking in peace!

One Thing: Please, Lord, help me to have a soft, peaceful answer.  Help me to speak truth with gentleness so that those I speak with are drawn toward You and away from sin.  Thank you for your patience toward me, and help me to show this same patience toward others.  In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

One Thing: Defend

"Open your mouth for the mute,
   for the rights of all who are destitute.
Open your mouth, judge righteously,
   defend the rights of the poor and needy."
Proverbs 31:8-9

One Thing: It is my duty to defend the rights of whose who can't speak for themselves.  Who is that in my life?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

One Thing: Strength vs. Honor

"The LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him,
   in those who hope in his steadfast love."
Psalm 147:11

One Thing: Strength or talent is not what matters to God.  Hope solely in Him and give Him all honor and obedience.

Monday, December 27, 2010

One Thing: Stop Talking

For pressing milk produces curds,
   pressing the nose produces blood,
   and pressing anger produces strife.
Proverbs 30:33

As I was meditating over what this verse meant -- and how to practically apply it to my life -- I checked my dad's Twitter account.  He has been most faithful this year to post his One Thing thoughts on both Twitter and Facebook. His most recent post said exactly what I was trying to capture in words, so, today, I am adopting his One Thing:

"There is a time to stop talking -- learn to recognize it."

Thursday, December 23, 2010

One Thing: Worship

"Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water."
Revelation 14:7

One Thing: Nothing can compare to the greatness of His power.  Worship the Creator this Christmas!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

One Thing: No Condemnation

"Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God."
Revelation 12:10 

One Thing: In Christ, there is no condemnation.

Night Sky

Yes, I stayed up for the lunar eclipse.  It was a sight to see!  It went from looking like the picture above to looking like those below.  It got even neater looking than this, but I will leave those pictures for the experts.

Monday, December 20, 2010

One Thing: Nothing Hidden

"For you formed my inward parts;
   you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
   my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
   intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
   in your book were written, every one of them,
   the days that were formed for me,
   when as yet there was none of them."
Psalm 139:13-16

I absolutely love this Psalm. Life is precious, and we are each fearfully and wonderfully made.

One Thing: Nothing about me is hidden from the Lord.  Live every day in a way that is worthy of His book.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

One Thing: Rejoice Always

"...Yet I will rejoice in the LORD;
    I will take joy in the God of my salvation."
Habakkuk 3:18

By reading the verses that come immediately before this one, we see that Habakkuk is declaring his continual rejoicing in the Lord -- even if things go really wrong.

One Thing: Rejoicing in the Lord is not based on happenings; I can always take joy in His mercy.

Friday, December 17, 2010

11 to 22: A Story of Friendship and Love

Zachary and I have known one another for about half our lives. When you know someone that long, you collect a lot of memories and stories together. This account could be much longer, but this is the short version of our long history!

Zachary and I started having music lessons together in 2000 when we were both 11 years old. Although we didn't talk to each other at first, we became good friends by the time we were 14. Our friendship continued to grow when we were 15, but our schedules took us apart shortly after our 16th birthdays. We did not see much of each other at all for a year until our paths crossed again. We did not stay in contact for long, however, and events outside of our control divided us again in the fall of 2006.

Zachary was easy to like (and imagine a future with), but I needed to keep my heart and will in the right place and let God rule that part of my life. After an intense emotional struggle, I surrendered my desire to have a future with Zachary to the Lord on November 11, 2006 -- shortly before our 18th birthdays. I never expected to talk to him again. This time in my life was incredibly difficult, but with God's grace, I learned to trust the Lord with our futures.

Once my heart had been checked and placed in my Lord's capable hands, He was able to work wonders in our lives. Zachary began attending the church my family went to -- First Baptist Church -- in October 2007. He was in Sunday School and Choir with me so -- once again -- we saw each other regularly. Even though Zachary had not done anything wrong, I was reluctant to be his friend again. I had given him up for good, and I was afraid of becoming emotionally vulnerable again. Zachary persevered, and we were able to be reacquainted during 2008 as I graduated from my high school studies, got a job, and planned for college.

My hope of a future with him had been reignited, but I was confused and unsure of his feelings. He was always such a good friend and gentleman -- which I admired -- but it didn't make interpreting him any easier. Understandably, I was confusing him as well with my somewhat friendly but distant interactions with him.

On August 11, 2008, Zachary removed all doubt and asked my father's permission to court me. I was overjoyed! Even though our parents wanted us to get to know each other better before an official courtship was entered, it was a milestone in our relationship. We began to spend much more time together. My admiration for Zachary grew quickly, but I was still partially withdrawn and reserved. I was afraid he would decide not to move forward with the relationship, and I would be left heartbroken. There was no question in my mind that I loved him.

There was no need to fear; Zachary assured me of his love (which I gladly returned) on October 11, 2008, and our official courtship began on April 11, 2009. In the following months, our love only grew as we enjoyed long walks, games, church activities, and conversation together and became more than friends; we became sweethearts!

Zachary and I were at the Cann Memorial Gardens on April 24, 2010 when he asked me to marry him. We had been talking about it for some time, but he still managed to surprise me! We held hands for the first time that day and chose a wedding date: June 11, 2011. He had spoken to my dad the day before, so my family knew it was coming, but it was so exciting for me to tell them all the good news!

The Lord worked a miracle in leading Zachary and me to each other! Our engagement has been a productive time of work and college, but we are both eagerly anticipating our wedding and a life spent together as husband and wife!

One Thing: Neither Poverty Nor Riches

 "Two things I ask of you;
   deny them not to me before I die:
Remove far from me falsehood and lying;
   give me neither poverty nor riches;
   feed me with the food that is needful for me,
lest I be full and deny you
   and say, "Who is the LORD?"
or lest I be poor and steal
    and profane the name of my God."
Proverbs 30:7-9

One Thing: Desire moderation and be content with "enough."

Thursday, December 16, 2010

One Thing: What is Good?

"He has told you, O man, what is good;
   and what does the LORD require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
   and to walk humbly with your God?"
Micah 6:8

One Thing: Be just, kind, and humble.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

One Thing: Bless the Lord!

I related to several parts of today's OneThing! reading.  First, I can say with Agur, "I am weary, O God; I am weary, O God, and worn out" (Proverbs 30:1).

It has been a long two and a half years of college, but I have finally fulfilled the requirements for my bachelor's degree in English.  I submitted my last essay last night and took my last examination this afternoon.  I am done.   Finished.  Tired.  My mind was whirling so fast last night that sleep eluded me, and I had a work Christmas party at 8:00 AM this morning.  So, I am weary.

But more than weary, I am thankful!  God has sustained me through these long months (often using my incredible family and Zachary).  Right now, I want to shout with the Psalmist:

"Come, bless the LORD, all you servants of the LORD,
   who stand by night in the house of the LORD!
 Lift up your hands to the holy place
   and bless the LORD!"
Psalm 134:1

I feel like shooting off fireworks in celebration, and I would do it if not for a few considerations...

1. I don't own any.
2. They are illegal within city limits.
3. It is cold out.
4. I know nothing about shooting fireworks, so...
5. It wouldn't be safe.
6. Most importantly, I am exhausted!

So, short of fireworks, I am enjoying a big mug of tea and the knowledge that I can sleep in tomorrow!  Have a great day!

One Thing: Bless the Lord!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

One Thing: Source of Justice

"Many seek the face of a ruler,
   but it is from the LORD that a man gets justice".
Proverbs 29:26

It is just a thought, but is our nation looking to the federal government to solve our problems when we should be turning to the Lord and asking Him for justice?

One Thing: Ask the Lord to be your source and rely on Him.

Monday, December 13, 2010

One Thing: Trust

"The fear of man lays a snare,
   but whoever trusts in the LORD is safe."
Proverbs 29:25

One Thing: Fear only makes the situation worse, so give every concern to the Lord and trust Him with it.

This is my last week of college!  There were once 12 notes on my door to represent the last semester of my school work, but there is only one left. My Children's Literature final exam is this Wednesday afternoon, and I have an essay to write for "One Writer's Vision: Jane Austen." I am almost there!

COMING SOON: A short story about Zachary and me will be posted on Friday!

My Advent One Thing: Hope

Psalm 131

A Song of Ascents. Of David.
O LORD, my heart is not lifted up;
   my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
   too great and too marvelous for me.
But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
   like a weaned child with its mother;
   like a weaned child is my soul within me.

 O Israel, hope in the LORD
   from this time forth and forevermore.

My family has been studying "hope" during our Advent devotions this year.  Today's One Thing! reading from Psalms perfectly coincided with our theme.  God is our hope, but what is hope?

Hope is the secure place of refuge where our enemy cannot reach us.  It is the expectation of good.

God is all this and more to us, His children.  We look back and see His faithfulness in sending Jesus to earth as a baby, and we look forward to His second coming with hope. This is what Advent or "arrival" is all about.

As in so many years in the past, my dad has led our family in our nightly Advent devotions this season.  I want him to know how grateful I am for his leadership in this area.  He has been a rock of sound advice, loving discipline, godly fatherhood, Christian faithfulness...  

This is my last Advent season at home with my parents, and I feel blessed that both my dad and mom devoted their time and energies to teach me the true meaning of Christmas.  Our Advent tradition has meant so much to me, and I look forward to the next two weeks of Bible reading, teaching, and prayer! 

Thank you, Dad!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

One Thing: Seek

"Seek good, and not evil,
   that you may live;
and so the LORD, the God of hosts, will be with you,
   as you have said."
Amos 5:14

One Thing: Endeavor to find the good, and the Lord will be there.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

One Thing: Fruit of Your Labor

"Blessed is everyone who fears the LORD,
   who walks in his ways!
You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands;
   you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you."
Psalm 128:1-2

One Thing: Walk in the way of the Lord and work hard.  Blessing will follow, and all will be well.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

One Thing: Mercy with Fear

"Keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh."
Jude 21-23

It can be difficult in our minds, hearts, and attitudes to distinguish between the sin and the sinner.  While hating "even the garment stained by the flesh," we are to show mercy to doubters.  This isn't easy.  There is a lot to consider and pray about in these verses, and I do not pretend to understand it completely, but it does remind me to love others while hating the sin.  We are to do what we can to snatch "them out of the fire," but whatever course they decide, we must be merciful and remember that we are not the Judge.

One Thing: Show mercy and love toward doubters -- but with fearful understanding of the spiritual danger they are in.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

One Thing: Influences

"Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good."
3 John 1:11

One Thing: What is influencing me?  Find what is good and imitate that.

Monday, December 06, 2010

One Thing: Venting

"A fool gives full vent to his spirit,
   but a wise man quietly holds it back."
Proverbs 29:11

One Thing: Don't "vent."  Wisely hold your tongue.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

One Thing: Help

"Our help is in the name of the LORD,
who made heaven and earth."
Psalm 127:8

One Thing: I hope in the help of my Lord!

Saturday, December 04, 2010

One Thing: Greater

"Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world."
1 John 4:4

One Thing: The Lord is bigger and greater than my problems.  He will handle them.

PRAYER REQUEST: There are two weeks of school left, and I would appreciate your prayers.  I have 7 papers to write in the next week, and the midterm I took on November 11th never made it to my mentor.  Please pray that the college would find it quickly and get it to my mentor as soon as possible.  Thanks.

UPDATE -- 7 Dec 2010
I received an email from my mentor today with good news!  She received my midterm and will grade it within a few days!  Thank you for your prayers!

Friday, December 03, 2010

One Thing: Back It Up

"Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth."
1 John 3:18

One Thing: Back up your words with deeds.  True love is active and demonstrated physically though your behavior, conduct, and attitude.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

One Thing: The Source

I lift up my eyes to the hills.
   From where does my help come?
My help comes from the LORD,
   who made heaven and earth.
Psalm 121: 1-2

These verses encouraged me this evening.  My help does come from the Lord.

One Thing: I will look to my Lord for the rest, strength, and peace that I need.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

One Thing: Wisdom

Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool,
   but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered.
Proverbs 28:26

One Thing: Don't let education make you foolish.  Rely on God's Word for wisdom.