Give us each day our daily bread.

During the 18 months of my husband’s recent unemployment, the Lord’s Prayer became more meaningful to me than ever before.  I sensed from the moment I received that phone call from my husband telling me that his job was gone, that we would need to lean heavily on God for daily provisions during this time.  I believed that God was leading us into a different direction in our lives.  I hoped that I believed strongly enough that God would provide because I had no confidence in our ability to provide for ourselves without my husband’s income.  Perhaps the biggest lesson for me is that when we are self-sufficient we don’t need God so much.   Life has a way of bringing us occasionally to a position where we can’t rely on our own abilities and resources, forcing us to give up our self-sufficiency.

Intentionally giving up self-sufficiency is a scary thing, yet over and over the Bible encourages us to do just that.   It is natural to call to God when life is in chaos, in times of difficulty, when our resources are drained.  But what about during the good times – can we remember then the source of everything good in our lives?  Asking God for daily provisions recognizes the true Provider in our lives.

…And God is able to provide you with every blessings in abundance, so that you may always have enough of everything and may provide in abundance for every good work.  –2 Cor. 9:8

–Carol Honderich

Even at Night my Heart Instructs me.

As I read today’s scripture I was reminded of one of my favorite Psalms (16:7), “I will praise the LORD, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.”

      I woke up this morning thinking of a good friend of mine, someone I’ve not talked with or shared time with for a number of weeks.  There was no particular reason for this friend to be in my thoughts.  How amazing when I opened my email and found a short message from her, a note to say that she had just lost her job, the result of our economic woes.  Her position of responsibility is in an industry that I would not have thought would be much affected by the economy.  She has been with this company for a long time and weathered some very rough times.  I was shocked.  I’m anxious to get together with her, to offer encouragement and emotional support, and to hear from her how she is feeling.  God is at work now preparing me for my time of being with my friend.  What a confirmation of that, knowing that God had already put her name in my thoughts before I saw her message.

      This is a reminder to me to trust that God is instructing me.   How often do I wake up in the morning with a new idea of how to work at a particular problem that has been troubling; or a thought about something that needs tending.    Asking for God’s guidance, trusting that God is at work in my life, and then the confirmations like the one this morning.   I could say these events are coincidence – but I think not.  I see God’s hand at work teaching me, informing me and guiding me.

      The Sovereign Lord has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught.   – Isaiah 50:4 

— Carol Honderich

Burying our Gifts

REKINDLE THE GIFT

For this reason I remind you to rekindle the gift of God within you for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline. II Timothy 1:6a,7

  

God did not give us a spirit of cowardice… This passage in Timothy reminds me of my recent time of reflection on Matthew 25:14-30, the Parable of the Talents.   I’ve been bothered by this parable and the harsh words and treatment given to the servant who tried to protect the one talent with which he had been entrusted.  As I reflected on this passage, I realized that when I am bothered by a bit of scripture, that may be an indication that I should pay attention to it. 

 

This is what I learned in focusing on this parable:   

 

A little research revealed that the value of a talent was 6,000 denarii, which in Jesus day was equal to the income produced by twenty years of work for a day laborer.  So burying a talent would be like burying twenty years of experience!

In this servant I recognized fear, negativity, and lack of faith.  Out of fear of failure and fear of the response of others, I could understand why be wanted to protect himself.  I saw that his lack of faith in himself could also be translated as lack of faith/belief his maker.  If God gave him a talent, it was given to be used, but the servant did not trust the Master.  God did not give us a spirit of cowardice….

 

Certainly the servant’s negative attitude about his situation made him a victim from the start.  Rather than seeing the possibilities, rather than putting faith in the Master who offered an opportunity of personal growth and success, the servant decided not to risk it.   

Now I understood what a great disservice it was not just to my Master, but also to myself, of burying my talent.  It was equal to the loss of 20 years of experience and opportunity, all out of fear and lack of faith in God’s gifts. God did not give us a spirit of cowardice….

 

Going a step further I asked myself to identify my fears.  The list, to my surprise, comprised a list of names!  My fears were all based in what others might think if I offered my gift.  The names on my list were people in my life who I saw in positions of authority, people I respected, whose rejection of my gift (of me?) would be painful. God did not give us a spirit of cowardice….

 

Elizabeth O’Connor in her inspiring little book, Eighth Day of Creation: Gifts and Creativity, says:

     We ask to know the will of God without guessing that his will is written into our very beings.  We perceive that will when we discern our gifts.  Our obedience and surrender to God are in large part our obedience and our surrender to our gifts.  This is the message wrapped up in the parable of the talents.  Our gifts are on loan.  We are responsible for spending them in the world, and we will be held accountable.

 

If fear is preventing you from living out the gifts and talents you’ve been given, you can know that God did not give us a spirit of cowardice….  God longs for us to grow through the use of our gifts. God walks along beside us as we test those gifts, and God smiles when we offer them back to the world in service. 

 

Blessings as you offer your talents and gifts. 

Carol Honderich

What a Beautiful World!

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters.   Psalm 24:1-2 

What an amazing world we live in!  What an incredible awesome God we have to have created this place as our home.  The question this thought process leads me to is “why?”  “Why would God create this place, and why create people to fill it?”   There is another Psalm that suggests an answer that I love to ponder:

 

The heavens declare the glory of God;
       the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
       night after night they display knowledge.
There is no speech or language
       where their voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out into all the earth,
       their words to the ends of the world.  
Psalm 19: 1-4 (NIV)
 

I believe at the heart of God’s creation of our world and our universe is God’s desire to communicate with us, to reveal Himself to us, to let us know and understand that as our creator He loves us, cares for us and longs to have a relationship with us. When we doubt God’s love, or doubt even His existence, we need only look around us for reassurance that His hand is at work in our lives.  The Psalmist had this same experience of looking to nature and considering that God was evident in it and that there is a connection between God’s beautiful creation and desire to be a part of our lives.

 When I consider your heavens,the work of your fingers,
       the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
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: all flocks and herds,
       and the beasts of the field, the birds of the air,
       and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas.
O LORD, our Lord,
       how majestic is your name in all the earth!
  Psalm 8:3-9 (NIV)

— Carol Honderich

Prayers for Leaders

If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task. Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) 1 Timothy 3: 1-5

My mother tells the story of the day her father was chosen by “lot” to serve his congregation. For my mother and her family it was a sad day and weighty in responsibility. My grandfather later became a bishop in that community and served in that role for many years as a respected church leader.

When I was a child and heard this story I had difficulty understanding the reason for the sadness my mother described. Being chosen or elected to a position of power and leadership seemed to me to be a moment to celebrate, especially being chosen in this way by lot – chosen by God. I had watched televised political election victories, with balloons and confetti falling, and cheering crowds. In these moments I saw no evidence of sadness for those on the victorious side. Why should my mother and her family be sad about the role my grandfather had been chosen for, this important position in the church?

Time has answered that question for me. The many political, corporate and church scandals of the past few decades have resulted in an attitude of distrust and disenfranchisement for many people. People have lost faith in the leaders and institutions that built our country, those that we once considered sacred. We may find it difficult to trust our government or corporate America. We no longer blindly follow our religious leaders. When a loved and respected pastor becomes involved in illegal or unethical activities, the fall-out is devastating and far-reaching, destroying the faith of those in his care.

I have a greater understanding now for the weighty responsibility that created those feelings of sadness for my mother and her family as they considered the vital role their father would play for his congregation. They understood their great responsibility as a family to support their father physically, emotionally and spiritually. My mother’s story has helped me understand the importance of my prayers for our leaders – for our pastors, our church leadership, our government, and our business world.

We hold our leaders to a higher standard of conduct, and rightly so. With our greater expectations, we need to commit ourselves to regular prayer asking God for his hand of protection over our leaders, to bless their work, and to give us each a special sensitivity and understanding of the demanding roles our leaders play in our lives. — Carol Honderich

 

 

Perfect Peace: all the kings of earth praise the Lord

 I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.  I Tim. 2:1-2

This scripture is an encouragement for me to pray for our rulers.  That has been a difficult task for me – I would much perfer to keep my mind clear of the depressing politics of governments, of wars and threats of war, of social and economic injustice.  There seems to be so little I can do. 

Recently I found the following passage in Psalm 138 and have enjoyed very much contemplating what our world might be like if this Psalm became reality.   In his Psalm David has provided an image of the beauty of a perfect world – where “all the kings of earth” are in harmony in their praise of God.  What a wonderful thought.  This Psalm has given words to my hope for peace in our world and has become an encouragement for in my prayers.  I hope it encourages you, too. 

May all the kings of the earth praise you, O LORD,
       when they hear the words of your mouth.
May they sing of the ways of the LORD,
       for the glory of the LORD is great.
Psalm 138: 4-5

– Carol Honderich

Jesus prays for ME!

Over the years I’ve been blessed by the prayers of others.  It is especially meaningful during difficult times to know that someone is praying just for me.  Knowing that someone cares enough to remember me, cares enough to kneel at the feet of Jesus and bring my needs to the Savior – that is special.   I know that my mother prays for me.  My friends pray for me.  The women in my Bible study group pray for me.  I have a special relationship with these people because I know that care enough to pray for me.

Perhaps that is why this prayer of Jesus has become so meaningful to me.  It is HIS prayer for ME!  Jesus knew that his disciples would share the Message.  Jesus knew that people would come to faith and wholeness after hearing about his life and his death and his ressurection.   When I first read John 17:20, and read this verse:  “My prayer is not for them alone (the disciples).  I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message” (that’s me).  I was overwhelmed by the sense that Jesus knew this was for me, specifically for me.  He knew that I would be one of those who heard the Message and would believe.  And what was it that Jesus prayed for when he prayed for me?  In John 17:24 he said:  “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.” 

To be able to add Jesus to that list of special people in my life who pray for me – how wonderful is that! 

Thank you, Jesus, for the greatest prayer anyone has ever prayed for me!

– Carol Honderich