In The Presence of God

This  year, 2015, I’m reading through a version of the Bible that I don’t usually use. It’s the Holman Christian Standard Bible.  I need to read 2.4 pages each day to read through this particular Bible entirely.

I want to post on here lessons I learn as I read through.

Today, I’d like to reflect on this verse:

“When Abram was 99 years old, the Lord appeared to him, saying, ‘I am God Almighty. Live in my presence and be devout.” ~Genesis 17:1

The nice thing about reading various versions of the Bible even if one believes the version to be largely questionable in its translation, is that you do see what a passage says in another way that you’ve never thought of before. In most other versions, rather than saying, “live in my presence and be devout”, they say, “walk before me” and “be perfect” or “be blameless”.

I like what this version says: “Live in my presence and be devout”. I can relate to this much more. I can see us humans as living in the presence of God and being devout to the Almighty much easier than walking before Him and being blameless or perfect even though I know it means the same.

So, briefly, because I don’t want to go on and on: (too late?)

How do we live in the presence of God?

Hebrews 7:19 says, “(for the law perfected nothing), but a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God.”

Being in the presence of God would have to include being near to Him. This verse tells us how to be near to God, and that is through the word – the “better hope”. The Old Law (rules, but no grace as of yet) was not perfect, but the New Law (including grace), the “better hope” is our vehicle to know God, to be near Him.

We also live in His presence in worship to Him. Psalm 95:2 and 100:2 speak of coming before His presence with thanksgiving and singing. What better place to sing and give thanks before the Lord than in worship with brothers and sisters in Christ?

To live in God’s presence, you don’t live before whatever has become your idol. In Isaiah 19:1, the prophet says that idols tremble before God. Nowadays, our idols may be wooden images, but they are more likely the things we covet, as is stated in Colossians 3:5, or as the HCSB version says, “greed, which is idolatry”. So, don’t live with greed. It’s the opposite way to go in being in the presence of God.

Be devout. The other, more familiar versions: be blameless and be perfect. Being devout then, is obeying that new law, spoken of in Hebrews 7:19. Being perfect, blameless and devout does not happen haphazardly as if grace will cover every unrepentant sin and we can live as sinful as we please. It comes from the reading and obeying of the word of God.

Live in His presence and be devout. That’s the lesson.

Sharon, with Mary

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Poem, inspired by 2 Corinthians 4:16

We Do Not Lose Heart

I have old wrinkles on my face,

My hair has turned light gray

These feet will falter place to place,

But I have this to say:

Inside, the Heavenly Father makes me new

Through the reading of His word

Each day, new growth; each day, a view

To reach the ones who haven’t heard.

by Sharon Smith

with Mary

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Progress in January

I’m learning Spanish from… www.onlinefreespanish.com. It’s a very good web site to learn. It teaches how to read, spell and speak. Right now, I’m trying to learn conjugating verbs.

The Spanish Bible reading is going along – one chapter a day. It takes me about 20 to 30 minutes to read one chapter! Still, if I’m consistent, I will be through long before the year is out.

Getting up at 5:30 is not going as I’d hoped. However, I am getting up earlier. I hope to be getting up at 5:30 by the time January is out.

Those are the three I am concentrating on right now. I still have time to plant the sweet peas, and it is a much colder winter than the last few, so I’m hoping that will mean more time for early plantings, such as English peas, greens, and beets.

Warning to self: Proverbs 20:4 – “The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold; therefore shall he beg in harvest, and have nothing.”

~Sharon with Martha

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Poem

COMPLAINTS OF THE BLESSINGS    ~by Sharon Smith

It’s pleasant to be with those who are pleasant,

With people who know how to say

The things that make you feel easy

Who bring out the good day by day.

 

But this little piece concerns others

Who can’t take things as they come

Who must look for the thistles in roses

Who can’t see the cake for the crumbs.

 

This person when given a gift of a tree

Will see how much work it will take

To plant and to water and to spray and to prune

Who can’t see the shade but the rake.

 

When given a gift of nice towels

Will complain because they are white

And if it weren’t for that dark colored stripe,

Could be bleached and turn out all right.

 

When the family gathers to sing,

A beautiful song will inspire.

While most will sit quietly and think,

This one calls the writer a liar.

 

So when given a heaping of blessings

I’m sure that they always can find

A handful of complaints and suggestions

But of course, the hearer won’t mind.

 

Sharon with Mary, I think.

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Ten 2013 Goals

I looked back at my 2012 goals and realized I didn’t do well with them. Here we are again with more goals.Here are ten of my goals for 2013:

  1. Learn more Spanish
  2. Read through my Spanish New Testament
  3. Wear more aprons
  4. Visit more with my inlaws
  5. Send anniversary and graduation cards on time
  6. Plant Sweet Peas
  7. Grow a vegetable garden the bio-intensive way
  8. Sew 80% of clothing and household linens and decor
  9. Get up by 5:30
  10. Write real post office letters
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Another poem I wrote for our bulletin

The Shepherd Finds Peace

 

“And on earth, peace good will toward men”

Was the end of the message that night.

“Peace”from a baby born in a stable today?

In this world of chaos and fight?

Let’s pretend one confused shepherd lived thirty years more

And attended a wedding, his cousin’s third child.

There was laughter and music and kissing galore

Extra help for the wedding was hired.

What happened that day brought the shepherd’s mind back

To the night when the skies filled with praise

When he and some others kept watched through the night

While exactly five hundred sheep grazed

That an angel came to them and stood by their sides

With light, much brighter than day

And told them of good tidings of joy that had come,

The Savior to show them the Way.

But the peace the old shepherd for thirty years now

Couldn’t find – he’d chased after gold.

It wasn’t in pleasure or riches or games,

It wasn’t in what he’d been told.

But, here on that night when this man from the south

Called, “Jesus” changed water to wine

He remembered the child born on that day long ago,

And began following, believing the sign.

His feet were guided to peace from that day

As the father of John had foretold

Peace that is beyond comprehension

Peace that can never be told.   ~Sharon R. Smith

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How To Be Poor

Paul said, “I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.” He said this before the more famous verse, “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.” Philippians 4:12,13

It seems to me that being able to be poor as well as rich is all that Paul is talking about here, not achievements or projects.

What I am hoping to ponder here is “how to be poor”. Our grandmothers, great-grandmothers, and even our mothers had this down pretty good. However, from our “I, me, mine, self-esteem” generation and younger, we don’t have a clue how to be poor. Sure, there are those who are better than others, but as a whole, the poor in today’s society don’t know how to be poor.

What do I mean? First of all, there is no shame in being poor. I suppose the older two generations I mentioned in the paragraph above were among many poor. When a generation of people are all poor together, we at least have company.

If you find yourself poor, here are some “don’ts” that I have actually witnessed, and shamefully confess, have been guilty of doing. Don’t:

  • continue to pay for cable or satellite – disconnect! Do not listen to their many offers.
  • continue to pay for newspaper
  • eat out
  • buy steaks
  • dye your hair or get a perm
  • buy games or other assorted toys

Examples of not knowing how to be poor:

The other day, I gave a girl $30.00 who had lost everything in a fire and had two little preschool boys, and another one on the way. Daddy, an occasional live-in boyfriend did some, but very little to help the situation with the children. I met this young woman at a convenience store to give her the money, and noticed the lottery tickets being sold inside. Knowing that it might be a temptation to buy them, I told her this was NOT to buy lottery tickets. She said, “O no, I’m going to get minutes for my phone.” Here’s a girl who has lost everything, with two little boys and needing help to get by, but doesn’t know HOW to be poor.

The church where I attended several years ago helped a family who was in need. She was a friend of mine, and she comes to my house having bought a wig and other halloween garb to have a little fun on halloween! No new shirts for her boys, no shampoo or new underclothes, etc, but a $16 halloween piece of junk for Mom for one night!

A good Christian couple felt compassion on a poor couple and gave them some money for food. Instead, they bought an air gun and targets. The givng couple had a marvelous attitude: “What we give is between us and God, what they do with it is between them and God.”

Some “do’s” on how to be poor:

  • Take pride in your appearance.
  • Guard your health without costly doctors – eat right, exercise, wash your hands – all the common sense advice you already know.
  • Grow a garden if possible.
  • If you have access to a stove, cook  dried beans regularly.
  • Prepare from scratch all that you can.
  • If you have to live in your car, go to service stations to wash up. Switching stations might be the best idea, though, if you don’t want to be under suspicion.
  • Continue to look for work. Accepting help for the long term will not get you out of poverty.
  • Be thrilled at small things. Create a happy environment. Money doesn’t buy happiness. Never has, never will. Although, I do admit, it does buy relief from some worries which is a happy thing.
  • Post ads in the post office that you will work odd jobs. If you don’t have a phone, this is where you might have to ask a favor of a friend.
  • Last and certainly not least, live clean. Spiritually clean, I mean. Prison time robs future jobs. Fornication brings mouths to feed and ex-boy/girl friends that will demand money. Bad addictions from soda pop to meth robs money and health, which also robs money.

I’ve had enough money, but I’ve also had notices come in the mail. My husband and I have been advised many times to file for bankruptcy, but we were determined not to go that route. As a result, we are making a huge sacrifice while he is far away, but making good money so we can get out of horrendous debt. It’s not good for Dad to be away from his family, but we hope it will only be for just a little while longer.

Sharon, with Martha

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