Who Are You Imitating?

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma. (Ephesians 5:1-2 NASB)

My little granddaughter is learning to chat and interact with us more fully these days. Watching her string words together and create increasingly complex sentences is so much fun! Also sobering. You see, she imitates what she hears. The other day, I asked her to do something she did not want to do. When I insisted, she declared, “Okay, fine,” but with a martyred expression and a slight roll of her two-year-old eyes. Oh, did I laugh (and cringe). You see, she didn’t just “make that up.” She had heard that expression and that tone from me. I’ve become freshly aware that her inquisitive young mind is listening to me, watching what I do, and imitating. Oh, Lord, guide and help me to say what is good and true as this little one observes me, please!

This granddaughter and her family are temporarily living with us, so she has ample opportunities to watch and imitate her Nina. We do tend to imitate those closest to us, don’t we? If we are surrounded by cursing at our workplace, we find ourselves having to guard our tongues. If we hang around gossips, before you know it, we’re joining in. Oh, how careful we must be when it comes to imitation.

This is one of many reasons we need to spend time with God. If we are to be imitators of Him, as His beloved children, we need to hang around Him enough to see what He says. We need to be reading the Word and studying Christ’s life, so that we do as He did. And just in case we are confused about that, Paul lays it out for us quite plainly, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma” (emphasis mine). What does that look like in my life and yours?

Love: When I walk in love, I walk as Jesus did. He saw the woman caught in adultery and did not condemn her, although He did tell her to “sin no more.” (Read John 8:1-11.) When He was on the way to heal Jairus’ daughter and a desperate woman touched His clothing, He stopped in His tracks and ministered to this dear one. (Read Mark 5:21-34.) When children and their parents tried to see Him, He allowed the interruption and said, “Let them come.” (Read Matthew 19:13-14.) He told stories of seeking lost sheep and lost sons, even running toward prodigals who have turned for home, even loving the self-righteous firstborn son enough to leave the party and plead with him to attend. (Read Luke 15.) Oh, Lord, help me to be kind to those caught in sin, while still maintaining the truth that it is sin. Help me to notice those who interrupt my days and love them whether it’s convenient or not. Give me grace enough to seek those who are lost and gently lead them home to You, and help me also to love the self-righteous folk, like You did.

Give: When I live sacrificially, I live like Christ did, always focused on His Father’s will. (Read John 6:38.) I start my days with a surrendered heart, wanting to go where He sends me and do the work He sets before me. I yield my own comfort and selfish desires and look to please God in the day’s activities. As Christ did, I give up the rights to my time and my agenda and seek God’s agenda more. Father, help me to stop and listen to You each day, receiving my marching orders from You first. When I tend toward laziness or selfishness, enable me to do the servant-hearted thing if that is what You have placed on my heart to do. Lord, I need Your guidance in sorting out where to spend my time. Help me walk so near to You that I hear Your voice directing me in my “yes” and in my “no” each day. Enable me to please one Voice: Yours. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

You are loved,
Sharon

 

 

Sweet Selah Ministries

Vision To encourage a movement away from the belief that “busy is better”
and toward the truth that stillness and knowing God matter most—
and will be reflected in more effective work and service

Mission 
To offer resources and retreats that help women pause (Selah)
and love God more deeply as they know Him more intimately (Sweet)

Donate
If you’ve been blessed, keep the blessing going!
Click over to our Donation page … and thanks.

 

 

 

 

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The Comfort of Consistency

“Listen to Me, O house of Jacob,
And all the remnant of the house of Israel,
You who have been borne by Me from birth
And have been carried from the womb;
Even to your old age I will be the same,
And even to your graying years I will bear you!”

(Isaiah 46:3-4a NASB)

Dad Gamble had been in the hospital a few days and was feeling better. “I like living with you and Ray,” he said during my visit. “In the morning, honey, you come in with a cup of coffee and put it on my bed tray. You open the blinds so I can see the sun rise.” Then he continued, repeating our daily routine. In that strange hospital room in a new town and a new state, reflecting on our everyday habits gave him comfort. Remembering the consistent routine we had established at home helped him cope with the surprise and change at the hospital. Simply listing what was normal was reassuring.

“Nina,” says my four-year-old grandson. “When I go back to living in Virginia and you come to visit, will there still be a present every day when I wake up?” This little guy and his family are living with us temporarily, so in this household, much to his sadness, there are not presents every day. However, he thinks back on the familiar and loves remembering the consistent promise that when Nina and Papa visit, there’s always a fun bag with a treasure when you wake up and come downstairs in the morning. He is comforted to think that this routine will re-emerge once he’s back home again. It eases the unfamiliarity of living in a new place for a season.

No matter our age, consistency matters. Even though rituals and routines can feel boring at times, the lack of any rhythm to a life creates confusion and chaos and fear. We are most contented when we know what to expect and when those expectations are met. Just about everyone chooses certain patterns of living that guarantee each day has some certainties.

This beautiful passage in Isaiah is God’s way of telling us that there is great certainty in being His. Those of us born into His family are carried by Him. And “even to our old age” God will not change. He will be the same, and even to our “graying years” God will bear us.

Every week, I see a little more gray in my brown hair—the graying years have arrived. I’m Nina to five grandchildren with one on the way, and my hair will gray more with each passing year. Oh, how I am comforted by this passage! Since I was a little one of four, kneeling, and asking Jesus to come into my heart, my good, great God has carried me. He has been with me in good times and hard times. The reassurance that He will never abandon me lifts me up and makes me smile. The consistent love of my God is a wonderful comfort.

Dear Lord, thank You for Your deep, consistent love. I could barely understand what I was doing when I was four, and yet You loved me and carried me. When I’m very old, I suspect I may not be able to do too much then either—except love You and pray. And You will continue to love me even then. And, when I pass from this life to eternity, there You will be! Loving me still. Oh, how glad I am to be Yours. Thank you, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

You are loved,
Sharon

 

 

Sweet Selah Ministries

Vision To encourage a movement away from the belief that “busy is better”
and toward the truth that stillness and knowing God matter most—
and will be reflected in more effective work and service

Mission 
To offer resources and retreats that help women pause (Selah)
and love God more deeply as they know Him more intimately (Sweet)

Donate
If you’ve been blessed, keep the blessing going!
Click over to our Donation page … and thanks.

 

 

 

 

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Be Like Hezekiah - How To Handle Bad News Like a Champ

After Hezekiah received the letter from the messengers and read it, he went up to the LORD’s Temple and spread it out before the LORD. (2 Kings 19:14 NLT)

How do you react when you receive bad, hard news? If you’re like most of the human race, your first response is an increased heart rate. Fear kicks into high gear, sent straight from the enemy of your soul. Then, different personalities deal with bad news in different ways. Some of us call our seventeen closest friends. Or our mother. Some of us bury ourselves in work and try to forget. Others sit. Paralyzed and frightened.

I was recently blindsided with bad news, but this time … I made a decision: I don’t want to walk down my well-worn fearful path. I’m pretty much tired of the increased heart rate panic mode and that fear thing. Nope. This time I tried the Hezekiah approach—so glad I remembered his name so I could look him up in my Bible. Reading his story filled me with hope.

As king of Israel, Hezekiah was responsible for an entire nation. One day he received a letter from the king of Assyria demanding surrender and threatening annihilation. Seriously bad news! Especially considering that the Assyrian king, Sennacherib, had already decimated just about every nation he fought. The threat was very real. Terrifying. And this enemy was definitely too strong to be resisted by Hezekiah’s armies.

Hezekiah’s response? Now that was something. He took that threatening letter and marched himself up to the temple of the Lord, God of Israel, and basically laid it out before God and declared, “Here. Please take care of this.” And guess what? God did. Yup. Against all odds, Israel came out triumphant—and in the entire army, not a man had to even lift a finger. One hundred and eighty-five thousand fighting men surrounded Jerusalem, but in one night … they all died, struck down by the angel of the Lord. And that was that. No one fought Israel because no one was left alive to fight. Hezekiah and his army did nothing … except …

This wise king actually did the most important thing of all. He remembered who was in charge. He went straight to the top and “spread out” his praise, his problem, and his petition before the Lord.

And what an answer he received! No historical documents record that Sennacherib ever conquered Jerusalem, although records state his army was there. Something happened that night that sent the super star king scuttling back to Assyria, where he was assassinated by his own sons. So much for that enemy.

This time when my hard news hit, I looked up Hezekiah’s story in 2 Kings 19. Figuratively, I spread it out before the Lord. I had no idea what to do or how to solve this problem. But that act of giving it over to God filled me with joy! The late Eugenia Price used to remind us that “God is responsible for me,” because He is my Father. So, His little Sharon gave Him her big problem and there it sits. No, it’s not yet solved. In fact, I still have no clue how to “fix it.” But I’ve given it to the One who knows and is able.

Today, I read Hezekiah’s prayer in 2 Kings 19 and make it my own:

“O LORD, God of Israel, you are enthroned between the mighty cherubim!
You alone are God of all the kingdoms of the earth. You alone created the heavens and the earth.
Bend down, O LORD, and listen! Open your eyes, O LORD, and see! …”
(v. 15a-16b NLT)

I read and am comforted. I am reminded that I can safely entrust all difficulties to my great and good God. Today, I told fear to take a hike. My God’s got this. I may not know how it will be solved, but I know I’ve brought it to the right place. I can rest in that. Thank You, Lord!

You are loved,
Sharon

 

 

Sweet Selah Ministries

Vision To encourage a movement away from the belief that “busy is better”
and toward the truth that stillness and knowing God matter most—
and will be reflected in more effective work and service

Mission 
To offer resources and retreats that help women pause (Selah)
and love God more deeply as they know Him more intimately (Sweet)

Donate
If you’ve been blessed, keep the blessing going!
Click over to our Donation page … and thanks.

 

 

 

 

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Lonely Places

But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. (Luke 5:16 NIV)

Ever heard the quotation, “The hurrier I go, the behinder I get?” Been there, done that, a time or seven. The opposite is actually a better choice. Deliberately and often seeking out quiet places prepares us best to do the Kingdom work God calls us to. It’s true. We need to find the “lonely places” and simply sit a spell with God.

When you feel like you just can’t justify this, study Jesus’ life. Some days He was so busy he had no time to eat. He traveled all over the countryside, but He also stopped. A lot. There are lessons to be learned from Jesus’ pursuit of the “lonely places” where the crowds are not.

When starting a new work for God’s Kingdom, be sure to allow much time alone with the One who has called you.

“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil (Matthew 4:1 NLT). Immediately after He was proclaimed the Lamb of God and publicly announced by John the Baptist, Jesus was sent to a lonely place for forty long days and nights. That certainly seems like a counterintuitive way to begin a ministry. But that solitude and the battles fought alone were somehow necessary for all that was to follow.

Major decisions should be preceded by a time alone with God.

“One day soon afterward Jesus went up on a mountain to pray, and he prayed to God all night. At daybreak he called together all of his disciples and chose twelve of them to be apostles” (Luke 6:12-13a NLT). Before choosing His twelve closest men—definitely major decisions—Jesus went to a lonely place and prayed all night. He was God. He could do anything. He chose to model for us the need to be alone with His Father. Oh, that we would learn from His example!

Popularity and success in ministry are not proof that God wants you to keep doing what you are doing. Even then, you still need to come away with Him alone. Perhaps He is moving you on.

“Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray. Later Simon and the others went out to find him. When they found him, they said, ‘Everyone is looking for you.’ But Jesus replied, ‘We must go on to other towns as well, and I will preach to them, too. That is why I came’” (Mark 1:35-38 NLT).

When you need strength to face a trial, go first to the wilderness and meet with God.

“So from that time on, the Jewish leaders began to plot Jesus’ death. As a result, Jesus stopped his public ministry among the people and left Jerusalem. He went to a place near the wilderness, to the village of Ephraim, and stayed there with his disciples (John 11:53-54 NLT). Jesus had just healed Lazarus, and He knew that soon He would be offering himself as the ultimate and final Passover Lamb. He withdrew until the time was right. He chose the wilderness before His great and costly sacrifice.

When the future is frightening, take time alone with God.

Then, accompanied by the disciples, Jesus left the upstairs room and went as usual to the Mount of Olives. There he told them, ‘Pray that you will not give in to temptation.’ He walked away, about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, ‘Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine’” (Luke 22:39-42 NLT).

Even in His last available moment before His capture and death, Jesus sought out God’s company alone.

Time in the lonely places with God strengthens us.

“Then an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened him” (Luke 22:43 NLT). How interesting that at the beginning and the end of Jesus’ ministry, He was strengthened by angels. (See also Matthew 4:11.) What a beautiful picture for us. When we are in need of strengthening … we need the lonely places most of all.

Father, thank You for Jesus’ consistent example of withdrawing in order to be with You, the One He loved and yearned for. Teach us, Lord, to seek You like He did. Meet us, please, and help us in the trials we face. Forgive us when we just move faster and faster instead of seeking You for counsel and strengthening in the quiet places. Oh, how we need You! Guide us in this, please. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

You are loved,
Sharon

 

 

Sweet Selah Ministries

Vision To encourage a movement away from the belief that “busy is better”
and toward the truth that stillness and knowing God matter most—
and will be reflected in more effective work and service

Mission 
To offer resources and retreats that help women pause (Selah)
and love God more deeply as they know Him more intimately (Sweet)

Donate
If you’ve been blessed, keep the blessing going!
Click over to our Donation page … and thanks.

 

 

 

 

 

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A Journey through James

A Journey through James

Please remember.

1) Start small. If a long time alone with God is too intimidating, start with 1 hour and then work up to perhaps a 3-4-hour block of time. An average Sweet Selah Day is about 6 hours. So, if you ever do an entire 24-hour day … you’ve done more than we have. The purpose of this day, is for you to spend time with God.

2) This guide is only a guide. If God calls you in another direction, showing you something in His Word you want to explore … ditch this format and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. Always commit the day to Him and seek to hear His voice.

GETTING STARTED

Grab your bag (see Preparing for a Sweet Selah Day) and add to it anything else you think you’d like to have “with” you on this special day. Determine how much time you have for this sweet meeting. I recommend 5-6 hours. If you only have 3-4 hours, that is okay, too. If you want to make it 8+ hours, of course you can!! The goal is for it to be long enough for you to close off your mind to your normal activities and enter in to a quieter time with the Lord.

If you are driving somewhere and plan to walk, make sure you bring sneakers and coat and hat if necessary. Remember that your day starts the moment you sit in your car. Pray and then slip in a CD or listen on your phone to worship as you drive!

If you are staying home, shut off electronic devices like iPad’s and computers. If you need your phone on in case of emergency calls, determine to put it down where you can hear it but not where you can fiddle with it. This is an electronics-free day.

YOUR THEME – STUDYING THE BOOK OF JAMES

James is a short little book in the Bible chock-full of practical advice and wisdom. It is only five chapters long, which means you will have plenty of time to read and perhaps even re-read it. Enjoy your study!

SAMPLE DAY:

LISTEN TO A WORSHIP CD or READ A HYMNBOOK

Sing along, read the lyrics as a prayer, or simply close your eyes and lift your heart toward Heaven. Start with a time of praise.

TAKE A PRAYER WALK

If the weather allows, take a walk. Admire God’s creation. Whisper to Him how beautiful it is. Pray for loved ones as God brings them to your mind or lift up to Him a thorny situation that is troubling you, asking for His guidance. Confess to Him any sin in your life. Thank Him for as many things as you can think of … or perhaps start with the letter “a” and go through the alphabet, finding one thing beginning with each letter. Choose a favorite Scripture passage and turn it into a prayer of either praise or intercession for someone you love. Still your mind and simply “be” with Him, knowing there is no hurry … no rush … nothing else to do but be with the One who loves you best. Pray as He leads, taking your time, not being afraid of just being silent and listening as well.

STUDY HIS WORD

Pour yourself a drink, make a little snack if you would like if you are home. If you are out somewhere, find a simple café with a table for your Bible and order a coffee or tea or whatever your preference is. Be prepared to tip generously, as you may be at that table for an hour or three!!

Read straight through the book of James. Then take a “selah” break and just think about it for a bit. If you have a study Bible, read the introduction to the book and every note about the book. Take some “selah” times as you read the background of James as well.

Key Questions to Ponder:

What type of person do you think James was, based on how he wrote?

What was he most passionate about?

What pieces of advice were most relevant to your life situations at the moment?

Did any part confuse you? Write it down and ask God to make it clear to you now, or in the days ahead.

Of all the verses in this book … which ones touched you the most deeply? Write them down. Write a response to God about what you learned, complete with questions.

Has God directed you to do something based on this study? Write that down, too, so that you remember to do it.

READ A BOOK

Open one of the books you brought with you. Underline key passages. Copy key thoughts into your journal. If a thought triggers a question, search the Word for answers. Read a chapter in another book, if you feel so led.

JOURNAL

Write a letter to God about your day, what you’ve learned, how you want to change, or how blessed you are to be His. Write out some prayer requests that are long-term for you, asking God to help you grow in certain areas. Write out anything God has put on your heart to do when you get home again.

PRAY FOR YOUR ACTIVITIES

Take time to pray for all that is coming up in your week/month ahead. Are you attending a family event? Pray for opportunities to shine for Christ. Are you helping with a bake sale? Pray for God’s love to touch others through you. Do you have a medical procedure coming up? Ask for God’s help … think through what is coming up and bring each thing God reminds you of to Him, laying it in His hands.

NAP

Yes, you can nap. If you are tired at any time during your 5-6 hours and you nod off, trust that God has allowed this for you to rest. Slow your heart beat … calm your breathing … savor a day with your Creator, who says He is your “Abba.” Your good, good Father. Rest in His Presence.

THANK

As you end your day with Him, sing along with another worship CD, write a prayer of thanks, or shout out your praise! Rejoice in the day you spent in the presence of the Lover of your soul.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rest Rhythyms

Young woman at home sitting near window relaxing in her living room reading book and drinking coffee or tea .

Are you ready for your Sweet Selah Day?

Follow this guide.

Please remember.

1) Start small. If a long time alone with God is too intimidating, start with 1 hour and then work up to perhaps a 3-4-hour block of time. An average Sweet Selah Day is about 6 hours. So, if you ever do an entire 24-hour day … you’ve done more than we have. The purpose of this day, is for you to spend time with God.

2) This guide is only a guide. If God calls you in another direction, showing you something in His Word you want to explore … ditch this format and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. Always commit the day to Him and seek to hear His voice.

GETTING STARTED

Grab your bag and add to it anything else you think you’d like to have “with” you on this special day. Determine how much time you have for this sweet meeting. I recommend 5-6 hours as a minimum. If you only have 3-4 hours, that is okay, too. If you want to make it 8+ hours, of course you can!! The goal is for it to be long enough for you to close off your mind to your normal activities and enter in to a quieter time with the Lord.

If you are driving somewhere and plan to walk, make sure you bring sneakers and coat and hat if necessary. Remember that your day starts the moment you sit in your car. Pray and then slip in a CD or listen on your phone to worship as you drive!

If you are staying home, shut off electronic devices like iPad’s and computers. If you need your phone on in case of emergency calls, determine to put it down where you can hear it but not where you can fiddle with it. This is an electronics-free day.

YOUR THEME – REST RHYTHMS

Today’s theme is Rest Rhythms. You are going to study the rhythms God put in the lives of the Israelites in the Old Testament and note the rhythms of rest found in the New Testament. You are going to ponder your own life, seeking God to see if He is pleased with the rhythms you have established.

SAMPLE DAY:

LISTEN TO A WORSHIP CD or READ A HYMNBOOK

Sing along, read the lyrics as a prayer, or simply close your eyes and lift your heart toward Heaven. Start with a time of praise.

TAKE A PRAYER WALK

If the weather allows, take a walk. Admire God’s creation. Whisper to Him how beautiful it is. Pray for loved ones as God brings them to your mind or lift up to Him a thorny situation that is troubling you, asking for His guidance. Confess to Him any sin in your life. Thank Him for as many things as you can think of … or perhaps start with the letter “a” and go through the alphabet, finding one thing beginning with each letter. Choose a favorite Scripture passage and turn it into a prayer of either praise or intercession for someone you love. Still your mind and simply “be” with Him, knowing there is no hurry … no rush … nothing else to do but be with the One who loves you best. Pray as He leads, taking your time, not being afraid of just being silent and listening as well.

STUDY HIS WORD

Pour yourself a drink, make a little snack if you would like if you are home. If you are out somewhere, find a simple café with a table for your Bible and order a coffee or tea or whatever your preference is. Be prepared to tip generously, as you may be at that table for an hour or three!!

Read the following passages of Scripture and copy key verses and thoughts into your journal as you ponder the way God created rhythms of work and rest.

Genesis 1 and Genesis 2:1-3

Exodus 23:10-17

Leviticus 25

Luke 4

Acts 17:1-4

 

Key Questions to Ponder:

Why was sabbath instituted?

What other “rest” breaks did God create for His people?

Which would be hardest to follow?

What built in rest breaks do you have?

Are they enough?

What is their purpose?

Do you have rhythms established that enable you to stop regularly?

Is there anything you want to change?

What would you have to do in order to change?

Did any of those Scriptures prompt thoughts that make you want to study further? Go ahead and study further. You have time.

READ A BOOK

Open one of the books you brought with you. Underline key passages. Copy key thoughts into your journal. If a thought triggers a question, search the Word for answers. Read a chapter in another book, if you feel so led.

JOURNAL

Write a letter to God about your day, what you’ve learned, how you want to change, or how blessed you are to be His. Write out some prayer requests that are long-term for you, asking God to help you grow in certain areas. Write out anything God has put on your heart to do when you get home again.

PRAY FOR YOUR ACTIVITIES

Take time to pray for all that is coming up in your week/month ahead. Are you attending a family event? Pray for opportunities to shine for Christ. Are you helping with a bake sale? Pray for God’s love to touch others through you. Do you have a medical procedure coming up? Ask for God’s help … think through what is coming up and bring each thing God reminds you of to Him, laying it in His hands.

NAP

Yes, you can nap. If you are tired at any time during your 5-6 hours and you nod off, trust that God has allowed this for you to rest. Slow your heart beat … calm your breathing … savor a day with your Creator, who says He is your “Abba.” Your good, good Father. Rest in His Presence.

THANK

As you end your day with Him, sing along with another worship CD, write a prayer of thanks, or shout out your praise! Rejoice in the day you spent in the presence of the Lover of your soul.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome to Sweet Selah Days

What is a Sweet Selah Day?

A Sweet Selah Day is a day, or part of a day, set apart to meet with God. It's an intentional setting aside of our normal agenda and all our activities and "making a date" to meet with Him. Just like we meet with an old friend, writing the plans on our calendars and setting aside time to catch up, it's good to do the same with the One who loves us most of all. In fact, His greatest commandment is to love Him. When you love someone, you spend time with them.

On a normal day, even if we fit in a quiet time with God, our time with Him and the Word is limited. On a Sweet Selah Day, we take our time. We can pray in depth. We can read and ponder. We can study other books, too, written by Christians who have gone before and can teach us. We can take a walk and marvel at God's creation. We can REST. Whether you set aside 2 hours or 10 ... this "time sacrifice" you give to meet with your God will bless you richly. Tune your heart to love and your ears to listen to His voice! Enjoy and Savor being with the Lover of your Soul. Read below for instructions on preparing for your day, and then watch for posts with suggestions on how to spend your Sweet Selah Day with Him. May God bless you and meet with you in extraordinary ways!

 

Preparing for a Sweet Selah Day

1) Write it Down. Choose what day of the month you will meet with God and write it on your calendar. If you work from home, or work part-time, choose a consistent day like the first Friday of every month as your “sweet selah day.” If you work full-time, choose a half-day on the weekend as your “sweet selah half-day.” Commit this day like you would to a day with a best friend. Only cancel in emergencies, and immediately find another date if you have to cancel and write it down again. This is a real commitment with a real Person.

2) Prepare your Bag. Create a bag that is always at the ready for your Sweet Selah Day. Put the following in the bag, and leave them in it so that all you have to do on your day, is pick up the bag and go:

  • Bible – do you have more than one Bible in your home? If you do, choose a Bible (or two) you seldom use for your every day reading or your church reading. Put this one in the bag and make it your permanent Sweet Selah Day Bible. I chose a Study Bible for my Sweet Selah Days. It’s got a lot of study notes and word definitions that are perfect for longer periods of study. If you have just one Bible, thank God. Many Christians around the world long to own a Bible. You will simply need to add this Bible to your bag before you leave for your monthly Sweet Selah Day.
  • Water bottle, granola bar, fruit … little snacks for the day that are easily replaced
  • Journal – select a notebook or journal that will be exclusively used on this once a month Sweet Selah Day.
  • Pens – yes, pens plural. Place 2-3 pens in your bag, to make sure you will have one that works!
  • Books – Choose a couple of good Christian books to read, knowing you will be reading just a chapter a month or so. These should be non-fiction and written to help you know God better in some way or fashion or help you understand a topic like prayer or fasting better.
  • Worship Music – Choose some worship CDs that you can listen to on your Sweet Selah Days and pop them in the bag. Do you love old hymns? Bring a hymnal.
  • Reading glasses – when I wore readers, I always put a pair in my bag. Now I have permanent glasses, so they are always on my face.

3) Make arrangements. Do you have small children? Arrange in advance for child care. Perhaps you can exchange child care with a friend who would also like a once a month Sweet Selah Day? Perhaps this can be a “grandma day” if you are blessed to have one of those lovely ladies close by! Do you have a pet? Arrange for their care in advance, as well, if you plan to leave the house on your day that month. If you plan to stay home, make sure no one will be there during your sweet day, or choose a room in your home where your family knows not to disturb you.

4) Pray.  Ask God to prepare your heart for your special day alone with Him!

 

 

 

Oh, Bella! (Lessons on Love for the Misbehaving)

As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. (Psalm 103:13-14 NIV)

Oh, I know. She looks adorable, doesn’t she? My little 12-pound puppy is a new hybrid called the Teddy Bear breed. Cute and cuddly, she’s affectionate and loyal and altogether dear. A true companion dog, she can almost always be found wherever I am, and I love her dearly.

She is also trouble. She barks! She barks when the UPS truck arrives, which is actually quite handy when I’m typing away in my office with the air conditioning running. However, she might just as well be raising the alarm that the neighborhood cat has wandered into our yard, or the next-door neighbor is mowing the lawn, or any person or animal is walking down our street. We’ve tried squirting water, shaking coins in a tin canister, scolding, you name it. So far, it curbs her enthusiasm for informing us of the status of the road outside our window for … about a nanosecond. This is not one of the ways she endears herself to us.

She also greets visitors with an energy that is a bit off-putting. She does that barking thing, and, unless restrained, jumps up to greet them in a paroxysm of enthusiasm and wiggles. She’s like that over-friendly person who always stands a bit too close to you and talks too loud. Not a way to make friends, dear Bella.

Despite her flaws, I love her exuberantly. She is my own dear puppy and companion, and we are close. I don’t excuse her bad behavior, but I do have hope that one day we’ll conquer some of it and help her learn a bit of self-control—and I do remember that she’s still young.

Aren’t you glad God has compassion on us and our repeated bad behaviors? He doesn’t excuse them. In fact, he paid the penalty for them—with His life. But, oh, He does have compassion for us. I love the description of God’s mercy in the verse above: He remembers that we are dust. He knows we are little. He knows we are weak. He teaches and guides and exhibits way more patience with us than I do with my little Bella. We are loved. Truly, totally, undeservedly loved. And as often as we misbehave and return to God with our apologies, that often He forgives. Over and over and over again. Just like me with my little Bella … only way better. No wonder our psalmist declares in the opening verses of this psalm:

Praise the LORD, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the LORD, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

(Psalm 103:1-5 NIV)

Dear Father, thank You for loving us, even as we continue to sin and run in all the wrong directions. Your forgiveness, Your patience, Your love, Your compassion, and Your redemption are gifts beyond compare. Thank You for redeeming our lives from the pit and satisfying our desires with Your unchanging, irrevocable love. We are so very, very blessed to be Yours. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

You are loved,
Sharon

 

 

Sweet Selah Ministries

Vision To encourage a movement away from the belief that “busy is better”
and toward the truth that stillness and knowing God matter most—
and will be reflected in more effective work and service

Mission 
To offer resources and retreats that help women pause (Selah)
and love God more deeply as they know Him more intimately (Sweet)

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Anger Makes Me Angry

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 NIV)

Oooooh, I get so angry at myself when I get angry. I know anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires, so when I feel a wave of anger rush over me—I also get angry about getting angry. Anger and I have a longstanding difficult relationship. In the old days, people called it a “besetting sin.” The word “beset” implies persistent. I honestly don’t struggle with a desire to steal. Most days, I don’t have trouble with envy, but since toddlerhood, I’ve had to fight against anger, and the behavior that comes when I give way to it.

Thankfully, I am learning. Slowly. Here are ways God has taught me over the last six decades. If you, too, struggle in this area, I’m praying that one of these life lessons will be helpful to you.

  • Human anger, as James calls it, is innately selfish anger. It flares because I don’t get my way or I feel inconvenienced or slowed in my busy little life. Simply remembering that most anger stems from my own selfishness helps me curb it.
  • Sometimes I think I have a “right” to be angry, I feel it’s somehow justified. Even then, James asks me to note that I should be quick to listen and slow to speak. If I respond instantly when I feel that anger flash inside, I will have given way to emotion instead of listening first, then choosing my words with care. That old adage of counting to ten is a good one, but a better choice is to listen and pray before I speak.
  • When someone else’s anger directed at me is the cause of my anger flare, I reflect on a scripture that I memorized back when I had teenagers: “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1 NIV). I acknowledge the truth of that proverb first, as I silently note that someone else’s harsh words have stirred anger in me. Then, I ask myself, do I want to stir up more anger with my response, or do I want to help a fellow struggler in the anger realm with a gentle word?
  • Sometimes the best course of action is to simply acknowledge my anger and take myself away to deal with it before my words hurt a loved one. God’s Word says, “Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Selah” (Psalm 4:4 ESV). I need to ponder in my own heart what the root cause of my anger is and bring it before the Lord, asking for His help and direction.
  • Stuffing my anger is never the answer. First of all, it hurts too much to hold it inside. Next, it robs me of joy and hurts those I love with my coldness of heart. Paul advises “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil” (Ephesians 4:26-27 ESV). I love this verse. All I have to do is ask myself, do I really want to give an opportunity to the devil?! Of course I don’t. I want no business with him. Anger left to simmer turns into bitterness and stoniness. I must bring my anger to the Lord and resolve it, not letting the sun go down until I’ve at least brought it to the One who can help me sort through the whole emotional deal.

Why does anger make me so angry? Because it wounds and injures and leaves horrible scars when we use it as a weapon in the heat of the moment. May God help each of us to recognize the flare-up before it causes harm.

Dear Father, help me to turn from selfish, human anger and toward You, who love so well and so unconditionally. Thank You for Your Word, full of wisdom on this subject. Make me an eager student of Your guidance, as I continue my journey away from anger and toward a life lived in love. Oh, how I want to be remembered as someone who loved well. Help me, please! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

You are loved,
Sharon

 

 

Sweet Selah Ministries

Vision To encourage a movement away from the belief that “busy is better”
and toward the truth that stillness and knowing God matter most—
and will be reflected in more effective work and service

Mission 
To offer resources and retreats that help women pause (Selah)
and love God more deeply as they know Him more intimately (Sweet)

Donate
If you’ve been blessed, keep the blessing going!
Click over to our Donation page … and thanks.

 

 

 

 

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Consider the Lilies

Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. (Luke 12:27 ESV

It’s the simple things. The common daylily that opens its lovely petals at dawn and by dusk is already fading … each magnificent flower lasting only a day, then quickly replaced by another. A shimmering rainbow hanging out of a dreary sky. Monarch butterflies dancing among the flowers. The laugh of a baby, innocent and happy.

Isn’t it lovely that our Lord taught us to stop and consider the small things? In this huge, busy, troubled world, Jesus bids us pause and really look at tiny things—and learn from them. Consider the intricacy of a flower, formed as a seed, nourished by sun and rain and soil, delicate in its beauty, unique, and distinctive … here for such a short little time. Would any of us bother to create something that elaborate knowing how quickly it would fade? God bothered. He bothered to do this amazing thing, to create beauty that strikes joy in our hearts and lifts our cares for just a moment or two. His assurance to us is that if He cares that much for the details of a flower, He certainly cares for us.But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith!” (Luke 12:28 ESV).

What happens when we consider the rainbow? We remember: No matter how dark, there will be an end to that darkness. Scholars believe that Noah worked for decades building the ark. Then, he gathered the animals, shut himself inside with them and his family and endured 40 days of continuous rain followed by a 150-day flood and then a long wait until dry land reappeared. Basically, that was a very long period of darkness and uncertainty. Terrifying, really. I mean, all of mankind was being destroyed. Noah and his family would be trapped in that boat, so it sure better float. Yet … in the end, Noah and his family were able to create a new life in a lush and fertile world. The rainbow was a reminder to him—and to us—that God will never again use a flood to destroy all life. And to this day, after the storm comes a rainbow. A rainbow that tells me to hang on. Fills me with awe when I witness all that multicolored beauty stretching wide across the sky. Definitely worth the considering.

How about those Monarch butterflies dancing among the flowers? Think of all the many lessons they teach us. Those butterflies didn’t start out flying—they slogged along as caterpillars. Before the flying and beauty came a season of darkness and waiting. When I see a Monarch, I remember that with God the Creator, transformation is possible.

I’m enjoying a sweet baby these days, one of four grandchildren staying at our house for a time with their mama while their daddy is traveling. The innocence of this baby’s laughter tugs at my heart. Just smiling at that little guy turns into a wide grin on my face and a chuckle. He reminds me that I am God’s child. I don’t need to have all the answers. When I look toward God, He sees me with joy and laughter because He loves me even more than I love that sweet little baby boy.

Lord God, thank You for the life lessons in the simple, everyday things. Give me eyes to see and a heart to stop and consider all You have made and all that Your creation teaches me about You. Thank You for the reassurance that You, who care for the daylily and the grasses that last only a short while, certainly care for me! Lord, You’ve made a beautiful world. You speak through all You have made. Thank You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

You are loved,
Sharon

 

 

Sweet Selah Ministries

Vision To encourage a movement away from the belief that “busy is better”
and toward the truth that stillness and knowing God matter most—
and will be reflected in more effective work and service

Mission 
To offer resources and retreats that help women pause (Selah)
and love God more deeply as they know Him more intimately (Sweet)

Donate
If you’ve been blessed, keep the blessing going!
Click over to our Donation page … and thanks.

 

 

 

 

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