July 29, 2013

Meeting Needs

Devotion for the Week...

A couple of years ago I met a woman who was staying in our town for a month while her husband did a work term here. We met up again a few days later at the library, where she had a stack of quilting books. Since she was a fellow quilter, I invited her to join our weekly quilting group.

"Do you guys take sewing machines and everything?" she asked.

I laughed. "We take our machines and cutting mats and bags full of fabric. We look like we're going on a long trip, but we're only going for 2 hours!"

I remembered that conversation when I read Luke 9:3. Jesus sent out the 12 disciples to drive out demons, heal diseases and tell everyone about the kingdom of God. We don't know how long they would be gone, but Jesus had very specific packing instructions. " He told them: "Take nothing for the journey - no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra tunic."

What faith that must have taken. For me, a two hour quilting session requires as much equipment as I can carry. A weekend away with my husband and three boys takes four suitcases, plus another bag of books and toys. Even just a day trip means books and snacks, not to mention my hand stitching kit and Paul's coffee.

Unlike for quilting, the Twelve didn't need special equipment. Jesus "gave them power and authority" (Luke 9:1) so they didn't need to carry anything to accomplish their mission. But Jesus told them not to take money, food or clothes. They left Jesus not knowing where their next meal would come from or who would welcome them into their home. Perhaps they were accustomed to that uncertainty. After all, they traveled with Jesus from town to town already. They were probably already familiar with how people welcomed and cared for visiting teachers. They had faith God would meet their needs.

Fortunately, God still uses people to meet the needs of others. While I have never traveled empty-handed, bags of second hand clothes for our boys have been offered several times, usually just days after I realized most of their clothes were getting too small.

It's not only our physical needs that God meets through other people. Paul wrote, "Praise be to the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we have received from God." (2 Corinthians 1:3,4) How many times has a friend's word of encouragement lifted my spirits just when I needed it?

Generally speaking, we don't like needing help. Many of us find it hard to ask for help, even after others have offered. We'd much rather be the ones doing the helping. Regardless of our preference, we can be sure that, over the course of our lives, we will have times when we need help and times when we can offer help.

Which are you today? The one with needs or the one able to meet needs? If others are offering you help today, whether it be comfort, encouragement or material things, you can praise God for His provision. If you are helping others, praise Him for the extra He has given you so that you can give to others.

July 22, 2013

A Prayer for You

A Psalm for the Week...

Psalm 20

May the Lord answer you when you are in distress;
may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.
May he send you help from the sanctuary 
and grant you support from Zion,
May he remember all your sacrifices 
and accept your burnt offerings.
May he give you the desire of your heart
and make all your plans succeed.
We will shout for joy when you are victorious
and will lift up our banners in the name of our God.
May the Lord grant all your requests.

Now I know that the Lord saves his anointed;
he answers him from his holy heaven 
with the saving power of his right hand.
Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
They are brought to their knees and fall,
but we rise up and stand firm.

O Lord, save the king!
Answer us when we call!

July 15, 2013

24 Words

Devotion for the week...

These are 24 simple words, but they offer an opportunity for profound self-examination.
 
"May the words of my mouth and the
meditation of my heart
be pleasing in your sight,
O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer."
Psalm 19:14

Are the words of our mouths pleasing to God? I can think of 4 ways of looking at that.

1. The words we choose to use regularly. "But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander and filthy language from your lips." Colossians 3:8

2. What we choose to talk about. "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." Ephesians 4:29

3. Are our words honest? "Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices." Colossians 3:9 "The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in men who are truthful." Proverbs 12:22

4. How we speak our words. We all know that sometimes our words themselves may be fine, but the tone we use conveys anything from disrespect to contempt. 

What about the meditation of our hearts? Here are 3 things to consider.

1. What are we thinking about? "Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things." Philippians 4:8

2. Are we worrying? Jesus asked, "Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?" Matthew 6:27

3. These are more examples of acceptable thoughts. In my NIV translation, Psalms records 12 times the word 'meditate' is used. The writers of the psalms meditate on God's unfailing love (Ps. 48:9), His works (77:12, 143:5 and 145:5), His precepts (119:15 and 119:78), His decrees (119:23 and 119:48), His wonders (119:27),  His law (119:97), His statutes (119:99), His promises (119:148).

"May the words of my mouth and the
meditation of my heart
be pleasing in your sight,
O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer."
Psalm 19:14

This should be our prayer each day, and our guideline for whether we should be saying or even thinking any given thing.

May the words of our mouths and the meditation of our hearts be pleasing to Him today.

July 11, 2013

Let's Go On a Picnic!

I made this scrap quilt last year to use it as our beach/picnic blanket. I can't tell you who designed it because I no longer have the pattern, but it was designed to be made with precuts. I used scraps from my stash instead, meaning I did a lot of cutting before I could sew anything.

I wanted it to fold up small for when we're carrying it around, so I didn't use batting. I sewed the front and back together before quilting, which I rarely do. I always find that, no matter how carefully I pin, the layers shift and I end up with an uneven quilt.

I've used this for a birthday party tablecloth too, and the kids always end up pointing out the different pictures in the fabrics while they're eating, which is fun to listen to. Here are a few of my favourite fabrics.

I love this snail!

This orange center seems to glow.


The back is pieced from men's shirts I had lying around.  The black one was slippery to work with...not sure what it was made of exactly, but it sure won't show grass stains!
I hope you find time for a picnic or a beach day this week!

July 08, 2013

For Giving Thanks

A Psalm for the week...


Psalm 100


Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.

July 05, 2013

A Bowlful of Hexies

I have been basting blue hexies like crazy so I could have as many as possible finished before we leave for Florida.
Each little bundle holds 20, so I have now basted 375 blue hexies! Woo Hoo! That means I have more than half the blue ones I will need for my quilt (336 being the halfway point), and I have less than 300 left to go to reach the 672 total. And I won't be basting any more hexies for a while. This chick needs a change...time to actually sew some of these together.

Just in case you're wondering, I don't actually think I will sew all of these while we're on vacation. I do plan to do other things, like look at the scenery as we drive, ride roller coasters, swim with sharks and shop (anyone know a good fabric store in the Orlando area?). However, I really don't want to run out of stitching before we get home, so I figured way over prepared would be better than under prepared.

By the way, that beautiful wooden bowl holding the hexies...that's my Dad's handiwork.

July 01, 2013

Don't Forget

Devotion for the week...

Happy Canada Day!
 Today is Canada's 147th birthday. Thursday will be the United States' 237th birthday. We have such an overabundance of food and material goods in our countries that it's hard for many of us to even imagine what life is like in places where there is no food, no water, no medical facilities and no malls packed with toys, clothes and electronic gadgets.

That's not to say life is easy for everyone. Even in prosperous North America there are too many families who struggle to meet their basic needs. But for most of us, we have enough and often more than enough.

Before he died, Moses spoke to the Isrealites. They were near the Promised Land, a land they had been looking forward to for generations, a land promised to their ancestors Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God called it "a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey." (Exodus 3:8). This is what Moses had to say to them.

"When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. Be careful that you do not forget the Lord you God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery." (Deuteronomy 8:10 - 14)

When life is good, it's easy to forget God. It's easy to forget that everything we have is from Him. Everything. From food and family to the air we breathe, "every good and perfect gift is from above, who does not change like shifting shadows." (James 1:17)

We don't set out to forget God. Instead it's a gradual turning away, forgetting a little more each day to rely on God. Forgetting to trust in Him - in His provision, His protection and His grace.

How do we prevent this gradual forgetting of God? Moses gives us the answers in verses 10 and 11. First, in verse 10, "When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you." Praise God for every good thing he has given you. Thank Him daily, multiple times a day even. Thank Him for the big things, like health and family, but don't leave out the little things, like the birdsong you enjoy hearing or the smell of chocolate chip cookies fresh from the oven. A thankful heart will remember God.

 And in verse 11, "Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day." In other words, pay attention to how you live. Don't get complacent and start slipping in your walk with God. Remember how He wants you to live and do your best to live that way. Of course, this comes back again to knowing God's commands. You can't live according to a standard you do not know. So crack open your Bible. Read it, study it and then apply it.

This week, whether you are Canadian, American or something else entirely, remember God. Look around and marvel at the many good things around you. Praise God. Thank Him. Study His commands and put them into practice.

Happy Birthday Canada!
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