marymcleary

Covering my angst with the soothing wisdom from my mother's prayer journals


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Starting Today With Mustard Seed Size Faith

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Not long ago I found a tiny mustard see encased in a plastic charm. This was a gift from a friend when I was in seventh grade, for some reason Mother kept it in her jewelry box which I now have.

It’s funny how a familiar scripture can suddenly take on new meaning, and as I looked at my reclaimed gift, I marveled at Jesus’ wisdom when He said faith the size of a mustard seed can move a mountain. I start many of my days with mustard seed faith. Today was a mustard seed day.

Along with a cup of coffee, I brought a tiny faith to Mark’s gospel where I read about the rich young ruler. Mark 10:17 is where I planted my seed and there it grew.

The young man in this passage is always referred to as the rich young man, but this morning I realized he was a seeker whom Jesus looked at and loved. Jesus knew his heart and his circumstances. Jesus was not surprised at the young man’s desire to follow Him and enter the kingdom.

After a short conversation, Jesus gave this seeker explicit advice, “Go sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

Verse 22 says that the guy went away sad because he had great wealth. This is where my mustard seed started to grow. I watered it with a few sips of coffee and reread Mark 10: 21, “Jesus looked at him and loved him.”

Our Master knows the value of every creature and He knew the material worth of this man and his worth to the kingdom. The young man had a choice, this morning the Holy Spirit took my tiny faith and revealed enormous possibilities.

What if, like the widow with her jars and oil in 2 Kings 4, the rich young man determined to give until all he had was gone, and what if each time he thought his wealth was depleted he received even more to share. What if he gave to the poor again and again yet he received more and touched hundreds, maybe thousands of lives.

This morning instead of reading about a selfish man of wealth, I saw possibilities. That is what Jesus saw and, “He looked at him and loved him.”

That verse touched my heart and I substituted “him” for my name. “He looked at Mary and loved her.” Then I went through my whole family name by name . . “and He looked at ______ and loved (him/her)”.

The gift of faith reflects God’s omnipotent power. Every word Jesus speaks forms thoughts that are higher than I can imagine. The Mustard plant grows to a remarkable size in comparison to its seed, and this morning I planted my little seed in scripture and it grew til my heart was overflowing with gratitude at life’s possibilities.

Mother wrote in her journal, “God can do the miraculous. Trust Him to provide the resources. He can take what little we have and turn it into something great.”


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Restored – Furniture, People and St. Peter

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RESTORATION: TO BE RESTORED. THE ACT OR PROCESS OF RETURNING SOMETHING TO ITS ORIGINAL CONDITION BY REPAIRING IT, CLEANING IT OR PAINTING IT. AN IMPROVED STATE.

One of my favorite words is restoration. I love old stuff and when I scan my house I see many old pieces of restored furniture.

The steamer trunk my Aunt Gina retrieved, repainted and gave to me is a treasure. My grandmother’s buffet from the 1940’s was once painted an off- white then years later touched up to stand proudly on a kitchen wall.

While having lunch with friends I was reminded that detours can be restored to direct destinations. A boy on crutches took a fall in the middle of the restaurant. He looked embarrassed, but unhurt. Before anyone moved to help, two strong hands reached down and lifted the child to his feet and in a second handed him back his crutches.

“You okay?” his dad asked.

Looking restored the boy said, “Okay!” and followed his father to their original destination.

St. Peter speaks of restoration in 1Peter 10:11, “And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”

Simon Peter, the big, strong fisherman, decided to accept Jesus’ invitation to, “Follow me”.  Peter witnessed the life of the Savior first hand. He heard Him teach, pray and saw the miracles performed. Peter laughed with Jesus, ate with Him and helped Him feed a multitude.

Peter, a respected man of character with strong ties to his community, became a follower and a student of Christ. As Peter learned his role in the kingdom, he also came to know his Master. But Jesus, being God, knew not only who Peter was but who he would become. Jesus knew too that Peter would break and need restoring.

When Peter denied Jesus three times, Jesus wasn’t surprised, but Peter was devastated! Our messes devastate us – not Jesus. Though our failures may set us back, they don’t disqualify us from a relationship with Him.

If Jesus is our Savior, restoration is always possible and often necessary. It usually takes place after a hard lesson and before a shinning moment.

Mother wrote in her journal, “When truly wise people turn to Jesus they can depend on Him for guidance.”

We can always be restored and not just back to the original but to something even better than before. God has something special when we’re ready.

 


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Life, The Journey to Our Promised Land

Deuteronomy 4:14

And the Lord commanded me at that time to teach you statutes and judgments that you might observe them in the land you cross over to possess (The Promised Land).

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Each of us has a journey to The Promised Land. It’s called Life and God intends for us to boldly claim our futures. He gives us judgments and statutes (rules and regulations) that prepare us for success, but without Him we won’t attain the lives He planned.

A comment from a friend has been running around in my head for a month. In essence she said, “You cannot do everything it says in the Bible to do.”

We were with a group who loves a lively discussion on politics and religion. We are diverse in our thoughts and opinions, but we agree to disagree and still love each other. So when my friend made this comment, I considered her point of view.

She’s right. The Bible doesn’t provide my daily itinerary, but as I read it each morning, I see it as a map (or GPS) guiding me to my Promised Land. I need it because I can easily lose my way.

Yesterday I shared an article on a timely topic which drew a reply from a Face Book friend whose ideas I respect. He disagreed with the author of the article and very kindly questioned its wisdom. I pondered his point of view.

Because I believe God puts people and situations in my life for a reason, I embrace these folks, along with many, many others as vessels He uses to broaden my horizons and check me now and again.

Having traveled this far on my journey, I want to make the trip easier for my kids and grandkids. I don’t have the luxury of assuming the next generation will automatically follow my faith path.

Mother wrote in her journal, “When you leave God out of your life, you may be shocked at what you are capable of doing. We will lose the battle if we gather the spoils of earthly treasure rather than seeking the treasure of heaven.”

This shrunken world has brought a multitude of options and opinions that bombard and perplex. All I can do is offer my map, the Bible and my Guide, Jesus.

Dear Lord, Help us effectively apply your map to our lives  so we reach the Promised Land you have planned for us. Be our Guide. Amen

 

 


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No Weapon Formed Against Us Can Stand -He Fights for Us

stock-photo-17681810-go-monopoly Last year I bought a Monopoly game to have on hand for the grandkids. They love it the most when they can beat their Papa and me. Recently our grandson set up the Monopoly game board and doled out the appropriate money. Before the first roll of dice, he decided I should be the banker. At first I thought this was a wise choice on his part, but I kept forgetting to give myself $200.00 when I passed Go. He never forgot to ask for his stipend.

He bought, bought, bought while I made like a fiscal conservative and saved my money only to give it over in rent. When I wasn’t paying rent on properties with hotels, I was drawing from Chance and Community chest and required to pay city taxes or fines.

When he did land on property I owned, I always had to check to see what amount I was owed. My opponent knew the value of his assets by heart.

After a while, in an act of kindness, he lowered the rent of one of his properties to accommodate my remaining funds. I was out of cash and had only three color sets with houses on them. With the acumen of a real estate mogul, my grandson systematically acquired each of those.

During the game I make three observations:

  1. My mind is not the steel trap it once was.
  2. Based on our Monopoly experience, all the grandkids will prosper.
  3. It only takes a few wrong choices to end up bankrupt.

Life is like that. It only takes a few foolish turns to wind up in a tight corner. It’s hard to regain lost ground, but God is a God of second chances who fights for us. (Joshua 23:10)

How does He do that? Well He can go before us to open doors of opportunity. He might introduce us to someone who has a word of wisdom or a helping hand. His Holy Spirit hovers near to show us just the right scripture for a particular situation. And He can work miracles on our behalf.

The mighty God who fights for us can provide miracles of protection and healing. He can renew a broken spirit, and thankfully, He miraculously gives undeserved grace that’s greater than any of the mistakes we might make.

The song from Travis Cottrell’s worship album says it perfectly, “We will stand victorious! You fight for us.” No weapon formed against us will stand whether it’s a poor financial decision, an embarrassing social media post or anything else. All that’s required is faith in Christ and a repentant heart to be kept by the power of God.

In her journal Mother wrote, “Victory depends not on strength or numbers but on obedience and commitment to Him.”

 

 

 

 


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Ask For a Word Not a Sign

 

 

066Last month we opted out of winter in Tennessee and headed for the Gulf Coast where we visited with friends, walked the beach and read several good books.

Morning meditations were accompanied by coastal colors and sounds that added awesome reminders of the Creator.

We attended a nearby church where there were no visitors, just “friends we haven’t met yet.” The choir loft filled up with snowbirds who offered surprisingly good (unrehearsed) special music each Sunday. To paraphrase the Psalmist, “Where ever we go, there He is.”

My journal is full of heart whispers and reminders of His presence. One of those reminders came in a text from a friend who had an exciting opportunity and she wanted prayer.

I’m just going to list the events as they happened. They aren’t earth shattering, but they are reaffirming so I want to share.

I asked the Lord for a scripture to pray over this situation before “randomly” opening my Bible.

The scripture was Psalms 22 which is basically asking God for protection from all the enemies of the Psalmist. It was not what I thought we needed, but then I remembered that when this particular friend had righted a serious wrong, she made several people angry. Those people might be in a position to undermine her efforts in this situation.

I kept reading on into Psalms 23 until I came to this verse, “Thou preparest a table before me in the presences of my enemies.”

So, I thought, even though we might be surrounded on all sides by enemies, our God will still prepare a feast for us right in the middle of them!

I claimed that scripture and prayed it until I felt a peace about the situation.

Later in the morning I looked on Facebook where my cousin in Chattanooga posted a picture of a beautifully set table ready for a banquet, and under the picture was the scripture I claimed, “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of my enemies.”

After FB, I checked my emails. Another friend sent a devotional entitled Why Keep Praying? The writer notes that though God’s character is perfect and unchanging, He listens to our prayers and, as with Moses and Jonah, He hears and will heed our pleas for others.

I felt encouraged to keep praying.

Back at our home church last Sunday, the lesson was on signs and the bottom line was, “Ask for a word from God, not a sign. Asking for a sign shows lack of faith.”

Mother wrote in her journal, “Putting out the fleece is a poor decision-making method. Those who do this put limitations on God. Don’t let a “fleece” become a substitute for God’s wisdom that comes through Bible study and prayer.”

When I asked for a word, God gave it. Now I’d like to say the prayer was answered, but we won’t know for a few more weeks what the answer is. My point is, ask for a word and He’ll give it.

 

 

 

 


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Deuteronomy 30:19

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 . . I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing. Therefore choose life that you and your descendants may live.

In His graciousness, God gives freedom to make choices, and even if you don’t always make the best ones He allows you to decide what to do.

Satan is a liar. He will seek to discourage you and make you doubt yourself and the choices you make. Everyday wake up, say your prayers, in Jesus name, and do something. God has the awesome ability to bless even our messes.

Praying for wisdom every day could change your life and the lives of future generations, but remember what Mother wrote in her journal,

“Just because you have won a single battle with temptations, does not mean you will automatically win the next one. We need to be constantly watchful.  Sometimes Satan’s strongest attacks come after a victory.”

Dear Lord, I thank you that Jesus went all the way to the cross when He could have chosen not to. Help me to choose life and blessing and to remember that the enemy never quits trying to destroy me with his lies. Amen


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2 Samuel 11:2

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2 Samuel 11:2

Then it happened one evening that David arose from his bed and walked on the roof of the king’s house. And from the roof he saw a woman bathing, and the woman was very beautiful.

The beautiful woman was Bathsheba who was the wife of Uriah, a soldier in King David’s army. This verse is the beginning of a story full of sadness. His love for her resulted in Uriah’s death (which David orchestrated) and the birth of a child who eventually died.

When I read this story, I always feel sorry for Bathsheba because, really, who says no to a king. Apparently he couldn’t get the thought of her out of his mind, and (in my opinion) she paid a steep price for his attraction. David also lived with the consequences of his actions.

As a king, David did what he pleased and took what he wanted. He had no fear of criticism of censure, but his heart was broken by the death of the son Bathsheba bore him. That’s the lesson.

David was a powerful man whose repentance came with the death of a child. Someone’s unfaithfulness most always affects those closest to the situation. Their bodies won’t die, but their faith might.

In her journal Mother wrote, “No matter who you are, moral laxness will cause problems.

Dear Lord, Thank you for giving us free will, but help us stay close to you so that our choices don’t hurt innocent people and displease you. Help us to be faithful to you and those you’ve given us to love. Amen

 

 

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