I See God in the Thorns and Thistles [MultiFormat]
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eBook by Shirley Kiger Connolly
eBook Category: Spiritual/Religion/General Nonfiction
eBook Description: When your heart is burdened and you're experiencing times of trial, where do you turn? When you're challenged by the complexities of life, the afflictions, the tests, and the tragedies, do you run to or from God? If you run toward Him, do you try to see what He's teaching you? God remains with you not only in the simple circumstances but also during the toughest times of your life. You're never alone, and I See God in the Thorns~n~Thistles offers you, in independent devotions, a way to make the most out of the troubles, a way to draw closer to God because, and oftentimes in spite of, your pain. Life-changing lessons like these not only help us on our personal journeys, they teach us to have compassion for others who we learn need it more. Isn't that what life's all about for the believer?
eBook Publisher: Vinspire Publishing
Fictionwise Release Date: August 2011
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Here is how this devotional works
With each reflective thought, you will find a place for your own personal journaling--a time for your own scripture study--an opportunity for prayer. Try to take the time when you can.
Isn't it true we often hear directly from God through meditation, reflection, and communication? I'm so glad we have God's full attention during those times we spend with Him. I believe personal devotion time is one of the best ways we learn to know God's will.
Perhaps you have already become curious as to why I decided to call this devotional I See God in the Thorns n Thistles. The answer is because I truly believe we must all experience an occasional thorn and thistle to see the Lord.
I also know how easy it is to take God for granted throughout the day. We know He is there, but instead of looking to Him for all things, we sort of just let Him tag along. I do that too often. Thorns n Thistles shows me how I shouldn't.
The scripture portion of each lesson in this book is called Crown of Thorns. I figure since Jesus Christ is that Living Word and since He had to wear His own crown of thorns, He knows better than I do or anyone else where to take us to find the answers. Right to His Word--to the Scriptures.
Please join me in taking advantage of those verse-gathering opportunities.
I'll bet you've also figured out that a thorn and thistle time becomes an experience God allows in our lives to point us in the right direction-to help us find our focal point.
Each personal section for journaling provided throughout gives all of us an opportunity to do that very thing--put to memory any individual teaching God has for us. This section is titled: My Point of View. Don't be timid about digging deep during these few minutes you'll have in your devotional time.
Finally, that last portion of each segment will take us to the deepest tips of our heartstrings--that place where we cast those troubles and problems that weigh us down on Him--where we wait for some of our answers.
Please join me there, won't you? I'll be sitting for a few minutes at the feet of Jesus. You can come, too, with your prayers. We can have a great time together, and both of us can be ready and waiting with our spiritual hoes in hand. As we get to the root of the problems coming our way, together we can begin Casting Our Burdens on Him.
Burdens for me become those moments when I feel as if I can barely breathe...spiritually. I've got to cast them somewhere! Burdens to me are also when those thistles and thorns that surround me can become almost like weeds and nearly smother the good things I want and need to see.
Yet, isn't it awesome how God can see your heart and mine right through those weedy thorns?
I'm ready to begin. I hope you are ready to let Him point the way, too.
Want to hear an interesting truth? Pains and stings of life, just like patience, are not supposed to be something we should fear. I discovered in my Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary how thistles and thorns both can be looked at in different ways than critically.
For example, in one explanation, a thistle is described primarily as "any of various prickly composite plants (esp. genera carduus, circium, and onagordon) with often showy heads of mostly tubular flowers..." Not necessarily a negative depiction if you enjoy flowers. Right?
I read online that the seed extract of a milk thistle, which has large purple flower heads and is native to the Mediterranean region "is held to protect the liver from damage or disease." How about that?
Let's look up thorn; shall we?
In part, it's called a "woody plant bearing sharp impeding processes (as briers, prickles or spines) esp: any of a genus (crataegus) of the rose family"or something "that causes distress or irritation."
That sounds more familiar, doesn't it? I can feel it poking at me already. I admit I was glad to discover it did not refer to something devilish. I used to think thorns only meant something bad.
It's easy to get fixated on something frightening or troubling when the truth can be completely different--at least different enough that people have to admit things are not always as they seem.
The Scriptures, which I believe bring out the most interesting facts out about thorns, tells us how our Lord had to wear His own painful Crown of Thorns when He was led up to the cross to die. If it wasn't for the Lord and His thorns we would never know how to have victory through our own. We would never be able to see the victory amidst the trouble.
When I take the time to thank the Lord for walking that walk for me ahead of time, it helps me understand better how He is with me in the thorns and thistles of my life.
How do you allow Him to shine through you during yours?
Another person I think of when I consider thorns and thistles is the wonderful Apostle Paul. I remember how he had trouble with his own thorn in the flesh problem. Remember how he tried praying again and again for his to be removed?
But Paul learned to live with his distress, and before we knew it, he became instead a man able to rejoice in the Lord......in spite of his thorn. He learned and understood not only what he needed, but he also helped me learn what I need to believe: that God's grace is sufficient for my life and everyone else's.
I loved the example he set. I, too, want to believe God's same sufficient grace is available all the time, not just some of the time.
After Tom (my husband) and I had to move off our 2 x 2 Animal Farm and purchase a more affordable place closer to town, we were kind of down in the dumps. So was the fixer-upper we purchased.
I realized, though, how God still had things in control, and His plan was to show me more about the saga of living not only in the simple times but also with thorns n thistles. Everything around can't be looked at through those typical rose-shaded glasses, even when perhaps we'd like them to be. I have to face that truth nearly every day.
Tom and I still reside in the Pacific Northwest, but I don't know for how much longer. I have yet to know where we'll be by the end of this book.
Life changes daily for Tom and me. I am sure it does for you, too.
The point is, all of us need to be ready for anything...especially when it comes to the Lord, don't we?
Remember when I told you in my last book how we lived up on a hillside overlooking the deep blue sea? Now, instead, our humble home is two blocks from the Pacific Coast harbor, down the street from some questionable neighbors...up the street from some more. At our old house we had a guest house for our friends, a couple of barns for my beloved pets, and a great big shop for Tom. Not here.
This small Cape Cod home is well over sixty years old. I can barely fit all my stuff here. Unlike, the other, this home is also in need of much repair.
When I looked it over before buying I had to look past the mess and think about what God could help us make of it...pretty close to what God has to do with us.
Is it easy for you to look past the mess and figure out what He's going to make of you? He has to fix me all the time.
I might have told you we no longer have a plethora of sweet animals now that we've moved...not like before. Lord willing, I soon can share my life with animals again. They are too much a part of me.
In the meantime, God will show me what He wants for my life today. Whatever it is I know He will make all things good. In order to see that good, I have had a feeling a few thorns would end up along our paths here at the harbor.
And they have.
It is the one way I know Tom and I can open our heart to God's blessings then reach up and take them.
Do you ever find it difficult to reach out and take those blessings God has to offer so readily? They are hard to see during trials.
Thorns n Thistles. That place we can find blessings but often in disguise.
I hope the few things I share with you will minister as much to you as they have to me. Thank you again for joining me in this second devotional journal. It is people like you who make every learning minute worthwhile.
P.S. Be watching for Book Three (I See God on That Narrow Road)
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Sow to yourselves in righteousness, Reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, till he come and rain righteousness upon you. ~Hosea 10:12
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Loving Too Closely?
"It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not" ~Lamentations 3:22
I don't remember telling you about the sad experience we had when we lost Hannah, our Border Collie-Australian Shepherd cross, and all her puppies. Tom and I still feel sick inside over how it occurred even though it's been well over a year since everything happened. It takes a good while for us to get over the loss of one of our animals.
Sometimes, we want to ask why, but we don't, because deep down we know there's always a reason for the things that happen in our lives. Don't you agree?
Anyway, our sweet Hannah, (one of the gentlest dogs in the world) was just a few days from delivering her pups, and we were as excited as she probably was. If you have ever had the experience of moving step by step with your little girl before she has had her little ones, you would understand the joy we felt.
Anyway, the little fellow we bred Hannah to was a purebred Red Merle Aussie whose name was Cowboy. He lived with his family down in Crescent City, California and was one of the most beautiful dogs you ever saw. I mention his name to you now because the family to which he belonged became a part of a blessing that entered our lives later.
Anyway, Tom has this big red truck, an '84 Ford four wheel drive thing that has big tires that make the cab higher off the ground than a normal little truck. He was turning into the driveway while coming home from work one day, and all our dogs, who show great excitement when they hear the sound of dear old dad coming home or the truck coming near, ran to meet the side of Tom's big pickup so they could greet him.
Hannah, who was still carrying her heavy load of whelps, was much slower in movement and response than usual. She suddenly looked up at that front grill of thee giant red truck and without thinking decided to run across to the other side of the driveway the moment Tom turned up and in.
I was at the front door waiting and watching, (it's kind of what I do at the end of a day) but Tom sitting high up in the cab I'm sure could not see low in front of him or well along the front drive. He also had no idea what was happening; it was clear, because it happened so quickly. Much too fast.
The hit was swift. It was over for Hannah in a second. Her neck broke instantly--probably a blessing in disguise. We rushed sweet little Hannah off to the vet anyway, and the doctor even tried to save her, but it was too late for our little girl.
The whelps, on the other hand, the vet successfully removed from her tummy-dog womb. Even though they were four or five days early, each were kept alive one-by-one. The preemies were born with no hair and kind of looked like giant, but cute rats, but at this point they were miraculously saved and to us, they were beautiful.
The rest was up to us after that...I mean in keeping them alive.
The feelings that went through my heart and soul right then over our Hannah and her pups and probably through Tom's mind are impossible to describe. By the looks on the faces of our other two dogs, Heidi and Silas, who both watched it happen, it appeared obvious they knew something terrible had happened. With God knowing the deepness of our love for animals, Tom and I, have sometimes wondered over time why we had to go through this particular trial.
Lots of people go through the loss of an animal, I know. If you ever have, you know it hurts. Our losing Hannah was extra difficult. Tom and I had both looked forward to the raising of Hannah's puppies because we had sat and nursed Hannah throughout her entire pregnancy. After the accident, we still thought we might have a chance with them.
Take a second to reflect if you will. Have you ever gone through your own experience with a dog or a horse or perhaps a goat--where you watched them grow in pregnancy then waited for them to give birth? It can be trying toward the end as you wait for the day of birthing.
In Hannah's case, it became so much more.
God apparently had other ideas in mind.
We spent twenty-three days nursing Hannah's puppies with love and care, and still, we lost all six of them...one after the other, even after staying up night after night taking shifts to try to keep them alive.
The experience was grueling.
I took notes at every feeding, whenever they went potty, and whenever I got one to drink from the little syringe of water. I still have those notes.
I wondered for a long time after it was all over what could have been the lesson in all this. I asked Tom what he thought God had taught him. He replied there had been times when he even thought he (not God) showed love to his animals more than he showed love to humans. I understood why he said that, too. I think because animals, for the most part, do not let people down. We, as humans do.
Tom shared how animals tend to be loyal to their masters, making it easier to forgive them for doing animal-like things. Humans sometimes have a tendency to be more stubborn, and they will prove it to you time and again with their rebellion.
Animals seem to want to please even if they've done wrong. In fact, Tom saw that when he needed to scold one of our animals, they acted in response as if they wanted to do better the next time.
Do you know very many humans who enjoy being criticized? And what about those people who are corrected, but aren't willing to correct their mistakes? Do you find they, more often than note, make the same errors again and again? Oftentimes, that one mistake will multiply until the end result is much worse than the original mistake.
God showed me something else to add to concerning that whole ordeal with Hannah and her puppies. Sometimes I place too much importance on a pet or a dog over other things. I had to think about that with my chickens and cats and some of the other animals that I've gone the extra mile for.
When Hannah died, all we could think of was her pups and how they had to live. We forgot about everything else going on around us. Remember, one or the other of us was with those puppies 24/7. For someone like me, who has problems keeping her head on straight when I am awake, this was not a wise thing to do. So I neglected myself, too.
Both Tom and I made ourselves physically miserable trying to keep those babies alive. Soon after Hannah and her pups died we lost our oldest loving Siamese cat, our Amos, who had been with us for thirteen years. It happened right around the time I got extremely ill from being up all those hours with those pups.
You know what?
God was clearly trying to speak to our hearts. I could almost hear Him.
"Tom and Shirley, where are you focusing your love these days?"
And we had to look at the entire picture and tell Him the truth. Thankfully, He understood. I know He did because He always does.
Would I stay up 24/7 just to show others how much I love Him? I wonder. Would I ever be found guilty for loving Him too closely? I hope so.
What about you?
Think about a time when you denied yourself for the love of something or someone else
How would you describe your love for the Lord in comparison to your love for other things you are close to
How do you put God in a class all by Himself
Could you ever be guilty of saying you loved God too closely
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Crown of Thorns
Matthew 16:24; John 13:38
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My Point of View
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Casting My Burden on Him
Lord, thank You for the compassionate heart You have for us, even knowing that we do not necessarily have the love for You that we should all the time. Help us to love You more each day. You alone are worthy of all our love and praise. Help us not to touch the things of the world too closely. Show us how we might be good stewards of Your grace in those things You give us care over. Help us to be able to let go, even when it might become distressing for us. In Jesus' name, we ask it, Amen.
Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. II Corinthians 12:10