“Here I raise my Ebenezer…”

We can be such forgetful people, right?  Well today I have a project for us all to do.  The first step is this: go outside and pick up a rock.

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I’ve got mine, and I hope you grabbed one too!  Here’s why I asked you to do this.

Because we are forgetful people, we need reminders.  We have alarm clocks to wake us up in morning.  We have timers to let us know when the cookies are done in the oven.  We even have stomachs that will growl to let us know that it’s time to eat.  After all, who can honestly work at something with full effort and concentration while his stomach is saying, “Hey man, I’m hungry… grrrRRRrrRRRRrrrrr!”

So what is our reminder about God and His reign over our lives?  In the midst of our day, what do we do or what do we have that stops us and reminds us of God’s constant presence?

from: http://www.dodsonlumber.com/Acts242/

For the Israelites, they set up an “Ebenezer.”  This account in 1 Samuel tells how God protected the Israelites from their enemies, the Philistines.  After the great show of God’s mighty power and goodness, Samuel set up a stone in that place and named it Ebenezer as a reminder of how the Lord had been their help thus far (1 Samuel 7:5-12).

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So today, I’m making my own ebenezer and encourage you to do it too!  Keep in mind the following VERY important points:

  • Only faith in the Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior leads to salvation (see Ephesians 2:4-10)
  • Works alone do not save us or make us more acceptable to God (Philippians 3:7-9, Ephesians 2:8-9)
  • Intercession on our behalf is performed by the Spirit of God dwelling within believers (Romans 8:26).
  • An object (or person or ideal) becomes an idol whenever we place trust in it and give adoration to it

No object, even a rock with a biblical name like “Ebenezer” or a “prayer rug”–like the one I received in the mail the other day–can bring us closer to God.  Only Jesus is the way to the Father (John 14:6).   So here’s a warning–In the moment that you or I rely on the rock (or anything else) as a means to access God, throw it away!

While we’re at it, here’s another heads up. If you are saved (see Ephesians 1:13-14), the Holy Spirit is the one that marks you as a child of God and communicates with Him on your behalf.  Carrying a rock around as a reminder of God’s word does not belittle the Holy Spirit’s presence or the position that He has in your life.  This is true as long as you use the ebenezer with the same purpose as Samuel: to be a reminder of God’s goodness and supremacy.

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Above are some of the verses that I’ve written on mine so far!  Read through your Bible and write down verses that seem to be especially true and convicting in this season of your life.   Maybe even keep that piece of paper with you and make it a goal to memorize the verses on it.  After all, the Psalmist writes…

“How can a young man keep his way pure?

By guarding it according to your word.  

With my whole heart I seek you;

let me not wander from your commandments!  

I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.”

Psalm 119: 9-11

Christ be with you!

Praying your day is filled with SONshine,

Sarah. signature

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Lesson from an Old Barn

Growing up in Tennessee, I’ve been spoiled rotten by being surrounded by barns.  I absolutely love them.  The more run down that they are…the better!

One day, I finally asked myself why I like run down barns so much.  I wondered whether it was because run-down barns were filled with potential to be made better, but that wasn’t it.  Next I thought that I liked them because were probably filled with critters.  That definitely wasn’t it (unless filled with horses, cats, and dogs, of course.)

But none of those reasons were why I love broken barns.  I still love them today for one reason: they have a story.

I love to look at these barns and imagine who built them.  Who was the proud owner that filled each stall with hay?  What happened to make this barn become deserted?  These are also questions that I ask myself while driving past them.  There’s a longing I feel when I see them–a wishing that I could understand and know its story–but the wheels on my car just keep rolling with the rhythm of the road, and the barn is soon out of my sight.

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“For the Lord sees not as man sees:

man looks on the outward appearance,

but the Lord looks on the heart.”

1 Samuel 16:7

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Our Heavenly Father does not cherish us because we look as pristine all the time as a brand new barn that is never used.  After all, what would that barn’s purpose be if it did not house horses and other animals?  How would that barn ever become truly special to its owner if he never touched it?

We were created to live a full life.  That includes all the experiences that we love in addition to those that we dread.  God still loves us, and He created us to live a life touched by Him daily: washing away all our dirt when we ask for forgiveness, rebuilding our hearts as one that replaces boards on a barn.

In this day, see that God looks at your heart and not on your outward appearance.  See that God’s love lays in His involvement in your life and your involvement in the lives of others.

A Beautifully Broken House

Broken.  Overgrown.  Left to decay.  Mostly unnoticed despite its prominent location off of University Drive, this house stands in relative isolation.  Despite its crumbling, exterior walls  and other signs of decay, I absolutely love this house!   Its condition begs for demolition, and yet this house is still special to me.  “Why is this house so special?”  This is a question that even I continue to ask myself as I look over my pictures.  Here’s why… You see each of the bricks in picture below?  Someone laid each and every single one of those and covered them in mortar.  Another even painted the brick.

This house is a perfect example of what I was talking about in the post “Redefining Beauty.”  The house’s beauty, therefore, does not lie in the perfection of its exterior.  The house is beautiful because human hands built it, placing value in it by sacrificing their time and health to build it for another.  Although it is deserted now, people once lived in it; this, also, makes it beautiful.

“For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

1 Samuel 16:7

If we have truly become a follower of Christ, it is our daily mission to grow more and more in the likeness of Christ.  If this is so, that means that our actions, beliefs, and even persecutions will mirror His.  From this verse in 1 Samuel, we learn that part of living our lives after Christ means rejecting our natural impulse to judge based on the appearance and reputation of another, but to see the heart.

Loving like Christ, then, means seeing others with all of their imperfections, yet remembering that Christ also died to save them.  We begin to see just how much Christ loves them and how they are precious to Him.  We see their hearts, and we are compelled to love them.  Christ’s love compels us….

Just like the broken house, we are broken people.  Our brokenness–from sin, from unbelief, from the fall–does not prevent the Lord from loving us.  Our hearts, this is what He sees when He looks at us, and this is why He continues to love us.  We are beautiful in His sight because He simply sees our exterior decay as an even greater back-drop for the display of His glory once He rebuilds us.

We are broken, yet in the sight of Christ, we are beautifully broken…