Tuesday, May 3, 2016

My Grace Journey

Hi everyone!

Today, I am doing something a little different in the blog. Instead of the regular devotional, I want to say "hi" and introduce myself.
This is me -- in our yard! 

My name is Sharilee and I have been blogging in some form for the last seven years. My first blog (which I still have) started out as 100togo (a weight loss blog) and has morphed into a nature/reflection blog called Life in the Woods. that focuses on lessons through nature.

I also have a collection of articles at Hubpages and a little site on journaling. My goal is to write e-books and print books to encourage others.

During the day, I am a grade six teacher at a First Nations school. I have been teaching on and off since 1999, and plan to leave the classroom at the end of this year, to pursue writing and business full-time. I started the Grace Daily Blog to help get myself more into regular reading of God's word.

It seems like most of the readers have been coming through the Facebook page. Welcome! It's so nice to have you here. I would love to meet you, and I am hoping you will comment to let me know that you are reading. I would love to hear a little bit about you. Where are you from? What stage of life are you at?

A little bit more about me. I am married to a man I call my gorgeous husband. We have three cats, a few plants (I just started my first garden) and a big yard in the forest. This is the second marriage for both of us. Neither one of us believed in divorce, but were left by our former spouses years before we met.. When we met, both of us had been hurt badly by our past, and God has used each other to help bind us up again.

I guess the reason I call this blog, "Grace Daily" is that by God's grace, that I am here today. And it's by his grace that I was able to know true love in a marriage.

I grew up in a Baptist Church with Christian parents, and asked Jesus into my heart when I was six years old, led by Mom, who was a real lover of Jesus. I feel grateful that God showed me himself so early in life, and I know it helped get me through the next years. In my childhood, we had abuse in our home. There was a lot of yelling and some physical violence.  At school, I was bullied a lot. The worst bully was a church kid.

My Mom and me at my graduation
So, by the age of 14, I was a bit skeptical of churches. I had to attend but when I left home at 18 to get away from the craziness, it took me a while to get back to church. Then I ended up meeting and marrying a man whom I thought would bring me back to the LORD. He was a church-goer and we did go to church together. Two years later, after a lot of yelling, and physical threats, he was out the door, and I was left alone again, this time with a "Mrs." attached to my name, at the tender age of 22.

I was now a divorced Christian: a big taboo in the circles where I hung out. It certainly wasn't my ideal plan. It wasn't what I wanted, but God did use this situation and many others to get me to know what it really meant to follow Him. My divorce brought me to a place where I felt determined to follow the LORD, no matter what.

Like I said, I started this blog to help keep me focused on reading God's word. If the LORD uses this to help bring others closer to  Him, that's awesome!

So, please tell me a bit about yourself. What has been a bit of your faith journey? What are you looking for, from this blog? I look forward to "meeting" you.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Do You Ever Judge Others?

Do you ever judge others?
Do you ever judge others? By judge, I mean look down on others? I confess do this sometimes, even though I know it is wrong. God's word says:

Judge not, that ye be not judged. For the same judgement with which ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured ot you again. 

Matthew 7:1-2

I admit that I struggle with judgemental thoughts about other people sometimes. In my secret heart of hearts, I notice flaws of others sometimes and put them down in my mind, or I judge their actions, and assume that they did it with a bad intention.

We all know it's wrong! Wes try not to do it, but at times, the thought slip out. We try to confess it right away, but sometimes it festers, especially if it's someone that's hasn't been so nice to us.

The commandment of Jesus to not judge others is one of the hardest of his commandments to follow. We, as women, especially, find lots of ways to judge other women: their clothes, their body, their house, their personality, their job, their job. Let's be real -- it happens a lot.

I love how God introduces to Noah in Genesis 5. Notice he says nothing about what he does for a living, or how he looks. He just simply says, "he found grace in the eyes of the LORD," and he was "just" and "perfect in his generations."

But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD. These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.

Genesis 6:8

We can really see that God puts importance on different things than we do. When was the last time you introduced your new friend as someone who "finds grace in the sight of the LORD." When was the last time you praised God for someone in the church for being "just?"

It seems like as humans, we tend to focus on all kind of stuff about each other, but forget the most important thing of all: what God looks at. He looks at our heart, and our walk with him. Everything else is just not that important.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Let's Keep Drinking of His Well!

Today, in my reading, I came across the story of the woman at the well. In this passage, Jesus was travelling, got thirsty, and asked a woman for a drink of her water. When the woman refused, Jesus told her (we do not know her name) that He could give her living water, if only she would ask.

The LORD goes on to say that this living water would eliminate her thirst forever. Wow, what a claim!

Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldst have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water ... 

But whoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst again: but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting water.

John 4:10, 14

But what kind of thirst was Jesus talking about? We know it's wasn't physical thirst, but what other kind of thirst is there?  According to Strong's Concordance, the word "to thirst" can also mean to "desire earnestly." It's a longing, an intense want. 

As humans, we thirst for so many different things! The list is endless, and so individual for each person. We may thirst for success, for love, for stability. We may long for a new house, children, a better job. And sometimes it is more frivolous: our favourite food, a new couch, or a tropical vacation.

Are these desires wrong? Do we stop longing (thirsting) because we know Jesus? I don't think so! God says he will give us the desires of our heart:

Delight thyself also in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of they heart.

Psalm 37:4

The Vincent's Words commentary helped me to understand this passage better. The writer points out that we don't stop wanting things, but rather that we begin to want things that can satisfy us, rather than things that will frustrate us. 

Instead of random sex, we seek committed lovemaking. Instead of driven shopping, we seek deliberate purchases. Instead of ruthless wins, we seek fair play. We will always have desires, but the LORD of heaven and earth promises to satisfy the desires of our hearts, with "a well of water springing up into everlasting life."

And most of all, we thirst for him, our LORD. Knowing him satisfies most of all, if we take time to really know him, and let him know us. 

Let's keep drinking of his well, so that he can purify our desires more and more. And let him fill us up to overflowing!

And talk to me ... how have your desires changed since coming to know Jesus? And if you don't know Him, would you like to? 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Do You Believe Today?

One of the first memories I have is as a toddler, from the back of the church, through a nursery window. I grew up in the bosom of the First Baptist church, and accepted Jesus as my personal Saviour when I was six years old. I definitely do identify as a believer in Jesus Christ. 

He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him.

John 3:36

But I am also beginning to realize how many times I am not a believer. There are many moments when I don't really believe that:
I see how easy for my heart to quietly slip into a state of unbelief and a state of uneasiness. And in these quiet moments, my heart actually forgets that I have God himself living inside my heart, working out his good and perfect will.

In order to really believe day by day, we need to fight for it. We need to renew our minds, and constantly remind ourselves that he has saved us.

Believing in the LORD Jesus Christ means being saved from the eternal consequences of sin, but it also means being saved from our own dark thoughts, our haunting fears and our sense of helplessness.

But be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable and perfect will of God. 

Romans 12:2

Saturday, April 23, 2016

God's Love Endures Forever

Last night, my husband and I went to our first Seder. The Seder is the Passover dinner when Jewish people celebrate the exodus from Egypt. It was a very meaningful ceremony where every element represents some aspect of God's deliverance of his people from their oppressors. 

I think my favourite part of all was when the leader called out something that God has done for his people, and everyone repeats after each line, "God's love endures forever." 

How powerful to hear those words called out again and again! God's love endures forever. Whatever we are facing right now, we can always count on God's love. Whatever battle that Satan appears to be winning, God's love endures forever. He will never leave us and He will never forsake us. His love endures forever. However unlovable we feel, God's love endures forever. 

The Jewish people were told to keep repeating the same stories of God's deliverance to their children over and over again. "When you are going out, when you are going in."

And know ye this day: for I speak not with your children which have not known, and which have not seen the chastisement of the LORD your God, his greatness, his mighty hand, his stretched out arm, And his miracles, and his acts, which he did in the midst of Egypt ...

Therefore shall ye lay up these words in your heart and your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand ... And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.

Deuteronomy 11: 2-3b, 18-19

We need to keep repeating this word to ourselves, to our children and to each other. It's not enough to hear it once. We need to keep hearing it and reminding ourselves: that God's love is always there. His love is the one thing we can count on. He loves us now, and He always will. 

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Seek The LORD

Last night, my husband and I went sunset-hunting. It was kind of late, and we couldn't see the sunset at our house because our land is too low, but we decided to see if we could catch it a different location. (I was taking pictures, and my husband was nice enough to be my chauffeur!)

The first place we stopped was a dud. The sun had already gone down too much, and the light was just a thin slice, barely discernible. It seemed we'd missed it but we decided to try one more location, since we were already out. 

We live by a huge lake, and the road we were on went to the end of the lake. We drove to the end of the highway, and after that, there was a very rough trail leading down a shoreline. I was a bit nervous about the roughness of the trail, but my trusty driver got us in there. We hopped out, ran through some pretty deep mud, and saw this: 

Sunset off the lake -- Author's Collecti
It was exquisite! My camera couldn't do it full justice. And so worth the extra work. I was glad we hadn't given up. 

The LORD also asks us to seek Him: 

Seek ye the LORD while he may be found: call ye upon him while he is near. 

Isaiah 55:6

Sometimes it seems like God is so far away. We try to feel His presence, but we can't. We want Him to listen to us, but it feels like he isn't. 

Keep seeking Him, because he likes to be sought. He reserves his best treasures for those who won't give up on knowing Him. 


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

God Has A Good Reason

As a teacher of a group of grade sixers who are halfway between little kid and almost adult,  I often have to discipline my students.  I don't enjoy doing it, but it's part of the job, and necessary if I am going to do my main job: which is to give lessons and help them learn the skills and knowledge they will need to survive in our complex world, and to make it to high school. 

Having to do the sometimes unpleasant job of discipline has given me a new perspective on authority and rules. As a teenager and young adult, I often thought rules were put into place just to ruin my fun. I wasn't a big rule-breaker, but sometimes those  little rules just seemed petty. Like, don't go out the fire escape. Why did it really matter? Or take off your school clothes when you're going to play outside. 

But now as a teacher, I understand rules a lot better. Rules help run the classroom, so everyone can function together. Some of them, like don't sharpen your pencil sharpener when the teacher is talking, might seem to slow you down, but it is extremely hard to talk or listen to a math lesson with the drone of the pencil sharpener going off in the middle of it. 

Some kids, when spoken to about the rules, seem to always point at another student who did something worse. But that really is not relevant because they also broke the rules. 

I understand better now that rules are there to help out all the student learn and do their best. The rules help create a safe and motivating atmosphere for all students and the teacher. 

And this does help me understand God's rules better, too. Just like a teacher has to take all of her students in to account, so does God take all of the earth's peoples in mind when he gives us directions. 

When he told Adam and Eve not to eat of the tree, he knew the knowledge of good and evil would be devastating for humankind. To Eve, it may have seemed like a petty little rule, but the consequences were devastating. 

So do we need to trust God today, that He has a good reason for all his directions. 

But the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it, for in that day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die.

Genesis 2:16, 17

A picture of my classroom without any students