Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Trap of Envy (Number 32 in a series)

“Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.” Exodus 20:17 (KJV)

My sister has three horses: two Missouri Fox Trotters, a mare and a gelding, and a gelding Mini. The full-sized gelding is the alpha horse of the herd. At feeding time, he exercises his authority over the others by running them away from the first feed bin to be filled.

There are three feed bins, spread apart. Once he has his feed, you would think he’d be happy. But no, he is so envious of what the others have that he will abandon his bin to run them from theirs. There is no difference in what they’re getting, yet he wants what they have so much that he doesn’t enjoy his own.

Not only does he not take time to enjoy his own, but he also loses it. While he is busy stealing their food, they amble over to his and eat that instead. He doesn’t gain anything by coveting their meals.

Isn’t that what envy does in humans? Envy makes us worry so much about what someone else has that we don’t appreciate what we do have. We can easily get caught up in wanting instead of thanking God for He has already given us.

“For wrath killeth the foolish man, and envy slayeth the silly one.” Job 5:2 (KJV)

Have you fallen into the trap of ‘the silly one’ and let envy slay your joy? Take a moment to appreciate all the blessings you’ve received. Contented gratitude is the antidote to envy.

Father, thank you for all that You have given me. Help me to be grateful for what I have, not envious of what I don’t have. And please grant me an abundance of contentment, wherever I find myself.

© 2009 Mary Beth Magee

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

He is Faithful (number 31 in a series)

“I will sing of the mercies of the LORD for ever: with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations. For I have said, Mercy shall be built up for ever: thy faithfulness shalt thou establish in the very heavens.” Psalm 89:1-2 (KJV)

Living in the foothills is an unbelievable experience. I learn new things every day. One of the biggest surprises I had was discovering the Sierra Nevada mountains are not looming over everything. In fact, I seldom see them.

The foothills are high enough around us to block the view of the mountains most of the time. But every so often, you round a curve or top a hill and find amazing beauty spread before you as the snow-frosted mountains come into view. The mountains are there, whether you see them or not. They may be out of your line of sight, but they are still rising majestically in their place.

The mountains remind me of the faithfulness of God. Even when I don’t see His hand or hear His voice, He is still there. He has promised to be with me and never to forsake me. Mountains may shift and crumble, eroded or shaved by man’s designs. God will not be moved. He is constant, dependable, faithful.

What are the signs in your life of God’s faithfulness? Have you praised Him for them lately?

Father, we thank you for Your promise to always be with us and we praise You for Your everlasting faithfulness. Keep us ever mindful of Your presence, even when unseen.

© 2009 Mary Beth Magee

Monday, May 4, 2009

Signs and Landmarks (Number 30 in a series)

“Moreover also I gave them my sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the LORD that sanctify them.” Ezekiel 20:12, KJV

Signs and markers are an important part of getting from one place to another. Ask the people who have gone into an area following a natural disaster and tried to find their way around. When the signs and landmarks are gone, it’s hard to tell where you are or where you’re going.

Here in northern California, I’ve learned landmarks tend to have interesting names and historic connections. Some are manmade markers of human accomplishments but others are natural.

One of the best known locally is the Lollipop Tree, a tree growing with a rounded canopy, high on a hill. It is visible to the people rafting and kayaking on the south fork of the American River or riding or hiking in the public areas along the river. The tree helps people know where they are along their trip. It is a sign of their progress.

In the same way, our observance of a day of rest helps us to find out where we are along our life journey. The Sabbath is a time of reflection on our progress. It is a sign, a marker of our relationship with God. By setting aside that precious time for worship of our Lord, we acknowledge His kingship and partake of His renewing sanctification.

Too many times we let other activities interfere with our time of worship. I know from personal experience that I suffer when I let something keep me from my Sabbath time with God. A momentary pleasure costs too much in the long run.

Are you finding your weeks too full, your schedule too hectic? You won’t improve things by skipping your Sabbath. You’ll only find yourself off the path, in need of new directions.

Father, thank You for the gift of the Sabbath. Thank You for loving us so much that You gave us signposts and markers to keep us on track toward You. Give us strength, please, to follow Your path and not to be diverted by fleeting earthly interests.

© 2009 Mary Beth Magee

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Waiting for the Season (Number 29 in a series)

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:” Ecclesiastes 3:1 (KJV)

Spring in the foothills is a glorious season. The “sticks” in the vineyards along the roads are garlanded in young leaves of rich green. The orchards have bloomed and immature fruit is beginning the process of filling out into apples and pears and other succulent delights.

The garden we’ve started in the backyard is filling in with leaves of green beans and spreading tomato plants. The lettuce is nearly mature and the peas are climbing their trellises is a riotous glory. Squash bushes are beginning to sprawl across their hills. The carrots are trying my patience – I know they are slow to sprout but I look forward to their emerald feathers gracing the garden bed.

I am accustomed to working full-time, to traveling from site to site to provide training. When I wasn’t training people, I was testing programs or helping to develop new classes and class materials. Always busy, always moving. Now my pace is much slower – I’m waiting. Waiting for Mama’s next medical appointment; waiting for a job; waiting for the carrots to appear.

This is a season of slowing down, of planting for the future harvest. Much as I want to hurry things along, I know God’s time is perfect. Some days I easily can praise Him for the opportunity to spend time with my mother and my sister’s family, and to experience the beauty of the Sierra Nevada foothills.

Other days it takes as act of will to praise Him as I grow impatient with the waiting. I want to see His purpose and I want to see it now! It's hard remember to wait and pray for God's good time.

Will I be a string bean, shooting up quickly? Or a carrot, slower to appear but sweeter to the taste? Both are valuable for our nourishment. What would you have me be, Lord?

Father, we thank You for the rich variety of Your creation and the knowledge that everything (including us!) has a purpose there. Help me to see Your purpose and to grow accordingly. And please be patient with me when I want to hurry.

© 2009 Mary Beth Magee