Category: thoughts by Marilyn Ehle

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by Marilyn Ehle
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“Oh, how I love your word! I think about it all day long.�
(Psalm 119:97, (Living Bible)
“All scripture is God-breathed…so that all God’s people may be thoroughly equipped for every good work�. 2 Timothy 3:16, 17

It was a week of body-numbing activity as we worked in clinics near poverty stricken villages. We awakened early and fell into bed exhausted each night. Children seemed to pour from buses like water out of a bottomless pitcher. Challenges multiplied as we faced the logistics of meeting the endless vision, dental and medical needs of over 2,000 children.

We were Christians—surely we began each day in lengthy meditative prayer and gleanings from the Bible? While some of the team met each morning for a few quiet moments, the reality was that responsibilities swirled for those of us in leadership, demanding attention nearly every waking moment.

In the midst of these long days that were drenched with activity and people, the gracious Spirit of God repeatedly brought to my attention words that had long before been committed to memory and implanted in my heart.

From this resource, God brought to my attention answers to problems even before they were articulated. He provided all that was necessary for the needs of the moment.

The city in which I live depends on reservoirs for its water supply. When there is insufficient winter snow or spring rain, we are warned to carefully monitor our water use.  In a similar way, our spiritual reservoirs cannot go long without refilling. Returning from the humanitarian project described above, I was desperately thirsty for fresh and abundant “water of the Word� and God is faithfully refilling what I had spilled into others’ lives.

Father God, your word refreshes and fills and invigorates me as I faithfully meditate on it. Thank you for its life giving strength.

You can comment on this devotional online at:
https://thoughts-about-god.com/blog/2009/06/07/me_reservoir/

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For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also
Matthew 6:21

Set your hearts on things aboveColossians 3:2

Jan and I sat in the cafe musing about what our dream homes would look like and where they would be. We were currently living in a country not of our birth, in houses certainly more than adequate but not truly of our own choosing. We led busy lives and on this particular day were probably more than little weary.

Jana whose not adept at or fond of cooking described her future kitchen: “About the size of a closet with only an efficient microwave and very small refrigerator.” We agreed that our preferred site would be on the eastern United States sea-coast in a weather beaten cottage with a white fence around the yard.

Many years have gone by. Jan lives in a quaint, small home but it is on the outskirts of a major metropolitan area. My life is lived in a condominium in a suburban setting thousands of miles from the sea.

Have our dreams gone unfulfilled? Were our musings wasted time? Both Jan and I have moved into lives that have many challenges but are overall satisfying. (She still doesn’t cook much but owns a full-sized kitchen!) Our longings for the sea are partially indulged by an occasional holiday visit.

It is not wrong to keep a notebook of fabric swatches for the furniture of our dreams. House plans, garden layouts, paint chips of favorite colors are good memory joggers. But when dreams of the future supplant following hard after God’s plans for today, we can easily be diverted from His best for us.

Father, it is so easy to lose my focus on your grand plans. Keep me ever vigilant to hear your heart, then my own desires will fit perfectly into your own.

by Marilyn Ehle

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by Marilyn Ehle
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“For Christ himself has made peace between us and you by making us all one people. He has broken down the wall of hostility that used to separate us.� 
Ephesians 2:14
(Living Bible)

It looms above the lush greenery of the surrounding countryside. Visitors from around the world climb its thousands of timeworn steps. First built over 2,000 years ago, the original purpose of the Great Wall of China was to defend against invading tribes from the north. Today it is a mere rocky symbol of an imperial past.

Another wall, one of more recent memory, remains physically visible only in the small chunks preserved on corner shelves of those for whom it has special meaning or in larger pieces safely ensconced in museums. The Berlin Walls’ foundation has been covered over by modern buildings, brick sidewalks or green lawns. Its original purpose was to restrict access of a beleaguered people from seeing and escaping to a free world.

Walls of brick and stone are doomed to eventually crumble, either from the ravages of time or the unstoppable urge for freedom. But emotional walls between individuals and groups are far more damaging and enduring. Walls of remembered hurts, abuse, prejudice all loom and divide. Where walls exist, conversation is shallow or stilted, indeed is often non-existent. Fear replaces vulnerability. Hearts turn as stony as the rocks in the walls of China and Berlin.

Only one force is strong enough to collapse these dividing walls. Only when we submit our wills to Jesus Christ, the One who died to purchase our freedom, can we begin to live without the walls we believe so necessary for protection.

You can comment on this devotional online at:
https://thoughts-about-god.com/blog/2009/05/21/me_walls/

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by Marilyn Ehle
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“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer�. Psalm 19:14

Christian DevotionalMy husband thanked me this morning for something I had said in an earlier conversation. I’ve no doubt of his sincerity.  I’m confident that he loves and respects me.  His words of thanks brought a glow to my heart…until—with hardly a breath between the words of thanks and the next phrase—he added, “but…�  What followed were not words of spite or disdain, but simply what he considered to be a flaw in my attitude.  The glow evaporated as quickly as a wisp of smoke and although I didn’t verbally respond (I am slowly learning to bridle my tongue!), those “but words� roiled within until I could later totally relinquish them to God and thus regain a sense of peace.

How often do I speak “but words� to my Heavenly Father?   I express gratitude for His great gifts but quickly add, “but couldn’t you do a little more?� Or I say thanks that He has promised to never leave or forsake me, then add, “But I want to feel your presence.�  God will be pleased when both my words and my inner attitude express contentment with his will.

Help me, Lord, to be honest and simple before you so that my words and my attitude express trust in who you are and how you lead.

You can comment on this devotional online at:
https://thoughts-about-god.com/blog/2009/04/20/me_thank-you/

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by Marilyn Ehle
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“Search me, O God… See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.�  Psalm 139

Housecleaning was an every – Friday ritual in my childhood home. Not a mere swish of a dust cloth, but a room-to-room, thorough cleaning that included polishing furniture, cleaning woodwork, vacuuming carpets, scouring sinks and bathtubs and – on hands and knees – scrubbing every inch of exposed floor. My mother was an expert at detecting the smallest speck of untouched dirt in a corner. The response to my plaintive cry of “No one will ever see itâ€? was a firm, “But I will know it’s there.â€?

Most of us who follow Christ truly want to live lives that honor Him. When confronted with attitudes and actions we know to be wrong, we confess them to our loving Heavenly Father and appropriate His forgiveness and grace. But what about the “corners�?  Those things we wouldn’t call grievous sins, but which would certainly offend Jesus if we were face to face with Him.

Am I willing to allow – even ask for – the revealing light of God to expose the corners of my life? When the corners are clean, God and I can walk in the richest friendship along the way everlasting.

Thank you, Father, for shining your light of love into every corner of my life so that I can walk in unrestricted fellowship with you.

You can comment on this devotional online at:
https://thoughts-about-god.com/blog/2009/03/31/me_corners/

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by Marilyn Ehle
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“What shall I do with the one you call the king of the Jews?� 
Mark 11:12

The crowd has been whipped into a frenzy. Only days before, many of these same people had raised their voices in praise to Jesus, shouting loud “hallelujahs� to the one they thought could deliver them from Roman domination. Why, now, do they roar for a death sentence from Governor Pilate?

Walter Wangerin, Jr. writes, “This is the natural reaction of sinners in the presence of a Holy God.� We are inexorably drawn to a Jesus who feeds our bellies and heals our wounds, but when he quietly calls for commitment outside our comfort zones, we step back, uncertain we to be that radically identified with him.

While the crowd roared, Jesus stood humbly yet majestically silent before the questioning governor. He stands that way today before each of us. Eventually we must all personalize and answer the question: “What will I do with this one called King?�

You can comment on this devotional online at:
https://thoughts-about-god.com/blog/2009/03/26/me_your-answer/

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by Marilyn Ehle
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“Stop!� Samuel said to Saul “Let me tell you what the Lord said to me last night.� 1 Samuel 15:16

We found it by accident. After a brisk winter walk in a park north of New York City, we were ready for a hot cup of tea or coffee. After parking the car, we began walking toward the town center. And there it was—a cozy tea room with small tables, friendly wait staff and quietly conversing customers. The thick menu described hundreds of teas and several appetizing food items. With our selections finally made and the aromatic brews poured, we visibly relaxed. With a plaintive sigh, our daughter asked, “Why don’t I stop for this every day?� She is a high school teacher and her many responsibilities and relationships seem to fill every waking moment.

Time for a cup of tea—or coffee or hot chocolate—may not involve any beverage at all. The importance of the ritual involves stopping. For the follower of Jesus, stopping is crucial—stopping the whirl of activities, stopping the ever-present household or career responsibilities, stopping well-meant ministry. Just stopping. Stopping to hear and drink in the quiet voice of God.

We read that Jesus often left the crowds with their deep physical and spiritual needs to stop. He even stepped away from his disciples to whom He would soon entrust the Kingdom. We must do no less. When will you stop for your cup of tea today?

Lord, stopping seems so unproductive! I have been trained to believe that to stop means an interruption in moving forward toward success. Please continue to remind me that I will only hear “what the Lord said to me� if I stop.

You can comment on this devotional online at:
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by Marilyn Ehle
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“What we know is that when Christ is openly revealed, we’ll see him— and in seeing him, become like himâ€?.
1 John 3:2, (The Message)

A good friend of mine recently died after a long bout with cancer and an extended stay in a care facility. Strange as it may seem, when I heard the news of her death, my first reaction was, “Heaven will be no surprise for her. She’s been living for years in the presence of Jesus.�

My last visit with Susan—just two weeks before her death—was just like all my other visits. Her first question was about what God was doing in my life. Her face, now thin from the ravages of disease, was lit with a brilliant smile. Susan’s work with international students through the years was continuing as she met twice weekly with one of the kitchen staff who wanted to improve her English. She spoke lovingly by phone every day with her mother whose confused mind was withering because of senile dementia. She asked if we could pray—not for herself but for her patient, tired and loving husband. “This is so hard for him,� she said. 

When Susan stopped breathing the air of earth, I know she swelled with love at the sight of her Savior. She had been becoming like Him for a long time. Heaven wasn’t really a surprise; she had lived its reality for years.

Father God, help me look longingly at you each day and live increasingly like you so that when I see you face to face, I will not be surprised, only overcome with joy.

You can comment on this devotional online at:
https://thoughts-about-god.com/blog/2009/01/21/me_heaven/

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By Marilyn Ehle
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The Lord said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go the land I will show you – I will bless you – and you will be a blessing…”  Genesis 12:1

It made no “common sense” for Susan to submit a resignation. She had recently received a promotion. She is multi-talented, recognized in her field as an expert. Her creative genius is seen in many multi-million dollar homes in the area. On a personal level, she has been mentor, friend and encourager to those just starting out in the design field.

So why is she resigning? Some might say she is running from what had become an increasingly difficult work environment. Others would wonder if she’s lost the competitive edge so necessary in much of the business world. Or could it be that she—as a Christ-follower—has simply heard Him say, “It’s time to move on. I have something else for you now.�?

To leave a position, place or situation when God says, “Go”, is often misunderstood. Sometimes even the one leaving wonders if this “makes sense”. Long ago one man heard such a word from God, and his willingness to follow was miraculously turned into blessing that follows us even today. It made no “common sense” to leave the comfort of home and family, to give up that which provided security, but Abram went and became a blessing.

And so goes Susan. The blessing is not yet seen, but God never calls without purpose and plan.

“Thank you, Father, that we can trust your call in our lives. Help us be sensitive to your voice and faithful to follow”.

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By Marilyn Ehle
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The resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s…greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa“  Romans 8:15 (The Message)

It was the early 1990’s. A room full of teachers sat at long wooden tables in a dimly lit, stuffy room. Magazines lay in disorderly piles on the tables along with glue, several pair of scissors, and large sheets of blank white paper. The instructions were simple: cut out pictures illustrating your view of the character of God and paste the pictures onto the paper, forming a collage.

After a few moments of silence, the teachers – accustomed, of course, to totalitarian-induced obedience – began the project and within thirty minutes, several large posters were complete.

Although the project organizers suspected what might be the general direction of the participants’ choices, they were amazed at the volatility expressed. No cute baby pictures, no frothy clouds, no pastoral scenes. Instead, the formerly blank sheets had overlapping cut outs of atomic explosions, mutilated bodies, storm-ravaged houses, bloody slaughterhouse scenes.

These were people who had not yet heard of the “tender mercy of our God“. (Luke 1:78), or “the kindnesses of the Lord” (Psalm 63:7). They didn’t know that God longed to be known as a tender, loving “Abba,” or “Papa” as Eugene Peterson translates in the word the The Message.

What pictures would you have cut out of the magazines? In Abba’s Child, Brennan Manning writes that we who are Christians have the same relationship with God as Jesus had. “He invites and calls us to share the same intimate and liberating relationship”.

How magnetic our lives could be if we only reflected to the world God’s radical and tender love.

I sometimes forget that the all-wise, all-knowing God is also my “Papa“, a God who longs for me to develop an intimate relationship. Help me, God, to express my love for you and increasingly feel your love for me.

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By Marilyn Ehle
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“My God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.�  Philippians 4:19

On major highways in the United States there are large signs before exits that lead to nearby cities and towns. On these signs are listed conveniences for the travelers such as gas/petrol stations, hotels, restaurants, etc. But while driving through more rural areas, occasionally one of these signs will have only two words: NO SERVICES. This is to inform travelers that at this exit there are no nearby businesses to satisfy a traveler’s needs. Drivers are free to leave the highway at these points, but they will find only fields, the occasional house or farm and less-maintained roads. There will be no resources to meet basic human needs.

As we travel down the roads of our lives, we are faced with choices similar to those facing drivers on U.S highways. God has promised to provide resources for all our needs but He allows us to make the choices. We are free to investigate all the possibilities, but frequently we turn off God’s best paths only to find that there are, “no services� at these points.  In the Bible God gives us all the information we need to make good choices; He asks only that we seek the answers.

God, thank you for providing all I need for living in such a way that you are pleased. Help me never forget how much you love and supply my needs.

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By Marilyn J. Ehle
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“Teach us to number our days and recognize how few they are; help us to spend them as we should.  Psalm 90:12 (Living Bible)

Do you read the obituaries in your local paper? Lately I find my attention drawn to several sobering issues as I scan this page. First, my heart aches when I read about an infant: “Born yesterday, died today.� How devastated must be these parents, grandparents and friends. Expectations of joy have suddenly been replaced with grief. Precious newly purchased baby clothes must be folded with tears and packed away.

Next, I read about equally loved elders who have lived eighty or ninety years and are now gone. These families must soon sort through papers, clothing and long-stored memorabilia—often with tears but perhaps also with gentle smiles as days in the distant past are recalled.

Perhaps most jarring are the paragraphs that detail the sudden death of a person in the prime of life. Too often in our scarred world these deaths occur because of senseless violence or tragic accidents. It is during this reading that the psalmist’s words vividly leap to mind: Teach us to number our days and recognize how few they are; help us to spend them as we should. In The Message, Eugene Peterson paraphrases thusly: Teach us to live wisely and well.

If I knew that my obituary would be written tomorrow, would I change the activities of today? Would I alter my attitude toward today’s activities? Would I allow petty disagreements to linger? Would I harbor ill-will based on incomplete truth? Facts as well as experience teach us that life is short but we too often live as though that obituary will never be written.

Lord, help me live each day with inner joy and a “clean slate� regarding my relationship both with you and with others.

What do you need to do to make today a fresh start? Perhaps you will want to write a note of apology or gratitude. Make it a practice to enter each new day with a cleansed heart.

You can comment on this devotional online at:
https://thoughts-about-god.com/blog/2008/09/19/me_few-days/

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Marilyn Ehle has worked closely with businesswomen in the USA setting up and participating in luncheons and discussion groups which focused on issues pertinent to today’s employed woman.
A writer, she writes devotionals for Thoughts About God  and Christian Women Today

 

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By Marilyn Ehle
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“God…gave us the ministry of reconciliation…He has committed to us the message of reconciliation…We are Christ’s ambassadors…� 2 Corinthians 5:20

The long flight is over and you wearily stand in the snake-like Visa Control line. Your stomach muscles tighten as you observe cultural differences even before you cross the actual border: drab clothing, unsmiling faces, unfamiliar smells. The uniformed and armed government officials you spot on the perimeter of the crowd only increase your uneasiness. You now wonder if all the information you wrote on your visa application should have been included. These people now know your home address, workplace phone number, etc.

You are one of a group of educators coming to a country that has long been unfriendly to Western ideas, yet you have been invited to participate in a seminar that will introduce new instructional techniques to local teachers. The host country is aware that you are Christian and that what you teach will have at its base morals and ethics found in the Christian faith.

While you attempt to make your face an unreadable mask, your heartbeat increases as you step up to the glassed-in booth where a young, but stern, official reaches for your passport. Feeling as though a smile and friendly word might help the process, you say the one word of greeting you know in the national language, but the official merely glances at you and then peers in amazement at the passport: “Occupation: Ambassador.� 

“Ambassador?� he queries with scorn. He can already see that you are not carrying the necessary diplomatic papers but are entering his country with only the normal tourist documents. What now?

This is not a description of an actual occurrence. We know that only authorized people can claim to be “ambassadors� in the governmental sense. And yet as citizens of the Kingdom of God, we are called to such an important post. The Apostle Paul writes that God Himself has appointed us to this position. Our job description includes faithfully carrying out the assignment: both the message and ministry of reconciliation.

I don’t advise writing the term “ambassador� on your visa papers, but it is important to make sure it is written within our hearts.

Lord, I don’t have the earthly qualifications for the post of ambassador, but thank you for appointing me to that position in your Kingdom. Help me faithfully learn about the culture where I live so I can best represent you and your values.

You can comment on this devotional online at:
https://thoughts-about-god.com/blog/2008/08/18/me_occupation-ambassador/

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Marilyn Ehle has worked closely with businesswomen in the USA setting up and participating in luncheons and discussion groups which focused on issues pertinent to today’s employed woman.
A writer, she writes devotionals for Thoughts About God  and Christian Women Today

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“No one lights a lamp, then hides it in a drawer. It’s put on a lamp stand so those entering the room have light to see where they’re going.  If you live wide-eyed in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dank cellar. Keep your eyes open, your lamp burning, so you don’t get musty and murky. Keep your life as well-lighted as your best-lighted room.”
Luke 11:33 (The Message)

The larger grocery stores in Bonn, West Germany always seemed busy and especially so in the late afternoon when working women crowded the aisles, filling their carts with products necessary for supper preparations. But now, in early 1990, it was more and more common to see people slowly wandering the aisles, looking in awe at row upon row of everything from toothpaste to laundry soap to every variety of canned soup. Freezer compartments held ready-to-heat meals. Produce shelves overflowed with oranges from Israel and bananas from Chile.

The Berlin Wall had fallen only weeks before and throngs of people walked over the wall’s rubble to gaze upon and perhaps buy what had formerly been only a desire. They frequently walked in speechless amazement. They truly wandered in wonder.

In his book The Singer, a novel based on the life of Christ, Calvin Miller heads one chapter with a syllogism (a form of reasoning):

Major Premise:  God is a custom.

Minor Premise:  A custom is an old, old habit.

Conclusion:  Therefore, God is an old, old habit.

It is sadly easy to get musty and murky in our spiritual lives. God becomes an old, old habit and our lamps no longer attract people to the Savior. We have become blase, no longer gazing in wonder at the beauty of Christ, God’s amazing grace and His incredible promises. Constantly must be our prayer, Open my eyes that I may see glimpses of truth thou hast for me.   Jesus healed blind people and they then gazed at him in wonder. We need His touch.

It’s not easy to look at you with fresh eyes, Father. Sometimes I’m afraid of what I might see. But you are a healing, loving God and long for me gaze upon you with wonder.

QUESTIONS:

1. How does God become an old, old habit?

2. What new aspects of God’s character have you discovered by gazing in wonder upon Him?

By: Marilyn Ehle

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By Marilyn Ehle
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Methuselah lived 969 years and then he died.”  (Genesis 5:27)
“I will give him (Caleb)…the land he set his feet on, because he followed the Lord wholeheartedly.”
  (Deuteronomy 2:36)

Amazing advances in modern medicine, sociology and psychology seek to not only extend our lives but improve the quality of those lives A mere eight words describe one man whose name has become synonymous with advanced age: “Methuselah lived 969 years and then he died.”

Fewer people recognize the name of Caleb but this man dared to go against the prevailing opinion of his compatriots, staking his reputation on what he believed: that God and His word could be trusted.

What Arthur Winston believes about God wasn’t reported by the media, but his picture and words were front page news when he recently retired at the age of 100 from his 76-year tenure with the Los Angeles County Transportation Authority. (When asked about his “retirement” plans, Arthur responded that he wants to “keep busy, keep active.” He added that he might now have time to volunteer to help some of the elderly in his community!)

Methuselah lived long; Arthur exhibited tenacity in the workplace; but it is Caleb who is the prime example for the modern businessman and woman. To follow the Lord wholeheartedly when those around grow faint will receive far more lasting benefits than “social security” of “retirement benefits.”

Lord, thank you for examples to follow. Help me set the pace of wholehearted obedience to you so that those around will choose to join me on the path.”

You can comment on this devotional online at:
https://thoughts-about-god.com/blog/2008/04/30/me_methuselah/

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Marilyn Ehle has worked closely with businesswomen in the USA setting up and participating in luncheons and discussion groups which focused on issues pertinent to today’s employed woman.
A writer, she writes devotionals for Thoughts About God  and Christian Women Today

Thoughts by All thoughts by Marilyn Ehle Thoughts by Women