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Finding Hidden Treasures

November 15, 2020 Leave a comment

Don’t you love to find a word from the Lord in your Bible that you’ve never seen before? That happened to me just recently when I was reading the last verses in the little bitty book of Jude, so small it doesn’t even have any chapters.

The verses I hadn’t noticed before were verses 24-25 of . . . well, just Jude.

“Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority before all time and now and forever. Amen.”

While there’s so much in these verses, I’ve highlighted three phrases that blessed me especially.

Present you blameless: I love being reminded when believers stand before his presence one day, we’ll be considered blameless. How great is that? And notice how it happens—through Jesus Christ our Lord.

With great joy:  Notice the one doing the presenting of us before His presence will do so with great joy. He—Jesus—will be delighted to make everyone who believes in Him known to His Father. It will be His pleasure to do so. He even asked the Father in John 17 for this to happen. “Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory.”

Before all time: Our God is an eternal God. There has never been a time when He didn’t exist. He was before all time, and He will go on forever through all time, even when time is no more. This is mind-boggling, hard to grasp, and yet, strangely reassuring.

There’s so much more in these two verses, and in the days ahead, I plan to give more thought to the treasures to be found there. I have a feeling I won’t be disappointed.

Happiness?

September 23, 2020 Leave a comment

It’s been a couple of rainy days here in Oklahoma. Not much sunshine. I’m not a person given to depression, and I really like rainy days, but I still found myself longing for some sunshine.

People just seem to be happier when the sun is shining. As I thought about happiness, I remembered a devotional I’d read about mankind’s universal search for happiness. 

In the article,  this quote is referenced, “All that we call human history–money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery–is the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.” –C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity.

A bright cloudless day can’t really make a person happy. Only God can do that.

Turn your face toward the Son. Bask in the warmth and happiness of His Light today.

“You make known to me the path of life, in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11.

Lost Your Way?

August 12, 2020 Leave a comment

Find Vs Lose Your Way Puzzle Pieces 3d IllustrationIt’s easy to lose your way in our world today. We’re inundated with a myriad of messages, images, and ideas. How do we choose what to believe, what path to follow, how to live? We can explore all our options, saturating ourselves with philosophies, practices, and beliefs.

But, like hikers exploring a new trail, there are some precautions we should take before we head off into the unknown. Otherwise, we’re sure to lose our way. These practices should serve us well, whether we’re looking at a belief system, a political choice, a new set of friends, or exploring health issues, anything requiring our time, money, and effort.

First, FIND a way to have a Daily Quiet Time.
Spend at least thirty minutes every day in Bible study and prayer. It doesn’t matter how you do this. There’s a Bible reading plan out there that will match up with anyone’s learning style and preferences. The important thing is to put yourself in a position where your Father in heaven can communicate His love, His plan, and His desires for you, and you can catch a glimpse of His Glory each and every day.

Second, FIND a way to worship God in a group setting, even through media.
Praising, loving, and serving God with other people will strengthen and enhance your faith. It’s about gathering with like-minded people who desire to give glory, honor, and praise to an Almighty Creator who sacrificed His only son to make sure we spend eternity with Him.

Third, FIND a way to express your faith.
Our belief in God requires an outlet. Otherwise, stagnation sets in. This expression can take many forms, and it may be different according to personality types. For some, it may mean singing, speaking, teaching, or preaching. For others, it may mean journaling, writing, serving, or counseling.

Hear the words of the prophet Jeremiah in Jeremiah 6:16: Thus says the Lord: Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.”

Rest for your soul as you find your way. What could be better than that?

We Keep Waiting

April 22, 2020 Leave a comment

Wait Room 5Are you tired of waiting? I know I  am.

During this Covid-19 pandemic, it feels like the whole world is in a waiting room. I’m sure you’ve been stuck in a waiting room before, so you know that feeling of helplessness that comes over you after you been there an hour—or two.

While I’ve been waiting to be released from our city’s quarantine restrictions, I’ve found myself thinking about all the times I’ve been in God’s Waiting Room.

God’s Waiting Room is a place familiar to all praying believers. Those who petition the Father for answers, for relief, for deliverance, for guidance, for comfort, often find such requests are not answered immediately. That’s why God designed His Waiting Room.

If the waiting goes on for months, even years, God’s Waiting Room can become a place of discontentment, anger, frustration, and unbelief.

It’s happened to me. Don’t let it happen to you.

Through the years, I’ve learned waiting on God doesn’t have to be unbearable, not as long as I follow some basic principles.

1. Don’t wait alone. Waiting is always easier if the wait is shared, even if it’s virtual sharing.

2. Find something to do while waiting. Occupying body, mind, and spirit makes the wait easier.

3. Encourage others as you wait. Empathy for others who may be going through similar circumstances lightens your burden and blesses your  soul.

4. Recognize God has a sovereign purpose in the length of your wait. Waiting is no different from anything else in your life—God is working all things for His Glory and your benefit no matter what it is.

Those willing to wait on God are given a special promise. It’s found in Isaiah 64:4: “No eye has seen a God like you, who works for those who wait for him.”

While you’re in God’s Waiting Room, He’s out there working for you.

Keep on waiting.

Ring a Prayer Bell

March 5, 2020 Leave a comment

Bell2I can’t remember where I got this little “angel bell.” It was given to me years ago. Other than a decorative item on a bookshelf, it isn’t much use to me, except when someone around our house gets sick. Then, I put it beside their bed, and when they need something, they ring it.

My mother, who was in a wheelchair during the last years of her life, had to use the bell a lot more than most family members did.

Whenever she rang it, she would apologize. “It’s nice to have an angel when I need help,” she’d say, “but I hate to be a bother.”

One day, when my grandson stayed with me when he was sick, I put it beside his bed.

He didn’t use it the way my mother did.

He rang it just to see if I could hear him ringing it. He rang it to ask for a drink, a cracker, or a bowl of ice cream. He rang it to call attention to something on television. He rang it because he was bored. He rang it to tell me he was happy to be at my house. He rang it to tell me he was glad he didn’t have to go to school.

God also has a bell. He calls it prayer. Whenever I ring His angel bell, He’s immediately at my side.

Sometimes, I think I’m using it too often, and  I need to apologize. “I’m sorry I have to ask for this again. I’m sorry I can’t  remember what you told me. I’m sorry I have to keep asking forgiveness for this sin.”

However, at other times,  I act just like my grandson. I ring it often, and sometimes, I’m asking for things I don’t even need.

But, according to Scripture, God doesn’t mind when He hears the angel bell ringing. He’s delighted His children want to spend time with Him, even if it’s just to ask Him for something. He’s happy His children believe He’s the answer to everything that matters.

God is overjoyed to hear that prayer bell ringing! Start ringing!

Philippians 4:6 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

Now That’s Good Advice!

August 5, 2019 2 comments

adviceHere are four pieces of advice I wish I’d been given much earlier in life.

1. Your greatest asset isn’t your own abilities. While you may have been told all you need to do is work hard and keep on keeping on, don’t believe it. Your greatest asset is your utter dependence on God. “Apart from me, you can do nothing.” John 15:5.

2. Your desire to have applause isn’t in keeping with the gospel. While our sinful nature is bent toward making much of ourselves and looking out for our own interests, the gospel tells us to make much of Jesus and look out for His Kingdom. “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33.

3. You have no idea what God is doing in your life. There’s no blueprint, formula, or method out there which will enable you to gauge what God is doing in your life. It simply doesn’t exist. If it did, you wouldn’t rely on God when He takes you to places you wouldn’t ordinarily go and has you do things you aren’t equipped to handle. God is too delighted in seeing your faith grow to tell you what He’s up to. Most of what He’s doing can only be understood through a rear view mirror. “For we walk by faith, and not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7.

4. You could be one incredible piece of work if you’re willing to admit you’re not. If God’s Word is any gauge of how God operates–and it most definitely is–then He uses the weak, the nobody, the frightened soul, the lowly, and the despised to be a blessing and give Him glory. If you’re willing to be a piece of clay in the potter’s hands, He’s willing to fashion you into a beautiful vessel for His Kingdom’s work. But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter.” Isaiah 64:8.

Feeling a Little Blurry Around the Edges?

June 11, 2019 Leave a comment

Out of FocusOne of the great things about the cell phone cameras we use today is the automatic focusing feature. I’m old enough to remember using an actual camera that required fiddling with a bunch of dials before snapping the picture. Most of the time, those waiting to be photographed weren’t very patient about this process, and, oftentimes, after all that effort, the photo turned out to be out of focus after all.

As children of God, it would be nice to have this automatic focusing mechanism built into our daily lives, so that the moment our lives became blurry around the edges—from taking part in all the world has to offer, from neglecting Bible study, from participating in non-glorifying activities—then our focus would automatically be returned to our Father and to living out Christ in us, “the hope of Glory” (Colossians 1:27).

However,  none of us have an automatic focusing mechanism. What we have is something even better—the Word of God.

While having a device to automatically redirect one’s  focus towards God sounds good, in reality, such a device would ultimately lead to taking God for granted, and it wouldn’t adhere to the command to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12).

God’s Word directs us to focus on Him in numerous passages of Scripture throughout the Old and New Testament.

One of my favorites is 2 Thessalonians 3:5: “May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.”

Have you lost your focus? Direct your heart today to the love of God“The love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him” (1 John 4:9).

Direct your heart to the steadfastness of Christ. “He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it” (1 Thessalonians 5:24).

Spending time  with the Lord in daily Bible study brings clarity to our lives and sharpens an otherwise blurry picture.

What Story Will You Tell?

May 22, 2019 Leave a comment

Everyone Has a StoryAll of us have a story. It may be  your parenting story, your pregnancy story, your career story or the story of your life. A story I’ve always enjoyed hearing is the story of someone’s salvation—all the details surrounding how a person came to faith in Christ.

When we lived in Indiana back in the late 1980’s, the editor of our denomination’s weekly state paper, The Indiana Baptist, asked me to do a weekly column on a different individual each week and emphasize the details of their conversion experience. I decided to call the column “A Story To Tell.”

My husband’s job at that time was in Baptist missions, and we traveled to a different church in Indiana every week. We usually arrived at the church at least an hour before he was to preach, so I had time to seek out a friendly man or woman, get their permission to record our conversation, and then ask them to tell me their salvation experience. After the interview, I would write down our conversation in a story format.

While all the stories culminated when the person became a born-again Christian, each convert’s circumstances were unique. However, after several months of writing salvation stories,  the common thread I saw in each person’s experience was the way God used a friend, a neighbor, a relative, or even a stranger to draw the unsaved person to Christ.

An example of this was the young man who had not been brought up in the church, knew nothing of the Lord and was planning on becoming  a professional golfer. One evening, when he was about to enter a nightclub to enjoy several hours of partying, he noticed a group of people carrying picket signs. They were protesting what was going on inside the establishment.  One of the signs read “The wages of sin is death.”

For weeks the young man was haunted by these words, but he had no idea what they meant. However,  after he followed his girlfriend’s suggestion to talk to a pastor, he was led to the Lord, and his life was forever transformed.

I’m sure the man who had picketed the nightclub that night carrying a sign with the words from Romans 6:23 written on it, never realized his small gesture eventually made an eternal difference in someone’s life.

What difference will you make in someone’s salvation story?

By His Stripes We Are Healed

April 15, 2019 1 comment

Jesus Christ in the holy cross

of black and blue and red
of gashes and slashes and stripes
of hits and harm and hurt

He stumbles and bows and falls
He crumbles and bends and kneels
He gasps and cries and moans

for healing and helping and teaching
for blessing and loving and keeping
for hoping and holding and saving

Isaiah 54:4-5
A Devotional Poem by Luana Ehrlich

Could I Have Your Attention, Please?

October 18, 2018 Leave a comment

Voices! We hear voices each and every day. They tell us to order this, pay attention to that, go there, come here.

Other voices post on our Facebook page, our Twitter feed, our social media sites, wanting us to sign this, like that, watch that, play this.

Who merits our attention? Whose voice is the worthy voice?

A crippled old man appears in the gospel of John to answer these questions. (John 5:1-17).

He doesn’t have a name in the gospel, but everyone at the pool of Bethesda knew him. He’d been lying there for thirty-eight years, unable to take advantage of the pool’s healing properties. Then, Jesus stopped by one day, and, in one instantaneous moment, He took care of the crippled man’s lifelong problem.

Following Jesus’ instructions, the Man Made Whole gathered up his bedroll and walked away. Later, when asked by the religious leaders what he thought he was doing carrying around his bed on a Sabbath, he told them he was doing what he’d been instructed to do by the man who’d healed him, by the man who had enough authority to make him whole again.

The Man Made Whole was carrying his bed—in defiance of the religious authorities—because he recognized  someone who was able to give life to his withered limbs was someone with authority, someone worthy of his attention.

This same man, this Jesus of Nazareth, healed me one day. He healed me of a lifelong sin problem, a sickness so severe I was doomed for eternal destruction. He did so by taking sin’s disease on Himself and paying the price for it Himself. Now, he commands me to take up my life and live it for Him.

His  voice is a voice worth hearing.

Listen to His words from the rest of John 5,Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself.” (25-26)

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