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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.

What a Surprise!

October 15, 2020 Leave a comment

God reveals Himself in Scripture as a God who loves surprises. Throughout the Old Testament, God manifests Himself in surprising ways, He chooses surprising people, He acts in surprising circumstances.

God Manifests Himself in Surprising Ways:

  • A burning bush
  • A whirlwind
  • A bunch of dry bones
  • A barren womb

God Chooses Surprising People:

  • An idol worshiper
  • A murderer
  • A con man
  • A shepherd boy
  • A prostitute

God Acts in Surprising Circumstances:

  • A Flood
  • A Battlefield
  • A Famine
  • A Murder

In the New Testament, God Himself becomes the surprise. From His birth announcement, His earthly life, His horrible death, and His anticipated return, it’s one surprise after another.

His Birth Announcement Surprised:

  • His mother Mary
  • His father Joseph
  • The shepherds
  • King Herod

His Earthly Life Brought Surprising:

  • Miracles
  • Teachings
  • Revelations

His Horrible Death Surprised:

  • The Disciples
  • The Unbelievers
  • The Roman Soldiers

His Anticipated Return Will Surprise:

  • The Unprepared
  • The Uninformed
  • The Unbeliever

How will God surprise you? It could be a way in the wilderness or a river in the desert. “Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:19. 

God will surprise you. Anticipate it. Look for it. Embrace it.

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?

Four Things I Pray

June 3, 2020 1 comment

PrayerSometimes, I get so caught up in praying for the needs of others, I fail to pray for myself.

I was reminded of this during my quiet time, when I got to I Chronicles in my daily Bible reading.

In the margin of my Bible, I saw a previous note I’d written when I’d read the passage before—I’ve been reading the O.T. once a year and the N.T. twice a year for many years now—and I realized I’d gotten away from praying these four things for myself.

I pray the Lord will  Bless, Prosper, Guide, and Protect me.

Bless Me—spiritually, physically, and mentally.

Prosper Me—spiritually, personally, and financially.

Guide Me—spiritually, intellectually, and creatively

Protect Me—spiritually, physically, intellectually, and financially.

The common thread is that I’m always praying for myself spiritually. If the Lord will bless, prosper, guide, and protect me spiritually, everything else will fall into place.

The Biblical basis for my prayer is found in I Chronicles 4:10: ” . . . Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border, and that your hand might be with me, and that you would keep me from harm . . .”

Read a Personal Story

January 4, 2020 Leave a comment

bible-879070__180What’s the right way to read the Bible this year? You’ll find the answer in the Bible!

David, speaking in Psalm 16:11, says, “You make known to ME the paths of life.” David has a personal relationship with God. While it’s true the Bible has a message for all people, God intends for that message to be understood and received by each individual personally

I read through the Bible every year, and I’ve used a variety of Bible Reading Plans to do this, but no matter which method I use, I try to  make it personal by making notes in the margins.

You can easily make the Scriptures personal by asking this one question at the end of your Bible reading:

What message does God want me to take away from this passage? 

For a great selection of various Bible Reading Plans, click here.

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?

What’s Your Name?

April 22, 2019 2 comments

Hello my name isDeciding what to name a child can be challenging. While I’ve passed the stage of naming babies, today, I’m faced with what to name a character in a book. That too can prove challenging.

When a character enters a scene, the person’s name usually pops in my head at the same time. However, before accepting this moniker as the appropriate tag for the person, I do a little research just to make sure it isn’t the name of a celebrity or a politician or some other famous person.

I also want a villain’s name  to sound . . . well . . . villainous, and a strong character to have a strong sounding name. Think “Rocky” and you get the picture.

The Bible is full of great names for both babies  and characters. These are names that have been around for thousands of years, and have quite literally stood the test of time. But, there are many “one time use” names in the Bible as well.

For instance, in the book of Hosea, God instructs a prophet to name his daughter “No Mercy” (Hosea 1:6). The son who came later was named “Not My People” (Hosea 1:9). Their Hebrew names Lo-ruhama and Lo-ammi never quite caught on as popular names for offspring, but those names portrayed the message God was endeavoring to send His people at that time.

In the book of Ruth, a widow named Naomi, who had lost two sons, decided she wanted to be called Bitter. She wanted this name change because she said, “the Almighty has dealt bitterly with me” (Ruth 1:20).

If you wanted a name to reflect how God has dealt with you, what would you call yourself?

I would call myself Blessed. I pray it would be your name as well. We are all Blessed.

Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God.”
Psalm 146:5

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