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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.

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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

This Might Work!

February 26, 2019 Leave a comment

puzzleAs I continually seek to be a student and teacher of God’s Word, I encounter many different methods, programs, and suggestions about how I should memorize, use, remember, and put into practice what I’ve studied and taught, and it usually doesn’t take me very long  to recognize if something will work for me or not.

More often than not, I find myself thinking, “I will never do this” or “I can’t even begin to understand how this would work.”  However, here are three helpful suggestions I’ve come across that made me say, “This might work!”

How To Talk To God:  In this blog, Lisa gives some pointers about using God’s Word to talk to Him.  What happens when you speak God’s own words back to Him?  Find out here.

How To Walk By The Spirit:  In this sermon from John Piper on 1 Thessalonians 3, you’ll find a wonderful acronym called APTAT, which you can use to remember what to do when asked to do something you don’t believe you can do. Piper ‘s message is entitled “The Word Of God Is At Work In You,” and the application of this (which is about 30 minutes into the video if you want to watch it) is outlined in the written sermon called Applying The Text To Your Life.  Watch the video or read the sermon here.

How To View The Bible:  Along with many of you, I am reading the Bible through again this year.  In my plan I’m about to finish up Genesis, and I’ve seen the grace of God at every turn, from the moment of creation to God’s dealings with Joseph.  But this will not be the end of God’s grace.  In fact, the grace of God can be found in every book of the Bible.  Dane Ortlund outlines how every book of the Bible shows God’s grace.  You can read it here.

Maybe these suggestions will make you say, “This might work!”

2 Timothy 2:15: “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.”

A Day of Hope

January 1, 2019 Leave a comment

Goodbye, 2018. Hello, 2019.

January 1st is a day of promise. To many, it holds the enticing thought of a brand new start, a day to wipe the slate clean, to begin anew.

January 1st could rightly be renamed The Day of Hope.

  • We hope to lose weight, get more sleep, eat healthy.
  • We hope to be more productive, not procrastinate, get organized.
  • We hope to get a better job, earn more money, buy a new house.

But, so much of what we hope for tomorrow will just be wishful thinking.

There’s a different kind of hope that’s not just wishful thinking. It’s a hope centered on Christ, a confidence that what God has promised He’ll bring to pass.

I like to think of hope as the future tense of faith.

How can we have this hope that’s not just wishful thinking?

Romans 10:17 says, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” It’s the Word of God that makes faith and hope possible.

All of your days in 2019 can be A Day of Hope by reading God’s Word.

Check out these Daily Bible Reading Plans for hope-filled days in 2019.

Seeing Light in Light

November 6, 2018 Leave a comment

white flashI’m a very practical person, and I like for things to make sense, to be understandable, well-ordered. That’s why, whenever I’m reading the Bible and come across a verse that doesn’t make sense, it immediately gets my attention.

I read this verse in my Quiet Time this morning. Psalm 36:9, For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light.”

It was the last part of the verse that got my attention because, normally, when believers speak of seeing God or drawing closer to God or sensing the presence of God, there is an emphasis on the fact that it’s during the dark days, when God is most easily perceived.

However, like many aspects of living in God’s Kingdom, man’s way of thinking is reversed. Living in God’s Kingdom means “the first shall be last.” God says if you want to be great, “be a servant.” He admonishes believers to “repay evil with good” and “love your enemies.”

Thus, even though it’s true that the light of His Presence can sometimes be more easily seen when darkness envelops our world, the more we walk in His Light, the more we see His Light.

That’s because, as John writes in I John 1:5, “God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all,” so, the closer we walk toward the source of light, the brighter the light becomes.

 

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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