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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?

God Loves You

July 11, 2020 Leave a comment

God is LoveThe words, “I don’t love you,” have to be the most hurtful words ever spoken. As human beings, we are born with the desire to be loved. Whether it’s romantic love, family love, brotherly love or even self love, God gave us the desire to be loved and to love God, others, and ourselves.

Love comes from God. “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.” (1 John 4:7).

Because human love is so flawed by sin, none of us can ever love ourselves or another human being perfectly. In the same way, until we receive our glorified, perfected bodies, we can’t love God perfectly.

God has no such hindrances. He loves perfectly. On three different occasions, the prophet Daniel was told by the angel Gabriel that he was greatly loved by God. “I have come to tell it to you, for you are greatly loved.” (Daniel 9:23). The same thought is expressed in Daniel 10: 11 and Daniel 10:19.

How sweet those words must have sounded to Daniel! How would you like to hear those words for yourself? Well, you can.

Paul says in Ephesians 2:4-5:God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses,made us alive together with Christ.”

God’s love is on display for us in Romans 5:8.But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Like Daniel, God sent word to us that we are greatly love. He sent  His Word in the form of His Son who demonstrated how much he really loved us by paying the penalty for our sins by His death on the cross

Accept His love. Bask in His Love. Know His love for all eternity.

How Can I Believe in God?

February 9, 2020 Leave a comment

Believe 1I’ve never had a problem believing in God. It’s as natural to me as breathing.

That doesn’t mean I’ve ever seen God, or had an angelic visitation, or received some special sign from Him. I’ve never seen any writing on the wall or heard an audible voice, or had some tangible proof He’s real.

My belief in God comes from trust.  I trust what the Bible tells me about God. Ironically, the faith to believe in Him, to trust what the Scriptures tell me about Him, is a gift from God.

Ephesians 2:8-9 says, For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,  not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

Believing in God is not something I can do for myself. The ability to believe in God comes from God.

Any person who sincerely wants to know God will find Him. “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13.

I believe in God because He created the desire for me to believe in Him; He provided the means for me to believe in Him, and He made the provision for me to believe in Him.

And, He didn’t just do it for me; He did it for you as well.

John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

 

Just A Little Nudge

November 7, 2019 2 comments

Sometimes, all it takes is a nudge. I’m especially susceptible to nudges. I probably wouldn’t have started writing my Titus Ray Thrillers, if someone hadn’t casually mentioned to me I should try writing a spy novel. Every day I enjoy a few minutes of mind-stimulating fun playing a word game on my iPad called Word with Friends, but if a very good friend hadn’t given me a little push to put the app on my iPhone, I wouldn’t have done so.

And, sometimes, a little nudge may be all a person needs to come to Christ, or to renew their commitment to Him, or to read their Bible or to . . .

Last week, I heard about a style of evangelism that’s become popular after a book was written about it five years ago. The book is called Nudge by Leonard Sweet. In it, Sweet says that “sharing the gospel should be a matter of awakening each other to the God who’s already there.”

Sweet writes, “Nudge evangelism is based on a simple premise: in everyone you meet, leave an impression–a Jesus impression, a Jesus dent. The nudge can be as simple as a smile, as profound as a prayer, as complex as a meal, as subtle as a story, as venturous as a witness, as ambitious as an altar call.”

To nudge someone toward Christ is vastly different from shoving them toward Christ. The gospels give a clear picture of how Jesus offered Himself to unbelievers. “Come unto me,” He said. If someone rejected the offer, Jesus was saddened by such a response, but He didn’t call them out, pronounce curses on them, or show animosity of any kind toward them. And yet, more than any other being in existence, He would have been justified in doing so.

Nudging people toward Christ can happen all the time in hundreds of different ways, and the form it takes is totally dependent on a person’s personality type. Extroverts will be more aggressive in calling attention to how Jesus is working in their lives but the quiet, thoughtful attitude of an introvert can be equally as effective.

As long as I keep one thing in mind, it’s easy for me to practice this kind of nudge evangelism. I remind myself that every person I encounter in my life—from grocery clerk to business man, from stranger to friend—is someone God has placed there, is someone God has prepared for me to nudge toward Him, is someone He loves.

Give someone a little nudge toward Jesus today. It may be all they need to discover the hidden treasure of Christ Himself.

1 Peter 2: 15-16 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of 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.

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

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

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