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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.

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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.

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

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.

 

Don’t Miss A Blessing

August 22, 2018 Leave a comment

Blessing

I was running late when I arrived at our church for the worship service last Sunday, so I quietly slipped in the back door and chose the first seat available.

It was on the other side of the auditorium from where my husband and I usually sit. This location on the “outer fringes” would not have suited him, but since I was alone and trying not to disturb others with my late arrival, I scooted into an empty row of seats just as the worship leader began leading the congregation in a praise song.

Within seconds, though, a middle-aged couple in front of me caught my attention. I wasn’t acquainted with them, but I could tell, by the way they sang the praise choruses with familiarity and enthusiasm, they were probably regular churchgoers. At one point during the singing, the husband looked over, smiled at his wife, slipping his arm around her waist. She, in turn, patted his hand. Their loving gestures seemed to demonstrate a worshipful delight at sharing this experience together.

As I observed their obvious love for the Lord and for each other, it made me smile, and I felt blessed.

At the beginning of the second song, the couple’s son and daughter-in-law joined the couple, appearing to apologize for their late arrival. Although I was just guessing at their relationship, the “son” was the exact height and spitting image of his “dad,” so I felt safe in making this assumption. As soon as the younger couple unashamedly greeted the older couple with hugs and kisses, they too joined in singing the worship songs.

As I observed their outward affection toward one another, it made me smile, and I felt blessed.

As soon as the pastor began his sermon, all four individuals opened their well-worn Bibles and followed along as he read the Scriptures. Each one wrote down in the worship folder the different points the pastor was emphasizing in his message. When the pastor made a humorous remark about families in his talk, the four of them looked at each other and laughed, whispering back and forth for a moment as they enjoyed the joke together.

As I observed their attentiveness and serious approach to the hearing of God’s word, it made me smile, and I felt blessed.

On my way home from church, I thought about how four ordinary people had been a blessing to me. They were not Hollywood glamorous or especially attractive from a physical standpoint. Their clothes were not expensive or fashionable. None of them spoke any words of wisdom to me or gave me any spiritual insight.

Yet, they blessed me because they were expressing their love for each other and their love for God in a worship service.

“Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together!” Psalm 34:3

What Are Your Credentials?

January 8, 2018 2 comments

credibility Credibility. Politicians fake it. Pundits announce it. Actors crave it. Businesses sell it. However, when it comes right down to it, no one does credibility like God does credibility.

I was just about to finish up an interview with a book website about my Titus Ray Thriller series, when I was asked, “What are your credentials to write this series?” The question stumped me for a minute. Were they asking about my experience as a writer? Were they questioning my knowledge of the subject? Were they just wondering if I had enough creativity to write a series of books?

In the end, I answered the question by referring  to the premise of the series and how my main character was growing in his faith while working as a covert operative. I decided not to make the case for my own credentials because, quite frankly, I wasn’t sure I could do that.

God, on the other hand, can always do that. He has the credibility. When God comes to the prophet Jeremiah to give him His message to the people of Israel in Jeremiah 33:2, He says, “Thus says the Lord who made the earth, the Lord who formed it to establish it—the Lord is his name.” On what basis does God come to the prophet? He comes as THE ONE who made the earth.

Those are pretty good credentials. In fact, they’re GLORIOUS. The God who created the world around us, the universe and all that’s in it, from the smallest particle to the biggest galaxy, is someone who has credentials. And this is what our God tells Jeremiah to do in Jeremiah 33:4: “Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.”

With credentials like that, why wouldn’t we?

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