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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?

What Love Is This?

December 17, 2019 Leave a comment

manger

God’s love for you can never be restrained.

It bursts forth in smiles
from a cattle stall.

It shouts out in praise
from a heavenly host.

It cries out in anguish
from an old rugged cross.

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

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

Are You Tired of Waiting?

May 31, 2017 3 comments

Wait Room 4Not long ago, as I was dealing with some of my dad’s health issues, I spent several hours in various doctors’ offices, imaging centers, and hospitals. Most of my time in those places was spent in a waiting room.

During one  long day, I 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, and 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.

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

I’ve learned that waiting on God doesn’t have to be unbearable as long as I follow the same basic principles I follow when waiting on a loved one in a hospital waiting room.

1. Don’t wait alone. Waiting is always easier if the wait is shared.

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 in your life—God is working all things for His Glory and your benefit.

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.

Me jealous?

August 24, 2016 2 comments

gray word on red wallAs believers, we sing of God’s amazing grace, but, if the parable Jesus told in Matthew 20 is any indication, lurking beneath these praises could be a heart of jealousy.

In this story, found in Matthew 20:1-16 and often called the Laborers in the Vineyard, Jesus tells of a landowner who hires laborers to work in his vineyard. He does this throughout the day, so that the laborer hired in the early part of the day works many more hours than the laborer hired at the end of the day. Yet, the landowner pays each worker the very same wage–the amount initially agreed on when the hiring took place. Thus, those who worked longer received the exact same wages as those who worked for only one hour.

Predictably, when those who had worked a full 12 hours noticed that the landowner had paid each man the same wage, they grumbled and complained to the owner of the vineyard. This was the owner’s answer in Matthew 20:15, “Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?”

Since the landowner is representative of God, we should take this parable as a cautionary tale to guard ourselves from complaining about the blessings God bestows on someone who appears undeserving of such grace. Instead, when God showers someone with blessings, our response should be one of joy. Imagine how pleased the landowner would have been if the workers, who bore the heat of the day, had rejoiced with with the workers who had worked but a few hours. What a celebration they could have had!

“Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.” Philippians 2:14-15.

What In The World Is God Doing?

June 7, 2016 Leave a comment

Going OnOften, God’s work in our lives seems hidden, a barely discernible matter. That’s true in the life of an individual, the life of a church, and especially in the world itself. Yet, the Bible assures believers this is simply not the case. God is doing something in all areas of our life, our church, and the world. He’s doing it all the time.

So, what is God doing when we can’t see what He’s doing?

When God made His presence known to Moses through the flame shooting up from the non-burning bush, He told Moses what had been going on with Him while the children of Israel were suffering under the oppression of the Egyptian pharaoh. God said,I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings” (Exodus 3:7).

That’s what God was doing then. That’s what God is doing now. He’s doing it in your life and He’s doing it in my life. He’s doing it throughout the world today.

God told Moses He “had surely seen.” Nothing escapes His attention. He sees it all. From the beheadings in the Middle East to the hairs on my head, not one thing gets past God. He’s observing every minutiae and every big thing.

God said He “had heard.” Not one word coming from my mouth escapes God’s ears. He hears my sweet words as well as my harsh words. He hears what your boss utters as well as what you utter about your boss. He hears words of profanity and words of praise. His ears are never closed; He hears it all.

“I know,” God said. God is aware, thoroughly knowledgeable, about me. That means He is completely cognizant of my every thought, my every motive, my every desire, my every sin, my every . . . my everything. This is true of a church body. This is true of a family, This is true of a nation. This is true of our universe.

When God told Moses what was going on with Him, He did so, not to instill fear, but to give Moses comfort. Moses was afraid of God, so God wanted to reassure Moses that the manifestation of His presence wasn’t to be feared. God described what He was up when He spoke from the midst of a flame in a non-burning  bush. God did it again when He spoke in the form of His Son Jesus. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14).

We can be comforted by what’s going on with God both now and in the future. God not only told Moses what He was doing in the present, He also told Moses what He was about to do for His children. “I have come down to deliver them” (Exodus 3:8).

God will do the same for His children today. “Yes, I am coming soon”  (Revelation 22:20).

The Garden God Planted

April 18, 2016 Leave a comment

gardenI planted my flower garden this week. As I was working the dirt and digging the holes, I kept reminding myself of how much I was going to love sitting on my patio this summer surrounded by thriving, flowering plants. I had to keep repeating this mantra because gardening is hard work.

In the midst of one of my many “rest periods,” I thought of the verse from Genesis 2:8, “And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden.” That sounded good to me, especially the part about God doing the planting. When Adam and Eve showed up in Eden, they had a ready-made garden, because God had already done all the heavy lifting for them.

This concept of God “serving” or “working” for His children is present throughout the Bible; yet, most believers are taught the opposite. That is, as followers of Christ, we are urged to find ways to serve Him. While it’s true we are to “serve the Lord with gladness” (Psalm 100:2), we are never to think our service toward God is anything He actually needs, that somehow He would be lacking something if we did not render Him our service.

In fact, when Paul was preaching to the Athenians, he tried to dissuade them from having such an attitude. He says in Acts 17:24-25, “The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things.” God doesn’t need anything from us, because he is the Giver of all things; He is the self-sufficient One..

The proper response to our Giver is to receive His gifts with an abundantly grateful heart, acknowledging we have nothing to give in return but our own utter dependence. Peter tells us to serve “as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.” (I Peter 4:11).

The service that glorifies God is service rendered through Him alone.