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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?

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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

Oh, gross!

March 3, 2018 Leave a comment

golden tapUntil recently, I never realized how gross the subject of purification could be. Then, I had to do some research about my refrigerator’s water filter, and I read about the stuff a water purifier is suppose to remove–things like cysts, radioactive particles, arsenic, bacteria, viruses, and chemicals.

I found myself getting a little sick just reading about the stuff.

The same week I was researching pure water, I read this from James 4:8, “Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you men of double mind.”

God expects those who desire His presence in their lives to have their hearts pure, to be free from contaminants. However, pure hearts, like pure water, must go through a purification process before being pronounced clean. Like water from a dirty lake, our hearts don’t become pure on their own. Hearts must be cleansed by an outside source.

David, in Psalm 51:10, cried out to God for purification, “Create in me a clean heart, O God!”  Only when we cry out to God for purification does the process of heart cleansing truly begin. Luke, writing in Acts 15:9, says God does His act of purification “by faith.”

Water purification occurs when I connect a water filter to a water source. Heart purification occurs when, by faith, I connect my desire for purity with the source of purity, God Himself.

Matthew 5:8: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

Real World Reality

April 30, 2017 Leave a comment

RealityMost of us realize the food ads we see in magazines and on television are photographed by highly skilled photographers; even the food itself has been artfully produced and posed to make it mouth-watering appealing. But one photographer decided to professionally photograph the real thing, say a taco just purchased from Taco Bell alongside an appealing ad for the same product.  The results are humorous, though not too surprising.

In God’s Word, He has presented us a “photograph” of the best, His Son.  Placed alongside Him, we fare badly, never able to fully measure up to His beauty, to His holiness, to His lovingkindness.  Just like fast food from the real world isn’t exactly like fast food from the advertising world, we live in the real world and have the scars to prove it.  However, one day, an expert photographer will appear and airbrush away all our flaws.  Then we will look our best, able to live in the best world, able to live with The Best.

“Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.”  1 John 3:2

Don’t Put Up With It!

March 4, 2017 Leave a comment

img_1147For years, I’ve used a decorative paper towel holder in my kitchen. It looked nice; matched my kitchen theme—roosters—and held my roll of paper towels within arm’s reach.

There was one problem with the holder.  It was made for an earlier time, when a roll of paper towels wasn’t as thick as it is today. That meant every time a new roll was placed on the horizontal pole, I had to use one hand to grab a towel and the other to pull it away from the roll and tear it off.

This was frustrating, because when I’m cooking,  I don’t always have a free hand to grab a towel. Of course, the problem resolved itself once several towels were removed. Then, the roll would move freely on the holder. After that,  I wouldn’t give it another thought.

The other day, I accidentally hit the bottom of the ceramic holder, and a piece of it fell off. I didn’t immediately think about replacing it, because it wasn’t that noticeable, and it didn’t  affect the way it worked. Later that day,  I was in a Bed, Bath, and Beyond store shopping for another product, and I happened to pass by a shelf of paper towel holders. Several of them had labels describing them as being perfect for today’s extra large rolls.

That was the moment I decided not to put up with the frustration I felt every time I inserted a new roll of paper towels on the ceramic holder, and I used my 20% off coupon and purchased a sleek new modern-looking one.

When I brought it home, I placed a fresh roll of paper towels on it, and presto! problem solved. I’ve had it a week now, and I’ve probably changed the roll three times—I’m very messy in the kitchen—and, every time I install a fresh roll, I ask myself why I didn’t buy a new paper towel holder sooner.

Why did I put up with something that was clearly a problem and had an easy solution?

The answer’s pretty simple. It seemed like a small problem, and I had too many other things to think about, and, after removing a few sheets, I didn’t notice it again until I needed a new roll.

Too often, we treat spiritual problems in the same way. A situation arises; tempers flare, angry words are spoken, lustful thoughts are entertained, gossip is spread, godless choices are made, and then we move on.

However, the sin that caused the problem in the first place remains; it’s never examined, never prayed over or confessed, and the situation  happens again. And again.

God’s Word gives us much counsel about dealing with our sin, and one example is found in Psalm 51 where David realizes the only solution to the sorrow he’s experiencing is to confess his sin to God.

“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation.” (Psalm 51:10-12).

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Don’t put up with it!

 

You’re Full Of It!

October 10, 2015 Leave a comment

Full of It 2It’s easy to fall into the trap of focusing on our failures or weaknesses, especially when it comes to our relationship with God. If you read the Bible on a regular basis, hear sermons, or sing Christian songs, you’ll constantly be confronted with your inability to live up to the person God created you to be. We all “fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23.

While it’s true every individual born since Adam (except for the God-man, Jesus) comes into the world filled to the brim and running over with a sin nature, it’s also true God has provided a way for a new filling. He’s promised to infuse us with His nature, His Holy nature. This is what the Bible calls our new nature.

This new nature is promised to everyone who believes. “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.” Ephesians 1:13.

As a follower of Christ, filled with His Holy Spirit, you are a repository of God’s grace and mercy. He’s filled you with His attributes. You’ve become a “vessel of mercy.” Romans 9:23.

Being filled with God’s grace and mercy, enables us to be merciful. John Piper of Desiring God Ministries writes in his sermon on Romans 9:

Mercy produces mercy and receives mercy again. We become merciful by being shown mercy. And we show mercy to obtain more mercy again. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy” (Matthew 5:7). Freely you received mercy, freely give – and you will receive more and more, “pressed down, shaken together, running over” (Luke 6:38). Mercy upon mercy.

While it’s important to continually examine ourselves for sin in our lives and confess that sin to God (1 John 1:9), it’s also important to realize we are full of God’s mercy and His mercy is an overflowing mercy.

Should I Listen To This Guy?

September 18, 2015 Leave a comment

Voices! We hear voices each and every day. Some are screaming at us from the TV, telling us to order this, pay attention to that, and don’t forget about something else. Others are posting on our Facebook page, our Twitter feed, our other social media sites, wanting us to sign this, like that, or look at something else.

Who merits our attention? To whom should we be listening? Whose voice is the worthy voice?

A crippled up 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. Jesus stopped by one day, and, in one instantaneous moment, 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 a man who was able to give life to his withered limbs was someone with authority, someone worthy of his attention.

This same man, 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 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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