Holiday Help

The holidays can bring out the best or the worst in all of us. We cram into our schedules unusual activities. We long for scenarios that may never happen, even if it is Christmas. Or, our expectations are sky-high from people that haven’t performed so well up to this point! For some reason, we think the magic of the season will produce a different result or reaction from those who disappoint all year long. The traditions and practices of the season are different from any other time of the year. Everything is different at Christmas.

Why is this?

Is it true that “It’s the most wonderful time of the year?” My mother used to say the whole world seemed to change for the better at Christmas. It seemed to her people acknowledged the Reason for the season. I think she was right. Things were prettier, and people were nicer; the flow of society was happier and more gentle as anticipation grew toward Christmas. The Judeo-Christian values were held dear in most of society, and these values governed so much of our behavior and celebration of the season.

Unfortunately, the world is different, and now more than ever, we must focus on our individual journeys with Jesus to cope with the world as it is. Followers of Jesus must remain faithful to Him and choose Him when much of society isn’t. We truly have to decide to follow Jesus daily.

With that in mind, maybe the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons are more important than ever.

Let’s not allow the darkness to do what darkness does. Darkness will creep into your soul and make you cynical of all that’s happy and bright and of the goodwill still present on this earth. Even today at church, someone asked how she could quit focusing on all the bad in the world.

Here are eight tips for holiday help:

  • Stay with Jesus – Focus on scripture reading, and prayer. Add this to your life if it isn’t already. There are all kinds of Christmas Bible reading plans online. Find one and start it. If you are in this habit already, then keep it going. This daily discipline will save your life and keep you sane.
  • Enjoy the Body of Christ – If regular church attendance is already part of your life, keep that going. Be at your local church as often as the church holiday schedule allows. Our religious freedom is a gift, and corporate worship is God’s idea.
  • Pray for the lost – Your friends and family who don’t yet know Him need your prayers. You may have a divine opportunity around them these next few weeks. You’ll be ready for it if you’ve spent time with the Father.
  • Play the sacred Christmas carols – “Grandma got run over by a reindeer” will be heard a thousand times on any radio station. Raise the essence of the season and download some gorgeous, choral, or orchestral music, and enjoy the grandeur of these long-held hymns of Christmas.
  • Love the ones your with – Be kind, and use manners with those you’re around every day. You will feel better about yourself and your relationship with the Lord.
  • Teach the traditional– Christmas carols, old movies, poetry from days gone by, and lasting beliefs. Snuggle up and share storybooks of Jesus coming to earth. Focus on the biblical more than the secular.
  • Keep good routines – If you have good habits such as eating right, going to bed at a regular time, or exercise, then keep it up. If not, start. All these things are remedies for stress.
  • Serve others – This is basic Christianity and should be done regularly anyway. Work in your local church as there’s often a need for volunteers to greet at the Christmas services, or serve meals, or buy presents for others.
  • Live Christlike – There is incredible suffering, and people who know you are watching you. You can bring the light of Jesus to your world. If you have a stressful schedule, figure out your “no’s”, dig deeper, and lean on Jesus. 

The darkness of this world can breed a cynicism in all of us. As followers of Jesus, we have His light within us and we can be vigilant to keep the light burning as steady as a lighthouse. Let’s not cave in to the world’s darkness. Let’s live as children of the Light because the world has nothing to offer to us. They are searching for the Light. We have to remember…Joy to the world, the Lord is come!

Joy to the world, the Lord is come;
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven, and heaven and nature sing.

Hope is Real

Do you have a favorite word? One of mine is hope.

Hope is real, and it lives in truth and can’t be mistaken as false hope. When a person makes things way too optimistic regarding something that has a strong chance of not happening, that is false hope. In error, humans often choose this.

False hope, when finished leading you on, leads to despair.

Losing hope teaches us to live in the light of real hope. I’ve had just enough pain in my life to know how valuable hope is to my emotional survival. I’ve experienced its power!

The Bible speaks of 2 kinds of hope.

Eternal Hope. Eternal means it is going to last! It’s without end. God is infinite and without end.

Living Hope. It’s living because it resides inside our spirit. Because of the resurrection, Jesus is our living Savior, our living Hope.

Hope makes life

worth living,

worth striving for,

worth fighting against the darkness,

worth every ounce of directed energy to hang on to,

diminishes skepticism with quiet confidence,

and…

overrides doubt.

There’s no easy path to get to this point.

We may go through storms, dark tunnels, raging rivers, sleepless nights, and the question of why. As we cling to Jesus, we find His promises are true, and He is faithful. In the end, we learn, He is our hope.

Hope has, within its nature, longing for more. That’s when a believer looks to a life promised beyond this. Heaven. Those in Christ have a home in heaven.

Looking forward to heaven is closely aligned with hope.

Hope, for the believer, causes a radically different approach in terms of residing on planet earth. It’s about WHO is our Hope. Because of Jesus, our spirit is sustained, no matter our circumstances. We, as believers, have the God of Hope living in us. Even in the dark nights of the soul, we have a God big enough to absorb our despair and aching souls. He is our Hope.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

This concept of hope is too big to cover in one blog. I will post more about this supernatural quality given to every believer in Christ Jesus. Until then…

“Hope is one of the Theological virtues. This means that a continual looking forward to the eternal world is not (as some modern people think) a form of escapism or wishful thinking, but one of the things a Christian is meant to do. It does not mean that we are to leave the present world as it is. If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next.” C.S. Lewis

Faithful God

b643d909-06d5-44c9-95e7-01bc16b096d5No matter what, if you are a follower of Jesus, you can count on Him to come through. It may not be the way you would choose, but you can trust whatever the way, He is busy working it out for your good and His glory.

One of my go-to passages from the Bible is out of Lamentations 3:22-24 which says,

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”

It does require waiting, but His word promises HE is enough.

Recently, I discovered the connection between this Lamentations passage and the glorious hymn, “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” Thomas Chisolm wrote the words to this hymn in 1923. He was inspired by this Bible passage in Lamentations, and later it was put to music. I’ve known this song longer than I can remember. Congregational singing in church brought it into my life, and years of hymn singing put it to memory in my mind.

Enjoy it here.

Wherever you are in your life, as a believer in Jesus, you can know HE will be faithful to you and your circumstances. He is our faithful God.

7dba61dd-a056-4af1-90ee-e6b375645a8e

if we are faithless,
    He remains faithful,
    for He cannot disown himself. 2 Timothy 2:13

 

Imagine Your New Life

In our church, often, songs with the themes of heaven and grace are sung. As we all join together heralding this good news, the idea of this blessed condition makes me weep at times. While singing, my mind ponders how freeing it is to live a life indelibly marked by the grace of Jesus. None of us deserve this grace. Gratitude often springs from my heart because I know without the Lord, my life would be as dark as the night sky with no hope of a new day. Quite the opposite is true, and I know it is because of the grace of Jesus.

If you are a follower of Jesus, surely you know and experience the grace of God daily!

He cares so deeply for His children, and His love is boundless and inexhaustible, and unfathomable.

If you aren’t a follower of Jesus, you may wonder how to make sense of it all. Surely, observing the events of our day would rattle the most stable person and cause questions to swirl. I’m wondering if you are in that state now; would you be looking for lasting peace?

The One who lives inside me is the only One who’s been able to give my life peace, purpose, and a plan. He is my stability and my joy.

This all-encompassing God also has a place reserved for me in Heaven. I know this for sure, and it’s not because of anything I’ve done. It’s actually because of everything He did for me when He died on the cross. Then, when I chose to receive His gift of salvation, certainty and assurance became my eternal hope.

I don’t deserve this one bit.14817349-b429-4450-b53f-185aa2348732

This gift came at the most supreme of sacrifices. God sent His One and Only Son to this earth with a mission to die for my sin and your sin. Receiving this gift has nothing to do with anything I’ve done. I am not a good person, nor do I have to do good works to earn this salvation. Any good coming from me is only because of Jesus and His righteousness. Any good works I do spring from my love for Him.

My faith is in the person of Jesus, not a religion. Because of Jesus, my heart is more tender to this world, and prayer is my response. I don’t lose hope. I know there are spiritual forces at work in this world.

Certainly, I’ve decided to follow Jesus, which means my life focuses on being part of the solution to the world’s ills. But my hope and peace are not found in this world. This world, as we know it will not last. So how does one find this peace? How can one have peace with God in a world shattered in pieces?

Consider these verses:

John 3:16 & 17 – “For God so loved the world, that He gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.

John 14:6- Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Romans 3:23 -for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…

Romans 6:23- For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus, our Lord.

Ephesians 2:8-9 – I mean that you have been saved by grace through believing. You did not save yourselves; it was a gift from God. 9 It was not the result of your own efforts, so you cannot brag about it.

Acts 2:21 – And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

If you believe what you’ve just read, then you can ask Jesus to come live in your heart and He will. By recognizing your need for Him, you can begin a relationship with the eternal and loving God. It is the best decision you will ever make. Once you do this, you will want to find a Bible-teaching church to attend. You can find several resources on this blog about reading the Bible and learning to walk in His ways.

Dear Jesus, if I don’t know you, I pray now and ask you to come live in my heart. I need you to forgive me of my sin. I believe you died on the cross for my sin and rose again. Please take my sin away and come live inside of me. I want my life to count for you. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Improve Your Quiet Time

If you are a follower of Jesus, then having a quiet time is something you do. It’s part of who you are as His follower. It’s a time for Him to talk to you through His Word and time for you to speak to Him in prayer. This is the relationship we all learn about, and yes, it’s that simple, and yet it is profound.

I’m an advocate of a morning quiet time. It gets the day started right by filling your soul with His powerful Word, leaving your burdens with Him, and humbling yourself and letting Him lead the way.

God’s Word is not dull, but sometimes this discipline could use some variety. One thing I started a few years ago is scripture writing. Writing scripture affects my spirit, much like a good night’s rest feels. A sense of well being emerges and the truth of scripture seems to magnify before me.

You can add this practice to your quiet time, simply choosing passages in the Bible to write. But, there are some great minds out there who have made it super easy by compiling lists of scripture by the month. Just google “scripture writing,” and you will find the options. Choose one, make a copy of the plan, gather a notebook and pen, and you’ll be ready to start this new adventure with scripture.

So let me tell you how I use scripture writing:

  • I find the passage in the Bible, and I read it, sometimes out loud.
  • I write the scripture passage in the notebook. As I write, I try to absorb the words and meanings.
  • Often, I place my name, where there are personal pronouns. This technique personalizes it for me.
  • I look for keywords such as repeated words, words that describe the human heart, words that describe God’s heart, a command, a list, action words, consequences, or a promise and more.
  • I circle, underline, make squiggly markings around these elements. Out beside the scriptures, I write any question the scripture prompts, a praise, a statement the Holy Spirit is pressing on me. I call all this diagramming Scripture.
  • After “diagramming” the passage, I may write out a prayer based on the scripture.

This entire process takes only a few minutes. By the time this is done, God’s spoken through the passage, and the activity of prayer follows. Sometimes I make the scripture passage the start of my prayer time. The scripture writing I’ve used most recently is https://theplanningwoman.com/scripture-writing-plans-2020/

Having a morning quiet time is a daily spiritual discipline that involves you interacting with our holy God. Time spent with God brings assurance of His Presence all day and guides you in His way. Beyond transforming your mind, your life will bring more honor and glory to Him because you met with Him. Embrace your time with God each morning.

The secret to a happy life is giving God the first part of your day, the priority to every decision, and the first place in your heart.

IMG_1833

The Serenity Prayer

We’ve all heard of the Serenity Prayer. Familiar as the Lord’s prayer to some, and part of our culture for decades, yet most don’t know the prayer in its entirety.

We are familiar with the shortened mass-marketed one, seen in every bookstore, on every card table at garage sales, as plaques in thrift stores, and inscribed on mugs across the world. This overproduced version is only a portion of this reflective and meditative prayer.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.

Have you ever seen the entire Serenity Prayer?

I learned about the full prayer when I began the curriculum of Celebrate Recovery years ago.

The prayers’ author is Rienhold Nieburh and his daughter, Elizabeth Sifton says her father was a deeply committed Christian and social activist. She asserts that he also was an evangelical who believed not so much in liturgical prayers, but prayers that were motivated by the Spirit.

The prayer was not intentionally written for addicts, as it is now mostly applied in our modern times. Alcoholics Anonymous adapted the prayer, but only the first portion of it. Celebrate Recovery has the prayer, in its entirety, in the front of its step books.

A significant discovery I made when exposed to the entire prayer was it gives honor to Jesus. Jesus is the only One who can understand our human suffering. Likewise, He’s the only One who can redeem suffering, though this does require our cooperation through surrender. This is the entire prayer.

God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time,
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardship as a pathway to peace;
Taking, as Jesus did,
this sinful world as it is,
not as I would have it;
trusting that You will make all things right
if I surrender to Your will;
so that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with You forever in the next. Amen.

Perhaps this prayer can serve as a tool for your walk with the Lord. It is not scripture, though scripture can apply to the principles mentioned. It is not magical and carries no power, but it can serve as a reminder of our humanity. Indeed, it clarifies who our Higher Power is, or may I say, who the Highest power is.

His name is Jesus.

For some additional information behind the story, you may enjoy this interview from Nieburh’s daughter from a few years back.

https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4284976

 Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. Matthew 26:41

What Freedom Really Looks Like

Recently, my scripture writing was out of Colossians 1:9-14. As I was writing it and later reflecting on this passage, thoughts came like the glow of lightning bugs, as the Holy Spirit began teaching me. When I gleaned all I could, I decided to make a simple study. This study is based on the New International Version translation. You would glean even more if you use a study Bible.

Pondering the recent events in the United States made me think about clinging to my identity in Christ. As a follower of Jesus, even when I learn of the problems in our nation, I still have peace. That’s because my identity is in Christ and not dependent on outward circumstances. I see a world locked down in sin, but I am free in Christ. Followers of Jesus look at events in the nation and the world with the clarity of Scripture. Let the events you observe motivate you to run your race believing you’ll be first over the finish line!

As you ponder this passage, please put your name into this passage to personalize it. As you bask in this passage, pray for our nation, pray for yourself to walk worthy of this Gospel, and live free in Christ. Pray for the lost and pray for our leaders. And remember, God is in control of all of history.

There are Christians in other nations who have very few of the freedoms we know here in America, yet they are free. That’s because Christ is the one who gives freedom. No geographic barriers can stop His love from entering the human heart, and once He lives in you, you are free no matter where you live.

Click below for Simple Study – What Freedom Really Looks Like – A Free Bible Study

what-real-freedom-really-looks-like.docx

How you can write your Heavenly Father

It’s Father’s Day 2020. My earthly dad went on to glory Christmas Eve of 2014. It is one of the best memories of my life. Because he was a follower of Jesus, death had no sting. Those of us present at his passing were able to sing sacred Christmas carols to him. We had the strength that assurance brings when one knows a loved one has eternal life with Jesus.

Remembering my dad is pleasant, but my relationship with my heavenly Father is a daily and eternal joy. And that’s the way my dad would like it. So sometimes on Father’s Day, I write a letter to my heavenly Father, the One who saved my soul. Have you ever done this? If you know God through Jesus His Son, then you know what a close relationship you can have with Him. If you have time today for some solitude, consider writing a letter to Him. Here are some ways to get started.

  • Read some chapters in Psalms with worship as their theme and spend time thanking and praising the Lord for who He is and what a good heavenly Father He is to you.
  • Find some songs from your playlists or search for some on Youtube about our Father. Selah has a song entitled, “How deep the Father’s love for us.” Amy Grant, “My Father’s Eyes,” and Chris Tomlin’s “Good Good Father” are just a few.
  • Find a notebook and start writing. Thank Him for all you’ve been reminded of about Him in the Psalms and your songs.
  • Make it personal. Thank Him for everyday rescues, interventions, and solutions He brought to your mind. Thank Him for His faithfulness and His daily provision.
  • Lastly, thank Him for saving your soul. Thank Him for the cross. Thank Him for the promise of His presence through life. Thank Him for His goodness. Thank Him for His care. Thank Him for your heavenly home being made for you. 

My dad knew the One who’d saved his soul. The song, “Because He lives” was a favorite of his. My dad was sure of his destination, and this assurance gave him hope on this earth.

No matter who your earthly Father was or is, if you are a follower of Jesus, you have a relationship with an all-knowing, loving, and gracious heavenly Father. He will love to receive your letter.

Happy Father’s Day.

Has this world been so kind to you that you should leave with regret? There are better things ahead than any we leave behind. C.S. Lewis

June Jewels Bible Study

untitled

June Jewels 2020

Do you need an uncomplicated Bible study to inspire you to serve others and learn to love yourself? This study is for you. I wrote it to find a way to bond two people who will serve the Lord in the same place every day. It was made clear to me that a simple but challenging Bible study would be the way to get them to meet together often in June. These two work at a place where I serve called Buried Treasures Home. June will be the month for them both to work this study together. Hopefully, one heart and one mind will be the result of finishing this study. The Lord informed me of the topics I needed to include. I made it interactive for them to execute together.

This study was made for one purpose only, these ladies, so I thought.

One evening, as I showed this finished work to my husband, he encouraged me to put it out on this blog to benefit others. To do this, I had to revisit the study and change some of the content. The activities on their version are specific to our setting. I prayed further and asked the Lord to help me make one for this blog.

You will notice in some of the instructions I specify how to do an activity individually or with another lady. But I believe it can also include a small group or Sunday School class. This season, when few churches are gathering, it would be an easy study to do with your Sunday School class over zoom. The study is not a daily study, but there’s enough work to spread throughout June.

Does this sound like something you could use? It’s easy to choose which way you want to do the study. You will be challenged but not overwhelmed. There will be things to ponder, but growth is sure to happen. Make copies. I use only black ink. Please note that   each lesson is just a 1/2 sheet, except one. Don’t miss a chance to do a short, concise, biblically driven study. It’s the only Bible study I’ve written, and I tried to make it easy, but with some depth. If you have questions, please ask. This was a surprise from God’s heart to mine. I pray this study brings Him much glory and some growth to you.

Let me know how you like it. Please share how you plan to use it.

Click here –  June Jewels 2020b643d909-06d5-44c9-95e7-01bc16b096d5

Click here for the studyJune Jewels 2020

Worry Worksheet

Has worry ever grabbed you and suddenly you feel suffocated by a situation beyond your control? Worry is a condition many live in regularly. We all know there are some rather large situations in life that can escalate our concern to worry.

IMG_6335

If you are a believer in Christ Jesus, I can tell you Jesus doesn’t want His children to make a practice of worrying. All through His Word, He gives solutions to help us give our worry to Him, to turn our worries into prayers. Maybe this is where you find yourself now. Could you use a simple worksheet to help you focus a few minutes on His promises and find remedies for worry? I’ve made one for you. It’s a free printable here:

worry worksheet

IMG_5999
Worry is a waste of time. We all succumb to it occasionally, but our Lord knows it defeats us if we allow it to consume us. So if you need a break, take some time to work this simple exercise. You will feel the peace of God, and your perspective will change. Take some time, cozy up in the Word, alone with God, and get the peace you need for the situation you are in now. Please share it with others and let me know if you were blessed by the worksheet. worry worksheet

IMG_0550

You can’t simultaneously worry and worship God. Every time you worry, you’ve forgotten how much God loves you. Worry is really acting like an atheist. It’s pretending you’re an orphan rather than a child of God. Rick Warren

 

Scripture Writing Follow Up

downloadSome of you may be following the Scripture Writing from The Planning Women as we do here at Buried Treasures Home. Sometimes, while I’m doing the scripture writing, the Spirit fills my mind with questions about the passage. After I understand the answers, I then have another discipleship tool to pass on to the ladies. This week was one of those times, and I was able to get it typed up and passed on to them. Even if you don’t do this particular scripture writing or scripture writing at all, you can still print off this printable to use for some extra Bible study time. Enjoy. Scripture Writing follow up for March 3

Also, I just published a page on the blog for Free Printables. I hope to add to this as time allows, but the ones I’ve offered, including this one, are on the page.

 

God’s Secret Agents

Years ago, I was exposed to prayer walking in a foreign country. Until then, I’d never heard of prayer walking. Certainly mobilizing to go half way around the world to do it didn’t match my idea of a hands on mission task. The team leader assigned a book (Prayer Walking by Stephen Hawthorne and Graham Kendrick), and the team practiced in his neighborhood prior to the trip. The main theme of this book was praying on-site with insight.

We learned to notice wheelchair ramps, children’s toys in yards, multiple cars in driveways, someone on their porch or in their yard, a political sign, a well-manicured yard. These and other things were clues for how to pray on-site with insight.

So, what does one pray when prompted seeing a well-manicured yard? You can thank God they care for their property and ask God to help them to understand there is a Creator. Ask the Father to convict them and to desire His beauty in their soul.

Sometimes walking isn’t possible. Prayer riding is just as effective. The speed of the road doesn’t hinder the ability to see clues around you…the speeding motorcycle, people on the side of the road, the elderly driver, the one texting, police driving by… As you begin to make it a practice, you’ll find there is no end to what the Spirit will let your eyes see, notice, and discern. For example, you may pass a crash. Ask God to bring peace to the situation and to give all involved wisdom. Pray for anyone who doesn’t know the Lord to cry out to Him to be saved.

A few times a year, I try to take the ladies of Buried Treasures Home on a Prayer Ride. Our time is more structured because I’m trying to bring awareness to them of how they can pray for their community in the future. This structure is useful if you’re trying to teach children or adults the importance and give the awareness of praying for their city.

This is what I do for a scheduled prayer ride:

  • I google how to pray for local churches, government offices, police and fire stations, your local shopping center, nursing homes, etc.
  • I make copies of these ideas and pass them out in the van before we leave.
  • We pray before we leave the property for God to help us see with spiritual eyes and to teach us what to pray.
  • I drive to the first destination, park in a place out of the way, but where we can still see it. Different ones individually pray out loud and when we’re finished we drive away to the next destination.

5 reasons to prayer ride or prayer walk:

  1. It opens the way for God to work. Evil is prevalent even in the most charming places. Ever since the Garden, evil has desired to interfere and disrupt all that is good on this earth.
  2. You get to pray for where you live! It’s where God has planted you. Caring for your territory and the geography you occupy is deeply connected to stewardship. Other than voting in the elections and your involvement in your local church, I know of no better way to be a good citizen.
  3. It gives you a sense of ownership for where you live. You are part of the solution for your neighborhood or your town to be protected from evil and to succeed. Our neighborhoods and towns belong to us, God’s people.
  4. Prayer is powerful, and praying for where you live gives you hope. Your spiritual eyes are opened and you care for where God’s placed you. Even if you don’t see an immediate answer, I believe evil is thwarted because of prayer.
  5. Your love for humanity will bloom. We all grow cold and aloof to this dark world and praying in this way softens your heart for all people.

Consider doing this. The next time you have your children or grandchildren in the car, tell them to look around and tell you what they see. Turn their observations into prayers. As you go to work, or run errands, keep your blood pressure down in traffic by praying aloud in your car for those around you.

Prayer is a quiet activity, but never doubt the power of your prayers. You are God’s secret agent in your community. Let prayer be part of your everyday life and watch God work while you pray on-site with insight.

Prayer walking is an intriguing concept. The general idea is that instead of moving blindly from one place to another, you spend your walking looking at what the world is actually doing around you. As you observe more closely, you see things, people and even areas to be prayed for, and pray for them as you walk. Graham Kendrick

 

Christmas for the Soul

untitledIt’s almost Christmas. Some of you have a decorated home already. As you stay faithful to our Savior during this season, it’s important to remember, Jesus has shown us how to respond to the hard things.

This morning, my scripture writing was out of I Peter 2:21-25.

To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in His mouth.” When they hurled their insults at Him, He did not retaliate; when He suffered, He made no threats. Instead, He entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly. “He himself bore our sins” in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by His wounds you have been healed.” For “you were like sheep going astray,” but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

This passage is inspiring. In the verses before it, the subject matter is about submission to authorities and suffering for doing good. Verse 21 starts, “To this, you were called.” We are called to submit to authorities and to know as followers of Jesus; we will suffer for doing good. When we do suffer, we are to endure it. The only thing I’d add to this is to be sure your suffering is not something you caused. Jesus is not talking about self-inflicted suffering; those preventable things.

The passage also says Christ suffered for you and left all believers an example in Himself and to follow in His steps. Based on verses 22 and 23, Jesus shows an example for us when He appeared before His accusers.

Jesus endured insults.

Jesus did not retaliate.

Jesus did not make any threats.

For us to respond as Jesus did requires us to walk in the Spirit. Responses like His are not natural. Typically, whenever we feel insulted, the opposite usually comes forth. Even if we manage to keep guard over our mouths, the darkness is in our hearts. The challenge from scripture does not take into account our sinful nature. The scripture gives us Jesus as our example, and He tells us we can respond like Him. The example is given and is the one to follow. We will face suffering for doing perfectly good things in Jesus’ Name, and we are to suffer well. We have His power inside us to respond well. Leaving the results to Him is a matter of trust. Jesus trusted His entire life to His Father.

He went to die on the cruel cross so that “we might die to sins and live for righteousness.” A wonderful thought follows, stating we are healed by His wounds. Jesus suffered on our behalf, in our place. And because HE did, we are healed. When we accept forgiveness from Jesus, we move from the disease of sin to being made well and whole. We identify with Christ. The cure has come.

In conclusion, verse 25 of this powerful passage says we have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of our souls! Have you returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your soul? Acknowledged is the final hope of turning back to Him in the two protective, loving names, Shepherd and Overseer.

This Christmas season, let’s find hope in this passage from scripture. It tells the entire reason Jesus came and then ends almost like a benediction to comfort us as we return to Him, and endure until He comes again.

But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53:5-6

photo-1547642616-3b5ad6d2084f

Dear Overseer and Shepherd of our souls, help us to suffer well. Let us bring glory to you. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Scripture Writing Now

untitledScripture Writing became a habit for me a few years ago. It was then I discovered people who combined their creativity with intention to produce countless options of monthly guides for writing the Holy Scripture. I was interested and years later, I still love it.

It’s almost October. New things are beginning, routines being established, challenges occupy our minds. Do you need a new spiritual habit which promises to yield instant results? Scripture writing is for you!

Here’s 10 reasons why you will love scripture writing:

  1. Interacting and writing God’s Word is supernatural and transformative.
  2. Writing God’s Word gives your brain time to capture the meaning.
  3. Writing God’s word is inspiring and encouraging.
  4. Reproducing the scripture in your own handwriting gives a personal sense to it, helping you own the verses.
  5. Focus is put on God at the beginning of the day and you sense His presence.
  6. Peace comes as writing slows you down to think and ponder your life.
  7. Order and focus are added to your quiet time as you write that day’s scripture.
  8. It doesn’t take long since only a few verses are written each day.
  9. Exposure to passages may draw you to memorize a small portion of God’s Word.
  10. God will reveal Himself to you.

Before you begin, find a notebook and pens just for this spiritual practice. Find a scripture writing for the month here. Print it. Find a favorite spot in your home where you can practice this uninterrupted.

Now you are ready to begin:

  • Set your alarm to add this into your schedule
  • Get your coffee or tea or breakfast
  • Go to your special place
  • Locate the passage in the Bible
  • Look at the passage for that day
  • Read it silently
  • Write it
  • Read aloud(your quiet voice is fine)
  • Diagram the passage – go here for a printable list here… Diagramming Scripture~
  • Ponder what God is saying and begin your prayer time

By the time those steps are taken, insight comes.

Before you leave to get busy with your day, take time to write a few thoughts or a prayer to God. You may have questions, or a prayer of thanks, confession, or a commitment to obedience.14918789_571951203016021_4591130726022028919_o

WARNING:

If you haven’t had a very intentional quiet time with Jesus, expect obstacles and opposition, but don’t allow those to discourage you. Hearing from the Lord and praying to Him are the most important things a Christian can do. These are the essence of who we are as His people. These practices develop us into who we can be for His Kingdom use. Don’t give up.

BLESSING:

You will feel accomplished and a new freedom in your spirit as you put this practice in your life. Interacting with God’s Word is a positive. Even if He convicts you of sin, just confess it. Ask Him to help you be more like Him. Jim Elliot, said, “Why do you need a voice when you have a verse.”

“the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12

If you have a Bible that’s falling apart, you’ll have a life that’s not. Adrian Rogers

 

It’s Not an Even Trade

Whether you’re a believer in Jesus for 50 years or 50 minutes, you know this, you’re life HAS to change. The Lord requires nothing less. As a matter of fact, He requires ALL. He gave His all for you and me. It cost Him everything. 

You must trade-in your old life.

The ladies at Buried Treasures Home, where I once served, have a term called “couch surfing.” This is what addicts do when they are homeless and going to wherever the drugs are. It’s a hard reality to hear.

As horrible as this is, they tell me an addict has to be ready to change; otherwise, they will get pulled back into this destructive life. They tell me it is vital to remove old places, people, and things that supported their lifestyle. That’s not an easy decision. It costs them their old life, which at the time seems a risk.

Not all people have such a dramatic choice to make, but it is the same choice, none the less. The decision to follow Christ is a daily one, and it also requires choices, some of which seem tiny and inconsequential. These may be some of the most important.

He said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. Luke 9:23

You learn to love the Giver and not just His gifts.

You learn to embrace the narrow road, not just in outward behavior, but in your heart.

At a recent fellowship dinner, someone said, “Keep your foot on the narrow road and keep reading your Bible. The wide road may look attractive and have pretty flowers, but if you get too close, the bugs will come out!”

There are many descriptions of what can happen on the wide road. But keeping your eyes on Jesus is a daily walk, and it’s not an even trade. No, the Lord Jesus already paid it all. Any sacrifice you make to follow Him is worth it and doesn’t compare to His sacrifice. Not even close.

You get way more from this trade. You get His gifts. Things like:

Peace

Protection

Joy

A plan for your life

Direction in decisions

His intervention in your circumstances

Forgiveness

A body of believers become family

Provision

His Word to read and depend on

His faithfulness to you

and so much more.

So, where is your commitment today? Half-hearted is no heart. The Lord demands all because HE gave it all for you. Again, any sacrifice on your part, although He often honors it, is still nothing compared to Who He Is and what He’s done.

It’s not a list of dos and don’ts. It’s about your heart.

You get far more walking closely with Jesus than walking casually by Him.

There is no comparison. It’s not an even trade.

 

33038881_844971702380635_1723938488941805568_n

“For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.” 2 Chronicles 16:9

Dear Faithful Father, the narrow road can be uncomfortable at times but is a place of protection. Help me to want to take the narrow road always, but to choose it each day. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.