Saturday, September 14, 2019

Just Walk With Me Every day


I'm the kind of person who feels like they always have to be doing something to please God. I must be productive or I feel like I'm not measuring up. I know that's not right. I know that God is pleased with me because I chose Jesus as my Savior long ago and have done my best to live the kind of life He would want me to live at all times. My heart knows that, but my mind doesn't get it.

I'm an over-thinker. Always have been. Too much in my head all the time, trying to figure things out. I don't know if you can relate, but you're probably going to get a laugh out of the conversation between God and I this morning...

My Question: Lord, how can I please you?
His Answer: Just walk with me every day.
My Response: But, that's so simple, Lord.
His Response: Yes, it is. You make it hard with all your striving. Just walk with me every day.

Immediately an image of Jesus walking the dusty roads of Jerusalem with his disciples. Not just the 12, but those who chose to follow Jesus where ever he went. I saw myself walking beside Jesus. Going where ever he led, listening to his teachings, observing how he responded to people both with love and with correction. I saw his compassion. I saw him praying. I saw his love for humanity.

"Just walk with me."

I felt a heavy burden lift from my shoulders. All he wants me to do is to walk with him every day. As long as I am close by his side, my life will automatically please him. My over-active mind said, "There must be more to it than that." Jesus turned and said, "No, that's all I ask, that you walk with me every day."

"Yes, Lord, yes."

Micah 6:8 answer the question my mind struggled with for so long...

"He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you. But to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?" Micah 6:8


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Wednesday, September 4, 2019

How Was Your Day?


"Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way." Psalm 139:23-24

"How was your day?"
"Fine."

That was the usual conversation between me and my daughter at the end of each school day.  If I wanted any further information, I'd have to ask several more question to drill down to what I really wanted to know; 

What excited you?
What troubled you?
How did you feel about it all?

I asked because I cared. I wanted her to share her day with me. I wanted to know she was okay.

Our Heavenly Father wants the same thing. What if we imagined Him asking us that same question each evening; "How was your day?"

What might He really be asking? As I thought about that, many things came to mind. Things I would have liked to ask my own daughter. Things I'd like to ask myself and share with my Heavenly Father at the end of the day. I put together some end-of-the-day questions to help me review my day. I jot the answers down in my journal and them use them to start a conversation with God. My evening talks with the Lord have been richer and more fun as we go over the events of the day together.

I'd like to share my How Was Your Day Journaling Questions with you...


Click image above to access the PDF.

I hope you will enjoy this way of connecting with the Lord and pray that God will bless your time with Him each evening.

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Thursday, April 18, 2019

Crucified with Christ

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me,” Galatians 2:20 (ESV)

Tomorrow is Good Friday, the day when we remember the cross and the sacrifice of Christ, who gave himself to rescue us from a life of sin and an eternity in hell. That's an act of love that's almost too much to fathom!

Because of His crucifixion, we no longer have the sentence of death hanging over our heads. The instant we choose to believe, to follow Christ, to make Him Lord of our lives, we receive new life - abundant and ever-lasting life. Our eternity begins in that moment. When we eventually leave this earth and this body, we will step into life in Heaven with a new body, free from the cares of this world.

Until that time, we undergo a crucifixion of our own. Not the agony of the cross, but a voluntary process of putting to death our old sinful nature and desires of the past. We let go of those behaviors and attitudes that do not line up with the life of Christ and we begin to live by faith in Him. We seek Him and His will for our lives. We release our former dreams and plans to receive the grander dreams and greater plans He has for us - dreams and plans that are infinitely more fulfilling than anything we could have come up with on our own.

We step into His plan - the purposes for which we were created. Our life takes on meaning and the world around us is changed because we allow Jesus Christ to live and act through us. For that to happen, we need his perspective, his wisdom and the boldness to step out in faith.

Are you ready to believe? Are you ready to step into the life you were meant to live? If so, pray...

God, I believe. I receive You, Jesus, as my Lord and Savior. I am ready to crucify my fleshly desires and step into the future you have for me. May I see what You see and hear what You hear and speak the words You want me to speak from this point forward. Give me a holy boldness to accomplish your will. Use me to reach others and point the way to You. Amen

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Sunday, April 14, 2019

The Thoughts We Consume


The thoughts you consume will eventually consume you. 
~Sharon Jaynes


When I came across this quote by Sharon Jaynes this evening, I had to stop and consider the truth of it. Our thoughts do influence us. In fact, our thoughts form our character, determine our behavior and shape the decisions that create our very lives. If that is true, and I think it is, then were do our thoughts come from? 

Don't they originate with the thoughts we consume? The thoughts that are fed to us by our parents as children begin to shape who we are, not our own thoughts. When we go to school, we take in the thoughts of our teachers and those who created our school curriculum. Later, when we begin to search our things for ourselves, we consume thoughts of others from television, books and discussions - all of which we process and absorb or reject to form our own version of truth.

But what if we are taking in misinformation? What if we've been consuming negative, critical, untrue thoughts from others. Doesn't it stand to reason that if we are taking in a steady diet of that kind of thought, we will ourselves become negative, critical people?

Conversely, if we take in positive, encouraging truths, we will take on those kinds of thought processes. 

I believe that's exactly why the apostle Paul instructed us to think on things that will keep our thoughts headed in the right direction.


"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." Philippians 4:8


There are thoughts, when consumed over time will lead to depression, bitterness, anger and hatred. These have the power to consume us and destroy our lives. But the kind of thoughts the scriptures encourage build us up, keep us positive and balanced. They keep us looking forward with hope and expectancy for a great life. They keep us at peace with others and make us pleasant to be around. They build our faith and help us to encourage and support others.

So, it's time to take an inventory of the kinds of thoughts you take in and ruminate on during the day. Is there something or someone you need to stop listening to? Something or someone you need to start listening to? Are there some thought processes you need to take to the Lord and ask Him to help you change?

You've heard the old saying, "garbage in, garbage out." It's true, but it's also true that if we are consuming affirming, life-giving information it will eventually consume us and make us better people. There's no better place to start than to read the words of Jesus found in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John in the Bible. Start there and you're on your way to a great thought life.


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Saturday, April 13, 2019

The Dark Night of the Soul


 "He asked them, ‘What are you discussing so intently as you walk along?’ They stopped short, sadness written across their faces.” Luke 24:17 (NLT)


In today's scripture, two friends are walking together. Jesus, the one they loved, has died. Worse, yet, the women said they had found the tomb empty. Jesus wasn't there. You can just imagine their sadness and confusion. Jesus was no where to be found. 

That's the way I've felt this week. I've fasted and prayed, failed and got back up, reminded myself that no matter how it looks or how it feels, Jesus is with me always. His Holy Spirit lives within me. He promised He would never leave me or forsake me...and yet, I've felt sad and confused because the one I walk with daily, the one who regularly speaks to my heart has been silent.

They call this the dark night of the soul - a depression that is linked to a crisis of faith, a crisis that comes when one senses the absence of God or gives rise to a feeling of abandonment by Him.

Before you jump in to tell me why it's so wrong to feel abandoned by God, let me say, I've been preaching all those things to myself all week. I know that the way I feel is not reality. I also know that we are not to live by our feelings and I know that this feeling will not last, but while in it, I'm miserable.

I miss that closeness with my Lord, those intimate moments when He whispers in my ear or let's me catch a glimpse of Him in things/people around me.

And in case you think it might be sin that's standing between us or that I have not been seeking Him, I've been spending more time in soul-searching repentance and in His word than usual.

So, why do I tell you all this? Because I have a sneaking suspicion that I am not the only believer that goes through this. In fact, I'm not at all sure that God doesn't orchestrate these dry spells in our relationship so that I learn to walk by faith, not by sight.

While I'm okay with that, because I want to be strong in my faith, I sure don't enjoy the process!

So, what do we do when we're experiencing a dark night of the soul? First of all, don't go buy a box of chocolate eclairs and eat them all at one sitting. (I may or may not have done this yesterday.) In fact, don't do anything to try to fill up that emptiness, for nothing but Jesus will satisfy. Just keep doing what you know is right. Pray, seek Him, read His word, pray some more. Praise Him, recall all the ways in which He blesses your life and thank Him for it. 

In other words, keep walking with Jesus, even though you can see, hear or feel Him at the moment, He is there!

Note: as it turns out, our two friends from the scripture above were not alone. Jesus was with them all the time, for in verses 15 & 16, we read...

"As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him." Luke 24:15-16 (NLT)

How about you? Do you go through times like this? What helps you get through it?


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Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Let God Turn Your Torment into a Mentor


Have you ever had a period of time when God felt so close you could almost reach out and touch Him? When reading His word came alive and spoke right to your needs? When blessing after blessing seemed to be dropping into your lap and then all of a sudden...nothing.

You can't feel him, reading the word is boring, your worship is flat and God seems a million miles away. It feels like you've been abandoned, deserted, lonely and deflated. As a believer, you understand and fully believe that those things are not true. God promised never to leave you. His Holy Spirit lives right inside you. His word is still true and just as powerful as it was yesterday. But today it seems He's no where to be found.

For the past 10 days I have been spending lots of extra time with God in the word, in worship and in prayer. It's been great and I've felt very close to the Lord, but this morning I woke up and He was gone. Not really, of course, but that's how it felt.

Suddenly, I felt like a failure. I kept trying to connect with Him, but He didn't answer my call. Was his ringer turned off? Was he hitting the "reject the call" button? Had I been blocked? I don't know if anyone else ever goes through days like this, but it's one of the hardest things ever for me.

This evening I was reading in 2 Corinthians, chapter 12. Paul starts out describing an amazing time he experienced with God, but immediately afterward he says...

"...in order to keep me from becoming conceited, 
I was given a thorn in my flesh,

a messenger of Satan, to torment me." 

(verse 7)

I don't like this verse. It's seriously messed up! Just when a believer is on a spiritual high, God allows a messenger of Satan to torment him. That don't seem right.

I've always heard that this thorn in Paul's flesh was a physical ailment of some kind. The bible doesn't specify exactly what it was, but this evening something occurred to me. It was a "messenger" of Satan. Messengers bring messages, don't they? And of course, a messenger of Satan would bring the kind of message that would torment a believer. Something like, "God has left you. God isn't speaking to you today. God is disappointed in you. Your prayers aren't getting through. You failed Him."

Those whispered lies and the feelings that accompany them are devastating to someone whose greatest desire is a close connection with God.

But, what if that messenger isn't such a bad thing? What if he's sent so that we might learn something. What if the torment was turned around, like switching the syllables in the word and...

the TORMENT - became a MENTOR


What if God is using it to strengthen our faith?

So, tomorrow morning when I get up, I'll pick up my Bible as usual. I'll pray. I'll worship and I'll expect God to show up. I'm sure He will, but if I can't sense His presence, I'll consider it a learning experience. I'll reject the lies of the messenger. I'll state truth, that God is right there with me, that He loves me beyond measure and I'll praise God for continuing to work me to make me stronger and more like Jesus, even if that means I go through a spiritual dry spell.

If you read the Psalms, you'll soon discover that David went through many days like this. Paul went through them, too. And Peter as well. It's a normal part of being a Christian. Our part is to stand strong in the truth and trust that before long, our feelings will follow.

If you would like more information about what to do when you're going through a dry spell or what they call "the dark night of the soul," I recommend this short (9 minutes, 30 seconds) message by Pastor John Piper called "What to Do When God Feels Distant."

Or this really short video from Francis Chan - "Do You Feel Distant from God?"



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Saturday, April 6, 2019

Does God Miss You?


Most of us are familiar with Revelation 3:20, where Jesus said...
"Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person and they with me." 

It's most often quoted in reference to an unbeliever opening the door to let Christ into their life, but what if that's not what Jesus was talking about?

If we read the verse in context, it's being written to a group of believers who have allowed their relationship with the Lord to become lukewarm. I imagine that involves seldom taking time to spend with Him in prayer and worship or seldom consulting Him for help or direction for their day.

Perhaps what Jesus is really saying is, "Hey, it's been a while and I miss you. Open the door and I'll come in and we can spend a little time together, maybe share a meal. You can tell me what's on your mind and heart and I can tell you what's on mine. I'd like to help you with anything that's bothering you if you will just open the door. Whadda ya say? Can we talk?"

How long has it been since you sat with the Lord and just had a good, long chat?

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Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Don't Take the Bait

"Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly." 2 Timothy 1:16

Several times in the past week or so, I've had people post comments to me online that seem to be aimed at starting a conflict. 


My first impulse was to fire off a response that would have only added fuel to the flame. Fortunately, the Lord (and a couple of friends) gave me the good advice to not respond. I didn't, but I have to admit, to a lot of soul searching and  mental sparing with the people who made the comments.

I thought of brilliantly scathing remarks I could have made, convincing arguments to refute their claims, ways that they had acted inappropriately, but each time, the Lord reminded me that those responses would just make things worse.


The soul-searching was the worst and the best thing that came out of all this, because it gave me time to reflect, time to examine my own behavior in the past, time to repent and ask God to change those things in me that need to change. To make me a better person and a better reflection of Him.

This morning in my devotional time, I read 2 Timothy 2:16 that tells us to avoid godless chatter and those who indulge in it. I thought about those comments that tempted me to engage in what would have been a futile argument - godless chatter.

Then I read a little further...


"Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful." 2 Timothy 2:23-24 

At that point, I felt justified in ignoring the comments...until I read that last little bit of verse 24..."be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful."  Is ignoring kind? Did I miss an opportunity to teach because I was resentful?

I read on...

"Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will." 2 Timothy 25-26

"...trap of the devil?"

And then it hit me. The devil was up to his old tricks. New scheme. Same goal - to get me riled up, tempt me to respond in self-defense and anger, stir up dissension with someone I care for, get me to act in a way that's unbecoming for a child of God.

How grateful I am for good friends who give good advice and for the Holy Spirit pulling me back from an immediate and improper response, because I now recognize those comments as bait - not from the person who made them - but from the devil, who loves to play one believer against the other so that it will destroy unity in the family of God.

Friends, let's remember this...

"My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires." James 1:19-20

...and don't take the bait of Satan!

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Monday, March 18, 2019

Perfectly Broken to Shine


"For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us." 2 Corinthians 4:6-7

Jars of clay...that doesn't seem like a very safe place to store treasure, now, does it?


Jars of clay are common and fragile, often cracked or leaky, but then, if the treasure stored within is the light that comes with knowing Christ, perhaps jars of clay are the perfect vessel. We are imperfect, marred by scars from past mistakes on our part and broken by hurts inflicted by the careless handling of others, who are, themselves, imperfect vessels. Still, the light of Christ is able to shine through those broken places in us to a world that is hurting to say, "Look, Christ loves imperfect, broken people just as they are. He will fill them with His light so that it can shine as a beacon to those who need Him."


So we have this power in us. What power? The power to encourage, bless and heal the broken and hurting by allowing His light - the light of the knowledge of God's glory through salvation in Jesus Christ to not only shine in our own lives, but to spill out of us into their lives.


How will you allow God to shine through you today?




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Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Broken-Hearted Joy


"The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." Psalm 34:18


Yesterday was hard. 
Yesterday was sadness, tears and loneliness.
Change and loss are hard.
Change is thrust upon us suddenly.
We usually don't see it coming and we are seldom prepared.



Today...
Today is different.
Today is the realization that yesterday is a closing door, but today is a new beginning.

I am not alone.
God is with me, leading me into a different phase of my journey.

This is a hard thing, but it is a good thing, for God makes all things work together for my good.
People may make decisions that change the course of my days, but God determines the course of life.

He removes a spirit of heaviness and replaces it with lightness, peace and joy.

Today is different.
I'm looking forward, joyfully expectant for where He is taking me.
For how He will fill that empty space in my heart with Himself.

Closing the door on yesterday.
Looking forward to tomorrow.
Enjoying today!


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Friday, March 8, 2019

I have a Hangover!


No, I didn't go out drinking. 

Yesterday I decided to take a day and just be lazy. No, that's not quite right. I didn't decide to be lazy, it just happened because I didn't decide to do anything else.

It all began quite normally. I got up, made my bed and a cup of coffee, let the dogs out and then settled into my comfy chair to spend some time with Jesus, only He didn't show up. I felt slighted. Now, before you correct me, I already know that He is always with me, but this morning it didn't feel that way...and yes, I know that we are not supposed to live by our feelings. Knowing that didn't help, though. I missed that morning connection, which usually gets my day off to a wonderful start. I kept trying to make it happen, but it wasn't working.

I thought I might sit down and write for a bit, but that wasn't happening either. The words just wouldn't come. I wasn't inspired. Probably Jesus' fault for not showing up. (Just kidding.)

It only got worse from there. Went to get a bite to eat. Picked a lousy place and the food was yuck. 

Stopped by the grocery store, intending to just pick up something for dinner. Ended up spending way more than I intended. I have no idea how that box of mini cream puffs ended up in my cart and a an hour later, after unpacking my groceries at home, how they ended up in my stomach. (Yes, the whole box.)

My eating has been out of control for the past couple of weeks. I've been working out at the gym 3-4 times a week for almost 2 years. Spent the first 6 months on the Daniel Plan diet, the next year on a Vegetarian Diet and the last 6 months on the Keto Diet. I only lose about 10 pounds in all that time. Now, I know that any weight loss is good, but I say only 10 pounds because in that last 6 month period, my husband joined me on the Keto Diet and lost about 30 pounds in that time. I'm very happy for him, but frustrated as all get out with my lack of result. Maybe that's what's driving me to eat all the things I denied myself before.  I don't know, but it has to STOP!

After stuffing my face, I watched TV.  Make that, binged watched TV - four hours before hubby got home and with him until bedtime. I did take time to make dinner - and eat again (dumb). Dropped into bed feeling miserable, bloated and guilty for wasting an entire day and for giving into food.

Woke up this morning feeling hungover. I remember that feeling from my drinking days (long, long ago). Fuzzy brain, sluggish body and a ton of guilt on my back.

I spent time with Jesus again this morning. He showed up this time, but it wasn't the same. Not His fault this time. My fault because I felt like I had "cheated" on Him.  (Is any of this making sense to any one?) We had a good talk. I confessed, He forgave and all is good again.

Determined to have a better, more productive day today, but still feeling like I'm in a stall. Not like a horse stall. More like a stalled car. It won't go, I don't know why and I don't know how to fix it. Sigh.

Okay, enough venting for today. Not sure that any part of this will be helpful to anyone else, but just had to get it out.

Praying you have a productive day,
Jan
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Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Turn Your Distractions into a God Moment

Distracted when trying to focus on God?

We all do it. We all sit down to spend some time with God only to find within minutes our mind wanders off to something that happened yesterday, a hurt, something we need to do, something that we don't like about ourselve. Suddenly we realize we are no longer in prayer, in the Word or even thinking about God.

It's frustrating to think that we can't spend more than a moment with God without being distracted, so we shove those thoughts aside and try to pull ourselves back into the presence of God.

Here's a thought - what if those thoughts are not random distractions, but insight into things that we need to deal with? What if God is bringing them to mind because He wants to help us work through them? What if they are meant to reveal a sin or short-coming that God wants us to confess and seek forgiveness for?

The next time this happens, instead of pushing those thoughts aside, try this...imagine He is sitting in a chair across the table from you. Talk those things out with Him. Be sensitive to what He might be saying to you about your thoughts. Listen for Him to bring a scripture to mind or to give you some instructions.

God is interested in everything that concerns us. Let me repeat that...
God is INTERESTED in EVERYTHING that concerns us!
Talking those things out with Him will clear the air, help us grow and enable us to focus on connecting with Him on a deeper level.  Turn those distractions into a God moment!

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Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Do not be Easily Offended



Everybody is offended these days.
London Religious News Service reported that British Christians were incensed after the state-funded BBC decided to jettison the terms B.C. (Before Christ) and A.D. (Anno Domini or Year of our Lord) in favor of B.C.E. (Before Common Era) and C.E. (Common Era) in historical date references. 

This happened in 2011. Until this morning, I had never seen or heard a date referenced with those terms. I started a new devotional reading plan on the YouVersion app. It was and introduction to the book of James. They  noted that the book was written in 50 C.E..  What? I had to take the time to find out what C.E. meant and I came across this article (https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/27/bbc-drops-bc-ad-dating-method_n_984081.html).


Why did the BBC make this change? Here's the reason they gave, "The BBC said in an official statement that since it is “committed to impartiality, it is appropriate that we use terms that do not offend or alienate non-Christians.”"


Seriously? How often do you hear the terms BC and AD mentioned on television shows? If the mention a year, it's usually just the year, not BC and AD. I seriously doubt that anyone is offended by these terms.


I have two questions:



  1. Are non-Christians really that easily offended?
  2. What about the Christians that they (the media) offend all the time?

Especially the BBC. I can't tell you how many times I have started watching a BBC show and turned it off because of vulgarity, which offends me. It's that easy, people. If something offends you, turn it off. Media is supported by viewers. If no one is watching, they die. We vote with our remotes.


Okay, I am done ranting. On a more positive note. I love the YouVersion app. (Bible.com) It has helped me grow in my walk with the Lord through many great devotional readings, Bible reading plans and the ability to share what I'm learning with others. I'm not sure why they allowed the C.E. reference. It probably slipped through unnoticed. What did I do? I switched reading plans. I switched "channels" and found a delightful new plan called Presence-Filled Prayer: Experiencing God in Prayer.


The first day's reading really challenged me to be honest with God. There was something bugging me that I just kept stuffing down. I know God was aware of it, but I had never addressed it with Him and allowed Him to forgive me and show me how to work through the issue. It encouraged me to then, sit in His presence, listen for any directions, allow Him to minister to me. What a wonderful time I had with the Lord this morning.


If you haven't discovered the YouVersion app yet, check it out. You'll be blessed by it daily.


(This blog post was written on March 5th, 2019 A.D.)



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Friday, March 1, 2019

Rabbit Trails Through the Bible

Wait - where does that trail lead???
Sometimes, when I read the Bible - okay, often, when I read the Bible - I get sidetracked. Not by things around me or by things I need to do, but by something I read in the Word. A particular word or phrase will catch my attention and set me on a rabbit trail through the Bible, searching for other incidences of the word or phrase. I usually find myself knee-deep in the Strong's Concordance looking up Hebrew and Greek words and their meanings, to further understand God's Word.

That happened this morning, but about the time I realized I was on a rabbit trail, the Lord whispered to my heart, "You only think you got sidetracked and wandered down this path. What you didn't realize was that I took you by the hand and led you in this direction because I have something I want to show you."


How cool is that?

This morning, as I was reading about the Transfiguration of Jesus in Luke 9:28-36, the word "transformed" caught my attention. I looked it up in Strong's and discovered that it is only used 3 times in the King James version of the Bible. (Strong's Concordance is an index of every word found in the King James version, with links to and definition of the original Greek and Hebrew words.)

First, I was struck by the fact that it was while Jesus was praying that the Transfiguration took place and I realized that prayer has the power to transform us, too. Then I wondered what the definition of transfiguration is. (Hold on, I'm taking you down the rabbit trail with me.)


Definition of transfiguration - a change in form or appearance, metamorphosis, an exalting, glorifying or spiritual change

Here's the verse that describes what happened to Jesus as he prayed:
"About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray. As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning." Luke 9:28-29
This reminded me of the story of Moses in the Old Testament 

"When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the covenant law in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord." Exodus 34:29  
(Do yourself a favor and read a little more about this incident - Exodus 34:29-35).
So, what happened when Moses spoke with the Lord? His appearance change. He glowed with the radiance of the glory of God.

Did you read the rest of the story? If so, you know about the veil. (Nope, I'm not going to explain it here. You will have to read it for yourself.)  It reminded me of another phrase in the New Testament when Paul writes...

"And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate (Or reflect) the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." 2 Corinthians 3:18
What? Unveiled faces reflecting God's glory and there's that word transformed again, but this time it says transformed into his (Jesus) image with ever-increasing glory.

Back to Strong's Concordance and the definition of the original Greek word for "transformed." There are two words for transformed in the original Greek...



The first is metamorphoō: to transform (literally or figuratively, "metamorphose"):—change, transfigure, transform


The second translation of the word transformed, metaschēmatizō, is found in this passage...

"For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light." 2 Corinthians 11:14-15

What? Satan is transformed, just like Jesus, Moses and believers are transformed? No! Upon further digging, I discovered that the definition of the word used in this passage has a critically different meaning, for this compound word is made up of two words, one of which is defined as...
to transfigure or disguise; figuratively, to apply (by accommodation):—transfer, transform (self).
Did you catch the difference? Disguise. Transform self.

Check out 2 Corinthians 11:13-15 in the New International Version.

"For such people are false apostles,deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve."
This version uses the word masquerade in place of transformed, because it accurately shows that Satan and those who follow him are trying to pass themselves off as being equal to those of us who have been transformed by the glory and Spirit of God.

In conclusion (did I just hear you sigh in relief?), let me leave you with a verse from the NIV...
"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." Romans 12:2
My friends, we, too, can be transformed - through prayer, through refusing to conform to the patterns of this world, by allowing God to renew our minds through the reading of His word and by allowing His glory to penetrate our heart and minds and spirits, until we shine like Jesus, like Moses, like the early believers, reflecting the glory of God.

So, that's my rabbit trail through the Bible this morning. I hope I didn't lose you along the way and that God has led you, along with me to the realization that He was leading us all along, so that we might have a deep-seated desire to be transformed into the image of Christ. I am praying for you, dear reader, that God will do amazing things in your life as you surrender yourself to the transformation process.


Blessing to you, my friends.


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Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Don't let anyone put your fire out!


"Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord." Romans 12:11 (NIV)

I remember years ago when my cousin, who was big into drugs and womanizing turned to Jesus. He was a changed young man, on fire for the Lord and eager to share the love of Jesus to anyone who would stand still long enough to listen. There was a new spark of life in his eye.  Of course, as is the case with new Believers, he was now so conscious of avoiding sin in his own life that he sometimes felt the need to point out the sin in other people's lives. Some people just ignored him, some rolled their eyes at the over-eager young zealot, but some people got annoyed or even upset.  In fact one person complained to me about it and made the comment, "He's so heavenly minded that he's no earthly good. He'll settle down and that fire will go out."


What?


Is that even possible? I don't think so.


I understand what she meant. Some new believers lack the discernment to know how to allow the Holy Spirit lead you in sharing God with others in a way that is tactful and respectful. It can be offensive to those who don't know Christ, but as a fellow Christian we should understand their excitement and hope that fire never burns down, much less goes out.


That was early in my Christian walk. Right then I made up my mind that I would never let my zeal for Christ and for helping people know the saving grace of salvation through Him. I keep my fire stoked through the Word, prayer and fellowship with other believers.


How about you? Is your fire burning bright or is it down to barely glowing embers? The world need us to be ablaze with the glory of God so that we will be a light in the darkness.


How will you build up your fire today?



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Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Why Should I Attend Church?



"And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near." Hebrews 10:24-25

Do you attend church regularly? As we can see from the scripture above, God considers getting together with other believers important. He tells us not to neglect it. 


Why?


What good does it do?


Well, the easy answer to "why" is because God said so.


The longer answer to "why" is the answer to "what good does it do?."


The Benefits of Church Attendance (as I see it)



  • It gives me a place to belong and a spiritual family to belong to.
  • It gives me a chance to spend time in worship with other believers.
  • I learn more about God by hearing His word and the message that He has laid on the heart of the Pastor.
  • I am encouraged to greater love for others and to good works as I serve those around me (and not just in church).
These are all great reasons to attend church, but I've left one very important reason out. You see, all of the above is focused on what I get out of church, but what's more important is what I give to others while I'm at church. I'm not talking about money, although, giving the tithe (10th of my income) is a part of my weekly worship. I'm talking about helping others to experience the benefits I've listed above. How can I help others to get the most out of coming to church?

I can...



  • Welcome them with a hug or handshake and a sincere, "It's good to see you this morning. How was your week?"
  • I can enter fully into the worship time by singing the songs, clapping my hands, raising them to God. This may encourage others to worship God wholeheartedly, too.
  • I can listen intently to the message, taking notes and jotting down scripture references. After church, I can share briefly a highlight or a scripture that particularly spoke to my heart and ask others what spoke to them.
  • I can show real love by being attentive to the needs of others and by serving in some capacity in my church.
  • I can be part of a small group that meets during the week to go over the message again and dig a little deeper into the topic, so that we all can grow in our relationship with God.

God wants us to stir one another up. 


Sometimes that takes a negative form. Some use the time after church to criticize the Pastor, the message, or another believer. They might complain about the music, the temperature in the room, or any number of things. That will stir things up, for sure, but that's NOT what God meant. We are to encourage one another, refresh one another, even challenge one another to take the next step in spiritual journey. 

Daily life - problems, busyness and stress all tend to weary us through the week. Sundays give us the chance to revive, refresh and renew. Not just for ourselves, but to be a part of building others up. We were never meant to do life alone. We are better together.

So, I leave you with this; how will you strengthen others this Sunday? How will you "stir up one another to love and good works", this week? How can you give as much as you get?

As you put this into practice, you will find that the more you give to others, the more you will be blessed by great friendships and support, yourself. Go on, give it a try this Sunday and let me know how it works out.


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