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Archive for the ‘Bible’ Category

Couldn’t sleep last night. Not totally unusual but instead of heading out to the couch, I stayed in bed and tried to power through it. Like you can ever make your mind be quiet when it wants to talk. And spin. And rehash the day. And worry about tomorrow. But toward the end, as I felt myself slowly head toward slumber, I heard God whisper. Truly. I’ve heard Him before so I recognized His voice. And I unmistakably heard Him say: “Romans 12.” And then I slept.

This morning I vividly recalled it all. And I rushed (sorry, God) through my regular Bible reading so I would not have to rush through reading Romans 12. I was not disappointed. I mentioned to my husband what I’d heard from the Lord and he said, “That’s the discipleship chapter.” (Hey, I do enjoy a few perks being married to a very smart Bible teacher.) After reading the chapter in the Message, I knew God had given me a whole Bible chapter for this year. I’m not even going to talk about it right now – I have all year to take little bites, research words and motives, and slowly savor what God will speak to me through those 21 verses. save-image

Yes, I have a 2020 word (focus), and a few 2020 habits to grow into goals, but I’ve never had a chapter from the Bible for the year. I’m excited to FOCUS on Romans 12 this year. Take a look yourself.

Romans 12 in The Message version.

 

 

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A portion of the many Bible we have in our home. Seen here are my dad’s (Senior’s Devotional), Don’s dad’s (small black Holy Bible), my brother’s (from late teen years), my mom’s (burgundy), and one of my son’s first Bibles. Many translations, many versions, all God’s Word.

The Bible is full of amazing stories. One in particular stands out to me as I’m writing this blog about the wisdom I’ve gained in my six decades of life. There was once a wealthy and honorable man who loved God. The Lord allowed Satan to destroy this man’s flocks, his possessions, his children, and his health – and yet, after all that, the man refuses to give up his trust in God. He doesn’t understand why these things are happening to him, but he trusts God through it all, even when his wife turns away, and his friends accuse him of sin. The man’s name was Job and he has a whole book of the Bible telling his amazing story.

In Job, chapter 1, we hear of a day in heaven when the angels present themselves before God, and Satan (called “The Accuser”) comes with the other angels. You can read the story yourself, but in a nutshell, the Lord presents Job as the finest man in the whole earth. Satan says, “Sure, because You have blessed him with everything he could ever want. But just let him lose everything, and he’ll curse You.” So God allows Satan to take everything from Job, except his life. The rest of the book details the results of these actions by Satan. By the end, when God finally answers Job’s questions, we realize, along with Job and his friends, that God is in control of this world, and only He understands why the good are allowed to suffer.

Job’s story is only one instance out of many when God speaks directly to a man (or many). From Genesis to Revelation, God speaks…to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden,  to Noah about building the ark, to Abraham about a trip He’d like Abe to take (Where? I’ll let you know when you get there.), to Jacob (they actually had a bit of an all-night wrestling match), to Joseph (through dreams and visions), to Moses from a burning bush, and the list goes on and on. And He continues to speak to men and women today.

God speaks to me every day through the Bible. Scriptures are full of verses showing God cares for me, He has a plan for me (and you), He won’t leave me alone, and He’s looking forward to spending eternity with me. But I would never know any of this if I didn’t read it. The Bible is my instruction manual for how to live my life, how to treat other people, how to believe and act out that belief.

img_4243As the book I hold most dear, I’ve read through the Bible many times in my almost 60 years of life. But I didn’t always realize the richness held within its pages. I didn’t always believe it truly was the living Word of God. I used to think it was just a great collection of amazing stories that may or may not be true. But…over time…through the good and bad times of life…I’ve come to realize and believe that every word written in that Book is life-changing, is living, is active in my life. It has the power to challenge me, shape me, mold me into the woman of God He desires and created me to be. Of this, I have no doubt.

Job – a man who loved God through devastating trials and tribulations – trusted Him. Me – a woman who loves God through ups and downs (though, so thankful not as low as Job went) – trust God because I know I can hold tight to God’s promises. He loves me, He has a plan for me, and He will never leave me.

The Bible tells me so.

 

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I hope you were able to celebrate the true meaning of Easter today. We love the Easter bunny (especially the chocolate kind), egg hunts, jelly beans, family dinners and baskets filled with goodies…but Easter isn’t really about those things.

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Pastor Don McGarvey, Troy Mills Christian Church

Easter is about our risen Savior Jesus Christ who was crucified, buried, and raised to new life. My husband preached a great sermon this morning (yes – I’m biased) on the Odds of Easter.

He related the story of Dylan McWilliams who, in three separate incidents in three separate years, survived a rattlesnake bite, a bear attack and a shark attack. Some math geek somewhere figured the odds of all three incidents happening to one man is 893.35 quadrillion to one. In case you don’t know, a quadrillion is a 1 followed by 15 zeroes….it looks like 1,000,000,000,000,000.

By comparison, The odds of being struck by lightning is 1 in 5,000; the odds of being bitten by a venomous snake in the U.S. is estimated at 1 in 37,500; attacked by a shark, 1 in 11.5 million and attacked by a bear, 1 in 2.1 million. Some say Dylan was a very unlucky guy. If I believed in luck (I don’t), I’d say Dylan was a very LUCKY guy.  He told a British reporter that he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

But compare Dylan’s adventure to the odds of Easter. The Old Testament is full of prophecies concerning Jesus…his crucifixion (Isaiah 53:6, 10), his scourging (Isaiah 50:6), the piercing of his hands and feet (Psalm 22:16); the piercing of his side (Zechariah 12:10), the disfigurement of his appearance (Isaiah 52:14); that none of his bones were broken (Exodus 12:46), his burial place (Isaiah 53:9) and his resurrection (Psalm 30:3). The odds that all eight of these prophecies would be fulfilled by one man in the course of three days are 1 in 10 to the 17th power…100,000,000,000,000,000. Unlucky? No – supernatural.

There are 48 prophecies concerning Jesus’ life in the Old Testament – and the odds of all 48 prophecies being fulfilled by one man, Jesus, are 1 in 10 to the 157th power. Too many zeroes for me to type out. A 1 followed by 157 zeroes!

e52ac01a-3514-4f75-b4b6-e5aca107a96bJesus, Son of God, born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, betrayed by his Judas, unjustly tried in a bogus court, scourged and crucified, buried in a borrowed tomb, but raised to life on Easter Sunday morning. He wasn’t a good man. He was God in flesh, sent to take our sins upon himself so that we would not have to bear them. It wasn’t luck or lack of luck. It was love.

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 1 John 4:9

 

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Cross_Passion_Week

Jesus

Betrayed ruthlessly

Arrested unjustly

Abandoned callously

Tried illegally

Beaten brutally

Crucified unfairly

Buried anonymously

Arose victoriously

Jesus

Son of God

Light of the world

Lord of Lords

King of Kings

Messiah

Savior

Redeemer

Lover of my Soul

Jesus

Compassion continual

Truth unerring

Humility personified

Grace without limit

Mercy repeatedly

Power eminent

Peace unending

Joy overflowing

Love unconditional

Christ himself was like God in everything.
But he did not think that being equal with God was something to be used for his own benefit.
But he gave up his place with God and made himself nothing.
He was born as a man
and became like a servant.
And when he was living as a man,
he humbled himself and was fully obedient to God,
even when that caused his death—death on a cross.
So God raised him to the highest place.
God made his name greater than every other name
so that every knee will bow to the name of Jesus—
 everyone in heaven, on earth, and under the earth.
And everyone will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord
and bring glory to God the Father.
Philippians 2:6-11 (NCV)

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My heart is hurting today. So many friends are experiencing devastating events in their lives. Last year two of my closest friends battled through cancer diagnoses, clinging to God’s promises of healing and coming through victorious. Yet they continue to deal with the aftermath of that long year.

My dear high school classmate is facing another long road in her latest health challenge. And challenge is such a feeble word for what she is going through. She shared just a few of the trials she’s facing – extreme headaches, 4 hour MRIs, insurance company issues, doctors’ appointments in far off places, the uncertainty of medications…and I’m confident that was just the tip of the iceberg.

Yesterday I received news of another friend who revealed her leukemia diagnosis. Just two years ago her son died of an aneurysm…gone in an instance. Now this. Such heartbreaking news as she continues to work through her grief. But she is a faith-filled prayer powerhouse, trusting in the promises of God.

 

This morning I saw another friend post about an upcoming divorce and then another about a road side bomb in Afghanistan killing three Marines…when will it stop? What can I do? Where do I turn?

In yesterday’s blog I wrote about Psalm 121 – God is my Helper, my Guardian. But Lord, there is so much sadness, so much disease, so much heartbreak in this world. Sometimes it seems so overwhelming…and these things aren’t even happening to me!

Even so…

Let me share part of a Instagram post my friend wrote two days ago…”God has been so very faithful – in every single way – and I love Him more than I ever have before. He has never left me, never betrayed me, abandoned me. What would I have done if it wasn’t for Jesus?”

Again – I’m reminded – Jesus loves me. Jesus loves you. Jesus died because of that great love. He endured the ultimate betrayal and abandonment. He was sinless, yet took on my sin. He sacrificed everything for me. He will never leave me. He will never forsake me. He is my Healer, my Strength, my Rock, my Provider. He is where I go when I have no one to turn to. He walks with me in every storm. He goes before me into every battle. He listens to me cry out in despair, and comforts me in my sorrow. He rejoices with me in victories and dances over me with joy. He has written my name on the palms of His hands.

The bad news will never stop. Our fallen world will always encounter disease and tragedy. But I do not have to succumb to grief and sorrow and hopelessness.

I have hope. My friends have hope. His name is Jesus.

His Name is Jesus 30 x 22 LG

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We all need help. No matter how self-sufficient we are, everyone needs a hand now and then. Well, probably more than now and then, but some of us are stubborn and wait until a crisis hits before we cry out.

“Help!”

The lyrics to the Beatles hit record from 1965 rolls through head occasionally (yes – I’m that old) “Help! I need somebody! Help! Not just anybody! Help! I know I need someone! Help!

In the everyday mundane routines of life, who do you go to for help? Are you overwhelmed with a non-stop schedule?  Frustrated by choices others have made? Worried about a health issue? Wondering if you’re doing this parenting thing right? Ever need a kind or encouraging word on a bad day? Having difficulty navigating your grief? Ever just need a big hug? YES – all of this has been me and though I try so hard to be the helper, not the “helpee,” I can’t do it alone. I am constantly in need of someone who can help me!

Psalm 121 tells me about God, who is my Someone all the time. When I’m desperate for help, He is always there. When I’m grief-stricken and cannot see through my tears, He sees me. When I’m worried about finances, He provides. He’s my Healer when I’m sick. When I can’t see a way out of the trouble, He provides a path for my feet. He lights up the way, and I follow Him out of trouble and into the light. He never sleeps, and I can never catch Him off guard. He shields me from danger, no matter what time of day or night.

Do you need help today? Are you feel overwhelmed with grief and sorrow, or feeling helpless and hopeless? Do you just need to be noticed? God sees you. He is your Guardian, your Helper.

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I look up to the mountains—
    does my help come from there?
My help comes from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth!

He will not let you stumble;
    the one who watches over you will not slumber.
Indeed, he who watches over Israel
    never slumbers or sleeps.

The Lord himself watches over you!
    The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade.
The sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon at night.

The Lord keeps you from all harm
    and watches over your life.
The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go,
    both now and forever. 

 

Psalm 121 (NLT)

 

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I have the privilege of conducting the kids’ sermon each Sunday at our church. We have some amazing kids who seem to enjoy coming up front for “their” time. Since I try to keep the message about 5 to 8 minutes long, it’s important for it to be simple, easy to understand and applicable to the kids’ lives. And the first Sunday of each month, I have the kids (and adults) memorize a Bible verse.

Today we memorized Philippians 4:4…”Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”

Rejoice scripture

Short and simple, right? The verse itself is short, but the message is deep. The writer of the book of Philippians was the Apostle Paul, and he was composing this letter to the church in Philippi while sitting in prison. He had been unjustly imprisoned, accused by his enemies, and falsely charged. But even so, he was telling other believers to “Rejoice!”

I told the kids the definition of “rejoice” is to feel or show great joy or delight. How could Paul rejoice while sitting in prison, with good reason to feel despondent? Because Paul knew he wasn’t rejoicing in his outward circumstances, he was rejoicing…finding great joy and delight…in God. He knew that no matter what happened to him physically, Jesus was always with him.

My study Bible note on this verse says “It’s easy to get discouraged about unpleasant circumstances or to take unimportant events too seriously.” But we need to remember where to place our hope and trust…in the God who will never leave you or forsake you, who is your rock and refuge, a very present help in times of trouble. Rejoice in that!

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