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Posts Tagged ‘Bible’

I’ve been leading off the teaching time each Sunday this month by telling the Bible story prior to Don’s sermon. Our theme is “unlikely heroes.” Last week I told the story of Gideon, and today, the well-known account of David and Goliath. My goal is to make these stories interesting by delivering the information in a somewhat entertaining manner. In other words, keep my listeners from falling asleep.

Don’t you love a good story? Me too. I love to read stories, watch stories unfold, and listen to stories. The very best ones are the ones that are true.

Therefore, my tidbit of wisdom today is two-fold: listen to other people’s stories and begin to tell your own.

Everyone has a story. The young. The elderly. Your kids. Your grandparents. Your friends. Your coworkers. Even strangers. We all have a tale to tell. Some are humorous. Some are heartbreaking. Some are touching. Some are educational.

Just like multiple movie and book genres, there are also genres of real life narratives. Some have lived through heart-pounding adventure. Others soul-stirring romances. Maybe yours is a hilarious comedy. Listen and learn. Pay attention. Ask questions. Hear the stories living lives around you. Nothing can touch your soul like a good story.

And finally, tell your story. Give it a voice and theme, settings and characters, conflict and resolution. Be a storyteller. Others need to hear what you’ve been through, the lessons you’ve learned, the hope you can give on our shared life’s journey.

Jesus was a storyteller. He knew the greatest lessons learned are those told as stories. The prodigal son. The persistent widow. The lost sheep. So many stories giving us a glimpse into the kingdom of God – stories of heaven, healing, forgiveness, and restoration.

I love to tell the Story.

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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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Sometimes I make the assumption that everyone has access to the same resources that I do. But that is not necessarily accurate. Yes – most people now have access to the internet and can google just about anything. But not everyone knows how to search online and not everyone has the time or inclination. And that World Wide Web is a super humongous place…easy to get lost and discouraged. So, today’s blog will highlight a few online devotional sites that continue to create wonderful content for us to enjoy.

Dayspring began as a greeting card company in California by four Christian men. They have grown into more than cards with inventory including gifts, home decor, books and Bibles. They also provide a daily devotional delivered right to your email every morning. Some are very short, such as this morning’s offering. Others a bit longer. All are excerpts from books published by Dayspring. If you’d like a quick devotion, easily read in a couple of minutes, this may be the right fit for you.

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An offshoot of Dayspring is another wonderful resource: (in)courage. Female writers from across the country are regular contributors, designed to encourage and enrich your life with real life, relevant material. The devotions are a little longer (probably will take 5-10 minutes each) but you’ll want to shout “Amen!” when you’ve finished. The authors are engaging, humorous, vulnerable and wise. By the time you’ve read a few, you’ll feel as though you’ve made new friends. They’ve recently published a CSB (in)courage devotional Bible. If I needed another Bible, I would certainly have this one. Sign up here to receive these wonderful daily blogs/devotions.

I’ve just recently come across the writings of Rachel Wojo…Her last name is so long and with so many consonants that she’s shortened it on every thing she publishes…and she publishes A LOT!. I first saw (and use every day) her monthly Bible reading plans. Then I looked through her website and saw so much wonderful, Biblical material. She says she started the website to keep herself accountable to God’s Word and to “help others enjoy fresh faith on a daily basis.” She has so much free material including free Bible study videos. Her testimony is amazing and inspiring. I couldn’t even begin to describe her life’s journey. Please, if you do nothing else today, take a peek at Rachel’s website.

That’s enough to get you started. Happy reading! May the Word of God sink deep into your hearts as you lean into Him more and more every day. I pray these resources will help guide you toward the Source of all Truth…Jesus.

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Ever have a song stuck in your head? Or just a few phrases of a song? This one is in my head every Monday morning. The song is from 1966, sung by The Mamas and the Papas, and is so catchy that you can’t help but sing along…for a while. It’s a sad song, if you really pay attention to the lyrics, but it’s just so addictive.

Just try not to sing as you read these lyrics:

Monday, Monday, so good to me
Monday mornin´, it was all I hoped it would be
Oh Monday mornin´, Monday mornin´ couldn’t guarantee
That Monday evenin´ you would still be here with me
Monday, Monday, can´t trust that day
Monday, Monday, sometimes it just turns out that way
Oh Monday mornin´ you gave me no warnin´ of what was to be
Oh Monday, Monday, how could you leave and not take me
Every other day, every other day
Every other day of the week is fine, yeah
But whenever Monday comes, but whenever Monday comes
And-you can find me cryin´ all of the time

 

Did you find yourself crying this Monday morning? That Daylight Saving Time thing may have done a number on you. Maybe your weekend didn’t live up to your expectations. Maybe you’re facing a long week of hard work, or no work.

No matter what your Monday is looking like, there is hope. God loves you. He thinks you’re delightful. And you matter to Him.

Monday is just one day – don’t let it eat your lunch. Tell yourself the truth – you are fearfully and wonderfully madeyou are created in the image of God – God is always your fortress, your refuge, your strong tower, who will never abandon you. Tell Monday to chill –  you and God have got this.

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P.S. Mondays aren’t nearly as difficult since I read my friend Jennifer Dukes Lee’s book “It’s All Under Control.” Some wonderful insights for control freaks, or if you think you have to be in control to be successful. You can purchase it at any of your favorite book places. One of my Top 10 books ever!

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Most of you know me well enough now to realize that I love to encourage people. I don’t just see the glass half full…I see the glass at least 3/4ths full, maybe even more. I try to always find that silver lining. When I tutor my students, I combat low self-confidence all the time. I love motivating them – to see themselves as accepted, intelligent, capable, and productive.

I also enjoy motivational sayings. Facebook and Instagram are full of images of beautiful lakes, flowers, mountains, seascapes with a lovely motivational quotes about working hard, staying positive, “just do it”. I brought a couple to show you.

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What a great saying to get me up in the morning.

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Aren’t these great? Don’t you feel motivated to tackle that task you’ve been avoiding?

And I made one just for this morning.

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Wait – what?

Quit before it’s too late? How is that motivational? Let me tell you…

1 – Give up…Let it All Go

This is a perfect topic for Mother’s Day. Moms are not quitters…ever. We persevere through any trial, work hard every single day, strive to take care of our families, keep track of everyone’s schedules, make sure the dogs get fed, the kids do their homework, the church gets cleaned…we work, volunteer, run our kids to sports practices and games, dance lessons, 4-H club meetings, decorate for birthday parties, serve on church committees…and then we cook, clean, do laundry, mow the lawn…doing, doing, doing.

And we get it done. Somehow. But at what price?

We’re tired, grumpy, emotional, stressed, discouraged and certainly hardest on ourselves if we feel we failed at any one thing. We’ve set our expectations so high that we are often disappointed in ourselves for not “doing more” or “doing better.” Maybe we feel we’ve let others down when we just can’t do one more thing. Sometimes, when we don’t get everything done that we’ve put on our list, we mentally and sometimes, verbally, blame ourselves, our spouses, our kids, our bosses. We think we can do it all…or worse, expect perfection…from ourselves or others. Inside we’re discouraged, condemning, feeling like failures…when in reality there is only one thing we need.

We need to quit. We need to give up and let it all go.

2 – You were designed for more

Have you ever heard of the No Thumbs Challenge? It’s a little YouTube sensation where a couple of people very securely tape their thumbs down into their palms and then attempt to do a variety of normal activities…such as opening a bottle of water, writing their name, operating a can opener, peeling a banana. Some are easier than others, but overall, the tasks are made much more difficult without the use of thumbs.

This is an object lesson for what we do in life. God gives us brains, strengths, talents, gifts – and we can accomplish a lot without ever asking God to help us. We can be super-successful on our own. Many people in the world accomplish great things without once considering God. But they, and we, are going through life with our thumbs bound…yes, we can accomplish a lot…but think of how much more we could do – if we quit trying to do it on our own and ask God to help us.

We are designed to work best when we work WITH God’s guidance – when we work WITHIN His design for us (Psalm 139).

You’ve put up with a life “without thumbs” – learned to do everything we need to do with only 4 fingers – but it’s been a struggle, a hardship, sometimes a failure…let’s quit trying to do without God, when with Him, it is more than we could ever imagine.

Luke 18:27 – “But He said, ‘The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.’”

3 – Embrace the ASK

We need to admit we need help. That can be a real battle for some. We like that good ole American work ethic…that “git ‘er done” mentality. We’re proud of our accomplishments. But at what cost? Our health – physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.

Even if we do consider asking God for help, we don’t (or won’t).

“God, you’re great and all, but probably pretty busy with important world issues, like famine and war and cancer…so I’ll just go ahead and do my little stuff on my own. I got this. No sense in bothering You with my little things.”

But asking God for help, no matter what we need, is like being set free to do more, to see Him working through you. God wants to free you from the bondage of pride and self-sufficiency – He wants to release you – set you free and empower you to do more and better, as He intended.

2 Corinthians 12:9“And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’” Paul goes on to say – “For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

When we ask for God to help us, we become stronger than we are alone. When we admit we are weak without Him, then His power takes over. Instead of apologizing for bothering God, you should see how excited He is when we ask him to overcome our weaknesses with His strength.

So how do you go about asking God for help?

James 1:5“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to ALL liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” In Psalm 46:1 we hear that God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble.

He doesn’t just listen to me, and not to you. He delights in hearing your requests. He delights in YOU.

Once you’ve asked for God to free you from your own pride, and give you wisdom in your daily life, expect to see a difference. John 8:36 says “Therefore, if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” All four fingers and a great big thumb!

I challenge you to test God. Test His Word. Begin each day asking God to help you in every situation you encounter…both the planned and the unplanned. Ask Him to guide your steps, to give you wisdom when you don’t know what to do…to give you words to speak life and encouragement to your family and friends, even your enemies. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you what to do when you’re confused or discouraged. He promises He will.

A number of years ago, the Chicago Bulls had a couple of pretty good basketball players…maybe you’ve heard of them. Michael Jordan and Stacey King. Of course, everyone knows Michael Jordan…but Stacey King was a decent player himself.  One night the two of them had a great game, beating the Cleveland Cavaliers. After the game, reporters interviewed King, quoting him in the next morning’s newspaper:

“I’ll always remember this as the night that Michael Jordan and I combined for 70 points.”

Wouldn’t that be a great game? Of course. But the part King left out…Michael Jordan scored 69 points and King scored only one.

But that’s how it is when we partner with God. God only asks that we are willing to score our one point, and He’ll take care of the rest. He’s a big God and He can and will help you to meet and exceed the challenges each of you face each day. Beyond your expectations.

Let’s pray.

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Do you have a favorite Bible lesson? Maybe it was something you learned as a child. The stories of David and Goliath, or Jesus walking on the water or feeding the 5000 illustrate some great Bible truths about God’s power on the earth.

Possibly, as an adult, you gravitate more toward the deeper spiritual lessons on forgiveness or faith or grace or trust.  You know there are endless lessons we can or have learned through the years.

I’m not sure I have a favorite or even if I have one I’m more grateful for than another. Mostly it depends on what I’m going through at the moment. However today, I had to pick out a Bible lesson for my blogging calendar and my morning Bible reading in Numbers 22 highlighted an exceptional lesson…the story of Balaam and his very wise donkey. I’m not going to tell you the whole story so read Numbers chapters 22 and 23 to get the complete picture.

Balaam was an interesting guy. He wasn’t a follower of the One True God, yet he spoke to God and God spoke to him. Balaam practiced divination during the time when the children of Israel were wandering around the desert. He was more concerned with lining his own pockets then with doing the right thing. When Balak, the king of Moab, needed someone to curse the Israelites, he was confident Balaam was the man for the job. Funny thing was, Balaam would not curse the children of Israel because God instructed him not to. However, he still kept Balak on the hook for his divination fee.

While Balaam was riding his donkey to see the king, the Angel of the Lord stood in the road ahead of him. Balaam couldn’t see the angel with his sword drawn, but Balaam’s donkey could, and it turned off the road into a field to get away. Of course, the animal got a beating from his master as a result. This happens two more times until finally, the Lord opened the donkey’s mouth.

Donkey“What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?” Now, I don’t know about you, but hearing an audible voice from my donkey would be disconcerting, however, Balaam doesn’t seem bothered at all. He proceeds to have a conversation with his donkey, in the middle of the road, until the Lord opens Balaam’s eyes and he sees the Angel. Finally, Balaam gets it and he prostrates himself before the Lord.

God informs Balaam that He used the donkey to stop Balaam from taking a reckless path against the children of Israel. If the donkey had not turned away each time, God would have killed Balaam (but spared the animal). I think that probably got Balaam’s attention. I’d like to think I wouldn’t have let it get that far – I hope the talking donkey would have made me pay more attention.

I distinctly remember the first time I read this story. I was a pastor’s wife before I ever heard about the donkey who talked. I guess I’d never made it through Numbers in my hit-and-miss Bible reading back then. For some reason, I easily trusted all the other stories throughout the Bible. I believed He created the world from nothing, formed Eve from Adam’s rib, destroyed the earth by a flood, parted the Red Sea, turned water to wine, calmed the wind and waves, raised Lazarus from the dead, healed the multitudes of various diseases and cast out demons. No problem with any of those. But a talking donkey? That one seemed to stretch my faith. And I’m not sure why because the first talking animal in the Bible wasn’t Balaam’s donkey – it was Satan as a talking serpent in the Garden of Eden. I never had any problem accepting that story either.

My takeaway from the adventure of Balaam’s talking donkey is simple: If God can use a donkey to see the supernatural and give wisdom to his master, then there is hope for me. If a donkey can be an approved vessel of God, then I hope I would be faithful to His work as well. If I am willing, He will fill my mouth with His words. My purpose in life is to bring glory to God, whether it is by speaking or remaining silent.

If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 4:11a

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart
be pleasing in your sight,
Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.
Psalm 19:14

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