Wednesday, September 30, 2015

What Would We Do?

Photo by Marleah Joy (Flickr)
“Father, I have no idea how to handle this.”

I picked up my Bible from the nightstand and sat on the edge of the bed. Flipping through the pages, my heart pounded when I began reading Psalm 18. Actually, for several minutes, I couldn’t get past the first verse.

“I love you, O LORD, my strength” (NIV 1984).

Tears flowing down my cheeks, I repeated those very words over and over again. Then I added to my prayer, “Father, I love You very much. Thank You for giving me Your strength so many times when I needed it. Now, Lord, I’m asking You to help me to actually see You as being my strength during this stressful time.”

Then I began repeating again – from the deepest part of my being, “I love You, oh Lord, my strength.”

During the next several weeks, I will continue this true story in my opening as we make our way through sections of Psalm 18.
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David wrote Psalm 18 after God delivered him from huge trials. As we spend time on this Psalm, consider how the verses relate to the issues you are facing. You might even want to journal some of your thoughts.

Your might write about the times you witnessed God’s strength when you felt overwhelmed or threatened. The times God made you stronger – stronger than you ever thought possible – to face a crisis or unfair circumstances. The times you now see (as you look back) when you did experience Him as your strength.

Think about how thankful you felt each time. How did those seasons change your relationship with the God of all strength?

Consider what you would do without Him – and without His mighty strength.

How would meditating on loving God and declaring Him as your strength give you a different perspective regarding everything you are facing today?

Would you consider memorizing this short verse? Let me know what happens in your circumstances if you do, okay?

Would you like to discuss this further? If so leave a comment or email me (see About tab for my email address).

I will send you the weekly verses, formatted to fit a standard index card. You must be subscribed to the blog, via email. Leave a comment to let me know what translation you prefer.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Is God’s Word Void of Significance for Your Life?

Perhaps you wouldn’t say it out loud to any of your church friends, but you can’t help but wonder
what people get from reading the Bible.

Photo by Grace to You (Flickr)
Maybe learning how to personalize (reading the verse using personal pronouns) and praying through the Word will help you receive the encouragement, hope and confidence you need to get through your circumstances – thus making the Bible more meaningful to you.

For instance, let’s say you’ve been worried about your teenage son. You might try personalizing 1 Peter 5:7: “ … casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you” (NASB) by reading it this way:

“I will cast all my anxiety on You, Lord, because You care for me.”

Going a little deeper, if you were to use the same verse and turn it more into a prayer, it would go something like this (with help from the Amplified Bible):

Father, I’m so worried about Tommy’s recent failing grades and the kids he’s hanging out with. And I’m scared he might be doing drugs, or worse. Father, I cast all of these concerns on You (once and for all) because I know You care for me affectionately. And thank You for carefully watching over me and my son.

Personalizing can transition a verse into a personal declaration between God and us. We begin to recognize more clearly who we truly are: Christ-followers, God’s representatives, lovers of people – and individuals totally dependent on a God Who loves us.

As we do this, we grow in our trust in the only One Who knows exactly how to intervene in our struggles.

A Bible verse can transition from dry words on a page to words that overflow with hope that leads to building a relationship with the Author.

This is not my original idea. I learned it years ago from those who knew that the only way they could continue to grow in their faith was by trusting God’s Word.
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Would you like to discuss this further? If so leave a comment or email me (see About tab for my email address).

I will send you the weekly verses, formatted to fit a standard index card. You must be subscribed to the blog, via email. Leave a comment to let me know what translation you prefer.

Also, please click on the tabs on the top of the page to receive tips on memorizing and/or meditating on the Word of God.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Are You Automatically Going to Heaven?

Photo by Frank Farm (Flickr)
Reverend Timms, the hospice chaplain, lowered the bedside rails so he could lean in closer.

Dale gripped his arm. “I’m not ready to die. I wish I could know for sure if I’m going to heaven.”

The minister leaned in even closer. “Before our visit is over, you will know – for sure – if you’re going to heaven. Okay?”

Dale smiled, faintly.

“Have you ever heard about Jesus’ dying on the cross for your sins?”

“I remember hearing John 3:16 as a kid in Sunday school. So is that it?” Dale paused to catch his breath. “Does that mean I’m automatically going to heaven?”

“Just because we may have heard about Jesus paying for our sins on the cross, that doesn’t mean we automatically get to go to heaven. But the Bible does say, ‘That if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved’” (Romans 10:9 NASB).

“That means, we have to believe – put our faith and confidence in Who Jesus is and what He did for us, not in the good things we’ve done.”

Dale wrinkled his brow.

“It’s not meant to be complicated. It comes down to this. Are you able to say that Jesus is Lord – will you recognize Him as the ultimate authority over your life and all things?”

Pause. “Yes. I recognize Jesus as Lord.”

“Do you believe He took your sins on the cross, died for them, rose from the dead, and is alive today?”

Nod. “I do. I believe.”

“Then, according to God’s Word, you are going to heaven when you die. Welcome to God’s family!”

Dale smiled. A very definite smile. “Thank you.”

(A modern parable to illustrate the gospel.)
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Would you like to discuss this further? If so leave a comment or email me (see About tab for my email address).

I will send you the weekly verses, formatted to fit a standard index card. You must be subscribed to the blog, via email. Leave a comment to let me know what translation you prefer.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Why Did He Do It?

Photo by Waiting for the Word (Flickr)
The night before Jesus was crucified, He knew every detail about what was coming.

He “began to be struck with terror” (Mark 14:33, Amplified Bible). And “He fell on the ground and kept praying that if it were possible [the fatal] hour might pass from Him” (verse 35).

Given the fact that Jesus was God in the flesh (which means He didn’t have to do anything He didn’t want to do), why did He consent to something so horrifying, and humiliating?

Because He loved me.

Later that night, due to Jesus’ unbreakable love for His Father and His desire to set me (and all mankind) free from Satan’s control, the Son of God ended His prayer by saying, “Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will” (Mark 14:36 NASB).

If Jesus had decided to go with His will instead of the Father’s, I probably would have committed suicide. Or I’d still be living as a hate-filled, unforgiving, selfish person.

If Jesus had not put my needs ahead of Himself that night, I would never have experienced His unconditional love or amazing grace.

If Jesus’ love for me had not exceeded the love I display in most of my relationships – above all the flaky way I treat Him – I would be separated from Him (and His love for me), forever, without the slightest chance of seeing heaven.

However, because His love for me surpassed His feelings of terror and dread that night, He chose to take the punishment for my sins. His death and resurrection saved me from Satan’s control and gave me the assurance of heaven. There is no way I could have achieved any of this on my own.

And He did it all because He loved me.

He loves you, too.

Would you like to discuss this further? If so leave a comment or email me (see About tab for my email address).

I will send you the weekly verses, formatted to fit a standard index card. You must be subscribed to the blog, via email. Leave a comment to let me know what translation you prefer.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

When I Finally Got It

Photo by Matt (Flickr) 
During my high school years, I thought I was automatically going to heaven due to my religious affiliation. Therefore, even when I listened to Billy Graham on TV, I didn’t understand that the gospel message was relevant to me. I thought I was already “in.”

Later, while a freshman in college, several people I met on campus became some of my best friends. They invited me to prayer meetings where I loved what I heard, but I still didn’t know the message was something I needed.

Several years later, I was a new mom living in married student housing on the LSU campus, where I finally got it. At last I understood the significance of Jesus’ death and resurrection for me.

It happened one morning as I was leaning over to wipe breakfast crumbs from our small table. I stopped for a moment and straightened up. “Oh! That’s what that means!”

As I kept on cleaning (which my husband thought was a miracle in itself), the scriptures I’ve heard for years were now making sense to me. At the time, I couldn’t understand what was happening, but now I realize the Holy Spirit was helping me comprehend what had eluded me for years.

Until that morning, I took the whole “Jesus’ death” thing for granted. Although I knew He died on the cross, I never went from knowing He was crucified to comprehending why He was crucified.

Photo by Dr. Ashraf Fekry (Flickr)
But at that moment, I began to grasp why He died a painful and humiliating death. He did it because He loved me. (I’ll go in more detail about this point next week.)

My heart filled with gratitude as I realized the extent God was willing to go to for me so I could be with Him in heaven.

John 3:16 (NASB)
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 

We will continue this next week. In the meanwhile, please consider memorizing and/or meditating on this unbelievable verse!

And please pray for me as I write my next post. I want to it to be an effective one.

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Would you like to discuss this further? If so leave a comment or email me (see About tab for my email address).

I will send you the weekly verses, formatted to fit a standard index card. You must be subscribed to the blog, via email. Leave a comment to let me know what translation you prefer.
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