April 14, 2014
As we celebrate the risen Christ this Holy Week, I want to point us to a powerful passage in Colossians describing Jesus. Colossians 1:15-23 is possibly one of the most powerful and beautiful descriptions of Christ in the Bible. One phrase in the passage describes Jesus as “the firstborn of all who will rise from the dead.” The term firstborn means the principle figure or privileged one. Christ was the first to be resurrected and not die again. The significant beauty of the resurrection is that it establishes His authority over death, and it serves as a reminder that we look forward to a resurrected body one day. Death is not the end. He rose from the dead declaring victory over the grave. We can rejoice in the glorious fact that death is not final. We can live with resurrection confidence knowing we do not need to fear death.
The power of the resurrection gives us confidence not only for our future, but also for our lives right here and right now. We serve a risen savior, and the same spirit who raised Christ from the dead lives within us. The power of the resurrection was not simply something that happened at the tomb, it affects our lives today as we live in His strength. In the book of Romans we read what the power of the resurrection means to us as believers, “But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.”
Because of the resurrection, we are able to experience abundant life here, as well as eternal life in heaven. He spirit lives within us! What confidence we have, knowing the Spirit who raised Christ from the dead dwells in us. We are not alone. We are not powerless against sin. We have a helper and comforter who strengthens us and leads us. Rejoice, and have a blessed Easter!
A portion of this is an excerpt from my book A Woman’s Secret to Confident Living
April 6, 2014
“There is a beauty in holiness as well as a beauty of holiness.”
One Sunday not too long ago, Curt and I went out to eat at one of our favorite little diners after church. It’s the kind of place where you pay at the cash register when you leave, and you never know who you are going to meet as you wait in line. On this particular Sunday, a beautiful woman with true Southern Belle charm came up behind us, and I’m glad she did! The first thing she said to me was, “Sugar, that dress looks fabulous on you!” As you can imagine I immediately liked this woman. She went on to say in the deepest South Carolina drawl you can imagine, “I grew up in a family with for-ah sis-tas (translation, four sisters), and our mamma always told us it doesn’t matter where you buy an outfit or if it is the latest style. What matters most is that the color is your color and the style flatters your figure. Mamma told us, don’t wear anything that doesn’t flatter you to pieces.”
Then she added, “And honey, your dress flatters you to pieces.”
Well sugar I want you to know I was walking a little more tall and confident the rest of that day. I’ll probably wear that dress to every special occasion for the next ten years! Have you ever discovered one of those perfect outfits that is just right for you. Right color, right style, the kind in which you feel like a million bucks even if you did get it on sale at Ross Dress for Less. You know when you find it, because everyone you see tells you how great you look in it..
Spiritually speaking God has the perfect outfit for us. It’s actually quite flattering. Not for our glory, but for His. Yet it sure makes us look lovely as well. When we wear this outfit we can walk in great confidence knowing we are in the finest apparel, created by the Ultimate Designer. This Designer knows what looks best on us, and you never need to doubt His wisdom. When you wear this clothing you not only look good, but you make other people look good. You feel a deep sense of joy when you wear this Designer’s clothing. If you ever thought clothing was the key to your confidence, you are right. Spiritual clothing that is! Here’s how Paul put it:
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
We should pay close attention to the way Paul describes believers in Christ as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved. What a perfect way for a groom to address his bride. Can you hear God’s voice saying to you, “My precious one, I have chosen you. You are my beloved. My holy one set apart just for me. Here is your bridal gown. Here is how I want you to dress. I’ve paid for it with my own blood. I give you this clothing because I love you.” Paul continued by writing, “Over all these virtues put on love which binds them together with perfect unity.” Love pulls the whole outfit together! Live in love because you are sincerely loved!
A portion of this is an excerpt from my book, A Woman’s Secret to Confident Living (Harvest House Publishers)
April 1, 2014
In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus identified His followers as both “salt and light.” I love the fact that He tells us we are salt. Salt was a valuable commodity in His day. It was used to preserve meat, and it is also essential for our physical bodies to function. It flavors our food and makes us thirsty for more. Yet if salt remains in the salt shaker, it is useless. Could it be that we as Christians have become too comfortable in the salt shaker?
We go to Bible studies at church, we gain knowledge and we enjoy fellowship, but are we putting into practice the very words that we are studying? Is there a disconnect between knowing what the Bible has to say and actually putting His words into practice, flavoring the world with His love and grace and the gospel?
Recently, I heard about a life-group in Houston that wanted to do more than simply meet every week and feed themselves spiritually, so they decided to begin reaching out to others twice a month. One meeting per month was dedicated to serving at a shelter for battered women. Another night was designated as a game night in order to reach out to the unchurched. Now that’s being salt! Out of the salt shaker and into the world.
What about you? What is God calling you to do? Let’s not grow comfy in the salt shaker of life. Instead let’s prayerfully ask the Lord to show us how He can use our God-given gifts and talents to reach out to the world around us.
March 25, 2014
The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces.
Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes with the morning light. Here on this earth we experience tears and sorrow. We know pain and sadness in this life, but we also know that one day God will wipe every tear away. Suffering makes us long for something better and reminds us that this world is not all there is. We have a wonderful joy to look forward to in the presence of our Father. He will dry the tears from our faces as we enter His presence.
What a tender and loving picture we have from this verse of God Himself wiping away the tears from our faces. He cares about our sorrows for He is the God of all comfort. He brings us comfort in our troubles here and now. The truth is we will continue to experience tears until that glorious day in His presence. Tears make us human, but they also serve as a reminder of a better day when He will wipe them all away.
This is a excerpt from my devotional Pursuing God in the Quiet Places (Harvest House Publishers).
March 17, 2014
Saint Patrick’s Day is a celebration of a man who loved the Lord and experienced the transforming power of the gospel. Kidnapped by pirates when he was only a teen, Patrick spent six years as a slave. While in captivity he became a Christian and was able to miraculously escape to his homeland. After he was ordained into the ministry he sensed God’s call to return to Hibernia (Ireland), the land of his captivity.
What if St. Patrick decided he would not forgive his enemies? What if he just wouldn’t let his past hurts go and instead harbored bitterness and anger? He would have missed the opportunity to bring the gospel to a nation who desperately needed Christ. Patrick’s life offers us a picture of forgiveness and redemption. God does amazing work through our willingness to forgive.
I love this picture of the bulldog with a St. Pat’s hat on because it offers such a poignant contrast. Bulldogs are known for their stubbornness and unwillingness to let go of whatever they have in their mouths. Ironically, Patrick was stubborn for the gospel, because he was willing to let go of the past hurts. Are you a bulldog or are you like Patrick, willing to forgive and let go of past hurts. Let us live with forgiveness and experience the joy and freedom that comes when we let go of bitterness. Who knows, as a result, God may use us to change the world with the gospel message.
The BREASTPLATE of Saint Patrick
I bind myself today, -
To the power of God to guide me,
The might of God to uphold me,
The wisdom of God to teach me,
The eye of God to watch over me,
The ear of God to bear me,
The Word of God to speak for me,
The hand of God to protect me,
The way of God to lie before me,
The shield of God to shelter me,
The host of God to defend me
Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me, Christ within me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ at my right, Christ at my left,
Christ in breadth, Christ in length, Christ in height