October 19, 2014
From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible is a magnificent masterpiece portraying God’s unfailing love for His people. I marvel at the beauty of God’s plan and design as He painted a picture of redemption and grace on every page of His Word. My deepest desire is for you to experience His great love for you in a very real way. I want to introduce you to seven of the most loving words ever uttered. In the next seven weeks we will examine words that you may have heard of, but perhaps didn’t see them as loving and positive words. This week, we start off with a word that may surprise you.
Repentance. In Matthew 4:17 we read, “From that time on Jesus began to preach, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’” Jesus began his earthly ministry with a call to repentance, so it is important for us to understand how the word should be applied to our own lives. The word repentance (Greek metanoia) literally means “change of mind.” Repentance is more than just regret or feeling sorry about what we did; it means turning from sin and changing the way we think. It refers to a new outlook; turning from old ways and seeing things in accordance with God’s will. The parable of the Prodigal Son is a beautiful example of repentance, in which we find the son who left home and squandered his inheritance, returning to his father with a humbled heart and ready to change his ways.
In Acts 11:18 we read, “Even to Gentiles God has granted repentance that leads to life.” God gives us the ability to repent, to see things in a new way. Repentance not only refers to turning away from sin, but it also encompasses a turning to God in faith. Jesus said, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32). He came to call us to a change of mind, turning our minds from the direction of sin and turning toward the love of God. Each of us must come to a point of recognizing our own sinfulness and turning to God for help. In His great love for us, God knew that running toward God was best for us, and that running away from Him only brings destruction, disillusionment and ultimately death. God loves us, so He calls us to repentance. If He didn’t love us, He would just let us wander aimlessly through life without His help or direction.
There is no more loving place to be than in His warm embrace. Like the prodigal, may we run to his open arms and experience the joy of repentance.
This is an excerpt from my new book, Becoming a Woman of the Word.
October 14, 2014
What seems to make you make you shudder? Let’s face it, even the calmest of people experience a bit of anxiety now and then. With the outbreak of Ebola, the threat of ISIS or the uncertainty of the economy, how do we keep our worries in check and prevent them from dominating our lives? Allow me to offer a few tips to point you in a positive direction and help you keep your fears under control.
1. Identify the root of your fear. A current crisis may create panic in your heart, yet it often stems from a deep-seated anxiety which already exists – fear of death, abandonment or poverty. When we recognize that the bigger issue is not simply based on the latest news-maker, we gain clarity as we look at the true picture. Putting our finger on the basic cause of our fear helps us to more effectively deal with our own personal apprehensions and wisely root them out. What a blessing to know that we can go to our loving Heavenly Father with each fear and ask Him to give us heal our hearts.
2. Change your focus. When we focus on what is wrong in the world or what could happen, the issues become larger than life. One of the ways we can change our focus is to deliberately turn our minds toward what is good and positive in our lives and in the world. Recognize immediately when you are stewing on the negative and make a deliberate turn in your thought-life toward something or someone that brings you joy. It may be a great vacation spot, a precious grand-child or a new hobby. Let your mind dwell on what is good, pure and right in your life.
3. Count your blessings. Make it a daily practice to write down at least five things you are thankful for each day. Consider the blessings you have experienced over the last 24 hours. Who did you encounter? What positive conversations did you have? Who were you able to impact or help? What went your way? What doors opened up for you? Be specific as you ponder your daily opportunities to be grateful – they are there, but you have to intentionally look for them!
4. Strategize. If a worry about the future enters your mind, consider practical ways you can handle the crisis. What action steps do you need to take to be prepared? Are there preventative measures you can take? Keep in mind, we do not want to make plans out of panic or irrational fears, rather we do want to use all wisdom and discernment. Pray for God to lead you and guide you. Practical planning makes good sense, but let us always move forward with love – not fear – as our guide.
5. Reach out to others. When we are thinking of the needs of others, we have less time to wallow in our own anxieties. Take a moment to look around you. Who could use a kind word, a note, a hug, a phone call? Where can you volunteer and help make a positive difference in the world? Fear keeps us isolated, but love opens us up to experience the joy of giving and pouring our hearts into the lives of others.
6. Guard against assumptions. Often panic comes as a result of worries gone wild. It’s easy to take one little thought and develop a whole entire “what if” scenario around it. We can become consumed with fear simply based on assumptions. Stick with the truth and don’t add to it. Nip assumptions in the bud and resolve to live in the present rather than future fears that may never happen.
7. Pray. I find great comfort in knowing that there is an almighty God with a bigger plan. He has a purpose for each of our lives, and He knows the number of our days. My life is in His hands, and I can rest assured that I can trust Him with the details of my life. He invites us to turn to Him and cast our cares on Him. As we leave our anxieties in the hands of a loving God, He provides a peace that passes all understanding.
Christ came to set us free from the chains of fear that consume us. As a follower of Christ, God has given us His Spirit who gives us peace even in the storms of life. My friend, if you do not know Him, I encourage you to look to Christ today. He came not only as the payment for our sin, but also to allow us to live in victory over sin and fear. If you want to chat with someone right now, please go to www.chataboutJesus.com
October 4, 2014
Psalm 119:97 – 104
97 Oh, how I love your law!
I meditate on it all day long.
98 Your commands are always with me
and make me wiser than my enemies.
99 I have more insight than all my teachers,
for I meditate on your statutes.
100 I have more understanding than the elders,
for I obey your precepts.
101 I have kept my feet from every evil path
so that I might obey your word.
102 I have not departed from your laws,
for you yourself have taught me.
103 How sweet are your words to my taste,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!
104 I gain understanding from your precepts;
therefore I hate every wrong path.
In this section of Psalm 119, we experience the delicious passion of the psalmist toward God’s word. He can’t stop thinking about it! He meditates on His testimonies and precepts continually all day long. He extols the benefits of being saturated in God’s Word:
• Makes me wiser than my enemies
• Gives me more understanding than all my teachers
• Allows me to understand more than the aged
• Holds back my feet from every evil way
I want those benefits, don’t you? The psalmist doesn’t just read God’s word and walk away, he thinks about it, and allows it to permeate and transform his life. He’s not just a casual lover of God’s word – he’s all in!! What about you? Do you passionately love God’s word? More than that, do you love Jesus with such a passion that you can’t stop thinking about Him during your day. Let us meditate on His love continually – it is sweeter than honey!
For more on meditation – check out the chapter entitled “Breathe it In” in my new book
Becoming a Woman of the Word.
October 2, 2014
Day 11 – The Pain of Waiting
Let’s face it, waiting is hard. The psalmist reveals his anguish in waiting for God’s comfort. Certainly, we can all relate in one way or another to his frustration. We may find ourselves waiting for:
• A new job opportunity
• A prodigal child to return
• Health or healing
• A change in circumstances
• A spouse
The good news is we not only share in the psalmist sorrow of waiting, but we can also experience the hope he finds in God. Notice His turn of focus in each verse of Psalm 119:81-88, “My soul faints…but I have put my hope in your word.” “My eyes fail…I do not forget your decrees.” “How long must your servant wait…but I have not forsaken your precepts.” He ends with a prayer, “In your unfailing love, preserve my life.”
In our waiting, let us turn our hearts heavenward and find comfort in God and His word, knowing that He loves us with an unfailing love. We may not understand why we must wait, but like a child, we must trust our all-knowing Father’s love. Keep your eyes on Him as you wait patiently, and like the psalmist let us say, I have put my hope in Jesus (your word).”
81 My soul faints with longing for your salvation,
but I have put my hope in your word.
82 My eyes fail, looking for your promise;
I say, “When will you comfort me?”
83 Though I am like a wineskin in the smoke,
I do not forget your decrees.
84 How long must your servant wait?
When will you punish my persecutors?
85 The arrogant dig pits to trap me,
contrary to your law.
86 All your commands are trustworthy;
help me, for I am being persecuted without cause.
87 They almost wiped me from the earth,
but I have not forsaken your precepts.
88 In your unfailing love preserve my life,
that I may obey the statutes of your mouth.
September 6, 2014
We just started the second week of our 22-Day Challenge, and I still want to encourage you to join us. You can step right in with us, starting with verse 57 in Psalm 119. Why is this called a 22-day Challenge? Because Psalm 119 is broken down into 22 sections. The psalmists used the Hebrew alphabet to create one of the most poetic psalms in the Bible, extolling the beauty of God’s Word. This joy-filled challenge invites you to read a short section of Psalm 119 each day and consider its truths. My hope is that as you take this challenge, you will catch the passion of the psalmists and grow to delight in God’s Word in an even deeper way than you have ever experienced before in your life.
Here’s the plan; for 22 days you will progressively read through Psalm 119, one section per day (only 8 verses a day). Each day as you read a section, answer the following questions. You may want to use a journal for the challenge or you can mark in your Bible. Ask some friends to join you on the challenge. It’s fun and easy (won’t take over five minutes of your day) and will increase your love for God and for His Word. I’ve added the first section of Psalm 119 below to help you get started. If you don’t have a Bible, I encourage you to purchase one. I suggest NIV, ESV, New Living or HCSB translations. Are you ready to start? Here are the steps:
1. Read a section of Psalm119 and determine what the overall theme is for that group of verses. What key words do you notice? For example in the first section (Aleph) the psalmist seems to lean toward a theme of walking in obedience. Key words are: obey, blessed and ways.
2. Use a highlighter to mark the benefits of reading and mediating on God’s Word. (example: will be happy and blessed, not be put to shame, etc.)
3. Underline every mention of our responsibility as the reader (example: those whose ways are blameless, walk according to the law, keep his statutes).
4. Circle each reference to God’s Word or God’s Laws (example: statutes, precepts, ways)
5. Now insert the name of Jesus for each of the circled phrases as you read the section again. In the New Testament, John says that Jesus is the Word. He was the fulfillment of the law and the prophets. Write down everything you learn about Jesus as you read the passage again.
1 Blessed are those whose ways are blameless,
who walk according to the law of the LORD.
2 Blessed are those who keep his statutes
and seek him with all their heart—
3 they do no wrong
but follow his ways.
4 You have laid down precepts
that are to be fully obeyed.
5 Oh, that my ways were steadfast
in obeying your decrees!
6 Then I would not be put to shame
when I consider all your commands.
7 I will praise you with an upright heart
as I learn your righteous laws.
8 I will obey your decrees;
do not utterly forsake me.
So there you have it! I’m excited – can you tell? I know you will have a great time taking on this delightful challenge. I’ll be posting my thoughts every day on my Facebook Author Page, click here to join me.
This challenge is from my book, Becoming a Woman of the Word. To learn more about the book and growing to understand God’s Word click here.