NEW RELEASE!

JUST RELEASED!

NEW BIBLE STUDY – LIVING YOUR GLORY STORY.

The Bible tells us to be witnesses for Christ in this world. I believe that now, more than ever, is the time for sharing your story of faith that others would know Jesus.

This Bible Study will guide you through scripture for preparing your hearts to share.

This book is available now at Amazon.com. To order, use this LINK. 

 

Lord of All Creation

 

As I was looking back through my journal this morning, I found this poem I wrote on January 3rd of this year without knowing what the year would bring, personally and nationally. Today I find it very appropriate as a prayer for those who do not yet know the Lord of all creation that they would seek Him. His name is Jesus.

LORD OF ALL CREATION

Lord of all creation

humbly I bow at your feet

seeking your hand of mercy

to touch and give me strength.

To the weak and the weary

Your grace you have shown

to fill our hearts with hope

as we await our heavenly home.

Thank you for mercy and grace

in the sacrifice you made

that we could experience your presence

and from your free gift, be saved.

And now, O Lord, I ponder

how it can be so

that we receive such great love

and out of your wisdom, we can know…

The Loving Savior, Jesus!

“And it shall come to pass

that whoever calls on the name of the LORD

shall be saved.”

Acts 2:21 (NKJV)

FAN THE FLAME

The firepit sat in the garage for a while after our daughter gave it to my husband for Christmas. In the Spring, he brought it to the patio and has been building a fire in it every night. He sits around the firepit, watching the flames until they diminish, and the wood turns to ash. The next night, he will go out and rekindle the flame and repeat the process. It is now Summer now with temperatures in the 90s. I asked why he was doing this and he replied, “It gives me time to think and meditate.”

As I see him head out to the patio each evening, I am reminded of Paul’s words to Timothy.Fan into flame the gift of God”. For me, fanning the flame comes in the early morning as I pray and read God’s Word. For my husband, fanning the flame comes in the evenings as he spends time in quiet contemplation of God.

Fan into flame the gift of God which is in you is a statement for us all to consider as believers. God has gifted each one of us in different ways but one purpose. God gifted us to glorify Him and serve as a witness for Jesus Christ that others may come to know Him too. Just like a fire, our passion for serving can burn until there is no kindling left if we do not fan it every day. I don’t know about you, but studying God’s word lights a spark in me each time I study. It is my passion. When the flame is burning, I know I am serving in His will.

What about you? What is your passion? How are you fanning the flame to know and serve the Lord according to the gifts He has given you?

God gifted Timothy to preach, but he was apparently fearful. Paul told him, “God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control”. (2 Timothy 1:7 ESV) It is by the power of the Holy Spirit you are equipped to serve out your passion from the area of giftedness God has given. Because of this power, you need not fear or be intimidated to move forward by faith in what God has called you to do.

Fan the flame to keep the fire burning through prayer and Bible reading every day.

For this reason, I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God,

which is in you through the laying on of my hands…

2 Timothy 1:6 (ESV)

A Straight Plumb Line

Back in the days when wallpaper was popular, I determined to learn how to hang it. My first attempt was not good. Some strips overlapped. I could not figure out how the panel would line up perfectly to the one next to it at the start, but by the end it would be overlapping. Then someone told me about a plumb line, and it changed everything. A plumb line is a string attached to a weight at the end that hangs vertically in a straight line. I would cover the string with blue chalk, pin the top of the string at the starting point, and drop the line. The line would bounce all over the place until it finally became still. Once the line became still, I would hold the bottom and pop the string so the chalk would make a perfectly straight line down the wall. From that point on, I had wallpaper panels butted up against one another instead of overlapping because I followed the straight line as my starting point.

This week I read about God’s plumb line for His people in Amos 7:7-8. God stood at a wall with a plumb line in His hand and asked Amos what he saw. His answer was obvious. “A plumb line”. When God used a plumb line, He was not talking about wallpaper. He used it against a wall to prove that the wall was not straight. If the walls of a structure are not straight, they will eventually crumble and fall.

God told Amos He was setting a plumb line in the middle of Israel and that He would never again pass by them. He used the illustration of the plumb line as the vertical relationship between God and Israel that was no longer straight. Amos had pled for Israel as God pointed out their sin, and God had relented many times. But this time, Amos saw that Israel was so far away from God that he would not relent again. They would collapse.

As the Torah was the plumb line for Israel, God’s Word is the plumb line for today. To have a straight line of communication with Him, God’s Word gives us the direction to follow for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. When a nation turns from the word of God, they turn from God Himself. When a nation turns from God, they are on the path to collapse and destruction.

I believe our nation is on that path today. As believer’s in Christ Jesus, we must be on our knees in fervent prayer for our nation’s leaders and citizens to turn back to God and His Word. Rather than turning to God, people are bouncing all over the place, not knowing what to believe. The truth lies within faith and trust in God. People need Jesus. He is the way, truth, and life. No one comes to the father but by Him. He is the answer to peace and unity. He is the line of communication to God. Pray for revival in our land.

Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.

I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the
Father except through me.

John 14:1, 6 (ESV)

Knocking on Heaven’s Door

In 1965 Bob Dylan wrote a song called Knocking on Heavens Door. It was later recorded by a group called Guns and Roses. I can’t say I was ever a Guns and Roses fan, but a strange thing happened this morning.  When I woke up, the chorus of that song was going through my mind. What it says repeatedly is ‘knock, knock, knockin’, on Heaven’s door.’  So when I got out of bed, I looked up the lyrics and found them to be rather dark. The song is apparently about someone in law enforcement who is dying and feels he is knocking on Heaven’s door. Yet, he talks about ‘that cold dark cloud coming down’.

When I opened my Bible study for the morning, I was amazed that my lesson for the day was about the Kingdom of Heaven. What I read in Colossians 1:13 is that God has “rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the son he loves.” Did you see that? God has rescued us from darkness. There is no darkness when we knock on Heaven’s door and enter in.

In heaven there will only be light – there will be no darkness. We are told in Revelation 3:20 that Jesus stands at the door and knocks. The verse says, “If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into him and have dinner with him and he with me”. Then John, who wrote the Revelation, said this: “After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in Heaven! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, ‘Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” (Revelation 4:1)

From this we learn that Jesus knocks on the door of our heart, and we knock on the door of Heaven. When Jesus knocks, we are to answer with faith, believing in who He is and invite Him into our lives. Then, when the time comes for us to knock on Heaven’s door before passing into eternity, there will be no darkness, and the doors will be thrown wide open for us to enter in. When we knock, Jesus opens the door.

For the Christian, the message of ‘knock, knock, knockin’, on Heaven’s door’ is not a message of death, but rather of life eternal!

Once we have opened the door of our heart when Jesus knocks, not only are we assured of eternity with Him as we knock on Heaven’s door, but we are promised an open door of response from Him on earth. Matthew 7:7-8 says, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks find, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.”

In this passage, Jesus was teaching His disciples to be persistent in prayer for daily needs, confident that their Father in Heaven would provide whatever was best for them according to His gracious will. The same is true for believers today. After we invite Jesus in as personal Savior, He throws open doors for us that have been closed. The door opens to spiritual wisdom, opportunity, power to accomplish what He asks of us and so much more. Ask, seek, knock that we may find, receive, and know all that is needed for life and godliness.

Jesus is the Light of the World. In Him, there is no darkness at all. As believers, we have a call to action. We are to let His light shine through us to the world around us. The shield of His light dispels the darkness.

“The night is far gone, the day is at hand.

So then let us cast off the works of darkness

and put on the armor of light.”

Romans 13:12 ESV

What is the IT?

For the past few years, a group of friends and I have been challenged in December to ask God to give us a word for the coming year. My word for 2017 is JOY. I began the year thinking ‘awesome, my year is going to be filled with joy!’ It has been in many ways that I am so thankful for.

The year began with the birth of a baby boy into our family and has ended with the birth of a second baby boy into our family. That is JOY! In addition, I was able to complete a year-long contract of radio hosting. God provided messages and interviews throughout the year that brought great joy. We have a new church home. That, too, is great joy. However, among these joyful events, there have been trials, disappointments and discouragement as well. But God is reminding me at the end of this year what true joy is all about.

This month the Lord has taken me time and again to James 1:2 which says in part, “…count it all joy when you encounter various trials knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.”

In reading this verse, I think we have a tendency to believe that God is telling us to consider the trial all joy. We ask, ‘how can I consider this cancer joy, or this death joy, or this divorce, or this loss of job’ and so forth. You get the picture.

But as I have studied this, I have asked the question, ‘What is the IT of this verse?’ Could it be that the IT is not in reference to the trial, but rather in reference to that which we are to consider – all joy? Could it be that the IT is the Good News delivered by the angels to the shepherds who were watching over their fields at night? The angels appeared to the shepherds and said, “…Behold, I bring you tidings of GOOD NEWS of great joy which will be to all people.” Luke 2:10. Could it be that the IT is the same GOOD NEWS described in Isaiah 61:1 – the good news of Jesus Christ?

If that is the case, it changes how we would think when in the midst of trials. Count it all joy is only one phrase of the sentence. The word ‘count’ in the Greek means to consider, think about, rule over, to command, to have authority over – to be a leader. What this is telling us is that we have authority over the choices we make in our thought process.

This phrase is joined to the rest of the sentence by the word ‘when’ meaning that we will have trials. This is saying, not if you have trials, but when you have trials you have the authority over your mind to choose to think about the joy that is the Good News of Jesus, or to focus on the difficulty.

Joy is a gladness of heart and calm delight, but ALL joy is everything of anything that ever was given to those who believe in and trust the Lord Jesus Christ. Christmas is the celebration of the time in history when He came to earth as a newborn baby to live among the human race to save us all from our sin.

When trials come your way, think about the joy of knowing Jesus and claim the promises of God for all joy in the midst of the difficulty. In doing so, there is peace. The birth of this baby changed everything for you and me. Fix your eyes and thoughts on Jesus this holiday season.

Merry Christmas!

Journey of Faith

Conviction – what does that mean? I was too embarrassed to tell her I had no idea what she was talking about. But that is where my journey of faith began. I was 29 years old.

Sit With Me in the Rain

“Let us strive to know the Lord. His appearance is as sure as the dawn. He will come to us like the rain, like the spring showers that water the land.” HCSB

We have a promise from God that as we strive to know Him better, His presence in our lives is a sure thing. And by His presence, He will teach us in a way that we flourish and grow. We have His promise that He will stimulate growth in us as we open our hearts and minds allowing Him to make conditions right for learning.

Many years ago, I went with friends to a retreat in Colorado that was held on a ranch. The theme was “Loving Jesus”. On the last day, the speaker challenged us to take our Bible outside, find a place of solitude and listen for the Lord to speak through His word. Being a ‘girly girl’ back then, I didn’t want to get my hair messed up or my clothes dirty so I looked and looked for just the right spot. Finally I saw a slab of concrete and prepared to open my Bible. But just about the time I was settled, it began to rain. Oh my goodness, you can’t believe the grumbling and complaining coming out of my mouth and God heard every word. As I gathered my things to go back inside, the Lord spoke through a still small voice as if He were standing right there in front of me. He said, ‘Virginia, don’t you love me enough to sit with me in the rain for a moment.’ Whew! My knees gave way and I immediately sat again knowing I had heard a word from the Lord.

The funny thing is that as soon as I opened my Bible again, the rain stopped! But funnier still is that the passage I opened to was Hosea 6:3. As I look back on that occasion, I realize that God was testing my love and obedience to Him.  He wanted me to recognize that my priorities were messed up; that I was more concerned about my appearance, my hair and clothes than I was spending time in solitude with Him. God wanted to stimulate spiritual growth and maturity in me. Even though it has been at least 20 years since then, I remember it as if it were yesterday. God wants us to love Him enough to sit with Him in the rain if that’s what it takes to get our attention so we can listen, learn and grow.

God got my attention that day. In James 4:8, it tells us that when we draw near to God, He will draw near to us. That is what He did for me that day, and that is what He will do for you. If you hear what God teaches through His word, if you come to Him and acknowledge who He is in your life; you will find His assurance. That assurance is this:

  • The more we listen, the more we grow…
  • The more we grow, the closer we become to God.
  • The closer we become to God, the more we are assured of His love and faithfulness.

Studying the Bible is about new life. It is about growth and relationship. If you want to be able to trust God more, to experience His strength, to have greater confidence; you need to read His word. You need to listen and ask ‘how does this apply to me’. Pay attention to what it says and then act upon it.

Perspective

Putting Things in Perspective

“…should I not have compassion on Nineveh?”

Jonah 4:11

This is an excerpt from “Facing Fears, Quenching Flames”, a devotional book on overcoming fear and anger. Available on amazon.com and christianbooks.com.book

 

 

Scripture Reading: Jonah 4:1-11

“Do you have good reason to be angry?” Jonah was so angry that he wanted to die. But what God recognized in him was an outburst of anger for a surface issue that covered a deeper problem. The surface issue was a plant that had died. The real issue was Jonah’s attitude toward God over circumstances that he could not control. He was still angry that God showed mercy instead of judgment for Nineveh, but the anger he expressed was related to taking away his comfort. His attitude was so resentful and despondent that he no longer wanted to live. But what purpose does it serve to be angry at God? I think we learn from Jonah’s example that it serves no purpose other than to make us miserable.

There was a pattern of behavior in the life of Jonah that God was trying to get him to acknowledge and change. His attitude led him to a place of despair and self-pity. Jonah was trying to control God and His actions, so the results would be the way he thought they should be, rather than according to God’s character of mercy and compassion. God’s point to Jonah was the value of life. He pointed out that Jonah was angry over the death of one insignificant plant, but God was concerned with the lives of 120,000 people.

This story is a picture of how anger distorts our thinking until we have unrealistic expectations of others and of God. When those expectations are not met, emotions plunge to despair. As difficult as it may be for us, God wants us to put things in perspective. Whatever it is that has caused our anger, we may never know the why or the circumstance which caused it. And so, in order to survive this frame of mind, there are several things to do that help in getting our emotions to a place of healing.

  •   Acknowledge that God is wiser and more powerful that you are – Isaiah 40:21-27
  •   Identify the root of the anger before you become bitter – Hebrews 12:15
  •   Give your emotions and circumstances to God – Psalm 55:22, Psalm 69:19
  •   Be forgiving and merciful – Ephesians 4:32
  •   Re-join the land of the living – Matthew 22:32, 37
  •   Hold every thought captive to the obedience of Christ – 2 Corinthians 10:5

This book of the Bible ends in a very strange way. It just simply stops with God’s question to Jonah. Perhaps God wants us to consider this as food for thought. Perhaps He wants us to remember this question and the point that people are more important than our personal comfort and damaged pride.

And so, what we learn from this book of the Bible is that God is Sovereign, He is the God of salvation and He is compassionate. We can trust Him to do what is best even when it is not what we expected or wanted.

Today’s Prayer: Lord, Your wisdom and power are greater than anything my mind can comprehend. Please forgive my anger and take control of my emotions that I may be forgiving and merciful as You have been to me. Amen.

 

Can I Be Worry-Free? (Part 1)

Reference Text: Matthew 6:24-33

As women, we worry about our bodies. We’re too tall, too short, too big, too small, too old, too young; or our health, obsessed with our weight, diet, exercise, and so on and so on. What is at the root of all that worry? It is what we look like to others. What others think about us.

Yes, we need to be concerned about our bodies for the sake of our health. But to be obsessed with our body for our looks is to put undue anxiety and worry into our minds that distract our focus away from what the real concern is for our bodies. And that is to understand that our bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit of God who is in us, and are therefore to be treated as such. It is not how we look on the outside that is most important. It is what we look like on the inside that matters to God. Jesus said “do not worry about your body”. Don’t become fixated on the constant physical improvements to your body. But be concerned with healthy choices for the body that replenish and refresh the spirit.

Paul said in Romans 12:1 that we are to offer our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – “this is your spiritual act of worship”. Wow! How did I not catch this before? We are to bring our bodies before the Lord, giving ourselves to Him saying something like, “Lord, I am giving my all to you.” To truly worship God is to say “I am yours” “My body is yours to do with as you will” I surrender all…

Jesus said “do not worry about what you will wear”. Let me just stop right there for a moment. Really! Who didn’t stand in the closet this morning and worry about what to wear today. Ok, maybe worry is a little strong. Who didn’t have to make a choice this morning about what to wear? That is a constructive concern. It moved you to make a decision. But sometimes, we can take that a little too far and the choice becomes a concern that grows into anxiety that causes panic that steals our joy. Jesus said “Your life is more important than food, the body and clothes.”

These things; money, food, physical body and clothing are temporal, they are not eternal; but life in Christ is eternal. Our life is most important, therefore we are to be concerned with our spiritual life in a way that prepares us for our eternal future rather than be so caught up on the things of this world that they weigh us down and steal the joy God intends us to experience while on this earth. If we are dwelling on a problem to the point that we are all stirred up with negative emotions all the time, that is worry and it is counterproductive to the life God wants us to live. Jesus said that you are not going to add one single hour to your life by worrying.

Please don’t misunderstand that what Jesus is saying is don’t exercise, diet or that clothing can’t be pretty. What He is saying is don’t worry about these things.

But if we are thinking about a situation in a way that moves us forward toward a solution, that is care and concern and it is productive. It is preparing, not panicking. The promise we have from Christ about all these things is that God has dressed the lilies of the field and fed the birds of the air but He cares much more for you than these. And furthermore, He knows you need food and clothing. He knows your needs! Just as He provided for the birds of the air and the lilies of the field, He will surely provide for you. The life you have in Him is more important than any of these temporal things.

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink,

or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food,

and the body more important than clothes?” Matthew 6:25 NIV