Thursday, July 19, 2018

PSALM 119:118 WEEDS


You will sustain me as you’ve promised in your word.          (Psalm 119:116)
No one or nothing can separate me from your love.               (Romans 8:38-39)
You will finish the work you have started in my life.             (Philippians 1:6)
By your Spirit and your word, I’m guided from above.           (John 16:13-15)

WEEDS

             Pulling weeds.  Sounds like an unpleasant job, right?  I enjoy pulling weeds. Why? Because I know that if I pull the few weeds that come up early in the spring, I can prevent having a yard full of weeds in the summer.  Oh yes, I use pre-emergent weed killer, and later distribute weed and feed all over the lawn and water it in well; but there are always a few weeds that escape the pre-emergent stage and are hard to kill once they are full grown.  Those are the ones that have to be pulled or dug out if I desire a flawless carpet of green, and I’ll probably have to do it all over again next year if not all of my neighbors tend their lawns.
        God is referred to as a husbandman or gardener in scripture.  He nurtures his garden, the church.  He sprinkles on the pre-emergent evil-killer, the law we are taught from our youth and the milk of the word we learn when we first come to know him.  Then he applies his weed and feed, his word preached and read that shows us the areas we need to yield to him so that desired growth occurs. Sometimes he pulls weeds.  He pulls weeds in our lives by removing things that hinder our walk with him.  He also pulls the stubborn weeds who never surrender their lives to him at all and “discards them like dross.”  He continues to work in our lives year after year to purify his garden.
        The next time you’re pulling weeds, remember to thank God for taking care of the garden of your life.  Allow him to remove the weeds of bad habits, and dangerous friendships as soon as he identifies them in your life.  Read the Bible and apply it in your life to prevent weeds before they emerge and stop the ones that are already growing.  Water it in by meditating on God’s word to you.  Thank him for weeding your garden when the influence of others leads you astray.  Thank him for continuing to work in his garden the church and specifically in that small plot of ground that is your own life. Thank God that you are firmly planted in his garden, and no weeds can ever choke you out!

Monday, July 16, 2018

LUKE 12:34 DREAM HOME



Dream Home

We invest not just our money, but our time, energy, and emotions in many things. A huge investment for many people is their home. There are so many TV shows about the ideal home, beach house, condo, or even apartment. Then there are the tiny homes that allow someone to have a place of their own right now while saving money for their future dream home.  However, how much do we invest in our forever home? No, we don’t open a savings account at the bank to save up for Heaven. But we invest in our heavenly home whenever our time, energy, emotions, or money are invested in God’s Kingdom here on earth. When our focus is on sharing the Good News of redemption through Jesus, discipling new believers, and ministering to our brothers and sisters in Christ, we are laying up treasure in Heaven. We cannot take our earthly wealth with us. In college, I was assigned a song to sing in recital lab that had the line, “You’ll have to leave it when the coffin lid’s on. You can’t take it with you, Brother Will, Brother John.” It was a good reminder to worry less about the things we have now and plan for the ultimate future. What can we take with us to Heaven? We take the people we led to a saving relationship with Jesus. We take the relationships we invested in here on earth. And each time we sacrifice here to further God’s agenda, Jesus lays up treasure for us in Heaven. Where is your heart? Are you totally focused on the here and now or are you seeking God’s will and way while you are traveling on earth and laying up treasure in your forever home? Are you anticipating eternity with great expectation because you know where your treasure is? Now that’s a dream home!

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

PSALM 119:111-112 LET ME NOT BE THE SAME



Let Me Not Be the Same

(Susie’s prayer upon returning
from Russia – 1997)

Lord, I pray that You’ll not let me 
take for granted the freedom I have 
to worship You,
To gather together with others
simply to praise Your name.
Lord, let me not be the same.
Let me be forever changed.

Help me to stand. Help me be bold.
Help me to make sure the message is told.
Help me to kneel. Help me to pray.
Help me to know the right words to say,
just what to say.
Help me live for You each day.

Lord, I pray for friends I made
in that land so far away.
Guard their freedom, Lord,
To gather together with others
simply to praise Your name,
To show that they’ll not be the same,
that they are forever changed.

Help them to stand. Help them be bold.
Help them to make sure the message is told.
Help them to kneel. Help them to pray.
Help them to know the right words to say,
just what to say.
Help them live for You each day.
Help us live for You, I pray.


       My friend Beverly told me I should pray about going with a group my pastor was taking to minister in Russia.  I told her there was no way I could afford to go, but that I would pray about it.  I prayed, “Lord, if you want me to go to Russia, make it obvious to me. Maybe you could drop the $2,500 in my lap.”  Just a few weeks later, my friend Brenda invited me to have dinner with her fiancĂ©, his mother, and another friend of ours.  After we all gathered at her home, she announced that she no longer felt that she should go on the Russia trip since she and Chuck were getting married only a month before.  She said she had been praying about what to do with the money she had set aside for that purpose; and she believed God said, “Send Susie.” As you can clearly see, I had no choice but to obey God and go to Russia.
       In Russia I met people who had followed Christ even when the wicked set a snare for them.  I found people who were willing to take their lives in their hands to continue to lead others to the Lord.  I discovered people who truly understood that God’s word is a heritage to be treasured and enjoyed.  I saw children eagerly stand in line to get a Bible. 
       I went to Russia to share the gospel with children and teenagers and to minister to the Russian people.  Because of their ministry to me, I came away from Russia more determined than ever to set my heart on “keeping your decrees to the very end.”  May I never take God’s word for granted again!

Monday, July 9, 2018

LUKE 12:15 RENOUNCE OBESESSION OVER POSSESSIONS



RENOUNCE OBSESSION OVER POSSESSIONS

Speaking to the people, Jesus continued,
“Be alert and guard your heart from greed
and always wishing for what you don’t have. For your life can never be measured
by the amount of things you possess.”
Luke 12:15 (The Passion Translation)

And He said to them, Guard yourselves
and keep free from all covetousness
(the immoderate desire for wealth,
the greedy longing to have more);
for a man’s life does not consist in
and is not derived from
possessing overflowing abundance
or that which is over and above his needs.
Luke 12:15 (Amplified Classic)

The wealthiest people I have known would not appear to be rich to the casual observer. They lived in nice but modest homes, drove new but not outlandish cars, and even shopped at the same stores I did. These people were not defined by their riches, but they were defined by their generosity toward others. Commercials on TV, billboards, and ads in magazines try to tell us that we must have the latest gadget, the grandest car, and a home worthy of the cover of a magazine. They present these things as needs when they are clearly wants. We all want to improve our lot in life, and there is nothing wrong with working to better our situation. However, obsession over possessions leads to greed and many times to dishonest gain. The most admired people in my life are content with what they have whether they are rich or poor. They are thankful God supplies their needs (food, clothing, shelter) and rejoice in sharing with those less fortunate. Do I want to be known for having the most and best toys, or do I want to be known for having an intimate relationship with my Lord that overflows into caring for others? Lord, may I learn to be content in all circumstances. May I follow the example of the Apostle Paul:

I am not saying this because I am in need. I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances. I know how to survive in tight situations, and I know how to enjoy having plenty. In fact, I have learned how to face any circumstances: fed or hungry, with or without.
Philippians 4:11-12 (VOICE)

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

PSALM 119:103 CHEW ON THIS


Chew on This


      Meditating on God’s word is like eating a Bit-o-Honey®. You don’t swallow a Bit-o-Honey® whole, nor do you suck on it. If you just suck on one, you don’t get near as much flavor as you do from chewing it.  I like to chew it slowly and make it last as long as possible. And because it sticks to my mouth and teeth, I can taste Bit-o-Honey® long after the candy is swallowed.
      When I meditate on scripture, I chew on it.  I think about all the implications of what I’ve read.  I ponder what that passage means to me personally.  I pray about how to apply it in my life and how to share what I’ve learned with others.  I may pray that scripture on behalf of a loved one, putting his or her name in place of the pronouns or pray it for myself.  I consider the ramifications of obedience or disobedience to the commands found therein.  I link the passage I’ve just read with other similar passages that God brings to mind and fit it into the “whole counsel of God.”  I savor the promises I may have found.  I pray that the things I’ve learned will stick in my mind allowing me to enjoy the sweetness of God’s word again and again.
     If you desire wisdom and understanding, meditate on God’s word.  Pray for the Lord to teach you.  Slow down, take time, and think about what you have read.  Continue to think about it throughout the day.  Talk about it with another Christian.  Use a journal to record your thoughts and come back to them from time to time.  Memorize key verses that have meaning for you so you can continue to meditate on them. 
Meditate in the car, on the treadmill, or in the shower.  Plan a “date” with God when you can take your Bible with you to a park or some other quiet place and spend time talking to God (praying) and listening to God (reading his word and being still).  Take a break from the busy pace of life and invest some time in learning how to really live.  The return on that investment will be wisdom, insight, and understanding.  As the Psalm says, God’s word is “sweeter than honey to my mouth.”  Try chewing on a bit of that honey today!

Wisdom, insight, and understanding 

are the results gained from meditation. 

God's word leads us to the right path; 

His commands demand implementation.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

LUKE 12:2 EXPOSED

EXPOSED

Luke 12:1b-3 (MSG) He said to them,
“Watch yourselves carefully so you don’t get contaminated with Pharisee yeast,
Pharisee phoniness.
You can’t keep your true self hidden forever; before long you’ll be exposed.
You can’t hide behind a religious mask forever; sooner or later the mask will slip
and your true face will be known.
You can’t whisper one thing in private
and preach the opposite in public;
the day’s coming when those whispers
will be repeated all over town.”

Jesus was speaking primarily to His own disciples, but that category includes you and me. In the previous chapter of Luke Jesus had just railed on the Pharisees and Scribes about their hypocrisy. They were supposed to be the religious leaders of the Jews, the examples to follow; but Jesus warned His disciples not to follow their example. Imagine if Jesus came today to say not to follow your preachers and teachers. Come to think of it, He might say just that about some of them. However, we are all supposed to be imitators of Jesus, exemplifying His love and grace. Therefore, we cannot point our fingers at televangelists with whom we disagree.  Note that we are not to be known for our holier than thou nitpicky adherence to every tradition or even every rule. When our focus, our inward motivation, is the two greatest commandments, people will see Jesus in us. What are those commandments?

Matthew 22:37-39 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

A person might be good at fooling people with a bright smile and pleasant words, but no one can fool God. One can observe laws and traditions, but inwardly be nasty. People think they can get away with saying one thing to your face and another behind your back. However, Jesus reminds us that God knows and sees all and eventually will reveal all to others. This was not a new concept:

Numbers 32:23b . . . ye have sinned against the Lord: and be sure your sin will find you out.

Remember when you were little and your mother always seemed to know when you had done something wrong even when no sibling had tattled? She seemed to have eyes in the back of her head and ears that could hear three rooms away. We can be sure that God’s eyes and ears are keener than Mom’s. He knows not only our actions but our inner motivations. It’s better to do a heart check on yourself now than to have all exposed by God later. This verse may help you decide to examine yourself:

Hebrews 4:13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

PSALM 119:90 FAITHFUL


Faithful

You are faithful every moment
of every hour of every single day.
And you are near me, right beside me,
never leaving; you will never stray.
For your love is perfect. Your love is true.
No one else could ever love me the way that you do!

So I will trust you, true submission,
complete surrender; I give to you my all.
Lead me; guide me.  Show me how
I best can serve you. I’m listening for your call.
For your love is perfect.  Your love is true.
No one else could ever love me the way that you do!


       I had been asked to be one of the worship leaders for a singles’ retreat with the theme “Complete in Christ.”   Of course, God’s timing is perfect; but I was inclined to question the wisdom of having someone who was pining to be married pursue this theme.  However, Father always knows best. 
       I sat at my computer praying over what songs to prepare.  I asked the Lord to help me understand my completeness in him.  Actually, my exact words were, “Okay, Lord, show me how you are better than a husband.”  It may not have been the most spiritual sounding prayer, but he answered.  When I had finished praying and waiting quietly for him, I began typing the lyrics above.  When I finished typing, I picked up my guitar; and the Lord enabled me to compose a melody to fit the lyric within a few minutes.
       Human companions (spouses, parents, children, friends) will fail at times.  Often unintentionally they may betray our faith in them.  God’s love and faithfulness will never fail. He’ll never walk out when the going gets tough.  In fact, he’ll stick close by my side at the times when I am the most difficult to love. He is faithful.
       The Lord blesses us with friends and family, and we need to be thankful for them.  If he chooses to bring a husband into my life, I pray that it will be because we can serve him more effectively as a couple than each of us can on our own.  However, I also pray that whether single or married, I will never lose sight of the fact that I am complete in Christ.  He is faithful to provide all I need and to align my desires with his in order to fulfill them.  “I have seen that everything [human] has its limits and end, [no matter how extensive, noble and excellent] but Your commandment is exceedingly broad and extends without limits [into eternity].” (Psalm 119:96 AMP)

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

LUKE 11:42 NEVER NEGLECT JUSTICE AND LOVE


NEVER NEGLECT JUSTICE AND LOVE
By Susan Slade, PJM

Luke 11:42 (ESV) “But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and every herb,
and neglect justice and the love of God.
These you ought to have done,
without neglecting the others.

What did Jesus describe as more important than meticulously following the law and traditions? What are the most essential elements of following the Lord? Jesus emphasized “justice and the love of God.” The Prophet Jeremiah quotes Father God as describing Himself as embodying these attributes.

Jeremiah 9:23-24 (ESV) Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me,
that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.”

To exemplify the qualities of love, justice, and righteousness is to emulate the character of God. Justice and love being practiced by His children is what truly brings God great pleasure and brings glory to His Holy name. Jesus did not say that people would know we belong to Him by our attention to the details of the Law. He said, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35 KJV).

Justice and Love – If you belong to Jesus, you are already filled with His Holy Spirit and are capable of showing justice and love. Are you diligent to exemplify these Christlike qualities as you go about your day to day business? Are there ways you can improve in loving God and loving others? Think of some specific ways to show love to others this week, write them down, and do them!


Wednesday, June 20, 2018

PSALM 119:81 HOPE IN THE WORD


I long for the day of your return.
        I have put my hope in your word.
Your precepts I will not spurn.
        I have put my hope in your word.
Though at times I feel drained and dry,
        I have put my hope in your word.
When I can’t seem to see you and cry,
        I have put my hope in your word.
When it seems the bad guys prevail,
        I have put my hope in your word.
I know your commands will not fail,
        I have put my hope in your word.




            “For I have become like a bottle [a wineskin blackened and shriveled] in the smoke [in which it hangs], yet do I not forget Your statutes.” (Psalm 119:83 AMP)   Have you ever felt spiritually dry, shriveled, lifeless?  Have you ever been mentally fried?  Emotionally drained? Physically exhausted?  Those are the conditions I picture when I think of the wineskin in the smoke. 

        At those times, it requires an extreme effort to remember God’s word and continue to pursue it.  But it is especially true at those times that we need God’s word to sustain us and give us hope.  Remember the old hymn Standing on the Promises? If you have a hymnal, look it up and sing the whole thing; but camp on verse two:

                Standing on the promises that cannot fail,
                When the howling storms of doubt and fear assail,
                But the living word of God I shall prevail,
                Standing on the promises of God.

        We can count on God’s promises.  He promises never to leave us or forsake us, so we can rely on the fact that he is with us in any trial whether we “feel” him or not.  He promises to be faithful even when we are not. We can trust that his love will endure.  It’s hard to stand on his promises if you don’t know what they are.  Continue studying and memorizing scripture; and you will have solid ground on which to stand even on those days when, as my mother says, “Your get up and go has done got up and went.” Hope in God’s word!

Monday, June 18, 2018

LUKE 11:28 TRUST AND OBEY


TRUST AND OBEY

Luke 11:28 (AMP) But He said,
“On the contrary, blessed
(happy, favored by God)
are those who hear the word of God
and continually observe it.”

Luke 11:28 (AMPC)    But He said,
 Blessed (happy and to be envied)
rather are those who hear the Word of God
and obey and practice it!

A woman in the crowd had just shouted out how blessed the mother who bore and nursed Jesus must be. Jesus did not discount that Mary was blessed, but He explained that the greatest blessing comes to those who not only hear God’s message but obey it. You may be saying, “Wait! I thought we were saved by grace apart from works!” Yes, Ephesians 2:8-9 is true. Our salvation is not dependent upon our ability to earn or deserve it. However, the next verse is true as well: “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10 KJV). Our obedience does not save us or keep us saved. However, it is the path to true contentment and the evidence of the change God has made in our lives. If your children disobey, you still love them. However, you may need to discipline them; and there may be tension. When they are obeying the rules of your house, life is much smoother for them. We are God’s children if we have trusted in Jesus. When we are disobedient to our Father, there is tension until we confess and ask His forgiveness. The old hymn says, “Trust and obey for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus.” Note it does NOT say obedience is the way to salvation, but the way to happiness. Are you walking in obedience or in the frustration of tension between you and your heavenly Father? If there is tension, there is a remedy found in God’s word.