Wednesday, April 18, 2018

PSALM 119:11 TREASURED WORDS - BON APPETITE!

Treasured Words

Thy word is a treasure, riches stored there for me;
And hidden in my heart so I’ll not sin against thee.
Lord, teach me thy ways, put thy laws on my lips.
Keep my way pure, let me stand and not trip.
When I meditate on thy word, thou givest light
And leadeth down the path of my heart’s delight.
O Lord, let me never thy word neglect.
Fill me with truth till thy light I reflect.


Bon Appetite!

        I love dessert!  Whether it’s a chocolate fudge brownie and a dip of vanilla ice cream smothered with hot fudge and caramel sauces or my favorite cheesecake buried beneath fresh sweet strawberries, I look forward to a good dessert. I try to resist indulging in them because my figure already advertises the fact that I love dessert.  However, as tasty as they may be, dessert items are not the healthiest choice on the restaurant menu.
        Sometimes I find myself treating God’s word like dessert.  It’s that extra, added benefit at the end of an otherwise average day like dessert is the sweet treat at the end of a meal.  After all, doesn’t Psalm 34:8 tell us to “Taste and see that the Lord is good?”  I love to taste God’s word.  I can taste God’s word by reading the scripture verse at the end of an entertaining, one page devotional.  That’s like eating dessert.  Dessert is often thought of as “comfort food” used to soothe the rough edges off a bad day.  I can draw comfort from familiar verses and passages of God’s word.
        However, just as I cannot live a healthy life physically by eating only sweets, I cannot live a healthy life spiritually by just occasionally reading the parts of God’s word that give me a warm feeling.  Sometimes, like eating an appetizer, I’ll read an excerpt from the Word that should whet my appetite for more; but I have a tendency to stop after the mozzarella sticks and not go on to the main course. God’s word is compared to bread (Matt. 4:4) which was a staple food of the Jewish culture.  The Word should be my mainstay and not just an afterthought or a starter. 
        God’s word cannot be merely dessert added as an afterthought or an occasional pleasant flavor.  Yes, I enjoy tasting God’s word, but a dessert portion of it will not sustain my spiritual energy during times of temptation and trial.  I must move to the place where I can say as Job did, “I have esteemed and treasured up the words of His mouth more than my necessary food” (Job 23:12 Amplified Version, italics mine).  I must eat a balanced diet of all the food groups in order to be physically healthy, and I must eat a balanced diet of God’s word in order to be spiritually healthy.  I challenge you to do the same.  Dine on the meat of God’s word while still enjoying an interesting appetizer or a delicious dessert.  I’m hoping this will be your appetizer to a scrumptious Scripture meal. Bon appetite!

Monday, April 16, 2018

LUKE 9:23-24 FOLLOW JESUS: The Way is Narrow and Hard, but the Burden is Light


FOLLOW JESUS
The Way is Narrow and Hard
But the Burden is Light
By Susie Hale

When I was a child, I remember singing “Jesus Loves Me” and “Jesus Loves the Little Children”, but I also grew up with songs like “Follow Me” by Ira Stanphill. You can listen to it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RN8UW_C_sgA. The following is the second verse:

“I work so hard for Jesus” I often boast and say,
“I’ve sacrificed a lot of things to walk the narrow way,
I gave up fame and fortune; I’m worth a lot to thee,”
And then I heard Him gently say to me,
“I left the throne of glory and counted it but loss,
My hands were nailed in anger upon a cruel cross,
But now we’ll make the journey
with your hand safe in mine,
So lift your cross and follow close to me.”

Today, I hear mostly music about all Jesus can do for us and preaching about the prosperity and health He wants us to have. Yes, following Jesus brings tremendous blessings; but it is not the easy road. In fact, the path we are to travel with Jesus is narrow, difficult, and sometimes exhausting:

Matthew 7:13-14 (CJB) Go in through the narrow gate; for the gate that leads to destruction is wide and the road broad, and many travel it; but it is a narrow gate and a hard road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

Jesus calls us to a life of “a peace that is beyond any and all of our human understanding” (Philippians 4:7 Voice). However, it is also a life of completely submitting my will to that of God the Father. Blessing is found in obedience. True fulfillment is found in knowing and applying the word of God found in the Bible:

Psalm 119:14 (CJB) I rejoice in the way of your instruction more than in any kind of wealth.

Surrender your life afresh and anew to the Lord’s will today. Take up your cross and follow Him with confidence in His promise found at Matthew 11:30, “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” How can the way be hard and light at the same time? Jesus is on the other side of the yoke carrying the bulk of the burden. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

PSALM 119:1-3 WALK THIS WAY




Walking According to the Law of the Lord

Lord, teach me what it means to walk according to your law
That my way may be found blameless and my life be blessed.
Help me to seek you daily with all of my heart
Remaining steadfast and passing every test.
The things that I learn from your word may I obey;
May I praise you from an obedient heart and in your presence rest.


“Blessed are they whose ways are blameless,
who walk according to the law of the Lord.
Blessed are they who keep his statutes
and seek him with all their heart.
They do nothing wrong; they walk in his ways.
You have laid down precepts that are to be fully obeyed.
Oh, that my ways were steadfast in obeying your decrees!
Then I would not be put to shame
when I consider all your commands.
I will praise you with an upright heart
as I learn your righteous laws.
I will obey your decrees; do not utterly forsake me.”
Psalm 119:1-8

Walk This Way

        How many times have you seen it…the guide (hotel clerk, detective, etc.) says, “Walk this way,” and the unsuspecting second character proceeds to imitate some idiotic walk.  We always laugh because, of course, we knew the guide meant “walk in this direction.”
        When the Bible tells us to walk in the way of the Lord or to walk in the Spirit, it means not only in the same direction but also in imitation of.  You may well ask, “How do we walk this way?”  Scripture tells us and the life of Christ demonstrates how to walk.
        Psalm 119 is the chapter I call “God’s Word on God’s Word” because almost every verse contains a synonym for Scripture.  It begins by saying that when we walk according to what we read in God’s word, we are blessed, happy.  Obedience to God’s decrees brings happiness; disobedience brings separation from the Lord. Thus, learning what God has instructed us to do and then doing it, is walking according to the law of the Lord. 
        The New Testament confirms this truth: “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.  But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it – he will be blessed in what he does” (James 1:22-25).  Studying the life of Christ in the Gospels and the lives of the disciples in Acts gives us a picture of how to walk.
        As you study God’s word be careful to do the things you learn.  Follow the instructions God gives you for living an upright life.  Pray that the Holy Spirit will empower you to obey and imitate the Lord. Remember to praise the Lord for the strength he gives and to thank him for the presence of his Holy Spirit in your life. Continually strive to “walk this way.”

Monday, April 9, 2018

LUKE 9:17 LEFTOVERS

LEFTOVERS

Everyone eats. Everyone is satisfied. Nobody goes away hungry. In fact,
when the disciples recover the leftovers, they have 12 baskets full of broken pieces.
Luke 9:17 (VOICE)

Those of us who attend Baptist churches are veterans of many potluck dinners. Sometimes the meat is furnished, but many times it is a true potluck where everyone brings something and hopes others bring something else. I’ve been at potlucks that would have been enjoyed by vegetarians because there were absolutely no meat dishes. Other times, we might as well have called it dessert deluxe because everyone likes to show off their baking skills. On this particular day, the crowd did not even come prepared for a potluck dinner. Apparently the only one who had anything to share was a boy with five loaves of bread and two fish. I’ve been to a few skimpy potlucks over the years, but most of the time there is plenty. What these people and even Jesus’s closest twelve followers did not realize is that the provisions are never scant when Jesus is in charge of the potluck. He blessed those loaves and fish, and his disciples proceeded to distribute supper to 5,000 men and their families! Not only did the boy’s meager contribution stretch to feed the entire crowd, but there were twelve basketfuls left over. It is probably no coincidence that each doubting disciple would be left holding an entire basketful of food! The Bible does not tell us what was done with the leftovers, but in the Jewish culture it was not acceptable to toss out good food. Therefore, I am sure they ate the bread the next day or gave it away to local people in need. Are you in need of miraculous provision physically, spiritually, or emotionally? Jesus will never barely meet your need. He will always exceed your expectations and entrust you with the responsibility of using the leftovers wisely. Trust the Lord with the little you have and watch Him multiply it to completely satisfy you with enough left over to share!

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

PSALM 119 - GOD'S WORD ON GOD'S WORD

God’s Word on God’s Word
Psalm 119

I am to walk according to the law of the Lord,
Living in obedience to God’s holy word.
By following His commands, I keep my way pure.
As I treasure His word, my faith will endure.
I meditate on God’s decrees. He opens my eyes.
His statutes will counsel me and be my delight.
When weary with sorrow, in His word I am strong:
I run in the path of His commands all day long.
I focus on Scripture instead of worthless pursuits,
His precepts produce righteousness as fruit.
As I meditate on our Lord’s decrees,
I find that His precepts are the truth that frees.
God’s decrees will be the theme of my song,
His promises preserve me all my life long.
The Lord is my portion, nothing more do I need.
I live in His love and desire to know His decrees.
God’s law is more precious than silver or gold.
I will obey with all my heart, to Him I will hold.
God made my mind, enabled me to learn.
When I am in need of comfort, to His word I turn.
Through persecution and trials, I hope in His word.
God’s promises are the most trustworthy heard.
His faithfulness continues through all generations.
God established the earth and all of its nations.
I savor the scriptures; like honey they are sweet.
They provide understand for each new path I meet.
Knowledge of God’s word, changed my direction,
I continue to be guided by daily reflection.
The wicked, the Lord will discard like dross;
But my hope is in His word and I will not be lost.
I love God’s commands more than purest gold.
I hate every wrong path, the sin that’s so bold.
Streams of tears flow, for God’s law is not obeyed.
Redeem me from oppression of men, Lord, I pray.
I meditate on Your promises in the middle of the night,
And my hope is in You, Lord, before the dawn’s light.
I am confident God preserves my life in His love
Until the time that He calls me to join Him above.
I have great peace and by Your grace, will not stumble.
You know all about me. Therefore, I am humble.
I will sing of God’s words which are my delight.
I will praise the Lord forever, my Life and my Light.

Monday, April 2, 2018

LUKE 8:43-44 HEALING IN HIS WINGS

HEALING IN HIS WINGS
By the Roving Reporter

Galilee: You may have read the headlines about the daughter of Jairus being raised from the dead. Many witnesses testified that the twelve-year-old girl had died while her dad was out finding Jesus to come and heal her. However, after Jesus and three of His faithful followers entered the house, the little girl miraculously came back to life. This was an exciting turn of events—Jesus raised someone from the dead! However, another miracle occurred while the Rabbi was on His way to Jairus’s house, and I have the exclusive interview with the recipient of His healing power.

Roving Reporter: Tell me a little bit about the affliction that drove you to seek out Jesus of Nazareth.

Woman: This is a little bit embarrassing, but if it brings glory to the Rabbi and helps others to see the truth about Him, I will gladly share my story.

RR: Why embarrassing?

W: My infirmity made me unclean because I had an issue of blood. I had exhausted my financial resources and suffered every kind of treatment at the hands of many physicians. I was worn to a frazzle.

RR: How long had this been going on?

W: I had been bleeding for twelve long years.

RR: Amazing! Describe your encounter with the Healer.

W: I had heard many accounts of the healing power of Jesus of Nazareth. Therefore, when I heard He was on the way to the house of Jairus, I seized the opportunity to see Him. There was a sizable crowd preventing me from approaching Him. Besides, if anyone recognized me, they would have told Him to stay away because I was unclean.

RR: How did you overcome that obstacle?

W: I remembered that one of the Prophets foretold that the Messiah would have “healing in his wings.”

RR: His wings?

W: That is a euphemism for the fringe at the hem of a man’s garment that reminds him of the law. We Jews call it the “tzitzit.”

RR: So, what did you do next?

Woman: I crept up behind Jesus trying not to be observed. I believed Him to be the Messiah, and I thought to myself, “If I can only touch His wings, I will be healed.” I held my breath and reached up to touch the fringe.

RR: Describe what happened next.

W: I felt power surge through my body and knew in my heart that I was completely healed! However, I had not escaped the Rabbi’s notice. He asked, “Who touched me?”  Even though His disciples pointed out that everyone was touching Him, I knew I had to confess. He said He had felt the power go out from Him.

RR: Was Jesus angry that you had touched His clothing while you were unclean?

W: Not at all! He turned to me and said, “Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace.” The Master called me “daughter!” Rather than my affliction contaminating Him, His power decontaminated me! Jesus definitely does have healing in His wings!
RR: Thank you for granting this interview and sharing your story.

W: I plan to share the story of Jesus’s graciousness to me with everyone I meet for the rest of my life!

RR: There you have it, readers. Jesus performed a miracle on His way to perform a miracle! The stories surrounding this man just get more and more incredible!

But unto you that fear my name
shall the Sun of righteousness arise
with healing in his wings;
and ye shall go forth and grow up
as calves of the stall.
Malachi 4:2 (KJV)

Monday, March 26, 2018

JOHN 15:13 EXTRAVAGANT LOVE

Extravagant LoveBy Susan Slade

John 15:13

Greater love hath no man than this,
That a man lay down his life for his friends.

Romans 5:7-8

For scarcely for a righteous man will one die:
yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.
But God commendeth his love toward us, 
in that, while we were yet sinners, 
Christ died for us.

According to Jesus Himself, the ultimate outpouring of love is to give one’s life for one’s friends. Jesus did more than that. The cross was the focal point of HIStory. In reality, we were Jesus’ enemies, and yet He was willing to die to pay the ransom for the sin of all who would believe for all time. It is incomprehensible that He would do such a selfless act for the disciples He cherished, but He went beyond dying for His friends to die for sinners yet unborn. His love is beyond complete: it is extravagant, unfathomable, and indescribable. He endured the cross on our behalf to transform us into His precious jewels, His treasured possession. He erased our sin in order to adopt us into His forever family, that we could experience Him fully and worship Him eternally.

Have you personally experienced this extravagant outpouring of love? The same God who spoke the world into existence placed Himself into the limitation of human flesh so that He could die on behalf of all who would believe and trust in Him and His sacrificial death on the cross. However, God’s love does not end with Jesus’ death on the cross. On the third day, Jesus rose triumphantly from the dead, left the tomb, and appeared over the course of forty days to more than 500 witnesses. Jesus Christ is ALIVE! If you have not placed your heart in the nail-scarred hands of Jesus, do so today. Then not only will your eternity be secure in Heaven, but you will experience the greatest love of all. If you are already one of the Lord’s forever family treasures, remember what your redemption cost Jesus, and celebrate His love and your freedom from sin. Celebrate the fact that He has transformed you from worthlessness to being His multifaceted jewel, reflecting His image to the world.


Wednesday, March 21, 2018

LUKE 8:15 - CULTIVATING FRUIT


CULTIVATING FRUIT
Luke 8:15

MSG    “But the seed in the good earth—these are the good-hearts who seize the Word and hold on no matter what, sticking with it until there’s a harvest.

TPT  “The seed that fell into good, fertile soil represents those lovers of truth who hear it deep within their hearts. They respond by clinging to the word, keeping it dear as they endure all things in faith. This is the seed that will one day bear much fruit in their lives.”

VOICE “But some people hear the message and let it take root deeply in receptive hearts made fertile by honesty and goodness. With patient dependability, they bear good fruit.”

James 1:2-4 (NIV) Consider it pure joy,
my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that
the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 
Let perseverance finish its work so that
you may be mature and complete,
not lacking anything.

James 5:7 (NIV) Be patient, then,
brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains.

The soil that yields a significant crop is the person whose heart has been tilled and cultivated by the Holy Spirit. When that person hears the word of God, she not only responds enthusiastically at the time but perseveres, sticks with the commitment made to the Lord. A farmer plants the seed and then must wait for the harvest. I had a small garden outside my classroom. One year, my second graders planted radish and carrot seeds in late February. The twenty-one days or so that it took for the radishes to be ready to eat seemed like an eternity to seven and eight-year-olds. They patiently took turns taking out the watering can to keep the soil from drying out, and a few minutes of recess time were devoted to checking for weeds. Harvest day was joyous as they tasted the fruit of their labor. A few of them spit it back out but were still thrilled that they had grown their own radish. Our growth with the Lord requires daily attention as well. We must not lose faith or patience with the process of cultivating spiritual maturity during the times of trial. We must be faithful to drink up the water of God’s word. We need the sunlight of encouragement from other believers. We need to keep the soil loose by obedience to what God has shown us. The reward will be to grow in Christlikeness displaying the Fruit of the Spirit:

Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

As we mature in our relationship with Jesus, we will bear fruit in the form of others surrendering their lives to Him as we share the Gospel. The children were a bit upset about the carrots. I was only able to pull a scrawny beginning of a carrot to show them before the end of the school year. I continued to water and weed our carrot bed and harvested them in June. We must not get frustrated and lose patience when our sharing does not seem to produce an immediate crop. We must also remember that sometimes we plant, others water, and yet someone else reaps the crop. But, ultimately, God is the Lord of the harvest:

1 Corinthians 3:5-9 What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. 6 I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. 7 So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. 8 The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. 9 For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.

If the soil of your heart was well cultivated, and the seed of God’s word took a firm hold there, it was the work of the Holy Spirit preparing and drawing you. In order to maximize your fruitfulness of character and in witnessing, you need to continue to draw on God’s food found in His word, the Sonlight found in the fellowship of believers, as well as the cultivation of the Holy Spirit continuing to root out the weeds in your life. 



Monday, March 19, 2018

2 CORINTHIANS 5:17 - BRAND NEW


BRAND NEW

Christ died to save us; lives to raise us;
We can be born again.
From death to life now, the Bible tells how
We can become new men.
Feel the conviction, change your direction,
Surrender your life to the Lord.
He won’t ignore you. He will restore you.
God will stand by His word.
Life is glorious: we are victorious
When we live in His light.
He will guide us, stay right beside us
As against Satan we fight.
Sin can’t conquer us; in the Lord we trust.
Christ will always come through.
If we confess to Him, then we rest in Him,
We can start out brand new.