- Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
- How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living accord to Your word.
- I have hidden Your word in my heart that I might not sin against You.
- The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.
- Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.
- It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.
- The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul.
- The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.
- All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
- Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.
I posted this in 2018 but today I celebrate 68 years of walking with my Savior, my best friend.
Life has had its ups and downs, but one thing has remained true. Jesus has been faithful to me through it all.
- He was there when my father left my mother and I when I was fourteen. “When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up.” Psalm 27:10
- He was there when my husband was killed in an accident leaving me with two little girls to raise. “I will be with you always.” Matthew 28:20
- He was there when the doctor told me “The odds are not in your favor” and gave me little hope of surviving more than a few more years. “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil for you are with me.” Psalm 23
- He is here as I began to age and face pain of arthritis and all the other issues of the aging. “The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, “The Lord is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.”
In 74 years of life, I have made a lot of decisions, some good, some bad. But that decision as a six-year-old was the best one I ever made and one I have never regretted.
Recently I posted about my visit to the Wesley Garden on St. Simon’s Island.
Looking at that visit, I was reminded of the list John Wesley created for the group of people who were gathering each week to pray and encourage one another in their walk with God.
He had a list of questions they would use in their gatherings to help them in their Christian commitment. These are good questions for us to also consider today.
Questions to Ask:
- Am I consciously or unconsciously creating the impression that I am better than I really am?
- Am I honest in all my acts and words, or do I exaggerate?
- Do I confidentially pass on to another what was told to me in confidence?
- Can I be trusted?
- Did any of my words or actions this week cause someone harm?
- Am I a slave to dress, friends, work, or habits?
- Am I self-conscious, self-pitying, or self-justifying?
- Did the Bible live in me today?
- Do I give it time to speak to me every day?
- Am I enjoying prayer?
- When did I last speak to someone else about my faith?
- Do I pray about the money I spend?
- Do I get to bed on time and get up on time?
- Do I disobey God in anything?
- Do I insist upon doing something about which my conscience is uneasy?
- Am I defeated in any part of my life?
- Am I jealous, impure, critical, irritable, touchy, or distrustful?
- How do I spend my spare time?
- Am I proud?
- Do I thank God that I am not as other people, like the Pharisees who despised the publican?
- Is there anyone whom I fear, dislike, disown, criticize, hold a resentment toward or disregard? If so, what am I doing about it?
- Do I grumble or complain constantly?
- Is Christ real to me?
The Christian religion puts a lot of emphasis on the blood of Jesus. Depending on what church you go to, you are asked to remember the death of Jesus by taking communion daily, weekly, monthly. Again, depending on what church you go to, you will told that this wine actually becomes the blood of Jesus – or is just a representation of the blood of Jesus.
Growing up in my church we often sang songs about the blood of Jesus.
What can wash away my sins, nothing but the blood of Jesus.
There is power in the blood of Jesus.
Oh the blood of Jesus, oh the blood of Jesus, oh the blood of Jesus. It washes white as snow.
To be honest as a child I wondered how blood could make something white as snow. In our culture, we see blood as a stain. If we cut our finger and get blood on our clothes we immediately try to wash it out before it leaves a stain.
The Old Testament is full of the concept of using blood to cleanse. All the animal sacrifices were said to cover the people’s sins. Blood was to be sprinkled on a person with leprosy and on homes with mildew or mold. It was sprinkled on the priests as they began their ministry in the Temple.
The New Testament speaks often of the blood of Jesus making us clean and in the last book of the Bible we are told
they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
While I never understood how blood makes something white, I did believe that the death of Jesus somehow cleansed me from sin.
Recently I read a wonderful book called “In His Image.” The book is co-authored by two doctors who worked in India, one of them with the leprosy colony. Their description of the function of blood in our body is amazing.
When the writers of the Bible referred to the cleansing properties of blood, they had no knowledge of our body and how blood serves us. But, of course, God did.
Modern medical science has shown how using blood as a symbol of cleansing is so accurate when seen in our body.
The writers of the book suggest if you want to see the power of blood as a cleaning agent to put a blood pressure cuff on your arm, pump it up until it is as tight as possible and wait. After a few minutes of being uncomfortable, try to pick up a pencil or cut a piece of paper. They note that after a few minutes you not only will not be able to do those tasks, you will be in terrible pain. When you release the cuff and the blood comes rushing back in, you will find relief from the pain and you can function again.
The pain, they say, comes because you forced your muscles to keep working without any blood supply. As our muscles work, they produce waste products that are flushed away by the blood. When the blood was not allowed to flow through your arm, these waste products began to build up and you had pain from the toxins not removed by the blood.
The authors describe how our blood circulates through our body carrying toxins to our liver and kidneys to be removed and to our lungs so we can exhale the carbon dioxide and rid our body of this poison.
This example of how blood cleanses our body from toxins, is a great example of how the blood of Jesus does “wash us white as snow.” As we accept the forgiveness of Jesus, his sacrifice on Calvary cleanse us from the waste products we call sin. These sins are to our spirit like toxins to our body. If we do not get rid of them we will be poisoned spiritually just as our body would be if blood stopped flowing through our system.
The writers say:
Too often we tend to view sin as a private list of grievances that happen to irk God the Father, and in the Old Testament He seems easily irritated. But even a casual reading of the Old Testament shows that sin is a blockage, a paralyzing toxin that restricts our realization f our full humanity….Pride, egotism, lust and covetousness are simply poisons that interfere with our relationship to God and other people. Sin results in separation from God, other people, and our true selves.
I would encourage you to get this book “In His Image” by Dr. Paul Brand and Philip Yancey. They share more insights into how marvelous our body is and how it points to the image of God.
In our devotions today my husband and I read about a king in Judah who began his reign following two very corrupt kings who had set up idols to pagan gods in the Temple and one had even sacrificed his son to Baal.
This godly king, Josiah, began his reign by ordering the priests and Levites to remove all the pagan idols from the Temple and began cleaning up the clutter that was there and to restore proper worship.
As the workers cleaned up the Temple they discovered a scroll. Looking at the scroll they realized it was the Book of the Law that Moses had given to the Israelites when they were set free from bondage in Egypt and given the land of Canaan for their inheritance.
The priest brought the book to the attention of the king and his court secretary read it to him. As he heard the Law of Moses apparently for the first time, he tore his clothes in despair. He realized how far from this book the nation had gone.
He immediately called for the nation’s leaders to come to Jerusalem and hear the Law and made plans to celebrate the Passover which they had not done in generations.
As I thought about this discovery, I wondered how long had the Book of the Law been missing. Had no one realized it was gone? Had no one searched for it? Did this generation even know such a book existed? Did anyone care?
Fast forward to today.
I have to wonder: How long has the Word of God been neglected in our homes, our churches, our families? Our children know the super heroes – Batman, Super Woman – do they know the heroes of the Bible – Joseph, Daniel, Stephen?
Many Christians today say we have made an idol out of the Bible. That it is Jesus we need to be concerned about, not the Bible.
But I have to ask: How would I know about Jesus if not for the Bible? Without John 3:16 I would never have known that God sent His son for me. Without the Sermon on the Mount, I would never know what being a part of God’s kingdom really looks like. Without Matthew 28 I would never know that Jesus commanded us to share the good news with the entire world.
Depending on what study you look at you will find that kids today spend 3 to 5 hours watching TV or on the internet. I realize that varies from home to home and many parents do limit their children’s screen time. Still, I wonder if in our Christian homes our children spend even one hour a week in God’s Word.
Do we really know what we believe and why we believe it? Do our children know?
- The Psalmist said, “Thy word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against you.”
- Apostle Paul said, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.”
- The followers of Jesus in Berea were commended because “they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.”
- The writer of Hebrews tells us that “For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.”
- When Jesus was tempted by Satan he answered each temptation by quoting Scripture. In one instance he said, “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” Today we have many that claim to be speaking for God. To know whether or not what they say is true, we have to go back to the Word of God. That is our guide.
Do you know where your Bible is?
In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song;
this Cornerstone, this solid Ground,
firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
when fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My Comforter, my All in All,
here in the love of Christ I stand.
In Christ alone! who took on flesh
Fulness of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones he came to save:
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied –
For every sin on Him was laid;
Here in the death of Christ I live.
There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain:
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave he rose again!
And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me,
For I am His and He is mine –
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.
No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life’s first cry to final breath.
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand
(Keith Getty and Stuart Townend)
Today the church remembers the death of Jesus on the cross. As we read the story we often denigrate the Roman soldiers, the Jewish religious leaders, Pilate and even the followers of Jesus.
How could they not know that this was the Son of God we ask? How could they mock Him as He hung on the cross and died?
I recently read an article by Steve Cordle in his book A Jesus-Shaped Life which I would like to share here.
A forty-year-old white man in jeans, a long-sleeved T-shirt and a Washington Nationals baseball cap found a spot next to a garbage can near the entrance of the Washington metro station. He pulled a violin from a small case and placed the open case at his feet. As most huskers do, he threw in a few dollars as seed money and began to play.
He spent the next forty-three minutes playing immortal classics by Mozart and Schubert as a parade of people streamed by. This violinist was no ordinary street musician, however, and he didn’t need the money. His name is Joshua Bell, and he is one of the finest concert violinists in the world. The violin he was playing was a Stradivarius made in 1713 and worth over $3.5 million.
The Washington Post newspaper had arranged for him to play at the metro as an experiment in whether people would recognize greatness and beauty in unlikely places. That day, 1097 people passed by Bells concert. Seven people stopped to listen to him play. Only one person recognized him.
That same week, Bell played to capacity concert hall crowds paying at least $100 per ticket. At the subway Bell collected a total of about $32 from the twenty-seven people who stopped long enough to donate.
It is understandable that most people did not recognize Bell. Even if they were classical music buffs, no one expects to come upon a world-renowned virtuoso playing in the subway.
No one expected that God would appear on earth in the form of a servant either.
But are we any different today? How often do we go about our busy lives – doing our own thing – and take little or no time to communicate with Jesus? How often do we make decisions without even bothering to seek His direction? How often do we fail to see His mercy, His love and His grace all about us? How much of our time is devoted to our own pursuits with little time left over for Him?
As we reflect on His death so long ago, help us to not be guilty of giving Him a few moments this weekend and then go back to our own routines with little or no acknowledgment of Him.
This Sunday I had to miss church. It is the second Sunday I have missed because I have been sick. Recovering now, but I so hate to miss church. Somehow the week is just not the same when I have not been able to meet with my church family and join in praise of God and hear His word.
Many times I have heard the statement “You don’t have to go to church to be a Christian.” And the one I love is “Going to church does not make you a Christian any more than sitting in a garage makes you a car.”
While I agree with those statements and sadly realize that many people think going to church makes them a Christian without any real commitment to the Lord or any attempt to follow His word, I question why we would say that.
Of course, there are many who cannot go to church because of health issues or work issues. With the Covid-19 this past year many of us could not go to church because our churches were closed. But I have to wonder why anyone who calls themself Christian and can go to church would choose not to.
Oh I know. There are many stories of people who have been hurt by the church. Members who were judgmental, personal rejection, people who acted one way in church on Sunday and lived differently the rest of the week and the list goes on and on.
I have been hurt – badly hurt – more than once by church people.
So why do I still go to church?
- First, because I believe the church was God’s plan for spreading the Good News.
In Matthew’s gospel we are told that Jesus declared “you are Peter (which means rock) and upon this rock I will build my church.” I know different denominations disagree on exactly what that meant for Peter, but putting our differences aside, I think we can see that Jesus had plans to use men to build the church. Notice that He did not say “build the church” but rather “build my church.
However, in today’s world the definition of “church” has lost its original meaning.
Look in a dictionary and you will find “church” explained this way:
- A building for public Christian worship.
- The public worship of God or a religious service in such a building
- The whole body of Christian believers; Christendom.
- Any division of this body professing the same creed and acknowledging the same ecclesiastical authority; a Christian denomination.
But the word “church” is not actually in the original manuscripts of the Bible. The word that was used (and was translated into church) was “Ekklesia.” In the time of the Greek Empire the word was used to describe the assembly of free citizens to discuss, debate and express their thoughts on the community, the government. Many say it was the beginning of a democratic society.
This word is a compound word. “Ek” means “out of.” “Kaleo” mean “to call.” So the church is supposed to be people who have received the call of God and the outcome of their answer to that call.
Simply put, ekklesia means community.
Just before He went to the cross, Jesus prayed to the Father for this community. In that prayer He said,
I ask not only on behalf of these (that’s the disciples), but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word (that’s us), that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (John 17:20-23)
- Most of the New Testament is addressed not to an individual, but to a community of believers. Many of the Psalms talk about praising “in the congregation” or “in the sanctuary” indicating there was a place for worshipping God with others. The Revelation given to John was for the seven churches. When Jesus left His disciples His instruction was to gather together in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit came. The book of Acts shows that they were in a group praying together – in unity – when the Holy Spirit came. Later as Peter preached a powerful sermon we are told that “the Lord added daily to the church such as should be saved”. As people came to faith in Jesus Christ it followed that they were to be a part of this community of believers.
- In the Apostle Paul’s writing he referred to the church as a body. He talked about we all are a part of that body. The body is made up of many different parts – but if we remove a part from the body, that part will die. And although the body may go on living, it will not be as good as it had been before. From that illustration I understand that to remove myself from my church family has a great danger that I will spiritually begin to die. And even if I am so strong, so spiritual, have such a great knowledge of the Word of God that I would be fine without being a part of a community of believers, that is all the more reason for me to attend. The church needs me just as I need the church.
- The example of Jesus when He was on earth. Luke’s Gospel tells us that “And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day.”
- To set an example for my children and grandchildren. In our society today our youth are being hit with false ideas and dangerous teachings. While the church is not supposed to be the only place our children learn of God (in fact the Bible is clear that main responsibility belongs in the home with the parents), faithful attendance sends a message to our children. It tells them belonging to a community of believers is important.
This community of believers is far from perfect. Why? Because it is made of people just like me – and I am certainly not perfect. I fear that we view church like a consumer. “The church doesn’t meet my needs.” Sorry, but the point of being a part of a community of believers is more than having your needs met. It is to also help meet the needs of others. The New Testament is full of calls for us to minister to others. While we can do that outside of church – and we should – I think it again speaks to the idea that Jesus had when He prayed to the Father that we would be one. Here are some of those “one anothers.”
“…Be at peace with each other.” (Mark 9:50)
“…Wash one another’s feet.” (John 13:14)
“…Love one another…” (John 13:34)
“…Love one another…” (John 13:34)
“…Love one another…” (John 13:35)
“…Love one another…” (John 15:12)
“…Love one another” (John 15:17)
“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love…” (Romans 12:10)
“…Honor one another above yourselves. (Romans 12:10)
“Live in harmony with one another…” (Romans 12:16)
“…Love one another…” (Romans 13:8)
“…Stop passing judgment on one another.” (Romans 14:13)
“Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you…” (Romans 15:7)
“…Instruct one another.” (Romans 15:14)
“Greet one another with a holy kiss…” (Romans 16:16)
“…When you come together to eat, wait for each other.” (I Cor. 11:33)
“…Have equal concern for each other.” (I Corinthians 12:25)
“…Greet one another with a holy kiss.” (I Corinthians 16:20)
“Greet one another with a holy kiss.” (II Corinthians 13:12)
“…Serve one another in love.” (Galatians 5:13)
“If you keep on biting and devouring each other…you will be destroyed by each other.” (Galatians 5:15)
“Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” (Galatians 5:26)
“Carry each other’s burdens…” (Galatians 6:2)
“…Be patient, bearing with one another in love.” (Ephesians 4:2)
“Be kind and compassionate to one another…” (Ephesians 4:32)
“…Forgiving each other…” (Ephesians 4:32)
“Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.” (Ephesians 5:19)
“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Ephesians 5:21)
“…In humility consider others better than yourselves.” (Philippians
“Do not lie to each other…” (Colossians 3:9)
“Bear with each other…” (Colossians 3:13)
“…Forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.” (Colossians 3:13)
“Teach…[one another]” (Colossians 3:16)
“Admonish one another (Colossians 3:16)
“…Make your love increase and overflow for each other.” (I Thessalonians 3:12)
“…Love each other.” (I Thessalonians 4:9)
“…Encourage each other…”(I Thessalonians 4:18)
“…Encourage each other…” I Thessalonians 5:11)
“…Build each other up…” (I Thessalonians 5:11)
“Encourage one another daily…” Hebrews 3:13)
“…Spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” (Hebrews 10:24)
“…Encourage one another.” (Hebrews 10:25)
“…Do not slander one another.” (James 4:11)
“Don’t grumble against each other…” (James 5:9)
“Confess your sins to each other…” (James 5:16)
“…Pray for each other.” (James 5:16)
“…Love one another deeply, from the heart.” (I Peter 3:8)
“…Live in harmony with one another…” (I Peter 3:8)
“…Love each other deeply…” (I Peter 4:8)
“Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.” (I Peter 4:9)
“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others…” (I Peter 4:10)
“…Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another…”(I Peter 5:5)
“Greet one another with a kiss of love.” (I Peter 5:14)
“…Love one another.” (I John 3:11)
“…Love one another.” (I John 3:23)
“…Love one another.” (I John 4:7)
“…Love one another.” (I John 4:11)
“…Love one another.” (I John 4:12)
“…Love one another.” (II John 5)
Final point is this verse in Ephesians:
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
If you have been hurt by the church, do not give up on it. Find another church. We have doctors/hairdressers/restaurants that we have difficulty with. We do not stop going to a doctor, getting our hair cut, or eating out. We just move on to find another one. I am not advocating moving around from church to church like a consumer. But if you have been hurt, the answer is not to ignore the plan of Jesus as we are told that Jesus not only loved the church – but gave Himself for it.
Ephesians 3:19 – “even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.”
It is now four days since Christmas. I have my Christmas decorations all boxed up and downstairs in the storage room. Today I am dusting, vacuuming and doing whole house cleaning. Getting rid of the cookie crumbs in the carpet, the shiny tinsel that dropped from the tree ornaments as we took them off the tree. Giving my stove a good cleaning and getting rid of leftovers we did not eat
Many love to keep their Christmas decorations up until after the New Year. But I am not one of those. I love Christmas and look forward to putting up the tree and getting out my candles and angels. As soon as Thanksgiving day is over we decorate.
But to be honest, as much as I love the bright lights by the end of December I am ready to get back to more “normal.” Out goes the angels and snowmen and “Jesus is the reason for the season” and in comes the family photographs and winter decorations.
Although I know spring is still a long way off, now is when I start thinking of planting new flowers and longing for the first pop of daffodils in the spring. This year our daughter in North Carolina sent my husband some seeds from her own flower garden. We are really looking forward to having flowers from our daughter’s garden. Already thinking about where we will plant each packet of seeds.
For some there can be a little depression or feeling of loss after all the time spent shopping, decorating, baking and all the family gatherings and other Christmas events. For me, I feel a new sense of “let’s clean house and start planning for next year.”
But as the festivities of Christmas is over and we put up the decorations and move back to “normal” life, I wonder do we just as quickly put Jesus back in the box. We did our thing – we went to Christmas Eve service and sang “Silent Night.” Now we move on.
We often see signs at Christmas time that say “Keep Christ in Christmas.” I often wonder when people say that, what happens after Christmas. Should we not keep Christ in every day, every season, all the time?
As I try not to grumble about the cold and snow and look forward to planting my flower seeds in the spring, I want to keep Christ in each and every day.
Hope you do also!
I hate waiting in line at the grocery store. I hate waiting in the doctor’s office. I hate waiting on my husband who is always talking to someone wherever we go. Did you notice? I don’t like waiting.
This Sunday marks the first Sunday of what the church calls Advent. Growing up in a non-liturgical church I never really celebrated Advent as it is done in main stream churches that follow a church calendar recognizing certain festivals and reading certain portions of Scripture. Only in the past few years have I come to appreciate this observance of “waiting.”
“Advent” literally means “coming” or “arrival.” It is a Latin term which was used when translating the Bible from Greek. In the Greek the word used is “parousia.” It meant “a coming” or “presence.” In the Early Church this term quickly became associated with the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Jesus’ disciples were waiting for His return – as the Christian church still is today.
This season of Advent is a time of waiting for the coming of Jesus. We celebrate it from three different views.
First, we remember His first coming to earth in Bethlehem. What a time to remember and celebrate. That the Creator of the universe was willing to become one of us is amazing! To subject Himself to human limitations was in itself quite a sacrifice. But He not only came to be one of us – but chose to be born to a poor, simple carpenter and his wife.
This is also a time to celebrate His coming into our own life. To reflect on what his birth, death and resurrection means to us personally. In all the busyness of the season, we need to schedule some time to examine our own heart and make sure we have really made room for Him in our own heart, our own mind, our own life. To remember the real reason for the season.
Finally it is a time to remember that Jesus has promised to return again. We can get so focused on the “here and now” that we lose sight of that hope of the Christian. In today’s world when so much is chaotic it is good to remember we have hope beyond this life.
I hope you will take time this month to “wait” and reflect on the true meaning of Christmas.