Guidance For Joy In Bible Study

Psalm 1:2  “But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night.”

 
     My Thompson’s Chain Reference Bible was complied and edited by Frank Charles Thompson, D.D. PH D.  In the back is a page he wrote about the Principles of Bible study.   He writes in such a descriptive and poetic manner that I would like to share some of it with you.  It has been an encouragement to me for Bible study.  I added the Scripture verses at the end of each section.
 
A. The Spiritual Attitude is Indispensable 
     “Approach the Bible in a reverent attitude of mind, regarding it as the inspired Word of God, and not as an ordinary literary production.”
II Timothy 3:16 “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God.”
 
B. A Conscious Need is Essential
     “The Bible should be studied as eagerly as a hungry man seeks for bread.
Jeremiah 15:16  “Your words were found and I ate them, And Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart.”
 
C. First Hand Knowledge Best
     “Many Christians are satisfied to receive all their truths filtered through the mind of some teacher, minister or commentator, seldom or never going to the Book of Books for independent study.  It becomes a new era in a believer’s life when he forms the habit of going daily to the original sources of spiritual truth for his own personal nourishment.”
Acts 17:11  “For they received the Word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.”
 
D. Study the Bible as a Traveller who seeks to obtain a thorough and experimental knowledge of a new country.
     “Go over its vast fields of truth; descend into its valleys; climb its mountains of vision; follow its streams of inspiration; enter its halls of instruction; visit it’s wondrous portrait galleries.”
I Peter 2:2  “Like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow.”
 
E. Seek to Understand the Deep Things of God
     “Study The Word as a miner digs for gold, or as diver plunges into the depths of the sea for pearls.”
Isaiah 34:16  “Seek and read from the Book of the Lord.”
 
Theme: The Better Way: Reading the Bible is Good: Daily Feasting on the Word of  God and Searching the Scriptures is Better
 
     
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Preparing Your Heart For The New Year

Ezra 7:10  “For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.”

What type of person are you?  What makes you feel best about yourself?

Since sin is in our lives it’s not possible to have order in all areas of our lives all the time, but there are some things that make us feel more orderly and in control if they are complete.

Some women like a well-made bed, others prefer their floors being swept or toys picked up or the laundry folded or their desk organized or their kitchen/dishes cleaned up etc.

My “thing” is having the dishwasher emptied before I cook another meal, having some make-up on and having my hair combed.  I function better if these three things are done.

But most importantly, I function best if I start my day having spent some time alone with the Lord even if it means getting up early. Mark 1:35 “And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.”

Creation is a perfect example of God’s order.  All things are set in place to perfectly move in harmony with all other things.  Not one alignment or molecule is out of place, otherwise there would be chaos. I Corinthians 14:40 “Let all things be done decently and in order.”

Colossians 2:5 ” Though I am absent in the flesh, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ.”

Good discipline (good order), the stability of your faith in Christ are all military terms meaning a solid rank of soldiers.  Sounds like battle, right?  Colossians 2:6 “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him.” Your walk, your daily conduct, is a life patterned after Jesus Christl

It’s good to be focused, but focused on what? Getting what you want, what you think is best?  That creates a negative atmosphere. Lay aside these desires and fill yourself with the Word, so that what comes from us is the love of Christ, encouragement and support. We can’t make someone do something or think like we want them to think or act.  It has to come from the heart and only God can change the heart!

The Better Way:  Purpose and Discipline=Structure and Order=Rest and Strength and Peace in the Lord Jesus Christ

 

 

 

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A New Year, A New Purpose

Psalm 119:11 “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee.”
Psalm 119:105  “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.”
 
God’s Word is precious, and in this constantly changing fast paced world, it is encouraging to know that we do have access to something that is unchanging–the Word of God, the Holy Bible, the Scriptures, the Truth.  Malachi 3:6 “For I Am the Lord, I change not.”  God is immutable.  
Time is valuable for all of us and yet we need to take time to read God’s word and pray every day.  To do this requires that we must, like Daniel (Daniel 1:8) “purpose in our hearts” and discipline ourselves to this “purpose.” Such purpose and discipline is valuable because it gives us structure and order in our often hectic and chaotic lives and structure and order gives strength and rest. So the formula is: 
 Purpose and Discipline=Structure and Order=Strength and Rest
How do we go about finding help to read God’s Word daily?
There are many Bible Reading plans–one year, two year, three year etc. In the past, I followed a two year Read Through the Bible Program which had me read some of each of the Old Testament, Psalms, Proverbs and the New Testament everyday except Sunday.  I enjoyed the pace of this plan. 
 But for those of you who might find that program too aggressive, especially you moms with small children, I found a 4 year plan (see link below) that has you reading some of the New Testament and Psalms more than once, but if you follow it diligently you will read through the entire Bible in just 4 years!  The passages are not lengthy, so even if you miss a day or two you can easily “catch-up.”  As you complete the reading of a passage of God’s Word each day, just put a check in the little box and you will find you have a feeling of satisfaction that you have completed this worthwhile privilege.  May the Lord lead you and bless you as you seek Him through His word.
 
Print this out and cut it in bookmark size strips to place in your Bible.  Store the other 3 years in another pocket of your Bible.  You’ll be surprised at how quickly 4 years pass by
The Better Way: Seeking God daily through His Word is the Better Way.
See also: Joy In Purpose
 
See also: Self-Discipline
Posted in Bible Study, Guidance for mothers, Spiritual Dryness | 2 Comments

Commitment For The New Year

Daniel 1:8 “Daniel purposed in his heart….

 Five years ago I made a two year commitment to read through the Bible using a Two Year Bible Reading Plan.  When I started, two years seemed like a long time but now it has already come to a close. Just think, if you had purposed to follow a three year Bible reading plan, you would already be completed, and if you had purposed to follow a four year plan you would now also be through.  
     Time has a way of passing more quickly than you think.  Don’t waste it saying “Later, Later.”  Purpose in your heart to make a commitment to start January 1st, 2019 to follow some type of daily Bible reading, making yourself accountable.  Checking off a list kept me on track and kept me from getting too far behind. (Yes, I was not always on track !)
    Two years was just right for this grandma/great-grandma, but a three or four year plan will probably be better for you very busy moms with children. Reading the Bible should not cause stress and make you frustrated. Here is a link to one of those plans: http://www.esv.org/assets/pdfs/rp.esv.study.bible.pdf
Print this out and cut it in bookmark size strips to place in your Bible.  Store the other 3 years in another pocket of your Bible.  You’ll be surprised at how quickly 4 years pass by 
If this plan does not fit your desires, many more plans are available, through other sites on the internet. The MacArthur Daily Bible at http://www.gty.org (read through the Bible in a year) is good.  Remember, if you overcommit, you might fail and feel guilty.  Be sensible and prudent.  It’s better to read a little of the Bible than not to read anything at all. 

 

What are a few of the blessings?
1. The joy of watching God’s great plan of salvation unfold from Genesis to Revelations.
2. Reading books of the Bible I might not have read, or don’t read much. These books were a blessing and I found passages of Scripture to underline in each one.
3. Learning more and more how much God cares for us as individuals.
4. Being reminded that God uses all types and kind of people.
5. Seeing the longsuffering of God.
6. Seeing the judgement of God.
 
     Remember, every book in the Bible was written by the inspiration of God and has a purpose and reason for being in the Bible.  
Perhaps you have just finished reading through the Bible, then set for yourself a new goal, a new plan, a new purpose and commit to staying with it.  This year I’m ready to embark on another adventurous journey in God’s Word  as I commit to memorize passages of the Bible. I have already started this commitment and have received much joy and  just like reading the Bible is an attainable goal, so memorizing is also a goal which can be achieved.  Let’s ask the Lord to bless our commitment and He will give us the strength and time to fulfill it.
Purpose and Discipline=Structure and Order= Rest and Strength
 The Better Way: Reading The Bible Is Always Good, Reading The Bible With A Plan, Purpose And Commitment Is The Better Way
 
See Also:  Joy In Purpose
Posted in Bible Study, Guidance for mothers, Guidance for Women | 9 Comments

Good Tidings of Great Joy

The story of Christmas is the story of Jesus Christ’s humiliation.  There are many verses in the Bible that express this and as we celebrate Christmas, the Incarnation of Jesus Christ (God in flesh), I want to share some of these verses with you to read and ponder, that all these things might remain in your heart.


Isaiah 9:6-7

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.”

 
Romans 8:3
 “For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh.” 
 
Galatians 4:4-5
 “But when the time had fully come  God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.”
 
I Timothy 1:15
  “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am chief.”
 
Romans 1:3
 “Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh.”
 
John 1:14
 “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
 
I John 1:1
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;”
 
Philippians 2:7
 “Rather, He made Himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.”
 
Philippians 2:8
 “And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”
 
I Timothy 2:5-6
 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;  Who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.”
 
Acts 2:29-30
 “Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day.  Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne.”
 
 
It is amazing to think the God and Creator of the Universe came in the flesh, because of His great love for us. Oh, how our hearts rejoice with thanksgiving for this “Indescribable Gift.”
II Corinthians 9:15.  May we never take it for granted.
 
 
 
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Mary, The Mother of the Lord Jesus Christ

Luke 2:19 “But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.”

      How I love to read the wonderful story of Mary, the mother of the Lord Jesus Christ. She was a young humble virtuous Jewish woman betrothed to a godly, upright Jewish man named Joseph. ( I use the word betrothed because it carries with it a much more binding relationship than the word engaged, which we use. Although not living together as husband and wife, a divorce was necessary to end the relationship.)  An angel, named Gabriel, came to Mary, calling her “highly favored” Luke 1:28.  How amazing is that? Then she was told some marvelous news, which she could hardly comprehend.  But she knew about the promised Messiah as recorded in Isaiah 7:14,

“Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign;

Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son,
and shall call His name Immanuel.”
 
 
     And she was looking expectantly for the Him.  She also knew of God’s covenant with Abraham as recorded in Genesis Chapter 12.  Yet, was she to be His mother?   In her innocence she asked, “How can this be?”  When the angel answered her, Mary humbly and tenderly believed and said, “Be it unto me according to thy word.”  Luke 1:38.
      Traveling quickly to visit her cousin Elisabeth, who was also expecting a child, whom we know was John the Baptist, she spoke these words, “My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior.”  Luke 1:46.  Yes, Mary was very aware that she, too, was a sinner and that she, too, was in need of a Savior.
      Upon her return to Nazareth, Joseph married her, (but in name only, until after Jesus was born,) and took Mary into his own home. For an angel had visited him in a dream and told him everything concerning Mary and the birth of the Messiah (Matthew chapter 1) Being a righteous man, Joseph also believed and obeyed all he was commanded.
      Then came the news about the census (Luke 2:1) and Mary and Joseph had to travel to Bethlehem, which was according to prophecy,   “But as for you, Bethlehem……from you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel, His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity.”  Micah 5:2  Most mothers are aware of the time when their baby’s birth is near, and so also was Mary.  I can picture her lovingly and with great care and anticipation, packing all the items necessary for her little baby boy’s birth.  She would need the long white cloth called “swaddling cloth” ( Luke 2:7) and diapers and all those items necessary for His birth and care.  The Jews had many laws for washing and cleanliness and I feel sure these were not neglected.  Although the surroundings of Jesus birth were of the most humble in nature (so He could identify with even the most lowliest of people), that does not mean He was allowed to wallow in filth.
The next amazing event for Mary that wonderful night was when the shepherds came and worshipped her little son.  Seeing her tiny helpless baby, yet knowing He was the Son of God, she must have marveled as she watched these shepherds show such reverance and awe for Him.  The Scriptures record that Mary “treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.”  Luke 2:19
So we see in Mary the characteristics of virtue, humility, tenderness and a believing heart, qualities that all of us as women should desire and strive for.
 
The Better Way: Living Our Lives To Honor And Glorify God Is The Better Way
 
Posted in Christmas, Guidance for mothers, Guidance for Wives, Guidance for Women, Women of the Bible | 4 Comments

Elizabeth, The Mother of John the Baptist

The Christmas Story, the story of the birth of Jesus Christ, involves one special wife and mother besides Mary.  Her name is Elizabeth, the wife of Zacharius, a priest.  She was chosen by God to be the mother of John the Baptist, who was born six months before Jesus Christ.  

Unlike Mary who was young, Elizabeth was old and never expected to have children anymore.  She and her husband are described as “righteous in the sight of God,” and as “walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord.” Luke 1:6.  What an amazing and wonderful statement!  “Righteous” meaning they were believers, justified in God’s sight, not within their own selves, but through Jesus Christ.  “Blameless” does not mean sinless but means “a life that cannot be criticized because of sin or evil.”
 Elizabeth’s one main hardship that we are made aware of is that she was barren and did not have any children.  During that time and culture barrenness was seen as a “disgrace among men.”  Luke 1:25.  Still this condition of childlessness did not turn her into an angry bitter woman, but as we read she remained faithful to God throughout her life.  What a wonderful testimony to her trust in God!  Then when she finds herself expecting a child, how we can share in her joy and gratitude as she says, “The Lord has dealt with me in the days when He looked with favor upon me.”  Luke 1:25 
As we read on in the account of Elizabeth, we see that God had kept her for one purpose, to be the mother of John the Baptist, a very special man, a man filled with the Holy Spirit even “from his mother’s womb.” Luke 1:17.  A man who was set apart for a special task in life–to announce the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ.  God chose her to take part in the fulfillment of an Old Testament prophecy. Malachi 3:1 “Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me.”  John the Baptist said of himself, “There cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose.” Mark 1:7
For most of her life, Elizabeth was an obscure woman but her life is a wonderful example of faithfulness and devotion to God.   Living a life of commitment and above reproach, she trusted that God’s will for her life’s situation was best and accepted this with grace, never wavering in her faith.  Long suffering and patience are all part of her character and qualities that we should all seek diligently to make a part of our commitment to God through our husbands, homes and families.
 
The Better Way: A life of commitment and dedication to God’s Will is the Better Way
 
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Take Heed During This Christmas Season

Luke 12:15 “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.”

This Christmas season as we focus on Jesus Christ and His amazing gift of laying aside His glory and coming to this earth in human form (the Incarnation) in order to die on the cross to pay our sin debt and rose from the dead that we might have the forgiveness of sins and the hope of eternal life, let us “take heed.”

Take heed that our love of giving to others (which is not necessarily a bad thing) does not consume us and cause us to overspend and put ourselves into debt.

Take heed that we do not indulge our children/grandchildren/great-grandchildren with all their desires which once fulfilled do not truly satisfy anyway.  Ephesians 2:3 “fulfilling the desire of the flesh.”

Take heed that we realize that the self-indulgent desire for money, only results in discontentment which is sin.

Take heed that the treasure of our heart is not with material things.  Matthew 6:21 “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Luke 12:34

Take heed that the sparkles and shiny lights do not make us discontent with what we have.  Hebrews 13:5 “Be content with such things as ye have.”

Take heed to remember that covetousness is idolatry.  I John 5:21 “keep yourselves from idols.”  Colossians 3:5 “covetousness, which is idolatry.”

Take heed that when Christmas is over, our focus should still be on Christ and “That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” Colossians 1:10

The Better Way: Let Us Be Very Careful That We Take Heed Where The Desires of Our Hearts Lay

Posted in Christmas, Encouragement, Guidance | 6 Comments

The Obedient Unnamed Mother

Psalm 37:25 “I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, or his descendants begging bread.”

   
     A cry for help!  A determined cry for help!  This mother in II Kings 4:1-7, was in trouble and was not ashamed to seek out help from the man of God, the prophet Elisha.  Her husband, one of the sons of a prophet, had died.  Now she was in debt, and her two sons were about to be taken to be slaves by the creditor.  This was according to Exodus 21:2, where a person was to be a bondsman up to seven years in order to pay off a debt.  Well, this mother was not going to sit idly by feeling sorry for herself.  She cried out for help, “My sons must be spared from this enslavement.”
     An almost empty jar of oil is all she had left, she informed Elisha.  Utilizing the only resource she had, Elisha instructed her and her sons to gather together many empty vessels (containers) from her neighbors.  Then directing her to close the door, she was to use her meager jar of oil to fill all the empty vessels.  Did this make sense?  Of course not.  Did she stop and ask questions and details about how this was possible?  No, she followed the instructions of the man of God humbly and obediently.
     As God miraculously multiplied the oil (and you can be sure it was oil of the most superior quality), this mother and her sons filled all the empty vessels and then “the oil stopped.” II Kings 4:6  Then she came and told the man of God (Elisha), and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debt, and you and your sons can live on the rest.”
     Oh, now it all became clear.  God was providing in a way humanly impossible, but as we know “with God, all things are possible.” Mark 10:27  The unnamed mother first needed to make her request and then be obedient.  You see, God provides and cares for His own, for He promises never to leave us or forsake us. Hebrews 13:5
 
The Better Way:  Strive to be a determined, hardworking, obedient, humble woman/mother by God’s grace.
 
See also:  The Unnamed Woman
Posted in Encouragement, Guidance for mothers, Guidance for Women, Women of the Bible | 1 Comment

A Zeal For The Lord

II Corinthians 9:2 “Your zeal has stirred up most of them.”

 
     Recently I heard the expression used about someone that they are “on fire for the Lord.” Pondering this thought and desiring a specific answer, I posted the following question to my Facebook friends: What does it mean to be “on fire for the Lord?”
 I received two responses that I believe are worth sharing.  In this day and age of spiritual dryness, may you find fresh encouragement from the following :
 
“Men ablaze are invincible. Hell trembles when men kindle.” –Samuel Chadwick
“I think most people mean zealous when they use this phrase. The root word for zealous means to boil, be hot or glow. Of course, the motive for being zealous is important. Too many people are busy doing the “things of the Lord” because they covet the praise of men.”
 
“We have lately read of forests on fire. What a sight! Hear how the mighty trees are crashing in the flame! What can stand against it! The fire sets the mountains on blaze. What a smoke blackens the skies– it grows dark at noon!……As hill after hill offers up its sacrifice, the timid imagine that the great Day of the Lord has come. If we could see a spiritual conflagration of equal grandeur it were a consummation devoutly to be wished! O God, send us Your Holy Spirit in this fashion–give us both the breath of spiritual life and the fire of unconquerable zeal–till nation after nation shall yield to the sway of Jesus!” C H Spurgeon
 
Following these wonderful quotes, I pursued the matter further by posing another question:  What specific way/ways does this “Fire” manifest itself in living our everyday lives?  I received the following three responses :
 
“Wake up in the morning thinking, “Wow, the Lord has given me another day.” and “I wonder what the Lord, my Shepherd, wants me to do today?” Then reaching for the Word, asking, “Can you speak to me through your Word today, Lord?’ Then, in everything you do in Word or deed for the rest of the day, do it all in the name of the Lord. From brushing your teeth to drinking your coffee, pray without ceasing, communing with the Lord. Be curious every step of the day, “Is there someone I can tell about our wonderful Jesus at this moment?” Treasure the Lord Jesus above all else laying up treasure in Heaven: As you proceed through the day, forget what lies behind. With Jesus as your redeemer, live in joy remembering your sins are forgiven and you are created to worship. Forgive others continually and immediately, remembering you have been forgiven. Never ever think, “I’ve done enough for the Lord, it’s Me time.”
 
“To be on fire for Christ in one way means to be in intimate fellowship with our Lord. The church at Ephesus had faith, patience, good works, and discernment, but they had left their first love.  The church at Laodica was charged with being lukewarm, not hot, because they were not supping with Christ. I understand that to mean close, intimate, very personal continued communion and fellowship with Jesus Christ our Lord. That comes by the ministry of the Holy Ghost. So it is vital that we do not grieve, nor quench the Spirit.  I find this to be an ongoing part of the Christian warfare.”
 
“I think of it as having Him before all other thoughts, rejoicing in Him throughout the day, living, breathing, walking in thanksgiving to Him, Praising Him outloud, pointing others to Him, praying continually and continually surrendering to Him.‎…and of course reading His word every day!”
 
The Better Way: A Zeal For The Lord Comes From A Daily Personal Relationship With Him.
 
Read also: Spiritual Dryness
 
 
 
 
 
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Songs of Thanksgiving

The Bible has several special Songs of Thanksgiving (along with the many in Psalms.)  May your spirits will be uplifted as you share and identify with Moses, Hannah, David, and Mary as they give praise to our Great God.

 
Moses’ Song of Thanksgiving takes place just after the Children of Israel cross the Red Sea safely on dry ground and the Egyptians who followed them are drowned:  Exodus 15:1-21  http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Exodus+15%3A1-21&version=ESV
 
 
Hannah’s sang her Song of Thanksgiving after she carried Samuel to the temple to fulfill her vow (I Samuel 1:11) to dedicate her son to the Lord. I Samuel 2:1-10:  http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Samuel+2%3A1-10&version=ESV
 
David sang a Song of Thanksgiving after he was delivered from the hand of his enemies and from Saul:  ll Samuel  22:2-51
 
Mary sang a Song of Thanksgiving after she was told she would become the mother of the Lord Jesus Christ: Luke 1:46-55
 
The Better Way: A Heart Full Of Thanksgiving In All Circumstances Is The Only Way
 
Read also: Thankful To God
Posted in Encouragement, Guidance for Women, Thankfulness | 6 Comments

Taste and See

Psalm 34:8  “O taste and see that the Lord is good.

 
      We are a nation that loves to eat.  Drive down a major street of most any city and you will probably see ten or more places to eat within a few blocks.  Ask a few people and they will tell you that someone in the family makes 2-5 trips to the grocery store each week.
     We are also a nation that craves variety in taste and style.  We quickly become bored with food and are always requiring something new or unique.  Diet fads, fat-free fads, and sugar-free foods come and go and much money and time is spent trying to accommodate the palate.  As your mouth begins to water for food and you crave a certain taste, take this experience and apply it to God’s Word.  It says “taste and see that the Lord is good.”  As food hits your tongue, its flavor fills your mouth and you savor the wonderful taste as you chew.  
Now you need to compare that to God’s Word.  Have you partaken of the Word of God recently?  Have you savored it’s sweet taste, its rich flavor and its satisfying fullness?  When you do, you can certainly describe your experience as “good.”  “Good” meaning the best, the most wonderful enjoyment to the fullest, just as God described each day of His creation.
     As a child of God travels the road of this earthly life we will face many different experiences.  During times of happiness and peace it is easy to say “the Lord is good,” and we gladly acknowledge that fact. Then it is with joy that we freely partake of the Word of God and are filled to the fullest with thanksgiving.  But when the trials, discouragements, and sorrows come, and they certainly will, and we are weak and faint, the Word of God says “taste.”  When disappointment and depression make us numb and cold and our appetites diminish, God’s Word says “taste.”  When we are not able to read large passages of Scripture or absorb heavy doctrines the Lord only asks us to “taste.”  Let’s take a few moments and read some of these wonderful passages of Scripture that bring us such comfort and encouragement:
 
“It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I might learn thy statues.”  Psalm 119:11 
“Yea, in the shadow of Thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast.” Psalm 57:1b 
“Cast all your care upon Him, for He careth for you.” I Peter 5:7
“I will never leave you or forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5
“Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28-30
“The Lord delivered me from all my fears.”  Psalm 34:4
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”  Psalm 46:1
    What a “taste” of comfort from our Heavenly Father these verses are for the weary soul.  Such words can only make us rejoice and say, “…O give thanks unto the Lord; for He is good: for His mercy endureth forever.” Psalm 106:1
 
Theme: The Better Way: Thinking About God’s Word is Good: “Tasting” God’s Word is Better
 
See also: Under His Wings
Posted in Encouragement | 6 Comments

Come Like Children

Matthew 19:13 “Let the little children come to Me and do not hinder them, for to such belong the kingdom of heaven. And He laid His hands on them.”

 
Mark 10:13,14,16 “And they were bringing children to Him that He might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them.  But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, ” Let the children come to me, do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.  And He took them in His arms and blessed them, laying His hands on them.”
 
Luke 18:18 “Now they were bringing even infants to Him that He might touch them.  And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to Him, saying,  Let the children come to Me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.  
 
One morning I was reading in a “Children’s Bible” to one of our young grandsons.  The story was a familiar one:  Jesus and the Little Children.  The picture next to the story portrayed Jesus smiling as He lovingly and tenderly gathered the infants in His arms, holding them close, and laying His hands on the older children eagerly gathered around as He blessed them.  I paused a moment———-and I smiled too.
Jesus Christ’s work here on this earth was very serious; for even as a youth, at age 12, He told His parents “I must be about my Father’s  business.” Luke 2:49.  But perhaps He did smile (although the Bible never says that He did) when the precious children came to Him.  Some of them may have been a little timid and in awe of this great man, while others in their innocence and genuineness may have been giggling and excited, but certainly they were all drawn to Jesus because He radiated LOVE.
It is with this same complete trust that we are to come to the Lord Jesus Christ, believing that He died for our sins and was raised again on the third day for our justification. Like children, with humble, trusting dependence, realizing that there is nothing in ourselves or our ability to commend ourselves to Christ and that we have no value or virtue, but in total child-like trust we are to come. 
 
Theme:The Better Way: Surrendering Your Life to Christ in Repentance and Total Childlike Faith Is The Only Way
 
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Sharing the Beauty Of God’s Creation With My Mother

Ecclesiastes 11:7 “Truly the light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun.”

 
I have a sweet memory to share with you today.  It’s one in which it is totally obvious that only God could have brought together each and every factor to bring about a perfect moment in which He displayed His glorious beauty for us to see.
When my mother was still living (she passed away at 96 years young), I would fly out to Olympia, Washington each year to visit her.  Washington State is known for its famous majestic Mt Rainer, which can be seen from the streets of Olympia if it’s not overcast or hazy.  The apartment my mother usually lived in did not give her a view of this mountain, but this year was different.  She had been temporarily moved to another apartment while hers was being remodeled.  From this temporary location we could view Mt Rainer, again, if the fog and haze cleared.
Early each morning, as we shared a pot of freshly brewed coffee and read our Bibles together, we eagerly anticipated seeing the sun rise over Mt Rainer. Four straight mornings in a row the view of the mountain was obscured by clouds; but on the last morning of my visit the sky was clear.  Eagerly anticipating being able to see the sunrise, I kept running to the window which was in the adjacent room.  As the time approached, my mother hurried to join me and we stood arm in arm.  Motionless, we waited.  Suddenly the first  brilliant rays of the sunlight began to shoot up from behind the exact center of the dip in the peak of Mt Rainer.  Watching in excitement and amazement, the rays became more and more brilliant as a yellow-orange ball slowly rose in all of its magnificent splendor, displaying God’s glory, eventually causing us to shield our eyes from its brightness.
I learned later that this particular day was the only time of the year the sun rose in that exact location—right in the middle of the peak.  From the apartment location, to the weather, to the last day of my trip, to the right day of the year, all these circumstances, worked out by God’s hand, combined for us to have the privilege of enjoying His beautiful creation while making a sweet memory with my dear mother. Thank you, Lord, for this privilege and blessing.  “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth His handiwork.” 
Psalm 19:1
The Better Way: Enjoying God’s Creation Is Good: Taking Time to Absorb The Beauty Of God’s Creation Is Better
See Also: When I Consider
Posted in Assurance, Encouragement, Thankfulness | 3 Comments

Life-Giving Sound

I Corinthians 14:7-8  “And even things without life giving sound whether pipe or harp except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped?  For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?”

 
     Music is a great part of our lives.  There are many many different types of music and an endless variety of combinations of sounds.  I don’t think that anyone could ever say that there are no new songs to be written, for there will always be a new combination of notes and instruments that can be composed into a song.  One reason for this fact is that each instrument has its own distinct sound.  Some time in the past I attended an orchestra performance and became keenly aware of how important each individual instrument was to the combined sound.  Even though there were many violins to create fullness, perhaps there was only one flute, or one piccolo, or one harp or oboe.  But when it came time for that one instrument to play, no other instrument could have taken it’s place.  Why?  Because that instrument had a distinct sound that was needed at that moment that no other instrument could make.
     In our Bible verse for today, Paul is pointing out that even an instrument that is “without life” gives out a distinct sound: that if a trumpet (which has no life) did not sound forth its own unique tone no one would know when to go forth to the battle.  Now compare this to us who are not dead; who have life, who live and breathe.  What kind of sound do we make?  What kind of witness are we for the Lord?  A pastor we once knew said, “When you witness do not give an uncertain sound—-give a certain (true) sound by word and action.”  Our words concerning the Lord Jesus Christ are to be distinct— not vague, clear— not hazy, positive— not uncertain; or “how shall it be known what is piped or harped?”   How shall others know what we believe or perhaps even IF we believe if we are not certain ourselves?  
     First of all, let us be certain that we do know Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.  Then once we are His child, we need to richly fill our hearts and lives with the Word of God so that the sound of our witness and of our lives will be so distinct that as the trumpet sends forth the battle cry, so our words and actions will sound forth the love of God to a lost and dying world.
 
Theme: The Better Way: Speaking About God is Good, Sounding Forth the Love of God is Better
 
See also:  Pressing Forward
     
Posted in Encouragement, Godly Living, Guidance, Spiritual Dryness | 2 Comments

Our Compassionate God

One morning my husband and I were sitting at our table by the kitchen window leisurely eating our breakfast, as we watched a wasp walking around on the screen.  From its appearance we could tell that the wasp was “trapped” between the screen and the window, unable to find the way out.

After about two days of watching that wasp walk around on the screen, we both became aware that our feelings toward this insect was changing.  Usually we have a great dislike for wasps.  Usually we get out the insect spray and with a vengeance go after the wasp nests, happily watching them fall as the poisonous spray overwhelms them.   Usually there is absolutely no compassion in our hearts because we are at war, fighting the enemy, defending ourselves/our children/our grandchildren/ and our great-grandchildren and others from the hurtful sting of the wasp.

But now, as we watch this vulnerable insect, we are not afraid of it, we do not want to kill it, we actually feel pity and want to help it and set it free.  As I pondered on our brief time of concern for this helpless trapped insect, it brought to mind the true compassion of our great God toward us—sinful, rebellious, self-willed, selfish creatures that we are.  “He remembers we are dust.” Psalm 103:14

While our feelings toward this insect did not cause us to set it free, because we knew of its potential to harm, yet God, knowing our hearts, in His great love, still sent his only begotten Son to actually die for us.  Matthew Henry says compassion is “love and concern which leads to action,” and that is exactly what God felt toward us.  Our simple momentary feelings toward the wasp was pity and ended there.  We took no action to show we cared.

But God’s Word has much to say about His compassion.  Here are just a few gems to stir our hearts and perhaps cause us to search the Scriptures and seek to know more about our Compassionate God:

Psalm 78:38 “But He, being full of compassion, forgave their (our) iniquities.”

Psalm 86:15 “But Thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, long suffering and plentious in mercy and truth.”

Micah 7:19 “He will have compassion on us; He will tread our iniquities under foot.”

Then Lamentations 3:22 says “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is Thy Faithfulness.”  This verse encourages our hearts, for our Heavenly Father’s compassion is not a one time happening—-it is new every morning.  Each day can be a fresh new rejoicing day.

Through daily repentance and forgiveness we can go forth in the strength and power of the Holy Spirit which dwells in us.  Then we can show forth this same compassion and  concern for others.

 The Better Way: Remembering God’s great compassion brings great rest, peace and joy and stirs our hearts to reach out to others in warmth, sensitivity and tenderness.

             

Posted in Encouragement, Guidance | Tagged | 5 Comments

The Old Tattered Bible

Psalms 37:4“Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.”

I have so many many stories to tell of how God worked in my life over the years.  Here is one that has always amazed me.

It was in September of 1993 that my 25 year old tattered King James Version Bible was in dire need of being rebound.  My mother-in-law had given my husband and myself a Thompson Chain Reference Bible in our first year of marriage and I had claimed it and was soon marking and underlining and writing all sorts of notes in it that were important and precious to me. The pages were rumpled. folded, tearing and coming out and the once fine leather cover was wrinkled and torn from it’s continual use.

Although the expense of getting it rebound was too great for our budget my husband declared “We are going to get this done!” Somehow we would pay for it. I was so excited! We were living in Slidell, Louisiana at the time. Searching for a Bindery Company, we found one in New Orleans and that is where we took my very well used Bible to see what it would cost.

We went up the well worn wooden stairs in an old building (probably much older than my Bible) and spoke to a very nice gentleman.  “Yes” he said,”I can rebind this Bible and put you a nice new leather cover on it.” I also asked for extra pages to be added to the front and back, because I had already filled up the other pages with writings which were precious and important to me. He agreed and then said, “It will cost you $98.” This was a considerable amount of money at this time, but we had already committed to having it done. So we left, anticipating the day when the call would come saying that the Bible was ready.

During this waiting time, I made my regular weekly trip to the grocery store on Friday.  Passing a contest entry at a tuna display, I casually entered my name in the drawing to win $100, never expecting to win anything but always thinking “what can it hurt to try.”  Well, Monday morning the phone rang.  It was the grocery store manager telling me that I had WON!  I could now spend $100 at their store and the groceries would be free. As I excitedly told my husband, we both agreed in humble amazement that the Lord knew the desires of my heart and honored that desire by providing the way to pay for having my very precious Bible rebound.

Theme: The Better Way: Delight in the Lord and trust and your desires shall be fulfilled, either in this life or the life to come.

 

Posted in Assurance, Encouragement | 3 Comments

A Thankful Heart

Colossians 2:7b  “In everything give thanks.”
   

     Today, I want to share with you a story that has proved to be an encouragement to me.  It is one of those stories, that once I heard it, I have never forgotten it, and I have applied its teaching often in my own life.

      Once there was a certain Christian man who had a spirit of depression come over him.  This feeling disturbed him very much and he struggled to overcome it.  First he gave himself to serious Bible study, reading many words of comfort and hope in the Scriptures, seeking to find relief from the dark cloud that hung over him.  These did bring some help, but he still felt a certain burden.  Next he tried committing himself to fervent prayer and that, too, gave him some hope, but still the downcast feeling remained.  As the man pondered what to do he went about his daily work, continuing to seek the Lord for help.  It wasn’t long until one day he walked into a store to shop.  Finding the items he needed, he walked to the counter to pay for his purchases.  On the wall behind the checkout counter was a large sign with the words “TRY THANKSGIVING” on it.  He was startled as he stared at the sign and pondered this thought to himself.  Yes, I’ll “TRY THANKSGIVING,” he said to himself.  Soon he was lifting up his heart in gratitude to God.  As he did, thoughts of himself and his problems and his burden soon faded into the background AND the dark cloud that hung over him gradually floated away and disappeared into thin air.
     God’s Word has many encouraging verses, exhorting us to be thankful:
 
Psalm 100:4 “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise, be thankful unto Him and bless His name.”
 
Psalm 92:1a  “It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord.”
Psalm 119:62a  “At midnight, I will rise to give thanks unto Thee.”
 
     What are some things you have to be thankful for?  This will vary for all of us, but taking just a few moments for reflection, many many thoughts will come to our minds.  Let us be thankful together !
 
Psalm 68:10  “Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits.”
I Corinthians 15;57  “Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
 
II Corinthians 9:15  “Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift.”
 
I Chronicles 16: 34  “Oh give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever.”
 
See also: “Thankful To God”  
 
Theme: The Better Way: Bible Reading and Prayer are Good: Bible Reading and Prayer with Thanksgiving are Better
Posted in Encouragement, Thankfulness | 7 Comments

A Joyful Crying Christian

Psalm 56:8b  “Put thou my tears into thy bottle.”       
 
     A happy joyful Christian is also a crying Christian “for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better.”  Ecclesiastes 7:3b In order to reach the mountaintops we must pass through the valleys.  Sorrow and depression of spirit come to all of us and it is during those “down times” that we are driven to God’s Word to seek out comfort. 
      Because the Lord has provided direction and instruction for every area of our life, we quickly find the words “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” John 14:8.  I am not alone, my Lord is with me.  No, I am not immediately brought out of my sadness, but I am comforted because I am not alone.  Isaiah 66:13 says, “As one whom his mother comforteth so will I comfort you.” God compares His comfort for us with the preciousness of a mother’s comfort.  Remember as a child when you fell and skinned your knee?  Your mother would come and bandage it all up and put her arms around you and hold you.  Did the pain stop immediately?  No, of course not, but just having your mother share your sorrow and care about the fact that you were hurting eased the pain and made it easier to bear.
      Therefore, we ask the Lord to put our tears into His bottle, for it is in His bottle that our tears find comfort, strength to bear the sorrow, and a certain peace that whenever the Lord wills our sorrow will pass.  Having placed all in God’s hand our sorrow is lighter and we can earnestly say, “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.” Psalm 56:3
 
Theme: The Better Way: Tears are Good; Tears with God’s Comfort are Better
 

 

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