Sarah’s Handmaid, Hagar

 I must leave” said Hagar in desperation to herself.  Expecting a child by her master Abraham, Hagar had wrongfully shown an open attitude of contempt toward her mistress, Sarah.  Thus the mistress-servant relationship has been broken and Hagar was treated so harshly by Sarah she felt compelled to “flee from her presence.” Genesis 16:6  Even though Hagar was an Egyptian, while living in the household of Abraham and Sarah, she had been introduced to the One True God.  Now fearful and alone, sitting beside “the spring on the way to Shur, “(Genesis 16:7) an Angel of the Lord came and spoke to her saying “Where have you come from and where are you going?” (Genesis 16:8)  Replying that she was running away from her mistress, the Angel instructed her to go back and humbly submit to Sarah’s control and authority with respect

     Hagar was then given many promises concerning Ishmael, the son of Abraham, who was to be born to her.  The Lord had heard her and gave attention to her affliction.  Filled with wonder and thanksgiving, she called the Lord who spoke to her,  El-Roi “The God Who Sees Me.” Genesis 16:13. The well was given the name Beer-lahai-roi, The Living One Who Sees Me.  How encouraged we should be to claim this wonderful attribute of God also, and be able to say with Hagar that the Lord is “The God Who Sees Me.”  

So Hagar returned to Abraham and Sarah and was obedient to God’s command, being in submission to Sarah again as a maidservant.  This obedience must have continued for 17 years since nothing is recorded in the Bible about Hagar until Isaac, the son of Abraham and Sarah, is about 3 years old.  On the day of Isaac’s weaning, a great feast was made and it was during this feast that Hagar’s son, Ishmael, was mocking Isaac.  Because of this, Hagar and Ishmael were sent into the wilderness, but instead of finding the well as before, they became lost.  When their water was gone, and all looked hopeless to live, Hagar and Ishmael lifted up their voices and wept.  But since the Lord is “The God Who Sees Me” the Bible records in Genesis 21:17-20, that “God heard the lad crying; and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, ‘What is the matter with you, Hagar?’  Do not fear, for God has heard the voice of the lad where he is.  Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him by the hand, for I will make a great nation of him.  Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water—–and gave the lad a drink. God was with the lad, and he grew; and lived in the wilderness, and became an archer.”

 God spoke to Hagar, not once, but twice. As I read about Hagar, I saw how her humble obedience to God, became a great blessing to her. Obedience and humility, two great virtues that a woman of God should seek and strive to obtain.

 
The Better Way: Seeking God’s Will And Way First Before Our Own Desires Is Always The Better Way.
 
As a bonus—some interesting facts:
 
1. Genesis 24:62-67  The well, Beer-lahai-roi, is the place where Isaac first met Rebecca
2. Genesis 25:9  Isaac and Ishmael met together at Abraham’s death to bury him.
 
 
Posted in Encouragement, Guidance for mothers, Guidance for Women, Women of the Bible | 2 Comments

The Cross of Jesus Christ

 

Galatians 6:14 “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

 
I saw one hanging on a tree in agony and blood
 He cast His languid eyes on me
As near His cross I stood.
Sure, never, till my latest breath,
Can I forget that look:
It seemed to charge me with His death
Though not a word He spoke.
A second look He gave, which said,
“I freely all forgive:
This blood is for thy ransom paid.
I die that thou may’st live.”
copied

As we think about Jesus Christ’s great sacrifice on the cross, let’s meditate on the words as we listen to these beautiful hymns.

 

http://youtu.be/qr7_i8HJ-Jo

Beneath The Cross of Jesus

Beneath the cross of Jesus, I fain would take my stand;
The shadow of a mighty rock, within a weary land.
A home within the wilderness, a rest upon the way,
From the burning of the noontide heat, and the burden of the day.
 
Upon that cross of Jesus mine eye at times can see
The very dying form of One Who suffered there for me;
And from my stricken heart with tears two wonders I confess;
The wonders of redeeming love and my unworthiness.
 
I take, O cross, thy shadow for my abiding place;
I ask no other sunshine than the sunshine of His face;
Content to let the world go by to know no gain or loss,
My sinful self my only shame, my glory all the cross.
words by Elizabeth Clephane 1868
music by Fredrick Maker 1881 
 
 
 
When I Survey The Wondrous Cross
 
 
                                                  
                                   When I survey the wondrous cross,
                                                    On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.

See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

words by Isaac Watts 1707
music by Lowell Mason 1824

 

The Better Way: Glorying In The Cross Is The Only Way

Read also: Upheld By God’s Hand

Read also: God’s Promises, Under His Wings

 

 

Posted in Encouragement, Spiritual Dryness | 5 Comments

Living Victoriously

Colossians 3:1 “Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth.”

 
     When my mother was still living, I used to fly up to Washington State often to visit her.  On one of those flights, the weather was rainy and the clouds were overcast. As the plane took off we began to slowly ascend upward.  Through those gray clouds we traveled, not being able to see anything, until suddenly we burst forth to the beautiful blue sky and bright sunshine above.  Those clouds that were gray on the underside now billowed in a layered expanse of shining white on the topside.  What beauty !  Soon we flew over a mountainous area which we could not see, except off in the distance I observed the peaks of some larger mountains rising above the layer of clouds.  It was as if they were leaving the grayness below, reaching upward to soak in the glorious rays of the sun.  As I pondered those mountain peaks, my mind began to compare them to us as Christians.
     How often we stay under the clouds, where life looks gray and gloomy; where fog and mist make it difficult for us to see clearly; where self-centeredness is master and we see God through a “glass darkly.” I Corinthians 13:12.  But our Omnipotent Heavenly Father has not moved or changed.  He is still Lord and Master of the universe and heavens.  The rays of God’s goodness, lovingkindness and faithfulness are still shining; it’s just that we have failed to access them.  We need to reach upward through the clouds and mist, just like those mountain peaks and feel the warm rays of God’s love and the see the blue expanse of His majesty and power.  “But how?” you may ask. “I have no strength.”
     God has given us two specific avenues to reach Him.  First, His Word, the Bible.  Read it. Read it every day.  Long or short, many chapters, or just a few verses, but read it.  God’s Word is “living” (Hebrews 4:12) and that means we can always learn new truths as the Holy Spirit teaches us.  It is filled with instruction, encouragement, and hope to give us strength and guidance. “Seek those things which are above.” Colossians 3:2  Grasp some encouraging word and carry it about with you throughout the day.
     Next pray–always, everywhere and in everything. “Pray without ceasing,” ( I Thessalonians 5:17) not always doing the talking, but also quietly listening, so God can speak to you in your heart and mind.  Ask others to pray for you, too, especially when you feel extra weak or have a special need. “Pray one for another.” James 5:16
     My prayer is that as we read God’s Word daily, pray daily and strive to be more Christlike daily through obedience, that even though our feet are on the troubled ground, our hearts and minds can rise above the clouds and find the peace and joy and assurance that is always available in Jesus Christ. Then we can live a victorious Christian life.
 
Theme: The Better Way: Looking to Christ is Good: Reaching Upward to the Victory in Christ Jesus is Better 
 
Teach children Bible verses through song:
http://www.thomasslawson.com  Click on Scripture Songs
 
Read also: Pressing Forward
Posted in Encouragement | 8 Comments

The Self-Sacrificing Unnamed Mother

I Kings 4:27b, “She is his mother.”

“Oh, my lord, give her the living child and by no means kill him,” the unnamed mother cried the moment King Solomon gave the command to bring his sword and divide the baby in half.  The great tender compassionate love she had for her child brought the anguished cry, for she would be more than willing to sacrifice raising her own child so that he might live.  The other mother revealed she had no love for the child and did not care what happened to him, as she, without feeling, assented to King Solomon’s command saying “He shall be neither mine nor yours; divide him!”

In this account, from I Kings 3:16-28, showing Solomon’s great God-given wisdom, we have the story of two women, who lived in the same house and gave birth to baby boys within 3 days of each other.  The one, a careless mother, laid on her child as she slept and he died.  Realizing what happened, she got up in the night and exchanged the babies, taking the living baby back to her bed.  When morning came, the true mother of the living child realized the dead baby in her bed was not her own.  As they stood before King Solomon, both mothers vehemently claimed the living child was their own.  No witnesses were present, so how was the determination to be made?  Since the physical evidence was not obvious, King Solomon must seek out the heart of the matter.  And so the true, self-sacrificing heart of the real mother is revealed, and Solomon said, “Give the first woman the living child, and by no means kill him.  She is his mother.”
As we read this story, we are reminded of the verse from God’s 
Word that says “man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord 
looks at the heart.” I Samuel 16:7b. Also, Hebrews 4:13 says, “And 
there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and 
laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.”
Dear Heavenly Father, As we carefully examine our own hearts, help us to root out any selfish ways.  Through the many trials and weariness of motherhood, bless us with tender compassionate hearts, filled with Your love.  We ask for genuine, willing, self-sacrificing attitudes.  Refresh us daily, even hourly, with Thy Spirit, O Lord, that we might maintain a firm but gentle attitude as we teach and train our children, according to Your Word. We ask this in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Amen
 
                Mary, The Mother of Jesus
                Samson’s Mother
                Sarah’s Handmaid, Hagar
Posted in Guidance for mothers, Guidance for Women, Women of the Bible | 1 Comment

A Strong Tower

Proverbs 18:10  “The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.”

 
      My dictionary describes the word tower as meaning: “a place or thing of security or defense; citadel; a fortress commanding a city; stronghold.”  Are you in need of a haven this day?  Do you need a place to hide from life’s problems, worries and frustrations?  Are you tempted seemingly “above that ye are able”  I Corinthians 10:13b and don’t know which way to turn? 
      Certainly we can find no strength within, for there is nothing but weakness within ourselves.  Our family and loved ones provide security but they, too, are overwhelmed with the day and are looking for a haven also.  Friends can offer fellowship at various times but their help is limited and unstable.
     But look ! ——off in the distance I can see a tall narrow structure——I believe it’s a tower.  It looks strong.   It looks like a place of security and safety.  I see some words on the Tower —“THE NAME OF THE LORD.”  Yes, this is where I need to go.  I will not walk, but run!  I am anxious and in great need.
     Here, at last, I am at the Tower.  I eagerly reach for the doorknob when I notice that over the door are the words.”The Righteous.”  Oh, this Tower is not for everyone for it says “The Righteous.”  The Bible says of us, “There is none righteous, no not one.” Romans 3:10. But that does not stop me.  I quickly turn the knob, for I know that the Lord Jesus Christ is my Righteouness.  He has washed me, He has cleansed me, He has saved me by His sacrifice on the cross and my sins are covered under His blood, so I am righteous in Him.  Jesus is my Strong Tower, so I run to Him and am safe.  
 
Theme: The Better Way: Seeking Jesus Christ is Good:  Running to Jesus Christ as my Strong Tower is Better
 
Read also: Anchor of the Soul
Read also: Through the Flood
Read also: Strength For Today
Read also: Anchor of the Soul
Posted in Encouragement | 4 Comments

Guiding Children In God’s Way

Deuteronomy 6:6-9 “These word, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.  You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
 
     It’s fascinating to watch nature and to see how God has given animals the instincts they need to live.  As I watched the birds in the nest on our front porch, I saw them purposefully build the nest, patiently watch over the eggs, tenderly care for the baby birds after they hatched, diligently feed then and then train them to leave the nest and fly.  It is amazing.
     One day I was privileged to observe that training process.  The little birds, now fully feathered were on the edge of the nest, occasionally flapping their wings.  Sitting on another hanging plant nearby the parent called and chirped, encouraging the hesitant baby to begin flying.  Occasionally one parent would fly off to a nearby tree branch and then return, all the time chirping and calling, showing the little one what to do.  Then came the dramatic moment when the little bird took off.
     For a bird this process all takes place in a short period of time, but for us, training our children is a responsibility that lasts many years, but the rewards are great and eternal.  Training is not a onetime event, but an ongoing continual process of showing, correcting, explaining and reinforcing and disciplining .
“Line upon line,
 Precept upon precept, 
Here a little, there a little”
Isaiah 28:10  
     As their young minds are being formed, fill them with God’s Word and the wonders of God. Tell them the amazing stories in the Bible so they will learn to love and trust the Lord. Tell them God hates sin and that they are sinners, but that because of His great love for us, Jesus Christ came to pay the price for our sins on the cross. 
     Train them to pray and to confess their sins to God, and to ask God for forgiveness.  Remind them to praise His name and thank Him for all His blessings.  Train them to go to church, not as a “have to,” but as a “want to;” not as an option or choice but as a privilege—a day set aside for this purpose. 
     Discipline your children, not in frustration, but in consistency and firmness with love, teaching them self-control by example.
  
  “Chasten thy son while 
   there is hope, and let not 
      thy soul spare for his crying.”
Proverbs 19:18 
 
    “He who withholds correction 
  hates his son, But he who loves
    him disciplines him diligently.”
Proverbs 13:24 
 
     Then as children grow and move into different stages of life, there are always new situations in which they need to be trained.  Look for the successes and rewards of each stage and enjoy them.  This will encourage you to “press on.”
     Our desire as parents should be that God will become such an integral part of their lives, woven into the fabric of their minds and engrained in their hearts that they will seek to please the Lord in their daily walk.
       As I write all this, please be aware that I am acutely aware of and have many misgivings about my many failures and negligences when raising our own children.  I write these thing to show you what God’s Word says, to encourage you to persevere on and to tell you first hand that in spite of our failures as parents, God blesses if we strive to be faithful and obedient to His Word.
 
The Better Way: Teaching Right From Wrong Is Good, Consistent and Persistent Training In Love About God Is The Better Way
 
Here’s a link to help children learn Bible verses through song:
 
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Posted in Guidance for mothers, Raising Children | 1 Comment

The Rainbow Covenant

 

Genesis 9:13 “I set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a sign of a covenant between Me and the earth.”

     Traveling down the highway in a misty rain, my husband and I watched as a beautiful ribbon of color formed.  It looked as if it was coming straight out of the ground and shooting toward the sky.  At first it did not form a “bow,” but remained like a tall tower stretching upward.  For many miles we drove toward the majestic rainbow, watching as it slowly began to form an arch.  When it seemed like we were going to drive under it, the sky became dark and the rainbow disappeared.
      As we think on the first rainbow, Noah and his family must have been awed by the amazing and stunning sight.  The ordeal Noah and his family had just endured of living on the ark for one year and ten days, plus knowing all the people on the earth were now gone, and that only the eight of them remained must have been quite a trial for them.  But when the tribulation is over, God sends them a visible sign of His promised deliverance and abundant grace, which must have brought them great comfort and joy.  Their hearts must have rejoiced in God’s covenant promise to never destroy the whole earth with a flood again.

 

14 It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud; 15 and I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16 The rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” 17 And God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant which I have established between Me and all flesh that is on the earth.” Genesis 9:14-17

 

      Even today, as we enjoy the beauty of a rainbow, let us also rejoice and find comfort that our God is a covenant-keeping God .  His promises are always sure, His plans for our lives, (though sometimes strange and/or painful to us,) are always for our good, and we can fully trust and rest in His powerful arms and great love.
 
“For this is like the waters of Noah to Me;
For as I have sworn
That the waters of Noah would no longer cover the earth,
So have I sworn
That I would not be angry with you, nor rebuke you.
10 For the mountains shall depart
And the hills be removed,
But My kindness shall not depart from you,
Nor shall My covenant of peace be removed,”
Says the Lord, who has mercy on you. 
Isaiah 54:9-10
 
The Better Way: Follow Noah’s Example Of Complete Faith and Trust In God’s Promised Deliverance and Abundant Grace
 
Read also:  Pressing Forward
                   Under His Wings
                   Upheld By The Lord’s Hand
                   Builded On The Rock
Posted in Assurance | 1 Comment

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
 
     
Posted in Bible Study, Encouragement, Godly Living | 6 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.
 
 
 
Posted in Christmas, Encouragement | 3 Comments

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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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
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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

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.

             

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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 | 4 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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My Heart Is Fixed

Psalm 57:7  “My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed.”

 
     The Christian life is not guesswork, or maybe so, or hope so.  It is a sure life and an immovable life, because it is built on the Rock, Christ Jesus.  The world is floundering, aimlessly seeking this and seeking that, running here and running there, trying this and trying that.  Nothing— I say— nothing works for them, because they do not have a Sure Foundation.  True Christians know what they believe and can back up what they believe because God’s Word is infallible. There is no new revelation.  God’s Word is complete.  He has spoken “unto us by His Son.”  Hebrews 1:2  “The Word of our God shall stand forever.”  Isaiah 40:8b
     How wonderful this fact is: to know what we believe and to believe it.  There is no guesswork, or making of excuses or trying to figure out an explanation. The Truth is all right there in God’s Word.  I recently heard a group of scientists theorizing about evolution, trying to explain our existence.  These men actually thought they were expounding some great knowledge.  If only they could hear how absurd all their rhetoric sounded.  All the knowledge of our mind is but a dot compared to the mind of God.  Our minds are finite, but God is infinite.  Our minds are limited to a beginning and an end and cannot comprehend “always has been,” and “always will be.”
 In Proverbs 9:10a we read, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”  As a child of God, I remember back before God saved me; my mind was closed and limited and was not able to understand and grow.  But since He saved me, I can say like the songwriter, John Newton,  “I once was blind, but now I see.”  It was then that I began to learn; then my mind opened up and I could receive the things of Christ; then was the beginning of wisdom.  And since the Bible is the “Living Word of God,” each time I read It the Holy Spirit reveals some new understanding, so the Bible never gets stale or grows old; therefore I am always growing and learning.
      Now God’s Word provides a sure footing, a strong footing, and I am not moved or swayed when people disagree with me.  And it is by the wonderful Grace of God that I, too, can say with the Psalmist, “My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed.”
 
Theme: The Better Way: A Believing Heart Is Good: A Fixed Heart Is Even Better
 
See also:  Self-Discipline
 
 
  
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