The Wondrous Word

Deal bountifully with your servant, that I may live and keep your word. Psalm 119:17

Are there days when you open God’s Word and you just don’t understand it? Maybe you’ve found yourself in the book of Numbers and you are overwhelmed by the many names of the tribes and their numbers and locations. Maybe you are just spinning with these facts and don’t know quite what to do with it all.

When feeling confused, lost or just overwhelmed while reading the Bible, just stop and take a minute to pray Psalm 119:18 Open my eyes, [Lord], that I may behold the wondrous things out of your law. God wants us to understand His letter to us and He has given His believers the Holy Spirit to help us.

I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. Ephesians 1:17

Our Lord wants us to know him better! How sweet is this that the very Father of the universe who created all things and every one of us wants us to know Him. How can we possibly understand Who He is? By studying His Word. Woven throughout the Bible is the beautiful story of our God, His Son, creation, and all the individuals and cultures that have had challenges that we can glean wisdom from.

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17

Prayer: Dear Father, thank you for scripture that guides us closer to you and for your Spirit of wisdom and revelation. Help us to dig in deeper each time we read your Word so that we can behold the wondrous things within in it. In Jesus’ Holy name. Amen.

For further reading: Ephesians 1

Enjoy Life

God has made everything beautiful for its own time. …. So I concluded that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to enjoy themselves as long as they can. And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God. Ecclesiastes 3:11-13

Work, work, work, it seems never ending! We are hoping to put our house on the market soon, so we have been working nonstop to get our house looking its best; while of course trying to keep up with our current jobs.

Several months ago we scheduled a trip to rural Alabama to see family. We had no idea at the time that we would be knee-deep in house repairs, with a target date to sell the house just a week away, but the Lord knew.

We worked right up to the last minute, barely allowing time to pack and hopped on a plane early the next morning. Oh, what a joy and a pleasure it was to relax and enjoy time with family. We would sit on the back patio, absorbing the beauty of nature as we gazed at their sparkling pond and our energy and spirits were refreshed.

Of course there will always be work to do, and that too is a gift of God, but the Lord is pleased when His children take time to enjoy themselves, to eat and drink and celebrate life.

And let me tell you, my son is a fabulous cook! When we visit, they totally spoil us with gourmet delicacies. We always arrive home well fed, well rested and well loved. We count these times as truly gifts from God.

So my encouragement to you today, is to take some time to rest and enjoy the fruits of your labor. Your work will still be there when you get back.

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father,  thank you that there is a season for everything under the sun, including time to rest and gaze at nature. Thank you Lord for our work, and thank you for the ability to enjoy the fruits of our labor. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

For further reading: Ecclesiastes 3

Strength and Stability

I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word. Psalm 119:16

When I am wrapped up within the Word, it feels like a soft, fluffy, warm blanket on a cold day. The Scriptures warm the insides of my soul like a hot cup of Chai spice tea. His Word comforts, fills, and refreshes me. I am His, He is mine.

When I am wrapped up in busyness, distractions, or just troubled, I don’t allow myself to delight in His Word. It is a chore that I don’t make time for. Yet, I know, that once I do, my spirit is lifted and I ponder why I didn’t seek Him sooner. I know that the evil one is always near and wanting to distract me from the Lord.

Had I started my day delighting in God’s Word, my angst, bitterness, frustration, anxiety would have disappeared sooner or I could have been armed to not stumble. His Word is full of encouragement that gives us strength and stability:

But whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither whatever they do prospers. Psalm 1:2-3

Prayer: Dear Lord, help me to meditate throughout the day on your Word, so that I may declare to others who you are and how you have impacted my life. Help me to encourage others to delight in you too. Thank you for your loving forgiveness. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

For further reading: Psalm 1

A Firm Stance

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

John 10:10

“Oh, I can’t do this!”

“I can’t write.”

“I don’t have anything really good to share.”

“I’m so grumpy right now, how can I be encouraging?”

The enemy causes us to think negatively about ourselves, to question who we are, and uses others to bring us down, to divide, tear down, devour and destroy. He comes to steal our peace to cause stress and anxiety to distract us from our relationship and walk with God. The evil one likes to trip and push us off of our path.The enemy can even place fun things in our path to steal our time from God. How many hours have we binged tv shows versus reading the Bible? I know that I have let my guard down in a few different ways. Have you?

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith, be courageous; be strong.

1 Corinthians 16:13

How can we protect ourselves? Our stance must be firm and ready for defense. We can not do this alone. Therefore, first and foremost, we must accept Christ as our Lord and Savior. We must ask Him to forgive our sinful ways. He will be our firm foundation (1 Corinthians 3:11). Then, we must be reading the Bible daily, praying throughout the day, memorizing the commandments and as much scripture as we can. Because, it is during the times that the evil one comes to devour or slightly detour us that God’s Word will give us a firm stance against the enemy. Be strong.

Be encouraged!

Prayer: Dear Lord, how encouraging it is to know that you love us so much that you have given us the Bible to teach us and guide us away from the enemy. When negative thoughts and distractions occur, help us to see the red flag of warning to turn to you for strength and courage to live life to the full. In Jesus’ name. Amen!

For further reading: John 10

Persevere Under Trial

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised those who love him. James 1:12

We all have seen many trials whether firsthand experience or what we see on the news or in our communities. It is how we handle these trials that is so important. God calls us to persevere. Lean into the Lord for strength and wisdom and see how God will shape and conform us to be more like Christ. Keep in step with His ways that are blameless. Seek Him with your whole heart.

Do not let fear creep in and paralyze you. We need to be strong examples of Christ to those around us. We may be the only light they will see. How does God want to use us to help each other during the trials of life? Think of one person that could use some encouragement and reach out to them. Send a text, email or a card in the mail. God most likely will be using you to help encourage that other person. Be ready!

May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance. 2 Thessalonians 3:5

Be encouraged!

Prayer: Dear Lord, open our eyes to see how to help others during their trials and stregthen us during our own. Thank you for always being there shaping us along the way. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

For further reading: James 1

Seek After God

“The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God.” Psalm 14:2

“But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul.” Deuteronomy 4:29

Remember the days when your children were little and they loved to play hide and seek? Remember when the little darlings would patter off only to “hide” in plain view because they hid only their face? Oh, what fun it was to seek them and tickle them into fits of giggles!

The Lord loves it when we seek Him. There are several ways that we can seek Him. We can pray to our loving God, day or night, standing, sitting or kneeling. We can even pray while driving; just keep your eyes open! We can read the Bible by flipping through its’ pages or swiping through the pages on our smartphone.

We can gather together with others and study His Word with an Aspen Place Ministries Study.

We can listen to the audio Bible or to someone reading it aloud. We can seek God in His house, at our church. We can seek God in nature, as we explore His creation. We can seek God in Christian friends as they encourage us with His Word and through His love.

To seek the Lord with all of our heart and soul is to believe in Him, learn about who He is, and fall in love with Him. Let’s seek Him to understand Him in deeper ways this week, spending more time with our Heavenly Father who adores us!

Be encouraged!

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, may we delight in You as we seek You wholeheartedly this week. Help us to grow closer to You and honor You in all that we do. In Your Son’s name, Jesus. Amen

For further reading: Psalm 14:2

Live the Life

Live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:1-3

I will be honest, there are days when being gentle and patient do not come easy. Especially, when I am exhausted physically, drained emotionally or hungry! I have found over the years that when I step up my diligence in my quiet time with the Lord, I am armed with a strength and patience that can only come from Him. I just need to order my days better, starting my quiet time first thing in the morning, yet allowing the margins for the unexpected. I need to not let others rule my day, or let the evil one whisper distracting discouragement in my ear, but make certain that God guides every minute. This diligence will allow me to shield distractions and be able to bear with one another in love, keep unity through peace, and live the life God has designed for me no matter where I am or who I am with.

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for giving me this time to focus in on you. I pray that those reading will feel a tug towards you in a new way. May all burdens and discouragement be lifted from those who seek you, Lord. May each of us overflow in abundance your love and peace. In Jesus’ precious name. Amen.

For further reading: Ephesians 4:1-32

Are You Ready?

“Immediately after the distress of those days “‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’

“At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory.” Matthew 24:29–30

The lodge was spacious, with beautifully crafted woodwork throughout, comfy sofas clustered around several oversized fireplaces and huge bay windows overlooked the splendor of nature all around us. My daughter and I were curled up on a sofa, enjoying some one on one time, when a piercing scream rent the air.

“The stars are falling! The stars are falling from the sky!” Someone yelled.

Chaos ensued as everyone ran to the windows to see for themselves. People wailed and cried as they watched in terror as white streaks covered the evening sky, falling like rain on the ground below.

My daughter and I ran, hand in hand to the nearest window too, and as we stood in shock at the amazing site, I understood in an instant what was happening.

“The Lord Jesus is coming back,” I told my daughter, “Quick, let’s pray and prepare.” But as I pulled her to me, I was struck with the realization that there was nothing we needed to do. We were ready. We had accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior and had been living for Him for many years. We threw our arms around each other and began to jump up and down. “Jesus is coming, Jesus is coming!” We cried with abandon.

When I awoke from my dream, the feelings of joy and excitement were still with me. I knew the order of the end times would not be quite like that, but the meaning of the dream was clear.

Those that believe in Jesus Christ and seek to live in obedience to Him are saved. We are ready for Christ’s return, and need not fear what the future may bring.

Don’t go back to sleep! Jesus is coming soon. If you aren’t ready, accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior now (Romans 10:9-10)! Turn from your sins and walk with Jesus.

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, what sweet joys await those that trust in you. Inspire us to live with the urgency that you are coming soon, that you may find us ready and anxiously waiting for your return.

For further reading: Matthew 24

Give God the Glory

Photo by Matt Jastram

You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth. Deuteronomy 8:17-18a

The house was crowded with people celebrating the upcoming wedding of my dear friend’s son. Excitement and joy filled the air as the noise of happy chatter bounced about the room.

I was visiting with a couple that had attended one of my summer, young adult Bible studies, when the topic of “Giving thanks to God” came up.

Trevor was sharing that after graduating from college and holding down a somewhat boring job, he had just applied for the job of his dreams and got it.

I was thrilled for him, and said, “Praise the Lord! You must be so thankful to God for this amazing opportunity!”

Calmly and with all seriousness, he said, “No, why should I be? I was the one that worked my tail off at college, I was the one that toiled through monotonous tasks at my last job and I was the one that applied for this new job. God had nothing to do with it.”

I tried to contain my shock as I shut my gaping mouth. The ignorance of that statement, from someone that believed in God (but not Jesus) left me speechless (for a moment).

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights. James 1:17a

I replied, “That is not true. God has everything to do with your blessings. He was the one that gave you a brain that understands how the mechanic of things work, He was the one that gave you the ability and energy to go to school and hold down a job, and He was the one that opened doors for you to even apply for this new job. Whether you believe that or not, it doesn’t matter, it’s still truth. Give God the glory and the thanks He deserves.”

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, we praise you for the hundreds of good gifts you have given us. Help us to be a thankful and grateful people and to give you the glory and praise that you deserve. We love you. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

True Paradise

Look, the home of God is now among his people! He will live with them and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will remove all of their sorrows, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. For the old world and its evils are gone forever.” Revelation 21:3-4

The sun was warm, the sky a soft cornflower blue and the ocean sparkled with a thousand diamonds. I dug my toes into the sand and embraced the beauty and peace around me. Oh, I thought, “If only I could stay here forever, that would be paradise.”

But as I sat there gazing at the swaying, dancing ocean, I wanted to be there. I wanted to experience firsthand, the feel of the water on my skin, and the buoyancy of the sea as I floated upon it. So I rose from my sandy paradise to walk into the breaking surf.

After acclimating to the water temperature and pushing through the rolling waves, I found myself swimming in the sparkling diamonds I had observed from the beach. It was glorious! I thought, “If only I could stay here forever, that would be paradise!”

But as I lay relaxing in the gently rocking ocean, my mind began to wander, with the rumbles of my tummy:  teriyaki chicken, grilled shrimp, and sautéed mushrooms came to mind. My peaceful floating paradise wasn’t enough, I wanted more. I saw the Hula Grill in my mind, nestled close to the beach with their big grass umbrellas and live music and suddenly I was no longer content. I began to swim back to shore.

As I swam, I pondered my fickled musings. Why was I not content? Was there a true paradise somewhere for me? As the answer to my question glided gently into my mind, I smiled with anticipation.

Of course we will never be fully in paradise until we see Jesus face-to-face. All these beautiful moments on earth are just a glimpse, a feeling, a taste of what heaven will be like.

And when we arrive and stand before the Lord, we will say, “Now this is truly paradise, if only I could stay here forever”, and Jesus will say, “You will! Welcome to paradise.”

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, how we long for paradise with you. Thank you for the moments on earth that show us a peek of what heaven will be like. Help us continue to pursue a deeper relationship with you that will make paradise all the sweeter. We love you Lord. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

For further reading: Revelation 21