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Thy Word by Beth

I was reminded recently of some of the lyrics to the song titled “Thy Word” by Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith: 

“…Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. When I feel afraid, think I’ve lost my way, still you’re there right beside me. And nothing will I fear as long as you are near, please be near me to the end…I will not forget your love for me and yet my heart forever is wandering…” 

The Word of God is needed. The Word of God is enough. The Word of God is understandable. The Word of God is final. 

II Timothy 3:16 reads, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.” Hebrews 4:12 reads, “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than a two-edge sword and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Romans 15:4 reads, “For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through the perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” Also, God’s final word in His Son according to Hebrews 1:1-4 reads, “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in the last days has spoken to us through his Son whom He appointed heir of all things through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” 

The Word of God is inerrant! Inerrancy means the Scriptures do not affirm any errors. The Bible is all true and nothing is untrue. It tells history, it tells us actually how it really happened. The Word of God is infallible. Infallibility is the belief that what the Bible says regarding matters of faith and Christian practice is wholly useful and true. It is the “belief that the Bible is completely trustworthy as a guide to salvation and the life of faith and will not fail to accomplish its purpose.” The Word of God is inspired. This is, in fact, the claim the Bible makes for itself. The apostle Paul says in II Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness”. The biblical word for “inspired” means Scripture is “breathed out” by God. God breathed out His Word by using godly men to write down exactly what He wanted them to write.  

Let me encourage you to read the Word of God! Meditate on it, memorize it, and live it out in your daily life. It is a lamp unto your feet and a light unto your path (Psalm 119:105). It will guide you, challenge you, encourage you, convict you, take hold of you, overwhelm you, satisfy you and bless you. 

Stay on the Path by Laura

Recently I visited Brookgreen Gardens in Murrells Inlet, SC.  Even though I have lived in South Carolina for 32 years and have traveled to this area of our state often, this was my first time to see this “unique melding of art, nature and history.” (www.brookgreen.org)

Included on the property is a zoo where animals native to the Low Country have either been bred and raised in captivity or have sustained a major disability due to injury.  They are well cared for and protected since they could not survive in the wild.  Careful thought went into the design and layout of this area and I noticed signs all along the path that read, 

“CAUTION:  Please stay on the path.  This area contains sensitive natural habitats with some unstable land surfaces, alligators, venomous snakes & stinging insects.” 

Well, let me tell you, that caught my attention and I made sure I stayed on the path.  Taking a detour risking unstable land surfaces, alligators, venomous snakes and stinging insects was not an option for me!  It seemed I heard a whisper from the sweet Holy Spirit, “Stay on the path, Laura.  There is purpose on the path I have you traveling and most importantly, I am with you on the path.”  Immediately Psalm 119:105 came to mind.  “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” How do I stay on the path?  Only the supernatural Word of God can illuminate “the path” to follow.  It is radiant with truth, exposing the next step to take.  King David knows this path and prays, “Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground!” (Psalm 143:10).  On this secure path I follow a trustworthy leader.  As my Good Shepherd, “He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake” (Psalm 23:3).  He goes before and behind me and hems me in according to Psalm 139… all for His glory and my good.  Why would I stray from the path?

Have you been tempted to veer from the path?  Are you taking a detour where you have encountered unstableness, predators and danger?  Our hearts are prone to wander.  We want our own way or path and think we know better than God.  He is full of grace and mercy and is greater than our hearts.  Hear the good Spirit saying, “Please stay on the path!”  Trust your leader, follow Jesus, focus on the author and perfecter of your faith!

Cry out like King David, “Let me know Your ways, O LORD; Teach me Your paths” (Psalm 25:4). “Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name” (Psalm 86:11).  “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11).  Stay on the path!

Take some time to sit with the LORD concerning this truth and write out a prayerful response to Him.

Do Whatever He Tells You To by Beth

“They passed through the Phrygian and Galatian region, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia; and after they came to Mysia, they were trying to go into Bithynia, and the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them; and passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas. A vision appeared to Paul in the night; a man of Macedonia was standing and appealing to him, and saying, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.’ When he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go into Macedonia concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.”  Acts 16:6-10

What I love most about this particular passage of scripture is that within the text Luke describes each person of the trinity directing the steps of these men together as an inseparable work of God. They are “forbidden by the Holy Spirit” and “The Spirit of Jesus did not allow them.” Then, notice after the vision, they concluded that God (Father) had called them to preach the gospel in Macedonia. Saints, we don’t always understand how our God is working, and we may not always “see” Him working, but know this, He works. Our triune God (God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit) is always at work for His glory, His purposes and our good.  

As a believer, I desire to do the will of God in my life as a wife, a mom, a teacher, a sister in Christ, and as a friend. How do I know what the will of God is for my life?  I read the word of God and ask the Spirit to give wisdom and discernment as I read it. I was recently reminded from a sermon I read from a pastor friend of mine, Justin Deeter, that the book of Acts is descriptive of the church and not always prescriptive. In other words, Luke, in this particular passage, is reminding us how God led this mission. He is not telling us that we need to wait for a vision from the Lord before we act in every decision. What we are to do is seek the Word of God in every decision to determine the will of God for our lives.  

There are several verses to consider in seeking what the will of God is for any decision you make. First, God’s will according to scripture is for us to make Christ our priority. Matthew 6:33 reads, “But seek first the kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Is Christ a priority in your life? 

Secondly, God’s will according to scripture is for His children not only to pursue holiness, but to be holy. I Peter 1:14-16 reads, “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, ‘YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.’” God’s word is clear that God desires us to be holy, sanctified by the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  In every decision, ask yourself does this help me or hinder me in being holy? 

Another verse teaches us that the will of God includes having a grateful heart. We are to always be giving thanks to the Lord in everything. I Thessalonians 5:16-18 reads, “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Are you giving thanks to the Lord in all things? 

In closing, let me remind you that often we can use our wrestling over the will of God just to cover up our laziness and disobedience. Do we wait on the Lord for clarity? Yes! However, indecisiveness can cover up a lack of faith in God’s daily working in our lives. We must also guard against impulsive decision-making. I am guilty of this. I often have to confess this impulsive behavior. We can’t spiritualize our laziness or sanctify our disobedience by “cloaking it in the modern Christian parlance of waiting for the will of God”  (Justin Deeter). As John 2:5 reads, “Do whatever He tells you to do.”  

When we become a believer, we submit our lives to Christ’s orders. According to 2 Timothy 2:3-4, we are soldiers, and Christ is our Commander in Chief.   We obey his direction and his call on our lives, being sensitive to the working of the Holy Spirit in what He is directing us to do with our lives. Above all, our desire as believers should be to obey whatever command Jesus gives us. We are to go where He calls us to go and do whatever He asks us to do. May we discern the will of the Lord with wisdom, and in the Spirit, act in faith, trusting in the sovereignty of our glorious King and Redeemer.  

How is the Lord having you respond today?

Chosen to Proclaim by Miriam

Chosen to Proclaim by Miriam

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” 1 Peter 2:9

As I was preparing to teach on 1 Peter 2:1-12, verse 9 seemed to speak to my heart more than ever before. I’ve read this verse many times, but I think I’ve always focused on who Peter is reminding us we are as believers. However, this time as I studied, the part about what I’m to do because of who I am jumped out at me. You see, because of who we are in Christ — those of us who have accepted the Lord’s gift of salvation through the blood of Jesus — we are called to proclaim Him to the dark world around us.

Now more than ever, the world seems very dark around us. But now, more than ever, we must “proclaim the excellencies of him who called” us out of this dark world. Don’t live in the light alone. It is our mission to share that light. Verse 10 goes on to say, “Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” We must be ready to share with others how the Lord, through Jesus shed blood, showed us mercy and took us from darkness to light.

The Message paraphrases it this way: But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.

My precious daddy went home to be with Jesus on June 20, 2020. As Father’s Day approaches, he has been on my mind a little more. I can’t help but think of him as I ponder verse 9. My daddy was quick to “proclaim the excellencies” of the Lord to everyone he met. May you and I do the same.

EMBRACING JESUS by Laura

“Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” John 18:37

Are you ever tempted to embrace ideas, feelings, traditions and opinions over truth?  This is nothing new.  The New Testament writers warned of these “counterfeits” in their letters to the newly established Christian church.  We would be wise to hear God’s voice through His Word and embrace His eternal truth that brings hope.  We are living in a time where we as believers need to be reminded…Hope has a name…JESUS! 

Truth has a name…JESUS!  

We need hope!  “Crazy” surrounds us as we seem to be going off the deep end in our culture.  It’s shocking, but it shouldn’t be.  Jesus warned us.  Life is full of trouble – Jesus said in John 16.  The world will hate us as it hated Him – Jesus told us in John 15.  James admonishes us to consider it all joy when we encounter trials.  It is God’s opportunity to make us more like Jesus.  A change in perspective will enable us to endure as obedient believers. God’s Word gives us His perspective if we will listen. Even in the crazy, God is at work in you as a believer. He is with you and, when you embrace Him and His Word, you will find hope.  Hope will energize endurance.  Because He is resurrected and is alive, we can be alive now and for eternity with Him!  This hope is found by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.  JESUS is hope!  Will you make a daily choice to embrace Jesus in the crazy?  

We need truth!  Did you ever imagine that you would be facing the questions entertained in our day about what a woman is or what a man is?  Think about the absurdity of that!  There IS absolute truth and it is found in God’s Word.  Jesus prayed to His Father in John 17:17, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.”  Equip yourself by the power of the Holy Spirit to know what the Bible says about these lies that are being presented as “truth.”  Speak the truth in love and be ready to give an account of the hope that is within you with gentleness and reverence as Peter said.  Jesus, the Living Word said that He is the truth in John 14. JESUS is truth! Embrace Him as you daily surrender to Him as your King.

When you are tempted to embrace something other than Jesus, be sure it is a counterfeit!  Listen for His voice in His Word and embrace Him!

Such Faith! by Beth

“And Jesus went with them. When he was not far from the house, the centurion sent his friends, saying to him, ‘Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. Therefore, I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed. For I too am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘do this,’ and he does it.’” When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, ‘I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.’ And when those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the servant well.” Luke 7:6-10 ESV 

Centurions show up rather frequently in the Gospels and in Acts (Luke 7:2; 23:47; Acts 10:1). What is surprising is that these representatives of Roman occupation are portrayed in a positive way in the New Testament and here in Luke 7. They often end up responding to Jesus and His kingdom message with faith. This particular centurion is a Gentile who seeks Jesus out for healing of his slave. He sends his friends (Jewish elders) to speak on his behalf. He then sends his friends to keep Jesus from coming to his house. He expresses with confidence and with an analogy from his own role in the Roman army that Jesus, this Jewish healer, is able to heal from a distance (7:6-8). This centurion knew some truths about Jesus. His illustration of his earthly authority revealed that He understood that all authority in heaven and on earth belongs to Jesus – including authority to speak the Word and healing be accomplished. 

Do you have this kind of faith?  The kind of faith that believes and understands Christ’s authority and sovereignty over all things. Do you trust the Word of God? Do you believe that it is the very words of God written down through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit? I find myself sometimes crying out for this kind of faith and like the young dad in Mark 9 who said, “I do believe, but help me with my unbelief.” 

Take a few minutes today and ask the Lord for great faith. Ask him to help your unbelief—in believing that Christ can do what He says He will do. May we, too, cause Him to marvel at such great faith in us. This can only be accomplished by the Spirit’s work in our lives! Trust Him!  

Immanuel in You The Hope of Glory by Laura

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14

Immanuel- God with us.  When we read the story of Jesus’ birth, we are confronted with miracle after miracle.  The virgin shall conceive!  The Son of God is born in human form!  God comes to earth to be with us!  Immanuel!

From C.H. Spurgeon’s book Morning and Evening

“Let us go down to Bethlehem in the company of wondering shepherds and adoring Magi.  Let us see Him who was born king of the Jews.  By faith we can claim an interest in Him and can sing, “Unto us a Child is born.  Unto us a Son is given” (Isaiah 9:6).  

Jesus is Jehovah incarnate, our Lord, our God, our brother and our friend.  Let us adore and admire Him…our Savior, though truly man, was the Holy One of God.  Let us pray that He may be formed in us as the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27).” 

Spurgeon encourages us to go in our minds eye to the manger.  To see with the eye of faith, Jesus, who became God with us.  He then challenges us to pray that Immanuel may be formed in us as the hope of glory! Miracle of miracles that Christ would come to live in me.  Paul describes Him in Colossians 1.  God’s beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sin. He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation.  All things have been created by Him and for Him.  And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He brings salvation and rescues the lost.  Do you know Immanuel?

God chose to make known to His saints, this mystery…which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.  As a believer you are in Christ and Christ is in you by grace alone through faith alone.  Immanuel, God With Us, in the Believer.  Immanuel in you.  Immanuel in me. This is the miracle of salvation!

Before He left the earth to go back to the Father in glory, Jesus said, “…I will ask the Father and He will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him.  You know him for he dwells with you and will be in you.” (John 14)

During this Advent season pray that Immanuel may be formed in you as the hope of glory!

An Eternal Perspective by Laura

“Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man in being renewed day by day.  For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

The truth is, we are all growing older day by day, but by the ever-renewing grace of God, we are inwardly growing younger all the time!  This is a beautiful paradox of the believer’s life; of the righteous person.  We have an outer life and we have an inner life.  A temporal view and an eternal view.  Paul is calling us to embrace an eternal perspective as we age physically.  This can be challenging as we live in a culture that views aging as something to be avoided at all costs.  And those costs can be exorbitant.

If you and I are going to live Biblically as followers of Christ, we need grace to embrace an eternal perspective on aging. And it is a work of God’s grace that the Spirit is doing in our inner person. He always works from the inside out. The Bible tells us that we have spiritual eyes (Ephesians 1:18) so we ask the Lord to open the eyes of our hearts and show us through what lens we are looking. These lens determine our perspective and the conclusions we draw about everything in life.  

It seems that the culture’s view is “me”- centered and temporal.  Focusing on the outer life.  I would call it the “Me Lens”:  the selfie, self-focused, all about me, my needs, my plans, my kids, my money, my house, my stuff, etc.  This lens is implanted at birth.  It is the human default lens.  It’s all about ME!  Self absorption!  

The Biblical view is “grace”- centered and eternal.  Focusing on the inner life.  It is the “Grace Lens”: the life-giving lens; clear, clean, has a divine focus, all about the best interest of the one being viewed rather than the one viewing, full of kindness and love.  This lens is implanted at re-birth.  It’s all about JESUS!  His righteousness! He is the One who can do “surgery” on the eyes of our hearts and give us the lens of grace so that as we grow older, we thrive, bear fruit and give Him glory!  (Psalm 92:14) We grow older gracefully!  

No matter what your age, your perspective will affect how you age.  Examine your own spiritual sight to determine if you are viewing life from the temporal “Me Lens” or the eternal “Grace Lens” and submit to the work of the perfect eye surgeon.  He made your eyes and knows even the intent of your heart.  Ask Him for the Biblical, eternal perspective that will change everything about how you age!   Will you depend on Him as he renews you day by day?

Choosing Joy Day After Day by Miriam

“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,”
Galatians 5:22

Ten years ago this month, I turned 50. I decided to begin a 52-week devotional entitled Choosing Joy by Angela Thomas the day after my birthday — June 11, 2012. At that point in my life we were two and a half years into caring for my mother-in-love in our home. She had Alzheimer’s Disease. Things were getting very difficult.

As the weeks progressed in my time with the Lord and this devotion on choosing joy, God reminded me that He is our source of joy. As the scripture above states, “…the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives…joy…”. You see it isn’t about my circumstances — which over the past 10 years have been both good and not so good — it is about a choice. I choose daily to submit to the Lordship of Jesus in my life. As I do, the Holy Spirit works in my life producing His fruit.

This month I turned 60 (on June 10th). Over the past 12 years our family has experienced deep lows and some amazing highs, as well as all the in between things. My precious mother-in-love and my precious daddy went home to be with their Savior in 2014 and 2020, respectively. We gained a son-in-love and another daughter-in-love, and we have been blessed with nine grandchildren in these years as well. We had some hard things as we struggled with where the Lord had us in ministry and where we felt He was leading.

Some days it is much easier to choose joy than others, but 1 Thessalonians 5:16 says, “Rejoice always,”. It doesn’t say to rejoice only when things are going great. If you read on to verse 17 it says, “pray continually,” (or some translations say “without ceasing”). Verse 18 goes on to say, “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

These past 10 years I have found it a little bit easier, as the years go by, to choose joy. It isn’t easier because I have arrived—far from it. It is easier because I have learned the only way to make the choice to be joyful is to lean deeply into Jesus. I’ve asked the Lord to convict me quickly when I start to go down the grumbling path (it is easy to do). He has been faithful to do just that. I talk to the Lord often throughout my day (pray continually) and I thank Him in all the seasons (easy ones and hard ones).

What will your response be? Will you choose joy today?

The Powerful Word of God by Laura

“…when you received from us the word of God’s message, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe.” I Thessalonians 2:13

From a young age, I was taught to believe, read, memorize and love the Bible.  In third grade, God worked His salvation in me and I received the gospel and accepted the Bible for what it really is, the Word of God.  I was encouraged to study and memorize scripture and to love God’s Word and believe it as supernatural truth meant to transform my heart and life. 

I still love God’s Word and even now, experience the supernatural power it has to transform me from the inside out.  Each time I read and study God’s Word it’s an opportunity for Him to open up page after page of life-giving, truth, meant to make me more like Jesus.  I pray that you have the same belief, but it is increasingly obvious that we live in a culture that is at war with the God of the Bible and His Words!

Our culture does not share this love for God or His Word and most definitely does not accept the truth of what HE has said in His Word.  Some have declared war with God as they have denounced what God says about marriage and gender in Genesis!  He is clear about His design in creation and His purpose for a man and a woman in marriage.  

So how do we engage our unbiblical culture who is at war with the God we love?  How do we speak truth in love to unbelievers?

We become “living Bibles”!  Since only God has the power to save and transform, and He uses His Word to do this, we as Christians must believe what He says and trust HIM to work in us to impact our culture.  Read, memorize, meditate on and love HIS WORD! Believe that it is inspired: God breathed – (II Timothy 3:16-17, II Peter 1:21), infallible: incapable of error – (Romans 15:4) and inerrant: does not deviate from the standard of truth – (Psalm 119:160).  He will work in you as you expose your heart to His Word, and when He provides opportunities for you to speak, choose to speak words of truth from HIS Word and know that HE will use HIS Word to do HIS work!! 

“For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)  

This sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17) is our weapon of truth in the culture at war with the God we love and He will use His Word to perform its work in you who believe so that you will be a “living Bible” to your culture. 

Your response: