A Life Verse


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 Deuteronomy 11:18 (CEV)

Memorize these laws and think about them. Write down copies and tie them to your wrists and your foreheads to help you obey them.

I have heard Pastors and other Christian leaders talk about finding a “life verse.” A life verse is more than a favorite verse; it is the verse that speaks directly to you in a remarkably personal way. With more than 31,000 verses in the Bible the task seemed overwhelming to me, so I put it off. I wondered how one verse could speak to my life now, and ten years from now.

Still, it’s a concept I wanted to explore further. Over time, I read articles and blog posts from various Christian authors. There was no shortage of advice, but still, I couldn’t pick one verse. As I reflected on what verse to select I thought I should pick a verse that I could quote while sharing the gospel, and to give myself encouragement. I googled “Top Memory Verses” and read over 100 suggested verses. Several would have worked as a life verse, but I was not drawn to any one particular verse. There were also personal struggles going on in my life, which made the decision more difficult.

It wasn’t until I set out to read the entire Bible that I found my life verse, tucked away in the book of a minor prophet – Zephaniah. Part of Zephaniah, chapter 3, discusses the blessing of restoration for God’s people. It also points to Christ’s millennial kingdom. As a young adult I ignored the Lord. Although I regret my foolishness, this verse reminds me of God’s great love and forgiveness, and His ability to make great change in anyone’s life, even after disobedience. It also points to a future of hope.

Zephaniah 3:17 (GNT)

The Lord your God is with you; his power gives you victory. The Lord will take delight in you, and in his love he will give you new life. He will sing and be joyful over you.”

What’s your life verse? If you don’t have one I encourage you to find a verse that speaks to you so personally, you find it a special treasure.

Blessings on your day.

 

Image: Google Images

The Legacy of Saint Patrick


celticCross1

Today millions of people will celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with good luck wishes, parades and merriment. However, St. Patrick’s legacy has nothing to do with superstition and merry making. God used St. Patrick to bring the Gospel to a pagan culture. His legacy still endures.

Ireland was a beautiful island, but the people were in darkness. Druids ruled the land. Around 400 A.D., Patrick was abducted from his homeland and put on a slave ship bound for Ireland. He spent six years tending flocks for the Chieftain he was sold to.

Eventually, Patrick escaped and returned to his home and family. His faith was strengthened and he began to study for the ministry. In a vision, God called Patrick to be a missionary to Ireland. Patrick returned to the people who enslaved him as a boy.

At that time the people of Ireland worshiped multiple gods of the sky and the earth and the water. Patrick’s first task was to convince the Irish that there was only one God and that his God really did love them. Patrick was familiar with the Irish language and culture from his years in captivity, so he chose to incorporate Irish ritual and symbols into his teaching. Patrick added the sun (a powerful Irish symbol) to the cross, creating the  Celtic cross so that the result would seem more natural to the people.

In 432 A.D., Patrick built a church on the site of the present day St. Patrick’s Memorial Church in Saul — the first ever Christian church in all of Ireland. It’s considered the cradle of Irish Christianity.

Legend has it that Patrick used the shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity – the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Patrick’s ministry lasted 29 years. He baptized over 120,000 Irishmen and planted 300 churches. He died on March 17, 461 AD. His legacy has endured 1600 years!

One of my most treasured possessions is my great-grandmother’s Bible. It is one of the few possessions she had when she left Ireland and traveled by ship to America in 1898. With a broken spine and tattered pages, the Bible really is falling apart. But it represents the hopes, dreams, and courage God gave her to build a life in this new land for future generations. It also represents the faith she passed on to her eleven children. She went to heaven in 1950, but not before she left a godly legacy that continues with me. My spiritual legacy is also to pass my faith to my children and grand children.

How can you impact future generations?

Deuteronomy 6:5-7

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, 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.”

Data on St. Patrick gathered from: http://www.cbn.com/spirituallife/churchandministry/churchhistory/patricius_the_true_story_of_st_patrick.aspx, retrieved on March 11,2015.

 

Scripture: http://www.openbible.info

Image: Google Images

Fresh Bread


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“Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.’” John 6:35

The aroma of warm bread just out of the oven is enticing. People love the smell and look forward to savoring freshly-baked breads. To experience its full flavor, bread should be eaten soon after it is baked. Stale bread, bread that has sat for a few days, is unappealing and usually tossed in the trash. That’s why bakeries and restaurants bake their breads throughout the day – everyday.

To keep our faith fresh and appealing to others, we must constantly feast on the words of Jesus Christ, the bread of life. That’s not always easy to do. Our lives are busier than ever. Finding a few minutes alone with our Lord is difficult, but so rewarding. Tasting and savoring a bit of Scripture every day nourishes us spiritually.

One thing I have noticed about devotionals is that each day’s reading focuses on just a few verses, and a short narrative. The Bible is so alive and relevant that we can read just one or two verses and be spiritually nourished for the day. It’s amazing to me how these few verses each day speak to my spirit.

We don’t eat just once or twice a week. Instead, we enjoy regular meals to maintain our strength. Our spiritual health depends on receiving regular nourishment too.

 Rather, he delights in the teachings of the Lord and reflects on his teachings day and night.” Psalm 1:2 (GW)

 

Blessings on your day.

 

Scripture: www.biblegateway.com

Image: Google Images

Pi, Nature, and God’s Love


pi

Today is 3/14/15. Some have decided to call it Pi day (π), after the number. Pi is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. It is equal to 3.14159265358979323846… (the digits go on forever without repeating). π is infinite. Perhaps the reason this equation goes on forever is circles have no beginning and no ending. When I consider this mathematical concept I’m reminded that our Creator and His perfect love are infinite. God wants us to know this fact. So, our Creator has placed in nature ways to help us get to know Him. I discovered one of these ways when I opened up my Bible to read Genesis 1.

 Genesis 1:1–5

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.

 Genesis 1:16–19

God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day.

What? Back up! If God did not make the sun, moon, and stars until the fourth day, what was the light on the first day of creation? I went back to verses 1–5 again. The light was there first. Then, God spoke everything else into existence. I had to know more.

As I explored the concept of light, I came to know our glorious Creator in a most remarkable way. Stick with me through a little technical jargon. It will help us understand the many meanings of light and how those meanings help us understand the attributes of God. I promise you will be rewarded for your time.

  •  The Speed of Light. Light travels very quickly, 186,282 miles per second.[i] The photons of light travel in a straight line, and go on (theoretically) forever. Consider how far light travels from distant galaxies. Light is infinite, just as God and His love are infinite. Light is coming to us in the fastest and most direct way possible—that is a straight line.[ii] God is available to us in the fastest and most direct way possible too—with just a prayer.
  •  Visible Light. The light we can see is part of the electromagnetic (EM) spectrum. This spectrum is radiation and is divided into types of waves. EM radiation carries energy, called photons.[iii] The waves we can see are visible light and are between certain frequencies near the middle of the EM spectrum. Jesus is with you even though you can’t see Him.
  •  Color. Each frequency is a different color. In 1670, Sir Isaac Newton demonstrated that white light is composed of all the colors of the spectrum by refracting sunlight through a prism.[iv] White light is the presence of all color, so light is the exclusive source of color in the world. When light disappears, color fades.[v] Colors are made of wavelengths. When we see colors we see the wavelengths of light that are not absorbed by the object.[vi] Black is the absence of color,[vii] or the absence of light.
  •  Sight. Without the gift of light, sight would be meaningless. The ability to see begins when light enters your eyes.[viii] Without God’s gift of light, there would be no sight.

Back to Scripture. In John 1 we learn more about light and “the beginning.”

 John 1:1–5, 9

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.”

Light is a metaphor for our Savior. This metaphor is used early in the life of Jesus. Mary and Joseph took Jesus to present Him at the temple on the eighth day, as required by Jewish law and tradition. In Luke 2:25–32 we find Simeon, a righteous and devout man, enlightened by God. Simeon took Jesus in his arms and praised God. He said,

 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.” Luke 2:29-32

 

In John 8:12, Jesus said, “I am the light of the world.” This light goes on forever, just as the love of God never ends.

Once we understand that Jesus is light, and light is infinite, we begin to better understand the attributes of God. When we turn to the end of the Bible, in the last chapters of Revelation, we get a glimpse of the New Jerusalem, our heavenly home and we see that light comes from God.

Revelation 21:22-24

I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there.

 Revelation 22:5

“There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.”

Take a look at math, science, and nature. What other ways is our Creator expressing himself?

May your day be filled with infinitely beautiful, life-giving, and loving light

Adapted from: Follow the Light, Week One, by Julie Garro, Crossbooks Publishing, October 2013.

 

Scripture: www.biblegateway.com

Image: Google Images

 

 

[i] Brown, T., & Spilman, A.K. (2013). Light. In Public Libraries. Retrieved from
http://www.worldbookonline.com/pl/infofinder/article?id=ar323260

[ii] Wood, Robert, Physics for Kids, 1990, Tab Books, Blue Ridge Summit, PA

[iii] Encyclopædia Britannica Online Library Edition, s.v. “light,” accessed July 26, 2013,http://library.eb.com.arlingtontx.idm.oclc.org/eb/article-9110443.

[iv] Domski, M. (2013). Newton, Sir Isaac. In Public Libraries. Retrieved from
http://www.worldbookonline.com/pl/infofinder/article?id=ar390180

[v] Lauber, Patricia, What Do You see and How Do You See It? Crown Publishers, New York, NY 1994

[vi] Domski, M. (2013). Newton, Sir Isaac. In Public Libraries. Retrieved from
http://www.worldbookonline.com/pl/infofinder/article?id=ar390180

[vii] Encyclopædia Britannica Online Library Edition, s.v. “color,” accessed July 26, 2013,http://library.eb.com.arlingtontx.idm.oclc.org/eb/article-9273736.

[viii] Lauber, Patricia, What Do You see and How Do You See It? Crown Publishers, New York, NY 1994

Friggatriskaidekaphobia and other Silly Superstitions


Lucky-superstitions

 1 Timothy 4:7 (ESV)

“Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness” 

I thought I would be fun to share a little trivia today. Friggatriskaidekaphobia is the word for the fear of Friday the 13th. The other word for it is paraskevidekatriaphobia. Today is the second Friday the 13th of 2015. There will be one more this year, in November. Some people are spooked by the day while others ignore it. Most superstitions are based on folklore and the history behind them is interesting. Still, they are fun to poke fun at. Fear of Friday the 13th is one of several silly superstitions I remember from childhood. Let’s look at a few.

  • Don’t step on a crack; you’ll break someone’s back.
  • Find a penny, pick it up and all day long you’ll have good luck.
  • Make a wish on a falling star.
  • Knock on wood.
  • Horseshoes bring good luck.
  • Finding a four-leaf clover will bring you luck.
  • Beginner’s luck.
  • Carrying a rabbit’s foot.
  • Don’t open an umbrella indoors.
  • Make a wish on a wishbone.
  • Cross your fingers.
  • Don’t walk under a ladder. (Actually this one seems to be very good advice.)
  • Don’t let a black cat cross your path.
  • Toss salt over your shoulder. (I think this is just something else to clean up.)
  • Don’t break a mirror or you will have 7 years of bad luck.

When you read them all together they do sound silly.

There is one superstition I like – to say “God Bless You” after someone sneezes. During the sixth century, it was customary to congratulate people who sneezed because they were expelling evil from their bodies. Later, when a great plague took hold of Europe, and people began sneezing violently, the Pope passed a law. Since sneezing meant that the person was going to die of the plague, people were asked to bless the sneezer. The plague is long since over, but I think it is fine to ask God to bless someone.

May God richly bless your day.

Scripture: www.openbible.info

Image: Google images

Spiritual Drought


Psalm 1:1-3

Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, 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.

Much of Texas has been in a drought for several years. We’ve had some relief recently. After weeks of ice, snow, and rain, the ground is saturated, but it’s not enough to end the drought. I would prefer a little bit of rain on a regular basis than being inundated with moisture all at once.

That’s how it is with studying God’s Word. We have to study a little bit every day, rather than just spend Sunday mornings studying Scripture. A few hours once a week is not enough to make up for the time we missed during the week. We need nourishment every single day.

Studying Scripture is like growing a crop. First, the soil must be prepared, and then the seed is planted. The seed stays in the soil for a while, sometimes several days, before it sprouts. First there is just a little hint of green, but as the days pass, and with the steady application of water and sunlight, the plant begins to grow. If water and sunlight are not regularly provided the plant would dry up and die. If the plant is given all its nourishment all at once, or just once in a while, it would not be enough to sustain it through times of scorching heat and drought. After a season of steady moisture and nourishment, a seed turns into a plant, ready to fulfill its purpose.

Matthew 13:8

“Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”

 Jeremiah 17:7-8

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”

 repeated efforts

 

May you have a spiritually nourishing day.

 

Scripture: www.biblegateway.com

Image: Google Images

TO BECOME A LEADER


 leadership quote

Yesterday I wrote about “Excellence.” Some wonderful leaders in my company were honored for their hard work and commitment to excellence.  I also wrote that Jesus taught us how to be great leaders, by serving first.

Mark 9:33-35

They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?” But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest.

Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.”

If you want to be a good leader, you first show your excellence by being a good servant, a good follower. Followers support the leader so that the leader is able to be effective. Great followers work to make their leader’s work easier.

I learned a lot about being a follower when I was in the Navy. Good followers have several traits in common. I’ve found there are Biblical truths to support these traits. Jesus is our King. He has the ultimate authority in our lives and this world. Therefore, we must all follow Him. We can learn to be better followers of our great King.

FOLLOWERSHIP

  1. A follower must be obedient.

Thousands of orders are given aboard ships every day. Captains need to know the sailors in their command will follow those orders, or the ship may be damaged, discovered by the enemy, or sailors won’t get their evening meal. Not following orders can have even more dire consequences. Failure to obey orders can mean that people will die.

1 Samuel 15:22

But Samuel replied: “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.

John 15:14 

You are my friends if you do what I command.

  1. A follower must be loyal.

Every serviceperson takes an oath when joining the military. Part of that oath talks about bearing true faith and allegiance to the United States. Loyalty is very important in life. It goes beyond attachment and affection. It’s being faithful to commitments and responsibilities. 

Deuteronomy 7:9

Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.

1 Kings 8:61

And may your hearts be fully committed to the Lord our God, to live by his decrees and obey his commands, as at this time.

Luke 16:13 

No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

 3. A follower must be respectful.

When I was young, we learned to respect those in positions of authority. This life skill isn’t emphasized much anymore, but it really is critical for a successful life. We need to learn to be respectful of not just those who are in positions of leadership, but those who stand beside us. Respect goes a long way. 

Leviticus 19:32

Stand up in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the Lord.

Exodus 20:12

 Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

4. A follower is a servant.

Being a servant goes beyond being obedient and doing assigned tasks. Service is anticipating the needs of the one you serve and doing those tasks without being asked. When Joseph was sold to Potiphar, Joseph was just a slave, but quickly rose to the role of an overseer of Potiphar’s entire household (Genesis 39:6). How could this happen? He rose again to a position of power while he was in the prison (Genesis 39:22). Why? Joseph did something that set him apart from others. Although Scripture doesn’t say exactly how Joseph rose to prominence in these two passages, it’s easy to infer – Joseph served.

Good followers anticipate the needs of those they serve. However, those needs might change, so good followers must adapt to changing priorities.

Mark 10:45

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

Philippians 2:5-8

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!

  1. A follower is humble.

Good followers don’t draw attention to themselves. Good followers are concerned about the leader and the overall team, not themselves. Followers seldom work alone. They work with teams. Good followers make sure the team is taken care of, the team is noticed, or the team is helped.

Consider a few examples of good followers. Nurses obey doctor’s orders and make sure the doctor has everything needed to perform his or her duties. Administrative Assistants provide support to business leaders. Jet mechanics keep the planes in good operating condition so that the pilots can fly them. Good followers work for someone else’s glory. We’re here to work for the glory of God.

Psalms 25:9

He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.

1 Peter 5:5

 In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.

 LEADERSHIP

Once you are a good follower, the military teaches you how to be an effective and respected leader. There are biblical examples of great leaders who were first great followers:

  • Joshua followed Moses for more than 40 years before he led the Israelites into the Promised Land.
  • Samuel first served under Eli.
  • Elisha served Elijah for at least ten years before he took up his master’s mantle and went on to perform even more miracles.
  • David first served King Saul, long before he became King.
  • Peter followed Jesus for three years before he and his fellow disciples turned the world upside down.

The military knows how to build leaders. If you want to be a Sargent, you must first be a Private. If you want to be a General, you start off as a 2nd Lieutenant. You start at the bottom, learn and gain experience. Soldiers and sailors start off being responsible for a few junior personnel. Then, as they gain experience, they are given more responsibility. Eventually, they can be placed in charge of a department or division, or even a command.

Learn to be a good follower first. At the right time, God will place you in a leadership position, even if it is only by example. (You never know who is watching you.)

 

Blessings on your day.

 

Scripture: www.biblegateway.com

Image: google images