Bread Crumbs

Do you remember the story of Hansel and Gretel, where they leave a trail of bread crumbs so they can find their way home? It’s an interesting story, but I want to focus on the bread crumbs. Sometimes I feel like the Lord leaves me a trail of bread crumbs, not for the purpose of leading me home but as confirmation that I’m going the right way.

My most recent “bread crumb” was found in Psalm 27:14. “Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart be courageous. Wait for the LORD.” (CSB) At a time of uncertainty and questioning, this was peace to my unsettled soul. And unlike Hansel’s breadcrumbs that were eaten by birds, God’s Word does not return void. His Word is established and a firm foundation for direction and teaching.

Therefore, I wait.

In Psalm 27:14 the word ‘LORD’ is all capital letters, it lets me know this refers to God’s Promise Making, Promise Keeping character. He is our covenant God. In my questioning and doubts, I can wait on the Lord to be faithful in His promises. That’s claiming some earthly promised land. It’s still a bit uncomfortable, but that’s where trusting Him comes in to play. Trusting God’s timing, his provision, his goodness, and his faithfulness.

This particular “bread crumb” in Psalm 27:14 has been found in several separate areas of my life. Therefore, I wait.

What “bread crumbs” has he left for you recently? Where is he leading you?

Psalm 27_14

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Light On Your Path

Last week we talked about being Light Focused, asking for eyes to see and then walking in the light so that we can see. Today I wanted to share an insight I learned while participating in our final session of The Quest, Beth Moore’s latest study. (It’s great!) During that last teaching session Ms. Beth spoke about Psalm 119:105, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” It’s one of those verses everyone seems to know and shake their heads in agreement when it’s mentioned. But what Ms. Beth said made me stop and think. She utilized the idea of holding a lamp in front of you, and that with a lamp you’re only able to see what is arms-length away. We don’t get the entire view of the path ahead, just what the lamp in your hand is able to illuminate.

According to this verse in Psalm 119 God’s word is a lamp, not a city illuminating stadium light. As someone who has made several trips around the sun, by now you’ve figured out that even though you may want to know what the path ahead looks like, it’s not likely to happen. We only get to see the path as we’re walking it. We get one lamp’s length at a time.

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We don’t know who penned Psalm 119, but I wonder what lamp they may have used.  My curious mind and a quick search came up with what archaeologists have discovered. Simple clay bowls with a pinched spout to support a wick, which was generally made with twisted flax.[i] They probably used olive oil, a common lamp fuel and precious resource. The psalmist’s lamp, and the light it cast, would have been dramatically different from our versions today.

Could you imagine carrying this lamp, having it’s dim light to guide your steps? This lamp had to be held intentionally, and so close that it’s warmth could be felt from the flame. I imagine the psalmists relationship with God and His Word to have been an intimate one, present and intentional.

God’s word illuminates each step, not the entire path like we may want. I love the CSB version of Psalm 119:105, “Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path.” (emphasis mine) God’s word can be on the path with you, leading the way and showing where to place your foot next. We get just enough light to know where to step, and perhaps what we’re putting our foot on. It sets us up for relationship with the Father and His Word, and to be present with the Holy Spirit and others.

I’m curious, how do you use God’s word as a precious resource guiding the way? And, how does this idea effect your walk with the Lord and your relationship with His Word?

I’m so grateful for you.

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“Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path” Psalm 119:105 CSB (Photo by Guilherme Stecanella on Unsplash)

[i] R. Dennis Cole. Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, pg. 1009; Nashville, TN: Holman Reference, Holman Bible Publishers, 2003.

Bearing Fruit and Growing

Everyone likes to bear fruit, and be the recipient of fruit produced in season. There’s nothing better than a fresh picked peach in the height of summer or crisp apple when the cool fall arrives. Our berry farm is meant to bear fruit throughout the heat of summer. And just like fruit born in appropriate seasons, our lives are meant to do the same. That being said, it can be hard to not strive to produce the whole fruit bowl at once.

Spiritually speaking, we are told that we will bear fruit and we are called to do so. I believe there’s more to simply being focused on bearing fruit. Take a look at Paul’s words in Colossians. “…so that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge of God…” Colossians 1:10 (ESV, emphasis mine)

Paul was specifically talking to the church in Colossae about the gospel’s effect in their lives, and his words are easily applicable to us today. Walk in a manner pleasing to the Lord, bearing fruit and growing. I appreciate the order in which Paul presents these things, bear fruit and continue in growth. We can have a tendency to want to bear fruit, but perhaps forget to continue growing once fruit has been born. In order to continue bearing fruit, there must be continued growth. We aren’t called to be corn plants, growing rapidly to produce a crop for harvest and then die. I believe that as eternal beings, we are called to continue bearing fruit for harvest and grow – a perpetual process.

Familiarity with the Word may bring to mind what kind of fruit we are to limitlessly produce. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23 (ESV)

How then shall we grow it? According to our verse in Colossians, we are to grow in the knowledge of God. The Greek word being used here for knowledge is ĕpignōsis, it denotes the idea of recognition, acknowledgment, full discernment, and to become fully acquainted with.[i] We aren’t being asked to become know-it-alls, knowing everything the Creator of heaven and earth knows, but rather to fully know Him. Recognize Him, acknowledge His ways, movements, and characteristics.

One of the most powerful and active ways we can grow in knowledge of the Lord is having an active encounter with His living Word on daily basis. God begins revealing His character in the first line of scripture, and he doesn’t let up until the last.

We have the free will to choose a relationship with God through His Word. Those Spirit-inspired words can be the water, fertilizer, and Son-shine the seed of the gospel message needs to grow in our heart and mind. We are called to both bear fruit and grow. If we are stunted spiritually, after a while the fruit will no longer come forth.

Let’s have some dialogue on how God is revealing his character, so that together we may grow in knowledge and understanding of Him. What characteristic of God has been most real to you this week?

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Photo by Katherine Chase on Unsplash

[i] Strong, J. (2009). A Concise Dictionary of the Words in the Greek Testament and The Hebrew Bible (Vol. 1, p. 31). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Juxtaposition

Juxtaposition is not just a position. In fact, it’s like having multiple positions all at one time but in their polarity, everything fits together.

Merriam-Webster defines juxtaposition asthe act or an instance of placing two or more things side by side often to compare or contrast or to create an interesting effect[i]

During my Jesus time one morning, I read Acts 9:31 where two opposite emotions of comfort and fear were held together – creating the effect of growth in the church. “And walking in the fear of the Lord and comfort of the Holy Spirit, it (the church) multiplied.” (Acts 9:31b, ESV, emphasis mine)

Fear of the Lord and comfort from the Holy Spirit, two emotions held together, allowed the church to grow and multiply. The contrast between the two is quite possibly where stretching and growth occur, and probably not without a bit of discomfort. I’m certain the early churches’ fear of the Lord was a healthy fear, established from experiencing God’s overwhelming authority in love.

Just like that early church, we can hold a healthy fear in the Lord and comfort from the Holy Spirit in the same open hand. In that juxtaposed and safe space, our faith can experience a healthy growth in the Lord. Our Creator is about growth and expansion; we are a reflection of Him, thus meant for growth and expansion. Based on Matthew 17:14-21 with Jesus’ words of “faith like a grain of mustard seed” – I’m convinced that faith is meant to grow!

I’ve often found my faith grows most when I’m stretched between the comfort of standing on the promises and steadfast character of God, and stepping out into the unknown. How about you?

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“And walking in the fear of the Lord and comfort of the Holy Spirit, it (the church) multiplied.” (Acts 9:31b, ESV, emphasis mine)  Photo by Luis Tosta on Unsplash

[i] https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/juxtaposition

Courageous Faith : Coming Soon!

It’s nearly here, and I feel like this has been the longest gestation for a baby…EVER! Super excited to finally be able to share the first peak at my new Bible study : Courageous Faith, Claiming Your Promised Land Through the Book of Joshua.

Two years ago I would have never called myself a writer – God has been transforming me. Through wrestling, tears, joy, and countless light-bulb moments, it’s God’s grace that has made this study possible. I pray that it would be a blessing and equip you with tools to grow your faith and claim  God-given ground.

You may know the Bible story of the walls of Jericho tumbling down, but Joshua’s journey with the Israelites is so much deeper. Faith is an action word, and Joshua’s life is filled with deep faith and courageous obedience as he lived out the promises of God. Join me as we explore the Book of Joshua in this seven week study. Each step of the journey will allow your faith to take root deep into your heart, resulting in a close walk with the Lord and claimed ground.

Anyhoo – Can’t wait to share my new “baby” with you. I’ll let you know details as to how you can get your hands on a copy as the time gets closer. And can I add that it’s way past time to get back to a regular blog schedule?!Courageous_Faith_Coming_Soon

 

 

Hello – My Lovely, New Friend!

Hey friends, so this is post is a little different than the norm – but I couldn’t help it. Several weeks ago, I had the opportunity for a little get away to Springfield, MO. It was great! But one of my favorite things is that I got to visit the local LifeWay Christian bookstore. And, I had a 40% off coupon for one item. (Score!) The minute I saw that coupon, and realized it would be valid over my trip – my one item was pegged. A new Bible. The She Reads Truth Bible.

I didn’t really need a new Bible – I have 3 sitting on a shelf in front of me, and another one to my left hand. I use them all, but did I really “need” another? But it’s pretty! And…it’s the Christian Standard Bible (CSB) translation I’ve been desiring, especially for study. Did I say it’s pretty?

Well, I got it. So now I have two Bibles sitting by my left hand, with three more in front of me. It feels slightly selfish, but I use them all!

IMG_6442What a gift. You see, a sweet friend had the opportunity to do some of the artistry within its pages. To me, this Bible is more than just a pretty, and new-to-me translation. It’s tangible evidence that God goes before us, His plans are good, and that He has an abundance of good gifts to give his children. And those gifts aren’t necessarily the tangible gift of a new Bible. It’s His love, and watching His plans unfold before us, it’s the gift of forgiveness and new mercy each day.

Not only have I been enjoying the story behind this Bible – but the devotionals, maps & timelines (I LOVE maps & timelines!), and there’s even space to take notes or journal. The extras are super enriching.  And even better, God is confirming messages to me within it’s pages.  Praise you, Lord!

Looking for more info on this little treasure? You can read Carrie’s blog post and visit the She Reads Truth website.

I’m not being compensated in any way to promote this Bible, just wanted to share my excitement with you. Happy studying!

Marinate In Jesus

On a recent Sunday night, steak was on the menu for supper. Thinking that it was supposed to marinate over night instead of a just a couple hours, I prepped the ingredients and decided to set it all together in the fridge. But, at 5:00 p.m. Sunday evening, I realized a vitally important step was skipped. We got busy doing other things and I forgot to put the steaks in the marinade. Whoops.

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It wasn’t the end of the world, we’re used to eating late – no big deal. But it got me thinking. As those steaks just sat next to the marinade, they weren’t able to pick up any of the flavor prepared for them. In Matthew 5:13, Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored?” (ESV) I may be taking this verse a little out of context, but it came popping into my mind. In order to be the salt, seasoned and flavorful, we have to get in the marinade! Soaking-in the Lord.

 

We can attend church all our life or go to conferences all over this country, but unless we really dive-in to God’s word and soak in His presence on our own – we’re just like those steaks, sitting next to the marinade. It’s hard to soak up the flavor of God’s love, if we’re just getting a “talking-to” once a week. And that spiritual-high from a conference, it doesn’t usually carry us all the way through the wilderness wanderings or fiery trials. What really carries us, is a personal relationship with our Creator. That is developed over time and personal commitment, spending time in prayer and worship, being devoted to His word for you. It’s being willing to change, be refined, and learn who God is.

The next part of that verse in Matthew 5 goes on to tell of a light under a bushel basket, and letting your light shine before others for the glory of God. (Matt. 5:14-16) Whatever we are flavored with, is what will shine through to others. Just like those steaks, the saltiness and seasoning in the marinade is what’s meant to come through. (I burned them on the grill by the way…it just wasn’t my day to fix steak.)

At 5:05 p.m., I put those steaks in to marinate, and closed the refrigerator door on them for nearly two hours. Matthew 6:6 encourages us, “But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (ESV)

In secret, that’s where some serious soaking can occur. Don’t mistake me, I love the cooperate church body, there is no substitute for a healthy body of believers working together. But there is also no substitute for that personal, secret time with Jesus.

What are you soaking in?

How do you “marinate” and soak-in God?

IMG_6068My guess is, that just like my marinade with various ingredients – that’s what it might look like for you. Worship + Scripture + Prayer + Fellowship for good measure. Whatever the recipe is, that’s between you and the Lord. But let’s not wait and then rush at the last minute, when the grill is fired up (testing & trials). My challenge to you, today, is to not let your relationship with our Creator be an afterthought. No time spent on the Lord is wasted, especially that secret time. He is the Redeemer of all.