Therefore With Joy…

Hey! Let’s pop some popcorn, and plop down on the couch and watch my favorite movie! Oh, yeah! “The Sound of Music!”   I’ve watched it countless times, and never tire of it. Julie Andrews twirling away in the opening scene…”The hills are alive….”  and, then, these descriptive lyrics:  “to laugh like a brook when it trips and falls over stones on its way.”  Ah, yes, a mountain stream. Fresh, cold water bubbling along in an Alpine meadow.  Sigh…

Alpine stream

The problem is, I can sing the song; watch the movie; look at pictures; but unless I actually go there, I can’t dip my tootsies into that stream or drink its refreshing water.  Maybe I should add that to my bucket list!

You know, I’ve been thinking lately that it is  much the same with Jesus.  You can sing the songs; listen to the story; make friends with others who love and serve Him; but unless you actually go to Him, you can’t actually get what He wants you to have!  Salvation; eternal life; transformation; peace that passes understanding; comfort; healing; joy…(oh my, the list goes on….)

Salvation isn’t in the church building. It isn’t in the song service or even in the sermon.  It isn’t in the best Christian books or blogs. 😉  These are all good things that can point you to salvation.  But salvation is in Christ Jesus alone!  You must go to Him face to face, one on one, to receive all that He wants you to have! All that He provided for you on the Cross of Calvary.  You must partake of Him.  And you don’t have to book a flight to Switzerland to do it.

Just close your eyes, and call upon His name.  Ask Him for the Water of Life. Wait there with an open heart.  Wait.  If your mind wanders, find a verse…just a verse, not a chapter or a book… to focus your heart on Him.  We are waiting for a drink. We are waiting for His Presence.

Madame Jean Guyon wrote a book called “Experiencing the Depths of Jesus Christ.”  (You will find it on my Books & Resources page.) In her book she teaches her way of finding the Presence of God in quietness. I understand that she endured great personal persecution in her own home, and had to find a way to worship and fellowship with the Lord inwardly.  She discovered joy in tribulation.  A refuge in her storm.

We used to sing a song that had this phrase: “The highway to Your city runs through my heart.” The thing about this highway is that it is a direct route to heaven.  It is the “Highway of Holiness.”  (Isaiah 35:8)  There are springs of water there, and the enemy is not allowed there. Fellowship; safety; and peace. Right within the core of your being.  Draw on the Water of Life and drink deeply.

John 4:14 “but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.”

Draw with joy

          “Therefore with joy shall ye draw water from the wells of salvation.”   Isaiah 12: 3 

Let’s Pray:  Father in Heaven, Water of Everlasting Life, our souls are so thirsty for  you, Lord.  How we long for your holy Presence in our lives.  Teach us how to draw from the Wells of Salvation that we might be quenched, and overflow to all those around us.  In Jesus’ name,

Amen!

Suggested further reading:  Isaiah 35    https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Isaiah+35&version=KJV

 

 

 

Born For Eternity

I want you to meet someone  special!  My grandson, Aaron James Craig.  He lives in heaven now, but his time with us was very, very extraordinary.  One of the sweetest and hardest times of our lives.Aaron James at home

A.J. was born with what the doctors called “multiple anomalies,” which turned out to be quite an understatement.  His vocal chords did not function properly, so he never cried or made a sound.  But during his short two years, he spoke volumes to us. We learned so much from him.  We called him, “Silent Messenger of God.” After four months in the NICU, we brought him home with a ventilator, feeding tube,  monitors, and lots of questions for God.

The Lord was so good to send us Christian nurses to help with his care.  They ministered to us, as much as to Aaron.  One day, during one of our many heart-bearing conversations about babies who live short, difficult lives, his nurse, Paula, said something so profound and  perspective changing for me. It revolutionized my view of life, and our purposes in God’s plan.

“You know, we are born for eternity, not just for earth.”  Born for a life beyond the earthly realm!  Think of it! God has a plan for our lives that goes on forever!  A life that will be forever in the Light! …or not!   

What a comfort, delight, and wonder!  To think that our precious boy has a future and a purpose far beyond what we could ever imagine or hope.  Born for eternity!  To live a life…

 “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”  1 Cortinthians 2:9

A life beyond this veil of tears.  And a glorious life, at that. Life in the Kingdom of Heaven.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”  John 3:16

I had a very interesting post on my Facebook page yesterday that prompted this subject today.  It was a short video by Pastor Francis Chan.  I’ll let him show you what I mean.

Eternal life….what will yours look like?  You CAN know!  You CAN be sure!  Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.  Come to Him now, if you haven’t already.  His loving arms await.  If you have been away from Him for a while, His loving arms await your return.  It is time.   We are eternal beings…the Light awaits, ….but, so does darkness.  It is time to choose.

Let’s pray:  Father of Lights, draw us to Yourself that we may dwell in your house forever.  Help our eyes to see beyond the sky; and help our hearts to long for heaven.  We choose Light rather than darkness; we choose life rather than death;  we choose YOU!  In Jesus’ name,

Amen!

Here is a beautiful song by a one of my favorite artists, Fernando Ortega, “Beyond the Sky.”

Your Happy Place

Ever since I was a kid I loved the water!  I spent my summers at the local swimming pool, taking lessons, swimming, and playing in the water.  Never happier than when I was able to go into the “deep end.” One summer I spent so much time at the pool that my hair turned such bright green from the chlorine that I literally stopped traffic!  It was the ’50s! Green hair was an oddity back then…Today? Not so much.  To this day, the water is my “happy place!”

waters to swim in 2

 

Where is your happy place?  Is it someplace that you can go to physically?  Or is it a place in your imagination?  Maybe it is a place you visited once that brings to mind such enjoyment or peace, that you can draw up the memory and bask in it for a while to relieve the stress of your current situation.  Have you ever taken a mental vacation by “going to your happy place?”

Our hearts were designed for joy! And God has a “real” happy place for you!  I hope you love the water as much as I do, because His Happy Place has to do with a RIVER!  And it flows from His throne!  Our scripture comes from Ezekiel 47: 1-6

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ezekiel+47%3A1-6&version=KJV

Ezekiel was shown a heavenly sight.  He saw the heavenly temple, with water “trickling” from beneath the door.  As he followed the streamlet it grew to waters that were ankle deep; further along there was water to the knees; then water to the loins; and finally, in verse 6, waters to swim in.

One way to look at these verses is to see the growth of Christ’s church on earth from the day of Pentecost to the present day global church.  Many theologians hold to this interpretation as a prophetic sign given to Ezekial. And they are right!  But, like so often in the Word of God, there are many layers of meaning.

Water is often used in reference to the Word of God.  I think of how it was just a streamlet to me when I first started reading it.  As I grew and learned, I was able to read and understand more.  It was “up to my knees!”  The more we are transformed by the Word, the deeper we can go, until we are “all in!”  Let the Water of the Word sweep you along. Immerse yourself in its depths. Let it be your Happy Place!

Let’s pray: Heavenly Father, River of Life, how we long to be swept away by Your Spirit as we dive into Your Word.  Speak to our hearts as we study and read.  Wash us; renew us; lead us; change us as we go deeper and deeper into You. In Jesus’ name.

Amen!

Dive in with Steven Curtis Chapman…pay attention to these words!  🙂

Seek the Lord!

Dry and thirsty? There is an APP for that! You will find it in Hosea 10:12. Just “download” it into your spirit!

Rain righteousness

 

Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground for it is time to seek the Lord till He come and rain righteousness upon you.”  Hosea 10:12

I can’t think of another verse that is so timely!  It is time to seek the Lord.! He is sending His ministers out to give warnings. Sounding the trumpet of the “Season of Return.”  (Teshuvah on the Jewish calendar.)

Seek the Lord while He may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near.  Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God and He will abundantly pardon.”  Isaiah 55:6 & 7

How should we seek the Lord? you may ask.  Maybe we should check the instruction manuel!  🙂  Let’s take a look at Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, whose mother was an Ammorite woman who worshipped Molech, the fire God. (whose sacrifices included babies and children.)   This did not have to be the recipe for disaster that it turned out to be.    2Chronicles 12:14 says: “And he did evil because he prepared not his heart to seek the Lord.”

We must think of our hearts as a field to be prepared for the seed of God’s Word.  It needs to be plowed fieldplowed, broken up, all the stumps and rocks removed.  How do we do this?   Hosea 10:11 says, in part, Judah shall plow.   The translation for the name Judah is “praise.”  Praising and worshipping the Lord will help to break up the fallow, dried-up ground of your heart. Put on some good praise music.   Read in the  Psalms about  God’s works, and attributes. Tell Him what He means to you!  Sing to Him; speak to Him; shout to Him!  You are plowing!  Find a friend who loves Jesus and talk to them about Him. You are plowing!  Read a book about the names of the Lord. You are plowing!  Think about His goodness, His passion, His love. You are plowing! Preparing your heart!

Is that all there is to seeking?  No! That is just the preparation of the heart!  The  Apostle Paul, in the book of Acts tells us this:

“…They should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after Him, and find Him, though He be not far from every one of us. For in Him we live, and move , and have our being….”             Acts 17: 27 & 28

Some translations say “grope for Him.”  I must admit that sometimes I have felt like a blind person groping my way back to God.  But, thank God, Paul goes on to say that He is “not far from every one of us.”  He is even “in us, and we are in Him,” if we have opened our hearts to Him.  But, “feeling or groping for him” suggest a purpose. An intensity. Even a desperation! Not a casual inquiry, but a diligent seeking.  A determination to find Him.

The following is a quote from a Facebook post by John Parsons from his  “Hebrew for Christians” Facebook page.  You will find a link to his hebrew4christians.com web site on my resource page:

Teshuvah, or “turning to God,” means learning to see with new eyes, from a radically new perspective. As we change our focus, we see that “everything is new” (2 Cor. 5:17). Perception is a matter of heart, and therefore we choose to see and hear what we want to see and hear (Isa. 6:10; John 12:40). If we do not see God, it is because we have decided to turn away from his presence (Rom. 1:18-22).

Let’s Pray:  Father of Lights, Giver of Life, we seek you anew.  Draw us, and we will run to You.  Quicken us by your Holy Spirit as we seek you with all of our hearts.  Hide us under Your wing of love, that we might be safe, no matter what comes in the days ahead. In Jesus’ name,

Amen

Today’s Quote:  Hebrews 11:6

“….For he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. ”

 

The Voice of His Love

“Come to me! Come back to me!”  Can you hear Him calling to you?  Listen to the sound of the shofar! It is the season of Teshuvah on the Hebrew calendar. The 40 days of repentence leading up to Yom Kippor, the  Day of Atonement.  God is sounding the trumpet! It is time to come!!

The word “teshuvah” is often translated “repentance,” but more truly means, “returning.”  During the 40 days of teshuvah, prayers of repentance are said every day; the shofar is blown, (or listened to) except on shabbat; and Psalm 27 is read each day.  Here it is! one of my favorite Psalms! I’ll be reading it everyday for the next 40 days.  Why don’t you join me and let’s see what God will do in our lives!

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+27&version=KJV

You can see the heart of God that is in Teshuvah illustrated in the Parable of the Prodigal Son, as the father welcomes the son back with open arms and celebration.  God knows us so well! He knows we have wandering hearts, even though it grieves Him. Thankfully, His mercies are new every morning!

Remember how Israel sinned by making a golden calf and worshipping it while Moses was away on Mt. Sinai?  You would have thought that God would have dusted off His hands and said, “Away with you, one and all!”  What did He do? He called Moses back to the mountain.  (Moses being the representative of the people.)  “Come back to me, and I will show you Who I Am.”  When Moses went back to God, (probably quaking in his boots because of the evil the people had committed.)  God declared that He is  this: “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth.  Keeping mercy for thousands, and forgiving iniquity, and transgression, and sin…..”   The Father’s heart for those who return to Him!  There is more to that verse about God’s justice for the unrepentant.  (Ex. 34:6)  But He was so forgiving to Israel in giving them a second chance.

I have mentioned before that I had a season in which I felt far from God in recent years.  Have you heard the saying, “If you are feeling far from God…it wasn’t God that moved?”  In His beautiful mercy and love, He has taken me back into His close fellowship.  A wondrous thing! And there is room here for you!   Friends, we walk in a fallen world, amid trials, toils,  attacks of the enemy, and in our own natural desires and leanings.  We are sheep who get off the path from time to time, but we have a Shepherd who comes looking for us, to bring us back to Himself.

NOW. IS. THE. TIME!!  If you have been away from Him for a day, a week, a year, 10 years, 40 or more!!  Come back! He is waiting to receive you.  If you have never known the love of Jesus.  He is waiting for you to open the door and let Him come in.  He loves you with a passion!  So much that He stretched out His arms for you, on the cross. And He will stretch out His arms for you again, to enfold you in His love.

Let’s pray:  Shepherd of Love, how we are prone to wander away!  Help us to hear your voice calling us back to you! Help us to turn; turn around from going our own way, and fly into your arms of love!  Teach us Your way, and lead us. In Jesus’ name,

Amen!

Quote for today: Psalm 27:4  One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in His temple.

 

Watch and Pray

Welcome back!!  Let’s take a look at what we have learned as we go about building our habitation for the Lord!  We’ve gathered our tools and safety gear; we’re dressed in Truth, Righteousness, The Gospel of Peace with God, Faith, Salvation, and we are learning to wield the Sword of the Spirit.  So we are ready to stand, right??  “Having done all…to stand.” But there are two more things we must do now….so let’s read it, and see if you can guess what they are.

                                                                   Ephesians 6:13-18   

13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;

15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;

16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.

17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

Yes!!  Praying and watching!  (Just a little hint there with the bold type. 🙂  )

praying hands

Prayer is everything!  It is communion with the Lord.  It is worship; it is joining; it is supplication; it is intercession; it is listening; it is watching; it is knowing; it is healing, restoration, comfort, understanding; it is joy unspeakable and full of glory.

Well, at least it can be, if we approach it with the right state of mind and heart. Prayer should not be one more burdomesome item on our to-do list!  It is a sacred privilege.  Yes, it can be work and warfare.  But think of the honor it is to let the Holy Spirit use you in accomplishing His heart’s desire. (Romans 8: 26 & 27)

Prayer is of great value to the Lord.  It is spiritual incense to Him.  (Rev. 5:8;  Rev. 8:3&4; Psalm 141:2)

Jesus taught us to pray when He gave us The Lord’s Prayer. (Matthew 6:9-13)  You can use it as a pattern for your prayers every day!  Here it is:  https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+6%3A9-13&version=KJV

Study it for yourself. Break it down. You will see that it covers so much.  Praise, Confession, Yielding, Relationship, Guidance, Help, Warfare, and more praise.  Begin to pray it in your own words, for your own needs, or for others’ needs.  Let it be your model for praying.

I heard a story on the radio just yesterday about the famous man of faith and prayer, George Muller, who built a huge ministry for orphans without ever asking anyone but God for a penny.  He said that for years he started every day with prayer, until he realized that his prayers were much more effective if he first “got my soul happy in the Lord.”  So he started his day with praise from then on!  Praise is great for edifying your own spirit! It helps to focus your faith on who God is; His greatness and power. Once you’ve built yourself up in faith, you are ready to pray!

I’ve kept this post short so that you can learn a little more about George Muller, a man of great faith and effective prayer.  Here is a link to a wonderful story.  Enjoy!

http://www.wholesomewords.org/biography/bmuller7.html

Let’s Pray:  Our Father in Heaven, Teach us the joy of prayer!  May we enter Your presence every day with great anticipation and faith.  May we glory in our communion with You as we seek to know that our prayers bring you pleasure as a sweet smelling savor. In Jesus Name, 

AMEN

Quote for Today (and everyday!)

God asks for nothing but ourselves. The Lord does not want what we have; He wants who we are. He seeks to create in our hearts a sanctuary for Himself, a place where He may rest. –Holiness, Truth, and the Presence of God by Francis Frangipane

The Beautiful Garden of Prayer:

Quick and Powerful

Hello there!! I hope you havebeen spending time in the Word of God!  I tell you, I think now is the time that you can find Him in it!  Isaiah tells us, “Seek ye the Lord while He may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near.”  Is.55:6

This is the time of preparation! We are building a place in our lives for His presence. Getting ready for His coming!  Now is the time!  He will speak to you out of His Word.  But you must read it to hear His voice!

bible-translations

You can probably tell that I like the King james Version of the Bible best, but there are many. many versions to choose from. I have read many different ones and have found help in them all. When I first wanted to read through the whole Bible, I bought a “Living Bible.” It was translated in very conversational language and was easy and quick to read. “The Message” is similar. For in depth study, I like something that has been translated in a more word-for-word manner.  Then there is “The Amplified Bible” which breaks down the words and phrases into their various shades of meaning right there in the verse.  Here is an example:

Hebrews 4:12  Amplified Bible

 For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective]; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life (soul) and [the immortal] spirit, and of joints and marrow [of the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart.

Hebrews 4:12  King James Version

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

So you can see how different versions might help your study.  I have the YouVersion Bible App on my Kindle.  You get it for your phone or your computer.  It has dozens of reading plans in many categories, like Devotional, Family study, Topical, Whole Bible, Youth, and more. Forty two English translations!!  That’s right, 42!!  I like it because, if something is difficult to understand, I can touch the little KJV at the top and it will give me the list to choose from to see it in a different wording.  Nice!  There are options for sharing on social media, and verse-of-the-day features.  Here is a link for you to check it out! 🙂

https://www.youversion.com/

The internet is an amazing tool, too. Did you know that you can google a Bible topic, a part of a verse, or just a few words and it will give you lots of information and Bible sites?  Quickest way ever to find a verse you know, but not sure of where it is.  For example, you know there is a verse that says, “Jesus wept.”  But where is it?  Just put “Jesus wept”in the google search box and it will pull up a page that will tell you where to find it, take you to one of the online Bibles, or to some sermons,devotionals, and opinions on the verse.

Just a word of warning about surfing…not every site you find is reliable or recommended.  🙁 There is a lot of junk out there!  Check the author of what you are reading, (and even google him/her) and always go to more than one source.  Just today I was researching a topic and found myself at a site where they were saying stuff I knew to be error….John 16:13: “…the Spirit will lead you into all truth…”  So make sure you pray before, during, and after your searching.

There are lots of great Bible helps for your enjoyment, too.  While Strong’s Exhaustive Condordance is my veryBible-dictionaries favorite, there are many others to choose from.  Cruden’s Compact Concordance, Vine’s Dictionary of the Bible, various and sundry Atlases and maps. Always check your thrift store book shelves for bargains,  I once found a big old volume of The Matthew Henry Commentary for $1.00!  Score!

If you wonder about a book or an author, check with your pastor or check someplace like Amazon.com for reviews. See who might have written the forward. Be aware that cults and activist groups are engaged in re-translating the Bible to suit their various points of view.  I expect to see a few new versions out in the coming months to accommodate the current political climate.   Very sad.   So always check with someone you trust to help you along the right path. and Pray, pray, pray.  The Holy Spirit is your guide.

Remember that Jesus used the Word of God against the wiles of the devil when He was tempted in the wilderness for 40 days after His baptism.   His answer was, “It is written…..” Read the event here:

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+4%3A1-11&version=KJV

I love this part, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God,”    That says it all, friends.  We must live by THE WORD!   Hide ’em in your heart!

With all this sword training and study please don’t forget that we are listening for His voice in it.  He wants to speak to you in these last days!  I feel like heaven is open for all who want to come!  Don’t put it off!  Come to the Fount of Living Waters and drink deeply. Be transformed by the renewing of your mind in His precious Word. Be cleansed  each day. You know how you go and splash water on your face in the morning to help wake you up?  Let the Word of God splash over you and wake up your Spirit today.  Be blessed!

Let’s pray:  Jesus, Living Word,  Speak to us, sing over us, change us as we go deeper than we have ever been before in Your Word.  Be our Guide into all Truth, and awaken us to discernment. Challenge us, confront us, conform us to Your image as we  study. We want ears to hear what the Spirit is saying. In Jesus’ Name,

AMEN!

 

Sword Training!

I hope you have your Sword nearby!  We are going to begin some Sword training today.  A must for every believer!

Nothing in the Christian life is as important a tool as the Word of God!  It wouldn’t hurt any of us to learn/review some basics! So today we are going to get right to work, starting from the ground up!  Go get your Bible!!  Let’s pray! Father, we need You to guide us as we study your Word.  My the Holy Spirit quicken our minds and hearts as we learn  for our growth and Your glory! In Jesus’ name, AMEN!        OK!  Here we go!

Shirley Blank

                                     The Bible is divided into 2 sections: Old Testament & New Testament – 66 Books in all

The Old Testament – 39 Books

Everything that God spoke to His people before the time of Jesus!  You can easily learn the 39 books if you think of them like this:   Five, Twelve, Five, Five, Twelve

Five Books of Moses, or the Torah

Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy

Twelve Books of History

Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1st & 2nd Samuel, 1st & 2nd Kings, 1st & 2nd Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther

Five Books of Poetry

Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Song of Solomon, Ecclesiastes

Five Books of Major Prophets*

Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekial, Daniel

Twelve Books of Minor Prophets*

Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zecheraiah, Malachi

Note that the books of the prophets are called major and minor, not because of the importance of what they wrote, but because of the length of their writings.  Also note that both Jeremiah and Lamentations were written by the prophet Jeremiah.

The New Testament – 27 Books

What God spoke to His people concerning the coming of His Son the Lord Jesus Christ and His Church.

Four, One, Twentyone, One

The Four Gospels

Matthew, Mark, Luke, John

One History

The Acts of the Apostles (usually referred to the Book of Acts)

Twentyone Letters

Romans, 1st & 2nd Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians,  1st & 2nd Thessalonians,    1st & 2nd Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews, James, 1st & 2nd Peter,  1st, 2nd, & 3rd John, Jude

One Prophesy

The Revelation of St. John  (usually referred to as Revelation)

The first 13 letters were written to the churches by the Apostle Paul, The writer to the Hebrews is not named. James, Peter, John, and Jude wrote the letters bearing their names. And the Apostle John wrote the Revelation.

Now, take your Bible, and hold it between both palms so you can see the page edges.  If you split the pages into two equal halves and let it fall open, you will most likely find yourself in the book of Psalms. (maybe Proverbs or Isaiah)  This might help for our next exercise….which is: find the books sword drill!

Here we go!   Find Psalms!  Now find Luke!  How fast can you find 1st Samuel?  Now the Book of Hebrews! How about 1st OR 2nd Kings?  Exodus!  Jude!  The Revelation!  Turn left and find Deuteronomy!

Sword drill can also be done using specific passages with chapter & verse.  Do it with your kids or grand kids! Or with a buddy! It will help you to learn your way around the Word in short order!

 You can buy little tabs that fasten to the edges of the pages of each book, too. It you think they help you, go for it.  Check youtube.com for memory songs for the books of the Bible.  They are catchy songs for kids!  Don’t roll your eyes!  The kids’ songs are designed to help learn and they work for adults, too.  Jesus said we should become like little children…so close your door, turn down the sound  & surf!

I can’t tell you how important it is to become familiar with your Bible.  It is the instrument of warfare that we use to defeat the enemy!  It builds our faith. It instructs us in living.  It convicts us of sin, and keeps us on the right path. It comforts, directs, cleanses, helps, teaches truth. Read it everyday!  At least a little.

Find a Bible app or subscribe to a devotional. Here are two great, reliable sites that will help you to find reading plans and devotionals on various themes.

http://www.bible.com/

http://https://www.biblegateway.com/

I will be adding links and helps on my resource page for great Bible study aids and helps, so check back from time to time to get suggestions.  Always, always, always pray before you dive in to the scripures!  As we said previously, the Words on the page are inspired…God Breathed, Alive!  He wants to plant them in your heart!

Lets pray!  We come to You, Living Word of God, as we make a fresh start in Your Word.  Quicken our minds, help us to focus, so that we can receive the Bread of Life each and every day as we sit down to dine with You!  Let the word dwell in us richly, form our characters, and cleanse us from all our waywardness. In Jesus name,   

AMEN!

Now that we have decided to follow Jesus, here is a sweet song and the story behind it.

It’s Time to Sharpen Your Sword!

Well, now!  Welcome back to the prep site!  I hope you are clad in your work gear!  Your tool belt of truth, your safety vest of righteousness, your workboots of the Gospel of peace, your  “God at Work” shield of faith, and your hard hathard hat of salvation!   Looking good there!!

God is so good to provide a head-to-toe uniform to keep us safe as we work to build our lives a habitation for Him!  And how do we perform that work?  We stand!  This gear; this armor, is for standing against the wiles of the devil…and having done all, to stand!  Every piece He has given us represents who we are in Christ!  We are in Him, and He is in us! (Truth) He has taken our sin, and given us His own goodness! (Righteousness) He has made us “at one,” (at peace) with Himself! (The Gospel of Peace) I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me. (Faith)  I have the mind of Christ, a renewed and transformed mind. (Salvation)

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ephesians+6:10-17

Before we go on to the all important Sword of the Spirit. I would like to say a few words about standing. I think we often get ahead of ourselves in our Christian walk!  We get saved, and we want to dive right in to DO something! And as important as good works are… standing in Christ is more so.  Our minds must be renewed in the Word and prayer everyday so that the truth of what Jesus has done for us, and who we are in Him become real to us.

I have to admit that I have been a worker. Just call me “Martha.” I found a lot to do just as soon as I gave my hearthoneybee-24633__180 fully to Jesus…I worked in the nursery; I cleaned the church (mopping the huge sactuary with water from a hand pump outside!); Sunday School classes; choirs; Christian schools; driving the bus; directing programs; making costumes; loving Jesus through it all. But when there was no more work…I floundered!   And this is what I learned:  being a Christian is not the work…it is the relationship!  Honestly, it is easy for a worker bee to slough off the deep devotional life, because, after all, there is only so much time in a day and everything you do is for the Lord! So it must be OK!   I thank God that He does not let you go on indefinitely, because “whom He loves, He chastens.”  And like a Good Shepherd, He brings his sheep back to the path.  All that He has given us is for “life & godliness.”  It is for standing in the “evil day.”  Friends, this is the evil day!

Sword edit

Jesus has not left us defenseless!  We have our safety gear on…all given for our defense! But there is much more!  “….the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God,”  (Eph. 6:17b)  Oh, my! What a gift it is! A weapon of warfare!

I heard a man say recently, “We live in a WORD universe…on a WORD planet!”  Now that is a great revelation!  Think of it!  “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…..He said, “Let there be light, and there was light!” “(Gen.1:1-3)  and again…”In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”  “All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made” “And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.”   (John 1: 1,3,14)  The Word is JESUS CHRIST!  He made this orb we walk on! With His Word! By speaking it into being!  And then He walked on it Himself!  And He left His Book with us so that we would not be defenseless.  He called it the Sword of the Spirit. And it is powerful!  Listen to Hebrews 4:12.

“For the word of God is quick (alive) and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

When I taught Bible to kids in school, I would hold up an open dictionary and ask them what was on the pages.  “Words!” they would shout.  Then I would hold up an open Bible and ask what was on these pages. Not as enthusiastic response as they wondered if there was some catch.  Someone would finally say, “Words, too.”  The thing is, the words in the dictionary, and any book for that matter, can bring you knowledge, entertainment, excitement, pleasure.  The Bible does all that, but it  does a lot more!  The words are alive! There is power here that can transform a soul!  Take a look at  2Tim 3:16.

All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable fordoctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. (17) That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”

The Word of God works in you, it doesn’t just hang out in your memory banks, but does a transforming work.  In 1Thessalonians 2:13 Paul writes to the people:

For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.

What work does the word do?  It produces faith. Remember, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”  It brings peace; wisdom; joy; guidance.  It teaches us how to live. When we know the Word of God, we can answer the accuser when he wags his finger at us; and the tempter when he makes a sly suggestion.

Learn to find your way around your Bible. Practice finding the different books.  We used to have “sword drills” when I was younger.  Someone calls a scripture chapter and verse, and the person who jumps up and reads it aloud gets the point for his team.  Memorize the books of the Bible. Take them a few at a time, and figure out a memory trick that will help you. Get your kids and grandkids to memorize them. That is a sure way to help you learn them yourself, by quizzing them! 🙂

You are never too young or too old to memorize verses.  I sit on a christian school board. Our president is in his eighties. He opens every meeting with prayer, our memory verses, and a Bible lesson. Yes, we have memory verses! It is not enough for them to be on the pages of the book we carry, we must hide them in our hearts!

Let’s pray:  Heavenly Father, Living Word, help us stand with our sword at the ready.  Quicken our minds as we read. Take us deeper than we have ever been into the wonders of the scriptures. Speak to us. Transform us. Renew us. Strengthen us for the days ahead. And let Your Word overflow to those around us because we are so full. In Jesus’ name,

Amen