Who Will You Call?

Feeling overwhelmed, stressed, unsure what to do next? Even Jesus, in His human form, sought the Father. In Him, Jesus found strength and guidance. If Jesus, the Son of God, called on the Father God, how much more should we?

“Call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you” (Jeremiah 29:12).
“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3).
“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13).
“Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name” (Psalm 105:1a).
“I will sacrifice a thank offering to you and call on the name of the LORD” (Psalm 116:17).
“The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth” (Psalm 145:18).
“They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The LORD is our God” (Zechariah 13:9b).

May we set aside our phone, friends, and Google and first call upon the Name of the Lord.

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Take a Stand

One of my favorite stories and books in the Bible is Esther. As a Jew and as the queen of Persia, Esther found herself in an awkward position when the king agreed to a bad law that would annihilate all Jews in his kingdom.

Many around the world today are likewise proposing and passing harmful laws, laws that breakdown families and attack freedoms. So, what are believers to do?

Let’s see Esther’s example. First, she learned of the fateful law from a dependable source. Then, she used her connections to gain support. After fasting and praying, she took a stand before the king to plead for her people. (Read ‘the end of the story’ in Esther 8-9.)

Like Esther, we first need to find trustworthy resources that keep us abreast of laws being proposed locally and at the state level. Then, we need to educate others. We need to pray about how God wants us to be involved, perhaps fast and pray for our representatives and government officials, give financial support to those who are fighting for justice, encourage others to vote, or work on someone’s campaign.

Obviously, there are numerous ways to be involved and many great organizations doing good work. Here are a few you may want to check out:

  • Alliance Defending Freedom ~ defends life, liberty, and family in America and around the world.
  • American Center for Law and Justice ~ focuses on constitutional and human rights law worldwide.
  • Center for Arizona Policy ~ promotes and defends the foundational values of life, marriage and family, and religious freedom.
  • California Family Council ~ advances God’s design for life, family, and liberty.

Like the apostle Paul, I encourage you to “Fight the good fight” (1 Timothy 6:12). “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).

May you be blessed as you take a stand for righteousness!

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You Are Loved!

Typically, when the mornings are cool, I wrap myself in a blanket while doing my Bible reading. The other day, as I bundled up and closed my eyes, I imagined it as a symbol of God’s love, warm and welcoming, velvety plush, and richly ornamented with precious gems.

When contrasted with the love of others, there was no comparison. Others’ love, at times, seemed seasonal and conditional, even removed if they were displeased or disappointed with me. I noticed the love wraps some laid on me appeared tattered and thin. If those were stripped away, I was wonderfully surprised and grateful that the love robe of God revealed underneath firmly remained.

You have that same Father, and He has a robe of love wrapped snuggly around you as well, perhaps a different color, or if you prefer, without gems, but it is still there. The truth is, God loves YOU! His love is ever-present, peaceful, and pure, comforting, consoling, and kind. It is not dependent on our attitude or actions, and He will never stop loving us, even if we deny or ignore Him.

If I use the rest of my senses, I imagine God’s love tastes and smells sweet and delicious. It sounds like a never-ending song breathing harmonious whispers of “I love you!”

What does God’s love look like? The Apostle Paul wrote, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this:  While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Jesus’s disciple, John, described God’s love this way, “For God so loved the world (that’s everyone) that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever (that’s anyone) believes in him shall not perish (experience eternal death) but have eternal life” (John 3:16). 

May you experience and live in His lavish love today!

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What Is in Your Hand?

God had an assignment for Moses, confront Egypt’s pharaoh. Moses’ reactions were priceless and familiar. Who me? What if they ask questions I can’t answer? What if they don’t believe me or listen to me? Then God had a question for Moses, “What is that in your hand?” (Exodus 4:2). Moses’s staff turning into a snake and back into a staff became evidence of God’s power and proof that He would be present with Moses as he faced Pharaoh.

Let’s turn to the New Testament to see what others had in their hand that God wanted to use. Remember the feeding of the 5000 (Matthew 14:15-21)? What was the food source? Because a boy was willing to give up his sack lunch of two fish and five small bread loaves, the Lord met the needs of thousands.

Another time, Jesus told the fishermen who were washing their nets to let them back down in the water. Though exhausted, their obedience yielded a miraculous catch of so many fish that two filled boats began to sink (Luke 5:4-7). That which had been empty was overflowing.

Finally, before Jesus’s crucifixion, a woman brought an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume and poured it on Jesus’s head. She sacrificed her best. What others criticized and viewed as illogical, Jesus honored saying, “Wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her” (Matthew 26:13).

The question finally comes to us. What is in our hand? What do we have that God wants us to surrender or use for His work, His kingdom, or His glory? Whatever it is, once it is given to the Lord, He can do more with it than we could ever imagine!

May you be blessed as you give Him your best!

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Don’t Miss Out!

I cannot stop thinking about something I heard on Easter, something the disciples totally missed again and again, something that should have given them excitement and hope for that Sunday morning 2000 years ago. After Jesus spoke repeatedly and specifically of His imminent death and resurrection, the disciples should have been outside that tomb waiting to see the stone roll away and the Son of God walk out … but, they missed it!

Now, think of Jesus’s birth in Bethlehem. How did the wise men or magi 1000 miles away know that a Hebrew king had been born while the religious leaders in Jerusalem and those in Bethlehem, except for a few shepherds, had no clue? The wise men, probably astrologers from Persia or Arabia, knew the prophecies and saw the signs.

So, what’s next? One thing we know for sure is Jesus is coming back, and this time, no one will miss it. Jesus described His return like this:  “For the Son of Man in his day will be like the lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other” (Luke 17:24). “And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other” (Matthew 24:31).

May you be among the believers gathered to Jesus on that great and glorious day.

Don’t miss out!

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Prophecies Fulfilled

When someone makes a promise, it does not necessarily mean the promised action will occur at that moment. Likewise, a delay in seeing the promise fulfilled does not mean it will never happen. Check out a few of the prophecies regarding Jesus’s resurrection, some of which were predicted nearly 1000 years before His birth!

Written by King David who reigned 1010-970 B.C.:
“You will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay” (Psalm 16:10).

The prophet Isaiah dedicated an entire chapter (701-681 B.C.) detailing Jesus’s suffering and crucifixion:
“After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many and he will bear their iniquities. Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:11-12). God could share the spoils of victory with Jesus only if Jesus rose from the dead.

Recorded by Jesus’s disciple, Matthew:
“From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life” (Matthew 16:21). A similar verse is recorded in Mark 8:31.

In Jesus’s own words:
“The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised to life” (Matthew 17:22-23). Also see Luke 9:22.

Clearly, God revealed His plan and Jesus fulfilled His purpose, defeating death. Today Jesus is on the throne. He is in control and is waiting to fulfill the promise of His return, when He will gather His people to live with Him forever. It will happen!

Happy Easter! He is risen indeed!

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Your Treasures

Remember (or imagine) that youngster who was perfectly content with a small jewelry box? Her treasures consisted of a few inexpensive trinkets won at the pizza place, some interesting rocks found at the park, and a special gift from her grandma.

As she grew older, her treasures got pricier. And, so did his. Soon her treasures were stored in a tall, ten-drawer jewelry cabinet and his were securely tucked away in a five-foot safe that resembled a small bank vault. But, are the contents inside truly our greatest treasures?

Scripture warns us, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven …. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21).

Pondering what “treasures in heaven” might be, I thought of a booklet I keep near my Bible. In it are memory verses, those I’ve learned as well as those on my ‘to do’ list. But actually, that booklet is not even my treasure. The ‘treasure’ is what is stored in my mind and heart, the memorized verses that provide a word of encouragement, hope, or strength, or even a timely rebuke or reminder.

God’s Word is a ‘treasure’ that cannot be stolen. Each verse is a ‘gem’ that transforms our thinking and enriches our lives. It can also be part of our arsenal in combatting sin.  “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11).

I challenge you this week to identify a verse to memorize. (No excuses.) Then, start with the first three words. (I know you can do that.) Sing the words to a familiar tune if need be or illustrate it. Gradually, add the next few words until you have memorized your verse. Be sure to write it down where you will see it regularly and continue to review it, perhaps for months (if you’re like me). Then give yourself a “Well done!” … and do it again!

I’d love to hear what ‘gems’ you are working on! Please feel free to share!
May your treasure hunt be richly blessed!

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Always Welcome

Young Queen Esther, fearful of losing her life by approaching the king without an invitation, had requested all nearby Jews to join her in a three-day fast before entering the royal throne room and making her request to King Xerxes.

Thankfully, “When he saw Queen Esther standing in the court, he was pleased with her and held out to her the gold scepter that was in his hand” (Esther 5:2).

When we come before the King of kings, we do not need to fear. God will always welcome us, have time for us, forgive, and love us. We can bring Him all our angst, feelings, issues, and problems. He will listen to us vent. He is patient and merciful and kind. Yes, He is worthy of honor, but He remembers that we are weak and in need.

The story of the prodigal son portrays a father’s response to his wayward child. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him” (Luke 15:20). That is how God responds to us. He is waiting and watching, longing for us to come to Him.

Under Old Testament law, things were much different. Only the priests were allowed to enter the Holy Place in the Tabernacle or Temple. Beyond the Holy Place was the Holy of Holies or Most Holy Place, separated by a heavy curtain. Only the high priest could enter the Holy of Holies, and then, only once a year. The representation of a holy God separated from sinful mankind was clear.

Therefore, it is of utmost significance that upon the death of Jesus on the cross that the curtain representing this separation was literally torn in two! The death of Jesus gave all people access to the throne room of God, whether in worship, in prayer, in tears, sorrow, gladness, or whatever. The King of kings welcomes all to come to Him any time. May we go before His Presence today.

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Step Forward

Here in the Arizona desert, it is quite common to see the sky dotted with colorful hot air balloons. If you live near undeveloped land, you may occasionally hear the distinguishable gush of air released as riders float by in their gradual descent.

Recently, I was reading the back story of the first king of Israel. God made it clear to the prophet Samuel that Saul was the chosen one. Samuel responded by privately informing Saul and anointing him with oil. As an added touch of validation, Samuel prophesied three specific signs regarding events Saul was about to experience, all of which were quickly fulfilled.

Still, when the time came for the nation of Israel to hear the proclamation, Saul was not to be found. Scripture tells us he had “hidden himself among the baggage” and others had to run and bring him out (1 Samuel 10:22-23). Saul nearly allowed his fears to sabotage the fulfillment of his calling.

We may experience similar feelings. Fear can inflate us like a hot air balloon, carrying us off course, perhaps causing us to miss out on or delay God’s best for us. When we identify those fears, we have the ability to fight back with the sword of truth and deflate it.

Even though we may still feel afraid, we can step forward into what God has waiting for us. Listen how God encouraged others. “Have I not commanded you? Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).

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Foolishness or Foundation

At a recent writers’ meeting, I shared a manuscript meant to motivate children to check out God’s Word. After hearing the preview of dramatic highlights, a fellow author commented how it touched on many Bible stories. I left wondering if she thought those ‘stories’ were fact or fiction.

The world’s point of view is clear. The Bible is pure fiction, filled with falsehoods and fallacies to deceive and mislead. The world will contend that those who use Scripture as the foundation of their life are weak and less intelligent, even foolish. The apostle Paul described similar thinking one thousand nine hundred sixty-six years ago.

“The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned (1 Corinthians 2:14).

Paul explained that without the Holy Spirit’s guidance, people are spiritually blind, deaf, and unable to understand Scripture. “‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him’—but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit” (1 Corinthians 2:9-10).

I encourage you to seek out the firm foundation found by faith in God’s Son and in His Holy Word. It will provide wisdom for each day, a wisdom beyond anything the world has to offer. “We speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory” (1 Corinthians 2:7-8).

May we choose wisely what we believe!

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