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Sacred Snippet: Tootsie Pops

I love how God can take the simple things in life and turn them into a blessing.

This morning I stopped at CVS with the intent to purchase only some computer paper. However, I decided to check out the candy row to see if they had a bag of Tootsie Pops. I had searched two other stores previously to no avail. Lo and behold, I discovered CVS had my favorite low-calorie candy—three points per pop for those who know what I mean! ¹

As mostly what happens to us all, we go into a store with good intents and come out with more. I even added some colorful Post-it Page Markers to my other two items. As I left the drug store, I hit the red light under Houston’s Katy Freeway. There I saw a young man. His legs were so skinny—like they were diseased. All I had to give him was a Tootsie Pop. I cannot say I was extremely generous by giving him the entire bag, but I wanted to give him something sweet to eat. I wrestled opening the bag; finally, I had to use my teeth to open the bag. Not cool, but I was afraid the light was going to turn green.

Once the bag was open, I reached in and started to pull out an orange and red pop, but then stopped. It was like the Lord said, “Give him your best.” God knew that red and orange were not my favorites, but chocolate and purple were. So, I quickly reached in, opened my window, and gave him a chocolate and purple Tootsie Pop. It might not seem like a big sacrifice, but when you understand the last two bags of Tootsie Pops I bought had no purples in them, you can understand my “sacrifice” a little better.

Now, here is the best part. I handed this young man the two pops. He saw them and gave me a big old grin through his crooked yellow teeth, looked me straight in the eye, and said, “thank you.” Yes, it was a small gesture on my part, but it started me out on the right foot and started his day out with a little sweetness too!

Hannah: A Biblical Character of Worship

Hannah’s Dedication

In Chapters 1 and 2 of 1 Samuel, a touching story expresses Hannah’s complete dedication toward God. Elkanah was the husband of two women—Peninnah and Hannah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah was barren. Every year when the two women accompanied their husbands to the temple to worship and sacrifice, Hannah would weep because Peninnah would provoke her due to her having no children. Being oppressed in spirit one year, Hannah prayed and wept bitterly and made a vow that if the Lord gave her a son, she would let Him have the child for service. The priest Eli heard her prayer. He mocked her and accused her of being intoxicated. However, when he saw that she was afflicted and not drunk, he said, “Go in peace; and may the God of Israel grant your petition that you have asked of Him” (1 Sam. 1:17). In due time, Hannah conceived and gave birth to a son which she and Elkanah named Samuel. Hannah said, “For this boy, I prayed, and the LORD has given me my petition which I asked of Him. So I have also dedicated him to the LORD; as long as he lives, he is dedicated to the LORD” (1 Sam. 1:27-28). After weaning him, they brought the boy to Eli to serve in the house of the Lord.

Hannah’s Distress

In this Bible story, we see that Hannah was distressed. She prayed, cried out to the LORD, made a vow, listened to what Eli told her, trusted God, conceived, had a son, and remembered her vow to give her first child to the Lord for service by bringing him to Eli. Hannah started by worshiping the LORD in the temple, but we see it more profoundly after she dedicated Samuel to serve.

In her beautiful Song of Thanksgiving and Worship, we read:

My heart exults in the LORD,

My horn is exalted in the LORD,

My mouth speaks boldly against my enemies,

Because I rejoice in Thy salvation.

There is no one holy like the LORD,

Indeed, there is no one besides Thee,

Nor is there any rock like our God (1 Sam. 2:1-2).

Hannah’s Worship

Because worship is unique to every individual, Hannah’s worship experience was not like Abraham, Jacob, Isaiah, or Mary of Bethany. However, we see Hannah using elements from each of them in her worship of the LORD, as stated in Real Worship: Playground, Battleground, or Holy Ground by Warren Wiersbe. For example, she conversed with God (like Abraham), she made a vow (like Jacob), she heard Eli speak (like Isaiah listened to the angels), and she gave her best to the LORD—Samuel (like Mary of Bethany gave perfume). ¹ Furthermore, she trusted in the promise of God when Eli said. “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant your petition that you have asked of Him” (1 Sam. 1:17).

There are multiple reasons we know she worshiped God. First, she approached the LORD with an honest and sincere heart. Second, she had a focused purpose in communicating her desire to God. Third, she waited for God with a humble attitude; we see that by Hannah’s initial deep cries in the house of God that worship filled her heart even before her prayer of thanksgiving.  Fourth, Hannah centered her life on God and His power by pouring her entire being to the LORD. Hannah’s ultimate blessing included her transformation from a barren woman to a child-bearing mother. After she conceived and weaned Samuel, her worship prayer included:

-An exalted heart,

-A mouth speaking boldly against enemies,

-A rejoicing in her salvation, and

-An acknowledgment that there is no one besides God.

Our Experiences

In today’s context, Christians can worship as Hannah did. Many times, when people experience trauma and distress, they give up on the LORD. They are not patient enough to wait on Him to work. Being impatient can diminish confidence in the Holy Spirit leading one’s life. However, every believer who yearns to empty himself of sin and live for Christ can worship like Hannah. We must continually train our church congregants to know what to do at all stages of their lives. We might not be going to the temple to worship, but we can go to church. We might not be experiencing barrenness, but we are experiencing something. We might not get our prayers answered as Hannah did, but we can trust that God knows the big picture of our lives, and He knows what He is doing.

Prayer:

O, dear heavenly Father, may my life seek Your will. May I feel at home with You enough to share both my distress and hearts’ desires? I seek Your wisdom. I give my life to You. Let me do all that is honorable in Your sight now and for the rest of my life. In Your name—the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Bible Verses:

No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth (Matthew 6:24)

Come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker (Psalm 95:6)

For from Him, and through Him, and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen (Romans 11:36).

God Bless,

greenenpastures.org

Edited by E. Johnson

¹Wiersbe, Warren. Real Worship: Playground, Battleground, or Holy Ground? 2nd ed. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2004. p. 82.

Bible verses come from The New American Standard Bible.

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Changing Your Landscape? Start Anew With God’s Plan

Life sometimes requires us to start anew, as in the case of a divorce or a move. Other times, we just have a tug at our heart, knowing we need to wipe the slate clean and start afresh.

My husband and I recently made the decision to redo the landscaping at our home. It took a lot of prep work to make that decision. We needed to agree we wanted to stay in our home and not move. Next came researching landscaping companies, followed by contacting the finalists, settling on a plan and price, signing an agreement, and submitting a down-payment.

You see, our landscaping was over 25 years old. It looked aged and worn, and we wanted a new look—one that involved fewer straggly bushes and less maintenance. Basically, we were tired of the same old thing!

The laborious work began this week.

We watched the crew not just “prune” our yard, but remove every evidence of the last 25 years of growth.

It wasn’t sad to us, because we hoped “the future” look would be better. Okay, it might have been sad to our neighbors when they saw the landscapers demolish the beautiful crepe myrtle that adorned our neighborhood.

But then arose the destruction—as trenches were dug a water pipe burst, then our Internet cable was severed. An emergency call to the water district, a three-hour wait to connect to AT&T, and disruption of my husband’s work-related Zoom call seemed quite problematic. Why? Because we were not anticipating any dire consequences from our well-thought-out plans.

As a believer, we face many decisions in life. We decide what ministries to be involved in, what church to attend, who to marry, what job to take, where to live, and more.

Just as there were steps in deciding to redo our landscaping, there are steps and choices to make in our spiritual life.

While we have the personal liberty to choose God’s plan or not, our lives are best lived in the presence of God’s will and direction. He is our strength and support in this life and the life to come.

Why is it important to know God’s plan?

It is important to know God’s plan because the Lord is the best person capable of running our lives. The Bible tells us multiple times that God knows our future. When we have accepted Christ as our Savior, we are positioned to receive His blessings. When we are following His will by trusting and obeying Him, we can have confidence He hears our prayers and is working things out for our greatest benefit. God will not hide His will from us if we sincerely seek Him.

For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)

Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O Lord, You know it all. (Psalm 139:4)

Every good thing [is] given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. James 1:17

But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:30-33

You shall walk in all the way which the Lord your God has commanded you, that you may live and that it may be well with you, and that you may prolong your days in the land which you will possess. Deuteronomy 5:33

Starting Over

My husband and I don’t like yard work. In starting over from square one, we are trying to simplify our life by eliminating trees, bushes, and foliage in our yard. By removing unwanted debris, there will be more room for light to shine into our home—along with a simpler austerity.

In our Christian walk, sometimes we need to make decisions to move on, clear out our clutter, and/or change our priorities. Hopefully, when we do, our walk with the Lord will deepen and mature us to become more Christlike.

The “method to our madness” in discovering His plans entail making decisions by seeking Him, looking at options, and developing a sense of His guidance.

What are the steps to discover His plan?

  1. Ask God for His wisdom and understanding (James 1:5-6);
  2. Desire to follow His will. [That comes when we are repentant and obedient to His already established will in the Bible] (Psalm 51:2-3);
  3. Pray and meditate. [Do not make any decisions that have not been prayed over] (Philippians 4:6-7);
  4. Look for providential circumstances. [But recognize that circumstances and/or feelings alone should not be the deciding factor] (James 1:17);
  5. Talk to godly friends, confidants, or elders at your church for guidance (Proverbs 15:22);
  6. Rest and wait patiently in God through the power of the Holy Spirit (Psalms 27:14);
  7. Ask yourself if you have peace about your decision (Psalms 29:11);
  8. Understand that God’s will might involve some suffering (Romans 8:18);
  9. Recognize that if you have done these steps and are still unsure of His will, but a decision must be made, go with the best choice you can make (Romans 8:28);
  10. If you find you have made a “mistake,” keep trusting in the Lord to work everything out (Proverbs 3:5-6).

As I write this, our landscaping feat is not complete. Actually, we are deep in the midst of a huge mess.

However, I hope our decision to bulldoze all our greenery turns out to be the right one. Our expectation is to have an attractive and easy-to-keep-up-with yard. But, if it doesn’t, we still have a God who loves us and wants the best in our lives.

If you feel the need to start over, seek Him first. Be obedient. Follow His lead. And trust that He always knows what is best for us. And, don’t be afraid of a change!

Praying the Scripture

Dear heavenly Father, 

If I lack wisdom, I am asking You who gives generously without reproach to all who ask for it, because You have said in Your Word that it will be given. I am asking in faith without any doubting because Your Word says, “one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.”

Wash thoroughly from me my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Help me not to be anxious for anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, I am letting my requests, concerns, and upcoming decisions ascend to You. And Your peace, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard my heart and my mind in Christ Jesus.

I know that every good thing is given, and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from You–the Father of lights. Give me wise counsel so my plans are not frustrated, because I know that with many counselors I will succeed. Give me the ability to wait on You for all plans and decisions that I need to make. Make me strong and let my heart take courage. Yes, let me wait for Your answers. I know You give strength to Your people, and that You will bless me with peace.

I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared to the glory that is to be revealed to me. And I know that You cause all things to work together for good to those who love You, to those who are called according to Your purpose, and that includes me. I want to trust in You, Lord with all my heart, and not lean on my own understanding. In all my ways I want to acknowledge you. I know You will make my paths straight and my decisions honorable to You.

I believe in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

God Bless,

greenenpastures.org

Edited by E. Johnson

Bible verses come from the New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Books by Patti Greene – Order Below!

Christian Caregiving

Christian Caregiving: Practical Advice for a Happy Ending

Devotional Prayer Journals

Answer Me: Developing a Heart for Prayer

Anchor Me: Laying a Foundation in Bible Study and Prayer

Awaken Me: Growing Deeper in Bible Study and Prayer

 

How to Increase Church Attendance

Our youngest son Jimmy, always the adventurous type, decided to leave the safety and comfort of the Lone Star State (Texas) to continue his education after high school at Babson College—a private, but well-known business college founded in 1919 in Wellesley, Massachusetts, a town west of Boston.

So, it did not surprise his father or me that as an adult, he decided to collect the antique book versions written by the founder of his college—Roger W. Babson.

As most parents would be, we were grateful he did not want to start a collection of weird things like banana stickers, toenail clippings, or super-soakers! So, books were a great choice since I could find and give these rare books for birthday and Christmas gifts—if I could find them.

Babson was an American entrepreneur, economist, and business theorist. He predicted the Wall Street Crash of 1929, was the Prohibition Party’s candidate for President of the United States in 1940 although the election was won by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. He was also a religious man.

Babson authored over 40+ books on various topics—mainly business-related topics, but one book that he wrote, with the help of others, is titled How to Increase Church Attendance. It is this rare book that I found for Jimmy’s recent birthday present from a source I will not disclose to anyone.

Before wrapping Jimmy’s birthday gift, I read the book and took notes. Being a book published in 1936, it was fascinating to see how religious men from over 80 years ago perceived church attendance.

I desire that the following quotes from Babson’s book will make you laugh, ponder, and/or possibly change how you do church today!

Ministers, Leaders, and the Church

The personality and the pastoral work of the minister [is] very important. [It] is fundamental to a successful church.

If a church [cannot] afford a decent plant, it should consider consolidating with another church. In such cases, the churches with the poorer plants should sell their property and use the funds for renovating and extending [with] some other church in the community.

Trained teachers who are willing to give their services in the Sunday School should be exempt from making contributions.

All in the community, whether or not they attend church, should contribute to some church.

A Sunday should never go by without the minister making a public appeal for those who wish to give their hearts to Jesus.

The church is like a muscle—the more we use it, the stronger it becomes, while the less we use it, the weaker it becomes.

There are twice as many churches as there should be.

It is an outworn custom to count only those at the Sunday morning preaching service. We should also count the number who come to the church each week for any service of worship.

We should attend church . . .  to show our colors—to show the community and our family where we stand.

Every layman should go to church, irrespective of [the] preacher, music, ventilation, or cushions.

“Here [are] my suggestions for a church membership pledge,” exclaimed Roger Babson.

====================

To the ………………………………. Church,

I desire to develop my spiritual life and the spiritual life of others. As one means of doing this, I desire to join the ………………………………. Church.

I shall endeavor to bring my family or friends to your church, or to some other church if I am away, every Sunday.

I ask that you get in touch with me any week that you do not see or hear from me. I have checked the two lists on the reverse of this sheet showing the specific help which I most need, and also the line of work in which I may perhaps be most helpful to you.

Date ……………………………….            (S) ………………………………..

I FEEL THE MOST NEED OF:

Meditation

Learning to pray

Courage and Faith

Instruction

Help with my family

Better health

Economic assistance

New friends

General guidance

CAN BE THE MOST HELPFUL TO OTHERS IN:

Service of Worship

Teaching in Sunday School

Helping on the music

Leading young people

Caring for little children

Adult educational work

Boys’ Club Projects

Calling on the sick

Supplying flowers

====================

Causes for the Decline in Church Attendance

  1. Many seem to fear neither God nor man.
  2. Secondary motives for attending church, i.e. to help a man’s business or better his political prospects.
  3. Competing calls—competition; movies, reading newspapers.
  4. “The Waiting Mood”—People have ceased to seek. They wait to be sought.
  5. Indifference—church people are tremendously interested in many things. We must present the advantages of church attendance.
  6. Dissatisfaction with the tenets and teachings of the church. [Basically, the church does not seem to meet their needs and the needs of the age.]

The church should work for the well-being of the people.

Vitalizing the Sermon and Worship

  1. [There] must be an essential truth to the sermon. People want spiritual food they can understand.
  2. Holy zeal is necessary.
  3. Better craftsmanship is needed.
  4. Use other materials when necessary.
  5. Use the Bible.
  6. Sermons should be practical.
  7. Add news value to sermons. The use of such living materials … imparts a new freshness and impressiveness to the church service.
  8. Select “pulling subjects”—good topics and titles.
  9. Personal character—the personal life of the preacher must be a living example of Christianity.

Improving the Church Structure

  1. Ugly, badly arranged churches, if continued in use, will become more detrimental to church attendance.
  2. The equipment is very important.
  3. What, essentially, is required in order that a room be made effective as a place of worship? When one enters the room from the majestic out-of-doors, does he feel, upon coming within the building, a sense of uplifting and enlargement, even though the building may be small? Proportions [matter].
  4. Remove distractions—old chandeliers; Pleasant lanterns suspended from the ceiling will add much to the appearance and churchliness.
  5. Remove bad art glass.
  6. Good acoustics.
  7. Little things count for much.
  8. Eliminate all ugliness, barrenness, and things that divert attention from the holy exercise of divine worship.
  9. Cloakrooms will enable people to enter the sanctuary unencumbered without wraps, hats, and overshoes.

The Home and Church Attendance

  1. Regarding birth control, we do not have enough children in our church homes today to replenish our ranks in the next generation.
  2. The key individual to interest boys and girls in attending church is, of course, the minister. In the first place, he must be fond of children.
  3. The minister’s wife sets the example with herself and 5 children, and oftentimes four or five other children, [by] all sitting together in the fourth pew from the front.

Public Records on Church Attendance

Finance and attendance are both matters about which is the duty of all members to be informed.

Church Attendance and Theological Education

  1. A divinity school is a place for study. Its chief purpose is to train men in the major disciplines of theological education, not to equip students with a bag of tricks for drawing crowds.

Making the Community Church-Minded

  1. To have a great church, there must be two very essential factors; first-numbers; and second-loyalty.
  2. Two things impress the visitor—the height and central location of the pulpit.

Week-Day Religious Education

  1. For children and youth, religious education teachers should mostly be college or university graduates who have specialized in Bible and education.
  2. There is no need, however, for a church [to] lower its dignity by using the competitive methods of secular institutions, to draw people to its programs.
  3. [There needs to be] a firm belief that the church has something to offer.

Advertising

  1. The finest kind of advertising for any community, industry, merchandise, or even a church is the personal words [in] which one customer passes on to another.
  2. The great reason for non-church attendance among so-called Christians is the unregenerate conditions of their hearts.

Church Attendance and Prayer

  1. The heart of the church is prayer. If there is no place of prayer, or if the place of prayer is inadequate and weak, then no matter how enormous the church building might be, no matter how large the church membership, the church is a dying church.
  2. We cannot return to the old-fashioned testimonial meeting. It is as defunct as the old one-horse shay. (I had to look up the definition of a one-horse shay. It is a light, covered, two-wheeled carriage for two persons, drawn by a single horse.)
  3. But when we discarded the old shay, we did not leave our barn empty, we then filled it with a new automobile.

Six classes of people who attend church

  1. Those present every Sunday
  2. Others attending generally
  3. Others frequently
  4. Others occasionally
  5. Others rarely, and
  6. Others annually (on Easter)

Church Loyalty Projects

  1. Have a project.
  2. These works because they present specific achievements and friendly contests.

What about the Future?

  1. While the movies, the radio, comic supplements, and the automobile…have great power for good, they today are to too great an extent, undermining the character, health, and success of our children. Yet, we tacitly show our approval of these inroads by attending questionable movies and listening to everything on the radio.
  2. Before the development of modern advertising, motion pictures, and radio, many more of us spent our Sundays attending church services and reading good books.
  3. Today we are reading the sports and stock market pages, attending the movies, and listening to cheap radio patter.
  4. Hence, it behooves us to withhold a proper proportion of our time and money from these less important things and to devote the same to personally attending and financially supporting the churches.
  5. [To] help our children recognize the importance of character and the spiritual life, we must have them know that we put church attendance above the Sunday newspaper, the movie, and listening to the radio.
  6. [The most] efficient and inexpensive method of developing character among children and the community, in general, is to have them see us and their neighbors attend church.
  7. In conclusion, our studies would seem to indicate that the Protestant churches of America are today suffering from inertia, from lack of sufficient interest. Hence it would be time well spent if our clergymen and laymen would seriously consider an “over-hauling” and thorough examination.
  8. Statistics show that all institutions go downhill, which [does] not keep abreast or ahead of the times.

Miscellaneous

  1. Go through the list of church members with the thoroughness that a business organization would apply and prepare a list of those who do not go to church.
  2. Some may need to be dropped from the church roll.
  3. Others can be transplanted to other churches.
  4. But some will be quickened to resume their interest in the local church.

I hope you liked these quotes as much as I did. And, after reading this book, I am glad Jimmy no longer collects baseball cards, sneakers, or sunglasses! Books are good. And rare books are even better!

Bible Verses:

I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. Matthew 16:18

Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31

For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. 1 Timothy 6:10

Prayer:

Jesus, let me love my church as You did. Let me honor and respect the holy place You have provided for me to worship in. Give me a love for the people in the church—no matter our differences, personalities, or Bible knowledge. May all I do within the church body be pleasing and acceptable to You. In the precious name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.

God Bless.

 

Central Houston Inspirational Writers Alive! Associate Member; BibleGateway Blogger, Member; SBC, Church Member

Works Cited

Babson, Roger. How to Increase Church Attendance: The Commission on Church Attendance. New York: Fleming H. Revell, 1936.

[Roger W. Babson, Rev. Edwin H. Byington, Rev. Hudson E. Fiebiger, Winslow L. Webber, Rev. Gail Cleland, Elbert M. Conover, Rev. Clement F. Hahn, Rev. George L. Thurlow, Rev. Edwin B. Robinson, Rev. Vaughan Dabney, Rev. John L. Keedy, Rev. Robert W. Gammon, James B. McKendry, Rev. Daniel Bliss, Rev. Arthur L. Kingsolving; and Rev. Herbert D. Rugg.]

Bible verses are from the New American Standard Bible.

Sacred Snippet: A Silver Lining

I admit it! I am a readaholic! During this quarantine period, I have read a ton of books. I usually only like to read one book at a time (along with the Bible), but I have found myself in a pickle these past few weeks—to the point of becoming overwhelmed.

I am currently reading…
– A book by A.W. Tozer;
– A book on the Christian life;
– A book preview for a friend who will publish her book soon;
– A book that is accompanied by a workbook;
– Reference books for when I have questions; and
– A book on Winston Churchill and World War II. [Usually, my bedtime reading!] What’s up with that?

But, God always has a silver lining for us! My silver lining is that I now get to pick up whatever book my mood directs me too!

Right now, I think I will go back and reread 1 Kings 12! It was awesome yesterday, so I am going to reread it.

As much as this quarantine has changed our lives, do you have a silver lining you would like to share? I would love to hear it!

Literally, 27 Bible Verses to Ponder Throughout Christmastime

The Christmas Story: Luke 2:1-19 (KJV)

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and PONDERED them in her heart.

Mary, Jesus’ Mother Pondered: So Should We!

When I finished reading the Christmas story above, the word pondered resided in my heart as I was deciding what the Lord wanted me to share in this blog.

After pondering, I opted to share a daily verse—one from each of the 27 books of the New Testament—to meditate on over through the Christmas season.

Every book of the Bible contains some key or famous verses to mull over and below are 27 well-known Bible verses for you to ponder from December 1st through the 27th.

Ponder means to think about, give thought to, consider, review, reflect on, contemplate, study, meditate on, and to turn over in one’s mind.¹

My prayer is that you will reflect on these verses each day from December 1 – December 27th as you approach and prepare for the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.

Bible Verses

December 1

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28 (NASB)

December 2

For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many. Mark 10:45 (NLT)

December 3

Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots. Luke 23:34 (KJV)

December 4

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6 (NRSV)

December 5

Jesus said to him, “I am the [only] Way [to God] and the [real] Truth and the [real] Life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. Acts 1:8 (AMP)

December 6

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23 (NASB)

December 7

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 1 Corinthians 13:4-5 (NLT)

December 8

But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. 2 Corinthians 9:6 (KJV)

December 9

By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness,  gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. Galatians 5:22-23 (NRSV)

December 10

 For we are His workmanship [His own master work, a work of art], created in Christ Jesus [reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, ready to be used] for good works, which God prepared [for us] beforehand [taking paths which He set], so that we would walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us]. Ephesians 2:10 (AMP)

December 11

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Philippians 4:6 (NASB)

December 12

Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Colossians 3:12 (NLT)

December 13

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (KJV)

December 14

For this purpose he called you through our proclamation of the good news, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Thessalonians 2:14 (NRSV)

December 15

For the love of money [that is, the greedy desire for it and the willingness to gain it unethically] is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves [through and through] with many sorrows. 1 Timothy 6:10 (AMP)

December 16

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15 (NASB)

December 17

For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds. Titus 2:11-14 (NLT)

December 18

That the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus. Philemon 1:6 (KJV)

December 19

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely,and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2 (NRSV)

December 20

If any of you lacks wisdom [to guide him through a decision or circumstance], he is to ask of [our benevolent] God, who gives to everyone generously and without rebuke or blame, and it will be given to him. James 1:5 (AMP)

December 21

Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8 (NASB)

December 22

The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. 2 Peter 3:9 (NLT)

December 23

Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. 1 John 4:7 (KJV)

December 24—Happy Christmas Eve

And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment just as you have heard it from the beginning—you must walk in it. 2 John 1:6 (NRSV)

December 25—Merry Christmas

 Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but [imitate] what is good. The one who practices good [exhibiting godly character, moral courage and personal integrity] is of God; the one who practices [or permits or tolerates] evil has not seen God [he has no personal experience with Him and does not know Him at all]. 3 John 1:11 (AMP)

December 26

For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand [a]marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. Jude 1:4 (NASB)

December 27

Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends. Revelation 3:20 (NLT)

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

God Bless.

greenenpastures.org

Works Cited

Ponder. Oxford Dictionaries Thesaurus. Accessed 30 Nov 2019. oxforddictionaries.com.

Bible Abbreviations:

NASB—New American Standard Bible; NLT—New Living Translation; KJV—King James Version; NRSV—New Revised Standard Version; AMP—Amplified Bible

===============

Patti Greene is a fun-loving (but serious) coffee drinking wife, mom, and Grammi! She serves as a Bible teacher and Sunday School helper in her home church where her husband also teaches in Katy, Texas. She writes and speaks with the sole purpose of leading and maturing others in Jesus Christ and His everlasting love. To receive blogs from GreenePastures.org delivered straight to your email, please email her at Patti@GreenePastures.org with your email address, and you will be added to the email listing. You will need to confirm your decision to be added to the blog by email. You can also catch up with her on her Twitter feed at (@PattiGreene13) or her Facebook Patti Greene-Pastures page at (https://www.facebook.com/author.greene).

Books by Patti Greene [Order today for Christmas]

Christian Caregiving

Christian Caregiving: Practical Advice for a Happy Ending

Devotional Prayer Journals

Devotional Books by Patti Greene

Answer Me: Developing a Heart for Prayer

Anchor Me: Laying a Foundation in Bible Study and Prayer

Awaken Me: Growing Deeper in Bible Study and Prayer

@PattiGreene13 #PattiGreene13 #bgbg2

Surprising Tips That Will Transform Your Approach to Teaching and Preaching

I love reading books on preaching! They seem much more interesting to me than reading books on teaching. Besides being a former elementary school teacher, I am also a Bible teacher at my church and in other locations.

Of course, I have always been more interested in Christian theology than Christian education. I read preaching books to learn how to teach. When I read a book on preaching, I usually change the words preach and preacher to teach and teacher. In addition, I change the word sermon to either class or lesson.

Visiting My College Campus

Recently I visited Baylor University—my former college campus. As usual, whenever I visit the campus I always head straight for the bookstore. Back in the day, I loved perusing the college books that were for sale. It didn’t matter that they weren’t books connected to my major. Absorbing knowledge from multiple degree plans captivated my attention — though, as far as I was concerned, the math shelves could be roped off indefinitely.

On the day I visited the bookstore as an alumna, I noticed ALL the textbooks were roped off in preparation for the fall semester to begin. Not one to be held back, I asked a clerk if I could jump the rope to examine the selection of the theology books. Fortunately, the clerk graciously said, “Sure! Just go around this way,” and pointed me in the right direction.

On Preaching by H.D. Charles, Jr.

Without delay, I looked at all the theology books ready to be bought by the eager seminary students on campus. Through my scanning, skimming, and sometimes speedreading, I ran across a book titled On Preaching: Personal & Pastoral Insights for the Preparation & Practice of Preaching by H.D. Charles, Jr. After flipping through the pages, scanning the chapter titles, and reading the back cover of the book, I decided this book might just be another book for my library—one that would help me to become a better Bible teacher.

The book was informative, easy to read, and reminded me why I enjoy teaching.

The “Table of Contents” chapter titles are:

  1. Preparation for Preaching
  2. The Practice of Preaching, and
  3. Points of Wisdom for Preaching

However, in my mindset, I renamed the chapter titles to coordinate with the primary subject matter of this article—teaching.

  1. How To Prepare for a Teaching Assignment
  2. What The Practice Of Teaching Entails, and
  3. Tidbits of Wisdom For Teaching

Even if you have been preaching or teaching for a long time, this book is truly a great resource for both beginning and seasoned preachers as well as the beginning or seasoned Bible teachers. The author clearly states the awesome responsibility of preparing to be all God intends you to be for the work He has called you to do.

Teaching Tips

This blog includes some tips for those involved in teaching classes within a church environment—like Sunday School, Discipleship Training, Men or Women’s Bible study classes, and special teaching times. However, there are also ways one does not usually think of when talking about the gift of teaching—like being an elder, clarifying religious issues to a visitor or member, evangelizing, teaching an everyday skill, plus more.

In On Preaching, H.D. Charles states that “There are those who draw a hard distinction between preaching and teaching. But this dichotomy cannot be backed up by Scripture. In the same verse that Paul charges Timothy to preach the Word, he bids him do so with “complete patience and teaching: (2 Timothy 4:2) Preaching and teaching go together. To preach the Word requires teaching the Word.”

In the insights shared below, all bolded and italicized words have been changed from the original statements pulled out from this book. Read with enthusiasm these insights, so you can grow to be one approved by God—whether in teaching or preaching!

Quotes from On Preaching

Time management is one of the most crucial areas of stewardship in a teacher’s life.

Do whatever you have to do to be ready to teach the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ!

Your teaching is the most effective way you can impact your class.

Pray that the Lord would open your eyes to see wonderful things in the Word. (Psalm 119:18)

Saturate every part of your study with prayer. Pray that Christ would oversee your study. Trust the Holy Spirit to lead you to the truth. Seek the mind of God in the text. Repent as the text confronts you with sin in your life. Pray for wisdom as you read. Ask for clarity as you write. Work as if it all depends on you but pray as if it all depends on God.

Think yourself empty. Read yourself full. Write yourself clear. And pray yourself hot. Then go to your class and be yourself. But don’t teach yourselfteach Jesus to the glory of God!

[PRAY] Father, please give me the physical strength and spiritual energy to speak your Word with faithfulness, clarity, authority, passion, wisdom, humiliation and liberty.

Clarity is essential for faithful teaching.

The teacher’s ultimate authority is found in the Word of God.

What the Word of God says is infinitely more important than our testimonials.

The teaching moment is not about you. We must decrease that Christ may increase. (John 3:30)

Our job is to teach in such a way that brings the hearer before the living God. Then we are to get out of the way! But our sinful flesh will constantly seek to be in the spotlight. Prayer helps to keep our egos in check. It helps us to teach with a humility that makes much of Christ and little of ourselves.

Every class we teach should be saturated with the Word of God.

We should teach with the conviction that the Bible is given to us for our transformation, not just information.

Go to God in prayer and ask Him to guide you for what you should teach. Ask for clear direction. Seek God diligently. Trust the promise that God will generously give wisdom to those who ask for it in faith. (James 1:5-8)

More Quotes

Teaching is hard work. It is not for the slothful.

We all have weaknesses in our teaching. We all have growing to do. We all have blind spots that cannot be seen without trusted people being honest with us. But those blind spots are there, whether we identify them or not. We should actively seek them out and strive to address them.

Keep the main thing the main thing in your classes, and do not let subdivisions of your outline lead you away from the main idea.

The class will never be interested in a lesson that doesn’t seem to be interesting to the teacher.

The effective teacher must also work to clarify meaning, make ideas stick, and call the listener to action.

Be flexible. The One who guides the preparation of your study governs the presentation of it. And He has the right to edit your presentation as you teach it! Your job is to teach the message the Lord gives you and He leads you, not to say everything you wrote in your lesson preparation.

Take every teaching assignment seriously. Pray and prepare diligently and give the Lord all you’ve got.

Desire to be the best teacher you can be for God. Don’t compete with other teachers.

Teaching is not about the teacher. It is about the royal message that we teach.

No Christian should ever be found boasting in himself, especially a teacher of Jesus Christ.

People should learn more about Christ from your lessons than they learn about you.

Do your own homework. [Never plagiarize another’s work. If you quote others or take from their writings or sermons, give credit where credit is due.] [Remember] God uses weak people, not gospel superstars. We are weak and fragile clay pots at the Master’s disposal to convey the treasure of the message of Jesus Christ.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)

In writing this blog, I have taken the liberty stated in the front of the book that “brief quotations [may be used] embodied in critical articles or reviews.” I deem this blog a review of the book On Preaching. Therefore, with a high recommendation, I promote this book for both preachers and teachers.

My prayer is that you will see the parallels between preaching and teaching. And possibly, the next time you encounter a preacher book, you might pick it up to help you with whatever type of teaching assignments God sends your way.

Bible Verses

Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. (2 Timothy 4:2)

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness. (2 Timothy 3:16)

When Jesus had finished giving instructions to His twelve disciples, He departed from there to teach and preach in their cities. (Matthew 11:1)

Prayer

Oh Lord, help me to be approved by You to teach or preach the Word of God with accuracy—in the way You intended it to be taught and preached. May the words that come out of my mouth be representative of You. Teach me daily to become more like You in every thought, word, or action I may take. Always in Christ. Amen.

God Bless.

greenenpastures.org

Central Houston Inspirational Writers Alive! Associate Member

BibleGateway Blogger, Member

SBC, Church Member

Works Cited

Charles, H.B. On Preaching: Personal & Pastoral Insights for the Preparation & Practice of Preaching. Chicago: Moody, 2014.

Edited by E. Johnson.

All verses are from the New American Standard Bible unless noted otherwise.

Books by Patti Greene

Christian Caregiving

Christian Caregiving: Practical Advice for a Happy Ending

Devotional Prayer Journals

Answer Me: Developing a Heart for Prayer

Anchor Me: Laying a Foundation in Bible Study and Prayer

Awaken Me: Growing Deeper in Bible Study and Prayer

@PattiGreene13

#bgbg2

 

Targeting Sorrow

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines sorrow as “deep distress, sadness, or regret, especially for the loss of someone or something loved.” ¹

Admit it: we all face sorrow at one time or another.

Sorrow fills our hearts at different times and under different circumstances throughout our lives. We may be distressed over a divorce, disappointed we didn’t get accepted into the college we desired, or regretful because of a poor decision.

King David Faced Sorrow

Old Testament King David experienced both joy and sorrow.

Joy filled his heart when he dedicated and devoted his life to God. Furthermore, on the battlefield, David’s military power and strength exceeded that of all other leaders, earning him the admiration of his God-given abilities and gifts.

However, at other times, David resembled a godforsaken failure. As a child, David lived in obscurity compared to his older brothers. Later in life, though, he defeated Goliath! In his youth, he was constantly running away from King Saul because Saul became jealous of David’s success. As an adult, he lived with harsh consequences due to his sexual lust for (and relationship with) Bathsheba and then his subsequent murder of Bathsheba’s husband Uriah.

As to be expected, David’s adulterous affair with Bathsheba caused him extreme grief and undue sorrow.

David’s Success Plummets

David, who once held a familial relationship with King Saul, escaped from Saul’s horrific wrath by reducing himself to hiding in a cave. David’s psychic characterized his enemies as snarling dogs waiting to attack. All the while knowing that his refuge was in the Lord. David acknowledges his disdain for his enemies in Psalm 59:13-15, where he writes:

13 Destroy them in wrath, destroy them that they may be no more;
That men may know that God rules in Jacob
To the ends of the earth. Selah.
14 They return at evening, they howl like a dog,
And go around the city.
15 They wander about for food
And growl if they are not satisfied.

We can glimpse more clearly the heart of David as he pleas for God’s help in Psalm 56.

¹ Be gracious to me, O God, for man has trampled upon me;
Fighting all day long he oppresses me.

2 My foes have trampled upon me all day long,
For they are many who fight proudly against me.

3 When I am afraid,
I will put my trust in You.

4 In God, whose word I praise,
In God I have put my trust;
I shall not be afraid.
What can mere man do to me?

5 All day long they distort my words;
All their thoughts are against me for evil.

6 They attack, they lurk,
They watch my steps,
As they have waited to take my life.

7 Because of wickedness, cast them forth,
In anger put down the peoples, O God!

8 You have taken account of my wanderings;
Put my tears in Your bottle.
Are they not in Your book?

9 Then my enemies will turn back in the day when I call; This I know, that God is for me . . .

13 For You have delivered my soul from death,
Indeed my feet from stumbling,
So that I may walk before God
In the light of the living. (Psalm 56:1-9;13)

David’s pure and unadulterated prayer to God exposed his dilemma, pleas and desires.

  • His dilemma: He tells God His foes were fighting him (Psalm 56:1-2);
  • His plea: He asks God to put his tears in His bottle (Psalm 56:8) and;
  • His desire: He asks God to be gracious to him and to cast his enemies forth, so he may walk before God. Psalm 56:1, 7, 10.

David approached God in confidence—all the while knowing that God knew the true state of his circumstances and heart.

God knows the true state of our hearts as well. When the walls are closing in around us and when we cry out to the Lord, the prudent thing to do is to follow David’s example by sharing everything that is on our heart with Him. At many times, our thoughts and desires are meant only to be expressed to God. Some say, “Why should we tell God? He already knows everything.” But, when we share our inner thoughts with Him, He is pleased to see us entrusting our lives to Him in prayer and conversation.

Only God knows the true state of our hearts—not the person sitting next to you, your parents, or your spouse.

What Thoughts Should Fill Our Mind When We Are Sorrowful?

Deal With Sorrow

We all experience sorrow at some point in our lives: the death of a parent, a divorce, an unfulfilled desire, a jealous spirit. If you haven’t experienced sorrow yet, it will come.

The emotional pain from our circumstances can linger for years or decades. Some carry grief, regret or sorrow their entire lives by ignoring the pain and blocking their sorrow. Be that as it may, blocking our sorrow can cause serious problems, such as suicidal thoughts, hate and physical illnesses.

To illustrate this point, let’s look at the agonizing pain of a broken heart—medically called takotsubo cardiomyopathy. Broken hearts can affect men and women,  and young and old. Doctors now say that having a broken heart is real: it mimics heart attack symptoms and can lead to heart failure. ²

I know it’s real. I experienced it as a young adult due to a boyfriend-girlfriend breakup—although at that time there was not a medical term for what one experiences with undue pressure, stress and sorrow. It took six months to finally release the severe heaviness stirring in my heart. Then decades to release the emotional pain!

Let’s take care not to dismiss the extreme pain many high school students and young adults feel when losing a relationship or any desire of the heart. God knows and cares about all these types of experiences.

We need Him to hold our sorrows and tears so we can move on and be useful to Him, and when we are being used by Him, we will flourish in our Christian walk.

Cry: Tears – Chasing a Rabbit

God loves us so much that He puts our tears in His bottle. Some Hebrew Bible scholars use the word wineskins or containers in place of the word bottle. The opening of a wineskin is so small that liquid can be poured in carefully resulting in very little evaporation. Either way, David asks God to look at his tears of fear and pain. David’s tears were so precious that He preserves each one. He does the same for us.

There are three types of tears: Basal tears, irritant tears, and emotional tears.

Basal tears keep our eyes lubricated. These tears are needed to prevent damage from the sun, air, or debris.

Irritant tears occur when we are hit by the wind, sand or even an onion.

Emotional tears show up in moments of intense feelings; sometimes joy, but more often sorrow. They contain stress hormones.

Our eyes generate tears under all these circumstances. This is one reason that crying is therapeutic when we are under a lot of stress. ³

In Here’s Scientific Evidence That Crying Can by Therapeutic, Anna Almendrala states, “new research shows that while shedding a few tears leads to a dip in mood immediately after the crying jag, about 90 minutes later people report feeling even better than they did before they had reason to cry.” ⁴

In Psalm 56, David was experiencing emotional tears. When we are going through an emotional crisis, our emotional tears pour out and are collected by our Heavenly Father as were David’s tears. Then when God has prepared us, trained us, and is ready to use us, He will use those tears. He will tilt that bottle or wineskin until the tears that you have shed can be used for His glory.

Jesus was not ashamed to shed tears. He wept at the raising of Lazarus. He wept over Jerusalem. And, He wept in agony at Gethsemane.

The Lord is aware of our suffering and sorrow.  Crying is a gift from God, and He wants to bottle up our tears and record them in His book. (Psalm 56:8c)

Remember, Life Happens

Toilets break, dates are broken, jobs are lost, children have life-long illnesses, parents disown their children, young couples encounter infertility, spouses die, malignant tumors appear out of nowhere. I love what my pastor recently said when he said, “anything that can happen to anyone else can happen to us.” So true!

It is vitally important that we know what to do when “life happens”—this includes emotional, mental, physical or spiritual misfortunes. Often times, we see our trials as solely physical, but trials can be emotional, mental, physical, and/or spiritual in nature.

The problem is we insist on running our own lives when we really need to be still and set our sights on God. Sometimes our pain is so deep, we can’t even talk to others about it, but we must talk to God. When life happens and tears fill our eyes, we must remember that God is right there with us as we cry, mourn and seek peace.

Jesus guides believers through life. Unfortunately, sometimes we act like we are “La-Z-Boy believers”,  i.e. too lazy to be still before God; too lazy to read our Bible; too lazy to pray; too lazy to make some Christian friends. Let’s change that today!

In Our Sorrow, God Always Has a Plan For Us

Our Lord deeply desires to give us peace when we encounter sadness and sorrow. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could bank on the fact that God knows our future and the future of our family? Well, we can!

Most of us don’t want to go through any circumstances that would refine us to be all God wants us to be. We take our wounds and try to hide them, so the same wounds keep coming up time after time; marriage after marriage; job after job. Then, bitterness sneaks in.

James 1:12 says, “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”

Folks, life throws us curves.  We need to anticipate the curves. We need to be” pre-prayed up” so we are ready when those curves come speeding toward us. We must learn to trust God always, even when we cannot understand what is happening.  If you are anxious about the future, turn to God. When you are confused, take refuge in Him because He has a plan for our lives.

Look at your afflictions and sorrows as a means God has chosen to refine, purify and mold you into the image of His Son Jesus Christ.

“God knows our situation; He will not judge us as if we had no difficulties to overcome. What matters is the sincerity and perseverance of our will to overcome them.”   — C. S. Lewis

God Uses Our Sorrow and Suffering for His Glory

God is doing a great work in us that can only come to fruition as we learn to trust Him, no matter how dark and dreary our life may seem. When we stop asking God why we are experiencing sorrow, and instead start applying our pain and sorrow for His glory, a milestone in our Christian life has been reached!

Pastor Tony Evans compares our sorrows to “The Temptations” hit song My Girl. When the song lyrics say, “When it’s cold outside, I’ve got the month of May,” Evans says, [Look! My external circumstances are bad, but what can make me feel this way—My girl. He had a love relationship. You may be in a cloudy situation, but when it’s cold outside you can still have the month of May. My God can change your emotional strongholds]—when you have a relationship with God. ⁵

Every person must make the crucial choice to choose God or not choose God. By allowing the Holy Spirit to lead our lives, we develop trust in Him knowing He will control our lives way better than we can. Why? Because He knows the big picture, and we don’t!

Most often, those who have had the deepest spiritual impact in the world are those who have endured the most suffering because suffering produces holiness, strength and endurance.

Looking back over your life, where have you come from? What circumstances have happened in your life? Have you asked God what He wants you to do? He probably won’t show you the big picture of your life—even though He knows it! But we have the joy and privilege of asking Him to show us one step at a time.

Ask the Lord the following questions:

  • What needs to be refined in my life?
  • What areas do I need to improve upon? [My sins and logs]
  • Then repent, move on, and ask Him how He can use you.

When We Surrender Our Lives to Jesus Christ, He Will Give Us Peace

Let God carry your earthly burdens and concerns.

In addition, one thing I have learned in life is that “surrendering all to God” can be the most painful task we can undertake. It is painful because we have to confess our sins, give up all our earthly desires and trust solely in Him. It may not come all in one sitting. It may come over time. But through the pain, God is refining us, maturing us and making us more Christ-like. And as believers, that should be our ultimate goal, even if it is a grueling task, because our job is to joyfully endure to the end of our earthly life.

As I have grown in my walk with the Lord, I know the more time I spend with God reading, studying, memorizing, meditating on His Word, and releasing my cares, sorrows, and trials to Him, the more I want to obey Him and His Word.

Conclusion

Moreover, as we each move through our earthly life, let’s not forget that, in that life, we all experience sorrow in the form of deep distress, sadness, or regret. We will all make mistakes and blow it—just like David did. But, let’s not dwell only on David’s failures. Let’s look at how He chose to sum up the lessons learned as he imparts his wisdom to his son Solomon.

“As David’s time to die drew near, he charged Solomon his son, saying, “I am going the way of all the earth. Be strong, therefore, and show yourself a man. Keep the charge of the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, His commandments, His ordinances, and His testimonies, according to what is written in the Law of Moses, that you may succeed in all that you do and wherever you turn.” (1 Kings 2:1-3)

Bible Verses

He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. (Isaiah 53:3)

For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death. (2 Corinthians 7:10)

Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. (John 14:27)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

Prayer

Oh, my dear Jesus. When times of sorrow fill my heart, let me remember You foremost. Let me come to You and share my sorrows, concerns, and trials. Let me lay them at Your feet. You are my comforter. It is in You whom I want to always depend upon and trust. Help me to be all I can be for Your honor and glory. I love you. Amen.

God Bless.

greenenpastures.org

Central Houston Inspirational Writers Alive! Associate Member

BibleGateway Blogger, Member

SBC, Church Member

Works Cited

¹ “sorrow.” Merriam-Webster.com. 2019. http://www.merriam-webster.com (1 July 2019).

² Q13 News Staff. “Doctors say having a broken heart is real: Here are the symptoms.” Web. 14 Feb 2018.

³ Roizen, Michael. “What are the three different types of tears found in our eyes.” Sharecare. Web. Accessed 1 July 2019.

⁴ Almendrala, Anna. “Here’s scientific evidence that crying can be therapeutic.” Web. 25 Aug 2015.

⁵ Evans, Tony. “Overcoming Emotional Strongholds.” Podcast. One Place. Web. Accessed 29 June 2019.

Edited by E. Johnson.

All verses are from the New American Standard Bible unless noted otherwise.

Books by Patti Greene

Christian Caregiving

Christian Caregiving: Practical Advice for a Happy Ending

Devotional Prayer Journals

Answer Me: Developing a Heart for Prayer

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@PattiGreene13

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Test Your Knowledge [Major and Minor Prophets Trivia Quiz]

When I sat down to write a blog today, I already had a few intriguing topics running through my mind. These topics will make awfully good blogs someday, but not today!

There was a fight going on between MY INNER-SELF that said, “Write a blog!” and my ENJOY YOURSELF persona that shouted, “Make up a test!”

I love testing people’s knowledge.  Making up tests was my favorite activity when I taught school. It never mattered whether I prepared True/False, Fill in the Blank, Multiple Choice, or Essay Questions. I LOVED and still LOVE writing exams that assess one’s knowledge.

So, my ENJOY YOURSELF me won out and I have written a multiple-choice quiz relating to the major and minor prophets of the Bible and the Old Testament books where they make their appearance.

Best of luck as you give your best shot on this “Test Your Knowledge” multiple-choice quiz. Give yourself 5 points for each question you get right. Answers and explanations follow the quiz. Just scroll all the way down.

And as I would tell my students, “Grab a piece of paper. Put your name on your paper. Number from 1-20. No cheating. And, start your quiz!”

Questions

1. Bible prophets were?

a. Descendants from the temple servants who returned from exile with Nehemiah;

b. God’s messengers in the Old Testament;

c Mercenaries for the Philistines during King David’s reign;

d. Managers of Herod’s household.

2. Who is Elijah?

a. Phoenician princess;

b. Moses’ spokesperson;

c. A man whose miracles called many in Israel back to faith in God;

d. One of the leaders of the tribe of Manasseh who defected to David at Ziklag.

3. The terms Major Prophets and Minor Prophets are simply ways to divide

a. The Old Testament prophetic books;

b. The good prophets from the bad prophets;

c. The descendants of King David from those who were not descendants of his;

d. Those who were good archers from those who weren’t.

4. How many major prophets are there?

a. Two;

b. Five;

c. Eight;

d. Twelve.

5. How many minor prophets are there?

a. Four;

b. Ten;

c. Eleven;

d. Twelve.

6. Which person is considered a minor prophet?

a. Jeremiah;

b. Isaiah;

c. Jonah;

d. Ezekiel.

7. Jeremiah was plagued by feelings of

a. Inadequacy;

b. Depression;

c. Despair;

d. All the above.

8. The Book of Ezekiel starts with

a. King Jehoiakim describing his intelligence and wisdom;

b. How God called him to preach at Israel’s royal sanctuary at Bethel;

c. The LORD telling him to arise and go to Nineveh;

d. A clear description and his call and commission.

9. What book of the Bible says, “The Lord God is my strength, and He has made my feet like hinds’ feet, and makes me walk on my high places”?

a. Zephaniah;

b. Daniel;

c. Habakkuk;

d. Joel.

10. When Ezekiel spoke of the Vision of the Valley of Dry Bones, the bones were referring to

a. The angel Gabriel;

b. The temple;

c. The whole house of Israel;

d. The death of Babylon.

11. What book of the Bible says, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge”?

a. Hosea;

b. Zechariah;

c. Malachi;

d. Isaiah.

12. The Book of Daniel is quoted or alluded to in what other book of the Bible?

a. Psalms;

b. 2 Kings;

c. Revelation;

d. Ephesians.

13. The angel of the LORD was speaking to whom when he said, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel saying, “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the LORD of hosts.”

a. Zechariah;

b. Haggai;

c. Daniel;

d. Obadiah.

14. What book of the Bible says, “‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.’”

a. Lamentations;

b. Amos;

c. Micah;

d. Jeremiah.

15. The shortest book of the Old Testament is

a. Micah;

b. Malachi;

c. Lamentations;

d. Obadiah.

16. Jeremiah was told to do what?

a. Take a scroll and write on it all the words which God had spoken to him concerning Israel and Judah;

b. Get a brick and place it before him and inscribe a city on it, Jerusalem;

c. Go to Nineveh and proclaim the proclamation God was going to tell him.

d. Love an adulteress.

17. The Book of Malachi is known for the verse?

a. “The sun will be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, Before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes.”

b. “From the sole of the foot even to the head, there is nothing sound in it, only bruises, welts, and raw wounds, not pressed out or bandaged, nor softened with oil.”

c. “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”

d. “Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me! But you say, ‘How have we robbed Thee?’ In tithes and offerings.”

18. Who wrote the Book of Lamentations?

a. King Belshazzar;

b. Jeremiah;

c. King Solomon;

d. Isaiah.

19. What is the last book of the Old Testament?

a. Zechariah;

b. Malachi;

c. Zephaniah;

d. Nahum.

20. Jonah said,

a. “Therefore now, O LORD, please take my life from me, for death is better to me than life.”

b. “Do two men walk together unless they have made an appointment.”

c. “If you would prefer to come with me to Babylon, come along, and I will look after you; but if you would prefer not to come with me to Babylon, never mind.”

d. “Yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.”

God Bless.

greenenpastures.org

Bible Gateway Blogger Member – Bible Gateway Blogger Grid (BG²) is an international network of independent bloggers who meaningfully blog—and who are serious—about matters relating to the Bible. Follow the members on Twitter using the BG² List

Inspirational Writers Alive Member (IWA)  – Central Houston Location.

Prayer

Jesus, thank You so much for Your word. It guides me. It searches my heart. It points me to You. It shows me my sins. Without Your word, where would I be? I love You so much and I also love Your word and how it speaks to me. In Your precious and holy Name. Amen.

Edited by E. Johnson

Books by Patti Greene

Christian Caregiving: Practical Advice for a Happy Ending

Devotional Prayer Journals

Answer Me: Developing a Heart for Prayer

Anchor Me: Laying a Foundation in Bible Study and Prayer

Awaken Me: Growing Deeper in Bible Study and Prayer

To see more “Test Your Knowledge” Quizzes, click on . . .

Test Your Knowledge [Thanksgiving]

Test Your Knowledge [Women in the Bible]

Test Your Knowledge [Old Testament Trivia]

Your Knowledge [Men in the Bible]

Test Your Knowledge [Easter Quiz]

 

 

 

 

 

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Answers

 

 

 

 

  1. b
  2. c
  3. a; Some commentaries say the major and minor prophetic books are divided by their size.
  4. b; The major prophetic books are Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, and Daniel.
  5. d; The minor prophetic books are Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habbakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.
  6. c
  7. d; Jeremiah showed strength in his devotion to the Lord, but he also was a man with deep inner struggles.
  8. d; Ezekiel 2-3 gives a clear description of Ezekiel’s call and commission.
  9. c; Habakkuk 3:9
  10. c
  11. a; Hosea 4:6
  12. c; Material from every chapter in Daniel is either quoted or alluded to in Revelation, and only two chapters are without some background in Daniel. [Hebrew-Greek Study Bible.]
  13. a; Zechariah 4:6
  14. d; Jeremiah 29:11; You might like to read Jeremiah 29:12-13 as well.
  15. d; Obadiah was written for the encouragement of the Israelites. It is only one chapter with 21 verses.
  16. a – correct answerJeremiah 36:2; b-Ezekiel 4:1; c-Jonah 1-3; d-Hosea 3:1.
  17. d;
  18. b; Lamentations is the work of one who had a broken heart. [Hebrew-Greek Study Bible]
  19. b
  20. a – correct answerJonah 4:3; b-Amos 3:3; c-Jeremiah 40:4; c-Isaiah 40:31.

 

I am not a None—One of the Religious Unaffiliated

I am NOT a none. I have never desired to be a none! And with God’s grace, I will never become a none. So, what is a none? Merriam-Webster dictionary defines nones as “the ninth day before the ides according to ancient Roman reckoning” or “the fifth of the canonical hours”.

However, those are not the nones being spoken about in this article. I am talking about the nones as defined in the Oxford University Press website in an article titled “3 Things You Might Not Know About Nones” by Elizabeth Drescher. Drescher defines nones as “a name for people who answer ‘none’ when asked what religious group they most identify or to which they belong.”

It is based on this definition, I will be providing informational quotes from various writers and researchers that will provide enough information for you to understand and intelligently discuss nones with others. In addition, I have included links for easy location of the entire articles.

Currently, nones or my personally made-up word noneship are not within my everyday vernacular or even official words yet, but I daresay that in the next few years, they will join the Merriam Webster’s New Dictionary Word List along with their most recent newest words such as cryptocurrency, wordie, Chiweenie, Schnoodle, ooh, mm-hmm, and welp.

Who is a None?

Becka Alper from Pew Research says, “a growing share of Americans are religiously unaffiliated. [They] recently asked a representative sample of more than 1,300 of these “nones” why they choose not to identify with a [particular] religion.

Out of several options included in the survey, the most common reason they give is that they question a lot of religious teachings. Six-in-ten religiously unaffiliated Americans – adults who describe their religious identity as an atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular” – say the questioning of religious teachings is a very important reason for their lack of affiliation.

The second-most-common reason is opposition to the positions taken by churches on social and political issues, cited by 49% of respondents (the survey asked about each of the six options separately). Smaller, but still substantial, shares say they dislike religious organizations (41%), don’t believe in God (37%), consider religion irrelevant to them (36%) or dislike religious leaders (34%).”

Alper, Becka. “Why America’s ‘nones’ don’t identify with a religion.” Pew Research Center. 8 Aug 2018.

http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/08/08/why-americas-nones-dont-identify-with-a-religion.

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“The Christian share of the U.S. population is declining, while the number of U.S. adults who do not identify with any organized religion is growing, according to an extensive new survey by the Pew Research Center. Moreover, these changes are taking place across the religious landscape, affecting all regions of the country and many demographic groups. While the drop in Christian affiliation is particularly pronounced among young adults, it is occurring among Americans of all ages.”

“America’s Changing Religious Landscape.” Pew Research Center. 5 May 2015.

http://www.pewforum.org/2015/05/12/americas-changing-religious-landscape/

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“Curiously, the religiously unaffiliated are “about twice as likely to describe themselves as political liberals than as conservatives.”

  • 63 are either registered Democrats (39%) or lean toward the Democratic Party (24%)
  • 72% support legal abortion
  • 73% support same-sex marriage

Hess, Andrew. “The rise of the nones.” Focus on the Family. Focus on the Family. Accessed 21 Sept 2018.

https://www.focusonthefamily.com/about/focus-findings/family-formation-trends/rise-of-the-nones

What is Interesting about the Nones?

“Look at any survey about the state of religion and you will find the same story of decline. Fewer Americans today than in past decades identify with a religion, attend church, engage in religious practices, and view faith as an important part of their lives. Those who advocate the secularization of society applaud such cultural change because they see it as evidence that people are turning away from all things supernatural. However, these trends may be less about our abandoning the supernatural and more about our abandoning each other.”

Routledge, Clay. “Americans quit church but still search for meaning, now as loners.” Nation Review. 14 July 2018.

https://www.nationalreview.com/2018/07/traditional-religion-has-social-value-individual-quests-leave-people-isolated/

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This seems like a circular argument: “The nones are growing because the nones are growing! But sociologically, it makes a kind of sense. Some nonbelievers might have stayed in organized religion in previous generations just because it was socially expected, and there were consequences for not joining the religious crowd. The numeric growth of the nones has removed some of those barriers so that other closeted nones feel more comfortable leaving religion too. There is an infrastructure and support system for them.”

Riess, Jana. “Why millennials are really leaving religion (it’s not just politics, folks). Religion News Service. 26 June 2018.

https://religionnews.com/2018/06/26/why-millennials-are-really-leaving-religion-its-not-just-politics-folks/

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“In 2014, 23% of adult Americans identified as what media and academics have come to refer to as religious “nones.” Although the term covers a lot of territory—atheist, agnostic, unaffiliated, “nothing in particular,” and “spiritual but not religious”—it does not include anyone who identified with a particular faith tradition.”

Winston, Diane. “Millennials and the ‘none’: Why 40 years of religion in US Elections may change in 2015. Vice News. 30 June 2015.

https://news.vice.com/article/millennials-and-the-nones-why-40-years-of-religion-in-us-elections-may-change-in-2015

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Nones are building communities in myriad ways, some of them more organized than others. From meditation groups to the very church-like Sunday Assemblies,  the religiously unaffiliated are finding ways to connect with one another.”

Blumberg, Antonia. “How the ‘Nones’ can find a sense of community outside of religion.” Huffington Post. 22 July 2015.

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/religiously-unaffiliated-nones-community_us_55afe508e4b0a9b948535f3a

Why Do the Nones Believe Like They Do?

“Today’s young nones, immersed in their online lives, may feel as though they are very connected. But as many are collectively realizing, online connections are weaker than advertised. We may have many [acquaintances] within digital reach, but numerous online relationships are no substitute for deep, real-life friendships. Similarly, a wave of spirituality apps promises to supercharge your mindfulness and positive thinking. Although beneficial, app spirituality, too, leads to a solitary practice.”

Asma, Stephen. “Religiously unaffiliated ‘none’ are pursuing spirituality, but not community.” L.A. Times. 6 June 2018.

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-asma-nones-spirituality-20180607-story.html

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“As a pastor, as a researcher, as an educator, as just a Christian who cares, the single greatest contributor to the attrition rate [of the Christian faith] has been the breakdown of the family,” McFarland said in an interview with the Christian Post.

Blair, Leonardo. “Parent Failure to Transmit Faith to Kids Helping Fuel Growth of Religious ‘Nones,’ Study Suggests.” Christian Post. 20 Sept 2018.

https://www.christianpost.com/news/parent-failure-transmit-faith-kids-helping-fuel-growth-religious-nones-study-227489/

How Can the Nones Come to Know Christ?

An important new survey by Pew Research asks, “why people who were raised in religious homes but who now identify as religious “nones” — having no religious affiliation — decided to leave the faith of their childhood. The results were varied, but according to the survey, “Half of ‘nones’ left childhood faith over lack of belief, one-in-five cite dislike of organized religion.

So today, America needs another great awakening, one which will convert the unconverted, restore the backslidden, and set the complacent on fire. Whether they know it or not, the “nones” are crying out for this very thing.”

“God’s solution to the ‘Nones’ who have left the faith.”  The Stream. Accessed 21 Sept 2018.

https://stream.org/gods-solution-nones-left-faith

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Conclusion

So how can you know God? It all starts with accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. Jesus Christ provides a relationship with the Father and eternal life through His death on the cross and resurrection (Romans 5:10)

Lord Jesus, I ask You to forgive my sins and save me from eternal separation from God. By faith, I accept Your work and death on the cross as sufficient payment for my sins. Thank You for providing the way for me to know You and to have a relationship with my heavenly Father. Through faith in You, I have eternal life. Thank You also for hearing my prayers and loving me unconditionally. Please give me the strength, wisdom, and determination to walk in the center of Your will. In Jesus’ name, [A]men.

“How do I accept Jesus as my savior.” In Touch. Accessed 21 Sept 2018.

 https://www.intouch.org/read/content/how-do-I-accept-Jesus-as-my-savior

While some people have no idea what is their purpose in life, some are convinced their life journey is to seek knowledge, to pursue status, to become wealthy, to promote tolerance, to reproduce or a host of other purposes.

The bottom-line is, what do we believe is the meaning of life?

As believers in Jesus Christ, we should believe that our purpose is to fulfill what God has appointed us to accomplish on this earth. When the spiritual dimension of life is void of the Trinity—God, the Father; Jesus, the Son; and the Holy Spirit, we become part of the none community. Let’s not let that happen!

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Bible Verses:

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (John 14:6)

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. (John 10:10)

Come to me all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, help me to believe in You. Help me to see You with new eyes. If You are real, let me know that. I’m tired of the life I am living. I want to know that beyond what I can see, there is a God that loves me and wants what is best for me. Help me to leave my proud behavior and unbelieving thoughts at Your feet. I want to know if You are real. Amen.

God Bless.

greenenpastures.org

Member of IWA-Inspirational Writers Alive!

Member of Biblegateway Bloggers #bgbg2

Edited by E. Johnson

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Please share, forward, retweet, and/or comment if you liked this article or find it might help someone you know. Thanks.

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