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Two Years Ago Today, Mom Went to Heaven!

Initial Remarks

Today marks two years since my dear mom passed away—August 27, 2020. I wrote the following letter four months after my mom died, recollecting the time my husband John and I spent living with her for four years in her home. I mailed this note to a few very close friends at the time, but today, I feel like posting this in her honor and sharing that I am still sad about a lot of things, but I know moving on would be what she would want for me.

Dear Friends

First, I want to thank all of you who have prayed for John and me over the past few years. We were in a unique season of life—a life we never expected to be in. It was challenging and rewarding at the same time.

Most of you know that in January 2016, I moved into my parent’s home when my dad was ill with leukemia and dementia. John was working overseas at the time. Dad died in February 2016.

Being concerned about mom, I stayed with her after Dad’s passing. The idea of her alone in the house made me want to stay with her. Unfortunately, 2016 brought a diagnosis of Stage 4 lung cancer to mom on top of all her other ailments, so I continued to stay at mom’s house. John came home from his overseas assignment shortly after mom’s diagnosis and moved into mom’s house with me.

We locked up our house, and our life became different—more different than we ever expected. John retired after completing his overseas assignment but found a little part-time work, and life moved on. We settled into our life with mom in west Houston, trying to adjust to not being in our own home. I did fine for the first two years. But, the last two years were physically and emotionally tough on me. As mom progressively needed more care and attention, I became more nervous and anxious. I was not my usual self. I had a hard time coping, although I was able to conceal it from others for the most part.

John saw and experienced my constant exhaustion, my need for respite, and my emotional stress worsening daily. He was my rock. I cannot imagine any other person being so kind and generous as giving up his home and life to partner with me in caretaking my mother – his mother-in-law. John occupied my mom with mind-boggling conversations and debates. He made dinner most days, and towards the end, his help and love truly inspired me as he provided nursing duties way beyond his pay grade. Christ-like love was indeed in action!

God knew my fragile mental state. And I hate to say it, but COVID was the lifeline I needed to be able to move back home. It had become apparent that I was not doing well with our 24/7 living arrangement at mom’s house. When COVID hit: Mom’s housekeeper was able to move in with her even though we were back towards the end of mom’s life. John, me, and mom all sleeping in the same bedroom, available for whatever.

Even being home was highly stressful, with daily visits to mom’s house, more doctor’s appointments than ever, and issues relating to mom’s declining health.

If you have not guessed by now, two thousand twenty has been the roughest ride of my life!

I am omitting many “specifics” so I do not get bogged down and miss the point I am trying to share with you.

The fact is, a good friend said, “God has positioned people who can take our hands and help us find our way through the fog and storms.” You are those people!!! Your prayers helped me to pray and not lose my heart. Your prayers helped me to pursue seeking the Highest God, your prayers helped me to stay strong in the Word of God, and your prayers reminded me that challenges are for our spiritual growth. This journey was not anything I had ever imagined, but God knew I had to go through it. This season was sent to accomplish things in me that could not have been accomplished any other way.

Some of you have been where I was. Some of you have not. However, I want you to know that when we experience tears and disappointment, it does not have to dimmish our relationship with the Lord. He allows each new experience to make us aware that we need to trust Him so solidly that we can tell Him the down and dirty of all we think and encounter. When I had questions, God was there. When I cried, He was there. When I could not handle it anymore, God was still there. Even though there were times I could not feel His presence, you kept me hanging on to Him. That was possible due to your prayers. Thank you!

Mom died on August 27, 2020. John and I received a call at 1:50 a.m. from my older brother to come home. I had my cuddle time with mom; then, at 3:50 p.m. that afternoon, she took her final breath.

It has only been a few months since we left that season of our lives. Still, thankfully God is showing me why the experiences I encountered were essential. I do not understand many things that came about during that season. But God always pointed me back to Him—calling me to trust Him when I couldn’t see the whys of the past or the wonders of the future. During my caregiving time, I encountered burnout, compassion fatigue, taxing emotions, and the perps of spending time with my dear mom. I knew the challenges were in His hands. Thanks for your prayers!

Life is an adventure. I wailed many times during this period, “Lord, I can’t handle it anymore!” But He knew and knows when it is time to step in for relief. God moved when I reached the pinnacle of my despair in August. These years are now part of my life story. I recognize that “being out of our comfort zone” is usually the only way we can grow, and I thank God for it. I experienced many sweet times with mom that would not have been possible any other way, but it was still strenuous and tough on me. So, thanks again for your prayers!

Each day, I feel a little more rested and restored. I know that the Lord will use this experience for His glory. There are so many Biblical principles that I had read in Scripture but not experienced before. I encountered so many aspects during these 4+ years: love, forgiveness, gratitude, and boundaries—to mention the positive ones. Sometimes it is hard to see circumstances clearly when living under stress or in a bleak period. Still, when the light is slowly restored, we can feel God’s peace and presence in extraordinary ways—even supernaturally. We start understanding the why, the why not, the how much longer questions of life. In these times, we must depend on the prayers of our friends like you. And for that, thanks again for your prayers!

My takeaway is to encourage you to look at your circumstances through the eyes of our heavenly Father. Commit to renewing your mind daily with prayer and Bible study. Remember that darkness does not stay forever in whatever situation you face. Even through hard times, He is close by—guiding us, building our faith, and waiting to meet our needs. He has a purpose for everything we experience in life, to prepare us for His assignments here on earth or for our heavenly home.

Today—Two Years Later

Yes, John and I have moved on; that is a long story. Still, one thing we both know is that God directed and allowed us to spend time with mom. However, I encountered difficult times caregiving at points along the way. If you are caregiving, hang on! Memories are being formed that will be cherished more with time. The emotional journey has a purpose that God will use in your life ministries.

While living with my mom, I wrote a book titled Christian Caregiving: Practical Advice for a Happy Ending. I wrote it during the first two years of living with mom. If I had waited until later, the book would probably never have been written. I left out the hard part, the biography of my experiences as time passed, because I hadn’t experienced that. However, it is a good book for those starting on the journey of caregiving with lots of Scripture references. I am not posting this as a sales pitch for my book, but I wanted you to know good things come from caregiving. Our strength in Him and knowing that He always has His best for us in mind keeps us going.

Mom, I love you, and I always will. Thanks for loving me. I still miss you two years later.

God Bless.

Verses from Christian Caregiving:  Practical Advice for a Happy Ending [9780692115381-Available on Amazon.com. Only $7.44 today.

Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28).

Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you (Ephesians 4:32).

Commit your works to the LORD, and your plans will be established (Proverbs 16:3)

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Sacred Snippet: Tests and Trials

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Tests and Trials

You look okay on the outside. Everything looks great to others, but privately you feel threats, encounter significant problems, or experience suffering that people can’t see. The Bible calls these tests and trials.

When people start seeing through you, it’s tough. You don’t want to feel weak in front of other people. You don’t want them to see the difficulties you might be facing, the threats you might be encountering, or the internal turmoil you are going through. However, you know they are there.

My Test and Trial

One day, I opened my blog website and discovered it was no longer there. Panic engulfed me. Also, emails were being sent to my blog subscribers, which I did not send. I panicked–fearful some obscene image or article might show up on my site sent by an intruder. I tried to fix the problem on my own. But the backend software (the hidden infrastructure of the website) was in complete disarray. I went to my paid subscription sources and hosting site and got partial help. But internally, the data inside my blog was corrupt. There were severe problems–five, to be exact. “Hacked” was a word I never wanted to hear, but hackers were precisely who infiltrated my site. [However, if you are reading this now, no worries, it has all been fixed, my dear friends.]

God is our Source

In our lives today, personal pressures and problems consume our thoughts, and nobody but us know they are there. They destroy our thinking. We even go to trusted websites or self-help books to help to no avail. When we face inner struggles, our heavenly Father is the one to approach first. He knows what is going on in our minds, personal ruminations, and physical selves. God is there not only to help us with these difficulties but to walk alongside us until the time is right for Him to show us His purposes. 

Children, take your intimate struggles to the Lord and ask Jesus to plead with your heavenly Father to show His purpose. 

Sit before Your Heavenly Father

The Bible says we will have struggles and trials. Being a believer does not alleviate living in this fallen world. Before reaching out to friends, family, or Internet sources, go first to God, sit before him, rest, and ask Him to handle your threats, problems, struggles, and concealed thoughts. He is there for you. 

James 1: 2-5 says, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of our faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”

Then wait in prayer, meditation, and Bible reading for an answer. Sometimes God answers quickly, but oftentimes, we are left waiting, yearning, and seeking His response for even years. As we wait, let us be growing in an abundance of love for our Lord and Savior. Live in joy and service until the time comes when we have “been approved” for our dedication and undefiled obedience, whether in this life or the next.

James 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” (James 1:12).

How to Handle Tests and Trials

  • Recognize that tests and trials come to all people,
  • Realize our adverse circumstances allow us to reach greater maturity in Him,
  • Pray for guidance,
  • Seek His wisdom,
  • Obey God’s principles and precepts,
  • Understand that our trials are opportunities to honor the Lord,
  • Be joyful through testing and trials,
  • Trust that God knows what He is doing,
  • Know that when the trials cease, our faith will be stronger,
  • Stand firm no matter how long our testing or preparation takes, and
  • Know that the ‘Crown of Life’ awaits us when we have stood the test and our trials are over.

Just as it took time to fix my website, commit to journeying with the Lord during your wait time and love Him with your entire being, no matter what!

God Bless,

 

 

 

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The Left Engine

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The Pilot and Passengers

The airplane pilot calmly addressed the passengers.

 “We are experiencing trouble with the left engine. We are currently talking to Chicago about the problem. Maintenance will be arriving soon. We will try to start the plane again, wait for a period of time, and try to start the engine again. Please sit tight while we address this problem.”

I sat in seat 14F on the tarmac for two and a half hours when the pilot addressed the issue. I wondered why they did not get all the passengers off this plane and onto another plane. Why stress us all out wondering if it were our last day on earth or whether angels intervened to make us safe? At this juncture, all the passengers and I could do was trust the pilot.

The Left Engine

But why all the concern with the left engine? I get it now that I am off the plane and can indulge in mindless research. The left engine is the engine that, if it fails, will have the most adverse effect on the control and performance of the aircraft. To understand why the left engine is critical, one must also understand the right engine. The right engine’s slipstream does not strike the rudder and does not affect the aircraft’s control. Still, if the right engine were to fail, the left engine’s slipstream would counteract the airplane’s instability and deviation toward the dead engine, assisting in aircraft control. [1] However, this same positive counteraction does not occur if the left engine encounters trouble.

Trusting God in our Spiritual Life

I compare the left engine to our spiritual life. In life, we sometimes have trust issues—some rational, some not! Regardless of our problems and issues, we have a heavenly Father to support us in our time of need. When Jesus’ disciples thought they would perish in the storm, Jesus came to the rescue calming the storm. He can do the same for us today because sometimes we veer off in the wrong direction (Mark 4:35-41).

On that day, when evening came, He said to them, “Let’s go over to the other side.” After dismissing the crowd, they took Him along with them in the boat, just as He was; and other boats were with Him. And a fierce gale of wind developed, and the waves were breaking over the boat so much that the boat was already filling with water. And yet Jesus Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” And He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Hush, be still.” And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm. And He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” They became very much afraid and said to one another, “Who, then, is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?”

So, how is your “left engine?” Just like how the pilot kept reassuring us that all would be okay, God, the creator of heaven and earth, reassures us continually that He has everything under control.

Let us all be diligent in maintaining our spiritual life—our left engine. We must keep our leverage firmly planted in Jesus Christ, His Word, and in prayer because it will be critical if our left engine fails!

God bless.

Bible Verses:

They rose early in the morning and went out to the wilderness of Tekoa; and when they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Listen to me, Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: Put your trust in the Lord your God and you will endure. Put your trust in His prophets, and succeed” (2 Chronicles 20:20).

Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, And trust in the Lord (Psalm 4:5).

I will raise my eyes to the mountains; From where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to slip; He who watches over you will not slumber (Psalm 121:1-3).

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Trust in the Lord forever, For in God the Lord, we have an everlasting Rock  (Isaiah 26:4).

Prayer:

Lord, give me your guidance at all times. Let Your Holy Spirit lead me through conviction, other people, the Bible, and prayer. Allow me to see where I am veering away from You, so that I may fix it before my left engine—my spiritual compass— gets off track. Gently allow me to recognize Your plan for my life and give me the trust I need in You to believe wholeheartedly that You are where my trust needs to be—always. Amen.

Bibliography

[1] “The Critical Engine.” Accessed May 26, 2022. www.thebackseatpilot/critical engine

All verses are taken from the NASB.

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A Book Review:  A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 by Phillip W. Keller

A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 by W. Phillip Keller is a beautifully written book with enriching insights into this Old Testament chapter. Using the New International Version, the author takes the six verses in the chapter and describes his “shepherd insights” so his audience can revel in the spiritual truths of seeing the Lord as mankind’s shepherd, restorer of soul, comforter, and more.

Phillip Keller (1920-1997), author of this one-hundred thirty-one-page compact book, gained widespread accolades for his authorship of this book. Being born in East Africa, the son of missionaries, Keller became familiar with the open air, nature, and shepherding. Subsequently, Keller traveled the world as a nature photographer and an expert in the science of soil management and crop production. These life experiences prepared Keller to author this book and his other thirty-five Christian books.

Summary

A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 is written by someone who valued his early life being raised in the outdoors, while David wrote Psalm 23 when he was fleeing and wandering from place to place to avoid King Saul. David was exposed and defenseless., “Today, this is not the case. Many who either read or study the Scriptures in this twenty-first century come from an urban, manufactured environment. They miss the truth because they are not familiar with such things as sheep, wheat, soil, or grapes.” Keller compares how shepherding sheep calls for attention and care to how he desires man to come under the shepherding of our tender and gentle Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Keller achieves his goal by taking each of the six verses in Psalm 23 and explaining that “One of the outstanding marks of a Christian should be a serene sense of gentle contentment.”

Keller’s purpose is to lead people to transformation and behavior change by yearning for Jesus’ presence in their lives. Like the sheep have their shepherd’s presence, one’s behavior will change to follow Jesus’ will for their life. Transformation is an important goal that Keller wants his audience to understand. He wants the Lord to be our shepherd and live by the Holy Spirit’s direction in our life. Keller shows how this purpose is obtainable by explaining the necessary requirements to lie down and trust the shepherd, Jesus. For example, the book states, “Instead of loving myself most, I am willing to love Christ best and others more than myself” and “Instead of exercising and asserting my will, I am willing to learn to cooperate with His wishes and comply with His will.”

Some will find Keller’s thesis clearly stated at the end of the book, although its presence is noted throughout its twelve chapters. Keller sums up his thesis when he states, “For when all is said and done on the subject of a successful Christian walk, it can be summed up on one general sentence, “Live ever aware of God’s presence” through Keller’s analogies, similes, and metaphors throughout the book—comparing sheep and shepherds to man and Jesus Christ, an accomplished book was birthed.

We see this thesis in many illustrations throughout the book. In Chapter Eight, titled “Your Rod and Your Staff, They Comfort Me,” the shepherd’s staff primarily guides sheep, whereas, in our walk with God, God’s Holy Spirit will guide us to lead us into all truth (John 16:13). Another comparison between the sheep and man can be seen when young David leads his flock of sheep by keeping them safe whereas one’s “Good Shepherd” goes ahead of us, anticipating danger and praying that one might not depart from the Lord or perish.

Keller’s main points that accomplish his thesis and purpose are displayed in each Bible verse he mentions throughout the book. He wonderfully blends the culture of the day within this psalm. The psalm communicates the sheep’s transformation and humanity’s purpose to transform and lie in God’s holy presence.

Critical Evaluation

A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 did not explicitly state its purpose and thesis until later in the book. However, it was apparent that the author’s underlying approach was to show a parallel between the shepherds and sheep and man to God while calling for a transformation and life in His presence.

Keller’s claims and arguments are well-supported. One illustration the author used came from Chapter 10 when he talked about how sheep are troubled by nose flies and fly around a sheep’s head, then hatch to form larvae. Eventually, irritation and severe inflammation occur. He proceeds to compare how applying an antidote to their heads changed their behavior upon many applications. In the same way, Keller tells us that we must continually come to Him for our daily anointing of God’s presence. Illustrations like this are a powerful testimony to what is needed to get back on the right and productive track.

The strengths in Keller’s book abound. He was raised in a rural area, a Christian home, contributing to this book’s strength. From the gorgeous cover on the gift edition to the beautiful well-placed photographs in the book to the elegant, simple language used. Keller had a comprehensive view of shepherding as he shepherded a flock for many years. His perspective allowed him to have a unique view on the topic. Another positive in Keller’s book includes insightful Biblical principles from each chapter, which coexists with Keller’s shepherding approach, as shown below.

Chapter 1:      God is our shepherd. One needs to deny themselves and belong to Him.

Chapter 2:      When depending on Christ, contentment comes.

Chapter 3:      By having God in one’s life, behavior changes.

Chapter 4:      Being in Christ’s presence guides life’s directions.

Chapter 5:      God is our shepherd. He knows what He is doing.

Chapter 6:      Willingness to do what God wants is beneficial.

Chapter 7:      Thank God for difficulties in life.

Chapter 8:      Reading the Bible gives spiritual understanding.

Chapter 9:      God knows all our circumstances—good and evil.

Chapter 10:    People should have Christ and the Holy Spirit in their lives.

Chapter 11:    Trust in God’s goodness and mercy.

Chapter 12:    Live in God’s presence.

The disadvantage some see in this book revolves around Keller’s lack of formal education. However, when one reads Acts 4:13, we see how uneducated and untrained men can be used in ministry equally. When the rulers, elders, and scribes were gathered together in Jerusalem, “they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus (Acts 4:13 NIV). A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 is read by people from various backgrounds and social statuses. Many proficient authors educate themselves through their life experiences and personal Bible study. Another disadvantage is that Keller does not connect the chapter title with its corresponding Bible verse in the Contents or for each chapter. Additionally, the book could have included both an index and a glossary, which would help the reader.

Conclusion

All people could benefit from this book—those who rejoice in the Lord and those with affliction, Bible teachers, and more. Being so awed by this book, I immediately bought a copy for my friend, who is reading it one chapter at a time, and following up her reading with intentional meditation and contemplation. This is the type of book I would love to read or reread wrapped up in a blanket, on a cold, snowy day, with the fireplace aglow.

I do value this book tremendously. One reason is that I have a blog titled “Greene Pastures” located at GreenePastures.org. There is an “e” at the end of Greene because that is how I spell my last name, plus GreenPastures was already taken as a domain name. Second, I love reading innovative ideas and commentaries. A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 falls under that category.

Keller’s writings contain a plethora of common sense and easy-to-understand Biblical principles. I have not read his other books, but I will choose a few to read in the future—The High Cost of Holiness and Elijah: Prophet of Power. Keller is a man who has been used mightily by God to encourage transformation and living in God’s presence. His influence spans the globe, and I wholeheartedly recommend A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23.

God Bless.

 Works Cited

Keller, W. Phillip. A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2015.

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The Book of James: Who, What, Where, When, and Why?

Today, in our summary of the Book of James, we will be looking at it from the viewpoint of the “five W’s.” Researchers, journalists, and other investigators use the “five W’s” to find out the full story of a person or subject. They include using these essential words: Who, What, Where, When, and Why. So, let’s get started.

Who Wrote The Book of James? And Who was Its Audience?

Most scholars believe James, the oldest half-brother of Jesus, wrote this five-chapter book. It is thought that James did not initially believe in Jesus, but that he became a believer after Jesus’ resurrection when the risen Lord visited him. James eventually became a prominent leader in the Jerusalem church. He wrote this letter to the scattered Jewish believers as their pastor, telling them to make changes in their lives and relationships with others. James never called himself an apostle, but in James 1:1, he calls himself “a servant of God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” He is the most likely candidate for authorship.

However, some consider two other Jameses in the Bible to be possibilities for authorship. A few scholars credit James, son of Zebedee and one of the apostles and brother of John, as the author. This theory is usually discredited because this James was martyred in 44 A.D. by Herod Agrippa. 

Others consider that James, son of Alphaeus, one of the twelve apostles, is the author. On the contrary, this James was somewhat obscure, so most Biblical scholars choose the author of the Book of James as Jesus’ half-brother—the man who is known to have knees like a camel because of the amount of time on his knees before God.

James writes from Jerusalem to the audience of the twelve tribes scattered among the nations, mainly in Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch. These were Jewish Christians who spread from the early Jewish Church in Jerusalem because of the spiritual decline in Jerusalem and the testing and trials they were encountering, primarily from Jewish unbelievers.

What Themes are Covered in The Book of James?

The main themes of The Book of James revolve around practical and ethical Christian living. Biblegateway.com lists ten themes in the book.¹

  1. God is the source of all wisdom
  2. Testing and trials
  3. Wealth and oppression
  4. Material things will not last
  5. The unjust rich
  6. Everything belongs to God
  7. Favoritism
  8. Godly Speech
  9. Faith and Good Deeds
  10. The Law

While this list is not exhaustive, it gives evidence of the vast topics many people are interested in and are desirous of studying.

Where is the Book of James Located in the Bible?

James is in the New Testament between the Book of Hebrews, which discusses perfection, and 1 Peter, which deliberates about the importance of knowing Jesus.

When was The Book of James Written?

The Book of James is believed to be one of the first New Testament books written. Most scholars date this book after the death of Jesus Christ—around 48 A.D.

Why Read The Book of James?

The biggest reason to read The Book of James is for its practical instructions for our life. By including multiple references to Jesus’ teaching, believers can learn to follow Christ and His principles more precisely. And who doesn’t need to know how to have patience during trials and temptations, how not to be hypocritical, how not to express favoritism, and more? Pastor Chuck Swindoll says, “More than any other book in the New Testament, James places the spotlight on the necessity for believers to act in accordance with our faith.”²

The challenge awaits to read, study, and apply James’ principles so as believers, we can talk and walk humbly before our heavenly Father and others.

Contained above are only small snippets into The Book of James, but hopefully, you have gained some insight that encourages you to dig deeper into God’s word. And as a plus, remember that the “five W’s” can be used to pursue your Bible studies, and for that matter, any other studies.

Great Verses in the Book of James (NASB)

Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. James 5:16

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, James 1:2

But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. James 1:5

What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith, but he has no works? Can that faith save him? James 2:14

But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6

This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger; James 1:19

Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin. James 4:17

Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment. James 3:1

You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. James 4:3

But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. James 3:14

BIBLE VERSES:

See above.

PRAYER:

Oh, my heavenly Father, create in me a desire to delve more into Your word—The Bible. Give me Your insights into living my Christian life to its fullest potential. Would you please give me the grace to follow the Holy Spirit? Use me. Please enlighten me. Lead me closer to You every day. In Your name, I pray. Amen.

God Bless,

¹ Biblegateway. Accessed 23 Nov 2021. biblegateway.com.

² Swindoll, Chuck. Accessed 23 Nov 2021. insightforliving.com.

Edited by E. Johnson.

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  • Awaken Me – Devotional Workbook
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  • Answer Me – Devotional Workbook
  • Christian Caregiving

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Psalm 51 Bible Study

Are you looking for a Bible study to teach or to work on yourself?

Below you will find a Bible study on Psalm 51 that can be worked on at any time. By studying straight from the Bible, my prayer is that you will discover spiritual truth and direction in your life or in the lives of others.

BIBLE STUDY TEXT: PSALM 51 (NASB)

Read 2 Samuel 11:1-27 and 2 Samuel 12:1-25 for background information about King David’s sin and Nathan’s rebuke of him. This will enhance your understanding of the Bible study lesson.

A few years ago, a man wrote to Dear Abby needing help. The article titled, “Dear Abby, Guilt over affair leaves husband thinking of suicide.” This man had been married for 19 years and had two children. He fooled around, convincing himself that the women knew what they were doing and that he never promised them anything. His affairs became public, and his reputation was in ruins. He asked “Dear Abby” to provide a solution. He signed off calling himself Shattered in Louisiana. ¹

We find a similar real-life story in the fourth and most well-known penitential psalm, Psalm 51. Penitential psalms are psalms that express deep sorrow leading to a person’s true repentance of sin. Most scholars claim that King David wrote this psalm, or if not, by someone who knew the extent of the deep suffering he experienced. This prayer psalm was written after Nathan, the prophet, confronted David about his sin of adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband, Uriah. King David was on his palace rooftop when many say he should have been with his men in battle. He looks out and sees Bathsheba bathing. He asks his men to fetch her and bring her back to the palace, where he has sex with her. She becomes pregnant. David arranges for her husband to come home from battle, anticipating that he will sleep with her and then he would take the responsibility of fatherhood. However, being an honorable man, Uriah does not go into Bathsheba and camps in tents away from her presence. David arranges for Uriah to be killed in battle. [1]

  1. As a married woman, what do these two stories speak to you about being faithful in marriage?

KING DAVID’S CALL FOR MERCY, FORGIVENESS, REPENTANCE, AND CLEANSING. Read Psalm 51:1-2.

The King James Version uses the word mercy to describe what David wants from God. He is crying out to God for help. David’s goal is for God to blot out his sin, so he can be cleansed and resume fellowship with Him. To grasp how the Bible looks at blotting, cleansing, and washing away sins, refer to Isaiah 43:25, Leviticus 11:32, and Isaiah 1:18, respectively. He is aware that he willfully rebelled against God and is grieved. David is ready to confess his sin and have fellowship with God again. Today, our sins are covered by Jesus’ death on the cross.

  1. Describe a time you reached a breaking point, and you called out to God for forgiveness?

RECOGNITION OF SIN. Read Psalm 51:3-6.

David begins to openly concede he has sinned. In verse 3, David acknowledges that his sin is “ever before me.” Although he knows his sin was towards Bathsheba, Uriah, and the entire nation of Israel, he is addressing his grave sin toward God. His sin against the LORD was the most offensive. David shows his seriousness when talking of his sin by calling it EVIL.

  1. What does David’s example teach us about the seriousness of sin?

In verse 5, David is now ready to accept whatever judgment God may choose for him. David recognizes that he was born in sin in verse 5. He is not using that as an excuse for his sin, but he acknowledges that he is human. All humankind has a sinful nature within them. Here it is important that one mustn’t think David is criticizing conception or birth, but that he is just conversing with God regarding what he understands about human nature. Moving to verse 6, we find David wanting God’s truth to be within his innermost being.

In the Compact Bible Commentary, the inward parts are described as “a rare word in the Hebrew Bible, indicating something clouded over, difficult for anyone to see but God.” ² David trusted God so much that he does not mind God searching for his innermost being. These verses conclude with David desiring wisdom—God’s wisdom. [2][3]

  1. In James 1:5, what does James say we should do if we lack wisdom?

PURIFICATION, HYSSOP, SNOW, AND BONES. Read Psalm 51:7-9.

These verses contain the phrases, “purify me, wash me, make me hear joy and gladness, let my broken bones rejoice, and hide thy face from my sins.” David is pleading for cleansing from his sin. Verse 7 mentions hyssop. Hyssop was a bush whose stems were dipped in blood or water and then sprinkled on people who needed cleansing. See Leviticus 14:4 and Numbers 19:6. Ceremonial hyssop was used on lepers and others during this period. Today, we receive our cleansing from the mighty blood of Jesus Christ. David desires true repentance and pleads for a clean heart—one that will wash him, make him joyful, and heal him. He wants his life to be as white as snow. When a person accepts Christ, there are testimonies of how they feel so clean and pure inside. That is David’s desire to have his life like that again. He also wants his sins hidden from the LORD. Verse 8 is intriguing. David declares how his sin has affected his eyes and bones. It is easy to deduce that more had been affected as well. Keep in mind that when we sin, our sin does affect us. We can become depressed, ill, and even suicidal. We should take a special interest in caring for our friends and loved ones if we see their destructive behavior. Verse 9 circles back around to David desiring God to blot out his sin. (See Psalm 51:1) This repetition shows that David really is serious about repenting of all his sin.

  1. What matters most in David’s life at this point is God’s forgiveness. What matters most in your life, and how is God intertwined in the matter?

CENTRAL VERSE EXPRESSING THE HEART OF DAVID. Read Psalm 51:10-12.

The central verse (theological principle) in this Bible study comes in Psalm 51:10 when David says, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” David desires to be renewed, restored, and transformed. In verse 10, the word create is the same word used in Genesis 1:1, which states, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” God in His power called the world into being, and God in his power can cleanse David from his agonizing sin. David wants a new heart and a new spirit. He recognizes that he cannot do this by himself. It is up to God. We see God cleansing Israel and giving Israel a new heart and spirit in Ezekiel 36:25-27. This concept is very similar to Psalm 51 where it speaks of sprinkling water on the Israelites for cleansing, giving them a new heart and a new spirit, and allowing them to walk in His ways again. David wants to be in God’s presence again when he says he does not want to be cast from God’s presence in verse 11. He wants God’s Spirit, and he is ready to do the Lord’s will. In our life, we do not want to quench the Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19). Striving to keep ourselves clean from sin is necessary for God’s Holy Spirit to move in our lives and keep us from temptation. Compare to Acts 15:8-9.

  1. While the LORD did forgive David, there were still consequences to his sin, one being the death of his son when he was 7-days old. (2 Samuel 12:18) What outcomes have you seen in your or other peoples’ lives due to sin?

Verse 12 speaks of regaining the joy of one’s salvation. David wants that “feeling” of purity and love for God back into his life. He wants it to be a sustainable feeling as well. He does not want to lose fellowship with his LORD again.

  1. Describe a time you or someone you know lost fellowship with God but then had it restored.

SINNERS CONVERTED, RIGHTEOUSNESS DELIVERED, RIGHTEOUS SACRIFICE, AND A BROKEN AND CONTRITE HEART. Read Psalm 51: 13-17.

In verses 13-15, David expresses his desire to be of service to God. He wants to teach others (sinners) and take what he has experienced and learned to help others. He wants to see people restored as he had been. It is a glorious event when we see others offering themselves up to serve God. Romans 5:20b eloquently states, “but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.” David recognized his sin, and now that he has experienced restoration, he wanted to share God’s righteousness with others. Verse 14 speaks, delivering David from bloodguiltiness. Scholars believe this refers to Uriah’s blood. David experienced forgiveness for all his sins. He got right with God.

  1. What does God call David in Psalm 51:14?
  2. Have you ever experienced God’s gift of salvation? Would you like to share your salvation testimony with the class?

DELIGHT IN GOD. Read Psalm 51: 18-19.

When we look at verses 18 and 19, David is longing for God’s security. This is what he is referring to when he says, “Build the walls of Jerusalem” The walls were to be a security to God’s holy city, and that is how he wants his heart to be—secure in His LORD and to delight in Him. David gave God the sacrifice He desired, his heart. He is ready to be “the man after God’s own heart” that many call him today.

  1. Where can we find our security in God?

APPLYING THE TEXT.

· God is gracious and compassionate; therefore, when we repent, He forgives and cleanses us.

· Sin is serious and destructive.

· We must cry out to God to create a clean heart in us.

· God desires a broken and contrite heart from us.

· Once true repentance occurs, we are restored and able to delight in the Lord, our God.

CONCLUSION: REMEMBER THE MAN IN ADULTERY. Read Psalm 51:17.

At the beginning of this study, a man asked Dear Abby for advice on dealing with his guilt over affairs, leaving him thinking of suicide. Dear Abby’s answer was purposely not shared. There is only one solution for this man. It is to follow King David’s path calling on the LORD to wash him, cleanse him, and seek repentance in Jesus Christ. Then, in God’s grace, he will become pure. His broken spirit can be healed, and he can face life with a renewed heart and spirit. If not, he will remain Shattered in Louisiana.

PRAYER

Dear Heavenly Father.

Thank you for washing me clean when I transgress against You. Lead me away from sin. Give me wisdom so that I can live with a pure heart. Keep my spirit steadfast in You. Lord, I want to be in Your presence always. Let me sing Your praises. Give me a broken and contrite heart so that I can praise You always.

In Christ Alone, Amen.

God bless,

Bibliography

Carson, D.A., R.T. France, J.A. Motyer, and G.J. Wenham, eds. New Bible Commentary. Downsers
Grove: Intervarsity, 1994.

Hays, J. Daniel and J. Scott Duvall, eds. The Baker Illustrated Bible Handbook. Grand Rapids: Baker
Books, 2011.

Hill, Andrew E. and John H. Walton, A Survey of the Old Testament. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002.

Pfeiffer, Charles F. and Everett F. Harrison, eds. The Wycliffe Bible Commentary. Chicago: Moody
Press, 1962.

Radmacher, Earl, Ron Allen, H. Wayne House. Compact Bible Commentary. Nashville: Thomas Nelson,

Van Buren, Abagail, "Dear Abby: Guilt over affair leaves husband thinking of suicide," Accessed 4
October, 2021.

https://www.mrt.com/news/article/DEAR-ABBY-Guilt-over-affair-leaves-husband-7477821.php.

Wiersbe, Warren. The Bible Exposition Bible: Old Testament, Job—Song of Solomon. Colorado Springs,
David C. Cook, 2004.

[1]Van Buren, Abagail, “Dear Abby: Guilt over affair leaves husband thinking of suicide,” Accessed 4 October, 2021, https://www.mrt.com/news/article/DEAR-ABBY-Guilt-over-affair-leaves-husband-7477821.php.

[2]Radmacher, Earl, Ron Allen, H. Wayne House, Compact Bible Commentary, Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2004. 378.

Permission: I, Patti Greene, am the copyright owner of the above material titled Psalm 51: Bible Study. I consent to use this material with the expressed purpose of individual or group Bible Study only. Please give credit to the author by including: “Written by Patti Greene @ GreenePastures.org  for use in Bible studies only.”

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Delighting in God by A.W. Tozer

A.W. Tozer

Just like with music, I get hooked on a particular song, and I play it over and over, much to my husband’s cagrin.

As a teenager, I remember playing “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” by Marvin Gaye so much that I thought my brother might rip the 45-rpm vinyl off the record player. I also obsess over topics and authors I investigate. I read an issue, or books by authors I like, until another new subject or writer piques my interest. 

The past few months, I have been obsessed with reading quite a few books by a true man of God— A.W. Tozer. During his life (1897-1963), Tozer was an American Christian pastor, Christian mentor, magazine editor, and author. As an author, he wrote sincerely! He wrote boldly! And he wrote with authority. Some of what he wrote contains many thoughts I have but am afraid to express. Maybe it’s my insecurity over being rejected, or perhaps it is my lack of courage or confidence. Either way, I am glad Tozer wrote what I mull over.

Tozer accepted Jesus Christ as his savior when he was a 17 year old teenager. His life was never the same after that. His schooling ended at 6th grade, but his education continued through extensive study in the Word of God. To read more about his life, click here. A.W. Tozer’s Biography from his Webpage!.

This past month, I wanted to read something happy, so I bought Tozer’s book, Delighting in God: True and absolute freedom is found only in the presence of God. This being a hectic time, I highlighted some sentences to share with you as I read the book. It turned out there was more conviction in the book than delighting. I know that conviction leads to confession, confession to a clean heart, a clean heart to a transformed heart, and a transformed heart to delighting in Him. So, I read on!

Below, I have quoted one sentence from each chapter of Tozer’s book, except in Chapter 7, where I splurged with two quotes, 

Two Activities

After I wrote, then reread this blog, I noticed something was missing.

What was missing was my thoughts on each profound phrase, so I quickly reread Tozer’s statements and jotted down the first thought that came to my mind. This activity reminded me of where I am at in my spiritual walk. You might find dialoguing over spiritual beliefs this way fun!

After reading Tozer’s chapter snippets, respond (aloud or on paper) to what you feel right after reading his quotation. You most likely will not have the same expressions as I did. That is to be expected, since we come from different backgrounds, encounter various trials, and experience wide-ranging circumstances. Also, our levels of maturity differ. It is an excellent dialoguing activity. To use a line from an old Alka-Seltzer commercial, “Try it, you’ll like it!”

Second, as a read-through activity, just read the chapter snippets I have noted from Tozer. You might become enamored of his writing style and decide if you want to pursue more profound readings along his lines. 

Chapter Snippets

Chapter 1: What I see lacking today is passion, but more defined, a passion for God, a deep desire to know God as He desires to be known.

“Oh Lord, give me a passion to be so close to You. Let me cling to You always.”

Chapter 2: What the Holy Spirit does not reveal to us is not worth knowing.

“This is hard, God. I want to know what the future holds for me, but I am not hearing from You. I remind myself You know the big picture of my life, but it doesn’t help my ruminations.”

Chapter 3: In evaluating the great advances and victories in the Christian church, we need to compare it to the New Testament pattern.

“Amen and Amen.”

Chapter 4 – Church problem – everything is programmed.

“So true Lord. I know for broadcasting, programs must be programmed, but I long for the days when we can be free to worship in our church without time restraints and just worship You until the Holy Spirit says to stop.”

Chapter 5 – You cannot reach the world by becoming like the world.

“I pray for me and my friends to not be like the world. I fail often. Let me see that as believers we are not of this world and accept that we may not quite fit in with some.”

Chapter 6: The average church . . . does not dare rise into high theology, because his poor backward sheep cannot follow him. It is hard to get people to think, but it is harder still to get them to thirst.

“Let our pastors and church leaders proclaim the Word of God without fear or trembling. Allow the Word of God to deeply infiltrate their lives, so only Your pure and righteous teaching may be preached. Let us understand church is for worshiping You, not for worldly entertainment.”

Chapter 7: What weakens us in evangelical circles is that we put a plus sign after Christ.

“Nothing can be added to You, God. I can’t add works, more Bible studies, more church work to add on to You. It is only a deeper walk with You that we need. Let us confess our sins and look to You for everything.”

Another Sentence from Chapter 7: Twenty minutes on your knees in silence before God will sometimes teach you more than you can learn even in church.

“This is so true, Jesus. When I am silent before You, You speak. Let my time with You be so much longer than just 20 minutes. I know I need so much more silence and solitude.”

Chapter 8: The first duty of every minister of the gospel is to bring God back to the church—not the intellectual God of the academics, not the palsy God of the gospelers, not the chairman of the board, but the God who reveals Himself in the Scriptures and who revealed Himself supremely in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.

“Amen. Lord, I pray for my ministers and mentors. Do not let them fall into such spiritual warfare that God isn’t preached in truth and power. Let me always keep in my mind that in all I do, I must be humble before You as I face the hard things in life.”

Chapter 9: Whatever in my life is unlike God and contrary to the holiness of God must be eliminated from my life.

“Man, I so need to remember this. I pray for elimination over and over and over. I desire it, but it is so hard when the same thoughts keep seeping through my mind. Heal me of all ungodly thoughts and teach me what triggers I have that leads me astray.”

Chapter 10: To know about God and to know God are two absolutely, different things.

“I want my friends–even my church friends to understand this.”

Chapter 11: God cannot be manipulated.

“So true. Try as we may, God cannot be manipulated. He knows what is best for us and that is the direction He pursues for us. I sometimes try to get MY desires met through prayer and persuasion, but in reality, He is the one in charge–not us.”

Chapter 12: It is impossible to separate the Old Testament from the New Testament. It takes the whole Bible to make the Word of God.

“I heard once that when we read the entire Bible, we open ourselves up to hear ALL God wants to tell us. But, if we only read part of the Bible or only the parts we like, it is like us telling the Lord, ‘We DON’T want to know too much about Him.’ Lord, keep me in Your Word using all the different and creative ways I have seen You do, both in the past and currently.”

Chapter 13: So, God takes us through many trials, and it is not so important that we be happy right now. He is thinking about our enjoyment forever.

“Amen! If I can only live in the light of wanting Heaven more than anything else. I need Your strength each day to do that. I am so weak in this area.”

Chapter 14: Your own thoughts are heard by Him just as loud as Your loudest shout because God is as near to You as Your nerves, as near to You as Your thoughts and Your soul.

Jesus, I know You hear my thoughts and my prayers, but I sometimes wonder (maybe a lot) why You are not giving me relief in the areas that concern me. Come Lord Jesus and answer me with solid and specific ideas. Please take away any thoughts or prayers that I pray that might not be honorable to You. And, I need You to obliterate any distractions that Satan throws at me. Please.”

Chapter 15: I believe that the most important verse in the Bible is “In the beginning.” The most astounding and powerful phrase of all Scripture is “Thus saith the Lord.”

“Thus saith the Lord” is everywhere in the Bible. Let me hear You clearly when You say that phrase to me. Convince me it is You speaking and not my imagination or wishful thinking.”

Chapter 16: [Prayer] is more than a monologue—it is a dialogue. I am afraid most Christians have not progressed to the dialogue aspect of their prayer life.

“Lord, I know that is true. It hurts when I realize how difficult it is to dialogue–both myself and others. But, I know when we dialogue, it is a precious time between You and me. I love listening to Your Word, to the thoughts I obtain in the quiet times. I love dialoguing with my friends, but dialoging with You is the best. Please, do not let me get so busy where I am tempted to give my time with You up to do something else.”

Chapter 17: God is good.

Yes, I love that I have recently discovered Nahum 1:7, where it says, “The LORD is good.”

Chapter 18: Too many these days are going about the country making contented Christians. This is one of the worst possible things that could be done in the church—make a content Christian. We should not want contentment but a thirst for hunger after God. As long as we are without the thirst and hunger, we will be content.

“At church, make convictions a reality for us. Let us continually be reminded of sin. Why? So we will continue to become aware of our sins and shortcomings. Convict us, so we move to remove them from our lives. Give us Your humility to bow down in pure love to honor You. I want Your desires to be my desires. I want to become more and more like You. I want transformation.  I want (I need) to be transformed daily into Your image. Please take away any sinful or unpure thoughts, so my mind can be clear to hear Your Word.

Moving On

If anything caught your attention through my chapter highlights or quotes, I would love for you to share your thoughts with me through the comment section.

Okay, I feel it coming on again–that “hooked on a feeling” song. My song this time is “Til He Comes” by the Imperials! I know I am aging myself, but music is music. And the topic of this song is highly profitable as well! Right? Check it out on YouTube or through this link.

If you are a YouTuber, click here to hear “Til He Comes” by the Imperials.

Love y’all.

Bible Verses:

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied (Matthew 5:6).

Brothers and sisters, do not be children in your thinking; yet in evil be infants, but in your thinking be mature (1 Corinthians 14:20).

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and remind you of all that I said to you (John 14:26).

God Bless.

greenenpastures.org

Prayer:

Jesus, I want to hunger and thirst for You — for Your righteousness. Every day that I wake up, Lord, create in me a new heart. A heart that desires You more than anything or anyone else. Give me Your strength, wisdom, discernment, and joy until You come again to take us home to be with You forever and ever. In Your Name, Amen.

Work Cited

Tozer, A.W. Delighting in God: True and absolute freedom is found only in the presence of God. Ada, MI: Bethany House, 2015.

Bible verses come from The New American Standard Bible (NASB). “You” and “Your” references referring to God have been capitalized for consistency.

Edited by E. Johnson.

Fun Fact

Wondering what the A.W. stands for in Tozer’s name? His full name is Aiden Wilson Tozer. He never liked his name, so he became identified with his initials.

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Guest Blog: Do NOT Mismanage God’s Affairs by Lucky Atugbara

Do NOT Mismanage God’s Affairs by Lucky Atugbara

Dear Readers,

Once upon a time, in the not-too-distant past, my husband and I lived for two years in Lagos, Nigeria. Some people pray, “Lord, I will do anything for You, but please don’t send me to Africa.” Being sent to Africa was one of the best things in my life. I needed to be there. God sent me there to learn some important spiritual lessons that I could only have learned from being there! I also met some lovely life-long friends during the process.

One of them was our driver Lucky. Like many people in Nigeria, two jobs are a reality. Lucky worked for us at a secular job as our driver, but his “REAL” job was that of a minister. Some people believe that pastors must have higher education. I agree that education is an excellent plus for pastors, but in some situations and some countries, that is not realistic. Lucky is a self-taught minister of the gospel, and he is good at it. Theologian A.W. Tozer sums it up when he says, “The thing that must really be understood is that our knowledge of God cannot be acquired simply through academic processes. What we really know about God is what He has faithfully revealed to us.” ¹

Lucky occasionally sends me his Sunday sermon messages. I devour them! God is using this man to preach the gospel in Lagos. Below is a recent sermon he sent me. Yes, I edited his “speech” a little—with his permission—to make it more readable to my blog followers. I hope you enjoy it, and as you read it, look for the main point. The main point is the essence of our walk with our triune God.

Patti Greene

  1. God will never allow spiritual growth if we do not manage our lives correctly. So instead of praying for something from God, we should pray for the spirit to handle our sin, guide us into His truth, and be responsible for what He has given us. God will not allow you to have something you have prayed for if you cannot manage them.
  2. God created men and women to worship Him—as God. He required a manager to manage what He made. Note that whatever you mismanage, God will not allow that area of your life to grow—until you can handle it.
  3. If we ask people why God created man, they usually say, “It is to worship God.” Correct, but we must worship Him with the right motives, the right desire, and glorify Him because He is God.
  4. Whatever you mismanage, you will most likely lose. Whatever is under your care, work diligently to protect and care for it. God cannot give you what you pray for if you do not manage what He has already given to you well. He can only provide you what you can handle. You pray for a new house. But God looks down on the apartment you have and sees it is not well-kept or clean. So, He says, “No! You have not managed the apartment I gave you, so you may not have a house.” He only gives you what you proved you could manage.
  5. Some people might get jealous of your ministry. They may not understand what is going on behind the scenes and making your ministry grow and flourish. If you do not manage your church or church assignments correctly, you may lose them, just like if you mangle your body, you might lose part of your arm, leg, or health. If you mess up your relationships, you might lose them. If you mishandle your children, it is possible to lose them. If you blow your money or bungle your business, you could lose them.
  6. To my pastor friends, I say, “So stop crying, Pastor. Don’t say, ‘I don’t know what’s happening to me. Life does not give you what you deserve but for what you fight for. Start reading Philippians 4:6.”

Ask. Seek, Find

My dear friends, the only way we can defeat the enemy we face is to pray. We must appreciate and tell the people that God has blessed us in one way or another.

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you (Matthew 7:7 NASB).

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

GOD BLESS YOU, MY BELOVED MADAM,

I hope you liked my sermon and have extracted something from this message.

In God’s Grace,

Lucky

Bible Verse:

Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord and not for people, knowing that it is from the Lord that you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve (Colossians 3:23-24).

Prayer: 

Dear Lord, I come to You today lifting my heart to You. I desire to work and serve You diligently. Please take away all my ungodly motives, my wicked spirit, and any desire to be “seen” for my works. Make me desire to live a life pleasing to You in grace, love, and humility. Remind me that my purpose in life is to understand the revealed truths You give me through Your Word. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

¹ Tozer, A.W. Delighting in God: True and Absolute Freedom is Found only in the Presence of God. New Delhi: General Press, 2020.

Verses are taken from The New American Standard Bible (NASB).

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Transformation Should Be the Result of Worship

Transformation and Worship

 

Transformation is defined as a change—a metamorphosis. When we truly worship, we involve balancing our minds, emotions, our and will. We submit ourselves to God because He is worthy. Romans 12:1-2 and 2 Corinthians 3:18 both explain how we can be transformed in our everyday life.

 

Romans 12:1-2 Therefore, I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

 

2 Corinthians 3:18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.

 

         Transformation involves worshiping God because He is worthy, He commands us to worship Him, and it should lead to our change. But it involves much more as we strive to worship God in spirit and truth.

 

Defining Transformation

 

Transformation means being changed on the inside, not just on the surface. If we switch to be more like the world, we are masquerading. We have the choice of whether to be a conformer or a transformer. God wants our lives to be transformed into the image of Jesus. 

First, we should give our bodies in holy service to Him. Second, since we are made in God’s image, we have our mind, which involves our intellect, emotions, and will. Our goal should be to think like Jesus does by understanding how false philosophy and Satan operate. We should be before the Lord daily in prayer, Bible study, listening to sermons, songs, and being quiet in meditation before the Lord. Third, we should not base our attitude on our feelings, but on the Holy Spirit—orienting our lives to say, “Not as I will, but as You will” (Matthew 26:39).

When transformation occurs, we radiate the glory of God. People see Christ living in us. God’s spirit will be upon our hearts. We become more and more like Jesus as we allow ourselves to be transformed and desire God to be everything in our lives. A transformer’s values are different than those of most other people.

Spectator or Participant

 

Unfortunately, some believers are not interested in transforming their lives. They are comfortable with how they are even as they sit in the pews, week after week as an observer. They are conformers, not transformers. A vast majority of people want to be spectators and not participants.

 

Respected Bible teacher Warren Wiersbe says that a renewed mind is happy to hear God’s word from whatever source it is available. A transformer does not have a “celebrity attitude.” According to Wiersbe, transformers worship, pray, sow seeds and trust God to do His work, whereas a conformer runs from seminar to seminar seeking new techniques, latest fads, and other quick fixes. A transformer’s goal is to become more Christlike in character and conduct. Wiersbe says, “God’s call to real worship, to an experience of transformation, is a call to dangerous and costly living.”

 

Tidbits

 

Extra tidbits regarding transformation are:

 

– The word of God should transform everyone: pastors, leaders, and laypeople.

– Transformation involves prayer, church attendance or gatherings, Bible study, meditation, and more.

– When believers present themselves as living sacrifices, transformation happens.

– A transformer hungers and thirsts for more of God. And worship is NOT a chore for him.

 

Defining Worship

 

Wiersbe talks about how we have a problem with defining worship (and transformation.) He says it is difficult to do, but there are people in the Bible that we see worshiping God. There are multiple words in the Bible for worshipping God.

 

One of the most used words is Shachah, which means “to bow down and do homage” in Hebrew. In Greek, Proskneo means “showing reverence to God.” While there is true worship and false worship, we must remember that genuine, authentic worship is “an adventure with the Spirit.” William Temple defines worship as “the submission of all our nature to God.”

 

In defining worship, we must consider that true worship is balanced and involves our mind, emotions, and will. It is when we can feel Jesus’ presence and experience Shekinah’s glory. It is when God’s Spirit touches ours. God is the object and focus of our worship. Wiersbe defines worship as “our human response to God’s initiative and our response to God’s love for us.” Worship is an ongoing thing—not to be confined to one day a week. Worship is when we experience a transformation in our souls. To do that, we must communicate with Him daily.

 

Bible Verses: In text

 

Prayer:

Oh Lord, let me be more like You. Increase my desire to become closer to You–I want to see my life from Your perspective. I want to rest in Your holy presence. Jesus, thank you for loving me. Transform me into Your image, to do Your work, as I seek Your Shekinah glory in my life. In Your Name. Amen.

God Bless.

 Edited by E. Johnson

 

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

 

Bible verses are taken from The New American Standard Bible.

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Books by Patti Greene

  • Awaken Me – Devotional Workbook
  • Anchor Me – Devotional Workbook
  • Answer Me – Devotional Workbook
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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.

Subscribe: Joining by subscription ensures you will receive an email every time a new blog is posted. You can subscribe to the Greene Pastures blog site in the right-hand corner. You will receive an email to confirm your subscription. Feel free to forward this to your friends and family.

Books by Patti Greene

  • Awaken Me – Devotional Workbook
  • Anchor Me – Devotional Workbook
  • Answer Me – Devotional Workbook
  • Christian Caregiving

Click here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=patti+greene&ref=nb_sb_noss

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