JOHN 14:6 (NKJV)'In My Father's house are many mansions . . . I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.'
Thomas said to Him, 'Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?'
'Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.'
It was a beautiful sunny morning when I headed out toward a local Christian school where I was to speak for their morning chapel service. I knew exactly where I was headed, and where I needed to be, but a missed turn took me a long distance out of my way. Getting back on track took some figuring out, but thanks to a good old-fashioned map, I charted the shortest way through back roads and made it to my destination on time. Without turning around and moving in the right direction, though, I would have missed my destination altogether.
Ironically, while finding the way back to my intended route, a large tractor trailer truck passed me. Big letters on the back of the rig said, 'DESTINATION UNKNOWN.' I laughed when I saw it. That's what I felt like when I was on the wrong road. Once I turned around, I knew where I was headed. This poor fellow didn't!
In talking with people, I find a lot of them have a destination in mind, but they don't know how to get there. When it comes to eternity, there are only two choices, Heaven or Hell. Nearly everyone wants to go to Heaven, but sadly many are traveling the wrong course to get there.
Jesus told His disciples He was leaving them to go back to His Father in Heaven. When Thomas asked how they could get there, too, the Lord told him, 'I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No man comes to the Father except through Me.' The disciples knew their intended destination, and Jesus told them how to get there. The directions for reaching Heaven haven't changed one bit since Jesus spoke those words so many years ago.
John 3:36 He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.
John 5:24 Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.
Once you've trusted Christ as your Savior your destination is fixed! You are bound for Heaven. Your eternal home is already prepared and waiting for you'-and so is the Savior who so lovingly provided the means of reaching your Heavenly dwelling place with Him.
How about you, do you know your destination? Do you know how to get there? Are you trusting the Lord Jesus Christ to be your Way? If so, you can confidently say, 'For me, it's destination known!'
Prayer: My hope is in You, Lord, for You alone are the Truth, the Way, and the Life.
Words to Ponder: 'Oh! That beautiful city, With its mansions of light, With its glorified beings, In garments of white; Where no evil thing cometh To despoil what is fair; Where the angels are watching, Yes, my name's written there.
GALATIANS 6:2Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
All around us people are hurting! Many of them you never even notice because they pass you on the street looking fine. But what can you do when your friend or family member is hurting? Below are some suggestions for ways in which you can be of help and support when someone you care about is going through a tough time.
1. Listen! Just listen. Having someone to talk to is a tremendous support for most people when they are going through a rough time.
2. Pray with your friend. Ask God for specific answers to the needs that you hear your friend speak about.
3. Commit to pray for your friend daily. Drop him/her a note occasionally to ask if there is anything special to pray for at that point in time.
4. Send a note, card, text, email, etc. of encouragement from time to time.
5. Print words of encouragement and inspiration on 3 x 5 cards. Give them to your friend and suggest that he/she put them in places where they are easily seen, and read them regularly, especially when feeling down. You may prefer to make some poster size.
6. As the Holy Spirit leads you, share special passages from the Bible, but don't preach. Have them marked and read them to your friend if he/she is unable to read alone.
7. Read and record your favorite verses of Scripture, poems, or inspirational stories. Burn them to a CD or put them on your friend's cell phone recorder, with permission, of course. Give these to your friend to listen to whenever he/she needs a word of encouragement.
8. Do a Bible study together. For example, if anxiety is an issue, study Philippians 4:4-9; Mathew 6:25-34; Psalm 46:1-11; Psalm 91:1-16; Romans 12:17-21; or Ephesians 2:11-22. There are many online studies available.
9. Be of practical help. Provide an occasional meal. Help with cleaning, laundry, outside work around the house, or childcare. Drive and/or accompany your friend to appointments. Ask what your friend needs and try to help meet those needs'-but don't feel you have to do it all yourself. Enlist others, if possible, to do various tasks.
10. Help your friend get help. Many times a person needs more help than you can give. Sometimes the greatest gift you can give is to help another person find the help he/she needs.
This certainly isn't an exhaustive list! There are a multitude of things you can do to show your love, care, and concern when a friend or loved one is hurting. Ask God to make you sensitive to the needs of others, and then ask your friend what he/she would like you to do. And do it!
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, there are so many hurting people around me. Show me which ones I am to minister to. Help me to show them Your love in action and be a blessing to them at this difficult time.
WORDS TO PONDER: 'The need for friends is imperative. It is not good for us to be friendless. We were made to give and to receive, to help and to be helped, to encourage and to be encouraged. Our nature requires a tie to faithful others. We call it friendship. -Leroy Brownlow, Author and Minister
PSALM 100: 1, 2, 4 (NKJV) Make a joyful shout to the LORD all you lands! . . . Come before His presence with singing . . . Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.
Genesis 29 tells an interesting story about the lives of Jacob and his two wives, Leah and Rachel. Leah lived in disappointment as a result of her father tricking Jacob and giving her to him as a wife when Jacob thought he was marrying his beloved Rachel. Poor Leah! While Jacob seems to have treated her well, he never really loved her as he loved Rachel; but God saw Leah's plight and blessed her with children while her sister Rachel was barren.
When her first son was born, Leah rejoiced in God's blessing and said, 'Now therefore, my husband will love me.' Obviously that didn't change things for Leah because when the second son was born she recognized this gift as another blessing from God to make her husband love her. When the third son arrived Leah declared, 'Now this time my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.' Later a fourth son was born and Leah's focus changed. This time, instead of focusing on the love she longed for, Leah announced, 'Now I will praise the LORD.' And she named that son Judah which means 'praise'.
For years Leah longed for something that she never received. It wasn't wrong for Leah to want to be loved, especially by her spouse, but as long as she made that her primary focus, I'll guarantee you that she was disappointed and hurt. It is only when you take your eyes off of what you don't have and start praising the Lord for Who He is and for the blessings that He bestows that you begin to find peace and contentment. Truly only He can fill the empty spots in your heart when the very thing you long for is out of reach. Only His love can heal your hurts. Praise Him. Simply praise Him.
Beloved Father, I praise You for caring when my heart is hurt, lonely or disappointed, and for seeing and knowing all of my needs. I praise You for Your love, Your provisions, and Your greatness. Today and always may my lips bless Your name.
PSALM 23:6 (KJV)The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want . . . my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
I remember vividly as a young child watching the ritual that took place in my grandparents' home at meal time. Multiple physical problems often confined Pa to his bed, so Grandmother dutifully carried his meal to him on a tray. Unable to see, he would feel the tray, find the saucer, and carefully move the cup off to the side. Then, he'd lift the little plate to his lips and start his meal by sipping and savoring the coffee that spilled over as Grandmother carried it from the kitchen to his room.
John Paul Moore must have had a similar scene in his mind when he penned the happy, little poem, 'I'm Drinking From My Saucer'.
I've never made a fortuneAnd it's probably too late now.But I don't worry about that much,I'm happy anyhow.
And as I go along life's way,I'm reaping better than I sowed.I'm drinking from my saucer,'Cause my cup has overflowed.
Haven't got a lot of riches,And sometimes the going's tough.But I've got loving ones around me,And that makes me rich enough.
I thank God for His blessings,And the mercies He's bestowed.I'm drinking from my saucer,'Cause my cup has overflowed.
I remember times when things went wrong,My faith wore somewhat thin,But all at once the dark clouds broke,And the sun peeped through again.
So Lord, help not to gripe aboutThe tough rows I have hoed.I'm drinking from my saucer,'Cause my cup has overflowed.
If God gives me strength and courage,When the way grows steep and rough,I'll not ask for other blessings,I'm already blessed enough.
And may I never be too busy,To help others bear their load.Then I'll keep drinking from my saucer,'Cause my cup has overflowed.
Yes, our good Shepherd, who tends to our every need, daily pours on us so many blessings that they just seem to overflow. Many of them we aren't even aware of, but even if we could see them, it would be impossible to count them all!
May we be still long enough to sip and savor the delight of His overflowing blessings, and remember to thank God for the abundance of goodness and mercy He pours on us each day.
PRAYER: Loving Father, today I ask You to drench me with an awareness of, and gratitude for the multitude of blessings You shower upon me. Let me never take You goodness for granted.
WORDS TO PONDER:Count your blessings,Name them one by one;Count your many blessings,See what God hath done.
-Johnson Oatman, Jr. 1856-1926
By Ann Shorb, 2019
Scripture taken from the King James Version of the Holy Bible
PSALMS 119:140, 142, 143, 144 (NKJV)Your word is very pure . . . And Your law is truth . . .Your commandments are my delights . . . Give me understanding, and I shall live.
JOHN 14:16-17, 26 (NKJV)And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever'-the Spirit of truth . . . But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.
Living in Hanover, Pennsylvania, it's just natural to want to visit the UTZ Potato Chip factory, every once in a while, to see how these chips are made. On the narrated tour you can see the potatoes as they are hauled in on tractor trailers, and dumped onto conveyors to begin their automated journey through the factory. You can watch the spuds being washed, peeled, sliced, fried, salted, and finally emerging on their way to be packaged and shipped. But before that can happen, there's one very important step that must take place. They have to slowly travel past the inspectors. On each side of the conveyor stand inspectors whose job is to scan the chips and snatch up and toss away any that are too dark, or in any other way don't measure up to the UTZ quality standard. This is what makes it possible for the customer to have a product that is pure and delightful. An inspector's job is extremely important!
Before concluding His earthly ministry, Jesus assured His disciples that two Inspectors would be constantly present to help them discern His will and guide them into truth'-God's Word, and the ever-abiding Holy Spirit.
By saturating our minds with the truth of God's Word we develop clear focus, and build an unshakable foundation for every decision face, and for living a life that is pleasing to God. In addition, the Holy Spirit, a discerner of truth and evil, is ever ready to snatch away error and deceit to which we could easily fall prey.
With these two Inspectors continually operating in our lives, we have the potential walk every day in godliness and righteousness-and that is the only way to have true peace and joy, and to have a life that is pure and delightful.
PRAYER: Precious Lord, help me fill my mind with Your truth, and rely always on Your Spirit to guide each step I take.WORDS TO PONDER: 'The Spirit of God brings to our minds the precepts and doctrines of truth, and applies them with power. These are heard in the ear, and being received in the heart, they work in us to will and to do of God's good pleasure. The truth is the sanctifier, and if we do not hear or read the truth, we shall not grow in sanctification.'-Charles H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening, July 4
JOHN 3:16 (NIV)For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.
One of the most well-known and often quoted verses in the Bible is John 3:16. Children memorize it, preachers expound upon it, and authors dig into its mystery, but knowing the reality of the power of this little verse can totally transform and empower a life.
God's love saves us.Because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions'-it is by grace you have been saved. (Ephesians 2:4-5 NIV)
God's love sanctifies us.For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again. (2 Corinthians 5:14-15)
God's love secures us both now and forever.Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:
'For your sake we face death all day long;We are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.'
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8: 38, 39 NIV)
God's love is so vast, so immense, so amazing that it goes far beyond all human reasoning and understanding. It's incomprehensible! And this astounding love never changes because He is love (I John 4:8), and He never changes (Malachi 3:6). In all of this, I find great strength and hope to live each day in the power of His love.
PRAYER: Thank You, Father, for the strength I find in knowing that Your unchanging love surrounds and keeps me every hour of every day and every night'-and it always will.
WORDS TO PONDER: 'Nothing but the fiercest, most sincere love could keep Jesus on the cross when it was in His power to call for a rescue. His passion for our eternal souls demanded that he give Himself for our sins, not only to grant us everlasting life, but also to make us joyful in this one.'-Then Sings My Soul Devotional, by Barbour Books Publishing, Inc. 2014
HEBREWS 13:9 ESVFor it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace . . .
Trace and cut. Trace and cut. Trace and cut. The children in my office carefully performed the steps over and over until piles of big red hearts, medium-size hearts, and small delicate hearts formed. Giggles and chatter were all part of the process as we worked on our heart-mosaic.
With the big heart pasted in the middle of our paper, we laid the other hearts in various configurations, overlapping them to form a creative image. Though they all looked basically alike except for their size, each heart contributed to the whole, and had its own specific place. Without it the picture would not have been complete.
Overlapping hearts. As I watched the image emerge, I was reminded how vital it is that we, as children of God and joint-heirs with Christ, join our hearts so that we may stand strong and fulfill His command to us to be salt and light to a lost and dying world.
In challenging followers of Christ to live in the confidence of His faithfulness and connect their hearts, the writer of Hebrews put it this way:
. . . let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith . . . Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering . . . An let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together . . . encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.' (Hebrews 10:22, 23, 24, 25 ESV)
We need one another! We have a responsibility to love, support, uphold, encourage, and serve one another in our daily walk with Christ. When we do these things, our sense of community grows. We recognize that we are not alone. Most importantly, the beautiful image of Christ emerges and the world sees Him.
That day it wasn't just the children who benefited from the hour of therapy. So did the therapist.
PRAYER: Precious Lord Jesus, thank You for the strength and joy we find when we allow our hearts to connect first with You, then with other believers.
WORDS TO PONDER: 'And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, especially those who are of the household of faith.'
-The Apostle Paul, Galatians 6:9-10 ESV
HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!
By Ann Shorb Copyright Ann Shorb, 2019
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright (c) 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
ROMANS 8:38, 39 (NKJV)Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Yea, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Brrrrr! It's February and record-breaking low temperatures stretch from the mid-west all the way to the east coast of the U.S. The best part about going outside this week has been coming back in'-quickly!
It's comforting to know, though, that no matter how cold the air outside, or no matter how dreary the day, we can be warmed and comforted by the love of God. We can experience that in various ways as we:
Spend time with Him in prayer'-Yet the LORD will command His lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night His song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life. (Psalm 42:8)
Give attention to reading His Word'-Open my eyes that I may see wondrous things from Your law. (Psalm 119:18)
Fellowship with other believers'-Let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together. (Hebrews 10:24-25)
Serve Him with a willing heart'-As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. (Joshua 24:15)
Obey His commands and walk in His ways'-You shall be careful to do as the LORD your God has commanded you; . . . that you may live and that it may be well with you. (Deuteronomy 5:32, 33)
Being aware of the love of God dwelling within you and shining all around you will warm even the chilliest of days!
PRAYER: Blessed Lord, how comforting to know that no matter what circumstances I face, Your love will see me through and warm my inner being.
WORDS TO PONDER: 'Unlike our human passions that burn like molten fervor in one season, then grow frigid with frost in the next, God's love is forever constant. Forged in the dawning of time, tested throughout the ages, written in stone, and sealed with blood, it is ours eternally.'
-Then Sings My Soul Devotional, by Barbour Books Publishing, Inc. 2014
Philippians 3:13. . . forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Acts 9 records for us the miraculous conversion of the apostle Paul, then called Saul. Many words may be used to describe this man as he zealously held to the traditions of the Jewish faith that he had learned from childhood. He was determined to preserve its traditions and to squelch anything that threatened it. He was 100% committed to his cause, relentless in his persuasion, energetic and aggressive, but he was on the wrong course!
The Lord demonstrated the greatness of His power and mercy when he appeared to Saul on the road to Damascus. Once on his way to persecute and destroy the newly formed Church of Jesus Christ, Saul was stopped suddenly by a bright light and a voice from Heaven. Immediately recognizing the Lord, Saul confessed Him to be the lord of salvation by asking, "Who are you, Lord?" Without hesitation he then confessed Jesus as lord of his life, consecrating himself to His service when he asked, "Lord, what will you have me to do?" In obedience Saul went on to Damascus a changed man, committed to serving Jesus Christ.
The reality of Saul's meeting with Christ was evidenced by a complete change in his intellect, will and emotion. His desire to persecute became a desire to promote the Church and to pray for it. Both before and after his conversion, Saul was an example of total commitment to what he believed in, but the object of his commitment changed. Everyone who knew him saw the evidence of that change. He lived the rest of his life forgetting his past and pressing on in faith and commitment to the One who loved and saved him.
Lord Jesus, let me be committed to you 100% and help me live my life in such a way that everyone who sees me sees the evidence of what Your love and mercy have done in my life.
PSALM 119:105 (NKJV)Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
Ahhh! It felt so good to put my books back on the bookshelf where they belong! For far too long, many of my Bible study books were packed in boxes and I was unable to get to most of them. Had I known how long my remodeling project would take, I would have left out more of them!
With so much information available on the Internet, it was still possible to read, research and study God's Word, but I missed my own personal books, and my hand-written notes in the margins.
Reading God's Word daily provides us with spiritual food to face the many challenges that come our way. It nourishes our soul; however, to understand more about Him and His ways, to find His direction for our lives, and to discover the many promises to cling to in tough times, deeper study of the Bible is needed.
Get a good Bible commentary, a Bible dictionary, and a Bible Atlas to use as you work through a specific book of the Bible, or research a specific topic. There are also thousands of Bible study books on a variety of topics. These types of resources come in hardcopy book form, or online. Take your pick.
Here are a few websites that provide wonderful resources for study and review:
If we want to grow and have a vibrant and victorious life, deep study of God's Word is essential. It can be done individually, with a family member or friend, in a small group, or in the context of a well-taught Sunday School class. Do what works best for you and your schedule. Just do it!
PRAYER: Holy Father, with so many tools to aid me in studying Your Word, help me to be intentional about taking the time to do it. Thank You for the joy that comes when I do!
WORDS TO PONDER: 'A knowledge of the Bible is essential to a rich and meaningful life. For the words of this Book have a way of filling in the missing pieces, of bridging the gaps, of turning the tarnished colors of our life into jewel-like brilliance.'
-Billy Graham, American Evangelical Leader and Writer