A Day of Remembrance

As we remember Martin Luther King, Jr. today, my favorite quote of his springs to mind.

“The end of life is not to be happy, nor to achieve pleasure and avoid pain, but to do the will of God, come what may.”

What a very important concept to grasp. Life readily lures us to seek to achieve happiness, pursue pleasure, and lead a life focused on self and our own desires. We do anything we can to escape pain, whether it’s pills for physical pain, or hobbies, distractions and trips to escape the emotional pains. Comfort at all costs seems to be society’s mantra.

How different our lives would be if “To do the will of God, come what may,” became our guiding principle of life!

Today as you remember Rev. King and are thankful for all he contributed to our world, let’s not reduce him to a secular hero. He was a man of God, and his faith led him to take the steps he did. Let’s do likewise and allow God’s will to be our driving motivation.

church-348806_1280Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” Hebrews 13:20-21

 

 

 

Construction Zone: A Fresh Start on Your Fixer Upper

Priceless 2019 ongoing series: Construction Zone. In these articles this year we will focus on the new creations Our Father is building. We hope to inspire, challenge, and encourage as always. Here’s the first offering of the series. Read and be blessed!

 

 The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. Lamentations 3:22-23

 

As the new year begins with the freshness of a new romance, we once again have been given a clean slate upon which to write.

It has always amazed me how many fresh starts God gives to us frail, imperfect humans. We have a fresh opportunity New Year’s day, the first of every month, every Monday, every single sunrise, every hour, every minute. These are starting points to become something new in Him: to change our perspective, alter our wrong behaviors, make a better choice, forgive a past event, have faith in Him,… and my list could go on. He knew us when He created the human race. He knew by giving us a free will to choose how to live and whether to love Him or not that we, like little children, would make mistakes and need many, many chances to set things aright and begin all over again.

Do you take these fresh opportunities to put the past behind you and open a new box of crayons and a fresh pad of paper? To revise the script of your life? To reorient yourself to follow the map God would have for your life? To do a little home make-over, a little reconstruction or redecorating to the home in your heart?

♥♥♥♥♥

home-2861604_1280.jpgThe show Fixer Upper with Chip and Joanna Gaines has become a huge hit here in the heart of the South where I live. Mention “Magnolia Market” or “shiplap” around the women I know and you’ll get heads popping up to listen or interject in the conversation. And for what are these two folks famous?

Demolition. Design. Construction. Decorating. Landscaping.

In other words, making old homes look new: revitalizing the building, cleaning up, restoring, repurposing outdated used items, and creating a warm home. That’s why we love them. And I think there is possibly a spiritual aspect to why we love them and this show so very much.

Really?! Do you see a spiritual meaning behind every stone and used piece of shiplap?

Why yes. Yes I do! Thanks for asking. And here’s what I see.

In scripture I see that our bodies are likened to a house or a temple. A building in other words. A house occupied by God’s Spirit.

I see that Sin makes the inside of the house dirty, damaged, old and run-down, and it needs cleaning, restoring and being made new, which can only be done by God Himself.

I see that Our Creator has a plan, a design for our life, if we hire Him to come in and do a make-over. A design that would make Joanna jealous no doubt, no offense to her, but He is The Master Designer.

I see also that unless the Lord builds the house, we are vainly laboring to build a shanty that will blow over in the first stiff wind.

I see Jesus Himself as the one sprucing up the place with beautiful decor and grass and plants, making us loving and kind, tender-hearted and others-centered, a sweet fragrance of Himself to the world.

I believe that our attraction to this show lies in the fact that it embodies physical redemption and renewal. It is a visible metaphor of our life, what we know we are (old man, broken, in need of repair and a master rebuilder) and what we long to be (whole, beautiful, useful, free from the dirt and rodents and mold of sin).

So… Let’s take advantage of this fresh start this year – not to diet or quit something or demand more from ourselves and condemn ourselves when we fail – but to allow the Holy One, Our Creator and Designer to remake us into the new creation He has planned. Let’s embrace our own remodel.

Demolition. Let Him tear down walls that separate us from others and go for the open concept. Let Him tear out the roots of sin in our hearts and replant us in Himself as an obedient and fruitful branch being fed by the Vine. Let Him rip pride out of our walls and replace those rusty rotten pipes with a humble servant spirit. Sounds painful and not much fun doesn’t it? It will be. Painful and not fun. But the beauty of the end creation will be worth it.

architect-architecture-black-and-white-1537008Design. He has the design plans finished for you, Sweet One. He has a plan for me and a plan for you. Your house may look similar to the one down the street, but it is distinctive, unique, and appealing to certain people as no other house can be. Your blueprint is laid out in His Word, the Bible. If you follow it closely you will wind up with a firm foundation of wisdom, sturdy walls of understanding that allow you to live in safety and peace, and rooms filled with precious and pleasant riches. (Proverbs 24:3-4) That’s why it’s so important to consult His Word daily to make sure you are following the Designer’s plans.

Construction. Are you willing to undergo a year-long construction project in your inner house? How about a life-long one? That’s what it really is. But the beginning can be tough. Are you ready to add extra rooms? Need to raise the ceiling and put in a new sturdy beam to open up the interior of your heart? Are you ready to have that magnificent master bath with a shower with a dozen shower heads to cleanse you and warm you and comfort you when you’re stressed? Do you desire a gourmet kitchen where you can feast on life-giving, healthy, restoring morsels? The construction period will be hard, but it will be worth it! All you have to do is commit to starting today. Just like with Chip & Joanna, you will face obstacles and setbacks some days or weeks, but you get another fresh start each day, each week, each month, remember?

Decorating. Allow Jesus to add the finishing touches. He has a PhD in Interior Design you know. He’ll pick just the right colors, textures, and styles to make your life a warm home open to visitors who need your wise advice, care, and love. And you’ll be shocked how He is able to re-use, repurpose, and redeem your old furnishings and adornments.

Landscaping. Jesus has a green thumb too. He can make the outer beauty of your heart cause others to pop into your yard and ring the doorbell just to ask, “Who did all this?” “Where can I get someone to do a home make-over for me?” “Can you get me in touch with Him?” You really won’t have to assault strangers with the Gospel in the Walmart parking lot as you fear you will. Your landscaping will give you a platform that draws others to your Master Designer! You’ll have your own private episode of Fixer Upper to show them how you got in touch with Him.

It’s January 2019. Take this opportunity to start fresh. It’s demolition time. Turn your remodeling over to the professional; all your handyman work on your own is useless.

Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Psalm 127:1

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(Join us at Gardendale First Baptist Church this winter for our year-long focus on building our lives and homes. We will begin Tuesday, January 15, with a 10 week study called HomeBuilders, that teaches scriptural truths upon which to build godly lives and homes. Find out more at Rooms Full of Riches or on our Events and Information page.)

Happy New Year!

    He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. Ecclesiastes 3:11

A Time for Everything

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

A time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
A time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
A time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
A time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
A time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
A time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

What do workers gain from their toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-14

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Resolutions!

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:18-19

Resolutions have lost their popularity in recent years. As people realize they don’t usually keep the resolutions, they are less likely to make them. So what about you? Do you intend to make a resolution this year? Or maybe you’ve decided to focus on a Bible verse for the year or a word the Lord seems to be impressing on you as your watchword for the year. Whatever you are considering, we all tend to look at the new year as a fresh start, a chance to become more than we’ve been in the past.

Here are some suggested resolutions. Some are light-hearted and easy to keep. Some are deeply meaningful. But I suggest you pick one of these or one of your own to start this New Year out on a fresh path allowing God to start a new thing in your heart and life.

Get your new year started of with a blast!

img_443596 Resolve to keep fresh-cut flowers in a vase on your table to brighten your day and remind you of God’s amazing creation.

img_443596 Resolve to read through the Word of God every single day of the year. (Try Bible Gateway or You Version.)

img_443596 Resolve to open the door for people every time you go to a store.

img_443596 Resolve to read the Love Dare book and improve your relationship with your spouse.

img_443596 Resolve to eat a slice of Birthday cake on their birthday with every single friend whose birthday you are aware of.

img_443596 Resolve to journal your prayers to God so that by the end of the year you will have a record of the ways God has moved in your life.

img_443596 Resolve to write one note of encouragement a week to someone.

img_443596 Resolve to share the Gospel every opportunity God gives you, even though you may feel nervous or intimidated.

img_443596 Resolve to return rudeness with kindness.

img_443596 Resolve to learn a new fun skill: cooking, playing an instrument, speaking another language, knitting, Iron Man training, painting,…

img_443596 Resolve to make it a habit of getting eye to eye with a child to play.

img_443596 Resolve to start your own blog.

img_443596 Resolve to quit being negative, and trust God.

img_443596 Resolve to get involved with a ministry to others or teach a class at your church.

img_443596 Resolve to look in the mirror each day and tell yourself, you are kind, you are beautiful, and God has a purpose for you today.

img_443596 Resolve to be content with your lot in life, yet to keep working hard daily to improve yourself and to follow God’s directions for your life.

img_443596 Resolve to pray for your family every single day. (The prayer app Echo might prove helpful.)

img_443596 Resolve not to worry. Choose to have faith.

img_443596 Resolve to say “yes” to God.

Surely one of these resolutions appeals to you. You may even want to pick 2 – one heavy one and one light-hearted one. You’ll be sure to succeed at one! Blessings on your new adventure with the Lord! Be resolved to live fully in the moment each day, intently listening and seeking your Father’s direction.

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Merry Christmas from All of Us at Priceless!

The Greatest Gift of all is Jesus

Where ever you find yourself this Christmas, and in whatever bleak or joyful, lonely or busy situation, may you know and rejoice in the Greatest Gift of All – Jesus!

Your Father God gave you His own Son – Jesus.

In Jesus, He gave you a Redeemer to reclaim for you all you have lost and all the things the enemy of your soul has stolen from you.

He gave you a Spotless Lamb, a perfect sacrifice for your sin and failure – the sinless Son of God.

He gave you Hope in the form of a man.

He gave you Unconditional Love that says “I love you.  I accept you. I choose you as mine, no matter what you have done.”

He gave you a Wonderful Counselor for your darkest moments and deepest depression and despair.

He gave you a Prince of Peace to come and work in your confusion and chaos.

He gave you a Friend that sticks closer than a brother for when you feel alone and abandoned.

He gave you a Mighty Warrior to rescue you from the evil one and the prison of sin and self.

He gave you the gift of a loving family, even if your earthly family has let you down. He Himself is your Everlasting Father, Jesus is your brother, and the entire body of Christ is your extended family!

He gave you Immanuel, God with Us, who humbly came to earth as a man, to know our pain and be one of us.

He gave you the gift of that Babe in the manger, but that babe wrapped up so much more than we comprehend!

Celebrate these gifts you Do have this Christmas. These eternal gifts in Christ!

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The Journey: Our Personal Navigator

“Siri, where is the nearest gas station?”

“Alexa, where can I rent a tux nearby?”

We live in an information age where all we have to do is ask our nearest smart device for help. We have our own personal machines that give us directions, find us new places for food and entertainment, and answer questions that make life less complicated.

amazon-alexa-design-speakers-977296If only Alexa could answer questions like How should I resolve this conflict with my relatives? or Can you help me not to fall apart emotionally over this tragedy? or Who can I turn to to rescue me from this mess? or How can I have the inner character to deal with the things life throws at me? or the greatest question of all What will happen when I die or someone close to me does? 

Siri and Alexa fall short when it comes to our deepest human needs. A Facebook post draws many hearts and promises of prayer, but seldom comes close to offering the guidance we need in those times of confusion or devastation.

So what’s a girl to do on this Journey through life when tough times come?

We have a personal navigator available to us. In fact, if we are a child of the King, this navigator is very personal, He lives inside us. First Corintians 6:19 tells us:

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?” 

We have a helper for The Journey, our own personal Siri, the Holy Spirit. One who has all the answers, every time. And One who has implanted within us things to help us before we ever ask – things like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23)

You say, “But I have no patience.” I beg to differ with you. As a child of God with the Holy Spirit living in you, there are within each of us these fruit listed above. Our problem is we haven’t bothered to nourish and water these traits. We ignore the Spirit’s promptings and impatiently or hatefully or greedily push on ahead instead of acting on the gentle tuggings of His Spirit within. The fruit sits inside our heart of hearts with the Holy Spirit shriveled and unused. We need to become as quick at accessing the Holy Spirit as we are at accessing Alexa or info on our smart phones. Romans 8:5 reminds us of this truth:

“Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.”

surprised-3079077_1280At times on our Journey we feel weak and helpless. We wander in indecision, doubt or fear. Later on in Romans 8 God’s Word says,

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.”

We are not alone! We have a helper – a strong helper. We aren’t left to wander in our confusion and unanswered questions. Not sure of the direction to take? Ask God. Not sure you can handle the situation? Ask God. Not sure you even know what to pray? His Spirit will step in and pray for us. How many times have I only been able to choke out the simple prayer, “Lord! Help me. Please!” And that opened the door for the Spirit to do the rest. Oswald Chambers says, “the Holy spirit Himself prays prayers in us which we cannot utter ourselves. … He expresses for us the unutterable.” (My Utmost For His Highest, Nov. 8)

God’s Spirit dwells in us. Is he an honored guest in your world or a forgotten stranger holed up in a back room?

I love what Paul has to say about the Holy Spirit of God in 1 Corinthians 2:10-16:

The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, for, “Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. 

God’s Spirit searches us.

He knows the thoughts of God and reveals them to us. (Wow!)

Through Him we have the mind of Christ.

As you head out on your Journey of life today, don’t forget to access your personal navigator. Listen to Him closely. Trust His directions. He will guide your Journey even when the road ahead seems unclear. And He’ll answer questions and meet needs along the way.

Enjoy the Journey!

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The Journey: Coming and Going

Have you ever noticed that there sure is a lot of coming and going in the Gospels? Jesus came to the crowd. He came to Capernaum. He went to a solitary place. He came to seek and save the lost. He came to Golgotha. He called the disciples to “Come!” And he told them to “Go” sell their possessions and give to the poor and to “Go” make other disciples.

Sometimes our journey of life gets hectic. We feel like all we are doing is coming and going. My Mama used to say she was so busy she “met herself coming and going.” But in our comings and goings from day-to-day we can have purpose. We can be like Jesus.

What can we learn from Jesus’ comings and goings.

architecture-blurred-buildings-303066.jpgJesus went TO places, but He went FOR the people. The Bible documents Jesus traveling to many towns and regions of the countryside: Jerusalem, Bethsaida, Samaria, Galilee, Genneseret, mountainsides, the Sea of Galilee. In each place He went, scripture reveals more to us about His interactions with the people He encountered rather than about the random daily things He did. We don’t know where he spent his nights or what he ate or if He and the disciples ever found a big field and played ball together just for fun. We see him healing and teaching and driving out demons and talking with the hurting people He met.

In our lives, as we come and go, are we more focused on the tasks at hand – get the kids to soccer, buy the groceries, have the oil changed in the car – or have we learned yet that life is about the people we encounter on the journey? Our Father loves hurting people, whether it’s us or a friend or a stranger. He will put His children in the right place at the right time to meet very specific needs. Are we even aware? Or are we so busy being on our way to work or on our way to school or on our way to church that we overlook the lonely, the sick, the hurting, and the desperate around us? Are we more like the compassionate Samaritan on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho, or, on a typical day, do we very much resemble the Priest or the Levite who was too busy and distracted to help a wounded man?

Faith-Christian-hands-pray-praise-worship_credit-ShutterstockJesus invited people to “Come” and commanded them to “Go.” Notice how the disciples were gently invited to come along with Jesus and learn from Him and allow Him to change them into fishers of men. “Come.” He calls us as well. Come. Gently, patiently, often in a whisper. Come. Early in the morning stillness. Come. Amidst the confused hustle and bustle of life. Come. In the midst of the raging storm. Come. He calls us as much for our good as for His purposes, because His purposes are for our good! We shortchange ourselves and miss out on an opportunity to learn and grow and join with Christ in His healing work here on earth when we ignore the call to come to Him.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

 

activity-adult-barbecue-344102As gently as Jesus calls us to come, He is equally firm about His command to “Go.” Jesus commanded a rich man to go sell his possessions and give to the poor. (Matthew 19:21) To an expert of the Mosaic law He said go and show mercy. (Luke 10:37) To the woman at the well He told her to go face Her past sin and come to Him to quench her heart’s thirst. (John 4:16) To the woman condemned by man He offered free-dom from condemnation and the challenge to “go and sin no more.” (John 8:11) And to all His disciples, then and now, He commands us to…

“Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20 

Let us respond to His invitation to “Come!” and obey His command to “Go!”

winding-road-1556177_1280.jpgJesus took time to go to a solitary place to pray. Throughout the Gospels we see Jesus pulling aside to pray. As Jesus faced the toughest moment of His life He pulled away to pray alone. He went to the Garden of Gethsemane, left His disciples behind, and prayed about the trials He faced. Many of our most difficult times will feel very lonely. Our Father is there for us in those moments, just as He was for Jesus, for us to come to Him in prayer.

The crowds get wearying. The demands of life leave us frazzled. Work and family and school and commitments pull us in a dozen different directions. We too need to pull away to a solitary place to pray. If Jesus needed to, then we need to exponentially more so. We don’t need to pull away to social media or to TV or to a glass of wine or to friends even – we need to pull away, alone, to our Father and pour out our hearts to Him in prayer and listen to what He has to pour out to us! That is where true refreshing of the soul resides.

“And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.” Mark 1:35

Jesus went to Golgotha for you and me. He made the greatest sacrifice of all time. He went to the cross and lay down His life for us.

As we come and go and mingle with friends, family, acquaintances, and strangers from day-to-day Jesus will call us to lay down our lives as well. We probably won’t be called upon to physically die for someone today, but it will sometimes feel like dying to do the compassionate things He asks us to do. That is what dying to self is all about. We lay down our rights and our plans and our wishes to go to that one in need. To come up to someone we don’t know well and offer to pray. To share the good news of Jesus as we go throughout this journey of life.

Are you tired of your rat race of coming and going? It’s time to give in to your Master who says “Come to me and I will give you rest.” It’s time to find strength and refreshment in Him. Not only in His gentle “Come,” but in being obedient to His command to “Go!’

Come!

 

A Testing of Faith

A testimony by guest author Alecia Singleton

No one wants to face trials, but out of trials comes a triumph. God is ever faithful and He keeps showing himself strong. Psalm 46:1 sticks out in my mind.

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.

I had been sick, but thought it would go away.

I was having dizzy spells that first started mild and progressed over time. The dizziness became so bad that it did not matter if I was sitting, standing or laying down, I felt like everything was spinning. I was sick beyond sick. I did not see an end in sight.

I was first told to go to the ER. They were thinking that it was my heart, however, my heart was fine. I had gone to my primary doctor and they ran many tests and all came back normal.

I went back to see my primary doctor and there was another doctor seeing me, because my doctor was busy. This doctor asked if anyone had checked my thyroid? I said no and she proceeded to order a full thyroid screening. The results came back showing an under-active thyroid. I was thanking God that we finally had an answer. But my next thought was, what is an under-active thyroid and is it treatable? Thankfully, this is a treatable disorder, but the other part to this, it also could be cancerous.

I was blessed in the aspect that I had no cancer. They began to treat the thyroid condition with medication, but I was told that the medication that I was on could eventually cause problems with my liver and that I needed to decide if I wanted to have surgery to remove the thyroid and be on meds for the rest of my life or allow them to perform a radiation treatment on the thyroid. I opted to have the surgery, because there were too many what ifs about the radiation treatment.

I was referred to see a surgeon. During the consultation with the surgeon, he asked if I sing and I said yes, and his next words were, “I have to let you know, when the surgery is over, you will not be able to sing again.” I spoke with authority letting him know that God blessed me with my voice and I believe when this is over, I will be able to sing again. The surgeon said, “If you are able to sing, you will not be able to sing loud or high.”

I had my Thyroid surgery on March 16, 2005, and the surgery went fine. I received confirmation, no cancer. My voice was raspy, but I expected that right after surgery, but as time went on, my voice was still raspy.

Three months went by and my voice was still raspy. The devil brought it back to me what the surgeon said that I would not be able to sing again. I said God you have got this. I began to pray the word of God over me from Hebrews 13:21:

“Now may the God of peace… equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”

I could sing, but my voice would just cut off. I had to continue to trust God and believe His promises. I had to tell God that I made a declaration to the surgeon that I would be able to sing and that His Word told me that I would not be put to shame. One year later, my voice was still not back to normal, but it was much better. I began to sing to the glory of God. I told God that if He allowed my voice to come back, that I would always glorify him.

I am here to tell you that God is so faithful, He met me at my point of need. I knew what I could hear and I knew it was not right, but God, in his time, He healed my voice and I do not take my voice for granted. I know the power of God through the testing of my faith. When you see and hear me sing, I am not just saying words, I am singing, because I have experienced Gods hand at work in my life. I will always sing to the glory of God.

Alecia

 

Known

We live detached, lonely lives even in the midst of an era focused on social events and connections. For all the “social” media offering to connect us, we find ourselves in dark, solitary, depressing places. We know the realities of being lonely in a crowded room or behind a screen which declares we have 700 friends. We feel unknown, forgotten, un-cared for, invisible. The darkness creeps in easily these days. Darkness that whispers the lie, “The world would be better off without you.”

Our desperate hearts long to be known. We crave being seen and heard to the point that many will do anything, even degrading, embarrassing, horrible things to be noticed for their 15 minutes of fame.

We desire to be loved unconditionally…

…Well at least loved…

…Maybe even liked would do…

…Just recognized by someone in the ocean of people around us…

…Anything.

…We’ll settle for scraps: one night stands, drug buddies who would abandon us to the hands of death at the sound of a siren, a bottle that will make us forget the loneliness in the wee hours of the morning.

But the prince of this darkness lies. We are not alone and forgotten.

There is one who notices. Always. One who sees us. One who listens. One who loves us, and who will always love us – truly, completely and unconditionally. The One the Psalmist speaks of who searches us, knows us – all about us  and loves us anyway. The One who knows where we go, what we say, even what we think, and loves us anyway. The One whom we cannot run away from, who seeks us out and reaches into the dark places to find us. The One from whom we cannot hide or escape. The one who holds us fast. The One who meets us in our darkest hour and turns the darkness to light. The One who made us in that secret place and has ordained all the days of our life. The One who does think about us, when we thought no one did.

Psalm 139

You have searched me, Lord
    and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.

For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
    they would outnumber the grains of sand—
    when I awake, I am still with you.

If only you, God, would slay the wicked!
Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty!
They speak of you with evil intent;
your adversaries misuse your name.
Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord,
and abhor those who are in rebellion against you?
I have nothing but hatred for them;
I count them my enemies.

Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting. Amen.

 

Our Father sees us, knows us, loves us, holds our hand, and walks us through those dark places.

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Cross the T

This is a true story about two different children, in two different cities, in two different families, living their two different lives.

Before I tell you about the children, I want to tell you no word, no relationship, no Bible story is ever wasted. God promises us that His Word will never return void. It will always accomplish what He determines it is to accomplish.

Isaiah 55:11 – In the same way, my words leave my mouth, and they don’t come back without results. My words make the things happen that I want to happen. They succeed in doing what I send them to do.

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Here’s what happened with the first child. I was holding my two-year-old granddaughter one day. I was wearing an old Vacation Bible School t-shirt and I really hadn’t given vbs2017much thought about what I was wearing. She looked at it and said, “Grandmama, dat’s church.” On my shirt were words and a T in one of the words had been made to look like a cross. I was so proud of her for making the connection. I agreed with her and said, “Yes, it is church. We love to go to church. We see our friends, and play, and sing songs about Jesus.” This child will never remember a time when she didn’t go to church. I pray she will always desire to go to church. I pray she will come to know Jesus at an early age and will follow Him all of her life.

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Now the second child. A friend told this story to me about a friend, of a friend, of a friend. The family was driving north on I65 one day. They were traveling for a short vacation. Mom, dad and two children, ages eight and six, were passing the time looking church-348806_1280out the windows. As they passed our church, the oldest asked, “Why is there a T in front of that building?” I don’t know the exact conversation that followed, but the parents realized that their child had no idea what a church was and what a cross represents. To rectify this situation, they sent their children to Vacation Bible School that summer. I don’t know if they now attend a church where they live, or if they continue to send them to a VBS.

What I do know is we don’t live in the ‘Bible Belt’ anymore. While there may be a church on every corner, not everyone attends a church. Outside our safe bubble of ‘church friends’ lives a lost world without the first clue that they are lost and they have no idea where to find the answer. We are to share the love of Jesus through our words and actions. We don’t have to go to China or Africa to find the lost. They may live next door. They may work in our office. They may be at the playground with their children. They may scan our groceries. They are all around us.

We have the answer, JESUS! If your neighbor were dying of thirst, you would give them water. If your co-worker were starving, you would give them food. If you saw someone freezing in the snow, you would give them a coat. If someone asked for directions, you would tell them the way. We know the Way, the Truth and the Life and His name is Jesus.

1 Peter 3:15-16a But have reverence for Christ in your hearts, and honor him as Lord. Be ready at all times to answer anyone who asks you to explain the hope you have in you, but do it with gentleness and respect.

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Be Jesus in this world.

Love God.

Love people.

 

 

(Special thanks to guest contributor Kelley Cornelius for this important reminder!)