spiritualsnippets.com

Seeing life's events in the light of God's Word.

Listening–Not Scheduling

 

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Job 36: 3-5 “Be assured that my words are not false; one who has perfect knowledge is with you.

 

“How is the diet going?” I asked my friend when we met for coffee.

“It’s easier than I expected. That T.V. doctor was right. If I just eat small portions when I am hungry, I can keep my weight under control.”

“So, no more breakfast at seven, lunch at twelve, and dinner at six?” I queried.

She smiled with a healthy glow. “No. My stomach let’s me know when to eat.”

Wow, I thought, as I drove home. I had been praying that God would give me a renewed hunger for His Word. Perhaps if I listened closely, He would guide me to the perfect scripture for each circumstance throughout the day…I wouldn’t give up my morning quiet time, but I would be more mindful of God’s leading at every opportunity all day long.

If you are yearning for a closer walk with Him, perhaps becoming a “grazer” is just what you need, too. Talking—and listening—to God all day can become a healthy habit…and draw us closer to Him.

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The Top Twenty

 

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1 John 3:16- “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.”

 

Recently, I was asked to list my TOP TWENTYverses, that is. 

I am sure you have had a similar request in a Bible Study Group, Sunday School class, or even from a curious friend.

Before printing my list, I scrolled through it briefly, looking for typos.

I found one—sort of.

Instead of typing John 3:16, I had written 1 John 3:16, instead.

I started to make the correction, but I was curious. (I’m always looking for special messages from God. Was this one?) What did the verse in 1 John say? Was there a similarity in meaning to the often-quoted verse, John 3:16?

I turned to the reference and read the beautiful words about love. (Also, in John 3:16, so there was a connection, but there was more). 

The verse was an answer to prayer because I had been searching for the perfect verse to put in my almost-finished Christian Suspense Novel, Truth or Dare—a story about a wayward father called upon to donate a kidney to his child.

God heard my prayer for guidance and led me to the exact verse to use in my book. 

And, yes, 1 John 3:16 will forevermore be included in my Top Twenty.

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A Benediction for You

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Numbers 6:24-26  “The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; The Lord lift up His face upon you, and give you peace.”

 

The pastor in the church I attended as a child always ended the Sunday service by proclaiming a benediction.

It was my favorite part of the worship hour. I would close my eyes and let the scripture wash over my soul. I felt so close to God!

There are many benedictions in the Bible. I’ve included two, here, that are especially meaningful to me.

If you have had a hard week…if you are facing difficulties…if you need encouragement, meditate on these words and let the peace of God flood into every corner of your life, bringing you the full knowledge of His love and grace.

Ephesians 3:20,21– “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”

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The Blessings of Being a Lamb

40045948283_5fa5c00f20Hosea 4:16- “The Israelites are stubborn, like a stubborn heifer. How then can the Lord pasture them like lambs in a meadow?”

 

You can learn a lot about life when you are waiting your turn in the waiting room at the dental office.

In the midst of reading a magazine article a couple of weeks ago, I noticed a toddler scurry down from his mother’s lap and almost into the parking lot before she tackled him.

Back inside, she opened a container of Goldfish crackers and gave him a toy to play with. That worked for a few minutes, but before I’d even finished reading, she was calling out to the little boy who had once more wriggled out of her grasp.

Mom had met her match. The chase continued several more times before my name was finally called. And, by that time, the child’s mother was using a sterner voice and threatening stiffer “punishment.”

The children of Israel were guilty of the same type of behavior. And, so are we. We keep doing the very things we know we shouldn’t.

We often ignore God’s warnings because we want to do it our way. We want to be in charge.

Just like the little boy in the dental office, we do know better. Hosea 4 tells us that God wants to treat us like obedient lambs. Psalm 23 adds that He wants to give us rest, healing, guidance. His desire is to protect us, give us support and comfort. He wants to bless us with all good things, just as the mother in the dental office probably wanted for her little boy.

But, he was stubborn, so she had to treat him like a heifer. It won’t be until he becomes a loyal and obedient lamb, that he can enjoy all that she wants for him.

Jesus set the example as the “Lamb of God.” He was obedient and his father exalted him above every other. 

I used to read the scripture about the Lamb of God, thinking that meant Jesus was the sacrifice for our sins—which is very true. But, as God’s lamb, he is also a perfect picture of obedience.

And, obedience leads to a beautiful parent/child relationship in which God blesses those who keep His commandments. 

 

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Without a Trace

 

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Isaiah 1:18– “Come now, let us settle the matter,’’ says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”

 

The home team wore white pants and jerseys.

When Polly saw her son’s uniform after the game, she shuddered at the mixture of grass stains and ground-in dirt. How was she ever going to get them clean?

She went online and got a few ideas. Then she called a couple of the other mothers she’d met at the beginning-of-the-year BBQ. She asked them for laundering advice. She wanted a pristine result, nothing left behind to remind her of what she’d seen when he walked through the door.

Polly’s son will stand before his coach at the next home game in a perfectly cleaned uniform—without a trace of stains. (His mother is using Fels Naptha).

We can stand before God and be seen by Him as perfect in every way. All because the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all unrighteousness.

Forgiveness of sins through the power of His blood.

Hearts that were once stained with sin, now whiter than snow.

Without a trace left behind.

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What Distracts You From God?

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Romans 8:5– “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.”

 

Last week a teenage driver texted a friend. He looked up from the phone too late to see a pedestrian in the crosswalk. That person died before the ambulance arrived.

An extreme case of distraction, it happened when the young man took his eyes off the road for just a “split second.”

It may not be our cell phones, but many other things in life distract each of us—take our attention from where it should be and put it somewhere more interesting, more fun …

What comes between us and God?

What distracts us from spending time in Bible reading, prayer, and attending church?

For some of us, it may be the computer or television. Others are distracted by reading, scrapbooking, shopping, gambling, sports or even just “hanging out” with friends. Still others give the excuse that they are just “too busy.”

Jesus warns us not to be distracted by things of this world—things that will some day be left behind … things having no eternal value. Instead, He says to keep our minds on “things above” and set our direction toward our eternal home “like a flint.”

Getting caught up in the things of this world—even when we’re doing “good”— keeps us from putting God first in our hearts and minds. When we fail to cultivate our relationship with Him, the path ahead begins to darken and we become unsure of our purpose … His will for our lives. 

If we set our minds on “what the Spirit desires,” we won’t get distracted by things of the flesh.

Instead, we’ll be keeping our hearts and minds on Christ Jesus, our “first love.”

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Finding Strength

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Proverbs 27:17- “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.”

 

The chef approached the buffet table with two knives in his hands. He smiled at those in line to get a slice of prime rib, then rubbed the knives back and forth against each other before he began to carve.

Because he had sharpened his knife ahead of time, each piece of meat he cut was perfect, just as he intended.

Sure, a blunt knife is still a knife, but not a very effective one. However, when two iron blades are rubbed together, the edges become sharper.

So it is with Christians.

In times of fellowship and prayer, we help each other to shine—to be more effective.

Like David and Jonathan, let’s do what God has called us to do. Let’s help each other find strength from God, remind each other of His goodness, and hold one another accountable. As a result, we will grow in our faith.

In Malachi 3:16, we read that when we fellowship together, the Lord bends an ear from heaven and is pleased. He’s listening to our conversations, watching our actions. 

Fellowship is more than just doing activities with other Christians. It’s encouraging each other in our Christian walk. When difficulties arise, we’ll be ready because we have been upholding each other along the way.

 

 

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Read the Prologue

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Romans 15:4– “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.”

 

If you are a lover of books and reading, then you know that reading the prologue is essential to the understanding of the overall story.

The prologue is a few pages at the front of the book (labeled as such) that tells what happened prior to the beginning of the book and sets up the rest of the story. 

It dawned on me that the OLD TESTAMENT is a prologue of sorts.

The books of the Old Testament follow the story of creation all the way up to the beginning of the New Testament which begins with the genealogy of Jesus. It’s the account of men such as Moses and Abraham. It recounts the struggles of the apostles and prophets. 

All of that background, including the giving of The Law and the sinful nature of man, are essential information to have in order to understand just what an amazing gift eternal life is—to help us picture what God actually did for us when He sent Jesus—and what it means when He offers His grace to us today.

While parts of the Old Testament may be more difficult to read and understand, don’t be tempted to skip this crucial step in understanding our Christian faith and realizing just how precious the Word of God—THE STORY—truly is!

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Now Is The Time for Praise

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2 Samuel 22:1-3 “David sang to the Lord the words of this song when the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul.” 

“The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;

    my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,

    my shield and the horn of my salvation.

He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior—

    from violent people you save me.”

 

Did you ever wake up praising God?

Wow. What a feeling!!!

You’re on top of the world.

Maybe you’ve just received good news. Perhaps an answer to prayer. Or, you’ve been blessed in an unexplainable way and you look at a friend and say, “It has to be a God thing.”

I usually begin by shouting to the heavens, “Thank you, Lord.” This is followed by a more serious prayer and a chorus or two.

Praise isn’t just for today—or for us. A lot of people in the Bible had reason to give God a “shout-out,” too. 

Many Christians love to read the Psalms because of King David’s beautiful words. He sang 2 Samuel, as he did a great many of his Psalms. He also played stringed instruments. David knew how to express his love and gratitude.

Some of David’s psalms were written in the midst of battles—or as a result of deliverance from the hands of his enemies. He knew when—and how—to praise God. 

I recall, as a child, singing this chorus: “Do you know what time it is? Time to praise the Lord … anytime’s the right time to praise the Lord.”

Whether in the midst of disappointment or a spiritual battle, after you receive a blessing or an answer to a prayer, NOW IS THE RIGHT TIME TO PRAISE THE LORD.

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Giving Thanks for a Stroke

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Genesis 45:4-8a “Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me.” When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will be no plowing and reaping. But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God.” 

 

We had just arrived at our New Year’s brunch destination when my sister called to inform us that our brother-in-law had a stroke and had been admitted to the hospital.

You may have received one of these drop-to-your-knees-and-pray phone calls at some point in your life, also. And, hopefully, it was followed a little later by another one saying that your loved one was doing fine—a full recovery expected.

However, in this case, after hearing that good news, further testing detected a serious heart problem.

We prayed, of course, about this new health-related difficulty, but we also had cause for praise and Thanksgiving for the stroke. Without it, the heart complication might not have been diagnosed—until it was too late.

So, the silver lining to the cloud is that now my brother-in-law can see a specialist and perhaps undergo life-saving surgery.

Genesis tells the story of Joseph’s brothers. They sold him into slavery, but he found favor in the eyes of Pharaoh and in the end his father and brothers were allowed to settle in Goshen and avoid the devastating effects of a severe famine. The brothers had evil intentions that guided their actions, but God used their actions to put Joseph in a position to save many lives.

Be encouraged today. The situation you now find yourself in—the health scare, the misunderstanding among friends, the financial setback—may be a blessing in disguise.

Our Heavenly Father, our Healer, our friend knows our present and future needs and is able to supply them in accordance with His will.

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