spiritualsnippets.com

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

Lighten the Load

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James 5:16- “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that you may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”

 

Ginger met Stacy at a monthly church gathering. They really hit it off. It seemed they had so much in common. But, Ginger was hesitant to pursue a friendship with her. After all, good friends would end up sharing things about their lives—and there was too much Ginger was unwilling to share. She was sure that Stacy wouldn’t want to be friends with her when she heard about the life Ginger led before becoming a Christian.

If you’ve ever felt like that, you’re not alone.

But, James tells us that when we have struggles or are facing difficulties, we need to ask our Christian friends to pray for us. It is then that we can benefit from their wise counsel, too.

Friends help remind us of specific scriptures and are committed to pray for us until the answer comes. 

When the burden seems almost too much to bear, we can lighten the load if we share our needs—including our weaknesses and wrong choices—with caring Christian friends.

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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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A Little Lesson on LOVE

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Matthew 5:44- “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.”

 

I have a new logo—a heart, with the words, “Stories of Forgiveness” inside.

Each of my three Christian Suspense Fiction books has been about something different: abuse, unbelief/pride of self, and bullying. However, the central characters all experience healing because they learn to FORGIVE.

Forgiveness has the power to transform lives. No matter who we are or what our background may be, we can each find joy, power, and freedom in forgiveness.

But what about love (you know, the heart in the logo) how does that tie in?

Some people are not so lovable. People who hate, curse, and persecute you are especially hard to be nice to. However, God says we are to do more than that—we are told to love them.

Many years ago, my pastor told me that praying for someone that had “rubbed me the wrong way” would allow The Holy Spirit to work in my heart and make it possible for me to actually come to love that person.

So, I put Matthew 5:44 to the test. Over the period of a year (it is not a one-prayer process) I found that I actually came to understand and care for the other person.

And, yes, forgiveness followed.

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What Will It Cost?

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Luke 14:28- ““Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?”

 

Nothing is ever simple when my husband and I begin a new home renovation, but things go a lot smoother when we can keep “surprises” to a minimum.

That begins with a construction budget. If we leave something out of the original “to-do” list, it can cause sleepless nights later on.

“Counting the cost” in most basic terms is simply good planning. But, I’ve found this concept is applicable to other aspects of our lives, too.

The cost of a lie could be a lost friendship or job. Maybe it leads to contempt of court and jail time.

See the point?

The “cost” of certain actions may be loss of trust or imposed financial penalties. The cost of eating that extra brownie will be measured in pounds and inches.

I’m contemplating actions right now that need to be considered carefully. The affects are sure to be far reaching. The scripture above cautions me to take it slow, count the cost in terms of family dynamics and financial responsibilities, and take it to the Lord in prayer.

Have you a weighty decision to make? Have you counted the cost?

 

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Just A Little Talk

 

25045780746_e412de3f10Psalm 142: 2,3– “I pour out my complaints before him and tell him all my troubles. When I am overwhelmed, you alone know the way I should turn.”

King David, who wrote most of the Psalms, was bold—even sometimes confrontational—as he prayed. He didn’t hold back. He laid it all on the line. As a result, he experienced forgiveness and direction.

When I was a kid, I liked a popular spiritual song on the radio, called, “Just a Little Talk With Jesus.” The last four lines are:

I may have doubts and fears, my eyes be filled with tears,                                                        But Jesus is a friend who watches day day and night.                                                                     I go to him in prayer, he knows my every care,                                                                           And just a little talk with Jesus makes it right.

I often find myself talking to God while I am driving or doing mundane tasks like folding laundry. Talking it out, leaning on Him, sharing my concerns—these are all aspects of prayer.

Just like David, I find that just a little talk with Jesus makes it right.

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What Can You Do In Eight Seconds?

Philippians 4:8- Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

 

The average attention span is 8 seconds. My pastor used that fact as an illustration in his sermon last week.

Hum, I thought. Must be why my husband channel surfs so much…

But, seriously, 8 seconds isn’t very long.

Or is it?

I challenged myself to think of ten things—productive, worthwhile things—I could do if I only had 8 seconds before my mind started to wander:

1- I can make the bed.

2- I can text my son “xoxoxoxoox”

3- I can scratch my dog behind the ears.

4- I can say a short prayer for a friend.

5- I can wave at a neighbor and wish him a good day when I take my garbage can to the curb.

6- I can take my husband a glass of iced tea while he works in the yard.

7- I can send a “Thinking of You” e-card to my sister.

8- I can send a Facebook Friend request—or accept one.

9- I can remind a grandchild that Jesus loves them.

10- I can meditate on an encouraging Bible verse, like the one above.

Eight seconds might be just long enough to make a difference in your life, or in the lives of others.

Care to share your list?

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God Working Through You

Psalm 128:6a – May you live to see your children’s children—

I attended a Christian conference this week and was blessed by every speaker. I basked in a lush oasis of truth and love from God during that time. It is no secret that one way Christians hear from God is through other Christians.

One of the speakers talked about the time a friend sent him the words to a song. It was the perfect one for him to hear that day. He played it over and over again, letting it minister to his parched soul until he was refreshed and overflowing with joy.

Yesterday, I talked with a friend who shared a struggle their family is currently going through regarding visitation of her baby granddaughter. My heart broke, hearing that the baby’s father and grandparents had not seen this precious one for more than three months!

How can my friend possibly be smiling—finding peace—amid struggles like that? How can she sleep at night when her days are filled with law enforcement and legal issues?

After three months of prayer, God spoke to her through His written Word. She read His promise from Psalm 128 (above). Her heart leapt for joy with the assurance that she would see her granddaughter!

Moments after reading this verse, she received a telephone call from a relative, directing her to look at a specific Facebook page. Imagine her unspeakable joy when she saw the beautiful face of her granddaughter smiling back. The child’s mother had posted the picture and God used it to fulfill His words to her grandmother, my friend.

Her granddaughter is safe and healthy. God had not only heard her prayer, but blessed the reading of His Word by supplying tangible evidence of His love.

God can use our words of encouragement, our prayers, His Word, His people—in any way and any form—to bring hope, healing, and peace to those around us.

Pray for someone today, share a scripture, remind them that we worship a God who cares.

The encouragement they need, today, just may come from God, working through you.

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Is God On The Throne?

Exodus 20:3 and Deuteronomy 5:7- “You shall have no other gods before me.”

You may say, with a sigh of relief, “That’s an easy command to keep. I worship God and Him, only. The Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”

On the surface, this may seem to be true. However, let’s dig a little deeper into the true meaning of this otherwise “simple” command. Some of us, would have to admit that at some point in our lifetime, something or someone else has become a “god” to us.

Let’s look at the definition of “god”: an adored, admired, or influential person. For example, a renowned designer may be regarded as a “god” in the fashion industry.

  • a thing accorded the supreme importance appropriate to a god: For example, don’t make money your god.

This word “god” is often used interchangeably with the word “idol”, an object that is worshipped.

Anything can become a god in our lives if we let it take control of our thoughts and actions…if we put it on the throne of our lives in place of our Lord and Savior who rightfully belongs there.

Here are a few such idols I thought of. (There are, undoubtedly hundred more.) Fame, family, fitness, food, football, golf, fortune, free time, fun, television…

To alcoholics, alcohol may have become their god, taking control of their thoughts, actions, and desires. To addicts, it is the drugs their bodies crave.

The list goes on to include gambling addicts, shopaholics, those trapped in a lifestyle of pornography, and on and on.

Some of these things are good, such as food. But when eating gets out of control and we begin the worship food…let it control us, we have crossed the line into dangerous territory.

So, how do we keep that from happening? We ask God for the guidance of the Holy Spirit in turning away from these “false gods” and back to Him. We pray for the strength necessary to repent from this kind of sin in our lives and toward the One True God. We ask others to pray for us, too.

We “keep our hearts and minds on Christ Jesus” as we are reminded to do in the scriptures. Daily Bible reading and memorization is key to renewing our minds.

If we need to, we seek Christian Counseling from our pastors and/or mental health professionals.

Jesus asks us to worship Him with all our hearts, our souls, and our minds.

Anything else we allow on the throne of our lives will steal our joy and erode our relationship with Him.

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What’s on God’s Agenda for Today?

Psalm 121:4- (He who keeps you) will neither slumber nor sleep.

I answered the phone on the third ring. It was my son, calling me on his way to play a round of golf. He filled me in on what he had been up to the previous week and what he had planned for the next few days. I appreciated his call. I love to hear what is going on in his life.

I think back to that phone call as I wonder, what God is doing today? What’s on His agenda?

Well, I think He is doing pretty much what He does every day. I’ll list what comes to mind in no particular order because He does what he does, simultaneously. The Bible tells us He can be everywhere at once and do every thing at once. Here are some insights from His Word:

1) He is active in listening to, and answering, prayers. I Peter 3:12- “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer.”

2)  He literally holds this universe together. Hebrews 1:3a- “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word…”

3)  He is creating. Not only did He create the heavens and the earth as we read in the book of Genesis, but John 14:6 quotes Jesus as saying “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?” The who He is referring to is believers—those who put their faith in Jesus.

4) He is protecting. Isaiah 41:10- “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

5) He is forgiving. Hebrews 7:25- Jesus “Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.”

I am sure this is not an exhaustive list. Please comment by adding to the above others that you think of, including the scriptural reference.

Our God is always with us…always awake…always watching over us… He is the same today, tomorrow, and always!

Brenda

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