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Verse for Today

"I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go; I will guide thee with mine eye." Psalm 32:8

Monday, December 3, 2012

Why Are You So Far Away, Lord?

By Gail Purath (read her blog here)


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Why standest thou afar off, O Lord? why hidest thou thyself in times of trouble?” *

Psalms often begin like the one above. This tells us:
We can honestly share our feelings with God.
Even the best of God’s children have doubts and confusion.
The Psalms are good to read when we're troubled because the Psalmist always moves from doubts and confusion to faith and hope.

"Thou hast seen it; for thou beholdest mischief and spite, to requite it with thy hand: the poor committeth himself unto thee; thou art the helper of the fatherless.” *

Psalm-like prayers will:
change our perspective
remind us of God’s past faithfulness
assure us of God’s present and future faithfulness
Are you feeling discouraged? Tell God about it honestly, then change your perspective by reminding yourself of God’s past, present and future faithfulness in your life.
*Psalm 10:1,14
(There is only one of the 150 Psalms that does not end with hope: Psalm 88.)

About Gail:
Gail Purath has been married to her best friend for 41 years, has two married children and seven grandchildren. Her blog Bible Love Notes (http://biblelovenotes.blogspot.com) features one-minute devotions each weekday.

Monday, November 26, 2012

My Jesus, I Love Thee


By Ana Renee

A few Sundays ago, we sang the hymn, “My Jesus, I Love Thee.” As I thought through the words I was impressed at how the hymn-writer poured out his heart with adoration for Jesus Christ. I began to ask the question, “Why do I love Jesus?” The answers came quickly, and many of them echoed the hymn-writers’ words. I love Jesus because He died in my stead. I love Jesus because He made it possible for me to have a personal relationship with Him. I love Jesus because He cares for me. I love Jesus because He shows His love for me in so many different ways. And the list goes on . . .

Today, do you love Jesus?? Why do you love Jesus?

Image from stockfreeimages.com


Here are the lyrics to the hymn, “My Jesus, I Love Thee.”
Words by William R. Featherston

My Jesus, I love Thee, I know Thou art mine;
For Thee all the follies of sin I resign;
My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art Thou:
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus ‘tis now.

I love Thee because Thou has first loved me,
And purchased my pardon on Calvary’s tree;
I love Thee for wearing the thorns on Thy brow:
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus ‘tis now.

I’ll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death,
And praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath;
And say when the death-dew lies cold on my brow;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus ‘tis now.

In mansions of glory and endless delight,
I’ll ever adore Thee in heaven so bright;
I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow:
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus ‘tis now.

 Has a certain hymn spoken to you recently? What was the hymn? What does it mean to you?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Counting, Counting, Counting

By Ana Renee

Thanksgiving is often a time when we actually STOP to think of the blessings God has abundantly given us. Let us not stop counting those blessings, but all throughout this week, next week, next month, next year, next decade, continue to count the blessings that God has given us and thank Him for all that He has done and is doing in our lives.


Seven things I am thankful for:
   1) My Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ
   2) My Bible - God's instruction book for my life
   3) Freedom to serve God and go to church
   4) A Godly family
   5) Abilities and gifts
   6) Another day
   7) Good health

What seven things are YOU thankful for??

Monday, November 12, 2012

Loving Each Other More Than Butter

By Julia (read her blog here


"We love our bread, we love our butter, but most of all, we love each other". :)

That was what the little girls in the Madeline stories always said before they ate their dinners. It's cute, and happened to be the first thing that popped into my head when I saw the topic - "Love Each Other".

But is that true for us? For you?

Okay, instead of 'butter', pretend that sentence includes something you love a lot. Like chocolate. Or your computer. Or your very favorite pair of adorable shoes.... or: ________ <-- insert your favorite thing there.

Now imagine your friend (or sibling) comes along and suddenly, accidentally, wrecks your favorite thing. They spill their glass of water right on your laptop. They knock your box of chocolates over, scattering them across the ground. Whatever your favorite thing was, it is now totally ruined at the hands of this other person.

What is your response?
Honestly, most days I would be sorely tempted to get quite upset at the other person who had damaged one of my possessions. I might even yell if it was something I was really attached to. The stammered apologies from my friend/sibling would not soothe the pangs of loss of my-favorite-thing.

But this is wrong.

My heart should be so loving and open and tender towards the other person that it doesn't matter what they've done. I love them anyway. I would wrap my arms around my loved one and whisper "It's okay. Don't worry. I forgive you." without an ounce of bitterness or anger lurking inside.

"Now hang on a sec!" you might be thinking, "Why would I want to be that much of a pansy? Give me one good reason I should act like such a pushover if somebody messed up my iPhone!"

(Oh, so it was your iPhone, was it?) ;)

We love Him, because He first loved us. If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar, for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from Him, that he who loveth God loves his brother also. (1 John 4:19-21)

Dear friends, the God of the universe who holds the world in His hand loves you more than anything. YOU are His favorite thing. Because He loves us, we show, give, and have love for each other.

This is My commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you. (John 15:12)

Let's focus on loving one another selflessly, the way He wants us to love each other.

Even more than butter. ;)

About Julia: 

Julia loves her Lord and Savior with her whole heart, and thanks Him daily for the blessing of her wonderful parents and two brothers. She lives in a log home in the country with a big garden and lots of chickens, although she grew up near the beach in South Florida. She designs handmade jewelry, crochets intricate afghans, and writes novels, among many other hobbies. An avid reader of Jane Austen, Julia adores English Country Dancing. Julia loves colors and sparkle, music and laughter. She blogs at http://www.jewelsbyjulia.wordpress.com/.


Monday, November 5, 2012

When Nothing Comforts

Image by Amanda - withajoyfulnoise.blogspot.com
By Gail Purath (read her blog here)

"I cried out to the Lord but nothing would comfort me. I remembered how much better things used to be and felt abandoned by God."

This is how the psalmist begins Psalm 77.

But the psalmist doesn’t stop there. He remembers God’s past faithfulness, reminds himself of God’s character, and remembers that God’s methods are not always visible.

So next time we feel abandoned and nothing helps, we can follow the psalmist’s lead:
     ~Write down ways God has helped and guided us in the past.
     ~Ponder God’s character: faithful, loving, holy, good, just, caring, all knowing, perfect.
     ~Reread the Red Sea account (Exodus 14) and realize how hopeless things looked up to the point where God revealed His “footprints.”
     ~And whether we’re discouraged or not, it’s a good thing to memorize this line:


“Thy way is in the sea, and thy path in the great waters, and thy footsteps are not known.” Psalm 77:19


~~~
About Gail:

Gail Purath has been married to her best friend for 41 years, has two married children and seven grandchildren. Her blog Bible Love Notes (http://biblelovenotes.blogspot.com) features one-minute devotions each weekday.




Monday, October 29, 2012

Water of Life (Part 2 of 2)

By Amanda T. (read her blog here)

We have already looked at the soil in which we are planted. But there is one important element in raising fruit trees that we forgot to mention: water. We can dig a hole, stick our fruit tree in it, cover it with soil (even good soil), and leave it. What will soon happen? The tree will thrive for a while, gaining nutrients from the soil, but without water, the tree will eventually shrivel up and die.

Images from stockfreeimages.com

Jesus said, “whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” (John 4:14)

We can spend hours a day bent over God’s Word (the good Soil), reading chapter after chapter, but unless we have Jesus Christ living inside us – that life-giving Water – it will not take root and bear fruit. Reading the Bible is not enough. It will not save us.

Let us revisit the passage where Jesus says He is the living water:
There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink.
(For His disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.)
Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.
Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of Him, and He would have given thee living water.
The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water?
Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle?
Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again:
But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.
The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.
John 4:7-15

The woman that Jesus talked with was an adulterous woman. She had had five husbands and was currently living with a man who was not her husband (see John 4:17-18). She had a void in her life that no man could fill – she had proven that by her multiple husbands. But when she met Jesus, she realized that He could fill her void – He could quench her thirst eternally.

John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Because of His great love for us, Jesus was willing to come down and offer us much-needed, life-giving water. “He that believeth on Him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:18) This water is offered to every man, woman, girl, and boy freely, but we must accept the free water. We must accept Christ’s gift (Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”).

If we do not accept God’s gift, our tree (life) will soon lack what it needs to live life abundantly. But if we allow God’s Water of Life to nourish our roots, coupled with the soil of His Word, our life will grow, thrive, and ultimately, bear fruit for the kingdom of Christ.

Have you accepted God’s gift? Are you drinking from God’s Living Water?

~~~
About Amanda:

Amanda is a homeschool graduate living with her parents and eleven siblings in Louisiana. Their family sings together, sharing God’s love through music in churches and nursing homes. Until God shows her a different path, she enjoys teaching piano and music theory, hymn-arranging, photography, writing, spending time with her siblings, and home economics. In the past few years, Proverbs 3:5-7 has been a passage that God has used in her life, showing her how vital it is to trust Him in any issue. You may visit her blog: withajoyfulnoise.blogspot.com

Monday, October 22, 2012

Soil for Life (Part 1 of 2)


By Amanda T. (read her blog here)

Into what kind of soil would one plant a fruit tree? Hard clay, a mixture of clay and soil, or rich, fertilized soil? If we want our tree to grow, thrive, and bear fruit, we would wisely choose the rich soil.

Image from stockfreeimages.com
Into what kind of soil are we planting our life in? Hard, worldly clay, a mix of worldly clay and Bible soil, or the rich soil of God’s pure, untainted Word? If we want our life to be healthy, meaningful, and ultimately fruit-bearing, we would wisely choose the best soil: God’s Word.

Are we choosing wisely?

Let us do a quick test. Think through the following questions carefully and answer them honestly.
   ~Do I spend more time in God’s Word than I do in secular books, movies, or internet?
   ~Do I quote Scripture more often than movies?
   ~Are the people I look up to Heroes of the Faith or movie actors/actresses?
   ~Are my thoughts about love and romance Biblical or Hollywood?
  ~Do I rate sin according to God’s standard, or the world’s standard?
   ~Do I condone movies and books that go contrary to God’s Word?
   ~Do I desire to be like Christ, or do I desire to be like my favorite movie/book character?

There are many other questions one could ask, but the bottom line is: our thoughts and beliefs will be directed by what we spend most of our time with. If we allow the world to lead us (plant our roots in clay), our spiritual life will soon shrivel up and die.  If we spend a little time reading God’s Word (mixing a little of the good soil with our clay) our spiritual life will do okay, but we will still struggle to thrive when the freeze (trials/temptations) come. But, if our roots are lavishing in the rich soil of God’s Word, then our spiritual life will grow sturdy and be able to endure.

Where are your roots planted?

As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him: Rooted and built up in Him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. Colossians 2:6-8

I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit He taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, He purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. John 15:1-2

~~~
About Amanda:
Amanda is a homeschool graduate living with her parents and eleven siblings in Louisiana. Their family sings together, sharing God’s love through music in churches and nursing homes. Until God shows her a different path, she enjoys teaching piano and music theory, hymn-arranging, photography, writing, spending time with her siblings, and home economics. In the past few years, Proverbs 3:5-7 has been a passage that God has used in her life, showing her how vital it is to trust Him in any issue. You may visit her blog: withajoyfulnoise.blogspot.com





Monday, October 15, 2012

Everything We Do


“Abraham expressed his faith by packing his bags and moving. David administered a kingdom. Jesus pounded nails on a carpenter’s bench. Paul made friends, sewed tents, planned journeys, and raised funds for the poor in Jerusalem. Through such ordinary deeds the kingdom of God advanced. What they did mattered less than why and for whom. In creation, in incarnation, in all acts on earth, God hallows the ordinary.”     Philip Yancey *

Every day we make choices:
     to work diligently or lazily
     to be considerate or rude
     to neglect or nourish our relationship with the Lord
     to excuse or repent of our sins

Image from stockfreeimages.com

You might have influence over hundreds of employees or two toddlers. You may decide how your company spends $2,000,000 or how your family spends $20.

“And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord” because God cares about the ordinary and extraordinary duties of our lives. (Colossians 3:23). 

* Rumours of Another World, Philip Yancey, Zondarvan, copyright 2003, Page 231

~~~
About Gail
Gail Purath has been married to her best friend for 41 years, has two married children and seven grandchildren. Her blog Bible Love Notes(http://biblelovenotes.blogspot.com) features one-minute devotions each weekday.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Unhidden


By Amanda T. (read her blog here)

“God sees everything.” We have heard this concept, but do we really know it? Reading through Psalm 139:1-16 helps to paint a clearer picture of this concept.

Image from freestockimages.com
Verses: O LORD, Thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, Thou understandest my Thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, Thou knowest it altogether. Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me. (Psalm 139:1-5)
Truth: The Lord knows everything about us. He not only knows who we say we are, but also who we really are – better than we do ourselves. Right now, He is around us seeing what we are doing.

Verses: Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it. (Psalm 139:6)
Truth: God, the Creator of the Universe, the Master of the seas, the all-knowing, omnipotent Ruler, know my name! He has bowed down from His Majestic throne to take interest in my life!

Verses:  Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, Thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, Thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from Thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to Thee. (Psalm 139:7-12)
Truth: There is absolutely nowhere that we can go to hide from God. He sees us wherever we are, at all times. Our sins might stay hidden to those around us, but they are open and revealed before God’s eyes.

Verses: For Thou hast possessed my reins: Thou hast covered me in my mother's womb. I will praise Thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from Thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. (Psalm 139:13-16)
Truth: From day one of conception, God saw us. He was working in our lives to mold us how He saw best then, and is still working in our lives today – spiritually and physically – to continually mold us as He sees fit. Because God created us and molded us, we are a marvelous work.

What are some truths that you see in these verses?






About Amanda:
Amanda is a homeschool graduate living with her parents and eleven siblings in Louisiana. Their family sings together, sharing God’s love through music in churches and nursing homes. Until God shows her a different path, she enjoys teaching piano and music theory, hymn-arranging, photography, writing, spending time with her siblings, and home economics. In the past few years, Proverbs 3:5-7 has been a passage that God has used in her life, showing her how vital it is to trust Him in any issue. You may visit her blog: withajoyfulnoise.blogspot.com






Monday, October 1, 2012

"Our" Talents?

By Amanda T. (read her blog here)


As a piano teacher, I have taught several children who have what we call “musical talent.” Some of my students are very gifted and if they continue lessons, they will advance to be very good pianists.

Recently, I read through Matthew 25, the parable about the talents. Each servant was given a different amount of talents and each used their talents differently. The servant with five talents doubled his talents. Likewise did the servant with two talents. However, the servant who received only one talent hid his. When their lord came back, he judged each servant according to how he dealt with the talents that were given to him.

As I read this familiar parable again, I suddenly noticed something. The slothful servant “hid his lord’s money” then later told his lord, “[I] hid thy talents in the earth.” Did you notice it too? The talents were never the servant’s. The talents were always his lord’s and the end result was that the lord – not the servant – received the glory and the benefits (see Matthew 25:26-27).

God has given each of us talents. Some of us have only one talent while others have five or ten or twenty. It is not how many talents we have been given but what we do with the talents we have been given. They are not ours to develop and benefit from, but to use for God’s glory. One day, God will call us to give an account of the talents He has given us.


Are you a musician? A writer? A singer? A cook? A seamstress? Are you using the talents that God has given you for His glory or for your own?

Image from stockfreeimages.com

If you have not read the parable of the talents recently, I encourage you to take a moment and read it again:
Matthew 25:14-30
14         For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.
15         And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.
16         Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents.
17         And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two.
18         But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money.
19         After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them.
20         And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more.
21         His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
22         He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them.
23         His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
24         Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed:
25         And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.
26         His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed:
27         Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.
28         Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents.
29         For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.
30         And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (KJV)

 ~~~
About Amanda:
 
Amanda is a homeschool graduate living with her parents and eleven siblings in Louisiana. Their family sings together, sharing God’s love through music in churches and nursing homes. Until God shows her a different path, she enjoys teaching piano and music theory, hymn-arranging, photography, writing, spending time with her siblings, and home economics. In the past few years, Proverbs 3:5-7 has been a passage that God has used in her life, showing her how vital it is to trust Him in any issue. You may visit her blog: withajoyfulnoise.blogspot.com





Monday, September 24, 2012

Take a Break and Thank

By Ana Renee

Too often, we get caught in the whirl of life. School, friends, work, chores, church, and other “good things” fill our life. We take time and ask God to protect us, provide for us, and work things out for us, but we forget to stop and give thanks.

Image from copyright-free-images.com

Today, stop. Take a break – a complete break – from what you are doing. Go into a quiet place and list the many things that God has blessed you with and give Him thanks for what He is doing in your life.

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 



Saturday, September 1, 2012

Challenge . . .


What shall we say then? 
Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 
Romans 6:1

What does this verse make you think of?
What conviction does it hold for you?

What sin do we hold onto, thinking, "Oh, God will forgive me?"

Do we love our sin . . . more than we love GOD?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Content to Fill a Little Space


Shared by Amanda T. (read her blog: www.withajoyfulnoise.blogspot.com)
Image from stockfreeimages.com

I would not have the restless will
That hurries to and fro,
Seeking for some great thing to do,
Or wondrous thing to know;
I would be guided as a child,
And led where’er I go.


I ask Thee for the daily strength,
To none that asked denied,
A mind to blend with outward life,
While keeping at Thy side;
Content to fill a little space
If Thou be glorified.
Author Unknown
(verse from Ester Ried, by Isabella Alden)


Saturday, July 28, 2012

Our Foundation


For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 3:11)


What is our foundation set upon? What are we building our life on?

Do we plant our feet in the fading, crumbling "foundation" of this world and its ideas?

Do we cement our feet in the firm, everlasting foundation of God and His Word?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Friendship (part 2)


To Be a Friend
Though it is wonderful to be blessed with good friends, we must also ponder what type of friend we are being. Every relationship that we have in life will involve us not only receiving, but also giving. Are we being the type of friend that we would like to have?

It is a good idea to consider some questions, “Am I being the friend God would have me to be? Am I encouraging others in the Lord? Am I living my life in line with God’s Word? Am I a good example to my friends?”

Broken Friendships
May I speak frankly for a moment? I do not believe that “broken” friendships are Biblical. Before you judge me, let me explain. A “broken” friendship is broken: it hurts, it brings pain, and it often cannot be “stitched” back together.

There are, however, times when a friend that we have is detrimental for our spiritual growth (Note: this does not include “she offended me” or other emotional issues). Such friendships are mentioned in 2 Thessalonians 3:“Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us. And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.” (2 Thessalonians 3:6, 14-15)

Photography by Amanda T.
No, this is not talking about “broken” friendships, but “withdrawn” friendships. If you notice, though, it is not on just any terms. This is talking of a friend who is not walking with God, not encouraging us in Christ, and living according to the world. With such a case, there are several things that we can do:
1.      We must talk with our parents about our concerns with this person and if they deem best then,
2.      We must pray about how God would have us treat this person and ask Him to dissolve the friendship
3.      If God so shows us, we must avoid their company when possible – without being rude

I have seen personal examples of how God can easily withdraw a friendship, leaving no hurt feelings or scars. However, it must be done in a Christ-like manner. This does not mean:
1.      Speaking badly of a person (look at James 4:11)
2.      Turning others against them (look at Proverbs 10:12)
3.      Shunning them completely (look at 2 Thessalonians 3:15)

When a friendship is simply withdrawn (in a Biblical fashion), we can still love them and pray for them. We must realize that withdrawing from a friendship is meant for our protection and their growth.

The end results of broken and withdrawn friendships are significantly different. In a broken friendship, the two “used-to-be-friends” generally do not resume a friendship. In a withdrawn friendship, God can bring the friends back together years later when the “disorderly brother (or sister)” decides to live their life in accordance to God’s Word.

Considerations
Who are our friends? Are they good, solid, Biblical friends? Or are they worldly, wavering, detrimental friends? Are they friends with whom we can have Godly conversations? Or are they simply friends that we laugh and joke with? Do we grow by their friendship, or are we pulled away from what we know is right?

We must also consider these in relation to who we are as a friend. God has given us such a blessing in friendships, but we must choose to use His Word as a guideline with these friendships.



~~~
About Amanda:
Amanda is a homeschool graduate living with her parents and eleven siblings in Louisiana. Their family sings together, sharing God’s love through music in churches and nursing homes.

Until God shows her a different path, she enjoys teaching piano and music theory, hymn-arranging, photography, writing, spending time with her siblings, and home economics. In the past few years, Proverbs 3:5-7 has been a passage that God has used in her life, showing her how vital it is to trust Him in any issue. You may visit her blog: www.withajoyfulnoise.blogspot.com


Monday, July 23, 2012

Friendship (part 1)

By Amanda T.

Friends. The very word sends our thoughts to a special group of people that we tenderly call “friends.” At the same time, some of us might feel a sting as we think of past friendships that are now dissolved. Friendship, in all of its blaze and glory, is not without its bruises and tears.

The Bible has a lot to say about friendship. From good examples (Jonathan and David) to bad examples (Samson and Delilah), to blessings, to warnings, we see friendship woven throughout the Old and New Testament.

People also have a lot to say about friendship. Our pastors and youth pastors preach about it, our parents and grandparents fuss about it, and our friends (obviously) encourage it! Is there really a need to look at it any longer?

Not Just Any Friend
In the world today, girls are thrown together with many different types of people. However, we do not need to befriend everyone with which we come into contact. We must choose our friendships carefully and wisely. One way to choose friends is through the guidance of our parents. Though many girls do not care to have their parents “interfere with my life,” God has given our parents to us for this very reason! Perhaps if Samson had listened to his parents’ counsel and desires, he would not have fallen into Delilah’s traps and ultimately imprisonment and an early death (read Judges 14-16).

Another way to choose friends is through the guidance of Scripture. “A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself; but the simple pass on, and are punished.” (Proverbs 27:12) Consider wisely the choice of friends you have.

What is a Friend to Be?
Friends laugh hysterically with each other at midnight; friends share their dreams and desires; friends wear matching outfits; friends sing duets; friends write notes and emails. Such glorious, happy-go-lucky types of friendship are what a girl often has, but is that all there is to being friends?

“And Jonathan Saul's son arose, and went to David into the wood, and strengthened his hand in God.” (1 Samuel 23:16) The last part of this verse struck me: and strengthened his hand in God. A valuable friend to have is one who shares our beliefs and will strengthen our relationship with God. A true friend will pray for us, share verses with us, share how God is growing them, and . . . a true friend will even come to us and give us some (maybe unwanted) Biblical advice.

What types of people should we have as friends?
Older friends to mentor us (Titus 2:3-5)
Women such as grandmas, aunts, moms, our pastor’s wife, and other godly ladies should be special friends. God has placed them in our lives to help us live holy before Him. Older women have lived through the struggles we live through, they have learned from difficult mistakes, and they are full of wisdom that should be a treasure chest to any young lady.

Photography by Amanda T.

Friends that we can learn with (Proverbs 27:17)
Our peers are probably the friends we seek out the most. These can be the “iron-sharpening-iron” relationships (those who are growing in Christ, reading the Bible, and striving to live a Christ-like life) or detrimental relationships (those who are living for self, without a thought of God). We need to evaluate our friendships to be sure that they are building us up in the Lord and not causing us to fall away.

Friends that we can encourage in the Lord (Galatians 6:1-2)
There are special friends in our life that may not be at the same maturity as we are (emotionally and spiritually). These are the friends that we can encourage and build up. At the same time, we must be careful that these “ministry friendships” are not pulling us down. It requires a lot of prayer and discernment (as well as counsel from our parents and older friends) to have this type of ministry friendship. Our younger friend must be growing, seeking to learn, and maturing; if such is not the case, we must carefully weigh if it is a friendship that God would have us to continue.

The Ultimate Friendships
“But I don’t have any friends,” some might say.  Please, please, please do not count this as a curse!!! This “friendless” time could be used in many ways by God. First, it can cultivate a warmer relationship between you and God. Secondly, it can draw you closer to your siblings (who are, in reality, your life-time friends). Thirdly, it could be a way of God protecting you from a harmful friendship. Remember that no friend at all is much more desirable than mixing with bad company.

{To be continued on July 26}


~~~
About Amanda:
Amanda is a homeschool graduate living with her parents and eleven siblings in Louisiana. Their family sings together, sharing God’s love through music in churches and nursing homes.

Until God shows her a different path, she enjoys teaching piano and music theory, hymn-arranging, photography, writing, spending time with her siblings, and home economics. In the past few years, Proverbs 3:5-7 has been a passage that God has used in her life, showing her how vital it is to trust Him in any issue. You may visit her blog: www.withajoyfulnoise.blogspot.com


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Our Giving

God does not look at what we do not have,
He looks at what we do have.

Photography by Amanda T.


For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not. 2 Corinthians 8:12

Are we giving God what we have?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Endurance

By Bethany

I love looking at wedding photos. There’s nothing sweeter than the nervous grins of anticipation, the bride practically fainting from happiness, and the groom with an exuberant grin plastered on his face. The way they look at each other makes me smile and almost fills me with the same amount of joy that they have. It’s beautiful. They love each other.

Images from stockfreeimages.com

Being a gal, I naturally focus on the bride. I like to dissect her mysterious smile as she grasps her father’s arm and steadily gazes at Mr. Someone standing at the end of the aisle. The world might crumble beneath her feet, but I’m convinced her gaze wouldn’t falter. She wasn’t looking where she was walking, anyway.

I think we can learn a lesson from her. The church was often called the bride of Christ. Through reading the scripture and daily life itself, I’m truly convinced that our half-hearted, lukewarm “ daily Christianity” doesn’t even qualify as halfhearted "girlfriend" of Christ – if you understand my metaphor.

As Christians, God is not our “religion”. He’s not “part” of our life. He is our life. Yeah, so what? If you haven’t heard this before, I certainly have. I don’t think I quite understood what I got myself into. Or what “life” really means.

Take up your cross and follow Me. Is it just me? But when you think of cross, it doesn’t remind you of an hour worship time on Sunday morning. And, to be frank, it doesn’t remind me of even five hours of “spending time with God” each day. Actually the whole verse goes like this: “And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” ~ Luke 9:23 emphasis added.

A cross wasn’t five minutes. It wasn’t even an hour with a toothache (I’ve heard that’s painful). It was agonizing – for who knows how long. Could you imagine doing that daily? Hourly? Every second? Exhausting?
Yes, exhausting. And frankly, impossible. Truly.
This was probably one of the things that stumped me. Once I realized how ridiculous I was, and how half-heartedly I was, I decided it was time for serious action. Only made the mistake of doing it, myself. Need I say how it went? God has a new lesson for me each day, and one I keep relearning over and over again is that I can’t do it.

Someone once was talking about endurance. He said that it’s like gazing at Jesus – being that adoring bride – and not focusing on anything else but Jesus. Steadfastly, eyes locked, determined to continue past anything as long as you get to Him.

That endurance of a completely in love bride of Christ – I can’t do it. The only One who gave me sight, and the strength, and the muscles to gaze straight at my Goal, is the very One I’m walking towards.


Life is not just breathing and “living”. Life is a passion. If you don’t have a purpose, the point of living is hopeless. It’s meaningless. And it certainly is unfulfilling. Once you find that purpose, namely Jesus Christ, it’s not to be dumped on the “to-do list”.

Jesus isn’t just something we do, He’s something we are.

~~~
You may read Bethany's blog here: http://graceofmyredeemer.blogspot.com/

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Edifying Speech

By Ana Renee

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
(Ephesians 4:29)

How quickly do we “let things slip” out of our mouth without a thought? In Ephesians 4:29, we are challenged to use only words that edify (or “build up”), words that are gracious to the hearers.


Let us pretend that we have a pile blocks in front of us. Each time we spoke of others (especially those closest to us, like parents, siblings, spouses, and cousins) in a positive way, we would add blocks. But each time we spoke in a way that would tear them down, we would take away a block. What would our block pile look like after a day? 



Would it have a miserable few blocks left or none at all? May we all be challenged to use our words in a way that will build up those around us.

~~~
This was originally shared with our 52-verse challenge.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Praise - Stones or Me?

By Erika T.

Photography by Amanda T.

Welcome to the 21st Century.

It is 2012.

~This is the era of improving technology, of easy travel and of rapid communication.

~This is the time of passionate sinners and lukewarm Christians.

~This is the epoch in which loud unbelievers cry out their indignation while believers cringe in shame.

As I meditated on that today, I read Luke 19. The Pharisees asked Our Lord Jesus Christ to make people stop shouting His praises. He answered in verse 40, “if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.” It made me think of our position today. I’m not saying Christians should be obnoxious and overly-sensitive activists. Also, I realize that this specifically refers to praising the Lord, not spreading the gospel, social change or any other message. It did leap out at me, however, as I thought of what we should be doing. I don’t believe we should be trying to outshout everyone who is not a Christian, but we should certainly not be embarrassed about praising our God.

The above sentences should read like this:
~This is the era of improving technology, where we can more quickly share the Bible; of easy travel where we can more generously support missionaries; of rapid communication, where we can more freely speak the gospel.

~This is the time of passionate sinners and yet more passionate Christians.

~This is the epoch in which loud unbelievers cry out their indignation while believers quietly live out praise for their Lord.

Will you live so that the stones have no need to cry out and praise Him?

~~~
Read Erika's blog here: http://thywonderfulworks.blogspot.com/

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Self-Defense

By Gail Puruth

“Please forgive me for what you think I did.”

We’re excusers, defenders, and egotists by nature—our fallen nature. Our knee-jerk reaction is self-defense. And as Christians we often Christianize it with "un-apologies"—some as creative and meaningless as the one above.
Image from reusableart.com

But there’s more:

• “I’m sorry you were offended” — a way to apologize without admitting blame.

• “ I’m sorry if I did anything to offend you”— vague enough to keep our ego intact.

• “Please forgive me, but….” — giving us the ability to tack on excuses and accusations thus voiding the apology.

• "You misunderstood" — allowing us to justify rude or selfish acts by explaining our motives (i.e. it's not what I did, it's what I thought that matters).*

We can’t do anything about others' un-apologies, but we can ask the Lord to free us from the bondage of our own self-defense.

Capture us by your love, Lord, so we can honestly repent of sin.

See James 4:8-10 and 1 John 1:8-10.

Unfortunately, all of these un-apologies I've heard or used myself.
* There are times when explanations are in order, but we often use this excuse to explain away things we've done wrong. Just because we didn't mean to be rude doesn't mean we weren't rude!

~~~
About Gail Puruth
Gail Purath has been married to her best friend for 41 years, has two married children and seven grandchildren. Her blog Bible Love Notes (http://biblelovenotes.blogspot.com) features one-minute devotions each weekday.

Monday, July 2, 2012

All Our Needs


But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19


I love the simplicity of this verse: God will supply all that I need in life – not necessarily what I categorize as “needs,” but what He knows are true needs in my life. He sees the largest and the smallest needs I have in my life – both physically and spiritually. He has the resources to provide for these needs – after all, my God owns the cattle on a thousand hills (see Psalm 50:10)!! How blessed I am to be the child of such a loving King!

~~~
Originally shared with our 52-verse challenge.


Saturday, June 30, 2012

It's Just a Blog!


By Amanda T.

In the past year, I have browsed through dozens of blogs; some of you more avid blog-hoppers might have hit hundreds or even thousands of blogs. But let us narrow it down to that one blog – your blog. Out of the millions of pages on the world-wide-web, it is just one. One little place to pour out your thoughts, hopes, dreams, convictions, fears, laughter, and life. Your blog reflects either who you are or who you want to be.

So . . . what if I obtained your blog URL and hopped on over? What would I see? What should I see?


Let us jump to the last question. What should be on our blog? I mean, it’s just a blog. Matthew 5:26 says, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”  I believe that a blog is an excellent place to shine! Not just shining, though – for we can shine in “look at how amusing, funny, and entertaining I am” – but shining for GOD! When others look at our blogs, what do they see? Are they simply entertained, or are they encouraged in their walk with Christ?

What is our blog content? Can we pray Psalm 19:14, “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my Redeemer?”  Or are we too busy making our words acceptable in a friend’s sight? God is a follower on our blogs. He sees every little sentence, every JPEG image, and even the motive behind each post. Is He seeing something that pleases Him and brings glory to His Name, or is He seeing posts that daily have lost opportunities to share Him with others?

Maybe in considering these verses, we need to also consider a revamp. As Christians, our blogs need to reflect Christ! As sisters in Christ, our blogs need to encourage one another in the Lord! Are we faithfully serving God with our blogs, or are we satisfying our selfish desires? Yes, our blog is “just another blog,” but we can use it as an avenue to spread God’s love! 

~~~
Amanda is a homeschool graduate living with her parents and eleven siblings in Louisiana. Their family sings together, sharing God’s love through music in churches and nursing homes. 

Until God shows her a different path, she enjoys teaching piano and music theory, hymn-arranging, photography, writing, spending time with her siblings, and home economics. In the past few years, Proverbs 3:5-7 has been a passage that God has used in her life, showing her how vital it is to trust Him in any issue. You may visit her blog: www.withajoyfulnoise.blogspot.com

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Law of Love

By Ana Renee

“For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” Galatians 5:16

Jesus mentioned love and the law in Matthew 22:37-40:
Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. 

If you think of the Ten Commandments briefly, you will discover that they fall under two categories: 
1) Love for God
2) Love for others

Photograph by Ana Renee

-Love for God-
Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:
For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
(Exodus 20:3-11)

-Love for Others-
Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.
Thou shalt not kill.
Thou shalt not commit adultery.
Thou shalt not steal.
Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.
(Exodus 20:12-17)

Are we obeying God's law and showing love?

~~~
This was originally posted for our 52-verse challenge.

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