Renewed Treasure in the Word of God

One Christmas several years ago, I made shopping easy for my husband. My Bible at that time was fifteen years old and sporting loose pages in the front and back. It was time to part with it and break in a new one before I started leaving the Word of God trailing behind me—though that’s not such a bad idea, is it?

I searched the internet, found the Bible I wanted, ordered it, and then informed Don that it would be his Christmas gift to me. We both won, right? In reality, though, I was the bigger winner. His satisfaction in getting out of Christmas shopping lasted only a short time. The satisfaction I found in the gift—the Word of God—bloomed each day.

Since I’m an underliner, you can imagine what my old Bible looked like after fifteen years. Getting a new one with no markings felt a little scary. I thought I would miss my notes and underlines and feel rather lost without them. On the contrary, something entirely different happened.

I discovered that each passage seemed fresh, almost new. I felt excited as I read. Verses well-known to me and loved dearly took on an aura of renewed treasure, as if I were reading them for the first time. These words, untouched by my handy pen, became words I considered once more as I underlined yet again.

I pray I will always continue to look at the Word of God with fresh eyes. I pray I will come to it excited about what I may discover, expectant over what the Lord might reveal to me. I pray that the satisfaction I find in the Word of God will continue to bloom within me each day.

Is it time for you to take a fresh look at some familiar passages? I guarantee you will find renewed treasure. And with it will come great satisfaction.

“When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, LORD God Almighty.” Jeremiah 15:16 NIV

*Have you discovered anything new in a familiar passage of scripture recently? I’d love to hear about it!

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, will come out in early August. Sign-up is FREE and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.) *Temporary problem with Life Notes sign-up. To sign up, just contact me.

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by Savio SebastianCreative Commons License

The Constant of Christmas Plus A Blogging Break

The holiday season can be a difficult time for many. Heartaches hurt more, burdens feel heavier, and changes can be more challenging to accept. Loneliness looms larger and disappointment runs deeper. At times, Christmas joy can be hard to find. And of course, this year we have the added challenge of the ongoing pandemic impacting our lives—and our joy—as well.

Where do you find your Christmas joy? If you search for it in people—family and friends—those can change or disappoint. If in new possessions or extravagant treats, those can be stripped away or give only short-term fulfillment. If in well-laid plans for the perfect Christmas, a winter storm or unexpected illness can topple those in an instant.

Only in the manger can we find unchanging, unfailing Christmas joy. Sure, we can and do experience holiday joy with our families and friends, with our activities and traditions, with music and feasting. But the deep abiding joy of Christmas—and of our lives—that no circumstance or human failing can touch can only be found in the constant of Christmas. Only in Jesus.

Let’s look to the manger this holiday season. Let’s let Jesus anchor our Christmas joy. For he is a rock like no other. He is the constant of Christmas.

“‘And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’” Matthew 28:20 NIV

*What is most challenging about your Christmas season this year? How can you let Jesus bring you joy in the midst of it?

*Friends, I’ll be taking a blogging break until the first of the year. I pray that God will bless you with a joy-filled Christmas season and a hopeful and happy New Year. See you in 2021!

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, will come out in early February. Sign-up is FREE and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by jeffweeseCreative Commons License

God’s Unchanging Word: A Cause for Thanksgiving

“Your word, LORD, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens.” Psalm 119:89 NIV

Our lives can change in a flash. Ask those who’ve contracted a serious case of COVID or lost a loved one to its fury. Or ask those who’ve lost their jobs in the multitude of lay-offs this year or who’ve been told they’re no longer loved or wanted in their marriages. Yes, this world is full of shifting sand.

So what can we count on today? The verse above from Psalm 119 holds the answer.

When we can’t bank on anything else, when sure things even crumble and fall away, we can be confident that God’s word will endure. More than that, it will not only endure but will stand firm as well. And of course, if God’s word endures and stands firm, it follows that God himself will be the unchanging rock and sure foundation that we all so desperately need.

I’d say that kind of unchanging blessing is all the reason we need to give thanks during Thanksgiving week—and beyond. Some of us may have many things working against us right now, but we all have our eternal and steadfast God loving us and working for us each day of our lives. Let’s never forget that God is for us.

May God give you a Thanksgiving holiday filled with the knowledge of his unchanging love and goodness, and may your hearts overflow with the peace that comes from trusting in the One who never leaves us or forsakes us. Our God—an unchanging blessing indeed!

“God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’” Hebrews 13:5 NIV

*What are you especially thankful for this Thanksgiving season?

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out early this moonth. It’s not too late to receive it. Sign-up is free and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by felipe_gabaldonCreative Commons License

Prayer Can Transform Faces

As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning.Luke 9:29 NIV

We’ve all heard that familiar saying that prayer changes things, but can prayer actually change our faces? I think it can.

The Bible gives us examples of faces transformed by prayer. The scripture above refers to the day Jesus took three of his disciples—Peter, James, and John—up onto a mountain to pray with him. Never in their wildest dreams could they have imagined what was about to unfold. As Jesus prayed, his face changed and his clothes turned bright as lightning. A transformation (known to Christians as the transfiguration) took place and the disciples were allowed to see Jesus in his glory. Just thinking of it leaves me in awe.

Moses’ face was also changed by spending time with God. After God met with Moses on Mt. Sinai and engraved the Ten Commandments on stone tablets for the Israelites, the Bible tells us that “[Moses’] face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord.” (Exodus 34:29 NIV)

Think of Paul and Silas. After they were severely flogged and thrown into prison, they prayed together and even sang hymns as the other prisoners listened to them. Scripture doesn’t mention the expression on their faces, but it’s safe to assume that as their prayers gave way to hymns, the distress on their faces must have been replaced by peace and even joy.

Yes, our faces often reflect what’s going on in our hearts and lives, don’t they? When we pray and tell God our burdens and hopes and as we give him our thanks and praise, our faces will indeed show the peace and comfort, joy and refreshment, and even strength or determination he’s imparted to us.

So is prayer transforming our faces today, this week, this year? Can people see God’s love and care reflected there? Oh, may it be so! Let’s allow prayer—time we spend with God—to change our faces!

“Those who look to him are radiant;” Psalm 34:5 NIV

*When was the last time you felt your face change as you prayed?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early November. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive a $15 gift card to Starbucks and a signed copy of my book to use personally, give as a gift, or donate to a library. Sign-up is free and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.) p.s. If you sign up after Oct. 30th, you will be included in all future Life Notes giveaways but not in this current giveaway.

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride check out my Books/My Work page.

*Photo by Radu Florin on Unsplash

A Still Heart: Guest Post by Author Julie K. Gillies

Our minds can easily slip into overdrive when we evaluate all the what-ifs, attempting to figure out every detail and obsessively calculating our next step. It’s a temptation we face when we feel deeply concerned about a direction our life is going, or when we aren’t happy with a situation we’re facing. Some of us are wired this way; we’re natural over thinkers. Some of us indulge when we’re feeling unusually apprehensive. Either way, this excessive mental activity takes a toll, feeding our worries and stirring up anxieties until our peace evaporates completely.

In the midst of this, God invites us to make a decision that goes against our instincts. When everything in us is whirling and calculating, He encourages us to be still, to step away from every worry and all our mental activity and know Him. Be with Him. Rest in Him. It’s a bold step, but not as risky as it may seem, because “the Lord is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love” (Psalm 145:8).

Our hearts can truly rest in Him knowing He is at work so our minds don’t constantly have to be. Psalm 138:8 says, “The Lord will work out his plans for my life—for your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever.” When we still our hearts and minds, meditating on who He is and all His awe-inspiring qualities, our inner beings experience the relief of a quiet, peaceful heart.

“Be still, and know that I am God!” (Psalm 46:10)

Lord, I’m sensing that I need to stop all my mental activity: worry, anxiety, fear, all the what-if’s, and just be still. God, everything in me wants to work it out or else stress out, but instead I am going to still my heart and my thoughts. I am going to allow myself to be in Your presence and rest in You, knowing You are gracious and compassionate. Knowing that You will work out Your plans for my life. Help me to center my heart and my thoughts and my very life on You. Help me to live vitally connected to You and still on the inside, so that I can always hear You and walk in the power of Your amazing peace. In the mighty name of Jesus, amen.

Excerpted from Prayers to Calm Your Anxious Heart: 100 Reassuring Devotions, Harvest House Publishers. Used with permission.

 

 

Julie K. Gillies is the author of Prayers to Calm Your Anxious Heart: 100 Reassuring Devotions, From Hot Mess to Blessed, and the devotional Prayers for a Woman’s Soul. She is the joyful wife of Keith, mom of three adults and Grammy of five. She loves baking from scratch, any day without humidity, and hanging out with the entire family, especially on days when her house is clean. For FREE resources and to connect with Julie, visit: www.JulieGillies.com

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, will come out in early November. Sign-up is FREE and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride check out my Books/My Work page.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash