Category Archives: Christian Life

The Law of the Lord is Perfect

When I was growing up, it was fairly common in church to sing Scriptures set to music. Many of these Scripture-songs were from the book of Psalm, as the psalms were created as songs or poems. Psalm 19 was a favorite in my church. It speaks to the perfection of God’s law and the blessings of following God’s law.

It is common in today’s world for people’s opinions on right and wrong to be based on their feelings, rather than on a concrete set of principles. Feelings are subject to many variables, including one’s mood, public sentiment, and other’s opinions. This has led to values being fluid and fluctuating. An opinion that is valid today might be considered wrong or offensive tomorrow.

God did not intend for our values and our sense of right and wrong to fluctuate based on our feelings. He gave us the Bible to be our guidebook. He laid out for us a firm foundation to guide our laws and norms. When we don’t stand on the foundation, we are subject to the whims of public opinion rather than the truth of God’s word. I encourage you to follow the law of the Lord and make the Bible your guide.

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The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul;
The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;
The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;
The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;
The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
 More to be desired are they than gold,
Yea, than much fine gold;
Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
Moreover by them Your servant is warned,
And in keeping them there is great reward
.

Psalm 19:7 – 11

You Were Created to do Good Works

Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)  “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord,  ‘plans to prosper you, and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

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This is one of my favorite verses of Scripture, and one I turned to whenever I am feeling discouraged.  It reminds me that God does not want me to fail.  He wants me to prosper, and He wants to bless me, as He also wants to prosper you and bless you.

If you have not experienced God’s love in a personal way, you may wonder why the Creator of the universe would want to prosper you. Why would He even care about you?

God cares about you because He created you.  He created every person to enjoy a special, personal relationship with Him.  God knows you intimately.  Psalm 139:1 – 4  describes this intimately in some detail.

“You have searched me, O Lord, and You know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; You perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; You are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue, you, Lord, know it completely.”

You are so precious to God that He knows your thought before you can express then. The psalmist goes on to say that there is no place where we are out of God’s reach or thoughts.  And it speaks of our conception and development, “For You created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” (v. 13)

God took care to when He created you. He designed to fulfill His purposes and plans for you.  He created you to fellowship with Him.  “God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with His son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:9)  We fellowship with God when we abide in Him through prayer, worship, and Bible study.

God also created you with a purpose in mind—a role for you to fulfill that is uniquely your role in life.  Ephesians 2:10 tells us, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

God created you—yes, you—and me so that we can fulfill His purposes in our life.  When we work to fulfill God’s plans for our life, we recognize that we are doing the work we were created to do.  This brings great joy and a sense of fulfillment, as recognize our purpose and our value as a child of God, created in His image to do good works.

“May He give you the desire of your heart, and make all your plans succeed.”  Psalm 20:4

If you have never considered that God loves you and created you for a purpose, you may not have experienced the joy of knowing Jesus Christ as your Savior and having your sins forgiven. Please click on Basics of Salvation in the tool bar above to learn how you can invite Jesus to be your Lord and Savior.

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My novels, Restorations and Reconciliations, are stories of individuals struggling to find peace and happiness in life. Their journeys lead them to realize their need for God and that He has a wonderful plan for their lives.

Let Our Lives Reflect the True Love of God

Every where we turned today, the voices of hate are loud.  Many have rejected God’s laws. They insist that those around them validate their lifestyles, even though they are living lives filled with sin. When Christians refuse to give into their demands, we are labels as “haters.” In fact, those who are labeling us are the ones filled with hate.  Those who reject God’s laws, hate God and hate what is good.

In this dark world, Christians are obligated to pray and to love.  Those are the forces of good that God will use to overcome the evil in this world. We cannot return hate to those who oppose us. We must continue to love and pray for our enemies.  For without love, our words are noise–clanging cymbals or the creaking of a rusty gate.

Pray diligently for those who walk in darkness, and let them see the love of Christ shining in and through you.

1 Corinthians Chapter 13 From The Message

1 If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.
2 If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.

3-7 If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.


8-10 Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.
11 When I was an infant at my mother’s breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good.
12 We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!
13 But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.

Ask God to show you today, and every day, how you can demonstrate love and reflect Jesus Christ to a hurting world.

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Serving for God’s Glory

We live in a challenging time.  Concern about coronavirus and new health issues, such as monkeypox, is high.  Inflation is skyrocketing, social issues are dividing our country, violence and drug use at rampant, and people are concerned about their futures. Yet, in the midst of all the strife and chaos, it is possible to have peace in your hearts and live a life full of purpose.

Woman gripping her hands to her head, as she tries to deal with the stress of life.
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My sense of peace and purpose come from my relationship with Jesus Christ. As I seek Him and turn to Him in my times of trouble, the Holy Spirit fills me with “the peace that passes understanding.” (Philippians 4:7)  I, in turn, have a responsibility to share the love of Jesus Christ with those around me.

Woman at peace on a beach at sunrise.  She is lifting her hands, as if in praise for the new day.
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Jesus calls His followers to be faithful stewards of that which he has entrusted to us.  Faithful stewardship demands that I view all that I have as belonging to God.  The resources that I have been given to me by God and are to be used according to His wishes. 

Knowing how God wants to me to use those resources requires that I read God’s Word and spend time in prayer. As I do, God will reveal to me His plans and purpose for my life.  We know from God’s Word that He intends for us to share our resources with those who are less fortunate than us.  So, we give to charitable organizations, such as the Salvation Army and Samaritan’s Purse.

Today, we need to do more than make donations and let someone else take care of the poor and needy. We each must earnestly seek God and His direction.

In the book of 1 Peter 4:7-11, we read about how we can be faithful stewards.  This passage is from The Message:

“Everything in the world is about to be wrapped up, so take nothing for granted. Stay wide-awake in prayer. Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything. Be quick to give a meal to the hungry, a bed to the homeless—cheerfully. Be generous with the different things God gave you, passing them around so all get in on it: if words, let it be God’s words; if help, let it be God’s hearty help. That way, God’s bright presence will be evident in everything through Jesus, and he’ll get all the credit as the One mighty in everything—encores to the end of time. Oh, yes!”

People preparing boxes of food and medicine to share with those in need.
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Give cheerfully and generously.  Speak God’s words.  Help in the way God directs you.

Be a faithful steward who calls attention to the Lord.  Point people to Jesus.

Only through the blood of Jesus Christ can the world find the peace we so loudly claim to desire.

And do all for the glory of God.

Celebrating Motherhood and the Creation of New Life

Tomorrow, we celebrate motherhood.  All across our nation, people will take time out of their busy schedules to recognized the sacrifice their mothers made in giving them life and in raising them.  A common denominator across people is that everyone has, or had, a mother.  Someone gave life to each of us.

Expectant mother nearing full-term
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When my husband and I decided that we ready to have children, we waiting anxiously each month for the first signs that we had conceived a baby.  It took a few months, and we were disappointed in each of those months when it became evident that I was not pregnant.  Our hearts soared with joy when a pregnancy test confirmed that a baby was on the way.

Like many expectant parents, we began immediately to consider possible names for our newly-conceived child. We went shopping for baby furniture and paraphernalia, decorated the nursery, and childproofed our home.  But the first thing we did was call our parents to announce that a new family member was on the way.  “We are having a baby,” we exclaimed with great joy.

As great as our joy was, however, it dimmed in comparison to God’s joy at the creation of a new life.  God knew about our child that moment he was conceived, and God already had a plan for his life.  Psalm 139: 13 – 16 tells us,

“For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb.
I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.
My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them.”

God knew our child upon the moment of conception.  God knew him, and God had a plan for his life.  Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”  My child, and every child, was born with a God-designed destiny in mind.  My job and my husband’s job, as our child’s parents, was to raise him up to fulfill God’s plan for his life.

In recent years, technology has advanced to where scientists can detect the creation of new life the instant a sperm penetrates an egg.  At the exact moment, a zygote is formed.  The zygote is a new organism with a combination of the DNA of the two gametes (sperm and egg) that created it. That DNA contains all the genetic material form the new child. A new life is created in the moment of conception.

Another technological advance has allowed scientists to detect the emission of zinc sparks when new life is created. In his book Whisper, author Mark Batterson describes this event, “At the exact moment a sperm penetrates an egg, the egg releases billions of zinc atoms that emit light.  Sparks fly, literally!” (Mark Batterson, Whisper, Page 20, Multnomah Press)

Fireworks exploding in air
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I like to think of these zinc sparks as fireworks that God is shooting off to celebrate the creation of a new life.  The joy that Steve and I felt at the realization that we were going to be parents was akin to the explosion of fireworks.  I hope that your parents felt that same ecstasy upon learning of your impending arrival as part of their family.  Every life should be celebrated as a gift from God.

If you are a mother, I pray that your children recognize the love, time, and energy you have poured into their lives and that they celebrate you tomorrow.  I also pray that you recognize the wonderful joy and privilege of conceiving, birthing, and raising a child. Every child is a blessing, and every child has a divine purpose for his or her life.  As a mother, I pray regularly that my children and grandchildren will allow the Lord to reveal to them to His plan and that they will follow it. There is no greater joy in life than to be on the path that God has chosen for us.

Happy Mother's Day card, purple flowers, macrons, and gift
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Money Won’t Buy You More Time

As I read Psalm 49 this week, it brought to mind the lyrics of Dust in the Wind, “Now don’t hang on. Nothing last forever but the earth and sky, It slips away and all your money won’t another minute buy.”

Psalm 49: 6 – 9 expresses a similar sentiment this way, “Those who trust in their wealth
And boast in the multitude of their riches,  None of them can by any means redeem his brother, Nor give to God a ransom for him— For the redemption of their souls is costly,
And it shall cease forever that he should continue to live eternally, and not see the Pit.”

There is great truth in both the Psalm and the lyrics by Kansas. Money cannot buy us a longer life or a future in Heaven. Only faith in the blood of Jesus Christ can provide assurance of eternal life.

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Another stanza of Dust in the Wind goes like this, ” Same old song. Just a drop of water in an endless sea. All we do crumbles to the ground, though we refuse to see.”

If you live seeking riches, power, and pleasure, then your works will be futile and meaningless, as expressed above by Kansas or in Psalm 49:10, “Life the fool and the senseless person perish, and leave their wealth to others.” The psalm continues, “For when he dies, he shall carry nothing away; His glory shall not descend after him.” (Psalm 49:16)

If you want your life to have meaning after you are gone, you need to live a life of selflessness and trust in God. Put your faith in Jesus Christ, serve your fellow man, give money to those who are less fortunate, and spend your money as God leads you. Then you will build eternal treasure in Heaven. No, you cannot take your wealth with you, but as Randy Alcorn says, you can send it on ahead of you.

Are you living a life that pleases God and will secure you a place in Heaven? If you are not, you should make it a priority to give your heart to Jesus. Not only will you have the promise of eternal life, you will have a more fulfilling life on earth. Please click on Basics of Salvation in the tool bar above to learn how you can invite Jesus to be your Lord and Savior.

To learn more about how to honor God with your money and build treasure in Heaven, please click the Finances categories tab to find many blogs on money management, budgeting, and stewardship. My book Honoring God with Your Money is a great tool for financial money management.

Time Management, Creativity, and REM Sleep

I have a good friend, Johnnie, who has expertise in many subjects, including time management. Time management is essential for Johnnie, as she balances family time, church service, and volunteering with SCORE with the four businesses she currently owns and manages. She also manages to include exercise, prayer, and devotional time into each day.

Earlier this week, I asked Johnnie how she plans her days and if she devoted some time each day to each business or if she focused on different businesses on different days of the week. This lead to Johnnie sharing some her time management tools. In the course of the conversation, she mentioned the importance of being quiet and still for a few minutes upon waking to continue in the creative sphere of REM sleep. I had never before considered that sleep had an impact on creativity, although I read studies that demonstrated that long period of quiet are a boost to creativity.

Coffee, note pad, and flowers
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Despite this being a new concept to me, I immediately recognized the truth of Johnnie’s statement from my own experiences and those of my husband, Steve.

Steve is a civil engineer. He deals with complex issues in designing sites for buildings and subdivisions and coming up with a good solution is often challenging. He is prone to wake up in the early hours of the morning with a solution having come to his mind. It is not uncommon for him to rise at 4 or 5 am to work on a plan. I believe that these solutions arise from the creative state the brain enters during REM sleep.

Personally, I have found that I if I can stay in bed and be still for a few minutes after waking that I will have a creative spurt. Suddenly, I am inspired with ideas for the next scene for a novel I am working on or a blog post to write.

If you want to increase your creativity, I encourage you to spend some time in the morning being quiet. Let your creative mind continue to work after sleeping, and listen for the still, small voice of the Lord speaking into your life.

Some of Johnnie’s other time management tips included (1) start the day with worship–she exercises to praise music, (2) schedule a time of prayer at the beginning of each day, (3) set aside one or two days a week to be less busy and more focused on projects that require concentration and/or creativity, (4) turn off your phone and ignore email for blocks of time each day, and (5) schedule most meetings on one or two days a week.

Woman with journal and a cup of coffee
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Johnnie is the author of Legacy Moments–Transformation that goes Beyond Change. You can learn more about Johnnie and her coaching services at JohnnieLloyd.com

To learn more about how to be a faithful steward of your financial resources, please click the Finances categories tab to find many blogs on money management, budgeting, and stewardship. My book Honoring God with Your Money is a great tool for financial money management.

The Peace that Passes Understanding

My mother used to love to tell the story of how I came home from Sunday school when I was five talking about “the peas is pass is.”  She was quite puzzled and was unable to decipher what I was trying to say.  The next Sunday she asked the teacher, who explained that I was trying to say, “the peace that passes.” We had sung the song “I’ve Got the Joy, Joy, Joy” in class.

One of the lines of the song goes link this: “I’ve got the peace that passes understanding, Down in my heart, Down in my heart to stay.”

As a five-year old, I had no clue what “the peace that passes understanding” was. It is a fun catchy song that has stuck with me through the years. Over a lifetime, I have experienced many instances of this amazing peace.

The song comes from Philippians 4: 6, 7, “Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (King James Version)

White dove. The dove represents the Holy Spirit, who brings peace into uor hearts.
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The New King James Version begins “Be anxious for nothing.”  This exhortation was needed in the days of the early church as followers of Christ faced intense persecution.  They had much to fear, yet Paul admonished them to not live in fear, but to come to the throne of God with their needs and to trust God to meet those needs.

This directive is still pertinent today. We face threats and stress from many sides.  Some threats are applicable to every person who lives: financial stress, health challenges, political unrest, and economic pressures. Other threats are directed specifically at the Church. As Christians, we are under intense pressure to compromise our beliefs and our values in the name of being politically correct. Christianity has not been outlawed as it was in Paul’s day, but Christians are under attack daily.

And God is still the answer. When we bring our trials, challenges, and tribulations to the throne of God, the Holy Spirit fills us with God’s peace.  A peace that does not make any sense—that surpasses our understanding.  In those moments, we know that our lives are in God’s hands. He is walking beside us through each and every trial.

Whatever you are walking through today, do not be filled with anxiety.  Rather, bring your needs to God, with thanksgiving.  God will hear you, and He will walk this path with you.  Then you will experience the peace that the world cannot offer.

Bring your problems, your worries, and your cares to God.  “Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your cares upon Him, because He cares for you.”  I Peter 5: 6, 7

Being God’s Arms Extended

In our church, we often use the phrase “God’s arms extended.” We use this when speaking about reaching out into our community and sharing God’s love through service, ministry, and prayer.

To my knowledge, the phrase “God’s arms extended” does not appear in the Bible. However, Jesus expressed the importance of doing this in Matthew 25: 31- 46. He was teaching His disciples about things that will happen when He returns to rule over the earth.

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.” Matthew 25: 31 – 34

Jesus explains that those who offered food and drink to the hungry and thirsty, extended hospitality to the stranger, clothed those in need, cared for the sick, and visited the imprisoned are the sheep. Those who failed to extend assistance and compassion are the goats. Those who cared for others will receive eternal life, and those who did not will receive eternal damnation.

We had a missionary, Mark, speak in our church on Sunday. He shared that early in his ministry in Africa, he had not learned enough of the language to preach and teach. For a time, Mark was limited to embracing children and engaging them in sports. He began to get discouraged that he could not do more. As he prayed, Mark said something along the lines of, “All I can do is hug the children.” In his spirit, Mark clearly heard the Lord say, “Thank you.”

Mark realized that when we, as God’s people, show love to others, we allow God to show love through us. As Mark hugged the children, he was allowing God to wrap His arms around these precious little ones. Mark was literally being God’s arms extended.

What a beautiful picture! God wants to provide for the hungry, thirsty, needy, sick, and imprisoned. And, He does provide through us.

The next time you see someone in need, afraid, or discouraged, I pray that this illustration will come to mind and that you will take the opportunity to be God’s arms extended.

Please feel free to share an instance in which you knew that God was using you to be His hands extended.

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New Year’s Resolution or My One Word

We are seven days into 2022, and, if you made a New Year’s resolution, you may have already broken it or you likely will soon. Studies show that most people throw in the towel by the end of January, and 68% don’t last a full month.

My One Word is an alternative to making New Year’s Resolutions. The concept was conceived Mike Ashcraft, senior pastor of Port City Community Church in Wilmington, NC, in 2010.  Mike realized that resolutions are often focused on overcoming past failures–I resolve to lose weight gained or to get out of debt that I have accumulated. He recognized that a better approach is to focus on what God wants to do in your life.

Mike challenged his congregation and blog readers to pray about where God wants to lead them in the coming year.  What is God speaking into your life?  What does God want you to become?  How does God want to use you? What does He want you to learn?

MyOneWord.org
myoneword.org


As you pray and focus on God’s will for you, you will feel God impressing a word into your spirit. This is your One Word for the coming year.  Your Word will be unique to you and where God is leading you. 

I chose my first One Word in 2011; it was Delight.  I also chose a theme Scripture for the year that went along with my word, “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4  At that time, my husband had been unemployed for two years, with no end in sight. Yet, the Lord promised that if we delighted in Him, He would bless us. I meditated on Psalm 37:4, and God lifted my spirits and increased my faith. And, despite my husband’s continued lack of employment income, God provided for us to celebrate our 30th anniversary that spring with a cruise to Alaska. And, by the end of the year, my husband was back at work with the company that had laid him off nearly three years earlier. Praise the Lord!

Some of my other One Words have been Commitment, Intentional, Rest, and Stewardship.  My year of focusing on stewardship lead me to write a book and start a newsletter. The book and newsletter are designed to help others become responsible stewards of the financial resources God has entrusted to them.

My One Word for 2022 is Praise. I look forward to focusing my energy on praising the Lord throughout each day.  Rather than a single verse, I have selected Psalm 150 as my theme Scripture passage. I am considering choosing a new Psalm of praise for each month, or maybe every week.

I encourage you to pray about God’s desire for your focus in 2022 and to select a word that represents your focus.  To learn more about the My One Word experiment, go to myoneworld.org.

If you have questions about faithful stewardship of your financial resources, please feel free to email me at susan.ball5@aol.com or write your question in the Comment section.  Those who email me will be signed up to receive my free quarterly newsletter with money management tips, encouraging stories, and Scripture inspirations. You may also sign up for the newsletter on the Contact page of this site.

For those desiring a better understanding of Biblical principles of money management, I have written a book Honoring God with Your Money. It is available on Amazon and from Barnes and Noble.