My One Word for 2019–Commitment

“Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” Proverbs 16:3 (NRSV)

My sister-in-law posted this verse on her Facebook page recently, and it spoke to my spirit instantly. I felt that this would be my verse to focus on for the year, and Commitment would be my One Word for 2019.

For this purpose, I am using as the definition of Commit, “to give in trust or charge.” I will ‘give in trust’ all my works to the Lord, and He, in return, will permit those works to come to fruition, so long as my works are in harmony with His word.

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This principle applies regardless of whether the work involves (1) doing my job, (2) improving my health, (3) taking control of my finances, (4) learning new skills, (5) building new relationships, or (6) stepping out into new areas of service and/or ministry.

The One Word concept is that one should focus on one word for the year, rather than making a bunch of resolutions that will be quickly broken. So for this year, I will focus on committing to the Lord whatever work I feel led to pursue. And, I will be certain that He will bless the efforts I commit to Him.

What word will you choose to reflect on in 2019?

That the Works of God Should be Revealed

The entire ninth chapter of John is devoted to the story of Jesus healing a man who had been blind from birth.  As I listened to my pastor preach from this text on Sunday, I was particularly impressed by the first few verses in which the disciples assumed that the man’s blindness was the result of sin, either by the blind man himself or his parents.

Jesus responds to their question in verse 3, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.”

What a powerful statement.  This was a grown man who had spent his childhood and some portion of his adult life blind, in order that Jesus could heal him on this particular day and reveal to the world that He had the power to forgive sins and to heal infirmities.

This struck a personal chord with me.  When I was 5, my mother gave birth to my brother John.  In the weeks after his birth, we came to realize that John could neither see nor hear.  The doctors said that John’s birth defects were due to my mother having contracted German measles while pregnant. When John was 3, however, it became clear that he was born as he was in order that God might reveal Himself to our family.

 

My mother casually asked the wife of my father’s commanding officer to pray for John, as he was to undergo surgery in an attempt to provide him with some limited sight.  The woman responding by coming over to our house immediately and sharing Jesus with my mother and encouraging her to read the Gospel of John.  My mother read John that very night and accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior.

Over the next four years, all the members of our immediately family accepted Jesus as their Savior.  Soon after my father’s salvation, God called John home to Heaven.  John did not receive his sight or hearing while on Earth.  He never learned to speak and never shared the Gospel with anyone, yet we know that the salvation of our family and many others is credited to his account in Heaven.

This Thanksgiving, I am thankful to God for revealing Himself to our family by sending us John.

I Serve A Risen Savior

This past weekend Christians around the world celebrate the death and resurrection of our Savior Jesus Christ.  The Easter season begins Lent and culminates with Easter Sunday.  During this time, we focus on the events of the last week of Jesus’s life leading up to His atoning death on the cross, where He bore the burdens of our sin.  And on Easter morning, we celebrate the most remarkable event in world history–the resurrection of Jesus and His victory over death and the grave.

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The glory and power of Christ’s resurrection is what sets Christianity apart from other religions.  Christian serve a living God who sent His son to take the punishment that we deserve for our sins.  The Son now sits at the right hand of the Father interceding on our behalf.  Many religions have been created to try to meet people’s spiritual needs, but none of them worship a risen Savior.  That is why other religions fall short and fail to meet the needs of their adherents.

Jesus is the only answer to the need for a Savior.  And He is alive!  This truth should spring forth from our hearts every day.  Jesus is alive!  Jesus intercedes for me!  Jesus loves me and wants to help me every day as I journey through life. When I take the time to focus on this truth, my heart burst forth with the words of the Easter hymns which so joyously celebrate Christ’s resurrection.  I particularly love “I Serve A Risen Savior” by Alfred Henry Ackley.

 

I Serve A Risen Savior

I serve a risen Savior
He’s in the world today.
I know that He is living,
Whatever men may say.
I see His hand of mercy;
I hear His voice of cheer;
And just the time I need Him
He’s always near.

He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way.
He lives, He lives, salvation to impart!
You ask me how I know He lives?
He lives within my heart.

In all the world around me
I see His loving care,
And though my heart grows weary,
I never will despair;
I know that He is leading,
Through all the stormy blast;
The day of His appearing
Will come at last.

Rejoice, rejoice, O Christian,
Lift up your voice and sing
Eternal hallelujahs
To Jesus Christ the King!
The Hope of all who seek Him,
The Help of all who find,
None other is so loving,
So good and kind.

 

 

Sharing Christ’s Love With Shoebox Gifts

For many years my own family and my church family have participated in packing shoebox gifts to be distributed around the world by Samaritan’s Purse. It is that time of year again.

Shoeboxes to be sent to Samaritan’s Purse to distribute to children worldwide.

We will wrap shoeboxes or pick up the easy-to-identify green boxes with red lids at Christian book stores, Hobby Lobby’s, or Chick Fil A’s. Small toys, articles of clothing, school and craft supplies, and personal care items will be stuffed into each box. The boxes will be shipped to Samaritan’s Purse processing centers and then delivered to boys and girls by Samaritan’s Purse team members. For many of these children, the shoebox will be the first gift they have ever received.

Also packed into each box will be a booklet, The Greatest Gift, which tells the gospel story in the recipient’s own language. In this way, each child is introduced to the good news that Jesus died for their sins and rose again.

Sharing God’s love through shoebox gifts is a wonderful way to bless a child. These simple gifts remind, or inform, a child that God loves him and wants a relationship with him. They open the door for that child to be able to accept Jesus as his Savior and look forward to an eternity in Heaven. And that is truly the Greatest Gift of all.

I encourage everyone reading this to prayerfully participate in this ministry this year. Pray about whether you should pack a box for a boy or girl, pray for direction as you pack your box or boxes, and pray that the heart of each recipient will be open to the good news of the gospel.

Do Not Fret Because of Evil Men

There is no doubt that our nation is becoming ever more accepting of sin and wickedness.  Over the past several decades, we have legalized the murdering of unborn children, accepted adultery and other forms of sexual immorality as the norm, and determined that everyone should do what is right in his or her own eyes.  As a person who strives to honor and glorify the Lord in my life, I find it is easy to become discouraged.  Our nation is pulling further and further from God and Christian are becoming persecuted for standing up for our beliefs.

As I read God’s word, however, I realize that this is nothing new.  Sinners have always done evil and tried to persecute those who serve the Lord.  David wrote often about his sufferings in the years between being anointed to be the next king of Israel and the fulfillment of that promise.

Psalm 36 opens with these words from David, “An oracle is within my heart concerning the sinfulness of the wicked:  There is no fear of God before his eyes.  For in his own eyes he flatters himself too much to detect or hate his sin.”  (Psalm 36:  1,2)  Wow!  Interesting choice of words, for sure:  “in his own eyes, he flatters himself.”   I have never thought of those who are leading our nation deeper into sins as flatters of themselves, but it does make senses.  Those who support the killing of innocent, unborn children have convinced themselves that they are ‘protecting the rights of women.’  This is certainly an example of self-flattery.  Not only have they convinced themselves that abortion is not a sin, but they congratulate themselves on doing something good and noble.

David continues, “The words of his [the wicked] mouth are wicked and deceitful; he has ceased to be wise and to do good.  Even on his bed he plots evil; he commits himself to a sinful course and does not reject what is wrong.”  (Psalm 36: 3, 4)

It truly is discouraging to witness politicians and political activists leading our nation to even greater depths of sin.  Yet, I know that God is on the throne.  He allows mankind to run the show for a while, but He is never far away and He will not allow this evil to continue indefinitely.  In Psalm 37:7 – 9 David reminds us of this.  “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.  Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret–it leads only to evil.  for evil men will be cut off, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.”

 

Meditations of My Heart

Psalm 19: 14 says, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.” 

This verse is an oft-quoted one.  I have used it numerous times in teaching children that it is important to watch what we put into our heart and what comes out of our mouths.  In particular, I have used it to teach that God is displeased when we speak words that are angry, hurtful, vulgar, or lies.  In conjunction, I teach them that these displeasing words will be in our hearts and come out of our mouths, if we feed our minds with similar thoughts through the shows and movies we watch and the books we read.

As I read this verse recently, however, the Lord opened my eyes to see that all words and thoughts that are self-focused are unacceptable to Him.  When I dwell on my problems and the challenges I face in life, then the meditations of my heart are not acceptable to Him.  I turn my focus from Him to the world.  My thoughts can easily become dark and depressing, because we live in a troubled, fallen world.

We will all face times of enormous challenge in life, such as the loss of loved ones, the loss of a job, and struggles with our health.  In these times, we will naturally focus more on ourselves than on others.  But, we should never take our eyes off Jesus.  “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble.” (Psalm 46:1)

The psalmist David cried out to the Lord in a time of trouble, “How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart?” (Psalm 13:2, NIV)  Then he reminded himself, “But I trust in Your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in Your salvation.  I will sing to the Lord for He has been good to me.” (Psalm 13:5-6, NIV)

The way out of the pits of despair we dig for ourselves is to turn our eyes upon Jesus and to remember His unfailing love.  When the meditations of my heart are not pleasing to the Lord, I need to turn my eyes back to Him and rejoice in His salvation and sing to Him.  For indeed, the Lord has been good to me.

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Wanting More

Last night, as I listened to an evangelist speak about how we should want more of God, I couldn’t help but think about how children will demand “more, more” of something they enjoyed.  Have you ever tossed a little girl in the air  who squealed and laughed with delight?    You were thrilled that you made her happy and you laughed along with her.  You set her down and she ran off, satisfied for a moment or two. Pretty soon, though, she came back.  Her hands reached up to you as she insisted that you do it again.  So, of course, you complied.  You could not resist the opportunity to bring more joy to her little face.  This continued until your arms and back started to ache.  You probably thought, and perhaps even said, “Why did I ever start this?”  What was fun had become tiring. She may have convinced you to play the game a bit longer but you eventually ran out of energy and refused to continue.

Aren’t you glad that God doesn’t run out of energy?  Or time? Or patience?  No matter how many times we come back to God and ask for “More,” His cup is full and He is more than willing to give us more of Him.  If we want more of God, we simply have to seek Him. He promised in Deuteronomy 4:29, “You will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul.”

Jesus told His disciples,  “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened… If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! (Matthew 7: 7, 8, 11)

Pursue God and you will find Him.  Raise your hands to Him and ask for more. More of God, more of His love, more of His strength to get you through each day. We are His children and He delights in giving us more of Himself.

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