Category Archives: Faith

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.

The Light Shining in the Darkness

December would be a dark and dreary month were it not for Christmas lights. Days are shorter, and the sun has set by the time I leave work. As I drive through the streets of our town and into our neighborhood, I am cheered by the bright lights of Christmas. White icicle lights hang from eaves, beautifully lit trees gleam through large picture windows, and brightly colored lights are draped around trees and shrubs. The lights bring joy and cheer. They remind us that darkness can not hide the light.

Town decorated for Christmas
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The Bible does not provide the date of the birth of Christ. We do know that Jesus was born at a time of great spiritual darkness. His birth brought light into an oppressed world. The darkness of December, with the shortest days of the year, symbolize the oppression of sin and the heaviness of living in bondage,

Jesus’s birth was heralded with bright light, “And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.” Luke 2:9 The shepherds soon learned that they had nothing to fear, but rather a reason to celebrate. Jesus Christ, the Son of God and our Savior-to-be, had been born.

The words spoken by the prophet Isaiah had come to pass, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined.” Isaiah 9:2

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Jesus’s birth brought light to a darkened world. “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.  And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it….That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.” John 1:4-5,9

Darkness entered the world at the Garden of Eden, and ever since we have lived in a fallen world. The only escape from the darkness is to seek the Light. Jesus is that light. He has promised to reveal his light and his love to all who seek Him. During the Christmas season, I urge you to allow the true light of Christmas to permeate your heart and bring joy and peace into your life.

“Arise, shine; For your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you.” Isaiah 60:1 

Miraculous Provisions

The story of the loaves and the fishes is likely the first story that pops into your mind when you consider how God miraculously multiplies the offerings we present to Him. It is a truly amazing story. A small boy offers his lunch of five small fish and two loaves. Jesus blesses the food and has the disciples distribute it among the thousands of hungry people who have come to hear His words. After all have eaten–five thousand men plus women and children–the disciples collect the leftovers and find that they have more remaining by far than they began. The disciples collected the broken pieces and filled twelve baskets. This story is recounted in Matthew 14: 13 – 21.

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What makes this story even more impressive is that Jesus replicated this miracle sometime later. In the second instance, Jesus fed four thousand men, plus women and children, with seven loaves of bread and a few small fish. This time seven baskets of food were remaining after everyone had eaten. (Matthew 15: 20 – 39)

These miracles took place in two different regions but likely within a short period of time. One can overlook the disciples’ skepticism in the first instance that they could provide food for such a large group of people. After all, they barely had enough food for themselves. However, on the second occasion, the disciples were again ready to send the hungry people away. Jesus actually set them up by stating, “I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way.” Matthew 15: 32. Rather than responding in faith, the disciples failed the test. “His disciples answered, ‘Where could we get enough bread in this remote place to feed such a crowd?’” (v. 33)

It is easy for us to criticize the disciples’ lack of faith. We think they should have learned from the first extravagant multiplication of the offered food that Jesus was capable of multiplying resources and meeting any need, no matter how great. How could have even questioned Jesus’s ability to feed the crowd?

Yet, we are guilty of similar lack of faith in God to meet our needs. God has met our needs time and time again, and we still doubt that He will come through for us in the next “crisis”. Our car breaks down and we fret about how we will be able to pay the mechanic for the repairs. Our hours get cut at work, and we worry about covering the rent. The list goes on and on–a medical test indicates a health problem, the stock market plunges, we hear rumors of layoffs at work, or we don’t get the promotion we had prayed and hoped for–and we fall apart. It feels as if our world has collapsed.

Like the disciples, we ask something along the lines of, “The need is so great. How can it be met?” We need to remind ourselves of all the times God has come through for us in order to increase our faith that He will come through again. God knew us long before we were conceived. He knows that our memory are short and that we have to remind ourselves daily of God’s faithfulness to us. That is why He commanded the Israelites to set up memorials to remind themselves and their children of how God had brought them out of Egypt and blessed them. “Now the people came up from the Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and they camped in Gilgal on the east border of Jericho. And those twelve stones which they took out of the Jordan, Joshua set up in Gilgal. Then he spoke to the children of Israel, saying: “When your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, ‘What are these stones?’ then you shall let your children know, saying, ‘Israel crossed over this Jordan on dry land’; for the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed over, that all the peoples of the earth may know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever.” (Joshua 4:19 – 24)

When you ask God to provide for your needs, take note of how He answers you. Record these answers in a blessings journal. Read the journal frequently to remind yourself of God’s goodness to you and to increase your faith. Share these blessings with your children and together thank God for the way He has provided for you and your family. God has never failed you, and He never will.

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God Supplies Our Talents and Resources

In Exodus 31, God provided Moses with instructions on building the tabernacle. As He described the intricate work to be done, Moses probably felt a bit overwhelmed. Then God said something remarkable, “I have put wisdom in the heart of all the gifted artisans, that they may make all that I have commanded you.” (Exodus 31:6, NKJV)

In today’s vernacular, God was telling Moses, “Don’t worry. I’ve got this.”

Just before uttering those words, God told Moses, “I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. And I have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship,  to design artistic works, to work in gold, in silver, in bronze, in cutting jewels for setting, in carving wood, and to work in all manner of workmanship.” (Exodus 31:2 – 5)

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As we read on God has called another, Aholiab, to assist in the work of designing, instructing, and overseeing the other gifted men and women in who God had instilled artistic gifts.

Often when God calls us to do a work, we feel overwhelmed. The job is too big, the work is too difficult. We don’t know where to start, and we want to tell God that we aren’t up to the task. Then the Holy Spirit whispers, “I am here with you. I have given you the wisdom, the creativity, the initiative, and the strength to do all the I have commanded you.”

If God has birthed a vision in you, He will empower you to accomplish the work. And He will supply your need. He provided Moses with many gifted artisan to share the load. Those He called, He filled “with skill to do all manner of work of the engraver and the designer and the tapestry maker, in blue, purple, and scarlet thread, and fine linen, and of the weaver—those who do every work and those who design artistic works.” (Exodus 35:35, NKJV)A few chapters later, as the work began, God instructed Moses to ask the Israelites to bring offerings for the building of the teabernacle. Moses asked them to bring gold, silver, bronze, thread, linen, goats’ hair, animal skins, wood, spices, and precious gems. The offering was to be given freely, as they were willing. No one was compelled to give.

And what happened? In Exodus 35:21, we read, “Then everyone came whose heart was stirred, and everyone whose spirit was willing, and they brought the Lord’s offering for the work of the tabernacle of meeting, for all its service, and for the holy garments.” In fact, they brought so many supplies, that the artisans asked Moses to compel the people to stop the offerings. “The people bring much more than enough for the service of the work which the Lord commanded us to do.” (Exodus 36:5, NKJV)

God supplied their needs abundantly. They had more than enough material resources, and they had a great team of men and women in whom God had given the vision and talent needed to accomplish the task.

God has a great plan for your life. And, He will empower you with all that you need to accomplish it. Trust Him and take that step of faith to fulfill the dream He has birthed in your heart.

Rejoicing for Sinners Who Repent

One Sunday many years ago, our minister stopped the musicians in the middle of a song and announced that he felt impressed by the Holy Spirit that someone wanted to make things right with God. Before he could finish speaking, his youngest son, Johnny, rushed down the aisle into his father’s arm and invited Jesus into his heart as his Lord and Savior.  There wasn’t a dry eye in the congregation.  Johnny was a young adult with a wife and children, and many of us had known him since he was a child.  We had seen him struggle with faith and turn his back on God.  Even when his wife accepted Jesus as her Savior, Johnny stayed away.

But God didn’t turn his back on Johnny.  God loved him and wanted Johnny to be a part of his family.  The church members had prayed diligently and fervently, along with his parents and family, for Johnny to come back to God. This was the day we had prayed for.  The rejoicing in that sanctuary was like nothing I had ever experienced.  For nearly an hour, people throughout the sanctuary stood and raised their hands and their voices to God, praising Him for a lost sheep that had come home.

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Sadly, I have not experienced that level of congregational rejoicing over a sinner coming to repentance again.  Of course, we are happy when we see a sinner repent.  We may  applaud and shout “Hallelujah”.  But, how often do we truly rejoice?   Jesus taught the apostles about rejoicing in the parable of the lost sheep and the parable of the lost coin.  It’s recorded in book of Matthew and Luke.  This version is from Luke 15:4-10.

“What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.

“Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls her friends and neighbors together, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece which I lost!’Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.

 

Jesus tells us that the angels in Heaven rejoice over every sinner who repents.  Should we not also rejoice?  Coming to Jesus and accepting His free gift of forgiveness is the greatest decision a person can ever make, and all Christians should rejoice with him or her upon making this decision. We should celebrate exuberantly and weep with joy.

Last night, Sean Hannity interviewed Roger Stone on his evening television show.  By all accounts, Roger Stone is a person who has made many mistakes and many enemies.  But, in that interview, he testified that he has come to repentance and thanked Sean Hannity for convincing him to confess his sins and be reborn.

But more than anything else, I am grateful for God because as you told me, if I would — if I would rededicate my life to Christ, I would be reborn.

I can remember it like it was yesterday and your advice was as solid as can be. You said, God will never desert you. He will never abandon you. He will protect you if you — if you confess your sins and you walk in his way. And I’ve done my very best to do that.

Roger Stone on Hannity

 

Today I am rejoicing that another lost sheep has been welcomed back into the fold.  Roger Stone has confessed his sins and trusted in Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior.  This should fill us with joy and hope. And it should remind us to reaffirm our commitment to pray for our unsaved loved ones, our unsaved neighbors and friends, and our unsaved leaders.  Every person needs God. Every person needs forgiveness.  Every person needs to know Jesus as Lord and Savior.  Let’s pray for everyone we know to respond to Jesus’s offer of forgiveness and salvation.  And when they come to Jesus, let’s rejoice as though the greatest thing has just occurred.  Because it has.

 

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Being Salt and Light

You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.” Matthew 5:13-14, NKJV

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In his book Secrets of a Prayer Warrior, Derek Prince writes , “the full extent of our responsibility as Christians [is] to exercise a unique and decisive influence on–that is, to rule–the society in which we live.”  He points out that a city situated on top of a hill is visible from all directions; it is conspicuous.  As Christians, we should be conspicuous in society for being different, for reflecting Christ.

My mother emphasized to my siblings and I that people are always watching Christians to see if they their actions line up with their stated beliefs.  She realized that someone considering making a decision for Christ could be turned off by a Christian who in a moment of anger spouted cursing or displayed inappropriate behavior in any circumstance. 

The secular world desperately wants to know if our claims of being changed by Christ are real.  They are looking for authentic faith.  When our actions reflect Christ, we will be a light shining in a dark world.  People will be attracted to the light.

In this passage, Jesus also talks about salt.  Prince points out that salt has two function.  As a seasoning, it gives flavor, and as a preservative, salt prevents decay, or corruption.  In terms of adding flavor, Prince write, “If we are the salt of the earth, we are like little granules sprinkled across the earth’s surface.  Our responsibility is to give the earth flavor…Our presence should make the earth acceptable to God in a way that it would not be acceptable to Him if we were not here as Christians living out our lives in His grace and love, worshiping and praising Him, and praising Him and praying according to His will.”  I love the visual picture of our love, praise, worship, and testimonies being sprinkled over the earth and giving it flavor.

As a preservative, Prince says that we are “to hold back the forces of corruption–moral corruption, social corruption, political corruption–until God’s purposes of mercy and grace have been worked out for this world of ours.”  I fear that we have failed greatly in that responsibility.  Everywhere we see evidence or moral, social, and political corruption in America.

Jesus has called Christians to be salt and light in this world.  We need to stand out by reflecting Christ to those around. We daily encounter people who are hurting, people who feel unloved or unworthy, people who need to know that Christ offers hope, forgiveness, and a new life.  Let us all strive to be a bright shining beacon of hope to those around us, pointing the way to Jesus.

 

 

Meditate on the Lord

In an article titled ‘There’s a Dark Side to Meditation That No One Talks About,’ author Lila MacLellan discusses possible negative outcomes from meditation that are not often discussed. Meditation is typically presented as a method of reflection which provides relief from stress and pain and can give the practitioner better focus. However, the author discusses unpleasant effects, or ‘warped perceptions’, that can arise during meditation. She writes, “Zen Buddhism has a word for the warped perceptions that can arise during meditation: makyo, which combines the Japanese words for “devil” and “objective world.””

I personally have no experience with this type of meditation.  I was cautioned against meditation while still a teenager by my mother who believed that mindless, zen-like meditation could open one’s mind to strange thoughts and attacks by the devil.  So the quote above caught my attention.  It seems that my mother was not using a scare tactic to keep me away from something she didn’t understand.  Rather, there is a lot of truth in her warning, and I am particularly glad to have heeded her words.

When we seek truth, the Bible should be our source.  The Bible actually encourages meditation.  However, the focus of this meditation is not on oneself but rather on the Lord and His commands.  “Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. ” Joshua 1:8

According to this verse, meditating on God’s word makes one prosperous and successful.  That is a pretty powerful benefit.  Meditating on God’s Word produces other benefits:

1) Blessings:  “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers,  but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,  which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.

2) Help from the Lord in times of trouble: “I cried out to God for help; I cried out to God to hear me. When I was in distress, I sought the Lord; at night I stretched out untiring hands, and I would not be comforted. I remembered you, God, and I groaned; I meditated, and my spirit grew faint….I will consider all your works  and meditate on all your mighty deeds.” Psalm 77: 1 – 3, 12

3) Reminds us of God’s faithfulness:  “Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom.  One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts.  They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty—and I will meditate on your wonderful works. They tell of the power of your awesome works— and I will proclaim your great deeds. They celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness.”  Psalm 145:  3 – 7

4) Wisdom:  “Your commands are always with me and make me wiser than my enemies. I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes. I have more understanding than the elders, for I obey your precepts.” Psalm 119: 98- 100

There is no downside to meditating on God’s Word.  God reveals Himself to us and His plans for us, as we focus our attention on Him and meditate on His commands. I encourage you to meditate on the truth of God’s Word to find the peace, encouragement, and direction you are seeking.

In God We Trust

This week the phrase ‘In God We Trust’ has been in the news.  Brevard County Sheriff’s department added decals with the phrase to their patrol cars.  An atheist group has challenged the sheriff’s right to do so, stating that it is “frightening and politically dubious for the local police department to announce to citizens that officers rely on the judgment of a deity rather than on the judgment of the law.”  Their words could be no farther from the truth.

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I believe that it is frightening and foolish to put one’s trust in any person, organization, or institution rather than in the Lord God.  God created us, loves us, and provides for all our needs, the most important of which is our eternal salvation.   Trusting in the Lord not only makes sense, but comes with great benefits.

  • Trusting in God brings peace and joy.  Romans 15:13 tells “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
  • God protects those who trust in Him.  “As for God, His way is perfect; The word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him. 2 Samuel 22:31
  • God directs the path of those who trust Him. Proverbs 3: 5 -6 encourages us to “ Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.”
  • God blesses those who trust  in Him.  “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!” Psalm 34:8

‘In God We Trust’ is our national motto.  It is printed on our currency.  It makes perfect sense that those who put their lives on the line every day for their fellow citizens would put their trust in God and would want to display the motto on their vehicles.

Where do you put your trust?  If you are looking for security, peace, protection, direction, and blessings, I highly recommend putting your trust in God.

The Law of the Lord is Perfect

When I was much younger, my church used to sing the words of Psalm 19: 7 – 11 regularly.  It is a beautiful song and full of truth.  God’s Word is true, and His law is perfect.  God’s Word provides us with all we need to know to live lives that are full, happy, and blessed.

There is great discontentment in our society today.  People are searching for satisfaction in things that will never bring satisfaction–wealth, power, prestige, fame, and physical pleasure–to name a few.  There is nothing wrong with these things, in and of themselves, but they can never bring lasting joy and contentment without a relationship with God.  It’s easy to see that worldly gain and pleasure do not satisfy.  Lack of peace and contentment is evidenced by increased use of alcohol, narcotics and illegal drugs to mask pain and dissatisfaction.  People seeking love go from marriage to marriage, relationship to relationship, without finding true love.

The answer to the discontentment is a relationship with Jesus Christ which is built solidly on God’s Word.  As the psalmist wrote so eloquently, God’s Word brings conversion, wisdom, rejoicing, and enlightenment.  His truths are to be desired and when we follow His commands and obey His law, there really is great reward.

 

Psalm 19: 7 – 11

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.

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