Red Light, Green Light

Solomon’s life and reign are recorded as possibly one of the most prosperous in the Bible. Solomon’s success is attributed to his dependence upon the Lord to guide his steps.  Solomon depended on God to tell him what to do and when to do it. Solomon’s journey shows us that God is trustworthy, and, if we are patient and faithful to obey His commands, His promises will not return void.

In 1 Kings 8:17-19, Solomon recounted the fact that his father David had come up with the idea to build God’s temple, a permanent structure where God could dwell.  But God told David “no.”   Did God say “no” because it was wrong for David to want to do this? Not at all.  Verse 18 says that God commended David for what he wanted to do:

My father David had it in his heart to build a temple for the Name of the Lord, the God of Israel. But the Lord said to my father David, ‘You did well to have it in your heart to build a temple for my Name. Nevertheless, you are not the one to build the temple, but your son, your own flesh and blood—he is the one who will build the temple for my Name.’

God commended David because his motives were in the right place, but just because someone has the good motives for doing something doesn’t make it the right thing to do.   For example, in Texas we have the “right on red” law. This means that a driver can make a right turn despite a red traffic light. However, just because the law says it’s ok, and the reason you want to do it is to help out the drivers behind you who might be in a hurry, does that make it a good idea to go ahead and turn without checking for oncoming traffic first?  No.  You could have a wreck.  First, we have to check to see if there are cars, people, or any number of hazards before we pull out.  In the same way, first we need to check with our Heavenly Father, who knows all things and sees all things, to learn whether what we’re wanting to do is a good idea or not.

Solomon showed us that we should trust God and follow His directions in order to have peace in our lives.  That instruction seems simple enough, but I found myself asking the question, “How do I know that I’m hearing Him correctly?”  Well, how do you hear anyone? You listen to their words. The Bible is God’s Word.  Read your Bible.  Study your Bible.  Listen to God’s Words.  God’s voice gets louder and louder the more we spend time with Him learning about His character and His attributes, just as when you start to spend more time with people, the easier it becomes to understand them.

God will have specific instructions for you and your journey, and He will communicate that to you however He sees fit.

I also have found myself wondering, and still do sometimes, “Is this my own ambition, or is this from the Lord?”  Understand this: He will ALWAYS back up what He says to you personally with Scripture — His written, permanent Word. And His Word never changes.  Ever.  If what you’re hearing does not line up with His permanent Word, that’s not God speaking to you.

The grass withers, the flowers fall, but the Word of our God endures forever.  Isaiah 40:8 NIV

About the Writer:
Natalie is a stay at home mom to two young boys. Additionally, she occasionally works as an emergency room nurse and is studying to become a Nurse Practitioner. She and her husband have been called into the medical mission field and are excited to see what the Lord has in store for their lives.

What Comes From Righteousness?

A few weeks before my mom died, I was sitting on my back porch continuing a study of the book of Isaiah.  As I read, a verse suddenly jumped off the page. Has that ever happened to you? I stopped and read it over and over again. 

The fruit of that righteousness will be peace; its effect will be righteousness and confidence forever. Isaiah 32:17 NIV

Wow! To a young woman struggling with motherhood, children-hood, wife-hood, family budgets, friendships, loss of some dreams and challenges of new ones, and the ever-present question, “Why do good things come to ungodly people?” this was great news!

I called Mom.  “Mom did you know that this verse is in the Bible?” Mom said, “Well I’m sure I’ve read it before but haven’t thought about it much.”  The next day Mom called me back, “Pam, look at the context of this verse.  It’s talking about Heaven! Because we hang in there with faith through all the struggles, all the worries we have today are replaced with peace and quietness and confidence in Heaven. And the result is that we can have hope today. You can have hope, and I can have hope, even though our struggles are different.” While I was thrilled at the prospect of Heaven in this verse, it surprised me that Mom didn’t first see what I had seen—comfort in my present circumstances.  

A short time later Mom died suddenly, although a result of several difficult years struggling with poor health. Crushed, broken, angry, and lonely, I was lost in the questions to God: “Why does it have to be so hard on earth?” and “Why did you have to take Mom now, when I really needed her the most?”  And then I remembered the sweet conversations with her only a few weeks before concerning Isaiah 32:17. 

That began the journey with Isaiah 32:17 and me. In the coming years this verse would become a part of me.  I memorized it. I began to notice it in artwork, on notepads, and even on napkins!  I looked it up in various translations: NASB, the New Living Translation, and the New King James. I researched commentaries, and I learned more about this verse and Mom’s words to me.  

You see, righteousness comes from the Lord. It is His righteousness that we have, and it is sufficient for all we seek, now and in the future. Mom and I were in different places in our walk with God.  Mom was looking toward Heaven, weary and ready to receive His welcome, and to see Him face to face. And being reconciled to God in that way is the correct interpretation of this passage.  Mom saw hope and promise of the future kingdom of Jesus Christ.  I on the other hand, was looking for why I should continue to work hard, pressing on in these earthly struggles and obey the precepts in God’s Word.  I discovered it was right to remain faithful, because even in this earthy life the result would also be “quietness and confidence forever.”  This meant the peace I longed for was already with me, had been with me all along, and would continue to be with me forever. This also is the correct interpretation of this verse. That’s the beauty and sufficiency of God’s Word. What a promise!  And how beautiful that the Lord would take the same passage of Scripture between a mother and her daughter and reach each one right where she was, one at the end of her life of service, the other in the midst of it.  

So now you can see why Isaiah 32:17 is my favorite life verse among several that I hold dear.  Not only does it remind me of the last meaningful conversation I had with Mom about the Word of God, but it also reminds me that God will meet each of us right where we are and promises us that “the work of righteousness is peace, and the result of righteousness is quietness and confidence FOREVER.”  

How has God specifically spoken to you through His Word to give you peace, confidence, and quietness, and blessed you with His promise?

About the Writer:

Pam is Director of Women’s Ministry of First Baptist Dallas, a wife, a mom, a grandmother, and grateful to be included in this great team of Yada Yada bloggers.  

Listen to the Science !

“Wear a mask!” 

“Stay home!”

“Stay six feet apart!”

“Trust the scientists!”

“Listen to the experts!”

We have all been bombarded recently with advice from every side, almost to the point at which I would like to scream, “Shut up!” One of the most common opinions I have been hearing is that everyone should trust the science and the scientists who interpret it for us. The study of science is certainly wonderful in many respects. Scientists discovered a vaccine for smallpox and put men on the moon. Scientists invented many devices which have made our lives easier than those of our ancestors. I truly believe that the medical researchers will soon find a treatment and a vaccine for the novel coronavirus which is plaguing our whole world. I have no quarrel with science and actually was fascinated by the subject when I was in school. 

However, I have observed that some declarations of scientists have turned out not to be factual after all! It seems that whenever the archeologists affirm that they have found the oldest skeletal remains of a species, someone finds evidence that is even older. Just as the astronomers claim they have found the “edge” of the universe, a newly developed telescope reveals that mankind has come nowhere even close to the limits of outer space. Even the little planet Pluto was demoted to “dwarf planet” in 2006, when another, smaller dwarf planet named Eris was discovered. Scientists believed that there were nine planets in our solar system before finding out that we have only eight “planets” and two “dwarf planets!” Until explorers such as Christopher Columbus discovered that the earth is indeed round, scientists believed it to be flat! How many times have the meteorologists predicted a hurricane’s path only to be proven incorrect when the hurricane “changed its mind” at the last minute and “decided” to go in a different direction? 

So here’s what I think about the reliability of “science.” Scientists are not infallible.

The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.  Psalm 19:1

Some people say that science and faith are mutually exclusive, but I believe just the opposite to be true. After all, God created the whole universe and everything in it, including all the processes of science, as we can plainly read in His divinely inspired Word, according to Genesis 1:1:

   In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Our omnipotent Creator God holds all the secrets of nature and science. In His grace, He has revealed to human beings what they needed to know about nature in order to bring glory to Himself and to benefit humanity. Long before man became so well-educated, He should have seen the hand of God at work in the creation all around him. But, unfortunately, man chose to worship the creation instead of the One who made it all! Consider Romans 1:20-23,25:

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. . . . For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

People were not able to see God with their physical eyes, but they had the opportunity to know Him by the wondrous works of His creation—through FAITH! And there were indeed some who did believe in Him and worship Him. The Psalms are replete with references to God’s creation as an instrument of revelation.

In His divine wisdom and sovereign will, God has gradually allowed men and women to make discoveries which enabled them to develop medicines to cure diseases and to find ways to generate energy for the welfare of the whole world. He allowed them also to invent machines to increase productivity. We wouldn’t have cars, trains, wheelchairs, or roller skates if someone had not figured out how to make and use a wheel! We would not have nuclear medicine, X-rays, MRIs, or nuclear power if someone had not first discovered radium, uranium, and other elements. The identification of electricity led to the devices we enjoy today—lights, computers, televisions, and much, much more! Germs, electricity, atoms, elements, vitamins, gravity, evaporation existed all along, but man just didn’t know about them until God took the initiative. The sun, the atom, and the wind were all present before man learned how to harness them to generate power. Each scientist has built on discoveries and inventions of those who went before. But all wisdom and knowledge have come from God!!!! If a scientist forgets about Who made everything, then he might begin to worship the science instead of the One who created it. That is the danger of putting all of one’s trust in science instead of in the Lord God Almighty, maker of heaven and earth! Studying science and its processes may make a man or woman smart, but it won’t make him or her wise. Think about that for a moment. Only God can impart wisdom to us, and He does that when we fear Him and obey Him.

 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. . . .Psalm 111:10a

Science and the study of its processes can be very instructive, but they are not able to save our souls. God loved us so much that He gave His only begotten Son to die for our sins and open the door for us to be forgiven and to be given everlasting life!!!! And we receive those privileges through faith in Jesus Christ. 

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.  Ephesians 2:8

No matter how great or how important it may be, science can’t give you salvation!

About the Writer:

Diana is a former high school teacher, Sunday School teacher, and Women’s Bible Studies teacher. For many years a stay-at-home wife and mother, she is now also a grandmother to three young Oklahomans who call her “Gigi.”

What If . . .

In times like these, with a pandemic raging, life can become even more fearful and stressful if you encounter health, relational, financial, or any other life struggles, besides and including Covid 19.  In March, I discovered a lump and an abnormal indentation in my breast which was later identified as invasive ductal and lobular carcinoma. This diagnosis was followed by a mastectomy and additional tissue and lymph node removal surgeries.

One of my first responses was, “Why me Lord?”  Having lived a relatively healthy lifestyle throughout my life, I could not believe this was happening. I was in total denial.  I later realized that denial was an issue of pride.  “Why not me?” should have been the question instead.

My next response was outright fear with the “what ifs” spiraling through my head pushing out all rational thoughts.  What if it spread to other organs in my body? What if I could not get treatment in a pandemic? What if the treatment didn’t work? What if, what if, what if. . . .and  so the battle began, resulting in a downward spiral physically, mentally, and spiritually.  Being a long time Bible teacher and student of God’s Word, I began to pray fervently, listing all the attributes of God and His precious promises. In the beginning, even those prayers did not ease my fears as my eyes were blinded by the hold Satan had on my mind.  For a season, it was as if I was in a fog, totally losing sight of God’s perspective. It was as if I had lost my faith. I now believe the “what if” thoughts were a direct attack from Satan causing me to fill my mind with fear and anxiety rather than the truths I knew so well.

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, with physical and mental healing, key verses slowly began to break through, gain strength, and grow.  I was able to make application of His Word to my daily walk again!

Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 41:10

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  Philippians 4:6

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous!  Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.  Joshua 1:9

 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.  Ephesians 6:11

We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.  2 Corinthians 10:5

Notice some of the key words in the verses above.

  • “Be still.”—Some versions say “quit striving” or “relax and know that He is in control.”
  • “Pray.”—Talk, ask, and fellowship with our Father. He knows our thoughts but wants us to turn to Him in total reliance upon Him.
  • “Thanksgiving”—When I started to take the “fear” and turn it into “thanksgiving,” it is as if I changed the whole perspective of my thinking. It is difficult to be fearful of a medical procedure while giving thanks for it at the same time.
  • “Put on the full armor of God”—the belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, shield of faith, helmet of salvation, and sword of the Spirit. Numerous applications can be made, but know that God provides our protection from attacks if we will remember all His truths, allow the sword of the Spirit to work for us, hold on to faith, protect our minds, and use all the weapons He provides in His Word. He knew we would need them.
  • “Take captive every thought.”—As pointed out by Jennie Allen in her book, Get Out of Your Head, I realized taking control of our minds can bring peace to our lives and that I have a choice.  While I may not be able to control every thought every time, I can choose one thought to battle against and capture it, change it every time it comes to mind, and replace it with the truths of God’s Word.

I have a whole new respect for the numerous women who struggle with cancer or any other long-term health issue. I am so very thankful for the cards, notes, calls, emails, and texts I received during my surgeries and recoveries. They became my lifeline. I am especially grateful to those who shared their journey of cancer with me as examples of their walk through the roller coaster ride of recovery.

I know that God allows everything and that nothing happens without His knowledge. He has a plan, and I await eagerly to see how He works everything for good according to His purpose in my life. I pray that I may be worthy of the calling He has for me in this journey and that I will be able to be of comfort to others in their time of need.

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.  Romans 8:28

I cannot imagine facing all the difficulties of this world without a true relationship with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  I encourage you to trust your life to Him if you have not done so already.  And if you have made that commitment, I would encourage you to walk closer to Him through daily prayer and meditation on His Word. Only with Him can we stand firm through the “what ifs” of this life.

If I can be of assistance to you in sharing my journey or answer any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me through the comments of our blog.

About the Writer:
Beverly is a retired educational administrator, wife, parent, and grandparent with a love for sharing God’s Word with others.

Perfect Peace

In our world today, we are facing so many different issues.  Where does one turn when things seem to be unraveling or when one doesn’t know what the future holds?  Where do we find our fulfillment and joy, and how can we have peace during this time?  The answer is Jesus. . .Jesus, the one who loves you so much that He died for you so you could accept His free gift of salvation and live with Him forever.  The Father that loves you so much that He sent a helper, the Holy Spirit, to guide and direct His people while they are here on earth.

You see, friend, the world was not meant to satisfy our hearts. Some people are trying to find peace in our world with a new job, position, or even by changing other people.  These things were never meant to be our foundation.

These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world. John 16:33  

Jesus knew that we would have ups and downs in life and that there would be trials we would experience here on earth.  Jesus has forever conquered death and will come back for His children one day to live with Him forever.  For those that pass away before then, they will get a head start living with Him forever in eternity.  He alone is our foundation.

I know what you might be thinking. How does that help me today?  You don’t know what I’m experiencing right now.  You don’t know what I’m facing or what my life has looked like over the past couple of months.  You’re right friend, I don’t.  But God does.  He created you, loves you unconditionally, and knows your innermost needs and thoughts.

 Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. John 14:27

When we have Jesus in our hearts, we can turn to him for our assurance, comfort, and peace.  We don’t need to find it in things here on earth.  We can remind ourselves of the eternal and find our joy and contentment in who Jesus is, not what the world has to offer.  Our heavenly Father will guard our hearts and minds. He will be with His children through it all.

And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7  

I know people have experienced a wide variety of emotions over these past months.  I myself have wondered if we will get back to “reality” and if my teaching job will return to normal.  Some days have had their ups and downs, but my heart is still experiencing God’s perfect peace.  I am truly grateful for that.  Even when I find out more hurtful news of what’s going on around me, my hope and rest is in God alone.  God’s Word says:

Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.  For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

What can God do with your story, my friend?  What testimony of His perfect peace will be evidenced in your life as you lean on Him? May we focus on Jesus and become better reflections of Him so others can find His perfect peace that truly satisfies any soul.

About the Writer:

Alana faithfully serves at her church home, First Baptist Dallas, where she enjoys using her talents and gifts to help others grow in Christ.  She taught elementary music in public schools for nineteen years.  She is married to Mike, and they have a cute mini golden doodle puppy named Bentley.

Seeking Approval? Are You Trying to Please Men (or) God?

I was worn out to say the least. I was attempting to please one person while going to great lengths to please another person. I tried diligently to defend my character from others’ misunderstandings. Also, I showered compliments along with unremitting apologies toward those who I felt did not like me. Why? For the sole purpose of making peace. The end result? I became completely exhausted.

I needed the Lord to intervene. Instead of continuing down the same destructive path, I cried out to my Father, “Please deliver me from people-pleasing.”

One evening I walked into a situation completely orchestrated by God Himself. Within the context of the circumstance, a condition arose that not only broke my heart but the spirit of people-pleasing as well. I was reminded on this day of many forgotten truths. An entirely new view emerged—one of pleasing my Father instead of pleasing man.

Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, Colossians 3:23

We should live to please God, not man.

What have I learned in regard to “People-Pleasing?” Well, I’m glad you asked.

  1. Not everyone is going to like us. What should be our response? Well, not everyone liked Jesus yet He displayed love toward His enemies in spite of their dislike toward Him. He also did something else very notable. He continued to move forward in His mission and refused to allow anything or anyone to derail His journey. We, too, should follow suit.
  2. Not everyone is going to believe in us, or should they. True! We must never allow the disbelief of others to have power over our lives. If God has called you to a task, then do it with all your heart, mind, and soul. God doesn’t need people to believe in you in order for Him to carry out His work through you. Whatever He calls to be will be—regardless if others believe!

As believers we are under the umbrella of God’s protection. He loves us, He cares for us, and He desires to use us for His Kingdom. Yet we must learn to walk according to His truth instead of man’s opinion.

Point to Ponder: The mere hands that applaud us one minute may belong to the individuals who slander us the next minute. Jesus will always be faithful to His own. And without a doubt, He is the only One who will never leave us nor forsake us.

About the Writer:
O’Shea is the mother of two and nana of five and enjoys both roles tremendously.  She is the the Executive Director of Entrusted Hope Ministries where she loves serving through speaking and blogging. A member of First Baptist Church, Dallas, O’Shea serves with the church’s First Impressions ministry and teaches the Strong & Courageous Sunday School class for single moms.  Shea received her bachelor’s degree in Christian Ministry from Blue Mountain College in Blue Mountain, Mississippi; her master’s degree in Biblical Counseling from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas; and is currently working on her D.Ed.Min at Southwestern in Family Ministries.

Live for the King of Kings not for the applause of mankind.

Being a Christian Feels Impossible!

I had been closely walking with the Lord for a few years when I began to feel extremely overwhelmed spiritually.  Living out the Christian life began to feel tremendously burdensome, and worse than that, I began to despair and feel as if my ability to live out the Bible was hopeless.  As I read more Scripture and what’s expected of Christians, I was drowning in the difficulty and seeming impossibility of it all! I cried out to God in my anguish, “Father, how is this new covenant any better than the old law? There are just as many rules, and they are equally as impossible to keep!” The Lord graciously answered my cry with Matthew 11:28-30.

ALL WHO ARE WEARY

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.  Matthew 11:28-30.

As I read and meditated on these verses that I had heard so many times before, I began to see it in a new light because this time I was living it.  I thanked God for His answer and responded with another question. “How? God, I believe what you are telling me is true, but HOW is it true?!? HOW is Your yoke easy and Your burden light? Then He responded to me with two simple phrases: “by abiding in Me” and “by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

ABIDE IN ME

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:4-5 (emphasis mine)

I spent the next several months mediating on John 15 and came to understand what Jesus was telling us before He left. My job, our job, is to abide in Him.  He Himself, through His Spirit within us, gives us the power and strength and ability to live out all that He commands of us. See Isaiah 41:10, Colossians 1:11, 1 Thessalonians 5:241 Peter 5:10, Acts 1:8, Matthew 28:19-20, John 14:15-18, John 14:25-26, Philippians 2:13.

BY DISCIPLINE

The next logical question we must ask ourselves is HOW do we abide in Christ? The answer to that is BY DISCIPLINE.

By discipline, we spend time in Christ by being in His Word each and every day.  Christ is the Word and the Word is Christ.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1

By reading the Scriptures we abide in Christ, and by abiding in Christ we become able to bear His fruit, but apart from Christ we can do NOTHING. John 15:10 goes on to say that as we abide in Christ, we will abide in His love, and, as we love Christ, we will obey His commands.

FRUIT FULFILLS THE LAW

As we saw earlier in John 15:5, abiding in Christ results in our bearing His fruit. This fruit is explained in Galatians:

. . . the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.  Galatians 5:22-23.

Did you catch that phrase “against such there is no law?” What the Holy Spirit is able to produce in us fulfills the law.  However, when we try to live for Christ with our own efforts, when we try to observe His commands on our own, when we try to uphold the law by our own strength, we will fail. As Jesus told us, apart from Him we can do nothing.  This idea of fulfilling the law appears again in Romans:

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet, and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.  Romans 13:8-13 (emphasis mine)

Specifically mentioned is the fruit of love.  When we love, we do what is right; but we must remember that this love first comes from abiding in Christ and in His love.

 

PRACTICAL APPLICATION

So how do we live out our Christian lives in a way that fulfills the law, glorifies God, bears His fruit, and testifies Jesus to others? By abiding in Christ.

And how do we Abide in Christ? BY DISCIPLINE.

  • Make time for God each and every day.
  • Ensure that this time includes reading, meditating on, and studying Scripture, as well as praying. This will take discipline because life will threaten to take away this time. You will be tired, busy, distracted, and maybe even discouraged.  Cultivate discipline in your life by committing that you will spend time abiding in Christ each and every day regardless of the circumstances.
  • Discipline by nature requires training and sacrifice. It is difficult and must be worked at repeatedly to attain the desired new behavior.
  • I use an acronym to help me live my life each day, one day at a time: “EACH”
    • E= Empty myself of myself. Start with surrender.
    • A= Abide in Christ. Refuel/refill myself with Christ, His Word, the Holy Spirit, and His power.
    • CH= CHoose love. As I make decisions, interact with people, talk, respond, and think, I am to do so in love; for love fulfills the law.

About the Writer:
Ashley is a Tennessee transplant in Dallas and mother to a young daughter. Ashley has been a member of FBD since 2014. In 2018, the Lord called her to serve full-time with the church where she works in the Finance & Accounting office. When Ashley is not at the church, you can find her and her daughter out in nature somewhere, hiking or camping, enjoying the beauty and splendor of the Lord’s creation.

 

 

Are You Neurotic?

I’ve always been very disciplined. Well, maybe not always, but the last 25 years of my life for sure. In that time, I’ve missed maybe 20 days without a workout (if you don’t count my scheduled “recovery” days). I’ve eaten a total of maybe one large plateful of junk food in all that time, and I can’t think of more than maybe two things I bought and regretted purchasing that couldn’t be returned. I don’t credit any of this to a superior level of discipline, though. I think different personalities have certain predispositions, and some things come easier to me than others.  On the other hand, throw me into a different culture and I can come across as extremely frivolous, wasteful, and weak-willed.

In all the above mentioned cases regarding control over choices, activities, decisions, and priorities, I would say I felt pretty confident. Then came debt. I quickly became aware of my naivety and anxiety about my skills to successfully navigate through it. With all my discipline, I couldn’t imagine a way around it. Instead of denying it, I had to learn to balance it and manage it for a season. I was overwhelmed with the reality of my need for God’s wisdom and grace. Even with a new relationship status, I once again enrolled my daughter in an excellent Christian school and also had the expenses of necessities like bills, food, and shelter. I had to face the fact that I would need to take on some debt to create a stable and positive environment for my daughter and myself. Debt is something I’ve never been willing to choose. Just as we can’t control the trauma (Greek for “injury”) that disrupts our imagined lives, we can’t always control the debt that we enter into or that is forced upon us.

In past months and years there was such a fierce and menacing fear surrounding debt. To me it signified losing control over my future.

In the Bible, storing up wealth is a topic about which much is written. Money, debt, saving, and greed are mentioned more than many other issues in the Bible. Jesus began one of His parables about money with:

Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions. Luke 12:15

Jesus was speaking in response to a man concerned about receiving his inheritance and more comprehensively addressed the folly of thinking that our security and comfort are a result of personal planning and execution. In reading a commentary of this passage of Scripture, it was not the rich man’s plans or successes that Jesus was calling foolish but his priorities and belief that his future was in his control.

Reading this passage for the first time in light of my current situation, I am convicted that a desire to save up and plan for the future is not always the wisest or best thing to do. I am at peace with giving up my perceived control over future stability, plans, and dreams for the pressing needs of today. Even these, God, in His great mercy and sovereignty, is working into His perfect plan.

Tomorrow may never come, and Jesus calls me in the same passage to be rich toward God now. He wants me to be free from worry about the future and to seek first His Kingdom – to put on an attitude of looking to help with the needs of others.

I am grateful that for me to practice diligence in financial matters, I can now place everything at Christ’s feet and ask Him to help me to be wise, to realize that He provides for me, and to ultimately trust Him with my future. I may still enjoy discipline, goals, and results, but at least now I don’t have to be as neurotic about it knowing that He alone can ensure my firm footing!

About the Writer:
Lyndsay loves movement of most every variety. Some of her favorite moments are going on long walks, runs or bike rides in some new uncharted territory or exploring some intellectual or emotional space waiting to be uncovered. By day she works at First Baptist Dallas and in her spare time you will find her enjoying family, teaching mindful movement classes or serving in some community that has as many questions about God and life as she does. She is passionate about God’s Word applied masterfully by the Holy Spirit’s leading and believes the kindness and compassion of Christ changes hearts and unbinds minds – the most significant movement of any kind.

The Act of Worship

When I was single, one of my favorite things to do when I was alone was to have a “worship fest” in my room.  I would turn the volume up on my favorite songs and sing them as loud as I wanted to because no one was there to hear it (except for God of course ;)).  I could even sing one song over and over again, as many times as I wanted to, until it nourished my soul. Thankfully, my husband doesn’t mind if I sing around him and will tolerate my repetition of songs, even in the car!

Why is the act of worship so important?  Why does it nourish our soul so much? Psalm 147:1 says,

Praise the Lord!  For it is good to sing praises to our God; For it is pleasant and praise is becoming.

When we sing praises to our Father, we are reminded of how amazing our Father is and how much we need and depend on Him.  Just as you tell your family and friends how much you love them, we have the opportunity to tell God how much we love Him!  He has shown us the utmost love by sending His son to die on the cross for our sins so that through Him, we can live with Him forever in eternity.  Now that’s love!

We have a Heavenly Father who is not like anyone here on earth. He’s perfect, He’s The King of Kings, The Lord of Lords, The Alpha and Omega, Yahweh, Redeemer, Holy, Righteous, Healer, Deliverer, Shield and Defense, and the list goes on and on!

Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. Hebrews 13:15

One of the reasons I love worship so much is that it takes my eyes off my circumstances and refocuses me on my Heavenly Father.  Instead of having worry, frustration, etc.; When I focus on God, I am reminded of how truly wonderful He is and His perfect character instead of experiencing worry and frustration.  My enormous troubles just seem to shrink as I remind myself our Father truly is good.

For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; He also is to be feared above all gods.  I Chronicles 16:25

Life has its troubles, and we can choose how to respond to them.  When life seems to get the best of you, just remember how wonderful our Father is and how much He loves you.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.  Colossians 3:15

May we continue to be thankful for God and express our love for Him in praise.

About the Writer:
Alana faithfully serves at her church home, First Baptist Dallas, where she enjoys using her talents and gifts to help others grow in Christ.  She taught elementary music in public schools for nineteen years.  She is married to Mike, and they have a cute mini golden doodle puppy named Bentley.

 

Jesus. Is. In. Control.

Last night I observed a live podcast concerning the Coronavirus. I watched intently as messages poured in from all over the nation. Yet one particular communication immediately caught my attention by a young lady who voiced, “I’m scared.”

In a season marked with great uncertainties and fears, we have a Savior who is trustworthy and faithful. While news updates continue to pour in, one message remains steadfast, hopeful, and dependable. Jesus. Is. In. Control.

God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1 

The Lord is my strength and my shield; My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart exults, And with my song I shall thank Him. Psalm 28:7 

We Don’t Have to Fear…….

‘Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’  Isaiah 41:10 

We Can Trust Him……

And those who know Your name will put their trust in You, For You, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.  Psalm 9:10 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6 

He is causing all things to work together for good–to those who love Him….

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.  For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren. Romans 8:28-29 

What are we called to do?……..

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 

Focus on God’s Promises……

Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. Colossians 3:1-2 

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.  Philippians 4:8 

The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, Because he trusts in You.  Isaiah 26:3 

Jesus. Is. In. Control. This truth will not be altered by anyone or anything. The following broadcast has been brought to you by God’s Word. Spread the news…..