The Most Valuable Treasure Ever

Its funny how one word can trigger a windfall of thoughts. I wrote the word “treasure” on a little slip of paper a few days ago.

Treasure.

One would think of a treasure chest or a valuable item. My thoughts were on the most Valuable One that ever was, is, or will be. Jesus. My mind began to think of all the places that He showed up as a treasure.

In the cloud that led the Israelites.

In the whirlwind in which He spoke to Job.

In the rock that poured water in the desert.

In the babe in the manger.

I see His treasure in nature that cries out in praise.

In the flowers in my garden.

In the rainbow that fills the sky after the rain.

But today…. my mind took me to a surprising, perhaps even unusual place.

I began to see His treasure in a man in that stands out in time; his name is John the Baptist. I love to call him John the Baptizer. To read of him, he was a very strange duck.

Now John wore a garment of camel’s hair, a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. Matthew 3:4

I found myself looking up verse after verse about this man that one day I will meet.

I see an individual who lived a life that mattered, one who lived out his calling.

His purpose was to prepare the Way of the Lord.

For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.’” Matthew 3:3

I know that I am not John the Baptist by any means…

but I do know that I was created to be a part of the important work of our Heavenly Father on this earth.

I was created to serve the One and Only. The words to an old, old chorus ring in my mind:

I am determined,
I’ve made up my mind,
I’ll serve the Lord.
I’ve left the pleasures of this world behind,
I’ll serve the Lord.
I’ll follow wherever he leadeth,
I’ll pasture wherever he feedeth,
I am determined,
I’ve made up my mind,
I’ll serve the Lord.

The Most Valuable Treasure Ever pin image

One of the most beautiful parts of reading and studying God’s Word is getting a glance into the lives of those that came before us.

I have learned how to live and how not to live by their examples.
From John the Baptizer, I want to be:

  • Bold
  • Determined
  • Committed
  • Live a life that matters.

I believe that John did not see his own life as valuable, compared to the work of Christ. He pointed people to Jesus. He wanted the people to see The Christ and Him alone.

This singular focus of John the Baptist reminds me of 1 Corinthians.

“For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” 1 Corinthians 2:2

He is all that matters. I will not compromise. I will live bold and determined to know Him, to serve Him, to live for Him. To point others to Jesus, the Lamb, the One who “takes away sin”.

“The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29

Take the time today to consider how you can point others to Jesus, The One and Only.

Is it in our conversation? In an act of kindness? Truth spoken in love? Taking the time to stop and pray with someone that is need of encouragement?

Whatever it is, may the desire of our heart be that those around us would see Jesus living in us.

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What Does the Bible Teach Us About Fellowship?

The word fellowship has been a part of my vocabulary for as long as I can remember.

fel·low·ship

[ˈfelōˌSHip]
NOUN

  • A friendly association, especially with people who share one’s interests.
  • A group of people meeting to pursue a shared interest or aim.

With that word came great anticipation of what that fellowship would entail.

  • Where would it be?
  • What would we do?
  • What would we eat? (smile)
  • How long would it last?

One thing I always knew, though, was that it would involve my friends from church.

But not everyone knows what it means to fellowship.

When I would say fellowship to my school friends they would laugh! The word was so foreign to them. “Fellowship! Is that a boat?” I did not even know how to explain how glorious fellowship was! It was love in action. It was sharing conversation and activity with people of like faith. It was part of who I was. There was a longing in my heart to fellowship with fellow believers.

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and ball the more as you see the Day drawing near.

” – Hebrews 10:24–25

Even now, I long to fellowship; to SLOW DOWN; look at someone in the eyes; talk; laugh; share a recipe; talk about a book; speak of what the Lord is doing; to share new music; or sit in silence with friend.

What does the Bible teach us about fellowship - pin image

But there is one thing about fellowship that is crucial.

Fellowship takes TIME and ATTENTION – two of our greatest commodities.

These two things are so valuable to us that so often we are not willing to share. Or we save them for a select few.

What does fellowship look like in the Bible?

One of my favorite examples is found on the Road to Emmaus.

“That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened.  While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them.” Luke 24:13-14

What a picture of fellowship. Walking down the road together, talking and discussing.

And then Jesus joins them!

He gives them His undivided attention! He begins to FELLOWSHIP with them.

Face to face—voice to voice.
Not texting.
No voicemail.
No e-mail.
Time and Attention.
FELLOWSHIP.

Jesus always took time, gave His undivided attention, and fellowshipped.

  • He stopped, turned around and looked at the woman who touched the hem of His garment. (Matthew 9)
  • He sat at the well just waiting for the Samaritan woman. (John 4)
  • He goes to the house of Zacchaeus for dinner. (Luke 19)
  • He walked on the water and climbed into the boat to be with the disciples. (Mark 6)

And those are just a few examples.

We so often make excuses for our LACK of true fellowship, even in our own homes.

How often I go places and see every family member sitting at a table, each one on his/her phone, not looking at those around the table and nobody talking. No time or attention given. And I am convicted, pierced to my core.

I find myself asking this question: How generous am I with my time, my attention, my FELLOWSHIP?

In fellowship we build one another up. We carry one another’s burdens. We grow in our faith. WE LEAD OTHERS TO HIM.

So, my challenge for the day (for all of us) is this—are we willing to give of our time and attention to fellowship with those around us?

“Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity”
-Simone Weil

Let us put down our phones, turn off the TV, and open our doors and hearts to FELLOWSHIP one with another! I think we would all be amazed and how beautiful our gardens would grow!

May We Never Lose Our Wonder at the Cross

May we never lose our wonder
May we never lose our wonder
Wide eyed and mystified
May we be just like a child
Staring at the beauty of our King

Bethel music—Wonder Lyrics

The other day I took out a book that I have.

It is a children’s book about a little robin that is flying over Jerusalem on the day that Jesus is crucified. My granddaughter crawled up on my lap and I started to read it to her.

May We Never Lose Our Wonder at the Cross pin image

Now, I am well aware that this book is just that: a story book. The Bible does not say anything about this little bird. But in reality, all of nature was watching what was about to take place that Day. In my own heart and mind, I can almost see the birds of the air and the little animals crying over what the people were doing to Jesus. After all, we know that the winds and the waves obey Him, the trees clap their hands in worship, it is only man that refuses to submit and praise the King of all Kings.

The book begins with a story about a little girl and her gramma keeping watch over a robin’s nest that is outside the gramma’s window of her house. And then the heartbreaking beauty of the Crucifixion is told when the gramma starts to tell the little girl about why we celebrate Easter and what happened that week.

The picture of Tressa and her Gram sitting at the table with her little dog by her side was bright and beautiful and cheerful…

and then we turned the page….

Image of Jesus carrying the cross

And there it was, a picture of Jesus carrying His cross and on His head was the crown of thorns…. My heart caught in my throat as it always does. Caroline turned and looked at me and in her eyes, I could see that something was happening in her little heart. The reality of what our Lord did for us was making its mark on her.

Robin removing thorn from Jesus' forehead

She asked ….”Nana, what is on Jesus’ head”…. She is only 4 and the crown of thorns was something she was not familiar with, nor did she understand. We just sat together and looked at the picture. It was a sacred moment. A moment of worship. A moment of remembrance. A moment of total silence. How can anyone say that a child cannot understand the holiness of God? And how could I even begin to “explain” what that crown represented. I whispered a prayer, “Lord, give me Your Words…..”

I never want to “explain” away the wonder of God.

I am thankful for that little book. It gave me the privilege to share with my sweet little granddaughter that Jesus is THE KING OF ALL KINGS. They were trying to mock Him with that painful crown of thorns. But NOTHING AND NOBODY CAN CHANGE THE FACT THAT HE IS THE KING!

“and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on His head and put a reed in His right hand. And kneeling before Him, they mocked Him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!”

-Matthew 27:29

I don’t think I will ever forget the sound of her voice…

“Nana, why did they put that crown of thorns on Jesus’ head.”

Oh, my sweet girl. That is one of the mysteries I will never understand either.

But even greater, He allowed it.

He could have called 10,000 angels to save Him, but He did not.

He died for you and for me.

“Upon his precious head they placed a crown of thorns
They laughed and said, “Behold the king”
They struck him and they cursed him and mocked his holy name
All alone he suffered everything”

When the little robin saw Jesus, he said, “I know this man.” Because all of earths creatures, except humans, recognize Jesus—their Creator-God come to earth.”

Even though that little robin was not real, I fell in love with him because he helped me to share the greatest Story that was ever told to my granddaughter. We talked about that crown of thorns, the mockery that Jesus endured, the Precious Blood that He shed on the Cross for our forgiveness of sin, the Hope of Heaven.

And I was given a rich reminder.

I always want to be like a child.

I never want to lose the reverence and amazement that comes when I look at the Suffering Servant.

There would have been no Resurrection without His Crucifixion. May I (may we) never look lightly or become so familiar with the crown of thorns that I (that we) do not become like a child and ask why.

But we know why.

Because He loved us enough to shed His own Blood for our forgiveness of sin.

Oh, how I love Jesus.

May we never lose our wonder.

We Are All In Need of a Shepherd

Gentle Shepherd come and lead us
For we need you to help us find our way
Gentle Shepherd come and feed us
For we need your strength from day to day
-Bill and Gloria Gaither

I have a little sheep bell that I keep on my windowsill. It was a gift given to me by a very dear friend. On the top of the little box that is its home these words are written: “….Be our SHEPHERD and carry us forever….” Psalm 28.

Sheep Bell and box photo
I love that little sheep bell. Some days I take it out and shake it just so I can listen to the beautiful sound of the jingling that it makes. It is like a sweet melody in my ear. I am reminded that my Father is a Gentle Shepherd clothing me, feeding me, strengthening me, teaching me, correcting me. I could go on and on. The list of what He does for me (and you) are endless. I am lost without Him.

Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.
-Luke 15:3-7

He found me in my sin and shame and rescued me.

He left the 99 to search for me.

I was lost but now I’m found.
We are all in need of a shepherd - pin image
YET…there are times that I still find myself wandering. There are days that I get off track, times that I am so distracted with all that concerns me that I wander away from Him. But instead of leaving me to my own demise, The Good Shepherd comes after me. It is as if I wear an invisible sheep bell around my neck. I cannot get very far and I hear that still small voice calling back to His protection and guidance.

Why the Sheep Bell?

Let’s look at the definition: SHEEP BELL (noun)
  The noun SHEEP BELL has 1 sense:

1. a bell hung round the neck of a sheep so that the sheep can be easily located

So often we think that we have found Him, but in reality, He has found us.

The Word of God tells us that Jesus Christ came into the world to seek and save the lost.

“For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
-Luke 19:10

My little sheep bell will always be a reminder that His love for me is greater than any other love. He is the Good Shepherd and I am the sheep of His pasture. He knows me far better than I even know myself.

• He knows the very hairs on my head. (Matthew 10:30)
• He knows when I sit and when I rise (Psalm 139:2)
• He knows my thoughts. (Psalm 94:11)
• He knows my tears. (Psalm 56:8)
• He knew me before I was ever born. (Psalm 139:16)
• He guides me in truth and teaches me. (Psalm 25:5)
• He knows my name.

The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.
-John 10:3

May we always KNOW that all we have to do is call out His Name and He is there.

Even when we are lost and floundering one little shake of our neck and that bell calls out for Him to come for us. And He does. And there is no better place, no safer haven than in the arms of the Great and Gentle Shepherd.

The Overseer of our souls.

“For you were straying like sheep, but you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”
1 Peter 2:25

Whatever is weighing on you today, what is distracting you to the point of worry…

Take the time to stop and call out to the Shepherd.

He is right beside you. Waiting to help.

 

Sometimes Things are Not as They Seem

I love everything about Paperwhite Narcissus. They require little more than to be potted and watered to produce clusters of fragrant flowers. The little kits of bulbs just call out at me “buy me!” and “Take me home!” And I have never been disappointed!

If one were to just look at the bulbs it would appear that they are nothing special.

But sometimes, things are not as they seem.

Who would imagine that in about 6-10 weeks’ time this brown ugly bulb would erupt into a mass of pure white, clusters of blooming Paperwhites. A simple glass bowl can become a garden of beauty any where and in any season when you place that little brown bulb in some stones or dirt add some water, and place it in the sun.

Unless you are familiar with this delicate and gorgeous little flower you have no idea that the scent of them will permeate the room, filling it with the atmosphere of spring time.

They remind me that sometimes things are not as they seem.

There is someone in Scripture who also reminds me that sometimes, things are not as they seem.

Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter). John 1:40-42

Cephas
Peter
Petra
Stone
Rock

“….Jesus looked at him and said…”

I am taken in with the very thought that Jesus looked right into Simon Peter’s eyes.

According to Strongs dictionary, the word “looked”:

emblépō
properly, stare (look) at with a “locked-in gaze”;
look at in a sustained, concentrated way,
i.e. with special “interest, love or concern”

Jesus “locked-in gaze” at Simon and He knew what Simon really was made of. He looked at him in a concentrated way, and called him by a new name.

The name by which He would transform him to be.

The name by which Simon was becoming.

Jesus knew all of the mistakes that this man would make.
• That out of impulse and anger he would cut off the ear of the high priest servant.
• That Peter would waver time and time again.
• That Peter would deny him 3 times.

I once heard it said that Simon went from a reed that is so easily swayed by the wind to the rock that Jesus would build his church on.

Simon may not have seen himself as Cephas/Peter, ROCK. But the Lord did.

Sometimes things are not as they seem.sometimes things are not as they seem pin image

Peter’s life transformed the early church. He was bold and vibrant, the spokesman for the disciples. He was the first to call Jesus the Son of the Living God, The Messiah (Mark 8:29). He willingly suffered for the cause of Christ. He was beaten, imprisoned, persecuted.

He was transformed from a hasty, quick to speak, arrogant man to an obedient, willing, servant of the Lord that loved Him above all else.

Simon, son of John, a simple fisherman, became Peter, a mighty fisher of men.

Just as water, sun and time birth the delicate and fragrant Paperwhite flower, so did the SON and time and Living Water transform Simon Peter.

Sometimes —things are not as they seem

My true identity is not in how I see myself but it is in how the Master sees me.

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” -Ephesians 2:10

I am His child and I belong to Him.

“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” -John 1:12

His child.
His fragrance.
His disciple.
His handiwork.

Just as the Paperwhite Narcissus goes from a bulb to a beautiful flower…

Just as Simon went from a fisherman to a fisher of men…

May I go on to maturity in Christ so that I can be all that He has called me to be.

All 3 appearing to be nothing very special on the outside… but then I remember…

Sometimes —things are not as they seem

What Bible heroes do you often look at? Who are the ordinary people that God used for His great purposes? Share your person in the comment section below. I would love to hear from you!

What to Do When You Mess Everything Up

Life is full of ups and downs, highs and lows and joys and heartaches. I have found that the only surety is Jesus. It matters not what a day holds, be it glorious or painful, when I lay my head on my pillow it is Him to where my mind goes. I rest in the total confidence that He has not forgotten me—not for one second. It is impossible for God to be unaware of me.

That may sound really lofty but the word tells me it is truth.

Can a woman forget her nursing child,
that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb?
Even these may forget,
yet I will not forget you.
Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
your walls are continually before me.
(Isaiah 49:15-16)

Like many of you, I know full well the pain of rejection and the sorrow of abandonment. But I know the ONE that loves me enough for the whole world! I am reminded today of a man in the Bible:

• who was born of a miracle
• who was dedicated to God from birth as a Nazarite
• who was a judge
• who had the Spirit of the Lord upon him
• whose life was in God’s plan
• who had a great weakness for women
• who is listed in Hebrews 11, the Great Hall of Faith
• whose strength was found in his hair

Have you figured him out yet?

SAMSON.

His story unfolds for us in Judges 13-16. The life of Samson makes some of the best bible reading. It is filled with what was and what could have been, but it ends with the KNOWING that we are never forgotten.

Then Samson called to the LORD and said, “O Lord GOD, please remember me and please strengthen me only this once, O God, that I may be avenged on the Philistines for my two eyes.” (Judges 16:28)

The story of Samson tells us of his shenanigans, the betrayal by the woman that he loved and the fall of the strongest man ever. His life is not what we could consider to be “a good example” from such a charismatic leader, yet he is found in the heroes of faith.

“And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets—” (Hebrews 11:32)

Judges 16:28 imageSamson was taken by the Philistines, his eyes were gouged out, they bound him in shackles and placed him in a prison to rot. The demise of such a fearless man is very sad. Most people leave him in that prison using his life as an example of what we should not do. And trust me, we should not live like Samson lived. Yet, in that prison in his loneliness and abandonment, God had not forgotten him.

One of the powerful verses in the Bible, at least to me, is Judges 16:22

“But the hair on his head began to grow again after it had been shaved.” (Judges 16:22)

Stop.

I have to stop here and take a “Selah” moment! The hair on his head began to grow after it had been shaved. Samson had to start all over again! Everyday grinding in that prison as he walked in the same circle over and over and over and over. I would bet that he was talking to his God all the while.

And the day came when God said: Today is the day that I am going to redeem you and use you in spite of yourself.

When You Mess Everything Up Pin Image

It is hard for us to understand this story. It is only with heaven’s eyes that we can see the eternal beauty in it. Samson was not a hero in how he lived, but he is a reminder to me that even when I have failed, even when I feel alone, even when I feel imprisoned, even if it feels that my head has been shaved—-God is still working in me and for me.

My surety and my confidence are in Christ alone.

Nothing can separate me from His love.

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,

‘For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered’

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

(Romans 8:35-39)

Trust in HIM.

If I put my trust in God, no matter what happens, he is working on my behalf even when I cannot see it. Often when my spiritual progress is slooooooow going, I must remember Judges 16:22.

“But the hair on his head began to grow again after it had been shaved.”

I encourage you today that no matter what you have done in your past; His forgiveness and His love are greater than any sin and shame. Take courage in the fact that as Samson’s hair began to grow his strength came back.

So today, when the burden of your mistakes begins to weigh you down, here’s what I want you to do: Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, brush your hair—and walk in the strength of the Lord!

How I Fight My Battles

It is not always safe for me to listen to the radio when I am driving the car.

I was pulling out of a very busy intersection by my house today and there it was, playing on the radio, Michael W. Smith with his voice so clear, the drums so powerful and the bass echoing in the background. But, it was the message of the song that touched my heart.

Instead of edging my way out into traffic I found myself wanting to bow my head in thanks and praise to the One that fights my battles for me!

This is how I fight my battles

This is how I fight my battles

This is how I fight my battles

This is how I fight my battles

It may look like I’m surrounded but I’m surrounded by You

It may look like I’m surrounded but I’m surrounded by You

It may look like I’m surrounded but I’m surrounded by You

It may look like I’m surrounded but I’m surrounded by You

This is how I fight my battles

This is how I fight my battles

This is how I fight my battles

This is how I fight my battles

This is How I Fight My Battles

In the darkest moments…

I am reminded that in my most desperate moments, my loneliest times, when the struggle is so real that I can barely breathe and when I do not know how I will make it around this mountain one more time, I then realize that I am SURROUNDED BY HIM. He is The One that is fighting for me.

I have heard other renditions of this popular song, but I love how Michael W. Smith quotes the Word of God at the beginning—

“The Word says for the spirit of heaviness

Put on the garment of praise
That’s how we fight our battles”

I find myself putting on my own garment of praise, that spiritual garment that has been designed just for me. It is just the right fit to replace the spirit of heaviness.

God Fought Elisha’s Battles

My mind reflects on that beautiful account in 2 Kings 6.

The king of Syria had sent his great and mighty army to surround the town of Dothan by night. His plan was to capture Elisha and take him prisoner. His army was huge with horses and chariots. But that did not seem to bother or scare the prophet, Elisha.

“Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” (vs. 16)

And the Lord opened the eyes of the servant to see:

“So the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” (vs. 17)

The mountain was FULL of horses and chariots of fire, blazing, burning and flashing representing the power of God. Just one of those chariots could have won the battle but God had sent a glorious army to protect and defend the battle.

Elisha and the village of Dothan where surrounded by the Syrian army, but the Syrian army was surrounded by the army of God.

And God is always the Victor. I wonder if Elisha would have started singing —

This is how I fight my battles
It may look like I’m surrounded but I’m surrounded by You

It may look like I’m surrounded but I’m surrounded by You

It may look like I’m surrounded but I’m surrounded by You

This is how I fight my battles


We need not fear, lose heart, give up nor quake. Praise is our Victory!

“I will extol the Lord at all times; His praise will always be on my lips. I will glory in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice. Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together. I sought the Lord and He answered me; HE DELIVERED ME FROM ALL MY FEARS.” Psalm 34:1-4

I FIGHT MY BATTLES BY TRUSTING IN HIM.

Friend, The Word of God is our Sword—our arsenal. Think about sitting down today and opening up your arsenal and allow His Word to fight for you and with you.

What verses are you finding that are helping you fight your battles? Come over to my Facebook page and share with us some verses that we can put in our arsenals as well!