God's Roadmap

Now may the Lord Jesus Christ and our Father God, who loved us and in his wonderful grace gave us eternal comfort and a beautiful hope that cannot fail, encourage your hearts and inspire you with strength to always do and speak what is good and beautiful in his eyes (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 TPT).


Thursday, May 30, 2024

Remember the Goal by guest blogger Katherine Pasour

  


Today we are honored to hear from Katherine Pasour as she introduces her new book designed to help high school students transition to college life. Welcome Katherine!

by Katherine Pasour @katherinepasour

 

When I first went away to college (many years ago), I discovered the card game of bridge. A group of students hung out in the student center, playing bridge at every opportunity. Unfortunately for me, I played a little too often, sometimes missing class to do so.

 It was not a wise decision on my part. I made a D in math class.

 Then I had to face my parents with a bad grade. I was prepared academically for college, but not so much for the independence that came with being a college student. I’d learned a new card game, made a new group of friends, and depended on what I thought was my past skill to get me through math with a good grade.

 

I was distracted by my enjoyment of being with friends, playing cards and socializing, and I took my focus off my goal—to do well in college.

 

I learned a valuable lesson—not just about college but about life.

 

There are even more distractions now—cell phones, social media, gaming, and the plethora of activities available through technology.

Whatever task, opportunity, or job that we're engaged in--we need to give it our all. Do our best. Stay focused. Keep our eye on the goal and make the commitment to do what must be done to complete the goal.


 Giving our best is a habit that stays with us for a lifetime and will serve us well from the time we are a student, beginning our career, advancing in our chosen field, or settling into the golden years of service and retirement.

 Below is a short devotion from Stay the Course: A Devotional Handbook to Survive and Thrive in Your First Year of College (and Beyond). This handbook offers practical advice, motivation, and encouragement (and some tough love when needed) to support students in their transition from high school to college. Some of these strategies continue to work for us even as we transition into careers, grow a family, and go forth to format additional goals in life.

 

Remember the Goal

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:18)

You’ve had goals all your life and this new journey (college) is no exception. One of your goals is to do your best in school. Otherwise you will be wasting your time and your parents’ (or someone’s money). The college/university experience should be enjoyable but fun isn’t first priority.

When you throw a ball or run a race, it’s important to keep your eye on the target—to know what the goal is—to have your focus on your plan for success. Goals are important at any stage of life—from childhood through retirement and beyond. Some examples for a college student:

  • Go to all classes each day (keep up with online classes)
  • Don’t procrastinate (Stay ahead on assignments)
  • Turn homework in on time
  • Get involved in campus life, but not to the extent that it interferes with academics
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs
  • Make good grades

These are just some examples—your list may vary. But, as the Apostle Paul writes, the unseen goals are of utmost importance. Graduation may seem far away for a freshman, but those four years pass very quickly. Stay focused on the distant goals, too.

Your most important task will be to maintain your relationship with your heavenly Father. Read your Bible. Join a faith based campus group. Does your college have campus worship services? Can you travel home to church or find one near campus? Develop friendships that share your faith.

Prayer: My most important goal is keeping my eyes on you, my Father. I pray for guidance in all decisions and that I may find friends in my faith.

Join the conversation and share your thoughts. What other advice would you give a beginning college student?


Katherine is giving away a copy of Stay the Course. I will conduct a drawing from the comments that are left for this post until Wednesday, June 5, at midnight. 


From Katherine: I hope you will join me in prayer for our graduates. It’s a tough world out there!

Purchase link for Stay the Course https://mybook.to/QQq3h

Katherine Pasour is an author, teacher, and speaker with a passion for wellness—her own and for others! She seeks to nurture children and adults of all ages to achieve and maintain better health. Her Bible Studies focus on developing a closer relationship with Jesus while working toward making choices that will lead to a healthier life-style. You can visit Katherine's website at https://www.katherinepasour.com/ 





Top Image by Alexandr Boreck√Ĺ from Pixabay

Thursday, May 23, 2024

What Did Jesus Mean When He Told Us to Deny Ourselves?

 


by Barbara Latta @barbaralatta 

Jesus told His disciples, If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. (Luke 9:23 NKJV)

Does this mean we are to carry a cross around? (Although there is a man who did this as a ministry years ago.)

I have heard some people express that certain pains or tragedies was their cross to bear. But Jesus wasn’t talking about life’s circumstances being a cross that was put upon us.

Jesus died on a cross in a selfless sacrifice to save sinners. He put aside His own needs and wants for the good of the whole world. Innocence killed because of the guilt of others.

His example is for us to deny ourselves for the good of others too.

Dying to self is taking up our cross and following Him. When we take up our cross, we identify with what Christ did. We humble ourselves to accept the cost that comes with being a disciple.

Denying ourselves doesn’t mean we don’t obtain some of the things we want. Psalm 37:4 tells us, Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.

The key here is delighting in the Lord. When He is our delight, our desires will line up with His will and won’t be selfish.

Dying to self can’t be attained by behavior modification.  Denying self means crucifying the fleshly way of thinking. To put away selfish behavior, angry responses, unforgiveness, and bitterness.

Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. (Philippians 2:3-4 NKJV)

Our soulish realm is where we fail because our minds get in the way.

Only when we realize how much God loves us will we be able to let the Spirit of God shine through. Our behavior will exhibit the Holy Spirit’s fruit to other people (1 John 4:19).

Spiritual characteristics flow through the soul to create action. If our soul is contaminated with doubt and hurt, God’s spirit doesn’t shine. He is still there but His fruit is hidden.

When I was a child, my grandparents lived in a house out in the country that had a well. A bucket was tied to a rope on a post at the top and if you wanted water, you had to lower the bucket, scoop the water, then haul the bucket back to the surface.

He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water. (John 7:38)

The same is true with our inner being. We lower the bucket by digging into the Word and scooping that living water into our minds to drink so we can exhibit the gift that has already been given to us. The water in my grandparent’s well was always there, but if we wanted some, a person had to lower the bucket and get it.

There are many times I have let the flesh fly and the fruit remained in the bowl of my spirit (just ask my husband). But I am learning and as I study and pray, I am reminded more often of how the response that wants to come out is not one that would be godly actions.

Dying to self is not a one-time event. This action develops through daily fellowship with our Father. Abiding in the vine of Christ. This is where the strength comes from to control the emotional responses our flesh wants to express.

And of course, Jesus is the ultimate example. His entire ministry focused on fulfilling God’s will and ministering to people at the expense of His own comfort and safety. When dying on the cross, He still thought of others.

He asked God to forgive those who stood at the foot of the cross and mocked Him (Luke 23:34).  He thought of His mother and gave her care over to John (Luke 19:26-27).

Our actions and words will be dominated by whatever we focus on. When our priority is on God and not ourselves, His character will come out. This isn’t supposed to be something that takes effort because our efforts can’t make anything happen. He flows when we open the gate.

What did Jesus mean when He said to deny ourselves? Let the Holy Spirit have control.

Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (Romans 5:5)

Join the conversation and share your thoughts about what denying self means to you.

TWEETABLES

What did Jesus mean when He told us to deny ourselves?(click to tweet)

Only when we realize how much God loves us will we be able to let the Spirit of God shine through. Our behavior will exhibit the Holy Spirit’s fruit to other people (click to tweet)

 

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay


Thursday, May 9, 2024

5 Parenting Lessons From Biblical Mothers

 


by Barbara Latta @barbaralatta

 Mother’s Day is a time to honor and remember our mothers for their love and sacrifice throughout the years. As mothers ourselves, our children will be bringing gifts to honor us. When our offspring show us love their words are appreciated more we can express.

 But sometimes thoughts of all the mistakes we have made while raising our children attack us. This is when we need to rely on God’s Word and know He forgives us. He doesn’t want us looking back in regret. When we focus on training our children in the fear of the Lord, He blesses our efforts. 

Thursday, April 25, 2024

A Betrayed Woman Finds Hope and Courage

 


by Barbara Latta @barbaralatta

Intrigue, suspense, deception, rape, betrayal…and murder.

Does this sound like the scene from a crime documentary?

Would you believe a biblical cliffhanger?

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Trusting God's Provision in the Middle of Famine

 


by Barbara Latta @barbaralatta

No rain for three years.

The woman looked out the door at the cloudless sky and back at the hard, dry ground. No one could remember the last time a stalk of wheat had grown out of the soil. A spear of hopelessness stabbed her soul. She wasn’t so concerned about herself, but she didn’t want to watch her child die of starvation. Her husband perished, now so did the food. 

How could she trust God’s faithfulness? Her emotions were as dry as the ground outside.

The woman reached toward the bin of flour. Only a handful left, and just enough oil to make a paste. One more meal and death would win.

All she knew to do was what she did every day. She went outside and picked up sticks for a fire.

As she did so, a shadow passed between her and the ground. She looked up and saw a stranger.

“Bring me some water,” he said.

She stared at him for a moment. Didn’t this man know how scarce water was? No rain in ages made water more valuable than gold. But something within her heart urged her on.

She walked toward her house for a cup and heard the man’s voice ask for more. “Also bring me some bread.” Now he’s done it. Not even enough for herself and her son and this man wants to take it.

Then she remembered the message she received from Yahweh. He had told her to feed someone that would be directed to her (1 Kings 17:9).

Would this man be the provision in the middle of this famine?

“I don’t have bread, only some oil and flour, barely enough for me and my son. After that, we’ll die because there is no more.”

Elijah the prophet answered her, “Do not fear, make me a cake first and then there will be some for you and your son. The flour and oil will not run out until the Lord sends rain on the earth.”

So she went away and did according to the word of Elijah; and she and he and her household ate for many days (1 Kings 17:15 NKJV).

The story of the widow of Zarephath reminds me of the hymn, “Great is Thy Faithfulness.”

The great Jehovah never failed throughout the Bible and He doesn’t fail now. This woman listened to the word of the prophet Elijah. Because she obeyed what she heard, she saw God provide for her and her son. Later when the boy was severely sick and died, she had opportunity to be afraid and doubt. But the widow remembered what the Lord God had done for her in the past and she called out to the prophet. Her child was restored to life.

The world is dark. When all we focus on are the tragedies and evil this planet produces, our souls can fall away from hope (Proverbs 13:12). This widow faced a famine so severe, without supernatural intervention she and her son would die.

But the King of kings is full of light and hope.

So why do we see the famine instead of the provision as the widow woman did at first?

Because we look elsewhere. The situations we face are exalted above the faithfulness of our Father. She saw the dry ground and the empty bin. We feel dry, hopeless hearts and empty souls because of life’s pain and lack.

We know God is big, but we see His greatness as out in the vast beyond instead of here and now with us.

As the song says, “As thou hast been thou forever will be.”

He was before all else began and it is his power that holds everything together (Colossians 1:17 TLB).

I will worship toward your holy temple, and praise Your name for Your lovingkindness and Your truth; for You have magnified Your word above all Your name. (Psalm 138:2 NKJV).

God’s Son shines out with God’s glory, and all that God’s Son is and does marks him as God. He regulates the universe by the power of his command (Hebrews 1:3 TLB).

Psalm 138 says His Word is above His name. God cannot go against His word or the universe would explode. If the faithfulness of God’s power holds the universe together, why can’t we trust Him to hold us together?

The widow of Zarephath listened to God’s words through Elijah. She stopped seeing the famine and saw the power of provision.

We can follow her example as we:

Read portions of scripture that tell us how powerful God is. Genesis chapters one and two show us the power of creation; Revelation chapter one depicts the majesty of the risen Christ.

Listen to praise music. This sets the tone for worship and puts our mind on God.

Rehearse the ways He has been faithful in the past. Perspective changes to the promises of God instead of the limitations in our minds.

Above all, the Savior is faithful to forgive.

The Father is devoted to us in everyday life. His faithfulness does not depend upon our emotions.

God is bigger and more powerful than anything we can face. When we exalt that truth above our problems, the influence of circumstances over our lives will shrink. (click to tweet)

How do you show your trust in God in the middle of life's famines? Share your thoughts.

 

Thursday, April 4, 2024

Living with Graceful Influence through Women Who Left a Lasting Impact


 by Barbara Latta

Recently an author I love and respect released a new book, Graceful Influence, Making a Lasting Impact through Lessons from the Women of the Bible.

How is this book different from others that highlight the lives of biblical women?

The contrasts and comparison Lori Roeleveld shares reveal parts of these women’s lives we may have never thought about. We may have even forgotten some of these characters existed because their roles in the historical account is minor, but the impact they left deeply affected others. 

Consider the impact the woman who anointed Jesus with costly oil made, not only to Jesus, but also to those around her as you read this excerpt from Graceful Influence. The bold highlights are my emphasis.

Simon was hosting a dinner, and Jesus and His disciples were present with him there in Bethany. It was just before Passover, and soon swelling crowds would congest the streets of nearby Jerusalem. The room buzzed with guests reclining at the table. People of fine reputation served the meal. Everyone’s focus was on the honored guest, the rabbi from Galilee. One woman walked past them all, guests and servers, her attention entirely on Jesus. When she reached Him, she broke open an alabaster flask of costly, pure nard. Nard (or spikenard) is an oil derived from a plant in the honeysuckle family. It’s amber colored, with a musky, woodsy scent. The contents of this woman’s flask were aromatic and of great worth, the equivalent of almost a year’s wages, perhaps representing her dowry or her life’s savings.

Nard is mentioned in the Song of Solomon. The bride says, “While the king was on his couch, my nard gave forth its fragrance” (Song of Solomon 1:12). Pretty romantic imagery.

Later, the bridegroom lavishly describes the scents of nard and saffron which emanated from his bride (Song of Solomon 4:11–14).

The love this woman demonstrated at Simon’s feast was a costly risk, economically and socially, but she concentrated on the only One in the room who mattered to her. Jesus who forgives sins. Jesus who heals diseases. Jesus who announces the kingdom of God. She probably wasn’t trying to be significant but was simply expressing her devotion to Jesus.

This was a wildly intimate moment that created discomfort in Simon and the guests as she anointed Jesus’s head with oil. It’s fair to imagine they were familiar with the poetry of Solomon’s love story. Did the references spring to mind, increasing their unease?

The disciples challenged the woman. “Why this waste?” (Matthew 26:8). These men appreciated the value of the oil. They knew of Jesus’s love for the disadvantaged, so they scolded her. “This could have been sold for a large sum and given to the poor” (v. 9).

Jesus scolded them back. Of course, care for the poor. Care for the poor whenever you like. They will always be with you. But, He explained, He would not always be with them. This woman had, in her devotion, anointed Him for His burial. “Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her” (v. 13).

Her demonstration of love not only ministered to Jesus but also unintentionally exposed the hearts of others. She didn’t preach a sermon. She simply acted on her love without concern about who was watching, and her love became a searchlight that revealed the shadows lurking in their hearts.

Her choice to publicly express her love for Jesus without shame or self-concern remains a beacon for us, shining across cultures and years. This woman showed us that the path to a lasting impact for Jesus begins with single-minded attention to and love for Him.

The actual reach of our witness is, like hers, often hidden from our sight. For while some are called to global ministries, many more of us are called to a more local influence. Like the Israelites rebuilding Jerusalem’s wall in Nehemiah’s day, we too are asked to guard and build our own small section of the “gospel wall” in God’s kingdom. We are divinely appointed to humble days, small scopes, and the mystery of God at work in the ordinary.

In God’s kingdom, it’s not only those who accomplish “great things” that have a powerful influence for Christ. It is also those who contribute their widow’s mite of devotion, who open their single alabaster jar out of love for Jesus, teaching children, visiting the lonely, building sets for Christmas plays, planting trees, or generously supporting ministries to people they may never meet on earth.

What we see about having a graceful influence from the woman with the alabaster jar is fourfold.

First, graceful influence begins with forgetting ourselves and focusing on Jesus. The devoted woman risked the disapproval and rejection of those gathered to demonstrate her love for Jesus.

Second, influence for God isn’t limited by gender. From the opening of Scripture to the close, God demonstrates that men and women have equal opportunity. Both can sin in ways that have lasting negative effects. And both have equal opportunity for redemption in Christ and inclusion in the work of proclaiming His kingdom until He comes. The Holy Spirit is the power behind our lives, and He is not limited by anything about us— not our ethnicity, economic status, appearance, gender, worldly status, or age.

Third, graceful influence involves doing what we can do for Him, not what we can’t. This woman offered Jesus what she had. She probably wasn’t trying to do something that would become a story told to every generation to come. She just expressed love the way she knew how to express it, pouring out what she valued most onto the One she valued above all. We all have unique gifts and ways of expressing ourselves. This variety was God’s design so we can lean into Him in love.

Finally, it’s God who determines the scope of our influence. No one in that room appeared terribly impressed with what this woman had done. In fact, because her giving illuminated the selfishness of their lives, they probably wished she’d kept her gift to herself. I’m guessing they didn’t want this story recorded.

Jesus is the one who determined this would be a story told through the generations. He is also the one who determines the impact of our lives, our stories. When Jesus is central, our ministry can be as far-reaching as a powerful fragrance released from its broken container.

We are, after all, the aroma of Christ. “But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things?” (2 Corinthians 2:14–16)

In life, as in that room, our love poured out for Jesus will be a sweet aroma to those open to Jesus’s love, but an unpleasant odor to those resisting the repentance to which He calls us. As our lives, out of love for Jesus, are broken and poured out for Him, we become the precious nard that is the aroma of Christ.

The lasting effect of this aroma will be life for all who are being saved.

Lori ends each chapter with a biblical challenge of Scriptures and an application for the battles we face, but win, through Christ.

I found so much encouragement from reading Graceful Influence, and I think you will too. This book is available to order now. Once you read the book, please do the author a favor and leave a review on Amazon. You can find out more about Lori at her website https://loriroeleveld.com/

Join the conversation and share your thoughts.

TWEETABLE

Find out how biblical women can impact your life through Graceful Influence, Making a Lasting Impact through Lessons from the Women of the Bible by @lorisroeleveld

 

 

Image by bess.hamiti@gmail.com from Pixabay

Thursday, March 28, 2024

Redeemed from Regret and Condemnation

 


“I do not know Him!”

Peter’s words of denial echoed across the High Priest’s courtyard into Jesus’ ears. The one who boldly proclaimed only hours before that he would go to prison or die with Jesus now shriveled with panic before a servant girl.

The compassion in the Savior’s eyes when He turned and looked at Peter shattered this disciple’s wall of defensive fear. Remorse and embarrassment moved him to run away and weep bitter tears.