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).


Friday, December 25, 2020

Redemption is the Heartbeat of Christmas

 by Barbara Latta

Presents, tables laden with food, carols resounding through the air, and maybe a kiss or two under the mistletoe. Oh, that’s right, not this year. No kisses, no hugs, no sharing in person.

Just like that long ago Christmas when Jesus was a young child, evil tried to stamp it out.

Thousands of years ago it wasn’t a disease that attempted to stop a celebration. It was an evil ruler who hunted down the real King. His jealousy was the virus that spread doom and gloom searching for innocents to kill.

And Herod is the one who died. Not the Baby he sought.


Covid will eventually die just like Herod did. And even though Herod’s son took his place on the throne, Jesus still thrived. Some other plague will probably replace covid. After all, we live in a fallen world.

But Herod’s search didn’t stop Jesus from being King just like germs, rulers, unbelievers, politicians, or the devil cannot take Christmas away from us.

The fact that separation is part of the holiday this year doesn’t change the reason we celebrate.  

It isn’t mistletoe and holly. It is isn’t tinsel, lights and toys.

Because the reality of Christ’s birth is He was born to bring us redemption.

Christmas doesn’t stop because we can’t be together. Because redemption cannot be undone.

Redemption is the heartbeat of Christmas.

What can I give to Jesus? I can give Him my heart because He gave me His.

Join the conversation and share your thoughts.

 

What can I give to Jesus? (click to tweet)

Redemption is the heartbeat of Christmas (click to tweet)

 

 

 

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Depressing Christmas or Joyful Celebration?

by Barbara Latta

During the depression era of the 1930’s, hardly anyone had money. Unemployment was at 25%. Soup lines kept people fed. Those fortunate enough to live on farms could grow food from seeds they had saved.

These people had to decide if they would have a depressing Christmas or a joyful celebration.

Christmas was not filled with bling-covered gifts or designer clothes. Gifts were handmade. Toys were carved from wood. Dresses were sewn from flour sacks while hats and gloves were knitted or crocheted.

The real treat on Christmas morning was an orange in the stocking. Buying an orange was a sacrifice parents made for their children because this fruit was so expensive.

Tree decorations were handmade out of paper, wood or scraps of fabric sewn together.

But Christmas was still Christmas. Families joined together. They went to church to worship the newborn King. Their focus was on the giver of life instead of lack. They were thankful.

My parents lived through the depression. As children during this era, they knew what it meant to do without certain things. Therefore, they wanted my brothers and I to have whatever they could give us at whatever sacrifice they had to make.

I can still remember the Christmas when I was nine years old.

Saturday, December 12, 2020

The Love of the God, the Father

 by Barbara Latta 

Th love of God the Father


I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me
(John 17:23b NKJV).

He cradled the newborn in rough, callused hands, still in awe of the miracle before Him. All the insults and snubs he and Mary had endured these last few months meant nothing to him now as he held God in the flesh in his arms. 

The baby moved his head from side to side and his mouth made sucking noises. Bright eyes peered into the face of the earthly father Jehovah had chosen to raise His Son on the earth.

Joseph thought back to the day Mary returned from visiting her relative, Elizabeth. He had been confused at her departure, yet he was overjoyed at her return. When she left the caravan she had been traveling with he noticed her silhouette was different. 

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Pausing to Savor the Season, or Rush and Regret?

 Today I am honored to share a guest post by Jeanne Doyon. Jeanne is a gifted writer, teacher and speaker. She hosts a women's retreat you can read about in her bio below. She has recently joined Morning Star Bright Lights Podcast in New England. You can listen to her interview here. I know her words will bless you as she encourages us to Pause to Savor the Season. She has also included a FREE download for you to enjoy!

by Jeanne Doyon

                   I get it! We are so eager to say goodbye to 2020. As much as we want this year to end, it will do us good to slow down and savor the season. We need a plan to embrace the moment and beat the tyranny of the shoulds.

            So much has been taken away this year so we need to enjoy what we DO have. How do we begin? Here are a few things I am attempting to do:

            Reduce Expectations – this has been especially difficult for me because I hoped to see my children and grandchildren. It just isn't possible. So, I am thinking outside the box by being a virtual grandparent. It is amazing how many ideas come to mind to help make this season fun for them. Be sure to check out my complementing post on my website on this topic Christmas Outside the Box

            Christmas Shopping - Shop early and don't go into debt over your gift list. Set a budget ahead of time and stick to it. Have your gifts shipped directly if you aren't getting together. The greatest gifts that have risen during this time of shut-down are LOVE and TIME. They don't cost a thing and the benefits are immeasurable.

            Hostessing Dinner - If you are hosting dinner at your home, enlist help from your guests. Gathering is a community activity. When everyone contributes a side dish, dessert, or other part of the meal, it takes stress off of you and creates connection with your guests.

            Simple is best, whether that is in decorating, meal planning, gift giving, cookie sharing, or whatever you have on your to-do list. Ecclesiastes tells us that there is a season for everything. Our stage of life changes. And we need to graciously allow ourselves permission to simplify.

            Not only do we need to simplify, we also need to be intentional about enjoying the season. One way to do that is to make time to ponder the significance of it all—Jesus came for us. He is truly the greatest gift. So take time each day to let go of the stress that the holidays can bring.

            Here are some ideas to help ponder the season:

Saturday, November 28, 2020

The Sermon at the Mall, a Black Friday Allegory - Free Download

 by Barbara Latta


Happy Thanksgiving week!

Now that Black Friday shopping is upon us, I wanted to share a short story I wrote about this after Thanksgiving event. This year Black Friday will be different as social distancing rules are in place. Most shopping will be online while some stores will remain open with stricter regulations. 

I love shopping so the only intention of this story is to remind us to keep our perspective. With number limitations and distance between customers enacted, patience will still need to reign.

I hope you enjoy your week and if you were not able to visit with family and friends physically, I hope you were communicating through technology. 

May your shopping, celebrating, and sharing be filled with blessings!

You can download The Sermon at the Mall, A Black Friday Allegory here


Feel free to share your thoughts about your Thanksgiving memories.

The Sermon at the Mall, A Black Friday Allegory free download (click to tweet)


Saturday, November 21, 2020

3 Reasons We Shouldn't Fear the Future

 by Barbara Latta

To look at the world’s ills, one could cower in fear of what’s next on the tragedy agenda. Not only have we navigated a worldwide pandemic, we have also endured weather disasters, political stress and civil unrest.

But you know what?

This is nothing new. Since the beginning of time mankind has fought among himself, people have dealt with volcanoes, earthquakes and floods. Nation has warred against nation and strife has not ceased.

Fear is the opposite of faith in God. When we fear, our eyes are on the turmoil around us and not on the Father Who saves us.God’s instructions to His people to fear not appear in the Bible hundreds of times. He knew we would be influenced by the world and events around us and our natural senses would default to looking at tragic or impossible situations. His repetition of this phrase is because we need to hear it so much.

When I was struggling with fear of the future God reminded me of these 3 things.

We shouldn’t live in fear because:

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Why have Thousands of Christians Fallen Away from a Biblical Worldview?

by Barbara Latta

Where do our belief systems come from? Why are some people easily influenced by others and willingly follow them into chaos?

Why have thousands of Christians fallen away from a biblical worldview?

Many who call themselves believers have turned away from the purity of the truth of God’s Word and mixed their belief systems with the secular world and other religions.

Barna research conducted a poll among Americans who say they go to church regularly. The result of this survey reveals only 17% of adults who claim they are Christian and attend church regularly have a biblical worldview.

What is a biblical worldview? As defined by Barna it is, “believing that absolute moral truth exists; the Bible is totally accurate in all of the principles it teaches; Satan is considered to be a real being or force, not merely symbolic; a person cannot earn their way into Heaven by trying to be good or do good works; Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth; and God is the all-knowing, all-powerful creator of the world who still rules the universe today.”

For decades, each generation has fallen further away from God’s teaching and has been influenced by the world system. Their eyes are blinded to the truth because they deny the power of God to fill the emptiness of soul.

The research also identified the following statistics among Christians:

61% agree with ideas among new spirituality

54% agree with postmodernism

36% accept Marxism

29% accept secularism

38% are sympathetic to Muslim teaching

These numbers reveal how worldly thinking has infiltrated the church body in such a way as to change attitudes and belief systems—which in turn affects decisions. We are responsible for what we believe. If we fall for the lies of false religion and the secular world system, we cannot blame anyone else. God’s Word clearly admonishes us to remain untainted by the world by renewing our minds to what He says.

We want to be kind to all people, but that doesn’t mean Christians should absorb the doctrines of other religions. We live in the same world as people of other beliefs, but we cannot “coexist” spiritually, as the bumper sticker says. Jesus Christ is the only way to the Father. Period.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God (Romans 12:2 NKJV).

Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ (Colossians 2:8).

How do we navigate this curve of thinking that goes against God’s Word? We put more importance on what God says than on anything else. His is the only answer that is true.

When a soul is empty, people seek relief in whatever makes them feel good. False religion and satisfying the flesh can be the result.

Standing true to the Word of God will bring persecution in this world filled with the spirit of anti-Christ, but the rewards we receive for standing firm far outweigh the negative aspects thrown at us.

As we shine our lights in the darkness, the way is illuminated so that others may see the way to Christ. Only then can worldviews be changed.

In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world (1 John 16:33).

 Join the conversation and share your thoughts.

Why have thousands of Christians fallen away from a biblical worldview? (click to tweet)

Saturday, October 31, 2020

How to Cure Brokenness in the Soul

by Barbara Latta 

Why do we struggle with regret, condemnation, envy, depression, rejection, inferiority and a host of other negative emotions?

Because of the root of brokenness in the soul.

Our lives began with the blank slate of brokenness. Until a person is born again the spirit is dead and separated from God. The soul (mind, will and emotions) has no hope. God gives us a new nature when we become born into His family through the blood of Jesus. But we can still live as Christians and accept these mental games as truth when we believe the lie about ourselves. 

Brokenness doesn’t have to come to us in drastic measures for it to hurt us. A cut finger is broken just like a fractured bone. The cut in the skin may be small, but if left untreated infection can set in and result in blood poisoning. Both the leg and the finger skin are broken and need treatment for healing.

What may be considered small events in our lives can still hurt. The root cause of the pain still needs to be treated so that it doesn’t fester into a poisoned soul. Otherwise, another notch is cut into an already existing wound. 

Saturday, October 17, 2020

How to Resist Temptation's Attacks

by Barbara Latta 



Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you
(James 4:7 NKJV).

We are commanded to resist the devil. God gives us this instruction to protect us from our enemy. If he gets a foothold in our mind, whatever we allow in is harder to uproot once we have entertained the temptation.

Joseph is an example of fleeing from evil. When Pharoah’s wife attempted to seduce him, Joseph ran. He didn’t stand around and debate his thoughts. If he had, the temptation would have overcome him. He was a young, handsome man and a beautiful woman desired him. He was alone and away from home. Who would know?

God would.

Joseph did the right thing and he was honored by God later on. He was elevated to the second in command of the nation of Egypt because he obeyed God in that temptation and in other situations.

Temptation can attack in many forms, not just the usual vices we think of as sin. Sin is anything that separates us from God. And the devil isn't prejudiced in who he attacks. He comes after us all. 

Temptation begins in our minds. Thoughts can turn into actions and words when we are not diligent to recognize the battle. 

When we rely on God's ammunition in His Word, we can resist temptation’s attacks through emotions and negative thoughts such as these:

Saturday, October 10, 2020

What to do if You've been Hurt by the Church

 by Barbara Latta

It’s a sad fact, but church splits happen. Congregations with differing opinions go their separate ways
and form new churches.

And in other cases, offenses happen in the assembly and members are hurt by each other. 

But this is not the way God intended our worship to be.

He is the God of unity. The problem is our flesh gets in the way.

There are solutions and God’s Word is the remedy. Jesus formed the church to be His body on the earth. But He knew He was leaving the administration of worship in the hands of people who would fail from time to time.

What can you do if you’ve been hurt by the church?

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Stuck by Paul's Thorn in the Flesh

 by Barbara Latta


During my Christian walk, I have heard different theories about Paul’s thorn in the flesh. We can get stuck (as in bogged down) in discussions and theories of what this irritation was in his life.

Some have said he had bad eyesight.

Others that he walked with a limp or had some serious disease.

These speculations originated from an interpretation of Galatians 4:12-15 where Paul is talking about his infirmities and stating the faithfulness of the church at Galatia that they would have “plucked out your own eyes and given them to me.”

Because of this verse, the theory began that Paul had bad eyesight. But to look further at what he was speaking about takes us back to Acts 14:19-20. Paul and Barnabas had preached and performed miracles in the town of Lystra which is in the province of Galatia. He was stoned and left for dead. In the letter to the church of Galatia Paul outlines in chapter four, the care that church gave to him. After being stoned and left for dead, a person’s eyes would be swollen and possibly shut and more than likely if he could walk at all he would walk with a limp for some period of time. But this was a temporary infirmity. And the church took care of him while he healed.

Paul talks about this thorn in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10,  And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure (verse 7 NKVJ, emphasis mine).

As the verse clearly states, the thorn was a messenger of Satan to buffet him. Paul was tormented by a demon from hell to try to stop him from preaching the gospel of Christ. He was persecuted everywhere he went with stoning, beating, imprisonment, revilement, mobs, riots and shipwrecks. When he states he was given this thorn to keep him from being exalted, we can conclude from the nature of God that the Lord does not give demons to us (John 10:10). The thorn came from Satan who didn’t want Paul or his message exalted in front of people. So, the devil did everything he could to bring Paul down and stop the message.

Persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra—what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me (2 Timothy 3:11 NKJV).

We are redeemed from sin through faith in Christ when we believe and accept Him (2 Corinthians 5:17.) 

We are redeemed from sickness through the same faith in Christ when we believe and stand on His Word (1 Peter 2:24).

But we are not redeemed from persecution (2 Timothy 3:12). That’s why Paul says he asked the Lord three times to take away the tormenter and God replied, “My grace is sufficient”,(2 Corinthians 2:9). His grace is what keeps us standing in the face of persecution.

While these views may be contrary to some, this is the interpretation I received when reading and studying these scriptures. And when this revelation came to me, it made these passages clearer and answered questions that seemed to be confusing. That’s why it is so important for us to dig deeper when we have questions and not merely rely on religious traditions that have been handed down for generations.

I hope this helps you in your study. I certainly don’t claim to have all the answers about anything, but these scriptures helped me get “unstuck” about Paul’s thorn in the flesh.

Please feel free to share your thoughts.

Stuck by Paul’s thorn in the flesh (click to tweet)

 

 


Friday, September 18, 2020

What is the significance of the shofar?

 by Barbara Latta


The use of trumpets is mentioned in the Bible over 50 times. This tells us God places an importance on this way of getting our attention.

Rosh Hashanah, also called the Feast of Trumpets, begins on the first day of Tishrei, the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar which is in September or October. This celebration commemorates the creation of the world and after 10 days ends with Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. These are the two high holy days in Judaism.

Why is the shofar made from a ram’s horn? The word shofar comes from the Assyrian word, shapparu, which is a wild goat called ibex. The Ashkenazi Jews use the ram’s horn because Abraham sacrificed a ram on Mount Moriah after the angel stilled his hand from sacrificing Isaac.

The sound of the shofar is a plaintive wail with a sometimes eerie sound. These distinctive notes are unlike any other instrument and are used as a call to worship and repentance. The fact that the shofar is made from a ram’s horn can also signify sacrifice. An animal died to give up the horn. So, to hear the shofar or see one, reveals a sacrifice has been made. No other religion uses a shofar in worship.

When the children of Israel were in the desert, God used a ram’s horn to signal they were to come to the mountain and receive the Law.

And when the blast of the trumpet sounded long and became louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him by voice (Exodus 19:19).

When the Hebrews marched around Jericho, they sounded trumpets in obedience to God’s command. When they did so on the seventh day, the walls fell, and they overtook the city. They blew the trump in obedience to God’s command and in praise to His deliverance. When we praise God by lifting our voices to Him, the walls surrounding us fall. Prisons of condemnation and depression are destroyed and overtaken because of praise in our hearts to God.

What does this mean to us as Christians? We can learn from the shofar and view the significance of this ancient instrument by remembering how God supplied the sacrifice on Mount Moriah. He substituted the ram for Isaac just as He substituted Jesus for us. The ram’s sacrifice took place on the same mountain where Solomon built the temple, the place where future sacrifices would be made in atonement for sins.

The ram’s horn note can be our call to worship the God of our ancestors. The God of provision, sacrifice and redemption. The sound can be our call to join Jesus Christ in the air as He comes for His saints.

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first (1 Thessalonians 4:16 NKJV).

We don’t know if this will be a shofar or not, but since the shofar is used as an instrument of announcement and call to worship it could be very likely. Even so, the shofar can bring us thoughts of the last trump God will use to call us home.

And God uses trumpets in Revelation as angels open the seals of judgement against a sinful earth. (Revelation 8-9).

The shofar has Jewish roots that flow down to Christianity. Many Christian churches have adopted the blowing of a shofar as recognition of God’s power and faithfulness throughout the centuries as well as a joint recognition of Israel.

We can join the Jewish people this month in their celebrations of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur as we remember why the shofar blew.

What are your thoughts? Join the conversation.

Why is a ram’s horn used for a shofar? (click to tweet)

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Never Forget September 11

 by Barbara Latta

Nineteen years ago our nation suffered the worst attack on our soil since Pearl Harbor.  Time has a tendency to numb culture from the horrors of the past as day to day life continues. Children are grown now who were born that year. Some will never know the parents who died that day. 

May we never forget the tragedy.

May we never forget those who died.

May we never forget the heroes who rescued victims.

May we never forget the devastation. 

May we never forget that we have an enemy. May we remain vigilant in defending our freedom.


May we never forget September 11, 2001.


Join the conversation and share your thoughts.

May we never forget September 11, 2001 (click to tweet)

Saturday, September 5, 2020

The Reward of Diligent Work

 

by Barbara Latta

Labor Day is a holiday observed in the United States to give workers an opportunity be recognized for
their labor and productivity.

God has a lot to say about work and rest. He instructs us in His Word to observe a day of rest every seven days. He rested because He was finished with His work. We need to rest to replenish bodies and minds.

He also shows us how diligent work is rewarded. Slothfulness does not glorify God and neither does running our bodies and minds into exhaustion. We should live a balanced life between work, rest and play. Dealing with COVID19 this year has caused many changes to the work schedule of thousands of people. Thankfully, businesses, schools and restaurants are open again and work can return to as normal as we can get it now.

Here are a few scriptures regarding work and rest. These are all taken from the New American Standard Bible translation.



Words for the Work Week

When you shall eat of the fruit of your hands, you will be happy and it will be well with you (Psalm 128:2).

He who tills his land will have plenty of bread, but he who pursues worthless things lacks sense (Proverbs 12:11).

A man will be satisfied with good by the fruit of his words, and the deeds of a man’s hands will return to him (Proverbs 12:14).

 In all labor there is profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty (Proverbs 14:23).

 I have seen that nothing is better that man should be happy in his activities, for that is his lot. For who will bring him to see what will occur after him? (Ecclesiastes 3:7).

 Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us; and confirm for us the work of our hands; yes, confirm the work of our hands (Psalm 90:17).

 When you shall eat of the fruit of your hands, you will be happy and it will be well with you (Psalm 90:2).

 Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal (John 6:27).

In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).

 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord (1 Corinthians 15:58).

 And to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you (1 Thessalonians 4:11).

 Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men (Proverbs 22:29).

 Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance it is the Lord Christ whom you serve (Colossians 3:23).

 The hand of the diligent will rule, but the slack hand will be put to forced labor (Proverbs 12:24).

I hope this list of scriptures will encourage and inspire you as you return to work or school. God blesses what we put our hand to as long as we put Him first.

Join the conversation and share your thoughts.

Words for the workweek - scriptures to encourage diligent work (click to tweet)

 

Saturday, August 29, 2020

How to Stay Thankful in an Ungrateful Society

 by Barbara Latta

One of the signs of the end times is unthankfulness (2 Timothy 3:2). All one has to do is see a news
report for a few minutes to know ingratitude and rudeness are prevalent in our society. The spirit that permeates the air reeks of self-promotion and greed. Intelligence and technology have become a god and the “gimme” attitude has its hand out for more at the expense of others.

The Bible says in Romans 1:21, because although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

This verse is part of Paul’s letter to the Romans explaining how people really know there is a God even when they don’t admit it. But because they continue to refuse Him their hearts become hard and they can no longer hear any conviction. Eventually, they become totally reprobate and without hope.

After all, when a person totally ignores the unction of the Holy Spirit and make themselves or their intelligence a god, why should they thank anyone else? There is no one to be accountable to so in their minds any behavior is acceptable. It is hard to understand how some people cannot discern the evil practices of leaders, politicians and celebrities but it is because they are blind to the truth. 

Whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them (2 Corinthians 4:4 NKJV).

With blasphemy, violence and hateful words surrounding our world, how can we stay thankful in this ungrateful society?

  • Meditate continually in the Word of God
  • Confess His Word over ourselves and our situations.
  • Acknowledge the Lordship of Christ in our lives
  • Glorify Him during all events of life because He is always the solution


If we find ways to give thanks daily for things we sometimes forget are blessings, we will have a heart filled with gratitude.

What about the color of the rainbow, fall leaves, or spring flowers? God could have made everything black, white, and gray and we wouldn’t have known the difference. But He chose to give us enjoyment with the variety of colors for our eyes to feast upon.

Have you ever been thankful for a child’s giggle or grubby little hands bringing you flowers, the blue sky, bright sunshine, or the smell of bread baking in the kitchen?

Can you breathe, walk, talk, hear, see, or move about? Even if you can’t do some of those things, God loves you and that is the main thing to be thankful for. Thank Him for giving His Son Jesus to redeem you from sin and giving His Word to help you overcome the difficulties you may have.

God wants us to have a thankful heart because in doing so we are submitting to Him. A soft heart can hear His voice and we in turn can spread that voice to the world.

What are you thankful for today? Share your thoughts.

How to stay thankful in an ungrateful society (click to tweet)

 

Saturday, August 15, 2020

What are the Keys to the Kingdom of God?

 by Barbara Latta

People are searching for comfort. In our chaotic world, peace eludes as fear escalates. We can find solace in God and God alone. His Word tells us how to enter and benefit from the promises that overcome all obstacles.

In Matthew 16, Jesus asks His disciples who they say He is.

Keys to the kingdom of God

Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (v. 16 NKJV).

Jesus then tells Peter “Blessed are you Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven (V.17-19).

Jesus gave the keys to the kingdom of heaven to those who would believe.

But have you ever wondered what they are?

Before a person can enjoy the benefits of living in a kingdom, they must be a resident or member of the kingdom. To enter the kingdom of God one must receive the sacrifice of Christ as payment for sin. Then that person is translated into the family of God.

Jesus didn’t list the keys of the kingdom for His followers, but we can gather what He meant by other teaching He did.

Salvation

This is the main key that opens the door to God’s kingdom.

“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).

That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation (Romans 10:9-10).

Humility

Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18:4-5).

We can’t put our trust in Christ for salvation without humbling ourselves before Him to make the confession that He is Lord.

Authority

In Matthew 16: 17-19 stated above, Jesus gives them authority over Hades. Whatever we bind or loose on earth is bound and loosed by the power of heaven. Satan cannot prevail over the Church when we use the authority Jesus gave us.

Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it (Colossians 2:15).

Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you (James 4:7).

Healing

Jesus sent His disciples out to other cities and gave them authority to heal the sick and cast out demons.

And heal the sick there, and say to them; “The kingdom of God has come near to you.” (Luke 10:9).

Knowledge

“Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter in yourselves, and those who were entering in you hindered” (Luke 11:52).

But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes the deep things of God (2 Corinthians 2:10).

We cannot operate in the kingdom without knowledge of His Word.

His Physical Kingdom

When Christ sets up His kingdom on the earth, He will have a physical kingdom. But until that time comes, His kingdom operates in believers.

“For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21).

 (When talking to Pilate) Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews but now My kingdom is not from here” (John 18:37).

I will return to Zion, and dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. Jerusalem will be called the City of Truth (Zechariah 8:3)

If you are worried and fearful because of stressful events in our world, the God of peace wishes to give you hope. If you do not know Him, you can enter His kingdom simply by receiving the keys He extends. 

If you are already a believer, can you list more keys to God's kingdom that Christ gave us? Feel free to share your thoughts.

What are the keys to the kingdom of God Jesus gave to Hisfollowers? (click to tweet)

 

 

 

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Wisdom from the Word of God

 by Barbara Latta

This week I am sharing some memes that I hope will inspire you to seek God and hear His voice. In our chaotic world, we need to focus on God's Word more than opinions, news feeds, social media rants or politics. 

Feel free to download and share, but please leave my watermark intact. 

Please feel free to share your thoughts or any scriptures that are helping you today.


Saturday, July 25, 2020

What can the mistakes of Israel's kings teach us?


by Barbara Latta

Mistakes of Israel's kings
The Old Testament provides us with multitudes of instances where Israel fell into idol worship. What can the mistakes of Israel’s kings teach us? lf we will read their history with open eyes we can be illuminated by their examples and our lives can benefit from these lessons.
Why was their history given to us? Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come (1 Corinthians 10:11).

Saul lost his kingdom because of disobedience. He took it upon himself to offer a sacrifice that only the priests were allowed to do. He decided what to do rather than listening to the Lord.
What should we learn?

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Prodigal son or older brother: Which one am I?


by Barbara Latta

The story of the Prodigal son is widely used in Christian and secular circles. Children who stray from
Add caption
home are often referred to as prodigals. But in our spiritual life, many of us can probably say we have been each of these brothers at one time or another.

Which son am I?

Saturday, July 4, 2020

The Remedy for America's Pain


by Barbara Latta

The past few months have caused us to experience sacrifices many of us have never made. We saw
Declaration of Independence was approved on July 4, 1776
empty store shelves and couldn’t find toilet paper. And when we did find the necessary bathroom accessory, it was the uncushy kind. We improvised on food, invented activities to prevent boredom and learned to live with our faces covered. We think we really had it bad.

And yes, those who contracted COVID-19 did suffer. The rest of us had some interruptions and sacrifices, but did we really suffer?

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Is Reconciliation Possible on the Earth?

by Barbara latta

Is reconciliation possible on this earth? If a book called Life on Earth was written it would contain plagues, pestilence, violence, war and uncertainty.

Is reconciliation possible on the earth?

We win, we lose, we adapt.

We overcome hardships until another catastrophe arises.

We bicker, we debate, we change laws.

We march, we protest.

At the beginning of the year, we faced an unknown disease we still fight to find a vaccine for.

Now we fight among ourselves with accusations of racism. This is nothing new.

It’s not just white against black. There are black people that hate whites, Asians that hate Hispanics, Muslims that hate Jews and Jews that hate Muslims.

In the old West it was the Cavalry against the Native Americans.

There were brutal soldiers who wanted to kill every Indian they saw and bad Indians who murdered whites just because they wanted to.

And the fact is there are bad people in every race and good people in every race.

There are a few bad cops who give the rest of them a bad name. And the news media pours kerosene on an already burning inferno.

The bottom line is self.

Without God, humans default to their fallen nature.

The Bible lays out signs of the last days. One of them is in Matthew 24:12, And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.

The only remedy for self is the selflessness of God. The Creator of all mankind in whose image we were all made. He created one race—the human race. But sin divided us, and we can only be united by blood. Not the blood of ourselves as we fight and bleed on the ground. But the pure blood of Jesus. The blood that is all one color.

Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us; we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:18-20 NKJV).

There is a book about life on earth and it is called the Holy Bible. God shows us the failures of humanity, but He doesn’t leave the story there. He gives us the answer. The only way we will be reconciled to each other is to be reconciled to God and allow a heart change. This latest tragedy of humankind is not the last. Peace for the world will only come when the Prince of Peace rules the planet.

But until then, we are called to be ministers of reconciliation one person at a time.

Join the conversation and share your thoughts.

Is reconciliation possible on the earth? (click to tweet)

 


Saturday, May 30, 2020

Lessons from the Parable of the Sower


by Barbara Latta

Planting season is here. Gardeners are plowing fields making soil ready to receive the seeds that will
bring a harvest in a few weeks. Water, fertilizer and sunshine will be applied to the ground. Seedlings sprout and soon large plants produce vegetation or flowers for the gardener to enjoy.

In Mark 4:1-20, Jesus told the parable of the sower as an illustration of the human heart. All of us who have been believers for any length of time have probably been in each of these groups at one time or another. The important lesson we learn from this example is what Jesus said after sharing this story with his disciples.

The parallels from the parable are:

Saturday, May 23, 2020

7 Ways to Remain Thankful during a Pandemic


by Barbara Latta

7 ways to be thankful during a pandemic
If you are like me you are tired of hearing about COVID-19. Tired of hearing about it, reading about it and seeing COVID-19 written on doors of businesses and restaurants.

But despite my virus weariness, it is still a reality of life. Our lives have changed and there is a tendency (including me) for us to complain about the difference this has made in our everyday routine.

I didn’t want to write a blogpost about something I am weary of discussing,  but I felt this need to be thankful was put on my heart in spite of the germ that is creating chaos across the world.

In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (I Thessalonians 5:18 NKJV). Notice this does not say to be thankful FOR all things. God did not cause or allow this virus. These things happen because we live in a fallen world.  But He wants us to be thankful IN all things because He wants us to remember Him no matter what circumstance we find ourselves in. He always has an answer.

Here are 7 ways to remain thankful during a pandemic:
  1. Thankful that God is the healer. My son, give attention to my words…For they are life to those who find them, and health to all their flesh (Proverbs 4:20, 22).
  2. Thankful for the ability to have online church services and school assignments.
  3. Thankful the epidemic is on the downturn in multiple locations.
  4. Thankful for high tech and efficient researchers and medical personnel and equipment available to combat the disease.
  5. Thankful we were still able to obtain necessary food and supplies despite the shortages of some items. I haven’t heard of anyone starving through this.
  6. Thankful we could still see our family and friends through video or in person.
  7. Thankful some businesses are opening up again.

Finding ways to be thankful diverts our attention from the problem to the God who is mightier than all issues we face.

What are some other ways you have found to be thankful during this pandemic? Share your thoughts.


Saturday, May 9, 2020

Mother's Day Quotes

by Barbara Latta

I have many fond memories of my mother and I will always miss her. She passed away in 2018. But one memory (that is not so fond) stands out at the top of the list and it's probably because of the lesson I learned.

I lived in a small town and could walk to school. After school was dismissed, I went home with a friend without getting permission so my mother did not know where I was. Several hours later when the friend's parents brought me home, my mom was waiting for me with a wooden paddle that had previously had a rubber band and ball attached to it.

While at the time, I did not appreciate what I received, you can bet I never did that again!

From the beginning of time, Mothers have influenced their children to grow up and be the best they can be. Here are some quotes from famous people about mothers. Some are humorous and some encouraging, but all reflect the way a mother can inspire a life. 

Sunday, April 26, 2020

What was the difference between Peter's denial and Judas' betrayal?


by Barbara Latta

Why did Peter repent but Judas kill himself? They both committed reprehensible acts against Jesus.

What made both of these disciples different in their approach to the sin they had engaged in?

Saturday, April 11, 2020

No More Consciousness of Sin


 by Barbara Latta

Blood has been an issue since the fall of man in the garden.

The first blood shed was when God had to kill animals to make coverings for Adam and Eve. He wrapped them in bloody fur and as they looked at the blood covering their own skin, they were reminded of the consequence of what they did. They became conscious of sin.

Without shedding of blood there is no remission of sin (Hebrews 9:22).

When God instituted the priesthood, He gave instructions for the way Israel was to offer sacrifices for their sin.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Is the Coronavirus God's Judgment?


by Barbara Latta

The world is in chaos attempting to find a cure for Coronavirus. Because God sent plagues against nations in certain situations during Old Testament times, some are proclaiming this is a judgment from God against a sinful world.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Signposts for peace during anxiety


by Barbara Latta

With chaos all around us, emotions can take control and we can feel as if peace is as far away as the moon. But God's promise is that He will never leave us or forsake us. Depending upon the Lord will bring His peace to the forefront of our soul and we can rely on Him to calm all our fear and anxieties.

Below are some signposts to remind us how to have peace during anxiety.

Please feel free to download and use these memes as you wish, but please do not remove my watermark.

Read about peace staying in peace here.

Come boldly before the throne of grace

Read about overcoming fear here.


No weapon formed against me shall prosper


God's power


Read about trusting God in difficult circumstances here.
Prayer for love and knowledge

Join the conversation and share your thoughts about staying in peace during this time of chaos we are all experiencing. 

Blessings and peace!

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

5 Remedies Against Fear


by Barbara Latta

Fear is abounding across the world because a germ has crept into our lives. Disruptions are
5 remedies against fear
everywhere unlike anything we have experienced before. Fear crawls into our minds spinning webs of anxiety ready to trap any morsel of hope.

Here are 4 effects of fear:

Saturday, March 7, 2020

I'll Be Back

by Barbara Latta

Thank you for being a loyal reader of Navigating Life's Curves.

I am taking a short break from blogging but I will be back on April 4, 2020.

In the interim, please feel free to share any issues you would like to discuss or any scriptures we can talk about on this site later. I would like to know what interests or life events you care about that can be future blog posts.

Share in the comments section below.

God bless you and thank again for reading and commenting.


Saturday, February 22, 2020

10 Reasons Multi-tasking Does Not Bring Success


by Barbara Latta
Multi-tasking has become the buzz word for success.  
The more we try to do, the better we think we will appear to an employer, teacher or co-worker. 
The thought that multi-tasking means a person is more successful, intelligent or organized is a myth. 
Here are 10 reasons why multi-tasking does not bring success:

Saturday, February 15, 2020

5 Ways to be Deeply Rooted in the Love of God


by Barbara Latta

We celebrate Valentine’s Day with expressions of love. We give gifts, dinners, chocolate and flowers. But no matter what we do for each other, our love cannot compare to the love God shows to the world. He sent the valentine of heaven to us in the form of Jesus.

God doesn’t deal with us the way we deal with each other.  He doesn’t just display love, He is love. Love is His very being. He created the world because of love.

It’s not supposed to be hard, but our minds get in the way. Every time we mess up we think we need to run from God until we clean ourselves up and become worthy to approach His throne again. But if we could clean ourselves up, we wouldn’t need a Savior. The best place to be after committing sin is in the arms of the Father.

But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more (Romans 5:20b).

As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us (Psalm 103:12).

God’s unconditional love was shown to us while we were still dirty, rotten sinners (Romans 5:8). He showed the one and only kind of real love when he gave Jesus to us as a gift wrapped in a little baby to grow into the man who would have all the foul sin of the world placed upon him.

That was action, not emotion.

Because He loved us, we can love Him (I John 4:10). And because He loved us, we can love others. Not with a feeling, but with a showing, a doing, a becoming what He made us to be.

Here are 5 ways to to be deeply rooted in the love He has for us:
  • Find the scriptures about God’s love and write them down.
  • Meditate on these verses every day saying them out loud. 
  • Make it personal by inserting our own name as they are read.
  • No matter how we feel, it is important to believe the Word is true.  God doesn’t lie and when He says he loves us, it means he loves us. His love is not dependent upon our works. This is important to remember when emotions say otherwise.
  • Stay in communication with Him. When we go days or weeks without praying or reading His Word, the culture we are surrounded with will take over. Listening to God should be our priority.

The Bible is full of favorite verses, but this one says so much:  For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come. Nor height, not depth, nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:39).

The valentine of heaven wasn’t a card sent through an angelic mailbox. It was blood running down a wooden cross to soak into the cursed earth. One drop would have been enough, but He used it all to show us He goes over and beyond and does much more than we need.  He paid the highest cost and we were given the freest gift.

What does this love mean to you? Join the conversation and share your thoughts.




Saturday, February 8, 2020

The Enemy of Compromise


by Barbara Latta

Compromise. It’s one enemy we all face at some point in our lives.
The enemy of compromise

People break their word, fudge a little on taxes, don’t tell the complete truth or go along with the latest craze, even if that craze is destructive, because it’s the cool thing to do. And compromise can go further. It can lead to crime and immorality and start a never-ending spiral of disintegration in life.
Four men from long ago named Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah faced the choice of compromise.

They were young Jewish men who were taken captive by King Nebuchadnezzar when he besieged Jerusalem. These males could have been as young as teenagers when they were taken from their home and families. Their parents may have even been killed. Nebuchadnezzar chose youths in whom was no defect, who were good-looking, showing intelligence in every branch of wisdom, endowed with understanding and discerning knowledge, and who had the ability in serving in the king’s court (Daniel 1:4 NASB).

The king wanted the best of the lot to serve him. He was ruling the entire known world at that time. He ordered the chief of his officials to “teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans”. The goal was to get the Hebrew culture out of them and indoctrinate these young men into the ways of Babylon. They were given the Babylonian names of Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Over time the king promoted them to areas of administration over his kingdom.

The king’s ego got the best of him and he created an image of himself made of gold. Every person in the province was commanded to bow and worship the statue when certain music was heard.

Daniel is not present in this story, but his three friends refused to bow to the image of gold and king threw them into a fiery furnace. They had resolved in their hearts they would not sway from their faith in the one true God, even though they were surrounded by an idol worshipping culture and had been taught all its ways.

Their spirit of excellence and faith kept them from compromise because they made the decision at the beginning of their captivity that they would not become like those around them.

God is still God and His mighty power will be shown.
We sometimes miss the cruelty of their situation. They were taken from what was familiar, given food to eat that was against their beliefs, and they were made eunuchs. This means they were castrated. There was no hope of them ever having marriage and a family. It would feel life was over.
But they had a strong faith in God and they resolved to not compromise.

The world has not changed in its anti-god spirit since the beginning of time. Satan’s greatest weapon is doubt, unbelief and compromise. If he can’t get us to totally reject God, he tempts us with compromise because he twists that lie until it doesn’t seem so bad.

But compromise leads to decisions that can cause death in emotions, relationships, finances and spiritual death.

We are faced today with social media, politics, the entertainment industry, advertising and the opinions of other people. All these elements vie for our attention and try to sway us to their way of thinking with the promise of acceptance. If we don’t resolve in our hearts what we will stand for, we are bait for the influence of the world that will draw us away from godly decisions. And isn’t this the goal? To indoctrinate an anti-god system into schools and government, the same way the Chaldeans were doing?

Daniel, Hananiah, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego didn’t compromise. And, yes, they paid a price. Daniel was later thrown into a den of lions and the other three were thrown into a fire. God preserved them and showed His mighty power to King Nebuchadnezzar. But they had decided that even if they were not saved from the physical death they faced, they were still not going to compromise.

Our decisions are the same. Standing strong will bring opposition and persecution. We may not always be rescued in the way we want, but we know that God is still God and His mighty power will be shown.

These Hebrew men are examples to us today of how having an excellent spirit within us that is free of
Babylonian culture enticed compromise
compromise will keep us strong when we face tribulation. In America, we have not faced what they experienced, but there are thousands world-wide who have. Christians are persecuted all over the world because they refuse to bow to compromise and deny their faith. Many are killed.

But Americans are faced with threats and legislation we have never experienced before. Compromise abounds in the education and political system that fights against the freedom to pray, preach and read the Bible in public places. The slimy fingers of compromise have slithered into the pulpit of some churches, and pastors refuse to preach the true gospel for fear of losing church members, offerings and tax statuses.

As individuals, we must decide where we stand. I must ask myself if I will follow in the footsteps of four faithful Hebrew men who refused to give in even when death faced them. I hope I can be as strong as they were with whatever I am challenged with.

But the only weapon any of us have against the enemy of compromise is the Word of God. We can’t be strong without His food, fellowshipping with Him and hearing His instructions.

Compromise is an enemy we all face and we must decide how to handle it.

Please feel free to join the conversation and share your thoughts.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Consistency is the Key to Change


by Barbara Latta

And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not to men knowing that from the Lord you
Consistency is the key to change
will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ
(Colossians 3:23-24 NKJV).

Are you ever frustrated because change in your life avoids you? Do you have hit and miss regularity in tasks, study or goals?

I have struggled with working in consistency for a long time. Maybe I had too many projects, or maybe I was just experiencing lack of discipline. 

One day while reading about laboring to rest in Hebrews, I meditated on that lesson and thought more deeply about God’s rest. Resting means listening, absorbing and turning off everything but God’s Word.

When I rested, I could hear. And what I heard in my spirit was, Consistency is the key.

Consistency is the key? What does that mean, Lord?

Then I remembered that I had been asking Him why my life was filled with so much frustration. It was because I wasn’t disciplined and consistent in anything I was doing. My writing was in bits and pieces, not in a scheduled time like I hear all the successful writing teachers say we should do. Bible reading was when I had time in the morning, or a quick devotion at lunch and the exercise…well let’s just say the treadmill makes a good storage rack.

Consistency and diligence can be twin characteristics. According to the dictionary, consistency is harmony or conduct of practice with profession[1] and the word diligence is defined as steady, earnest and energetic effort: persevering application [2].

My loving heavenly Father was telling me that achievement depended on steadfastness in whatever goal is being pursued. 
Paul lived a life of consistent discipline. Even when he was terrorizing Christians, he never wavered from his goal. His misplaced passion pushed him toward what he thought was a defense of God. After encountering Christ, that same passion was now guided in the right direction. When he was persecuted, he didn’t give in. He didn’t forget the task God had laid upon his shoulders and the world at that time was turned upside down because of his influence. Diligence in his work caused him to write most of the New Testament and his words are still impacting us today.

He wrote from prison. Chains and bonds didn’t stop him. He continued to travel. Shipwrecks and storms didn’t stop him. He was told to keep quiet. Threats didn’t stop him.

He pushed through the hardships of life and pressed toward the prize of the high calling of Christ (Philippians 3:14).

We are all given a high calling from Christ. We are not the Paul’s and Peter’s but we do have a sphere of influence. What we do in our personal lives will spill over into relationships. Constant faithfulness in following Christ and His Words will determine how powerful that impression will be.

The most consistent person who ever lived was Jesus. We have no better example of life and discipline. When people were pulling him in every direction, He still took the time to spend with His Father because it was the most important thing in His life—even when it meant losing sleep and praying all night (Luke 6:12).

If consistency and diligence reign, it’s easier to put priorities in order. When Christ is the most important person in our lives, we can hear what He is saying. Consistency drowns out distractions, strengthens resolve against attacks and builds new habits that can last a lifetime.

The power of consistency has shown me the key to success, and a rewarded life has been my prize.

What have you learned about consistency in your life? Join the conversation and share your thoughts.


This post is an excerpt from my contribution in the Lighthouse Bible Studies compilation, The Power to Make a Difference which is a collection of short Bible studies written by 27 authors. It is available at Amazon and Lighthouse Bible Studies

Visit my Amazon author page here.