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, June 20, 2024

The Pursuit of Knowing God

 


by Barbara Latta @barbaralatta

Our Bible study is a never-ending adventure with God. We need His Word in our souls more than our bodies need food.

Yet we do sometimes stray away from feeding on His abundant harvest. This can bring us into soulish malnutrition.

We may wonder why anger flames up so quickly.

Where did the fear come from that gnaws at our minds?

Thursday, June 13, 2024

6 Behaviors That Cause Pain to the Spirit of God

 


by Barbara Latta @barbaralatta

 When we give instructions to our children and they refuse to obey, we don’t throw them out of the family. But our hearts suffer because we see that when they rebel, they hurt themselves and sow seeds that will reap destructive consequences later.

How much more does our heavenly Father desire what is best for us? He doesn’t want the enemy of our souls to grasp us with his talons of evil works.

Paul’s instructions to the church in Ephesus told them not to grieve the Holy Spirit.

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. (Ephesians 4:30 NIV)

All sin grieves the Holy Spirit. We will focus on 6 behaviors that can cause pain to the Spirit of God found in the book of Ephesians.

 1. Negative Speech

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. (Ephesians 4:29)

The Israelites complained about everything while they were in the wilderness.

The same heart-breaking attitude can be reflected in our words if we don’t keep a watch over our mouths.

2Uncontrolled Emotions

 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. (Ephesians 4:32 NKJV)

All these words sound like the same emotion, but they are different in subtle ways.

Bitterness is a root formed by unforgiveness that can produce other sins.

Wrath is indignation that can rise gradually and then subside. These are feelings that come and go due to thoughts and exposure to actions of others.

Anger rises when we abhor injustice. This feeling can be used righteously as in Jesus’ cleansing of the temple. But we must guard ourselves that we don’t use anger in a vengeful way when we feel that we have personally been wronged (Ephesians 4:26).

Clamor is a deep crying or wail in distress, like self-pity.

Malice is the destruction of a person’s character through slander or to blaspheme and give no respect to God.

We can all be guilty of these emotions at times, and we know how destructive they can be to our lives.

3. Lying

Therefore, putting away lying, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another. (Ephesians 4:25 NIV)

 It’s hard to admit that we, as Christians, sometimes tell a fib. We may think we don’t fall under this category, but we can find ourselves not telling the whole truth at times. And a little bit of falsehood is still a lie. False flattery is one way we lie to each other. We don’t want to offend our brothers and sisters, but we also shouldn’t say something we don’t mean.

What about gossip? Words disguised as prayer requests or stories spread as attempts at aid can still be classified as lying.

 We are members the same family (1 Corinthians 12:26). When one hurts, we all hurt so why would we want to damage each other with untruths?

 4. Falling for Deception

Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. (Ephesians 5:6)

Jesus warned about wolves in sheep’s clothing coming in with false words (Matthew 7:15). The Galatians swallowed the lie that they also needed to obey the Law of Moses along with belief in Christ to be saved (Galatians 5:4).

We can only stay on course by knowing the truth and not listening to anything that contradicts what the Bible says. We do this by grounding ourselves in the Word. (Romans 12:1-12).

 The result of listening to false doctrine can draw us away from Him and into sinful actions.

 5Stealing

Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need. (Ephesians 4:28)

Robbery is not part of the lifestyle of Christians. We don’t hold up banks or stores and ride off into the sunset with the loot. But the size or value of an item is not what determines theft. Even if we didn’t intentionally take money or products, keeping incorrect change, or not returning an item a clerk mistakenly places in our bag is defrauding the store.

Cheating on taxes or falsifying business documents could also fall under the category of lying.

These are small indiscretions, and these behaviors may seem insignificant. But they do matter. God sees all, and He is saddened when we don’t reflect His character.

6.  Drunkenness

Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18)

The debate about Christians drinking alcohol will probably continue until Jesus comes back. But the Scripture is clear about drunkenness. This is another problem Paul addressed in several places due to the background the new Christians converted from.

The same principle can apply to alcohol as to the eating of food outlined in Romans chapter 14. We are not to judge, but we are also told not to be a stumbling block to another person’s faith (Romans 14:13). We should consider how all activities and attitudes we engage in can be interpreted by others.

Live in the Fruit of the Spirit

We are forgiven for all these soul wanderings, but that doesn’t give us a free pass for committing any fleshly act. Living in the fruit of the Spirit will keep us sensitive to God's voice and will empower us against any temptations.

Rather than grieving the Spirit, we can praise and thank Him.

Join the conversation and share your thoughts.

Image by Dorothe from Pixabay

Forgiveness doesn't give us a free pass for committing any fleshly act. Living in the fruit of the Spirit will keep us sensitive to God's voice and empower us against any temptations. (share on X)null

This post is an excerpt from an article that appeared on Crosswalk.com. 

Thursday, June 6, 2024

3 Ways to Overcome Guilt and Shame

 


by Barbara Latta @barbaralatta

 Ever since Adam and Eve took one bite of fruit humans have dealt with guilt and shame.

God warned Adam.

And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, "Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die." (Genesis 2:15-16 NKJV)

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

Dr. Katherine Pasour is a retired college professor, an author, and a speaker. During more than four decades of teaching, greater than half at the college level, Katherine has taught and mentored thousands of students.

Katherine has degrees in health and physical education and religion, and a PhD in education. She has taught health and physical education to children, wellness to young adults, general education courses, and research classes for honors students, and she’s prepared students to be teachers.

An outdoor girl at heart, Katherine enjoys her farm animals, gardening, and hiking. Although pulling weeds or spreading mulch in her flowers aren’t her favorite hobbies, she finds these outdoor tasks are great stress relievers, especially in the spring when the fruits of her labor display their glorious blossoms.





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.

Thursday, February 29, 2024

5 Benefits of Holy Living

 


by Barbara Latta @barbaralatta

Holiness is viewed by the world around us as an undesirable trait.

The reason for this is because they don’t understand what holiness means. To unbelievers, holiness means being a boring, never-doing-anything-fun type of person.

According to Strong’s #H6944 holiness means, hallowed, consecrated, dedicated.[i]

Ascribe to Yahweh the glory due His name; worship Yahweh in the splendor of His holiness. (Psalm 29:2 HCSB)

One of the dictionary definitions of holy is having a spiritually pure quality.

Thursday, February 15, 2024

Happy Valentine's Day From the One Who Loves You Most

 

Happy Valentine's Day From the One Who Loves You Most

by Barbara Latta @barbaralatta

Chocolate, roses, fancy dinners, and stuffed animals are the primary gifts given for Valentine’s Day. These are physical reminders of affectionate feelings for another person. But after the day is over, do we revert back to old ways and forget the loving things said and done because of a special holiday?

Our tokens of love are emotional. Feelings aren’t wrong, but we can’t depend on them to guide our lives. Sometimes we don’t feel like being loving, we would rather be grumpy or rude. 

But real love does the action without the feeling.

Thursday, February 8, 2024

6 Ways Jesus Shows us The Power of I AM

 


by Barbara Latta @barbaralatta 

In the Garden of Gethsemane, the chief priests and Pharisees came to arrest Jesus and brought a crowd with them. The King James Version uses the word band. Other versions state multitude or detachment. But the word is translated from the Latin speira (Strong’s 4686) and denotes a Roman military cohort of 600 men. This shows what a threat Jesus was to the religious establishment.

 But no matter how many they had with them; Jesus couldn’t have been taken had He not submitted. God’s Son could not be contained by humans.

Thursday, February 1, 2024

Groundhog Day Can Teach Us Not to Rely on Shadows for Truth

 


by Barbara Latta @barbaralatta

The legend of Groundhog Day tells us if this furry little creature comes out of hibernation and sees his shadow there will be six more weeks of winter. No shadow means an early spring. Spring brings to mind new life as trees and flowers bloom and animals give birth to young. We hope for relief from the bitterness of winter. But this observance is merely tradition. How many times is the groundhog wrong? His shadow doesn’t represent the truth of the season’s weather.

Groundhog Day Can Teach Us Not To Rely On Shadows For Truth.

Thursday, January 25, 2024

3 Lessons We Can Learn From Israel's Kings

 


by Barbara Latta @barbaralatta

The Old Testament provides us with multitudes of examples of Israel’s failures to obey God. Despite warnings from prophets, the people refused to turn away from false gods. When the leaders fell into sin, most of the population followed.

Here are 3 lessons we can learn from Israel’s kings. If we will read their history with open eyes we can learn from their examples and avoid the same mistakes they made.

1. Disobedience Has a Price.

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 NKJV)

Saul 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. Because of this disobedience the kingdom was torn away from his family and given to another.

David’s sin with Bathsheba is recorded in 2 Samuel chapter 11. He repented and God forgave him, but he paid a heavy price. The child Bathsheba bore died, the sword never left David’s house, and his children lived in turmoil. One of his sons raped a daughter of David and his son Absalom attempted a coup against his father’s kingdom. But because of David’s repentant heart, God made a promise that David’s descendant would always be on the throne.

Solomon started out right. He was the wisest man who ever lived. He penned hundreds of proverbs and songs and his wisdom was known throughout the world. Yet because of his marriage to multiple women from heathen countries, his heart was turned away from God and toward the idols of his wives (which God forbade His people to do for this reason). God preserved one tribe because of his promise to David but the remaining tribes were torn from Solomon’s line and after his death given to his servant Jeroboam.

And the most famous evil king of Israel was Ahab. He brought the worship of Baal to Israel after he married Jezebel. He wouldn’t listen to the prophet Elijah’s warnings. He died in battle and the dogs licked his blood from the chariot where he fell.

2. Advice From Ungodly People Can Draw Us Away From God.

 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? (2 Corinthians 6:14).


Solomon’s son Rehoboam reigned in Judah after his father’s death. He rejected the counsel of the elders who had advised Solomon and instead he listened to his friends. He fell to peer pressure.

Asa did what was right in the eyes of the Lord but later relied on the king of Syria instead of the Lord. He was diseased in his feet the rest of his life.

Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, walked in the ways of David but he did not take away the high places of false worship. He later allied himself with the evil king of Israel, Ahaziah, to make ships to go to Tarshish.  Because of this the ships they made were wrecked.

When Joash became king of Judah he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord. Yet when Jehoiada the priest died, Joash listened to the leaders of Judah and they bowed down to worship wooden idols. After years of the kindness of Jehoiada into Joash’s life, Joash still killed that prophet’s son. Because of this act, judgment was executed against Joash and his own servants conspired against him and killed him.

3. A Divided Heart Will Make Us Unstable.

That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive. (Ephesians 4:14-15 AKJV)

In 2 Kings 10 Jehu destroyed the worshippers of Baal yet in verse 31 it says, But Jehu took no heed to walk in the law of the Lord God of Israel with all his heart; for he did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam, who had made Israel sin.

Jehu destroyed the elements of Baal but did not totally dedicate himself to the Lord. He had a divided heart and a divided heart will make us unstable in all our ways (James 1:8).

We live under a new covenant and we are not judged for sin the way these Old Testament kings were. But there is still a consequence to sin and the lessons the lives of these kings left behind can show us what happens when we abandon God and go our own way.

We can be thankful for God’s mercy and forgiveness, but we can spare ourselves so much pain and heartache if we will follow His ways to begin with.

What have you observed about the lives of these kings? Share your thoughts.

3 Lessons We Can Learn From Israel’s Kings. If we read their history we can learn to avoid the same mistakes they made. (click to tweet)

Image by Jukka Niittymaa from Pixabay



 

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Do You Know How Much You Matter to God?

 


by Barbara Latta

As we enter a new year our thoughts are on new ways to set goals or start resolutions.

But we can also be tempted to look behind us and allow any despair, heartbreak, or loss from last year to overwhelm us. Our soulish health depends upon changing our focus.

The only reason we should look in the rearview mirror is to learn from mistakes. We don’t need to stay in the pain of the past. God doesn’t want us living in regret.

We can anticipate the future with hope when we focus on the love Christ has for us and that He gives our lives significance.

The best way we can start this year is to know we matter to God.

We can learn how important an individual life is when we read the story of the Samaritan woman (John 4:1-25).

Jesus left Judea to go to Galilee. In that day, Jews did not travel through Samaria. They would take the longer way around to avoid putting their feet on the soil of a despised race. Except for Jesus.

The Scripture tells us that Jesus “needed” to go through Samaria. He knew a woman with a broken heart and a spiritual thirst would be there. A woman who felt insignificant. A woman who didn’t matter to society. A woman who felt alone and isolated. A woman who sought love but remained empty.

She may not have mattered to anyone else, but she mattered to the Son of God. She mattered so much He changed His route just to be where she was.

The Messiah ministered to this woman’s soul and healed her hurts by accepting her despite her sin and failures. His words changed her destiny. He broke religious tradition and racial prejudice because she was important. He showed her what true love was all about.

Do you ever feel the same way this woman did? Do you feel lost in the billions of people in the world as if you don’t matter?

The Savior speaks to us as individuals. He is not willing that any should perish (2 Peter 3:9). We matter so much He died in the place of each of us.

He meets us where we are like He did with the Samaritan woman. You matter. I matter. He gives each life significance. He wants our fellowship. He wants us to let Him love us.

We can start the new year by accepting Christ’s love and letting Him show us how important we are to Him. Please know you matter to God.

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. (1 John 4:9-10 NIV)

Join the conversation and share your thoughts.

We can start the new year by accepting Christ’s love and letting Him show us how important we are to Him. Please know you matter to God. (click to tweet)

 Have you set new goals for this year? My most recent article on Crosswalk encourages us to make prayer a priority and grow into a habit in 2024. You can read the article here. 4 Ways to Make Prayer a Priority This Year

Image by Treharris from Pixabay