Will you accept my challenge this year?

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I have been feeling a need to do this, so here it is:

I am issuing a challenge to each and every one of you – EVERYONE that reads this blog!

The challenge is this:

Read through your Bible in one year with us!

Now, if you have done it before, GREAT!  Do it again!  And if you haven’t, PERFECT!  Do it now!

Here’s how it will work:

I will post a reading schedule at the beginning of each week.  It will list the daily readings for the week, and be the catalyst for comments during the week on the readings we are doing.  I plan to have some free goodies for those of you who participate (by participate, I mean, leave at least one comment per week on that week’s readings!).  And, there is a distinct possibility of having a drawing mid-way through and at the end of the year….if not quarterly!

So, join with us today….we begin on January 1st!

Leave a comment on this posting if you will be taking up the challenge to Sharpen Your Sword all year long!

Preparing for Battle,

Toni

Christmas Poetry

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Christ came to earth, one blessed
Holy night, to offer
Redemption to a world, so lost in His sight
Immanuel is His name, our
Savior He chose to be.
Three gifts were brought to Him, by the
Magi, for the One who would be
Atonement for sins – offering
Salvation to you and me.

The Christmas Gift

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I wrote this originally in my personal journal (don’t you feel like a special friend, now?) as a Valentines poem. But I have been wanting to share it with you.  I changed a few words so it pertains to Christmas…hope you like it…let me know.

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 The Christmas Gift

Lord, I have forgotten Your ways

I haven’t read Your Word in too many days

I have missed the mark time and time again

Who am I to say that You are my friend?

 

But, Lord, in Your grace I want to grow

And I’ll need Your help, this I know.

To find my way back to Your Throne

This is a journey I can’t make alone.

 

Lord, I have called upon You only when in trouble

Perhaps that is why lately, all I do is stumble.

I’ve cursed and I’ve cried, I’ve felt I could die

But, Lord, You never left. You were always at my side.

 

You’ve never forsaken me, you’ve always been there

In the morning, at night, and when I say the occasional prayer.

You’re there when I sleep and there when I cry

You’re there when I slip, though I sometimes wonder why.

 

I wonder how a Lord so sovereign and good

Can still love a sinner like me – I’m not so sure I could.

But You do Lord, and I’m blessed

For of every gift in life, Jesus is the best.

 

So, Lord, this Christmas Day, I want to tell You

That whatever it takes, that’s what I’ll do

I’‘ll do what’s needed to get back that fire.

Lord, I just ask You to teach me to desire

 

The things that are good, righteous, and just

And to never lose faith in Your love, but to trust.

To trust in Your provision, Your love, and Your promise

For You o Lord, cannot be dishonest.

 

Lord, You have my heart from now until forever

I will love You Lord, and not lose faith, no never.

So, Lord, be with me as on this new journey I start

And Lord, please accept this Christmas gift – my heart.

When you look back

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It’s not plagiarism if I give credit:

Last night at Bible study, a wonderful lady in our class said this:

“I can’t see what God is doing while He’s doing it.  It’s when I look back that I can see what He did.”

How true that is.  How often do we pray and pray, thinking that nothing is happening, when all of a sudden it becomes apparent that God has indeed been very busy?

There are so many times that I get myself all worked up over something, something that may not have even happened yet, and when I look back, I can see that God was there all along.

Or what about the times when you are really struggling?  You know, the storms of life when every ounce of faith you have is being tested and tried and stretched.  Personally, its often just after one of those times that I can look back, and see beyond the shadow of a doubt, what God was doing.

And He always does it bigger and better, and more thoroughly  than I could have imagined.  And often, its at the end of those storms when I learn the greatest lessons.  The ones that bring me closer to my Savior than ever before.

The truth is, we humans need a rest – once every 24 hours.  God, however, doesn’t sleep.  In our finite minds we cannot really comprehend that fact.  He never stops working;  He never forwards incoming prayers to an answering service.  His office hours are Beginning – End, Eternity – Eternity.  No holidays, no vacations, and certainly no retirement! 

So, whatever storm you’re passing through – whether its a little sprinkle or a downpour, remember to keep looking up.  Even if you can’t see Him, He’s there and He’s working.  And when the storm is over, the clouds part and the sun is shining again, you’ll be able to look back at where you’ve been, and see the wonderful things He has done.

Sharpen Your Sword (wk of 12/7/08)

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My mother said something last night I thought was awesome.  And, of course, I personally think my mom is a very wise, intelligent, brilliant, wonderful person (especially since I am just like her…ha ha ha!).  But, seriously, she made a statement in a conversation we were having that was very profound, yet very simple:

“The closer you get to God, the bigger your sins appear.”

Isn’t that true?  I know it is for me.  Recently, I have been reading and rereading Psalm 51 – a prayer for remission of sins.  If you’ve never read it, I encourage you to do so, prayerfully, as it is a Psalm that will allow God to reveal hidden sins in your life, and remind you that ALL sin is against Him.

1 Have mercy on me, O God, according to they lovingkindness:  according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.

2 Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.

3 For I acknowledge my transgressions:  and my sin is ever before me.

4 Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in they sight:  that thous mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.

5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.

6 Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts:  and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.

7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean:  wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

8 Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.

9 Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities.

10 Create in me a clean heart, O God;  and renew a right spirit within me.

11 Cast me not away from they presence;  and take not thy holy spirit from me.

12 Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation;  and uphold me with thy free spirit.

13  Then will I teach transgressors thy ways;  and sinners shall be converted unto thee.

14  Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation:  and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness.

15 O Lord, open thou my lips;  and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise.

16 For thou desirest not sacrifice:  else I would give it:  thou delightest not in burnt offering.

17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit:  and broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

18 Do good in thine good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem.

19 Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering:  then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar.

 

Awesome words from an awesome God….

Tell us about your devotion times

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In an effort to jump-start devotions for those who haven’t yet begun them, or to reignite the fire for others, I’d like to talk about devotions.

Of course, I mean:  devotion times, quiet times, Bible reading, morning devotions, etc.

Would you be willing to share some of what you do?

Do you get up early or have your devotions late? 

Is it the first thing you do, or do you fix your coffee, etc., first?

How do you choose where you read in your Bible? 

Do you use a prepared study for this time, or is your time strictly Spirit-led?

Do you sing hymns, take walks, light candles, etc.?

Do you have a set length of time for your devotion or end when you feel God is “done for the moment?”

Do you take notes, and if so, do you do this by subject, or book?

How much of your quiet time do you devote to prayer, and what part of that prayer is speaking vs. listening?

Do you have additional family devotions?  If so, apply the above questions to those also, if you will.

If there is anything else you’d like to add, feel free!  Looking forward to yet another discussion!

The Wicker Basket

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I received this in an email and wanted to share it…timeless.

The story is told of an old man who lived on a farm in the mountains of eastern Kentucky with his young grandson.  Each morning, Grandpa was up early sitting at the kitchen table reading from his old worn-out Bible.  His grandson, who wanted to be just like him, tried to imitate him in anyway he could.

One day, the grandson asked, “Papa, I try to read the Bible just like you but I don’t understand it, and what I do understand, I forget as soon as I close the book.  What good does reading the Bible do?”

The Grandfather quietly turned from putting coal in the stove in the stove and said, “Take this old wicker coal basket down to the river and bring back a basket of water.”

The boy did as he was told, even though all the water leaked out before he could get back to the house.  The grandfather laughed and said, “You will have to move faster next time,” and send him back to the river with the basket to try again.

This time the boy ran faster, but again the old wicker basket was empty before he returned home.  Out of breath, he told his grandfather that it was “impossible to carry water in a basket,” and he went to get a bucket instead.

The old man said, “I don’t want a bucket of water, I want a basket of water.  You can do this.  You’re just not trying hard enough,” and he went out the door to watch the boy try again.

At this point, the boy knew it was impossible, but he wanted to show his grandfather that even if he ran as fast as he could, the water would leak out before he got far at all.  The boy scooped the water and ran hard, but when he reached his grandfather, the basket was again empty.

Out of breath, he said, “See Papa, it’s useless!”

“So you think it is useless?” The old man said, “Look at the basket.”

The boy looked at the basket and realized for the first time that the basket looked different.  Instead of a dirty old wicker coal basket, it was clean.

“Son, that’s what happens when you read the Bible.  You might not understand or remember everything, but when you read it, it will change you from the inside out.”

The Lord said in Isaiah 55:11

So shall my Word be that goeth forth out of My mouth:  it shall not return unto Me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

I know many people, and I have been there myself, who struggle with reading their Bibles daily because they “just don’t get it.”  I am a firm believer in the KJV only approach (with much to back up my opinion), and therefore, some of the writing is a little more difficult to understand.  What’s more, sometimes the Word itself is challenging.  I think God is very VERY clear in His Word about everything, but I think our understanding requires obedience and a sincere desire to understand, thereby showing our love for Jesus.

About four and a half years ago, the person I charge with being my spiritual mentor (you know who you are JG!) gave me this sage advice:  “Pray and ask God to show you what He wants you to understand before you even open the Bible.”  Ask God to bless your reading at that time so that your spiritual eyes may be opened, paving the way for God to give you the understanding of whatever passage you are reading.

Sometimes, it takes reading, and rereading, and rereading again, before you “get it.”  Other times, it happens instantly.  But, one truth remains:  God can’t speak to you and show you His thoughts if you don’t read His word.  He speaks to us first through His written Word, and if we refuse to stay away from it – even out of fear of not understanding – we are shutting down a supply of blessings that would span our entire lifetime. 

New Year’s is coming up, and with it, New Year’s Resolutions.  Now, while I won’t make a “resolution,” I will have goals for the upcoming year.  How about you?  Will you make it a goal for the new year to read your Bible daily, and spend some time each morning with your Savior?  You will be blessed.  And that’s a promise from the King.

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