4-17-14: Hate Myself and Bear My Cross?

•April 19, 2014 • Leave a Comment

#HeartForTheWord

While Jesus walked the earth, He said some things His own disciples couldn’t understand. The most notable example of their misunderstanding had to be when He told them He would die and rise again. No matter how often He said it, they didn’t get it until they actually went through the experience. We’re not much different from those twelve. We read the same passages of Scripture over and over but don’t get it until we actually have the experience. So as we read Luke 14:26-27, we may be stumped by what Jesus means when He says one should “hate… his own life” and “bear his [own] cross” or one “cannot be My disciple.”

Here’s the lowdown. If we start with the basic understanding that Jesus Christ is God in the flesh, the risen Savior, our comprehension of the Luke passage becomes clear. The God of the universe has the right to run said universe as He pleases. Therefore, He can also tell us how to best operate in His created space as His created beings.

Our role in responding to God in Christ starts with a two-fold reaction. First, hating ourselves has nothing to do with operating in low self-esteem. Jesus is talking about giving deference to His wants and desires over our own. We will only qualify as disciples if we will do what He wants us to do even if that clashes with and cancels out what we want to do.

The second reaction is to bear our own cross. It’s not enough to simply give mental assent to Jesus’ words; we have to actually obey them. That means taking a hard look in the mirror and seeing who we really are. Bearing one’s own cross is to say, “Yes, I’m a liar, an adulterer, an idolater, a fill-in-the-blank; and God, You hate my sin. I’m willing to come to You with it so You can deliver me from it, heal me of it, reveal it completely to me, and/or show me how to overcome it.”

It will cost us our crosses to be disciples of Christ. Maybe that’s why more of us don’t break through to that title. We’re just not really willing to give it all up, even to the point of giving up all we think we were born to be.

God can be trusted with our lives and crosses. Worship God today for having a better plan for us than we could ever have for ourselves.

____________________________

©2014 Sharon Norris Elliott. Feel free to forward this devotion in its entirety, including this copyright line. Leave comments, ask questions, read past devotions, or subscribe to receive these devotions daily in your e-mail at www.sanewriter.wordpress.com. Also, periodically check in at www.LifeThatMatters.net to see what’s going on in the ministry.

 

Pick up a copy of Sharon’s newest release,

Boomerangs to Arrows: A Godly Guide for Launching Young Adult Children

available from Judson Press (http://www.judsonpress.com/product.cfm?product_id=17387),

at bookstores, and on all major online book buying sites.

Video link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f2JH_gbinMk

Also still available:

Power Suit: The Armor of God Fit for the Feminine Frame

from New Hope Publishers (http://www.newhopedigital.com/2010/08/power-suit/)

 

4/5/14 What’s Taking So Long?

•April 5, 2014 • Leave a Comment

#HeartForTheWord

Is God’s Word worth listening to? I wonder about that when those of us who claim to be Christians agree with things the Bible disagrees with, or we do things the Bible says is wrong. How can we justify persisting in performing actions, making decisions, and holding beliefs that contradict the inspired Word of God? It seems as though we’re becoming callous because we don’t see disastrous results immediately. Ecclesiastes 8:11 warns, “Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil” (NKJ).

I think maybe we don’t fully understand the extent to which our lives are not our own. Or maybe the disconnect happens because we don’t really grasp the enormity of the fact that we are children of the ultimate Master of the universe. If we indeed knew who we were—saints of the most high God—lining our lives up with our identity would be no problem. We wouldn’t be perfect all the time, but when we did fall and fail, we would be quick to get up and get right rather than wallow in the mud of our defeat. As soon as God’s word was brought to mind related to a sin in our lives, we’d immediately line ourselves up to it with no hesitation. Neither personal feelings, nor cultural norms, nor societal pressures should be able to obstruct our instantaneous passage back to obedience.

Be encouraged and emboldened today to take the Word of God seriously. Realize the blessing of Proverbs 13:13. “Whoever despises the word brings destruction on himself, but he who reveres the commandment will be rewarded” (ESV). It’s time we stop taking so long to get things right. Worship God for both His warning about the self-destruction of ignoring the Word, and His promise of reward based upon obedience to it.

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©2014 Sharon Norris Elliott. Feel free to forward this devotion in its entirety, including this copyright line. Leave comments, ask questions, read past devotions, or subscribe to receive these devotions daily in your e-mail at www.sanewriter.wordpress.com. Also, periodically check in at www.LifeThatMatters.net to see what’s going on in the ministry.

 

Pick up a copy of Sharon’s newest release,

Boomerangs to Arrows: A Godly Guide for Launching Young Adult Children

available from Judson Press (http://www.judsonpress.com/product.cfm?product_id=17387),

at bookstores, and on all major online book buying sites.

Video link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f2JH_gbinMk

Also still available:

Power Suit: The Armor of God Fit for the Feminine Frame

from New Hope Publishers (http://www.newhopedigital.com/2010/08/power-suit/)

 

3/19/14: The Fountain of Youth

•March 19, 2014 • 1 Comment

#HeartForTheWord

For eons, people have been trying to find the legendary Fountain of Youth, the secret to long life. It is rumored that Juan Ponce de León, the Spanish explorer, was searching for it when he stumbled upon Florida. He must not have found it or else he’d be here today to tell us about it, probably joining his voice to the multi-billion dollar industry that hawks beauty products to us from the margins of our Internet pages.

Honestly, though, there’s no need to worry our graying heads about staying young forever. Aging will happen to each of us just as sure as the sun rises and sets. However, God has provided us with His own brand of the Fountain of Youth. He has had the Psalmist tell us, “Who is the man who desires life,
and loves many days, that he may see good?Keep your tongue from evil,
and your lips from speaking deceit.Depart from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it”Psalm 34:12-14 (NKJ).

Yes, just three little doses of the above prescription, and good life with many days is ours: pronounce, practice, and peace.

First, to have a good life with many days, we must watch what we pronounce. The scripture calls upon us to keep our tongue from evil, and keep our lips from speaking deceit. Evil speech is that which is bad, disagreeable, malignant, unpleasant and spoken to give pain to another person. Deceitful speech carries this idea further and involves words spoken with the specific purpose of harming someone who trusts us. In other words, when someone speaks evil, deceitful words, your incredulous reaction is to say, “I never thought so-and-so would have said such a thing about me!” A person who speaks of others in such a way opens herself to arguments, and maybe even blows, and because of her tongue, could very well shorten her life. God is telling us that if we intend to see many days, we need to be about the business of only pronouncing words about others that bless them. Or as Thumper so eloquently stated in the classic movie Bambi, “If you can’t say somthing nice, don’t say nothin’ at all.”

The second way to enjoy a good life with many days is to watch what we practice. The scripture says to “depart from evil and do good.” It’s Barney simple. Stop doing bad stuff; start doing good stuff. (By the way, the “good stuff” we’re supposed to be doing is listed out for us in the Bible. Check it out.)

Finally, we will experience good life and many days as we live in peace. The scripture tells us to “seek peace and pursue it.” Peace is something we often have to go after; it’s not simply a product of the atmosphere. In fact, quite to the contrary, the atmosphere in which we find ourselves may be turbulent and even hostile, fostering anything but a peaceful existence. That’s why God had to tell us to seek it and pursue it. We are to be adamant about making peace our reality. Romans 12:18 even says, “ If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone (NIV).

So there we have it. If we are careful about what we pronounce, conscious about our practice, and constant in our search for peace, we will have found the Fountain of Youth God has provided for all His children. Let’s worship our God today for supplying a way for us to experience a good life with many days.

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©2014 Sharon Norris Elliott. Feel free to forward this devotion in its entirety, including this copyright line. Leave comments, ask questions, read past devotions, or subscribe to receive these devotions daily in your e-mail at www.sanewriter.wordpress.com. Also, periodically check in at www.LifeThatMatters.net to see what’s going on in the ministry.

 

Pick up a copy of Sharon’s newest release,

Boomerangs to Arrows: A Godly Guide for Launching Young Adult Children

available from Judson Press (http://www.judsonpress.com/product.cfm?product_id=17387),

 at bookstores, and on all major online book buying sites.

Video link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f2JH_gbinMk  

Also still available:

Power Suit: The Armor of God Fit for the Feminine Frame

from New Hope Publishers (http://www.newhopedigital.com/2010/08/power-suit/)

 

 

 

2/17/14: As We Go

•February 17, 2014 • Leave a Comment

#HeartForTheWord

I love the story of the ten lepers in Luke, chapter 17. These desperate people begged Jesus for mercy as He passed by them. Jesus told them to go and show themselves to the priests. The only reason they’d need to show themselves to the priests was to be declared clean, i.e. healed from leprosy. All ten obeyed and set off for the temple, which meant that somewhere between where they were and the temple, the leprosy would go away. And indeed that’s just what happened. The Bible tells us, “And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed” Luke 17:14 (NKJ).

Another one of my favorite Bible stories is found in Matthew, chapter 28. Here we’re told of some of the happenings on Jesus’ Resurrection morning. When Mary Magdalene and the other Mary arrived at the tomb, they were surprised to find an angel there telling them the glorious news that “He is not here; for He is risen, as He said” Matthew 28:6 (NKJ). The angel gave them further instructions to “go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him” Matthew 28:8 (NKJ). Then Matthew tells us that “as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them” Matthew 28:9 (NKJ).

The great thing to notice is that these two stories have one thing in common: the people involved got what they wanted “as they went.” What a simple thing to do. Just go. When we hear the Word of the Lord, that’s all we have to do as well, just go. We’ll be pleasantly surprised to find that as we go at His Word, we too will receive the blessings He intends for us. Worship God who sends the blessing before us so we can catch up with it as we go.

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©2014 Sharon Norris Elliott. Feel free to forward this devotion in its entirety, including this copyright line. Leave comments, ask questions, read past devotions, or subscribe to receive these devotions daily in your e-mail at www.sanewriter.wordpress.com. Also, periodically check in at www.LifeThatMatters.net to see what’s going on in the ministry.

Pick up a copy of Sharon’s newest release,

Boomerangs to Arrows: A Godly Guide for Launching Young Adult Children

available from Judson Press (http://www.judsonpress.com/product.cfm?product_id=17387),

 at bookstores, and on all major online book buying sites.

Video link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f2JH_gbinMk

Also still available:

Power Suit: The Armor of God Fit for the Feminine Frame

from New Hope Publishers (http://www.newhopedigital.com/2010/08/power-suit/)

2/15/14: Change Your Confession

•February 15, 2014 • Leave a Comment

#HeartForTheWord

We all tend to balk against change. Somehow we get it in our minds that a thing should be done or understood the way we do it or understand it, and then we war against anything different. Sometimes we’re right and we ought to stand our ground, but sometimes we’re wrong. At those times when we’re wrong, we need to not only make a 180-degree turn, but we need to voice (confess) our change. You see, we may not realize how many people have been listening to our first position, so when we come to truth, it’s ever so important to voice the real truth as a testimony to others we’ve led down the wrong path.

An example of such a change is found dramatically in the conversion of Saul of Tarsus (see Acts 9), but just as dramatic is the changed confession of one of the criminals crucified beside Jesus. Matthew 27:41-44 records for us that all the major players gathered around the crosses at the top of Golgotha that fateful day were actively engaged in making fun of Jesus. “Likewise the chief priests also, mocking with the scribes and elders, said, 42 “He saved others; Himself He cannot save…” Even the robbers who were crucified with Him reviled Him the same thing” (NKJ). However, as the hours wore on, something changed inside of one of the thieves. Luke reports the incident this way:

  • Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, “If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.” But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise” Luke 23:39-43 (NKJ).

You see, a few hours earlier, thief #2 was spitting the same venom as thief #1, the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders. “If you’re really all that you said you were, Jesus, prove it now.” One thing had changed for thief #2, though. I believe it was the realization of his sure-approaching death. As it became more and more obvious to that man that his very life was truly ebbing away, it dawned upon him that Jesus was his only hope. He noticed that he was suffering justly for his crimes, but all Jesus had ever done was invite others to get to God the Father through Him.

Right then, upon that realization, thief #2 changed both his confession and his testimony. He spoke truth to thief #1 who was still mocking Jesus, and he spoke his confession of Christ to Jesus. And Jesus forever changed that man’s future.

Our future can be forever altered by changing our confession as well. “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” Romans 10:9-10 (NKJ). We need as much salvation from hell as we do salvation from ungodly thoughts and actions. Let us examine what we are doing or believing that we refuse to change? Hold it up to the scrutiny of God’s Word—Jesus, the Word made flesh (John 1:14). Honestly admit to the things that don’t line up at every point. Realize that holding to that action or belief only leads to death (Romans 6:23). Turn to Jesus in confession of who He is and with every intention of operating from now on as Kingdom dwellers by changing our current, wrong actions and beliefs to what He directs us to believe and how He desires for us to act. Then boldly make the new confessions based firmly on the Word of God. Worship God whose truth is our Confession-Changer.

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©2014 Sharon Norris Elliott. Feel free to forward this devotion in its entirety, including this copyright line. Leave comments, ask questions, read past devotions, or subscribe to receive these devotions daily in your e-mail at www.sanewriter.wordpress.com. Also, periodically check in at www.LifeThatMatters.net to see what’s going on in the ministry.

Pick up a copy of Sharon’s newest release,

Boomerangs to Arrows: A Godly Guide for Launching Young Adult Children

available from Judson Press (http://www.judsonpress.com/product.cfm?product_id=17387),

 at bookstores, and on all major online book buying sites.

Video link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f2JH_gbinMk

Also still available:

Power Suit: The Armor of God Fit for the Feminine Frame

from New Hope Publishers (http://www.newhopedigital.com/2010/08/power-suit/)

2/13/14: Don’t Listen

•February 13, 2014 • 1 Comment

#HeartForTheWord

We’re often told, “Follow your heart,” when it comes to choosing a career path or a love interest, or making other important decisions about our future. Surprisingly, a Bible verse suggests the opposite. Jeremiah 17:9 (NKJ) says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” God is saying that the heart, the intellectual and directive center of our being, is full of treachery and guile. What makes the heart this way? It is “hardened through the deceitfulness of sin” Hebrews 3:13 (NKJ). And that sin refers to either the original sin nature or the sin all around “which so easily ensnares us” Hebrews 12:1 (NKJ). Since this is so, it behooves us not to follow our heart.

So then, if we don’t follow our heart, what should we follow? In Jeremiah 17:10, (the verse following the warning about our heart), God says, “I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings.” Since God knows our heart, we can follow Him instead of it. He searches our hearts and tests our minds, in order to reward or punish us according to the outcome of our actions. If we follow our deceitful hearts, the outcome of our actions will only be destruction. However, if we surrender our sin-soaked heart to God, and allow Him to live there and make it new, we can follow Him and be assured of outcomes that will bring Him glory and honor.

So, don’t listen to your heart until you surrender it to God and He makes it His residence. Worship Jesus who dwells in each heart that opens to Him.

P.S. Read Romans 3:23, Romans 5:8, Romans 6:23, and Romans 10:9-10. Pray, believe, and welcome to the Family!

____________________________

©2014 Sharon Norris Elliott. Feel free to forward this devotion in its entirety, including this copyright line. Leave comments, ask questions, read past devotions, or subscribe to receive these devotions daily in your e-mail at www.sanewriter.wordpress.com. Also, periodically check in at www.LifeThatMatters.net to see what’s going on in the ministry.

 

Pick up a copy of Sharon’s newest release,

Boomerangs to Arrows: A Godly Guide for Launching Young Adult Children

available from Judson Press (http://www.judsonpress.com/product.cfm?product_id=17387),

 at bookstores, and on all major online book buying sites.

Video link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f2JH_gbinMk

Also still available:

Power Suit: The Armor of God Fit for the Feminine Frame

from New Hope Publishers (http://www.newhopedigital.com/2010/08/power-suit/)

 

 

 

2/12/14: Time to Exhale

•February 12, 2014 • 2 Comments

#HeartForTheWord

Isn’t it nice to be assured of something good? The Merriam Webster online dictionary defines assurance as “a being certain in the mind, confidence of mind or manner, easy freedom from self-doubt or uncertainty.” In other words, when we are assured of something, it’s time to exhale. We can relax. At least regarding that particular issue, we can be certain, secure, and confident.

Five little words in the book of Micah moved me to think about the wonderful assurance we have in our heavenly Father. The end of Micah 7:7 says, “…my God will hear me.” If you read this verse in context, the prophet has just spent several chapters talking about how bad things are going to be for God’s people because of their sin. By contrast now, he starts saying what he will do as one who still trusts the Lord. All of verses 7 and 8 read as follows:

  • “Therefore I will look to the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me. Do not rejoice over me, my enemy; when I fall, I will arise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD will be a light to me” Micah 7:7-8 (NKJ).

Notice Micah’s affirmations because of the assurance he has in his God.

  • I will look to the Lord.
  • I will wait for God.
  • My God will hear me.
  • I will arise.
  • The Lord will be my light.

 

God has not changed. As we continue to turn to Him, He will continue to hear us and move on our behalf. Blind hymn writer Fanny J. Crosby, who wrote hundreds of hymns in her lifetime, penned the classic favorite that captures this idea. If you know the tune, sing along:

Verse 1: Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine! O what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchased of God, Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.

Refrain: This is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior all the day long;
this is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior all the day long.

Verse 2: Perfect submission, perfect delight! Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels descending bring from above, Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.

Verse 3: Perfect submission, all is at rest! I in my Savior am happy and blest,
Watching and waiting, looking above, Filled with his goodness, lost in His love.

Whether we call it exhaling or blessed assurance, it’s all the same thing. What a wonderful feeling to have confidence in God! Worship God in whom we can have complete confidence.

____________________________

©2014 Sharon Norris Elliott. Feel free to forward this devotion in its entirety, including this copyright line. Leave comments, ask questions, read past devotions, or subscribe to receive these devotions daily in your e-mail at www.sanewriter.wordpress.com. Also, periodically check in at www.LifeThatMatters.net to see what’s going on in the ministry.

 

Pick up a copy of Sharon’s newest release,

Boomerangs to Arrows: A Godly Guide for Launching Young Adult Children

available from Judson Press (http://www.judsonpress.com/product.cfm?product_id=17387),

 at bookstores, and on all major online book buying sites.

Video link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f2JH_gbinMk

Also still available:

Power Suit: The Armor of God Fit for the Feminine Frame

from New Hope Publishers (http://www.newhopedigital.com/2010/08/power-suit/)

 

 

 

 
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