5/25/17: God’s Publishing Efforts

•May 25, 2017 • Leave a Comment

All authors have one ultimate goal in mind – to be published. After all, that’s why we are writing. We actually think other people want to know, and indeed need to hear, what we have to say. We attend writers’ retreats to get tuned in to God’s voice, and we pack ourselves off to writers’ conferences with proposals in hand, seeking the appropriate publisher (or at least a willing one) for our words. We’re concerned about things like capturing our voice on the page, writing tight, weaving humor into serious subjects, and showing not telling. Then once we release our work to the world, we turn our attention to marketing and getting the word out there about our books so people can get the message in their hands and hearts. We pray they understand the takeaway – the main point we are trying to convey.

As an author Himself, God is concerned about these very same things. He was the Ghostwriter for the best-seller of all times, but the published works He continues to produce – those with His personal name on the cover – tend to need more of His hands-on marketing efforts. Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (NKJ). That word “workmanship” is poiema in Greek and it literally means “a product, fabric, and thing that is made.” It’s the word from which we get our English word “poem.” In other words, we are literally God’s poem which He is trying to publish and market.

When God reads back over His poem that is you today, has He captured His voice on the page? Can He see that He’s written a tight, easy-to-comprehend message? Does His joy burst through even in these serious times? Has He accomplished the show-don’t-tell goal in you because you are living what He has penned in your heart?

As the personally authored work of His hands, what’s the takeaway people remember when they read you?

______________________

©2017 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.

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5/24/17: Passing the Baton

•May 24, 2017 • Leave a Comment

I spoke at a women’s conference this past weekend and the theme of the day was “Passing the Baton to the Next Generation.” A theme like this inevitably makes me introspective. I thought about how one of my main parenting goals was for my children to have a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. I didn’t want them just to go to church because I went to church and made them go. I wanted them to really know God and really love God for themselves. It was important to me that they knew for sure that God created the world and He created them and He had a plan for their lives. I longed for them to appreciate all Jesus had done by dying on the cross for the remission of their sins. They needed to understand that prayer was effective, praise was wonderful, and giving was necessary. I wanted them to grasp the fact that God loved them and serving Him with their whole heart was a joy and the least they could do.

I believe most Christian parents would have these same kinds of spiritual goals for their children. We all want to pass on the baton of our faith. When they are small, kids have to do what we say, they look cute in their “Sunday” clothes, and will dutifully say their prayers. They participate whole-heartedly in Sunday School, youth group, camps, conferences, shut-ins, and choir. The church is a friendly, comfortable, welcoming place for them and the friends they’ve had since birth.

But then they grow up, and lots of times, grown children disappoint us in the choices they make – especially when it comes to spiritual things. They may stop going to church and get in with a crowd of friends who don’t honor God. Their lifestyle choices are such that we can clearly see them heading for a fall. But they’re grown; the best we can do (and it is the best we can do) is pray for them. We cling on for dear life to Proverb 22:6 which says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (NKJ) even though we’re aware that these Proverbs are wise sayings, not guarantees.

However, I ran across a great couple of verses this morning in Psalm 22:30-31 that gave me comfort and hope for the next generation. The New Living Translation (NLT) says, “Our children will also serve him. Future generations will hear about the wonders of the Lord. His righteous acts will be told to those not yet born. They will hear about everything he has done.”  The Message (MSG) paraphrase says it this way, “Our children and their children will get in on this as the word is passed along from parent to child. Babies not yet conceived will hear the good news—that God does what he says.”

As parents, let’s not despair of our adult children. As we keep passing the Word along to them—both by what we say and how they see us live—they’ll catch it. Future generations (including our adorable grandbabies) will hear of the wonders of the Lord from our children. Hallelujah!

______________________

©2017 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.

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5/16/17: Touch Technology

•May 16, 2017 • 2 Comments

Cell phones, computerized copy machines, microwave ovens, global positioning system devices, even automatic teller machines – many gadgets are made with touch screens. No longer is there a need to push buttons; now just touch the magic screen in the right places, and the device does your bidding.

Well, I’m here to tell you that touch technology is nothing new. Jesus introduced touch technology long before the computer was ever even invented. In Luke chapter 8, we read of a woman who had been ill with a bleeding disorder for 12 years. She slipped into the crowd one day as Jesus was passing by and “touched the border of His garment, and immediately her flow of blood stopped” Luke 8:44 (NKJ). Later in that same chapter, Jesus arrived at Jairus’ house where the man’s little 12-year-old daughter had just died. Jesus touched the little girl by taking her by the hand. He then “called, saying, ‘Little girl, arise.’ Then her spirit returned, and she arose immediately” Luke 8:54 (NKJ).

Notice something about the touch technology of Jesus: when the woman touched Him and when He touched the little girl, the results were immediate. The woman’s blood flow ceased right then. The little girl came back to life instantly. Not only were the results immediate, they were also astonishing. A twelve-year disease that had stumped the medical community was simply gone; a dead twelve-year-old girl lived again.

You might think a touch screen is cool, but I dare you to experience Jesus’ touch. The Greek word for touch (haptomai) means ‘to attach oneself to.’ Reach out and touch Jesus or be still and let Him touch you. It doesn’t matter which way the touch flows; the difference will be immediate and astonishing.

______________________

©2017 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.

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5/15/17:Momentary Anger

•May 15, 2017 • 2 Comments

I received few spankings that I can remember (trust me, the ones I received were memorable), but my mother was good at doling out punishments. The minute the transgression was discovered, she’d slap a week of being grounded, or worse yet, of restriction from using the telephone. I would much rather have received the lecture and then the spanking so I could be finished with the whole sordid situation and get on with living life. But no, those punishments always lasted the full length of the sentence—there was no whining, plea bargaining, or best behavior ploy that could get me out of it any sooner.

The strange thing was that Mom didn’t stay mad at me. More than anything else, I had hurt her heart. Even so, throughout the lockdown or lock out, Mom continued being her regular self. She wasn’t rolling her eyes at me every time she looked my way or our paths crossed in the house. She didn’t even continue to remind me of my sin. We even laughed and joked and basically responded to each other normally although I was under lock and key. I didn’t enjoy the restrictions, but I accepted them because I knew I was guilty, and because I knew my mother and her rules deserved more respect than I had given them. When the disciplinary period ended, my privileges were reinstated. I was happy because of the receipt of my freedom, but the true joy came because of the full restoration of our relationship.

Psalm 30:5 says, “For His anger is but for a moment, his favor is for life; weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning” (NKJ). The Hebrew word for “anger” used in this verse (‘aph) contains the idea of forbearance or long-suffering, and carries the picture of a person breathing rapidly through the nose as one who would be doing his best to hold back from striking out. God can snuff us out because of our sin, but His anger is “but for a moment.” The disciplinary punishments will still prevail in our lives, but even as we go through them, His love for us won’t change. We’ll understand a little more about what our disobedience does to His heart, accept our guilt and His forgiveness, and recognize again that both He and His rules deserve more respect than we had given them. When our privileges are restored, we’ll have gained our freedom, but more so, we’ll experience the joy of the full restoration of our relationship with our ever-loving Heavenly Father.

______________________

©2017 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.

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4/21/17: Don’t Give Up on the Prodigal

•April 21, 2017 • 3 Comments

Years ago, while on my way to or from work, I heard the following on the radio. I think it was shared by Pastor Chuck Swindoll. After reading the original this morning in Luke 15:11-32, I recalled this version of the Prodigal Son story.

I know it’s hard, but we can’t give up on our prodigals. God loves them and they are suffering outside the hedges of His safety. And as long as they are alive, there is hope. God is still in the transformation business. We must care for them in prayer the same way we would care for them if they were physically sick. Prayer is effective. James 5:16b says, “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” We are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus, so our prayers matter and make a difference. We must keep on praying and believing. We must confess the deliverance we believe God will bring about in the lives of our prodigals. Speak healing. Speak deliverance. Speak restoration. Speak transformation. Speak the 180 degree change. Speak of the testimony and new ministry that will come from the life of the new creature in Christ the prodigal will become. Remain hopeful like the father in the story, looking every day for the Prodigal’s return.

The Prodigal Son – in the Key of F

Feeling footloose and frisky, a featherbrained fellow forced his father to
fork over his farthings.  Fast he flew to foreign fields and frittered his
family’s fortune, feasting fabulously with floozies and faithless friends.
Flooded with flattery he financed a full-fledged fling of “funny foam” and
fast food.

Fleeced by his fellows in folly, facing famine, and feeling faintly fuzzy, he
found himself a feed-flinger in a filthy foreign farmyard.  Feeling frail and
fairly famished, he fain would have filled his frame with foraged food from
the fodder fragments.

“Fooey,” he figured, “my father’s flunkies fare far fancier,” the frazzled
fugitive fumed feverishly, facing the facts.  Finally, frustrated from
failure and filled with foreboding (but following his feelings) he fled from
the filthy foreign farmyard.

Faraway, the father focused on the fretful familiar form in the field and
flew to him and fondly flung his forearms around the fatigued fugitive.
Falling at his father’s feet, the fugitive floundered forlornly, “Father, I
have flunked and fruitlessly forfeited family favor.”

Finally, the faithful Father, forbidding and forestalling further flinching,
frantically flagged the flunkies to fetch forth the finest fatling and fix a
feast.

Faithfully, the father’s first-born was in a fertile field fixing fences
while father and fugitive were feeling festive.  The foreman felt fantastic
as he flashed the fortunate news of a familiar family face that had forsaken
fatal foolishness.  Forty-four feet from the farmhouse the first-born found a
farmhand fixing a fatling.

Frowning and finding fault, he found father and fumed, “Floozies and foam
from frittered family funds and you fix a feast following the fugitive’s
folderol?”  The first-born’s fury flashed, but fussing was futile. The frugal
first-born felt it was fitting to feel “favored” for his faithfulness and
fidelity to family, father, and farm.  In foolhardy fashion, he faulted the
father for failing to furnish a fatling and feast for his friends.  His folly
was not in feeling fit for feast and fatling for friends; rather his flaw was
in his feeling about the fairness of the festival for the found fugitive.

His fundamental fallacy was a fixation on favoritism, not forgiveness.  Any
focus on feeling “favored” will fester and friction will force the faded
facade to fall.  Frankly, the father felt the frigid  first-born’s frugality
of forgiveness was formidable and frightful.  But the father’s former
faithful fortitude and fearless forbearance to forgive both fugitive and
first-born flourishes.

The farsighted father figured, “Such fidelity is fine, but what forbids
fervent festivity for the fugitive that is found?  Unfurl the flags and
finery, let fun and frolic freely flow. Former failure is forgotten, folly is
forsaken. Forgiveness forms the foundation for future fortune.”

Four facets of the father’s fathomless fondness for faltering fugitives are:
      1) Forgiveness
      2) Forever faithful friendship
      3) Fadeless love, and
      4) A facility for forgetting flaws

Timothy E. Fulop , Assistant Dean of Faculty, Columbia Theological Seminary

______________________

©2017 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.

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4/20/17: Something Has to Happen to You

•April 20, 2017 • Leave a Comment

We tend to measure our lives by the big events: births, weddings, graduations, starts of new jobs, vacations, surprises, deaths. We especially remember where we were when we heard bad news. I was in my first grade class when President Kennedy was shot; our teachers were crying and the school sent us all home. I was in Mrs. Payne’s fifth grade class when Dr. King was assassinated. The teachers took us into the multipurpose room to

watch filmstrips of Dr. King’s life and all that was going on in the Civil Rights Movement to date. I was getting ready for work on the morning of September 11, 2001 when my son, Matthew, told me to turn on the television because “somebody’s flying planes into buildings in New York.” And I remember where I was and who called or delivered the news about the passing of my daddy, my mom, my brother-in-law Nelson, and most recently, my sister-in-law Jean.

Yes, we are jarred into reality and all the rest of the world somewhat stops for us temporarily when something big and bad happens. Our routine is shaken and we have to think about things and deal with things we wish we didn’t have to touch. But all the things that have to be done are necessary, and if we haven’t taken care of details before the crisis, those details rush to the top of the pile and all have to be handled now. Too late for putting things off.

That brings us to the title of this devotion. Dr. Varner, the pastor who delivered Jean’s eulogy, said something quite profound in his remarks. He said, “Be sure something happens to you before something happens to you.” Unfortunately, some of us live as though nothing will ever change. We figure life will somehow just take care of itself, and it’s not until something drastic happens that we finally try to jump into action. It’s too late then to express those last thoughts, do that last deed, or have enough money for whatever the need may be. Since nothing has happened to change us, now that something bad is happening, we’re either stuck, sick, or showing our dirty laundry to the world.

But the preacher was talking about more than having all your ducks in a row for the inevitable rainy day. Has the ultimate “something” happened to you before something (death) happens to you? Have you accepted Jesus Christ into your heart allowing Him to be your Savior and Lord? When everyone hears the startling news of your demise, will they know you’re in Heaven with God because the life of Jesus was evident in your life? Will people look at how you spent the hours in your days and say, “Yep, she lived her life for Jesus,” or “No doubt, he lived his life for God”?

Romans 10:9-10 says, “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.” Be sure this happens to you before something happens to you.

______________________

©2017 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.

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4/14/17: Today!

•April 14, 2017 • 1 Comment

Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise” Luke 23:43. Jesus spoke these comforting words to one of the thieves who was being crucified with Him. This criminal had the good sense to use one of his last breaths to say to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” All the bad, good, and indifferent things this man had done didn’t even enter into the conversation. The only thing this guy wanted at the end of his life was to be remembered by the Master.

Today is a paradoxically sad and joyous day for my family. My sister-in-law, Jean Elliott Anderson, transitioned into Glory just a few hours ago. My fondest memory of Jean was her genuine smile. She literally lit up any room with it. Something else that was as evident as her smile was her genuine love for Jesus. Whether at home or on vacation, Jean never missed her quiet time with her Lord. We will miss her tremendously, but I’m sure she wouldn’t trade her new residence for anything. You see, today, Jesus’ words to the thief on the cross became real for Jean. I can just see Him smiling at her, reaching out His hand to grasp hers, and saying, “Hey Jean, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”

Jean’s times with Jesus will never end now. She’s rejoicing around the throne of God with her beloved husband Supe, her mom, her dad, and all her other friends and relatives who preceded her in that journey. We’ll pause to celebrate her life at her homegoing celebration in a few days, and then we’ll get back to the business of living, but not without taking with us the richness our lives have gained because we know the testimony of the life of Jean Elliott Anderson. Like Jean, we can be more dedicated to our own quiet times. Like Jean, we can smile and laugh more. Like Jean, we can be dedicated to our family, our friends, and our church. And like Jean, we can look forward to one day when it’s our “today,” the day we’ll hear Jesus say to us, “Hey Daughter [or] Hey Son, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”

______________________

©2017 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.

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