3/4/15: In the Shadow

•March 4, 2015 • Leave a Comment

When I drive home from work, I head west into the setting sun. On several stretches of the highway, depending upon the afternoon time, I contend with the glare of the setting sun shining directly into my eyes. The car’s sun visor is no help when the blazing round drops below the extent of its protection. Sunglasses dim the glare a bit, but I find myself still squinting. I resort to holding my hand up until my arm tires. The bumper-to-bumper traffic just prolongs my misery until the sun mercifully dips below the horizon. (You wonder about the length of my commute? I’m on the freeways in Los Angeles. Need I say more?)

Anyway, one day I caught a brief break. Up the lane to my left came a huge luxury travel bus. Once it got beside me, its size blocked out the sun. If I matched the speed of the bus, I could escape the punishment of the sun’s glare by driving in its shadow. When it sped up, I sped up. When it slowed, I slowed. As long as I kept pace with that bus, my misery was avoided and I could see without squinting or trying to supply my own shade.

Psalm 91:1 says, “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty” (NKJ). Until my encounter with the bus, I always thought of this verse as something to be experienced while being still. I pictured myself cuddled up next to God in His shadow as if sitting cross-legged with my back comfortably against a tree trunk and in the shadow of its branches. But what about when I’m moving? Do I give up the comfort of His shadow like I do when I walk away from the tree?

No, the “secret place of the Most High” is an abiding spot that both sits still and moves. The abiding is an attachment that travels with God’s presence just as the tabernacle used to do. The shadow of the cloud by day would move or stay put. My protection from the glaring rays of any hindrance is found as I keep pace with God’s presence. The shadowed place is where He is. When He moves, I move. If I don’t, I will find myself left behind where He wants me to be, and out in the glare. When He stops, I stop. If I don’t, I’ll be running ahead of God, and dog-gone-it, there’s that glare again.

Be it stationary or on the move, let’s abide in God’s cooling, calming shadow. Ahh, what a relief!

____________________________

©2015 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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2/17/15: The Enemy is Listening

•February 17, 2015 • Leave a Comment

After Jesus’ body was taken from the cross, Joseph of Arimathea, a wealthy man who had become a following, asked Pilate if the body of Jesus could be given to him. Pilate allowed it, so Joseph took Jesus’ body, “wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his [own] new tomb which he had hewn out of the rock” Matthew 27:59-60 (NKJ).

It is very interesting what happened the next day. We talk a lot about the day Jesus died, and we talk a lot about the day He rose, but what about that middle day. What happened on that middle day?

A very key thing happened on that middle day that concerned Jesus’ enemies. Matthew 27:62-66 tells us a conversation took place between Pilate—the same guy who had just given the body of the Lord to Joseph—and the crooked religious leaders who had been the impetus in Jesus’ assassination. The passage says:

  •  On the next day, which followed the Day of Preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees gathered together to Pilate, saying, “Sir, we remember, while He was still alive, how that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise.’ Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day, lest His disciples come by night and steal Him away, and say to the people, ‘He has risen from the dead.’ So the last deception will be worse than the first.”
  • Pilate said to them, “You have a guard; go your way, make it as secure as you know how.” So they went and made the tomb secure, sealing the stone and setting the guard.

How intriguing to realize that all of Jesus’ disciples and other close followers had totally missed every reference Jesus made to His resurrection, but His enemies had not missed that vital piece of information. Over and over again, Jesus had declared that he would be killed, but He would rise again. He even told them when: on the third day. Wouldn’t you think that if you had been one of the disciples, you would have been eagerly awaiting that third day to come around? If you had really listened to what Jesus had been saying, wouldn’t you have been sitting outside that garden tomb with great expectation for the dawning of that third day? Everything else Jesus said was always on point; why would this saying have been any different?

But no, the disciples weren’t expecting Him to live again. They were in hiding. Joseph of Arimathea didn’t expect Him to live again. He was probably thinking about the work that would go into digging out another cave in which he would be buried when he died. The women didn’t expect Him to live again. They had watched where His body was laid so they could return the next day and further prepare It properly for a decent burial. No one considered the real possibility except His enemies. Why? They had been really listening to His every word. Their reason for listening so attentively was to catch Him in a web of His own words, but their evil intention led to their eager attention. And unwittingly, they actually became the first ones to repeat the proclamation, and thereby share the news of Jesus’ resurrection.

Keep up the good work of proclaiming the truth of the gospel whenever the opportunity presents itself. They may not act like it, but your children, your co-workers, your extended family members, your friends, your neighbors, and even strangers are hearing and they are listening. It was necessary for someone from the enemy’s camp to be a witness to the Resurrection. And it is necessary for those around us today who are antagonistic to the gospel to hear it anyway. Just as nothing can be erased from the mind of a jury, God’s word cannot be erased from hearts. That’s why Satan tries so hard to snatch it away, choke it out, and smother it up (see Matthew 13:3-9 and 13:18-23). Isaiah 55:11 clearly states God’s declaration about His word. “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it” (NKJ).

So tell it! The enemy is listening!

____________________________

©2015 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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Why I Get Into Trouble

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

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

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2/16/15 Do Your Part

•February 16, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Most of us appreciate the opportunity to move forward. Unfortunately, when those great opportunities present themselves, some of us do not move. It’s time to break that habit. Be encouraged today by three people who did something with the opportunities Jesus presented to them.

First there’s the man with the withered hand. Mark 3:3-5 tells us that Jesus “entered the synagogue again, and a man was there who had a withered hand… He said to the man…, ‘Step forward… Stretch out your hand.’ And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored as whole as the other” (NKJ).

Second is the story of the paralyzed man. Mark 2:10-12 records that Jesus “said to the paralytic, ‘I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.’ Immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went out in the presence of them all…”

Finally is the account of the raising of Lazarus. In John 11:38-44 we read, “Then Jesus… came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. Jesus said, ‘Take away the stone… Lazarus, come forth!’ And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with graveclothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth.”

The man with the withered hand would not have seen his hand restored had he not stepped forward and stretched out his hand when Jesus told him to do so. The paralyzed man would have lived out the rest of his life in his handicapped state if he had continued to operate in his usual way—just lying on that bed allowing others to carry him around. He had to stop doing things as he had always done them, and start doing what he had never done before, just because Jesus said so, totally contrary to logic or reason. He had to get up, pick up and carry that which used to carry him, and move on. Finally, Lazarus came from behind a stone and out of death itself. Even though his graveclothes were still wrapped tightly around him, he emerged nonetheless.

Step forward, stretch out your hand, take up your bed and go, and come forth. When Jesus speaks, do your part and be ready to see the miracles in your life that will follow!

____________________________

©2015 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.

ANNOUNCEMENT: Get ready to watch The Holy Spirit Broadcasting Network’s new internet TV show Life That Matters with Sharon Norris Elliott from any internet-connected device at HSBN.tv.

Pick up a copy of Sharon’s newest release,

Why I Get Into Trouble

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Here’s the link to our eStore: https://www.createspace.com/5131814

Also still available:

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

1/25/15: Hold On

•January 25, 2015 • 1 Comment

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#HeartForTheWord

Genesis 32:22-32 tells the story of Jacob wrestling with God.

  • “And he [Jacob] arose that night and took his two wives, his two female servants, and his eleven sons, and crossed over the ford of Jabbok. He took them, sent them over the brook, and sent over what he had. Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day. Now when He [the Man] saw that He did not prevail against him [Jacob], He [the Man] touched the socket of his [Jacob’s] hip; and the socket of Jacob’s hip was out of joint as He wrestled with him. And He [the Man] said, “Let Me go, for the day breaks.”
  • But he [Jacob] said, “I will not let You go unless You bless me!”
  • So He [the Man] said to him [Jacob], “What is your name?”
  • He said, “Jacob.”
  • And He said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.”
  • Then Jacob asked, saying, “Tell me Your name, I pray.”
  • And He said, “Why is it that you ask about My name?” And He [the Man] blessed him [Jacob] there.
  • So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: “For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.” Just as he crossed over Penuel[d] the sun rose on him, and he limped on his hip. Therefore to this day the children of Israel do not eat the muscle that shrank, which is on the hip socket, because He touched the socket of Jacob’s hip in the muscle that shrank. (NKJ)

******************

Before this passage, Jacob finds himself at a time in his life in which he is facing his biggest fear. He is about to meet up with his brother Esau. The last time he saw Esau was 20 years earlier right after he and their mother Rebecca had conspired together to steal Esau’s blessing from their father. At the time, Esau had vowed to kill Jacob, so Rebecca sent Jacob away. Jacob ended up bumping into his cousin Rachel, the daughter of his uncle Laban (his mother’s brother), and falling in love with her. The story of his life and developing family gets quite convoluted from there and you can read that on another occasion. Suffice it to say that here is Jacob now, 20 years later, and his sordid past has caught up with him. All his tricks have played out. Jacob has no other option but to hold on to God for dear life and insist upon a blessing. What should we do when we reach places like this?

The first thing to do is grab hold of God and refuse to let go; latch on. Jacob said, “I will not let you go until you bless me.” Struggle with God in prayer, in waiting, in praise, in continuing to believe God’s word despite what culture or current reality looks like, and in witnessing to who you know God to be regardless of the fact that His silence may seem like He doesn’t care.

            Second, listen for your new name. The Man asked Jacob his name and then changed it from Jacob to Israel. The struggle had changed Jacob’s name from “Supplanter” to “Prince with God.” Pay attention to what your life experiences with God have taught you, and listen to those experiences to see how God has changed your name.

Third, start walking with your limp. Verses 25 and 31 speak of the fact that the Man “touched the socket of his hip; and the socket of Jacob’s hip was out of joint.” Something Jacob had always depended upon before—his hip—was now “out of joint.” He could no longer depend upon it to walk straight. Jacob’s contact with the Man at this juncture of his life caused him to walk differently—more carefully and with more sensitivity.

Others will see your limp; they will see how your contact with God has affected you and they will be effected by that. In verse 32, we read that the children of Israel did not eat meat from that area of an animal’s body as remembrance of what God taught Jacob. Your issues are not for you. Others will learn to meet with God in the areas where you’ve struggled with God.

Finally, know that you will last. The Man told Jacob, “You have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.” The Hebrew word for prevail, ya-chol, means to be able, have power. Also, verse 30 says, “So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: “For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.” The Hebrew word for persevere, vattinnatzel, means delivered, snatched away from the brink. Your struggle with God will result in ability, power, and deliverance.

Latch on, listen, limp, and last. From time to time, expect to come to issues in your life with which you will have to struggle. There is nothing wrong with struggling with God. Know that in the end, you will last. Even though you will come out walking with a limp, take inventory and listen for your new name as you insist upon latching on until God blesses you. No matter what, hold on.

____________________________

©2015 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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Why I Get Into Trouble

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

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

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

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1/14/15: Birthday Reflections

•January 13, 2015 • 5 Comments

Photo on 8-14-12 at 5.23 PM

#HeartForTheWord

Today is my birthday and I am taking time to think about who I am, who I still want to become, how I want to be remembered, and the legacy I want to leave. As an author, teacher, speaker, and preacher, words are especially important to me, so I began to think about other words that have lasted for many, many years.

John Heywood, an English writer who lived from 1497 until 1580, was known for his plays and poems, but perhaps best lives on today through his proverbs. He is responsible for such wise sayings as:

  • Haste makes waste
  • Out of sight, out of mind
  • Look before you leap
  • Beggars can’t be choosy
  • All’s well that ends well
  • Better late than never
  • The more, the merrier
  • Many hands make light work, and
  • Rome wasn’t built in a day

It’s interesting to note that John was a believer who fled Europe to avoid religious persecution. Like most Christians, his writing was no doubt influenced by his faith and some of his sayings probably flowed from his understanding of certain scriptures. That brings us to one of John’s sayings that is our focus today: There’s no fool like an old fool.

Job’s friend, Elihu, echoed this sentiment when he waited until last to speak up about Job’s hardships. Elihu was the youngest of the group and had listened to what everyone else had said before taking his turn. Listening is a beautiful thing because by its exercise, much truth can be gleaned. Elihu realized that his older friends were wrong in their estimation of things and remarked, “Great men are not always wise, nor do the aged always understand justice” Job 32:9.

As I get older, and as I contemplate the actions of some other older people, I notice the tendency to make snap decisions and feel justified because of our age to say whatever we feel. However, that wasn’t right when we were young and it’s still not right (nor is it usually accurate or kind) now. Contrary to popular (or personal) opinion, just being old doesn’t necessarily make us right all the time, but it’s difficult to tell us anything because we’re also quick to judge anyone who disagrees with us as disrespectful of our “wisdom.” Because those close to us love us, they continue to tolerate our abrasive insensitivity, resigning themselves to the fact that “that’s just the way he/she is now.”

But it doesn’t have to be that way. The same scriptures that regulated our social behavior when we were young should continue to have the same weight in our personal relationships now.

  • He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin. Proverbs 13:3 (NIV)
  • Words from a wise man’s mouth are gracious… Ecclesiastes 10:12a (NIV)
  • Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. Gal 6:10 (NIV)
  • Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Eph 4:32 (NIV)
  • He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness. Heb 5:2 (NIV)

It’s an old fool who refuses to bow to the guidance of Scripture in every area. I pray that I learn to guard my lips; that my words are gracious; that I take every opportunity to be good to people; that I’m kind, compassionate, and forgiving; and that I deal gently with others; always with a view to please God in my all my contacts with family, friends, and even strangers. May I grow both wise and sweet. How about you?

____________________________

©2015 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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Why I Get Into Trouble

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

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

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

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1/13/15: Friendship and Blessings

•January 13, 2015 • Leave a Comment

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#HeartForTheWord

Okay, I admit it; I love people. I also love loving people. I mean both possible understandings of that last statement. I love being the one who loves, and I love the kind of people who show love. Over the years, God has graciously caused my path to cross with some amazing people who have become those loving friends and I’ve held on for dear life.

It’s okay to be selective when it comes to love and friendships. Yes, we are commanded to love one another as Christ has loved us, and this command concerns the basic Christian attitude we should have for everyone on the planet. However, in our personal, intimate dealings as finite human beings, we have the freedom to choose those who we will hold especially close; after all, close friendships require time and there’s only so much of us to go around.

Jesus is our prime example. Though He obviously loved and lived for all humanity, He hung out with 12 chosen guys into whom He especially poured His life and with whom He shared His ministry. Jesus’ disciples realized that by hanging around the Master, they got blessed. He blessed them by giving all He had for them, and they blessed Him in return by giving all they had for Him.

When Jacob wanted to part from Laban, Laban realized something profound about the relationship. “Laban said to him, ‘Please stay, if I have found favor in your eyes, for I have learned by experience that the LORD has blessed me for your sake’” Genesis 30:27 (NKJ). In other words, Laban saw that God was blessing Jacob’s life and realized that his own life was much better off since having Jacob around. Obviously, some of God’s blessings were spilling over into Laban’s life just because he kept Jacob close.

I know my life is richer by far because of my friends, and I join in Laban’s sentiment that “I have learned by experience that the Lord has blessed me” because they are in my life. Let’s recognize today how God has blessed our lives because of people He’s allowed us to meet. And may we be smart enough to hang around people God is blessing. Some of that overflow is bound to come our way.

____________________________

©2015 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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Why I Get Into Trouble

Here’s the link to our eStore: https://www.createspace.com/5131814

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

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

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

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1/10/15: Everybody Loves Profit

•January 13, 2015 • Leave a Comment

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#HeartForTheWord

Five years ago, I challenged all my blog readers to read through the Bible in the year. I’d like to issue that challenge again. There’s a reading plan right on your computer or internet-enabled cell phone. Just go to www.OneYearBibleOnline.com. Find January and the daily readings will be outlined for you. You can choose between two plans. Yo could read the Bible through in order, the way I do it. With this plan, you will read a selection from the Old Testament, a selection from the New Testament, some verses from Psalms, and some verses from Proverbs. The second plan is a chronological reading; in other words, the plan takes you through the Bible reading from the oldest writings to the newest ones.

Choose one of the plans. If you haven’t yet started, start today. If you double up by reading one set of readings in the morning and one set of readings at night, by January 20th, you will be caught up. Or if you prefer, just start with today’s date and don’t worry about the selections you have not yet read. You can catch up on those whenever you’d like.

When the Bible speaks of itself, it says, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness (Second Timothy 3:16, emphasis added). Everybody loves profit, so here’s a definite promise of prosperity. All Scripture is profitable.

Take time daily to hear from God; He takes time for you whenever you call.

____________________________

©2015 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,

Trouble-copy-2

Why I Get Into Trouble

Here’s the link to our eStore: https://www.createspace.com/5131814

Also still available:

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

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

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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