A Ransom

I haven’t written lately from The Wonderful Names of Our Wonderful Lord, but today I’d like to share a particularly appropriate name for Our Lord during this time before Easter.

And they sang a new song, saying,
“Worthy are you to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and nation,
and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
and they shall reign on the earth.”  

—Revelation 5:9-10

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A Ransom

The son of man came . . .
to give his life a ransom for many. 
—Mark 10:45

“A Ransom for many!” Here Christ is set forth as the penalty paid for the sins of the world. As sinners under the judgment wrath of God, He took our place and paid the penalty and the price of our deliverance with His own blood. Listen to the drops of blood as they fall from hands and feet and wounded side! They voice the words, “The ransom price for my sins and for the sins of the whole world.Would that men everywhere would believe it and receive it. How dear, how precious is He to us, washed clean in His blood and freed forever from the punishment due us.

Lord, may our ransomed souls  well up in praise to Thy glorious Name! Amen.

[Taken from Wonderful Names of Our Wonderful Lord, by Charles E. Hurlburt and T. C. Horton. Copyright © 2002 by Barbour Publishing, Inc.]

My thoughts

No one can redeem the life of another
    or give to God a ransom for them—
the ransom for a life is costly,
    no payment is ever enough—
so that they should live on forever
    and not see decay.
—Psalm 49:7-9

If you’re anything like me, the thought of what Jesus went through on the cross—just for us sinners—boggles the mind. He who was without sin, came to earth in human form to illustrate for us the right way to live. And not only that, He sacrificed Himself—just for us sinners—so that we could have the chance to live with Him in heaven forever!

Doesn’t that amaze you? And doesn’t it make you want to share this Good News with others?

Beloved, let me ask you:

how can we not share our JOY about what Jesus has done in our lives?

If it wasn’t for Jesus Christ dying for our sake, there would be no way we could get to heaven on our own. We would therefore be doomed to an existence in hell, where we would agonizingly suffer for eternity.

So, let me ask you again: how can we not share our JOY about what Jesus has done in our lives? Yes, I agree with the author of this piece from The Wonderful Names of Our Wonderful Lord, who said so well that we need to believe it and receive it, but there is also the challenge to share it with those who need to hear it!

Jesus is our Ransom. Nothing we can do in our own strength can ever repay Jesus for what He did for us on the cross at Calvary . . . nothing except to believe that He alone paved the way for us to live in heaven forever:

  • ADMIT that you are a sinner.
  • BELIEVE that Jesus Christ died for you.
  • CONFESS that Jesus Christ is the Savior and Lord of your life.

And then share your HOPE and JOY with others!

A friend recently shared this video with me of Eric Ludy’s The Gospel. It is about 11-1/2 minutes long, but so worth it to watch it in its entirety!

The Gospel is an Ellerslie Mission Society film.

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God’s Will Be Done

I have been reading John MacArthur’s wonderful book, Alone with God: Rediscovering the Power and Passion of Prayer (1) and am learning so much! I was particularly struck by a portion in Chapter 6, “Your Will Be Done,” where Dr. MacArthur shares this portion of Philip Keller’s A Layman Looks at the Lord’s Prayer. (2)

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Caution: you will never again sing Change My Heart, Oh God (by Ron Kenoly) without remembering this powerful story.

Author Philip Keller, while visiting in Pakistan, read Jeremiah 18:2, which says, “Arise and go down to the potter’s house, and there I shall announce My words to you.” So he and a missionary went to a potter’s house in that city. In his book, A Layman Looks at the Lord’s Prayer, he writes,

In sincerity and earnestness I asked the old master craftsman to show me every step in the creation of a masterpiece …. On his shelves were gleaming goblets, lovely vases, and exquisite bowls of breathtaking beauty.

Then, crooking a bony finger toward me, he led the way to a small, dark, closed shed at the back of his shop. When he opened its rickety door, a repulsive, overpowering stench of decaying matter engulfed me. For a moment I stepped back from the edge of the gaping dark pit in the floor of the shed. “This is where the work begins!” he said, kneeling down beside the black, nauseating hole. With his long, thin arm, he reached down into the darkness. His slim, skilled fingers felt around amid the lumpy clay, searching for a fragment of material exactly suited to his task.

“I add special kinds of grass to the mud,” he remarked. “As it rots and decays, its organic content increases the colloidal quality of the clay. Then it sticks together better.” Finally his knowing hands brought up a lump of dark mud from the horrible pit where the clay had been tramped and mixed for hours by his hard, bony feet.

With tremendous impact the first verses from Psalm 40 came to my heart. In a new and suddenly illuminating way I saw what the psalmist meant when he wrote long ago, “I waited patiently for the Lord, and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay.” As carefully as the potter selected his clay, so God used special care in choosing me ….

The great slab of granite, carved from the rough rock of the high Hindu Kush mountains behind his home, whirled quietly. It was operated by a very crude, treadle-like device that was moved by his feet, very much like our antique sewing machines.

As the stone gathered momentum, I was taken in memory to Jeremiah 18: 3. “Then I went down to the potter’s house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels.”

But what stood out most before my mind at this point was the fact that beside the potter’s stool, on either side of him, stood two basins of water. Not once did he touch the clay, now spinning swiftly at the center of the wheel, without first dipping his hands in the water. As he began to apply his delicate fingers and smooth palms to the mound of mud, it was always through the medium of the moisture of his hands. And it was fascinating to see how swiftly but surely the clay responded to the pressure applied to it through those moistened hands. Silently, smoothly, the form of a graceful goblet began to take shape beneath those hands. The water was the medium through which the master craftsman’s will and wishes were being transmitted to the clay. His will actually was being done in earth.

For me this was a most moving demonstration of the simple, yet mysterious truth that my Father’s will and wishes are expressed and transmitted to me through the water of His own Word ….

Suddenly, as I watched, to my utter astonishment, I saw the stone stop. Why? I looked closely. The potter removed a small particle of grit from the goblet …. Then just as suddenly the stone stopped again. He removed another hard object ….

Suddenly he stopped the stone again. He pointed disconsolately to a deep, ragged gouge that cut and scarred the goblet’s side. It was ruined beyond repair! In dismay he crushed it down beneath his hands….

“And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter” (Jer. 18:4). Seldom had any lesson come home to me with such tremendous clarity and force. Why was this rare and beautiful masterpiece ruined in the master’s hands? Because he had run into resistance. It was like a thunderclap of truth bursting about me!

Why is my Father’s will – His intention to turn out truly beautiful people – brought to nought again and again? Why, despite His best efforts and endless patience with human beings, do they end up a disaster? Simply because they resist His will.

The sobering, searching, searing question I had to ask myself in the humble surroundings of that simple potter’s shed was this: Am I going to be a piece of fine china or just a finger bowl? Is my life going to be a gorgeous goblet fit to hold the fine wine of God’s very life from which others can drink and be refreshed? Or am I going to be just a crude finger bowl in which passers-by will dabble their fingers briefly then pass on and forget about it? It was one of the most solemn moments in all of my spiritual experiences.

“Father, Thy will be done in earth [in clay], in me, as it is done in heaven.”

(1) Copyright © Third Edition, July 1, 2011. Alone With God, John MacArthur Jr. Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook.

(2) Copyright © 1976. A Layman Looks at the Lord’s Prayer, Philip Keller. Chicago, IL: Moody Press.

 

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Prayer When I’m Overwhelmed

 

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Many of us are struggling with so much these days. Health problems. Financial troubles. Maybe the need of a job or a place to live. Perhaps our children are not living as they ought to be. Or it may be that we have no idea where our next meal will come from.

I hope you will be blessed by this devotional that I wrote for the anthology titled Anytime Prayers for Everyday People. This particular devotional was included in the section titled Prayers of Supplication. 

 

When I’m overwhelmed by cares . . .

I will relieve your shoulder of its burden;
I will free your hands from their heavy tasks. 
—Psalm 81:6 NLT

 

When the cares of my heart are many,
thy consolations cheer my soul. 

—Psalm 94:19 RSV

 

Cast your cares on the LORD 
and he will sustain you. 
—Psalm 55:22

 

The LORD lifts the burdens of those bent beneath their loads. 
—Psalm 146:8 NLT

 

Let him have all your worries and cares, for he is 
always thinking about you and watching everything
that concerns you. 

—1 Peter 5:7 TLB

 

. . . I will pray.

Precious Lord,

From my window, I see children playing in the yard next door, soaking up the warm air and bright sunshine. I still remember those carefree childhood days, filled with simple pleasures—but that seems so far away now. Instead I feel as though I’m buried under a flood of cares: bills to pay, personality conflicts at work, family disagreements.

My life seems to be buried under an avalanche of responsibilities to be met and problems to be solved. My cares cover me like a cloak, blocking the sunshine from my dreary heart.

Help me lift my head, Lord. Fill me up with Your Spirit. Help me to throw off my cloak of sadness and let in the sunshine of Your love.

As an act of faith, I close my eyes and reach out to You—the Giver and Sustainer of life. I release my cares to You, one by one, piling them high at Your feet. The disappointment at work, the unexpected car repair, my aching joints, and on and on and on . . . until every burden is transferred from my shoulders to Yours.

Thank You for being my Burden-Bearer.

Amen.

Tell God all that is in your heart,
as one unloads one’s heart, 
its pleasures and pains, to a dear friend. 
Tell Him your troubles, that He may comfort you. 
—Francois Fenelon

 [From Anytime Prayers for Everyday People. Copyright © 2006 Bordon-Winters LLC]

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What Must I Do to be Saved?

Reblogged from As Seen Through the Eyes of Faith.

My bloggy friend, Raymond Gary Candy, has a wonderful blog called As Seen Through the Eyes of Faith. He shared this great post there a couple of weeks ago, a good reminder for those of us who already know Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord. However, this would be a good tool to use if you’re unsure about sharing your faith with unbelieving family and friends.

Thank you so much, Raymond, for the granting me the privilege of sharing this with my readers.

What must I do to be Saved?

RaymondCandyAsSeenThruTheEyesOfFaith--books-on-shelf

“And brought them out, and said, Sirs,what must I do to be saved?
(Acts 16:30)

“There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi,we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.” (John 3:1-2)

“Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee,Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3)

“Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?” (John 3:4)

Read the rest here.

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Cataclysm Missions International

 I am so blessed and honored to announce that I will be a blogger for Cataclysm Missions, International. This great venture was recently started by my friend, Nikole Hahn, of The Relevant Christian (TRC), an online magazine for which I write. Here’s the official announcement:

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

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Welcome Anna Popescu! http://wp.me/p5BBMm-3b

Please welcome our newest addition to CMI. Her name is Anna Popescu. You can read more here: http://cataclysmmissionsintl.com/about/writers/.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

CMI’s Mission Statement:

Real life + Online Life = One Voice
To connect the online world with local churches
and local churches to the online world.

To focus on the story of missions
and to equip and educate the Christian to engage the culture.

Beloved, if you would like to be part of a ministry to share the faith, hope and joy you have in Jesus Christ with people all over the world, go to the CMI site and read the various volunteer position descriptions.    

Meanwhile, stay tuned for my first blog post there.

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Cataclysm Missions International

Beloved, this post is about a project I think is very needed right now. I am sharing this for Nikole Hahn, a friend of mine who is the editor of The Relevant Christion” (TRC), an online magazine for which I write.
 
Nikki recently started a new venture called Cataclysm Missions International (CMI). The mission statement is:
…..
Real Life + Online Life = One Voice
To connect the online world with local churches
and local churches to the online world.
To focus on the story of missions and to equip and educate
the Christian to engage the culture.
…..
Please forward this to your Christian friends who you believe would be interested in either passing it on to their Christian friends, or who might be interested in becoming a part of this great venture, or both! Also, if any of you are interested in becoming involved with CMI, the contact info is below.

CMI-Graphic

 

Please consider becoming a part of CMI. Also, please feel free to share this post with your friends. Thank you!

Copyright © 2015 Cataclysm Missions International. All rights reserved.

Cataclysm Missions International 
P.O. Box 3175 
Chino Valley, AZ 86323 

http://www.cataclysmmissionsintl.com/

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The Lord Brings JOY to My Soul

This is a story I wrote several years ago. It is pure fiction except for one thing: millions of people live with physical pain—or emotional pain or financial difficulties or _______ (fill in the blank)every single day…

The Lord Brings JOY to My Soul

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When I said, “My foot is slipping,”
Your love, O LORD, supported me.
When anxiety was great within me,
Your consolation brought JOY to my soul.
—Psalm 94:18-19

“Good morning!” Sherri smiled and waved, then hurried to help Macy up the ramp.

“What’s so good about it?” grumbled Macy. She stopped and leaned hard on her cane as she struggled with her shoulder bag.

“Here, let me.” Sherri slid Macy’s purse strap up higher, then gave her friend a hug. “Can I help you with your shopping?”

Macy’s eyes filled with tears. “I’d be so grateful. Today has been a pile of things gone wrong.”

Sherri helped Macy into the store’s motorized cart and then pulled a shopping cart out for herself. They moved from one aisle to the next as Sherri tried to keep the conversation light. Macy just responded with grumbles or shrugs.

At the checkout, Sherri placed Macy’s items onto the checkout counter before unloading her own cart. In the parking lot, she stashed Macy’s grocery bags in her trunk and then turned to help Macy out of the cart.

“There you go! Do you need any help getting this stuff put away at home?”

Macy’s eyes widened. “How can you be so nice when I’ve been so rotten to you?”

“I figured this wasn’t a great day for you when you couldn’t even appreciate the beautiful blue sky,” Sherri replied. She lightly touched Macy’s shoulder. “The pain is pretty bad today, isn’t it?”

Macy nodded. “Yeah, but I had no choice. I needed so many things and I’ve been putting this off for days.” She struggled into the driver’s seat and looked at Sherri. “How do you do it?”

“Do what?”

“You know. You look and sound so joyful when you must be feeling so bad yourself,” Macy said as she gestured to Sherri’s leg brace and the splint encasing her right wrist.

Sherri smiled. “I just picture God’s comforting arms around me, holding me close. Just the thought of that brings joy to my soul.”

Macy regarded Sherri for several moments. “You know, I should probably try that too.”

Beloved, life is not easy! But I’m sure you already know that. Please understand that I am not saying that thinking differently will change your circumstances. What I believe to be true is that changing our thinking can affect how we perceive our circumstances.

Trying to find joy in our circumstances is not easy, but I can attest to the fact that it can be done. I fail at this a lot but I’m thankful that most times I remember to reach out to the only One Who can bring true joy into my life: my Savior and Lord Jesus Christ.

May I pray for you about this?  Please reply in the comment section below this post or shoot me an email: faithlhj777 at gmail dot com.

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Waiting with Faith

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Rick and I moved to northern Arizona more than ten years ago. Our move went smoothly but getting to the actual move was a wait of faith. We had already found and put a down payment on the house we wanted here and things seemed to be going well with our California house sale until we received two offers that we had to turn down.

The first offer contained unacceptable buyer contingencies and was not a problem to turn down. The second offer, however, was a huge surprise. We had literally just signed the contract to accept the buyers’ offer when our realtor received a call from them saying they had to back out of the deal. An accident had just occurred in which a vehicle drove right into their house! Obviously they had no choice but the timing was stunning to all of us.

Our realtor was frantic with worry but we kept on assuring her that the whole thing was in God’s timing. That amazed her.

Here in Arizona, our builder needed more earnest money to finish the items we had asked him to add, so we had to scramble to come up with those funds. I shared all of this in one of my online writers’ groups when I received a message that really cemented Rick’s and my attitude to trust God while we waited.

My writer friend wrote this about the word wait:TrustInGodsPerfectTiming-AMP

The root word for wait in Hebrew means to twist, to stretch. The original meaning was twisting and stretching fiber to make a strong rope. The idea in Hebrew is that waiting strengthens us by this twisting and stretching process.

The other side of the waiting process is that waiting is never considered a passive posture. While we are waiting, we are to be in prayer about the situation while at the same time continue to have faith that God is already working on a solution.

The wonderful and happy ending is that the third offer we received for our house was for more than we had been asking. If we were in awe of how God structured this whole thing, you can only imagine how this impacted our realtor. On the day of the move, we handed her the house keys after everything was loaded into the moving van. She said, “You were right all along. God did have everything under control!”

Rick and I do not know how God used this in her life but that doesn’t matter. What does matter is that God used us and our trust in Him to show her how wonderfully He can work everything out.

Right now, I’m waiting for specific direction for something in my writing life. A few close friends and family are praying with me to know God’s will in this, and I am confident and trusting that He will show me what to do … in HIS timing. What that means to me is that even when I may feel like it’s taking too long to see the Lord’s will in this right now, that doesn’t mean He isn’t already working things out.

This is exactly the time for me to keep on praying while waiting and trusting. How about you, Beloved? 

 

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JOY and FAITH

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For the past few weeks, I have been pondering the word JOY. Such a small word for such a huge and amazing emotion.

How can I describe JOY?

How can we feel any JOY at all while in those valley places?

And why do we feel JOY in the first place?

Stay tuned, beloved!

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So the natural progression—in my mind at least—led me to next think about the word FAITH. Hebrews 11:1 (above) was given to me years ago during a particularly stressful time in my life when God showed me that FAITH in Him can carry me through any situation.

FaithBraceletsCollage--AMPI have always tried to live by that kind of faith, and this Christmas I received two special bracelets from my Rick that were faith themed. As you can see in this photo, one of them says “Keep the Faith.” The other reads “Faith Hope Love.” They look really nice worn together, and are serving to remind me that my FAITH is found only in the Person and finished work of Jesus Christ at Calvary.

…..

Jesus spoke these things; and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said,
“Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You,
even as You gave Him authority over all flesh,
that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life.
This is eternal life, that they may know You,
the only true God,
and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.
I glorified You on the earth,
having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do.
Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself,
with the glory which I had with You before the world was.”
—John 17:1-5

This year I hope you’ll join me in exploring JOY and FAITH, especially as it pertains to each of us individually. I don’t think this subject can ever be exhausted because God fills us up with unending amounts of JOY and FAITH. It’s up to us to grab hold of both of those and never let go!

Heavenly Father, we need You more than we can ever imagine. We so need Your JOY and Your FAITH. JOY that You think of us as the apple of Your eye. JOY in and through every single circumstance in our lives. FAITH in the mercy and saving grace of Your Son, Jesus Christ. FAITH that we can always count on You—and only You—to see us through those inevitable valleys in our lives. Oh, Abba Father, we are so utterly thankful for how much You lavish Your JOY and FAITH upon us!

…..

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Christmas Greetings

Rick and I would like to wish all of you a wonderful Christmas
and abundant blessings in 2015!

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Praise be to the God and Father
of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who has blessed us in the heavenly realms
with every spiritual blessing in Christ.
—Ephesians 1:3

 

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