Friday, September 1, 2017

If I Whet My Glittering Sword


I've been thinking a lot about Deuteronomy chapter 32. This chapter falls toward the end of Moses life, and it is also toward the end of his exhortation to the people of Israel. It is full of yummy goodness. This chapter serves as both a warning and a promise to God's people. Within this chapter is one of my favorite Bible verses. It's obscure and actually quite terrifying, but I love it none the same.

A few years ago, we were studying the Old Testament straight through and I fell in love with Deuteronomy 32:41.

It reads:

If I whet my glittering sword, and mine hand take hold on judgment; I will render vengeance to mine enemies, and will reward them that hate me.

I jokingly told my husband that I love it because it contained the word glittering, but that wasn't the real reason. (Glittering is found 14 times in the KJV Bible!)

The reason I love Deuteronomy 32:41 is because it is part of a promise from God that he will care for his people. He states he will judge and take vengeance on his enemies. If you continue reading Deuteronomy 32, he goes on to say that:

Rejoice, O ye nations, with his people: for he will avenge the blood of his servants, and will render vengeance to his adversaries, and will be merciful unto his land, and to his people. vs.43

Through Moses, God reminds his people that he is their shelter. He is their rock, and if they remain obedient to him, He would have their backs.

Moses also warns the people that if they fall away from God, he would render judgment, and he would punish those who did not follow him.

I don't know about you, but I find great peace in knowing that Jehovah God has my back. So, while you're going through the craziness of your day, remember that God is in control, and he will care for you!



Wednesday, August 30, 2017

A Shelter in the Time of Storm


Hurricane Harvey just hit my state. I live in South Texas an hour from Corpus Christi. My in-laws live in Rockport, Texas. As of this writing, it is the fifth day since Hurricane Harvey hit, leaving behind a path of destruction. (And it’s still damaging other parts of the state and Louisiana.) I can’t begin to express the damage, the loss of life, and the magnitude of the destruction that I’ve seen in the last few days. With that said, even in the face of all the grief and sadness, I can see a ray of light.

I have seen my brothers and sisters band together to work and to volunteer to help those around us.  It amazes me that even in the face of danger and chaos that we can see God’s grace and mercy. We can see his hands moving through our own. It astounds me that I can be assured, even in the face of the strongest gale force wind, that Christ is my rock and my redeemer.

One thing I keep hearing over and over again about the state of Texas is that we are helping each other. It seems to baffle the news reporters from out of state, but it’s nothing new to me. As a Texan, I was brought up to help those around me, and as a Christian, I learned that everyone is my neighbor. Citizens in my area are recognizing that everyone is their neighbor, and we must help those who have a need.


The church has rallied to help in so many ways, and many individual members of area congregations are members of the fire department, EMTs, Police Officers, and Citizen Police Agencies. My brothers and sisters are seeing the needs and filling them as individuals and as entire congregations.

I can't help be reminded that while we help each other there is one even greater who watches over our souls. There is one who will hide us in his sheltering wing (Psalm 17:8), and take vengeance on those who do not serve him (II Thessalonians 1:8).

Today, more than ever I see that God is alive, and together we can rebuild. He is the keeper of our souls and our refuge.

Psalm46


God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;

Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.

There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High.

God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.

 The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted.

The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.

Come, behold the works of the Lord, what desolations he hath made in the earth.

He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire.

Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.

The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.






Monday, August 28, 2017

Are You Glad 2 Worship?

“I was Glad when they said unto me, let us go into the house of the Lord.”

Polishing the Pulpit just passed. It’s a week-long seminar in the Smoky Mountains that hosts a load of classes for every member of the family. We haven’t been able to go since my husband’s stroke, but we did go before that. It was my favorite week of the year. Why? Because we could go and study, sing and worship with thousands of Christians. There is nothing like worshiping with so many people who are faithful followers of God. Voices ringing out in song sound like a chorus of notes so beautifully blended it makes you want to cry. Praying together strengthens your soul, and hearing God’s word preached around so many remind you that you can work for God and conquer the things that might be holding you back.

What if I were to tell you that you can find the same strength and encouragement on a smaller scale? You absolutely can! When you worship with your brothers and sisters in Christ, you grow as a family. You become connected in a local work, and together you reach out to God. There is nothing more beautiful than a Christian family working together for good.

Perhaps you’ve found it hard to get into that mindset, or to find the right attitude? Well, attitude comes from the heart. If our attitudes are wrong, maybe our hearts are wrong. What do I mean? Well, ask yourself:

  • Do I study as I should?
  • Am I praying to God?
  • Do I recognize the real need for the gospel?
  • What are my priorities?


I can’t tell you that living the Christian life is necessarily an easy road, after all, Christ said it would be hard, but it is much easier when we have our attitudes right. It is easier when we truly realize that following God is the most important thing we can ever do in this life, and it is easier to have the right attitude when we place God foremost in our lives.

Are you glad when it’s time for worship? Are you anxious to see your Christian family every chance you get? If not, ask yourself why?

Today, as I’m writing this, I’m wearing a wet shirt. It’s wet because my daughter and I were putting out low water crossing signs in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.  I am still wearing it because in a little bit I am going back out into the storm to work, but before I do, I have every intention of meeting with the saints at a special timed Sunday evening service. (Our regular services were canceled due to the hurricane.) Why, will I be there when I am wet, stinky and on-call for disaster relief? Because there is nothing like serving God and praising him.  Worshipping God will remind me of why I am serving my community, and give me the strength to press forward. 

To God by the glory!


Monday, August 21, 2017

A Light to the Gentiles

There are many passages in the Bible that people refer to as their favorites, but has Acts 13:14-52 ever made your list? This historical account takes place in the middle of Paul's first missionary trip in the city of Antioch of Pisidia and should be an uplifting passage to every Christian.

In verse fourteen it is recorded that Paul and Barnabas enter into a synagogue on the Sabbath day. They have come to the Jews to preach about Christ. Their intentions are evident in verses fifteen and sixteen when one of the rulers ask if there are any who would "offer a word of exhortation for the people (Acts 13:15,16)." 

Paul makes it a point to stand and address the people. He beckons them with his hand telling them that they need to give audience to what he is saying. In other words, pay attention, this is important! He reminds the Israelites that they had been favored by God throughout their own history.

In Acts 13:15-22 Paul lists some of the specifics of what God had done for them. Including the fact that their fathers had been exalted as they dwelt in the land of Egypt, and when the time came that the Egyptians forgot about Joseph (Exodus 1:8), God delivered them from Egyptian oppression. (Acts 13:17)

God had been faithful to the Israelites even when they had turned from him. He was always ready to forgive them if they turned back to him. Paul reminds them that God had promised that a Savior would be born. One who would give his blood for the transgression of sin ( Isaiah 53:1-12).

Remember, Paul is speaking to the Jews there in Antioch, and they should already be intimately familiar with the promises of God, sadly many times they weren't.

Paul doesn’t just leave the people with their “ancient” history. He tells them about things that had been happening in the world around them. He teaches them about John, the forerunner of Christ. In fact, he quotes John as saying, "There cometh one after me, whose shoes of his feet I am not worthy to loose." (Acts 13:25)

Paul brought all these things to the minds of the Jews, so they would understand who Christ is, and know assuredly that their Messiah had not only come in their own century, but had been killed by their fellow Jews in Jerusalem, and had been raised from the dead! (Acts 13:26-37).

It was Paul's desire to save the house of Israel (Romans 10:1), and through his teachings, he tried to convince those in the audience that Jesus had fulfilled all that had been spoken of him in the prophets and the Psalms. It is sad to know that the Jews heard the Law read every Sabbath, and yet refused to believe it, even when Paul stood before them! (Acts 13:40-41). Unfortunately, the same holds true today. How many people sit in the pews every Sunday and are never really convicted?  

Thankfully, Paul and Barnabas found an audience of believers in the Gentile nation. While there were some proselytes and Jews that believed (Acts 13:43), the Gentiles sought Paul out, begging that they would preach to them the following Sabbath day (Acts 13:42).

Truly, the interesting part of this passage is found in Acts 13:44. When Paul and Barnabas went to speak to the Gentiles on the following Sabbath, there were not only a few people in the crowd. Almost the entire city came to hear about Christ!

Acts 13: 14-52 is a beautiful, true account of first-century history. Because the Jews rejected their own Law, prophets, and Messiah, Barnabas and Paul concentrated their preaching on the Gentile nation. According to verse forty-seven, the Lord set Paul and Barnabas to be a light to the Gentiles, that they should be able to send them the word of salvation.

Today, we have the word of God to light our way thanks to men like Paul. While we are not fortunate enough to hear Paul’s words or to experience a first-hand living knowledge of Christ, through the Bible, we know assuredly, that Christ came to rescue our souls from sin.


Praise God!

Saturday, August 19, 2017

The Tongue is No Little Matter

Today, we’re going to look at one of the deadliest things on the planet. It is such a little thing, but it can do great evil. This thing is both sharp and dangerous. It is also small, and we don’t generally think of it as something that can sway the course of nations, and rock the foundations of government, but with our tongue, we can both build up, or we can tear down.

By the end of 1945, nearly six-million Jews had died at the hands of the Nazi Regime. This happened between the years of 1939 to 1945. That’s a period of six years!

In 1994, an estimated 500,000 to one-million Tutsi were killed in the mass genocide in the African country of Rwanda.

Between the years 1992- 1995, over 8,000 Bosnians were killed due to genocide.

From the years 2003 to 2017, the Iraqi population of people who identify as Christians has decreased from 1.5 million to around 200,000 due to mass murder.

Why do I bring up these horrible statistics in a discussion about our tongues?

I would dare say that most people didn’t wake up one morning and say, “Hey, I’m going to go and eliminate an entire population of people. These horrible atrocities happened because people were swayed into action by charismatic people who had an ability to use words.

Adolf Hitler, Father of the Nazi Regime, was one of the greatest public speakers the world has ever seen, and because of this men, women, and children followed him and approved of Nazi death camps.

The tongue is such a little thing, but it is probably the deadliest weapon any human can possess, as evident by the statistics I cited a moment ago.  Perhaps you’ve never considered it in any great detail. For a few minutes, we are going to get real and truly talk about what it means when James states, that "the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity and that the tongue can defile the body, set on fire the course of nature, and it is set on fire of hell." (James 3: 5-6)

When James speaks about the tongue, he isn’t talking about our physical tongues. He is discussing our words. The very words that come from our hearts. The Proverbs writer states, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.” (Proverbs 23:7) Christ also states, that “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good, and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.” (Luke 6:45)

Who we are inside is evident by the words we use, and how we use them.  As Christians, we must remember that we are to be the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13), we are to encourage others with our very lives (I Peter 1:15), and that we must be ever mindful of what we say and what we do (Ephesians 4:29).

Good words, kindness can uplift those around us, but harsh, cruel words can destroy.

According to the website Bullying and Suicide, the following statistics are true:


  • Suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people, resulting in about 4,400 deaths per year.  For every suicide among young people, there are at least 100 suicide attempts. Over 14 percent of high school students have considered suicide, and almost 7 percent have attempted it.
  • Bullying victims are between 2 to 9 times more likely to consider suicide than non-victims.
  • A study in Britain found that at least half of suicides among young people are related to bullying. (If this statistic is accurate, that’s over 2,000 children a year that commit suicide because of bullying.)


Bullying is defined as using force to intimidate another person into doing something; however, in many cases, we see that children are not physically attacked, but rather verbally abused by their peers.

Notice the following statistics from NVEEE.org:


  • Every 7 MINUTES a child is bullied. Adult intervention – 4%. Peer intervention – 11%. No intervention – 85%.
  • Biracial and multiracial youth are more likely to be victimized than youth who identify with a single race.
  • Bullied students tend to grow up more socially anxious, with less self-esteem and require more mental health services throughout life.
  • Only 7% of U.S. parents are worried about cyberbullying, yet 33% of teenagers have been victims of cyberbullying.
  • Kids who are obese, gay, or have disabilities are up to 63% more likely to be bullied than other children.
  • A MILLION children were harassed, threatened or subjected to other forms of cyberbullying on FACEBOOK during the past year.
  • 86% of students said, “other kids picking on them, making fun of them or bullying them” causes teenagers to turn to lethal violence in schools.
  • It is estimated that 160,000 children miss school every day due to fear of attack or intimidation by other students. 
  • American schools harbor approximately 2.1 million bullies and 2.7 million of their victims. 


What we say and how we say what we say must always be considered. Our words influence people in ways we may never know for the good or the bad. Sadly, we all know if we are purposefully cruel to those around us.

Ask yourself:

Have I ever said mean things to people at school or at church services?
Have I ever intentionally hurt someone’s feelings, or made them look bad?
Am I trying to treat everyone, regardless of how they look, their race, their religion, or their belief system as Christ has instructed me to do? Remember the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37)? Christ teaches us that everyone is our neighbor. And, how are we to treat our neighbors?

Mark 12: 28-31 reads,

And one of the scribes came and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all? And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:  And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

Perhaps there are some of us who have had mean things said about us or been treated unfairly. Maybe we’ve even been bullied. Most of us know the pain mean words can bring to us. I know there have been times in my life (even as an adult) that I’ve been a victim of bullying, name calling, and more. Unfortunately, when I was a child, I didn’t have the support system available to me that each of you in this room have. I didn’t know I could turn to an adult and tell them what was going on. I felt hopeless, and I felt desperate. Today, you don’t have to feel that way.

If you are being bullied, please tell someone.  I cannot express the importance of telling someone. Sometimes all it takes to change our situations is to talk about it with someone who can help.  It is so important that we understand we are not alone. You’re not. Each person in this room knows what it means to be treated unkindly or to be called names.  Thank God, we have each other to lean on.
The tongue, our words, truly are the most powerful weapons we have. Words can persuade people to do great things, or persuade people to commit great atrocities. Our words can teach the gospel, or convince those around us to never ever obey the gospel. With this kind of power in our hands, we must learn to use it wisely.

We must train ourselves to speak kind words.

We must think before we speak.

We must ask ourselves why we are saying something. Is it to build ourselves up by tearing someone else down? If so, we need to bite our tongues.

We can choose to live righteously before God, and we can learn to use our words wisely. We can temper our thoughts, and consider the things we have to say, and we can be kind to others around us, even when they are different from us. We just have to choose to do so. 

Friday, August 18, 2017

The Fields are White Get Out There and Reap!

Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. -John 4:35

I love this passage. By the time we reach verse 35, Jesus has already spoken with the Samaritan woman at the well. He has told the Samaritan woman that there is coming a day when all people can enter his kingdom, and she has learned that he is the Christ, the very one for which they'd been waiting. Chapter four records a blessed day for this woman. It also serves to teach us a valuable lesson.

Christ teaches us (and his followers in the context) that there is work to do. That this work is more important than any fleshly needs or desires, even food. His work was to save souls. He tells his disciples that the fields around them were in need of harvesting. Christ wasn't talking about the grain growing around them. He was talking about the people. The people were in need of teaching, and it was his job, and the job of his followers to teach them.

Today, we must remember that the fields are just as white as they were in Christ's day. We have to bear in mind that we don't choose people for Christ's kingdom based on race or nationality. His church is for all. Our job is to work and to spread the gospel to all creatures. Sisters, it is past time we pick up our Bibles and teach the world around us. Let us spread the love of Christ so that our world will be a peaceful place.

--Susan 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Make Me a Servant: Ways to Serve in the Local Congregation

As Christian women, we should all be looking for ways to serve our Lord. Service is one of the most beautiful and unique aspects of being a Christian. Much is said in today's workplace environment about servant leadership, but this idea spans the centuries. Christ himself told the Apostles as recorded in Matthew 20:25-28, that his followers must be servants.

Notice these verses.

But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

Just as Christ's Apostles were servants, so must we be to be pleasing to him. Ways to serve are all around us, we just have to be looking for them. I've listed a few of the ways I could think of to serve Christ. If you think of others, please list them in the comments. I look forward to hearing from you!

--Susan



A Few Ways To Serve

  • Prepare communion
  • Clean the building
  • Write visitors
  • Send get well and thinking of you cards
  • Help with special events
  • Teach Bible class for children and women
  • Help Bible class teachers prepare for class
  • Make food for shut-ins and the sick
  • Babysit for a tired Mom so she can run some errands
  • Write Bible articles
  • Create a YouTube devotional channel
  • Write Christian books
  • Make blankets for the nursing home
  • Teach the younger women to sew, cook, or other living skills
  • Make bears for the hospital
  • Organize food pantry
  • Start a clothing giveaway
  • Reach out to the homeless
  • Become friends with new Christians
  • Reach out to lonely people in the congregation
  • Recognize the needs of those around you, and help fill them
  • Take care of the flowerbeds at the building
  • Repaint old signage