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Godprints

Because our fingerprints identify us, and God has placed His identifying marks all over our world and lives to point us to Him!

My Word for 2017…”This”

It’s already the end of week two of January 2017 and usually about the time New Year’s resolutions begin falling to the wayside.

Instead of a New Year’s resolution though…I like to use a “word” for the year, and this year the winner is…“This.”

You may have expected a word like “peace”, “gratitude” or “perseverance.”  I am a stubborn learner though, so God gave me the word “this” – “this day”, “this project”, “this time”, “this child”, “this person”, “this ________”… whatever fits in the blank.

He is continually teaching me that even though I may like to make plans and think that I am in control…I am NOT!  And although I find my brain spinning with all sorts of plans, projects, and possibilities, I can really only manage one thing at a time.  When I choose not to heed this wisdom, I am missing out on the “this” right in front of me.

How many times have I been in a conversation with someone and caught myself glancing past them and thinking of other things rather than what they are saying?  How embarrassing and shameful!  I cheat myself and them of a moment shared together connecting.  How many moments do we miss tuning in to those around us – our spouse, our kids, our coworkers, our friends, or the stranger on the street because we are too busy or just preoccupied with something else?  How many surprises of grace straight from the Almighty’s hand do we overlook due to worries and our own agendas?

“This” calls for being flexible, it calls for an awareness of the present & His presence, and it calls for open hands that allow for God’s surprises.  “This” calls for being willing to change at a moments notice.  Change is never really easy; I tend to like things to stay the same.  One favorite motto of mine  is – “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it!”  But “this” calls me to be willing to step out of my planned schedule, my lists and my calendar.  It calls me to live in a new awareness of the moment…”this” moment.

No, I still love to plan and be prepared.  I enjoy looking back and looking forward; there is a time and place for both.  I also believe if you don’t aim for something, you never hit the target because you don’t have one. But  I also understand that my pride and my selfishness can cause me to lose sight of the “gift” of the “present”.  I am slowly learning to be aware of the “this” in life.  No matter how small or how brief, “this” matters.  I don’t want to be so wrapped up in “that” or “those” that I miss – “THIS” that God has put right before me “for such a time as this.” (Esther 4:4)

Psalm 27:1 – “Don’t boast about tomorrow, for morning-fogyou don’t know what a day might bring. (HCSB)

James 4:13-14 –  Look here, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.”  How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.”  (NLT)

 

Christmas Came

It’s the day after Christmas, no more gifts to unwrap; there’s leftovers in the fridge and everyone needs a nap!  This may be how it is around your house too!  The kids have gone and the house is quiet again; it may feel like a bit of letdown after all the celebrations.

That’s why I wanted to share this last of the countdown to Christmas devotions here…to keep us looking forward!  Christmas was just the beginning, not the end!

You see, the Christmas story doesn’t end at the cradle, nor did it end at the cross…it ends with a crown!

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A Son – John 3:16

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

img_9717Okay…the photo called for a son, but when you have two…how do you choose?!

One of the greatest joys of Christmas now that all our kids are grown is their coming home!  There’s not much better than having all four of them (and all new additions) under one roof!!!

This makes me wonder how incredible the  joy God the Father must have been when Jesus, His Son, rose from the dead and then went home!
“fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”  Hebrews 12:2

You see, the Christmas story doesn’t end at the cradle, nor did it end at the cross…it ends with a crown!

 

Our verse today is probably the most well known in the Bible, and in it we find the brief summary of the entire Bible…all 66 books!

God sent His Son Jesus as the Savior that we might have eternal life!

Jesus not only died on the cross that He might go home to the Father in Heaven, He died so that He can take us with Him for the grandest homecoming ever!

Jesus spoke so much about the Kingdom of Heaven and His return.

Matthew 25 records two parables (stories with a spiritual lesson) about His Second Coming of when He will come to take all of those who have believed (trusted) in Him home to Heaven, and then says the following in verses 31-33:
“But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. “All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left.”

This Christmas let every son (or daughter) remind us of all that God’s Son has done for us and that that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

Homecoming…what time for celebration!!!  Let’s keep looking ahead to the Son’s return and our Homecoming in Heaven!

All 25 Christmas countdown devotions

Finding the “HUSH” of Christmas

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”   John 1:1

The Greek word translated here as “word” is “logos” which relates to reasoning.  Our English word “logic” has it’s origin here too.  Let that sink in a moment.  Jesus is the Word.  He is reasoning.  He is meaning.  He is logic.  Jesus makes life make sense!  And truly – Jesus is the reason for the season!

A word is not just a bunch of random letters.  Each word has order and gives meaning.  What in your life right now is bringing meaning to your existence?  This was one of the greatest things that changed in my life when Jesus came into my life; my life now has meaning and purpose…it makes sense!

A word whether spoken or read shares a thought; it references something beyond the letters.  The letters – V, R, R, E, I – have no meaning in and of themselves, but when they are arranged as – RIVER, they bring to mind a picture of water running through a channel.  Even though God reveals Himself throughout creation, He wanted to make sure we understood Who He is…so He sent His Son, Jesus, as The Word – Who was in the beginning with Him and is God Himself.   We can know Him.

There are words all around us everyday – from the cereal box or newspaper to stop signs and billboards.  Let each one cause us to think of Jesus, The Word, and seek to know Him better by understanding all the meaning He brings to life.

word-hushMy photo for the Christmas Photo Challenge is of  the word “HUSH” on a plaque a special friend gave me one Christmas.  “HUSH”  may seem like an odd word to be hanging around your house, but I had used it as an acronym for a Christmas devotion message I shared at our church’s ladies’ Christmas brunch.

  • H – Is for “Him”.  When we put Him (Jesus) first in our lives, He gives us that sweet “hush” of peace  that all is well.  It is also to remind us that He is the One that initiated it ALL!  Just as in John 1:1 – He was in the beginning.  All things were created by Him and for Him. The hope of salvation all began with Him.
  • U- Is for “Us”.   It is up to us to receive or reject His sweet  “HUSH” of His peace.  God chose to love us unconditionally.  It is our choice to love Him back.  Love isn’t love without a choice.
  • SH – Is for “Seek Him”.  Once we have accepted His gift of salvation, His gift of eternal life, it is only the beginning of this journey with Jesus.  We must daily continue seeking Him, seeking His face & His presence.  (Psalm 27:8)  “Sh” is that sound made to a baby as they are rocked to sleep.  It is that calming presence that speaks “all is well.”

So the “Hush of Christmas” is that sweet peace found in His presence even in the midst of the hustle and bustle of this crazy world.  With Jesus, we can truly say – “It is well with my soul.”

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This is the sixth of the twenty-five Christmas “Journey with Jesus” countdown devotions I’m writing and putting on my site – CreativeBibleStudy.com if you’d like to read the others.   Each day snap a photo of each item for a visual and use as a photo challenge on Social Media, or with your family, small group, friends or just for yourself.  It’s a fun way to enjoy the presence of Christ each and every day as we look towards celebrating His first & His second coming into this world!

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Journey with Jesus this Christmas

A few years ago I put together a Countdown to Christmas Photo Challenge with Bible verses as a tool to help us keep Jesus lifted above the hustle and bustle of the holiday season.  christmas-countdown

This year I’m doing it again, but also adding devotions for each photo and wanted to invite you to join me on this Christmas Jesus Journey!

Let each item point your gaze to Jesus each day and meditate on the verse.  I’ll be adding the devotions to Creative Bible Study Facebook Page and also to our Creative Bible Study site if you’d like to follow there.

Feel free to share with others either personally or on social media! We’d love for you to tag Creative Bible Study so we get to see yours too!

Let’s shine His light and lift Jesus high that others may find the Blessed Hope that is only found in our precious Savior!

Here’s my photo for the day with the Dec. 1st Christmas devotion:

 

Dec. 1st – a Road – John 14:6

 “Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

country-roadI took a picture of a road down in the country where my ancestors lived.  It is a quiet gravel road with the trees almost touching above having sprinkled their leaves across it’s dirt path.

There are many types of roads that take us to different destinations.   Some are paved and crowded with cars speeding by; while others are quiet and peaceful but can become muddy when it rains. Roads are a lot like life.

Think about all the roads you will go down today; each one leads to a different destination.   Sometimes we may get wrong directions and go down a wrong road never reaching the destination we desire.

In the Old Testament God spoke through the prophets and they pointed to the coming of the Messiah, a Savior.  He gave directions.  God knew we would still make wrong turns though; that’s why from the beginning of time Jesus planned to come to earth in human flesh to not only show us the way, but to be the Way.

Here in John 14:6, Jesus says He is the way, the only way, to God the Father.  Today as you travel, cross, or see different roads, let them cause you to ponder on the Spiritual road you are traveling in life.  Are you trusting Jesus as your Savior, as your way back to God the Father Who is in Heaven?  If not, let today be the beginning of your journey with Him! Turn back to God and invite Jesus to be your Savior and Way.

If you already are a follower of Christ, then today be joyful and overflowing with gratitude so that you can share with others this Good News of the Way that leads to true life!  Invite others to join you on this Jesus Journey!

Merry CHRISTmas season to you and yours!

Next…just do what’s next

Finding our way when we don’t know what’s ahead…

I had a vivid dream the other night. It was one that I thought there was no way I would forget! It seemed there was such a message in it.

Well…I should have jotted it down right then and there, because all I could remember the next morning was –

“Next…just do what’s next.”

This phrase seemed familiar. It had come across my path more than once during this past week – in the dream, in a book I’ve been reading, and also in one of my husband’s recent sermons. I don’t believe in coincidence; I believe God to be speaking.

You see…I am a planner. I like to know what’s ahead; I like to be in control. Maybe you’re the same way. Maybe this lesson is for most of us.

“Next…just do what’s next.”

Do what’s right here, right now, right in front of us.

For whatever reason, maybe we can’t see very clearly where our life is heading right now. It may be because of a recent loss, life is changing, or we’re trying to keep all those plates spinning! No matter what it may be, this is holding us in a state of confusion with a lack of clarity, uncertainty, and even fear.

God says –

“Next…just do what’s next.”

And yes, this concept is in the Word of God. In Matthew 5:25-34 as Jesus is preaching the Sermon on the Mount, he talks about not worrying about so many things. God’s got this! Live for today…

“Next…just do what’s next.”

A friend gave me a great object lesson that illustrates this: the headlights on a car.

headlightsI hate to drive at night or in the fog or heavy rain! I can’t see far enough ahead that I’m comfortable. When it’s dark, my headlights show me enough though. They get me further down the road to see the next lighted strip of road and then the next and the next.

It causes me to keep my eyes on where the Light is shining right in front of me. It causes me to seek the Light (aka Jesus). It causes me to trust the Light. It causes me to follow where the Light is leading. It also frees me to not shoulder the whole burden of what may lie ahead. I can …

just do what’s next!

Proverbs 4:5-6

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
    do not depend on your own understanding.

Seek his will in all you do,
    and he will show you which path to take.”

For more like this, visit my website – Creative Bible Study   🙂

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Grooves vs. Ruts

Both the dictionary and thesaurus view these two terms as synonyms. And though they are similar in many ways, they each actually differ in both plan and purpose.

While both are considered indentations possibly caused over a period of time, a “groove” has a design of purpose while a “rut” can cause us to get stuck in routine out of habit or path of least resistance.

As followers of Christ, it is important to stop and evaluate from time to time our place of service. Are we serving by teaching that kindergarten Sunday school class for the past ten years because we fit smoothly by design or because we’ve been doing it so long it’s just become comfortable?

Our purpose doesn’t change – we are called to reflect God’s love, share the Gospel of Jesus Christ, & make disciples. The method in which God determines to use us may though. When we become too comfortable because we have settled into a routine or “rut,” we can begin serving out of our own strength, independent of God.

A rut may begin without us even realizing it and gradually become so deep we get stuck in our own vanity, pride or even fear of change and dependence upon Him. Ruts tend to lack joy and freshness.

A groove on the other hand, reflects a design by Someone greater!

I grew up in the era of listening to music on record players, and now that “Vinyl” is back in style, this illustration still seems relevant.

vinyl-record1

Someone greater than the needle on the player designed the grooves on a record. The needle just needs to follow the grooves already formed to play the music.

Finding a new groove may seem scary, but when we allow the Master of life’s music to place us in the grooves He has designed, both our daily service and worship become a sweet tune for others to hear His song!

In spite of her fears and feelings of inadequacy, Hadassah was moved from the rut of being a simple orphan girl into the groove of being a queen who could bend the ear and the will of the king to save her people all because of God’s call, purpose and power in her life. We know her better as Queen Esther!

“If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?” -Esther 4:4

So….are we stuck in a rut or have we found our “groove” which He has designed for us…for such a time as this?

 

*Disclosure:  If you have been teaching a kindergarten Sunday school class for ten years or any other area of service for a long period of time, that doesn’t mean you’re necessarily in a rut!  You may be right in the exact groove God wants to keep you in!  It never hurts to stop and evaluate, seek His face, and make sure we’re right where He can use us best though!  😉

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God Speaks

What did you see today? What images stuck with you?

For me…I saw two squirrels fall out of a towering pine tree and land with a loud FLOP on the ground! Then they hopped up and began chasing each other again! I also saw the gleam in our foster-granddaughter’s eyes as we surprised her with a visit!

These are only two things I saw today, but both stuck with me in a special way. I find that God uses images to speak to me. I am very much a visual learner – show me something…I usually remember; tell me something…guaranteed to forget! God knows this about me!

squirrelSo what did these two images tell me? Well, the two squirrels fell while holding on to each other. This made me think of how important the people in our lives are.

God says…”Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.” Ecclesiastes 6:9-10

Let’s take time today to think of those in our life that would be there when (not if, because we all fall from time to time) we fall; they may be a friend, family member, teacher, etc., and thank them! And if for some reason you can’t think of anyone, then know this – there is One that loves you so much that He took the fall for you. His name is Jesus.

Back to my other “speaking image” – the gleam of joy and love in a child’s eyes. This reminded me of how God looks at me when I come to Him. He looks on His child with eyes of joy, love & compassion. He gets excited when we visit and draw close to Him! He is always there to welcome us into His open arms.

“Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.” James 4:8

So take a look around, open your eyes. What is God using to speak to you? Trust me…God is speaking.

My Own Secret Garden

Well, it’s been a little while since I’ve taken the time to blog. In all honesty, I just haven’t “felt” like it. Are there those times in your life too when you just feel “dry” spiritually? I call them desert times.

It usually takes me a little while before I recognize the dryness. Things seem and “look” all fine on the outside. And then it hits. I just don’t sense God’s presence. Oh, I know He hasn’t left me; so I must go searching for when or where I left Him.

Yes, sin can cause this – even sin such as holding bitterness and unforgiveness, or struggling with envy or strife. It also can happen when life is so busy and other things take precedence.  But sometimes…it can come even when I am making time for reading the Bible and praying.  It’s in these times I realize I’ve been focusing too much on “doing” rather than “being”.  I can be spending time in His Word and in prayer, but if it is solely for the purpose of pouring out to others, I am neglecting time spent simply to experience Jesus’ very presence.

My-Secret-GardenThis is a beautiful painting our sweet friend, Barbara, did for us almost thirty years ago. Her dad, who was precious to us also, made the frame for it. It has remained special to me for more than the reason of who created it though; it has become my “mental place” of where I visualize sitting at the feet of Jesus. If you walk into this walled garden there is a stone bench. It’s there He patiently waits for me.

(Yes, it is a hanging a little crooked: isn’t that how life is sometimes?! 🙂  )

Sometimes it seems the outside is flourishing like in the painting, but when I visualize stepping inside, everything is dry and wilting. He’s still there waiting for me, but my spirit can’t receive His care and watering if I’m not there…being still…soaking up His presence.

We probably all experience these times. In reality though, these are not necessarily altogether bad; God uses them to help me recognize afresh my absolute dependence upon Him. It’s in these desert times I become desperate and actually thirst for His very presence. I return to taking time to just simply sit at His feet for no other reason but to be with Him.

David felt this way when He was in the wilderness and wrote Psalm 63 –

O God, You are my God; earnestly I seek You;
    my soul thirsts for You;
my flesh faints for You,
    as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
So I have looked upon You in the sanctuary,
    beholding Your power and glory.
Because Your steadfast love is better than life,
    my lips will praise You.
So I will bless You as long as I live;
    in Your name I will lift up my hands.

In reality this very thing could have been what drew Mary to sit at the feet of Jesus – her desperate thirst for His very presence. I continue to struggle with the balance of sitting and serving like in the story of Mary & Martha.   I refer to these, as filling and pouring, like a pitcher or other serving vessel. Both are important; without one, the other suffers and cannot exit alone. A full vessel is only useful if it is being poured; an empty vessel is of no use because there is nothing to be poured.

So if you’re like me…feeling a little spiritually dry. It’s okay; He is waiting for us. It may be time to put the serving dishes down for a bit and simply sit at His feet and enjoy His presence. Truly it’s a blessed time!

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”
Matthew 5:6

Take time now.  The following is a beautiful worship song based on Psalm 42 –

“As a deer pants for flowing streams,
    so pants my soul for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God,
    for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?”

Cake Disaster! – Time to “Re” bake

This was not my first bundt cake, but by far it was one of my biggest cake failures!

At the last minute I remembered I had wanted to bake something for a bake sale at church, but had no mixes and was missing other items. So I looked at what I did have. I did have all the ingredients to make a “Hummingbird Cake” from scratch – I had the two bananas, crushed pineapple, pecans, cinnamon and normal cake ingredients. I decided to bake it in a bundt pan. It had been a while since I had baked a bundt cake and couldn’t remember how long to cool it before turning it out onto a plate. Well…whether it was bad information or another reason, it did NOT want to be released from the pan!cake-failure

At this point…it was not going to the bake sale. Even icing couldn’t cover this cake disaster! I couldn’t feed it to my husband because he’s allergic to pecans! The choices were to throw it out or come up with another option.

I Googled. It was nice to know I was not the only one to find themselves in this predicament. I found great ideas such as crumbling to make cake balls or a truffle dessert, but didn’t have the right ingredients to accomplish those. But as I tasted the crumbs (at least it tasted good), I did find an idea that seemed to match the taste – make it into a bread pudding! There was HOPE!

It ended up tasting great and looking so much better…AND it made two desserts for the bake sale instead of one! I did make a small sampler to taste before taking it to the bake sale!  😉rebake

Through the whole process I was looking for a lesson from God because I think He can use anything to teach us! In our Bible study we had been talking about “restoration” but that’s really bringing something back to its original state…that didn’t happen. I thought about maybe it was an example of “transformation”, but that’s really causing something to become something totally different all together. Then I came across what’s become a popular buzzword – “refurbish.”

Refurbish – “to renew or to restore to a new condition and/or appearance”

That seemed to fit, and this all made me think of how disasters, failures and trials happen in life and cause us to just want to throw in the towel and give up. They may be our own fault or no fault of our own, but what we must remember is with God there is always hope!

I love the prefix “re”; it means “again”. It’s a prefix that God uses often in what He does – He REdeems, He REstores, He REnews, He REfurbishes situations in our lives that may seem hopeless, but there is always hope in Jesus!

So no matter what you may be facing right now. I’m sure it’s more than a failed bundt cake, but hopefully even a cake disaster can remind us not to give up! Let’s take our disasters, our trials, our failures, our sorrow, our hopelessness to Jesus and ask Him to help. Life may not come out how we plan or think it should be; it may not be restored, but refurbished instead.  Jesus can bring “beauty from ashes” or for our illustration – a yummy dessert from a bunch of crumbs!

There is hope in Jesus Christ!

 

Isaiah 61:3 – “to give them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,”

Romans 8:28 – “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.”

Colossians 1:27 – “To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

 

Find out how you can know Jesus Christ and find hope!

 

 

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