Tag Archives: circumstances

Same Thing, Just Different

15 Nov

There’s a saying in my family, created by my Daddy. Okay, so he invented many sayings in our home, but the one I’m thinking of today is, “Same thing, just different.” It’s one of my personal favorites. Both my husband and I have used it in our own household on many occasions over the years, particularly when the kids were splitting hairs on an issue. Now, they, too, pipe in with the phrase sometimes. I’m thinking of making some t-shirts to sell.  

Earlier this week on the blog for girls, we began a study on the names/descriptions of Jesus found in the gospel of John. The first name is Word. (See John 1:1-2, John 1:14 and Rev 19:13). In these verses, the original Greek is “logos” which can be described as the entirety of God’s declaration. I think of it as all encompassing.

But, the Greeks had lots of words which we often translate into the same English word.  One example is the “word” Jesus quoted  (originally from Deuteronomy) during his temptation by the devil in the desert.

“…Man does not live by bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God”  (Matthew 4:4 NIV).

The original Greek for “word” Jesus spoke in the desert is not logos but “rhema.” Vines defines it as an utterance, a speech, a discourse. I think of it as a specific utterance rather than the entirety of God’s word.

Obviously, God’s word is his word, whether it be a smaller passage or the scriptures as a whole.  

So why are the original words different in the Greek?

Have you ever been in a desperate place, with a terrific need for a specific word of encouragement or hope from God? Something that would keep you going?

You had faith. You knew Christ as your Saviour, yet you needed something specific to get through a storm?

That’s rhema. We live on the very word of God. We need it daily, in digestible pieces. It sustains us, grows us. We don’t need only the knowledge of the gospel and the salvation Christ offers for the end of our lives, we need the Word to live — day by day. 

So, my favorite Daddy phrase applies. “Same thing, just different” — and all good!


What’s Biggest Today?

8 Nov
“…we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek”  Hebrews 6:18b-20. 
What’s biggest in your life today? A problem. A need. A hurt.
Even something good can feel like the biggest thing. A surprise. An accomplishment. An opportunity. 
But our LORD is the greatest of all. Nothing is bigger, nothing more powerful. Nothing can stand against Him or rise above Him.
I’m in the midst of a wild storm, clinging to the One and Only Living God and His Word to me. May my hands and heart be blistered from gripping His anchor which never fails.
So if you’re tired or hurt today, God is greater than that hurt.
If you’re thrilled about something, it still can’t compete with the fullness and everlasting joy of our God.
Click on the song link below and worship Him right now. Tell Him He is above all things.


Words vs. Logic

4 Oct
“Those are just words. Words, words, words.” Ever heard someone say that? Maybe you’ve said it.
When we’re in a situation that’s painful or confusing, sometimes talk or consoling are the last things we want. They can be down right irritating. What we want is to sort out and weigh our options, find a logical solution or choice. But, there are words that trump human logic every time.

“…Man does not live by bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God”  (Matthew 4:4 NIV).

Jesus quoted this scripture (originally from Deuteronomy) during his temptation by the devil in the desert. It’s a familiar verse to me and I’m sure to many.
I’d always thought of “the word of God” as the scripture – and absolutely believe this is correct application (see 2 Tim. 3:16).
However, the spoken word of God is itself power. He spoke all creation into existence, the heavens and the earth. Gathering the water, creating vegetation, inventing and giving life to every creature. All of this was done at the command of God’s voice. God’s declaration, God’s words.
The scripture is God’s word. We are to live by it. Likewise, God has control and ability to speak over any situation. Regardless of the circumstance, if God speaks life–there is life!
Christ knew this power intimately even while in an earthly body, and Christ overcame the temptation to doubt it or circumvent it during his forty days in the desert.
Now Christ’s words in Matthew 4:4 also encourage me the same way 2 Cor. 5:7 does, “We walk by faith, not by sight.”
As I find myself wanting things to “make sense” in my way of thinking, I must stop and focus on the power and complete control my God has over absolutely anything. Lord, hold my hand to walk by faith, not by sight. Not by logic, nor by feelings, but by faith in your power and your love.

Extra Care Required

26 Aug
Earlier this week, I wore one of the few shirts I own that requires ironing. My mother taught me years ago to pay attention to clothes before I bought them, noting what kind of care they’d require. (She was sweetly and unendingly practical.) Most of the time, if the tag contains the letter combination I.R.O.N., I put the garment back on the rack. But, a few make their way home with me.
I faced the mirror to assess the wrinkles (on the shirt, not on the face).  Are they so bad I can’t get away with wearing this? Then the perfect little solution hit me. My flat iron (yes, this kind I use) sat on the countertop, hot and ready. A few careful strokes later and I decided my shirt was presentable. Viola!
This morning, I read a devotion by John Piper based on James 4:2 – 4. Piper explains that we are adulteress toward God when we use prayer to try to get from God something we desire more than God.
Maybe you’re thinking, “Uh, okay. What’s that got to do with flat-ironing your shirt?”
Short cuts.
Are we so busy that we treat prayer as a short cut? (Help me to do XYZ today God, Amen.)  Are we lazy to the point of finding a short cut way to do prayer? (Only praying when we drive and we have to be “still” anyway?) Or, might we pray  “only as needed” for big stuff like illness or job loss.
Being distracted away from God with everyday life keeps us from experiencing Him as our richest delight. If our prayer life varies a great deal based on the  ‘tag’ (to-do list) of our day, some extra care is required.
 Search me, God, and know my heart;
   test me and know my anxious thoughts. 
See if there is any offensive way in me,
   and lead me in the way everlasting.  Psalm 139:23 – 24 (NIV)

Right or Left?

21 Mar

After church yesterday, my 10 year-old son told me about his class that morning.  The text came from Esther, and they’d role played a portion of the book. My son chuckled as he said, “I was the king’s right hand man, but I stood on the left!”


I wondered, how often do we chuckle when things are done in a way we think peculiar, backward, or even unpleasing?

God often works in a way we don’t expect, nor one we’d choose. Accepting his authority beyond our understanding, or without feeling we deserve better isn’t our natural tendency.

Look at Jonah, he got mad when after leaving the belly of a fish and obeying God to preach in Nineveh, then God decided to spare Nineveh. He was put out! (Read Chapters 3 & 4 of Jonah.)

Consider John the Baptist. He preached truth, proclaimed the Messiah was coming, and pointed to Jesus as the Promised One. John said he must become less and Christ must become greater. John was right on the money!

 Yet, John was imprisoned (and later beheaded). In the meantime, Jesus started his public ministry. It wasn’t what John nor his helpers expected. While still in prison, John sent his messengers to ask Jesus if he was indeed The Promised One.

Confusion. Things appeared backward. (See Matt. Ch 3 and 11)

Jesus told John’s disciples, “Blessed is he who is not offended by me.”

God has given prolonged patience, mercy, and grace to all people. He works in his way and his authority.

Guard your heart against being offended by him.

John Bunyon, a preacher imprisoned in 1660, wrote that he’d never been so enlightened or encouraged by God’s word as during his time in jail. All he had to do was promise not to preach, then he’d have been released.  He remained in prison for 12 years.

Martin Luther expressed that his struggles and temptations prompted him to seek and love God’s Word more deeply, more fervently. And the apostle Paul was inspired to write much scripture while in prison.

These are our choices. To be offended, or to cling to his word– beyond our offense and understanding. To find that our sweetest growth in him may come, more times than not, under intense discomfort. 

If things don’t feel right, it doesn’t mean God has left you. 

Remember the footprints poem? You can find it here.  http://www.footprints-inthe-sand.com/index.php?page=Poem/Poem.php 

Cling to his word. His word never fails.

Is Believing Really Enough?

11 Feb

Sickness. Finances. Divorce. Death. 

Is believing really enough to deal?

In an online study of Hebrews through Kathy Howard’s website, we recently read about Moses and the Isrealites; specifically, the people’s disobedience stemming from unbelief. (Remember, that generation was forced to wander the desert, never entering the promised land, save Caleb and Joshua.) Read Hebrews 3: 12 – 4:2.

As Kathy points out, the Isrealites believed in God’s existence, but they failed to believe in His nature and character in the face of their circumstances (circumstances being well fortified walls around the promised land and giant people living there.)

Circumstances are powerful, aren’t they? We must combine faith with belief to stand against them.

Today we get to talk to Kathy about her new Bible study!  And, congratulations to Liz Miller, who will receive a free copy of Unshakeable Faith, an 8-session Bible study for women by Kathy Howard, just  released by New Hope Publishers.

Kathy, what prompted you to write on this particular topic?

Over the last few years, many Christian women I love and admire have endured difficult circumstances such as life-threatening illness, divorce, death of a child, and financial hardship. The quality of their faith significantly affected how they endured these trials and how God worked in them for His glory. God strengthened and guided them through their close relationship with Jesus.

Their experiences made me wonder how I would do in the same circumstances. Like most women, I manage to juggle the everyday things of life – work, family, ministry, and home life – without too much difficulty. But sometimes, even in just a small crisis, my self-sufficiency is shaken. Would I stand firm in really hard times or would these trials knock me flat? I began to ask God to show me how my faith could be prepared.

So why Peter? Why is he a good example for us to study?

Peter was just an ordinary man, a fisherman. He worked hard. He had a family and friends. Peter was passionate and a natural leader, but he was also headstrong and impetuous. Peter had sworn to follow Jesus unconditionally, no matter the circumstances. Yet on the night Jesus was betrayed, his faith wavered and he denied His Lord. But then several decades later Peter willingly faced martyrdom rather than deny Him again. This study is about what made the difference in Peter’s faith. Unshakeable Faith looks closely at Peter’s life and teachings to discover some of the key characteristics God built into his faith that helped him stand firm in the face of death. That’s the kind of faith I want to have.

What’s unique about this study?

I love to study God’s Word. Learning about God, His ways, and what He desires for us is wonderful. But if we don’t apply what He teaches us, let it shape our lives, then we fall short of the full purpose of study. Unshakeable Faith not only leads readers into learning God’s Word, but it also purposefully helps readers apply it. In addition to each week’s application section, there is a “Faith Shaker” story that helps us see how that faith trait works in real life. These stories are about real women who have faced a life trial with which many readers will relate. Readers get to see how their faith keeps them standing firm. A strong faith in Jesus Christ does work in real life!

Where can readers get a copy of Unshakeable Faith?

The study is available at most online bookstores and many Christian bookstores. If your local bookstore does not carry it more than likely they can order it for you. Here are a few links to online stores.

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Unshakeable-Faith-Traits-RockSolid-Studies/dp/1596692979/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1295970163&sr=1-4

New Hope/WMU Bookstore: http://www.wmustore.com/product.asp?sku=N114134

Barnes & Noble: http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Unshakeable-Faith/Kathy-Howard/e/9781596692978/?itm=1&USRI=unshakeable+faith+by+kathy+howard

Christian Book Distributors: http://www.christianbook.com/unshakeable-faith-traits-rock-solid-living/kathy-howard/9781596692978/pd/692978?item_code=WW&netp_id=834962&event=ESRCN&view=details

Jonah – Heart Lessons Bigger than a Whale

17 Dec

Jonah, he’s famous for surviving in a fish for three days.  But, what else do you remember?  The story is full of lessons that have nothing to do with a whale.

Let’s look at three traits exhibited by Jonah.

1. Disobedience. Jonah is in the fish because he attempted to run from God’s instructions to go to Nineveh and preach.

2. Self-centeredness. Once his circumstances are unpleasant (in the smelly belly of a fish), Jonah cries out to God. Once on dry land again, Jonah does head for Nineveh to preach as instructed. But, when the people there repent, turning from evil, Jonah only gets mad. He’s irritated that God sent him to preach a wrath that God mercifully decided not to bring as a result of the people’s humbling response to what Jonah preached. Jonah didn’t seem to rejoice in being part of God’s mercy on Nineveh, only upset that he was inconvenienced.

 3. A lack of compassion.  Jonah doesn’t care about the people of Nineveh. God brings a vine to grow over grumbly Jonah, and then causes it to wither. Jonah complains again, to the point he’d just rather die than live this way. He has no care for the people of Nineveh, and God demonstrates this to Jonah with the vine. Jonah cares more about the vine because it offered him a benefit; the vine meant more to Jonah than the people in Nineveh.

My question, to myself and to you:  How are you like Jonah?

I’m afraid there’s a lot of Jonah in all of us if we are not continually offering our hearts to the Lord for searching and cleaning.

And least you think Jonah is a metaphorical tale, take a look at Matthew 12:38 – 41. Jesus acknowledges the peaching done by Jonah in Nineveh. Jesus acknowledges that the people of Nineveh repented.

Isn’t it reassuring that God can use us even when we have so far to go in our own lives? Even when we are disobedient, selfish and uncaring. He still has plans and his plans will still prevail. Let’s be sure to stop and offer our hearts to God every day so we can be joyfully involved in what he is doing – instead of whining about ourselves.

Bible Reading Completed to Date:

Old Testament: Completed through Nahum.

New Testament: Completed through Revelation Ch 8.

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