Out of the Box

Hanging in a bag tucked away in the rear of our closet, surviving many corporate moves, was my wedding gown. After about 20 years I finally took it in for professional cleaning, preservation, and had it boxed. Unfortunately, the process took its toll on my gown as many of the decorative pearls fell off. The lady performing the work was distressed and took it upon herself to hand sew new pearls onto my gown. Upon final receipt of my wedding dress, I couldn’t believe my eyes—it was better than it had been when I handed it over to her. Fully restored, my wedding gown surpassed how it originally looked.

Fast-forward many more years and a couple more moves. The box has transferred neatly from one closet to the next as we’ve moved across the country. Finally, in what we hope is our earthly “forever” home, I wondered why in the world it’s primly placed in a box. So, the next time we had some of our granddaughters over I asked if they wanted to play dress-up with Gramma’s wedding gown. Imagine their excitement over donning the gown and veil and feeling so very special.

So thankful I didn’t keep what had been made new and better stashed away in a box!

Isaiah 43:19 (NIV) describes God’s deliverance of his people from Babylon, but also foreshadows His provision of how he will redeem sinners: “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

Jesus Christ came to give life and as we receive this new life, He indwells us with His Holy Spirit. Once ordinary and mundane, our lives, through His spirit, now surpass anything we could have imagined. Scripture tells the story of when Jesus turned water into wine for His first miracle at a wedding feast in Cana. (See John 2:1-11.) Similar to the transformation of my gown, He delights in remaking our ordinary lives into something exceptional.

But what are we doing with our salvation and the talents God has so graciously lavished on us?

Let’s not keep all God has done in our lives in a box. Pray God will enable you to utilize those gifts and talents He’s provided you with for furthering His kingdom. Is our Lord calling you to come alongside a younger woman and mentor her? How about those babies in the church nursery who need someone to love on them? What about the shut-ins in your neighborhood who could use a warm meal? He has plenty of surprises and delights for us in store! Let’s grab on to what He has for us and live as if we mean it.

The proud grandmother I am, it would be difficult for me to end this without sharing what one of our granddaughters remarked, “Gramma, I think you should hang on to this for me when I get married.” Looks like there may be more use for what was restored …

Father God, Thank you for transforming my life from drab and broken to one of richness and fullness. Please reveal what you have for me in order to advance your kingdom. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Bible Truths:

Job 42:10 (NIV): “After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before.”

Psalm 23:3 (NIV): “He refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.”

Psalm 51:12 (NIV): “Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.”

Titus 3:5 (NIV): “He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.”

© 2018 APearlofGreatValue.org. All rights reserved.

Print this Post or Email to a Friend:

A Fresh Start

We have a new year and a new beginning—ushering in thoughts of fresh starts, a chance to do things differently, or even over again. How will we use the New Year our Lord has given us? Even though it’s the middle of winter, my mind skips ahead to springtime when I first observe the daylily leaves in my garden pushing through the soil. Crumpled over at first, the leaves appear fragile. But with exposure to the sun and rain and air they are able to strengthen and flourish, eventually growing into mature plants with numerous beautiful flowers. I want to grow stronger and substantial this year. Will you join me in this endeavor?

What change do you desire in your life this New Year?

  • Strength and maturity in your walk with the Lord
  • Consistent Bible reading and study
  • A deliberate prayer life
  • More time devoted to meaningful relationships
  • A renewed focus on utilizing your spiritual gifts in service to God and His church

Joshua chapter 2 contains the narrative of the prostitute Rahab, and how she sheltered and protected two Israelite spies who Joshua had sent out to investigate the city of Jericho. By aligning herself with the God of Israel, rather than her idolatrous past, she obtained a fresh start when the Israelites spared her life, along with her family, during the destruction of Jericho. Rahab was to tie a scarlet cord, perhaps symbolizing the blood of the Passover lamb, in her window. This act of confessing and obeying God provided her escape from the wicked Canaanite lifestyle to one of grace and provision. God’s grace—a beautiful, true story—provided Rahab with a fresh start. And, His grace can do the same for us.

We all start out with the best of intentions at the onset of a new year, but there’s a lot clamouring for our attention these days. And soon, we may find ourselves discouraged as events hamper our good choices, and behavioural changes don’t often look the way we imagined. Family responsibilities, busyness, traffic, time on the computer, and household chores deplete us, robbing us not only of our time but also of our joy. However, it all comes down to our choices, just as it did in Rahab’s life. Will we put God first as she did, and allow the old lifestyle choices to fall away? Only then will you and I move forward in what He wants us to be about.

Jesus tells the parable, in Matthew 13, of the sower who scatters his seed in different places. Verse 7 tells us some of the seed fell among thorns, and as this seed grew, the thorns choked out the new plants. Verse 22 explains the thorns represent the “worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth” choking out God’s Word and making us unfruitful.

Don’t allow the weeds of life, many planted by the enemy, stifle the best that God wants for us. Rather, let’s choose to be like those daylily leaves springing forth into a mature plant with elegant and pleasing flowers.

Father God, I want 2018 to look different. I desire to spend more time in your Word, praying, and committed to living a life pleasing to you. Please grant me a fresh start as I commit to aligning myself with you and putting you first. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Bible Truths:

Job 8:7 (NIV): “Your beginnings will seem humble, so prosperous will your future be.”

Isaiah 43:19 (NIV): “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.”

Acts 3:19 (NIV): “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.”

Colossians 1:10-11 (NIV): “And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience ….”

© 2018 APearlofGreatValue.org. All rights reserved.

Print this Post or Email to a Friend:

Rejoice in Our Redeemer

I send Christmas greetings and pray His blessings for all of my beloved readers.

Only by embracing Jesus and asking forgiveness for our sins will we be saved and have communion with God the Father. If you’ve never invited Jesus into your heart, this Christmas season is the perfect time to reflect on your sin and its consequence, which is eternal death, and to ask Jesus to deliver you from that. Faith in Jesus is the ONLY way. “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6, NIV).

Knowing she was carrying the Christ child, Mary offered up a personal hymn of praise to God. Her song, also known as the Magnificat, begins with, “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior” (Luke 1:46-47, NIV). May we all rejoice in the birth of Jesus Christ, our Redeemer, this Christmas.

© 2017 APearlofGreatValue.org. All rights reserved.

Print this Post or Email to a Friend:

When God Says: “Yes!”

According to a 2014 Pew Research Center survey, over half of Americans (55%) say they pray daily. Women respond as more likely to pray daily than men do (64% versus 46%). With the majority of us women praying, we can logically conclude that there are many different types of answers we receive to our prayers. A Pearl of Great Value will be exploring a few of these in a seven-part series on prayer entitled, “When God Says ….”

Part 7 of 7

Gathered in the kitchen with our daughter, her husband, and our granddaughter, I was prepping food for dinner. Knowing the troops were hungry, I decided to put out some cheese and crackers to nibble on before our meal. As I set the plate, with a generous portion of brie cheese, down in front of our granddaughter, her eyes became large as saucers and she exclaimed, “Holy moly!” Having a rather advanced palate for her young age, she thought it was all for her! We all chuckled over her exuberance, and I wondered,

What is our response when life gives us so much more than we ever imagined?

Think about the times you’ve been earnestly praying for someone or a situation, and feel you’ve been on your knees forever. And then one day you receive that positive answer from God. Outcomes such as:

  • I have a friend for you, someone to come alongside you in your loneliness
  • It’s time to take a trip you’ve been dreaming of
  • I have a job change for you
  • I’ve answered your prayer for healing
  • Your loved one has accepted Me as Lord and Savior

What is our response? What should our response be?

Be thankful. Luke 17:11-19 shares the story of the healing of ten leprous men by the Lord. It was an outstanding miracle, yet one done quietly, as the cleansing occurred while they were going on their way to show themselves to the priests just as Jesus had instructed them. When the lepers saw they were healed, only one of the men came back to thank Jesus and give praise to God.

Contrast the responses of the nine lepers with King David’s in Psalm 30:2 and 11-12 (NIV): “O Lord my God, I called to you for help and you healed me. You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever.” Following David’s example, I believe we are not to be silent or neglectful in our thanks when God answers prayer.

Encourage other believers with the positive outcome. “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:11, NIV). Positive prayer results edify not only your faith, but also the faith of other believers. Share those victories. We all need to hear about and see those beautiful gifts of answered prayer.

Rejoice in that “Yes” answer! And finally, let us, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4, NIV). A rejoicing heart is a happy heart. And, I believe our rejoicing in answered prayer gives our Heavenly Father great pleasure.

Our Father loves to listen to and answer our heartfelt prayers, as He desires to bestow good gifts on us, His daughters. “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11, NIV). Our response to God’s gracious answers should be an offering of thankfulness, encouragement for others, and rejoicing.

Father God, I thank You for hearing my prayers and petitions. I also give you glory and thanks for Your answers. May I share those positive outcomes with others and rejoice in You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Bible Truths:

Psalm 28:6-7 (NIV): “Praise be to the Lord, for he has heard my cry for mercy. The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped.”

Psalm 66:19-20 (NIV): “But God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer. Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me!”

Psalm 118:21 (NIV): “I will give you thanks, for you answered me; you have become my salvation.”

© 2017 APearlofGreatValue.org. All rights reserved.

Print this Post or Email to a Friend: