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.

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Don’t Leave Home Without It

One of the most successful advertising campaigns occurred in the 1980’s for American Express. Each ad would feature a prominent person, such as Roger Daltry or Peter Ustinov, but fail to identify them until the end of the commercial when their name appears on an American Express credit card. Upon revelation of the person’s identity, the viewer would hear, “Don’t leave home without it.”

Just as the American Express ad conveys the importance of taking your card everywhere with you, scripture discloses that the Holy Spirit lives in and goes with us. “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16, NIV) Not only do we need our cell phone, keys, and billfold (yes, containing all those credit cards) when we leave our home, are we taking everything else we need? Did we properly prepare our hearts that day and ask our Heavenly Father to fill us up with His Holy Spirit? I have a real fear of leaving home without it.

The Holy Spirit—Don’t leave home without it.

Upon surrendering our life to Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit comes to reside in us. The apostle Paul assures us, “Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.” (Ephesians 1:13b) This seal of salvation occurs at the time of belief in Jesus Christ. So, as believers we always have the Holy Spirit in us, but are we aware of His presence and are we taking the time to immerse ourselves in Him every day?

There are multiple functions of the Holy Spirit, and Paul continues explaining in verses 18 and 19 of Ephesians 1: “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength.” (NIV) He prays for the Holy Spirit to open the minds of believers and to empower and strengthen them.

When the Holy Spirit opens the “eyes of our heart,” scripture becomes illuminated. God’s Word convicts us of sin. God’s Word reveals truth to us. When we pray for clarity prior to reading His Word, God unmasks the meaning. The Lord may provide a particular insight as He directs you to read it in context with surrounding scripture and as He points you to other relevant verses.

The Holy Spirit empowers us. When we’re weary from what confronts us, we can call upon the Lord to sustain and enable us. Whether we’re facing decisions concerning our aging parents or a conflict at work or a tension in a friendship, as we draw near to Him, the Holy Spirit will provide the stamina for those times we’re fatigued from the daily struggles.

God’s Holy Spirit will strengthen and lead us. Just as gasoline fuels a car so you can drive it, the Holy Spirit propels you as you live out your day. And, we can rely on the Spirit to caution us not to do anything that goes against scripture. Actions prompted by God will line up with His Word.

Do you desire to have scripture come alive as the Holy Spirit opens the eyes of your heart? Do you desire an inner empowerment only provided by the Holy Spirit? And finally, do you desire strength and guidance through God’s Holy Spirit? Please join me in committing to thanking our Lord each morning for His indwelling Spirit, asking Him to fill you to overflowing, and then, not leaving home without it.

Father God, I need you and I need your Holy Spirit active and present in my life. I ask your Spirit to open my eyes to your Word, to empower me, and to strengthen and guide me. Please fill me to overflowing—I don’t want to leave home without You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Bible Truths:

Psalm 119:18 (AMP): “Open my eyes [to spiritual truth] so that I may behold wonderful things from your law.”

Luke 24:45 (NIV): “Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.”

John 16:13a (NIV): “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth.”

© 2017 APearlofGreatValue.org. All rights reserved.

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The Best Resolution You Will Make

Viewing the New Year, I once again resolve to lose some weight or exercise more or eat better. Or, I’m going to organize my desk, and then my kitchen, and with my momentum in full swing, perhaps I’ll tackle the garage. Oftentimes many people are more altruistic vowing to help others or increase charitable giving. Many of us choose to spend more time praying and reading the Bible—ah, yes, finally tackling the book of Revelation. Still others desire to reduce debt and save more money. The list is endless and the majority of people choose one or two resolutions at the onset of a new year.

Desiring a fresh beginning with the New Year, we all want to make changes, but we’re overwhelmed with where to start. A common thought is it takes 21 days to form a new habit, but many researchers believe 66 days is a more realistic number. However, our success at keeping a resolution will have more to do with our individual personalities and desire to modify. Additionally, having a set plan often promotes success. We still need more, though.

Lamentations 3:40 (KJV) exhorts us with this wisdom, “Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the Lord.” Other Bible versions say, “Let us return to the Lord.” After examining our hearts, seeing our lack and where we need to change, we’re encouraged to turn to God in order to facilitate our transition.

Thankfully we have a helper—the Holy Spirit—a power source we can tap into. Zechariah 4:6b (NIV) encourages us with the words, “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord Almighty.” Ask the Holy Spirit to overflow in you every day, enabling you to place your reliance on Him. Allow His Spirit to encourage you in your resolutions.

Submitting our resolutions to our Lord and asking Him to show us what He wants for us in the New Year is a valuable foundation. However, the bigger goal is living for Jesus and seeking all He has for you.

A life that glorifies God—the best resolution you will make.

A submitted life glorifies God resulting in the exhibition of the fruit of His spirit which are, “Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23a, NIV)

Focusing on what God wants for us rather than what we perceive we should do will allow His Spirit to work in us. And that’s when the fruit of His Spirit appear in our life.

The Holy Spirit may enable you to lay out a dependable plan to read the entire Bible in one year or to devote more time to prayer. Or, the Lord may give you His power and determination to shed those 10 pounds in order to have more energy to daily seek and serve Him, resulting in real change. A transformation honoring Him.

Centered on leading a life glorifying God, armed in the Word, and filled with the Spirit, I’m going to ask the Lord to also help me set aside time to tackle cleaning out the garage! Girlfriends, let’s go for it.

Father God, You alone are majestic and I desire for my life to glorify you. Search my heart. Show me how and where you desire for me to submit and change. Any resolutions I make I desire to be worthy of your unique calling for me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Bible Truths:

Psalm 121:1-2 (NIV): “I lift up my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”

John 14:26 (NIV): “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”

Romans 8:26a (NIV): “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.”

2 Timothy 1:7 (NIV): “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.”

© 2017 APearlofGreatValue.org. All rights reserved.

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