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:

When God Says: “Slow Down”

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 5 of 7

Many of us know the feeling—insomnia, anxiety, shortness of breath, and perhaps heart palpitations —all physical symptoms of when life is spinning out of control. We’re convinced we’re living life to the fullest, yet with many demands imposed on us we’re staying busy all the time, and neglecting to take some downtime.

Detecting their fatigue after a time of preaching and performing miracles, Jesus admonished his disciples to, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest” (Mark 6:31b, NIV). How often do we apply that advice? It’s difficult to pull back from a go-go mentality or way of life. Even more so if it’s all good stuff we’re doing for church, family, and others. However, as we pray, we may detect God saying, “Slow down.”

God desires our attention and will use any means to slow us down in order to get it.

Continue reading “When God Says: “Slow Down””

Print this Post or Email to a Friend:

When God Says: “Grow Up!”

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 4 of 7

Absorbed in tending to my roses, I halted my activity when a slight flutter of wings appeared off to the side. Up in our blue bird house mounted just outside our fence was a baby blue bird perched in the opening. In the tree next to it, one of the parents was coaxing him along. Suddenly he took the plunge and flew out. Two other blue birds were next in line. The season in their juvenile nest was over, and it was time for them to grow up, spread their wings, and fly.

Just as the bluebirds had to leave their house to learn to fly,

God prods us on in order to march us toward maturity.

Continue reading “When God Says: “Grow Up!””

Print this Post or Email to a Friend:

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.

Print this Post or Email to a Friend:

A Sharper Edge

“As iron sharpens iron, so one [woman] sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17 (NIV)

You recognize the experience—a friendship where after a time you realize the other person is rubbing off on you and it’s not favorable. All starts out well, perhaps you met each other in church, you enjoy fellowship together, or better yet, both families get along. But then behaviors creep in and with time you notice actions that don’t line up with Biblical standards. You try to ignore it, because after all, it’s so much fun being with her and we all need some fun now and then. Continually you feel your conscience pricked, and ultimately you can no longer ignore the fact this friendship is unequally yoked.

Rather than iron sharpening iron, you’re like two rubber erasers becoming gummy, mealy, and rubbed off into nothing.

You don’t want to cave in to the potential trap of being critical and judgmental, but at the same time, their behavior strays and you’re questioning their ethics or morals. Friendship is precious and it’s vital to carefully choose those with whom we spend our free time. We desire relationships where each person sharpens and fine-tunes the other bringing out the best. As we hone our “edges,” we become more authentic and fruitful.

Many factors characterize a true friendship, but three stand out. To begin with, as a Christian, it’s important to choose friends with high moral beliefs. Secondly, is she a grateful and encouraging person? And finally, do we motivate each other further spiritually?

First, scripture is clear about relationships with people who lack moral integrity, as they may drag you down with them. Ephesians 5:5-7 (NIV) explicitly states, “For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a [woman] is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you … Therefore do not be partners with them.” When we find ourselves compromising our beliefs or observing actions not adhering to our value system, it’s time to move on. Listen to that still small voice.

Next, we find the admonition in 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV): “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” Our Lord has blessed me with several grateful friends where we encourage one another and regularly thank each other for helpful things we do. It’s refreshing. It’s uplifting. And, it keeps me going.

Lastly, years ago I had the privilege of teaching, along with co-writing the curriculum for, an ESL (English as a Second Language) Bible study with a good friend. Collaborating as we did energized and propelled us on, and we continually challenged each other to grow spiritually and to move forward in our walk with the Lord. Strong friendships take into account the exhortation, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” (Hebrews 10:24, NIV)

We have choices concerning the friends with whom we surround ourselves. When we have a friend or friends who diminish rather than polish us, we find ourselves also rubbed away by the influences of this world. Is the company I’m keeping sharpening me? Am I sharpening those around me?

Father God, I submit my friendships to you and ask for your help in being a true friend to others. Teach me to be a woman who sharpens those around me through my values, thankfulness, and inspiration. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Bible Truths:

Proverbs 13:20 (NIV): “[She] who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.”

Proverbs 18:24 (NLT): “There are ‘friends’ who destroy each other, but a real friends sticks closer than a [sister].”

1 Corinthians 15:33 (NIV): “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.’”

© 2017 APearlofGreatValue.org. All rights reserved.

Print this Post or Email to a Friend: