Saturday, July 30, 2016

Is Your Picture Worth a Quarter?

Today my husband and I visited our favorite antique shop with real antique finds from Maine. Each time we go, we find something different. Today I stood in front of a table strewn with old photos. There were family pictures, wedding pictures, school pictures, and pictures of children at play. These were pictures of someone’s past, but I don’t know whose. I have no idea who these people were or where they lived. These were someone else’s memories being sold for a quarter a piece. This made me sad.

I wondered what their stories were and if their grandchildren knew their photos were scattered on a table in Texas in a pile with other unknown histories. The few pictures bearing a date or a name or a reference gave little history. There were still too many questions.

I thought about what might be different had there been a scrapbook or a journal sharing details of their lives. I wondered what others might someday remember about me. I don’t want my memories thrown in a pile of those long forgotten.

I thought about my own journal. I don’t write details of my day in a diary or record my prayers. But I do journal about what I read in scripture each day and God’s answers to my prayers. And now I am convicted to share more. The best thing I can leave behind for others to know about me are the details of what God has done in my life.

The memories I write in my journal are not written for someone else. They are a reminder for me of what God has done and continues to do in my life. My journal shares insights He gives and ways He speaks to me through His words. I am encouraged when I pick up a journal from several years ago and remember the situation and how God spoke to me.

But someday many years after I am gone, I hope that my journal might be picked up instead of my picture and someone else might get to know God by reading about me. I want my life and my experiences to point others to His word and a relationship with Him.

What do you do with your memories?  Are you sharing them with others?

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

4 Steps to Deliverance

1 Samuel 7:3 - Then Samuel spoke to all the house of Israel, saying, “If you return to the Lord with all your hearts, then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths from among you, and prepare your hearts for the Lord, and serve Him only; and He will deliver you from the hand of the Philistines.”

Samuel spoke to Israel and gave four steps which would result in God’s deliverance from the Philistines.

Step 1: Return to the Lord with all your heart.

To return somewhere means you have left it at some point. Samuel instructs them to return or turn back to the Lord, but he doesn’t leave it there. They must return with all their heart. It’s one thing to do something because you have been told to, but to do it with all your heart signifies a commitment of everything within you.

We may not think we have turned away from the Lord, but are we following Him with all our heart?  What this looks like for me is immersion in God’ Word. The Bible says men’s hearts are wicked. Some translations say sick. When I immerse myself in God’s word, it heals my heart.

Step 2: Put away foreign gods

Okay, you might say, I don’t serve a foreign god. But a foreign god is whatever keeps us from His word. It could be the TV, social media (surely not Facebook), or work. It could be an unhealthy dose of politics or even, shhhh, religion itself.  If it keeps me from immersing myself in His word, it’s a foreign god. Samuel says to put it away. Leave it.

Step 3: Prepare your hearts for the Lord

When I prepare my heart for the Lord, I fix my gaze on Him. For me it’s time alone in prayer and studying His word. When I prepare my heart, I have to do more than read a passage. I have to study it, know it, and sometimes even memorize it (gasp). I need to take time to pray and listen for His voice.

Step 4: Serve Him only

Well, you might ask, who else would I serve?

Do I serve my desires before His? Am I selfish? Do I love the way His word tells me to love? For me, serving Him only means acting on what His word says and what He shows me as I study.

Four steps, and He will deliver you from the hand of the Philistines. Who are the Philistines in our lives? They are whatever has power over us that keeps us from our relationship with the Lord.

Four steps and He will deliver, rescue, or snatch me away from the power of whatever has me in bondage.  I have areas in my life which seem to have power over me, but God promises deliverance. He will snatch me away from these places when I return to Him with all my heart, immersing myself in His word; put away whatever keeps me from His word; prepare my heart through prayer and study of His word; and serve Him exclusively by acting on His word.

Do you need deliverance? Start by studying 1 Samuel 7:3. It starts with His words.