Ten Lessons Learned By a Note Taker

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Not too many days ago, my youngest son came to me with a new revelation brought on by self-evaluation. He said, “Mama, I think I need to start taking sermon notes. I think it would help me stay focused and better remember what was said.” If my face could have been captured at that moment, I am almost certain my wide grin would rival the infamous smile of the Cheshire Cat.

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You see, I am a note taker. I fully understand the benefits of note taking. I have notebook after notebook filled with notes taken at my home congregation, various Gospel Meetings, ladies days, CYC, PTP, and various other arenas. I cherish those pages filled with nuggets of wisdom that have been pulled from the Word of God.

James 3:17

“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere”

These notebooks are extremely valuable. Is it because they were expensive expenditures? No. The majority of them were purchased for less than two dollars each and several of them cost me nothing at all. Is it because they are filled with private thoughts that I want to remain hidden? No. On the contrary, they are filled with important thoughts that were shared with me. They are valuable because they are treasure troves that I can return to again and again to revisit ideas, topics, and thoughts that will benefit me spiritually.

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It has been my experience that taking sermon notes helps me deal with information overload. I have found that at times I can have so much information thrown at me that it can be extremely difficult to mentally digest. When I take notes, I can rest assured that although I may not be completely wrapping my mind around the subject matter, revisiting it is close at hand only a few pages away.

biblepageThe month of April is the month of Gospel Meetings in my little neck of the woods. Chances are, that time of the year can mean back to back Gospel meetings, especially if you are a preacher’s wife like me. While I love being completely immersed in God’s word, I often find myself having trouble retaining all the good news presented to me. This is when my note taking really shows itself to be more than beneficial.

1. I find I focus more clearly when I am in the process of putting what I hear down on paper.

2. If my mind is in the right place, I am able to internalize and retain more than I even realize.

3. If I did not completely retain everything in the sermon (and who can?), I can go back to it as many times as needed and restudy it.

4. I have found myself going back to my notes time and time again when I am writing or preparing to teach others.

Here is a case in point. Our spring meeting at our home congregation was right on the heels of a meeting my husband held at a sister congregation. I went into it pretty exhausted both physically and mentally. I had really been looking forward to hearing some great lessons from our guest speaker, Bro. Jeremiah James Tatum, but was worried I was dulled down too much. Let me tell you, note taking was the answer that quelled my fears. It enabled me to be relaxed enough to savor the Word, and focused enough to listen for understanding. Did I take it ALL in? Probably not, but I got to go back and “hear” it all over again. Here are just TEN things that I was blessed to hear and REMEMBER because of my notes.

1. Obedience to God is a matter of life and death. Choose life!

Deut. 3:19

“I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live”

2. The Word of God is available, attainable, and doable!

Deut. 30:11-14

” Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, “Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?”  Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, “Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?”  No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.”

3. In an attempt to not have to deal with things we don’t like, we often stop up our ears, just like those who stoned Stephen. Regardless of how well we listen, the truth remains and we will have to answer for our rejection of it.

Acts 7:57-58

“Then they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord;  and they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul.”

4. Satan has us distracted and tells us there is no hurry.

John 8:44b

 “He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.”

5.In order to have times of refreshing, a cleansing must occur first.

Acts 3:19

” Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord”

6. Conversion is a complete and total destruction of self.

2 Cor. 5:17

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

7. People who truly love Christ will think about the cross daily.

1 Cor. 1:18

“For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God”

8.If you have Christ, you have more to offer the world than anyone else.

Acts 3:6

Then Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” 

9. God created us so that all men have a God shaped hole in their heart.

Acts 17:27-28

“so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring‘”

10. God has promised no matter how far we stray from Him, He will always take us back.

Psalm 103:1-5

Bless the Lord, O my soul;
And all that is within me, bless His holy name!
 Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget not all His benefits:
Who forgives all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases,
 Who redeems your life from destruction,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,
 Who satisfies your mouth with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

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I am almost certain that had I not taken notes, many of these great thoughts would be far removed from my memory. Had I relied on memory alone, not only would I miss out on returning to this edification, but so would you. Note taking, as simple as it seems, can be a great tool in your spiritual growth. If you are not a note taker, listen to some smart advise from the mouth of a babe, my 10 year old son, and give note taking a try!

Shanna

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My Inner Fish? A Big “Fish Story”

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I have a confession to make. My name is Shanna and I am a “closet” foodie. Both the irony and hilarity of this is not lost on those who know me very well. You see, I am probably one of the finickiest eaters with the absolute blandest palate in the universe. (Just ask a few of them and you will know I am not exaggerating in any way) I guess you might say I live vicariously through others who LOVE all varieties of cuisine. The way I accomplish this “addiction” is by watching LOTS of cooking shows. I enjoy observing Guy, Alton, Giada, and many other food experts cook and talk about all things food related. However, I don’t just stick to the main cooking channels for my fix. From as far back as childhood, I can remember being super excited about the cooking shows on PBS. In this same vein, I still enjoy spending a portion of my Saturday watching these shows on my local public television station.

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Just this past Saturday after being completely immersed in bayou fare and preparing to witness the preparation of some down home vittles, I sat through a few commercials of upcoming programming. Even though I am fully aware of some of the “anti-creation” shows for which PBS is famous such as Nova, I must admit one of the commercials caught me off guard. At first I was completely drawn in by the great camera work and catchy music. It didn’t take long however for the jaw dropping title, “Your Inner Fish”, to grab me by the throat and stifle my breathing. I really didn’t know the appropriate way to react to the absurdity of such an idea. I mean, should I laugh as if it must be a joke, or sob when the reality of what it really meant sunk in?

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What does it mean? Well, at eye level it is yet another jab at creationism. Although, I must admit, this seemed to be taking it to a completely different level. The notion that we “evolved” from the Tiktaalik, the “fish with hands,” because our hands resemble the make up of its fins is not that different than the comparisons made between us and “Lucy” and many other bogus “scientific” finds. It was the APPROACH that made me pause for thought. The difference wasn’t so much what they said as how they said it. In their own words they presented this falsehood in a way that was “enlightening, accessible and told with irresistible enthusiasm”.

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What does it REALLY mean, then? It means we, Daddy, Mama, Grandma, Grandpa, Elder, Preacher, and teacher, have been handed a declaration of war. We must ask ourselves a serious question.

Psalm 11:3

“If the foundations are destroyed,
What can the righteous do?”

The answer is abundantly clear.

1 Timothy 6:12

“Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”

We CAN NOT turn a blind eye and hope this will go away. Not only must we prepare ourselves for this epic battle, we MUST arm our children as well. Doing so is crucial in order to “lay hold on eternal life”. All battles that are to be won are built upon forethought, planning, and strategy. One of the best tactics used on the battlefield is to “fight fire with fire”. So how do we do this? We follow the lead of our foe. The exception is we have absolute truth.

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1. The word of God is ENLIGHTENING

We must have light in order to successfully navigate our way through darkness.

Psalm 119:105

“Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path.”

We wouldn’t dream of sending our children into the darkness of night without first equipping them with adequate lighting. Friends, we must not send our children out into this dark world without thoroughly equipping them with the light of God’s word.

2 Timothy 3:16-17

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works”

It is imperative that we impress upon our children the importance of Bible study. This starts in the home through modeled behavior and diligent instruction.

In order to win this war, we must recognize His light, possess His light, and display His light.

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2. We must make the word of God ACCESSIBLE 

We as soldiers of Christ must be spreading the gospel on a daily basis.

Matthew 28:19

 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost”

We have been given this treasure and have been charged with sharing it with others.

Matthew 5:16 

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

It is imperative that we teach the precepts and doctrine that is able to save men’s souls starting in our homes and spilling forth into the community, the country, and the world.

In order to win this war, we must combat Satan’s lies by heartily and persistently extending to  as many as will hear the life giving, God breathed word recorded in the Holy Bible.

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3. We must teach the word of God with IRRESISTIBLE ENTHUSIASM

Do you remember the early days of your courtship? You absolutely gushed with joy as you spoke about the one you loved to anyone who would listen. Now I am not suggesting using theatrics and unbiblical tactics to draw people in on pure emotion. What I am saying is if we really love something and believe in it, we will shout its praises from the rooftops for everyone to hear. If we love God and His word, we will not keep silent.

Matthew 5:15

“Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.”

How can we possibly expect others to be excited about the truth when we ourselves seem indifferent and uninterested?

In order to win this war, we must whole heartedly, unashamedly live and present God’s word with the enthusiasm it demands and deserves.

We all understand that we are the workmanship of our great Creator and almost laugh at the preposterous idea that we are the evolved form of a fish. We may even find a tad bit of comfort in the “safe” confines of our homes, congregations, and small town communities. We can not be lulled into a false sense of security. Sometimes the only wake up call we may need is something as seemingly benign as watching a cooking show on the weekend. Mark Twain once said, “Never let the truth stand in the way of a good story.” I believe Satan couldn’t have said it any better himself. Our motto must be the only good story is the TRUTH. Truth will not only help God’s children win each battle it will allow them to emerge victorious over the entire war.

1 John 5:4

“For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.”

Shanna

 

Studying God’s Word at Home: Growing Up in God’s Word

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(Disclaimer: I received this curriculum free of charge in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.)

Whether you homeschool or not, as parents, the MOST important task with which we are charged is to instill the word of God into our children’s hearts. It is not an option. It is not something we can hand off to someone else. It is a command, and should be treated as such.

Deuteronomy 6:6-9

 “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.  You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.  You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

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Many times it can be extremely difficult to find non-denominational Bible study material that is age appropriate or unfilled with doctrinal fallacies. So, when I was given the opportunity to review a new curriculum written and published by members of the Lord’s church, I JUMPED at the chance! To say I was excited would be a huge understatement. Pryor Convictions Media’s Growing Up in God’s Word is a breath of fresh air. It is written by Heather Pryor who has been a Sunday school teacher for over twenty years and a homeschool mom for eighteen. Experience is a great teacher, and it is evident throughout this curriculum that Mrs. Pryor has learned a very effective way to teach the scriptures to children.

I was given the choice of several titles:

Genesis

Exodus

Life of Christ, Part 1

Life of Christ, Part 2

Acts, Part 1

Although they all sounded fabulous, it was an easy choice. My son just put on Christ in baptism a few months ago and became a New Testament Christian. I decided that a study of the early church would be timely, and what better way to study this than to delve into the first part of Acts?

Acts_part_1_coverI was not disappointed when I received the curriculum and saw just how thorough it was. In fact, I knew I had “struck Bible study gold” after reading the introduction page. Heather encourages teachers to be excited about studying God’s word, to not be afraid if you don’t have all the answers, and my favorite advise by far, to NOT “dumb down” the Bible for your children. This was music to my ears, and I immediately knew this was going to be a fantastic study with my son that was well worth our time.

As a homeschool mom of the past thirteen years, I have gone through my fair share of curriculums. What makes or breaks a curriculum in my mind is it’s ease of use. Acts Part 1 is VERY user friendly. It is laid out in way that would be very difficult to misunderstand. There is even a suggested schedule. The beauty of it all is this. It is a suggestion, and this curriculum can be easily adjusted to meet your needs.

If I had to choose my favorite thing about Growing Up in God’s Word, and I have many, it would have to be the fact that it goes straight to the source, the Bible. While this may seem like a huge or difficult task for younger children, Heather takes the “eat an elephant one bite at a time” approach and it really works. After reading several verses, you take to time to make sure the student understands the text, ask questions, and allow the student to expound on what they have read. This method is extremely effective and sets the stage for your child to become a true student of the Word. It actually teaches them HOW to study which in my opinion is something that even many adults struggle with.

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The enrichment work in Growing Up in God’s Word is just the cherry on top.

Putting Down Roots: Memory Work

Farther Afield: Map work

Harvest Fun: Games and Activities

Food For Thought: Puzzles

Fruits of Our Labor: Crafts

All of these just further plant the word of God deeply into your child’s heart and develop stabilizing roots so they shall “not be moved”. My child, and I’m sure yours will, too, especially LOVES the Fruit of Our Labor. It is an excellent way to put that positive connotation on Bible study. We really enjoyed making “tongues of fire” cupcakes.

PicMonkey Collage4I highly recommend to all my homeschooling and non-homeschooling friends to check out Growing up in God’s Word and all the other resources available at Pryor Convictions Media. It a great resource for the church and a great blessing to parents hoping to help their children grow up in God’s Word.

Shanna

 

Dear Weary Christian,

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Dear Weary Christian,

You are tired. That is more than evident from the look of sheer exhaustion you wear on your face. You feel used, abused, and so very alone. You are a war torn soldier fighting a two front battle, day in and day out. The world detests you, your morality, and the doctrine that defines you. You desire to turn to brothers and sisters in times of distress, but unfortunately, in so many instances their support is nonexistent. In fact, you still bear scars from the back biting inflicted upon you in the past. You don’t want to give up, but it seems you are closer to that sad reality each and every day. You cry out in despair, “Does anyone care?!?”

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Weary Christian, you are NOT alone. Even when your cry seems to remain unanswered, it is heard. When you longingly search for a friend and can visualize none, there is One Who sees you so very clearly in your time of need.

1 Peter 3:12

“For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,

and his ears are open to their prayer.”

He understands every single care that may burden you.

Hebrews 4:15

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses,

but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.”

He loves you and does not want you to bow down under the burdens of life. He implores you to let Him carry the load for you.

 

1 Peter 5:7

“Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”

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 As a loving father is unwilling for his child to suffer unaided, He provides His children sweet rest.

Matthew 11:28

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

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You have in Him a friend like no other.

John 15:13

“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”

When you feel helpless and alone, He is right there to help.

Psalm 46:1

“God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.”

When you are weak to the point of being unable to carry your own weight, he will hold you up.

Isaiah 41:10

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed,

for I am your God; I will strengthen you,

I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

When others forsake you, He remains.

Deut. 31:8

“It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you;

He will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”

When others let you down, His promises will never fail. Abraham fully understood the steadfastness of God.

Romans 4:28

“Fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.”

He also wants you to remember you have flesh and blood support here on this earth. Even when Elijah the prophet felt like the “last one left”, God reminded him this was not the case.

Romans 11:4

But what is God’s reply to him? “I have kept for myself seven thousand men

who have not bowed the knee to Baal.”

Weary Christian, how CAN you be alone when you are part of one body?

Romans 12:5

“So we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.”

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And if you are a member of one body in Christ, you are the not only the giver of love, but the recipient as well.

1 John 4:7-8

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God,because God is love.”

Weary Christian, the promise we have in Christ alone is enough to sustain, motivate, and carry us through every hard won battle.

John 14:2-3

“In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you.

I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you,

I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”

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No other words can bring you more comfort weary Christian, because in that prepared place you will NEVER be weary again, Christian.

In Him,

Shanna

Following Your Arrow……Where Will It Point?

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If you know anything in the world about me, you know that I LOVE music. No, really, I LOVE it. Nearly all my childhood memories are in some way centered around music. Rumor has it that musical ability was high up on my list when searching for a potential mate. (By the way, that one was definitely a big check and mate!) When I became a mother, I could not wait for my children to utter their first words just so I would know if they would be able to sing. I have spent COUNTLESS hours and an UNBELIEVABLE  sum of money on music lessons for each of my four children. Musical theater is in our blood, we love four part harmony acapella, and for all intents and purposes would rather sing than eat.

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I have always enjoyed music from a variety of genres. However, as of late, there are very few songs in the world of popular music that are appropriate for Christians to listen to, and at the risk of alienating some, there seems to be even fewer in the country music scene. I have limited exposure to either of these, but you pretty much have to live under a rock, or at least shun social media all together, to not hear of controversial things going on in the music industry.

I didn’t watch the VMAs but couldn’t miss the headlines about Miley Cyrus’ vulgur performance. Likewise, I didn’t watch the Grammys and see Kacey Musgraves perform “Follow Your Arrow”. This country music hit was listed at number two on Bilboard’s list of the top 20 songs of 2013. Honestly, I knew absolutely nothing about this self -proclaimed “love whoever you love” ballad until this past week when a few of the lyrics  inevitably made their way into my Facebook feed. To say, I was shocked and apalled all at the same time would be a huge understatement. Call me old fashioned if you must, but I pray I never loose my ability to blush.

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Jeremiah 8:12

“Were they ashamed when they committed abomination?
    No, they were not at all ashamed;
    they did not know how to blush.
Therefore they shall fall among the fallen;
    when I punish them, they shall be overthrown,
says the Lord.” 

According to the lyrics of this song, you only live once so you might as well do whatever you want, or in Ms. Musgrave’s words, “follow your arrow wherever it points”. Do what makes you happy, and forget about what anyone else might think about you or your lifestyle. It all sounds good, in theory, right? The idea of following your arrow wherever it points reminds me of the words of Solomon.

Psalm 127:3-5

“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
    the fruit of the womb a reward.
 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
    are the children of one’s youth.
Blessed is the man
    who fills his quiver with them!
He shall not be put to shame
    when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.”

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I am no archery expert, but I fully understand that arrows do not just soar through the air on their own. They are intentionally placed in the hand of the archer and very carefully aimed at a target. Even though I have never actually used a bow and arrow, I have it from very reliable sources that success is not easy for the beginner. In fact the words that came up over and over again were practice and consistency. The key to your arrow going where it needs to go, time and time again, is purposing not to give up and continually making sure your arrow is accurately aimed. In other words, the holder of the arrow must constantly keep his eyes fixed and arrow pointed at the bullseye.

bullseyeEvery decision we make, every word we speak, every path we follow is an arrow we are intentionally releasing into the world. When aimed at the appropriate target, much good can be accomplished. We must not grow weary of aiming our arrows in the right direction.

1 John 5:3

“For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments.

And his commandments are not burdensome.”

Arrows are sharp and can inflict irreparable damage .The potential for harm, both to ourselves and others, is great If we choose to release our arrows with no regard as to where they may fall. For this reason we are reminded in Matthew 7:13-14.

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

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According to the aforementioned song, when the “straight and narrow gets a little too straight”, well just follow your own path. Just close your eyes to the truth, and follow that unaimed arrow where ever it may happen to land. Unfortunately, we know the chances of that arrow hitting the correct bullseye are slim to none. The wise and prudent archer knows to keep his eyes wide open and always fixed on the prize at which he aims.

Ephesians 1:18

“Having the eyes of your hearts enlightened,

that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you,

what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,”

We have a target to aim for that is a “glorious inheritance”. We must persevere and continue to aim our arrows toward that goal. We must consistently hold that arrow and point it in the right direction. Where is your arrow pointing?

Shanna

Photo By: Popperipopp (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

“IF” You Love Me……..

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It is officially February. Love is in the air, or at least it is in evey big box store from here to Timbuktu. You don’t have to go very far to see hearts, candies, balloons, and various other tokens of affection vividly displayed for all to witness. It is the time of year when sweethearts the world round go that extra mile to make sure their significant other really, truly, and completely understands how important they are.

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According to statistics, Americans spent 18.6 billion dollars on Valentine’s day gifts in 2013. I guess the old adage “love ain’t cheap” is extremely accurate. Why would people go to such lengths and spend so much of their hard earned money on someone else? The obvious answer is when we love someone, we want to make sure they know it. Even more than that, we want our love to be evident to the entire world. It is as simple as this, if a relationship is important to us, we will invest all that we have in that relationship.

As Christians, we are in a relationship with our heavenly Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ . Like any relationship, in order to reap the available benefits, we must invest our attention, time, and  money. In other words, we must surrender our entire being. Jesus Himself told us how He and the entire world would know that we love Him.

John 14:15

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”

“IF” we love Jesus we will

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1. Listen to Him 

When we really love someone, we want to hear what they have to say. In fact, we usually hang on their every word. Their words are valuable to us because in them we find refuge,joy,peace and comfort. Jesus said,

John 10:27

“My sheep listen to my voice;

I know them, and they follow me.”

How do we listen to the words of Jesus, today? There is only way. We MUST immerse ourself into the written word, The Holy Bible. What does it say about our level of commitment to our relationship with the Great Shepherd, if we ignore what he has to say on a daily basis? If the only time you ever listened to your loved ones was on Sunday morning, how would those relationships hold up? In order to know His voice, to recognize it above the voice of any other, and to love its sweet sound, we must listen to Him each and every day.

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2. Talk to Him

How many times during the day do you keep mental notes of all the things you want to say to your sweetheart? When we love someone we feel the need to communicate with them as often as possible. We want to thank them for the wonderful things they do, ask them to help us in ways only they can, and share our troubles so they can help bear our load. How do we talk to God? We communicate to the Father through the Son in prayer.

Philippians 4:6

“Do not be anxious about anything,

but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving

let your requests be made known to God.”

God desires our prayers. In fact He has promised

Luke 11:9

“And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you;

seek, and you will find;

knock, and it will be opened to you.”

If you did not speak to those that you love over extended periods of time, how would that affect your relationship. What if you only talked to them when you wanted something and never thanked them for what they had already given you? We MUST speak to God on a daily basis.

1 Thess. 5:17

“Pray without ceasing,”

If we love Him, we will never fail to talk to Him each and every day.

3. Spend Time With Him

If we are in love, we want to spend every waking hour together. If we are really in love, NOTHING or NO ONE will keep us apart. Ballgames, work, hobbies, lack of rest, lack of time, or long distances will not seperate you from the one that you love. They are the number one priority in your life, and rightfully so. Jesus said,

Matt. 18:20

“For where two or three are gathered in my name,

there am I among them.”

We are given the charge of

Hebrews 10:25

“not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together,

as is the manner of some,

but exhorting one another, 

and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”

Our love of the Savior is visibly evident in our attitude toward His church. If we love Him, we will undoubtedly make meeting with His church our top priority. After all, He is there. If we love Him, we will be there, too.

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4. Proclaim Our Love for Him

If you love someone, you will shout it from the rooftops! You want the world to know just how fabulous your loved one really is. You could not keep your feelings for them a secret if you tried because they are awesome. You want to share the wealth of the happiness they have given you with others around you. If we love Jesus, we will tell others. We will not hide our joy.

Psalm 96:3

“Declare his glory among the nations,

his marvelous works among all the peoples!”

If we love Jesus, we will make sure others know the good news.

Mark 16:15-16

And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.

Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved,

but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”

If we love Jesus, we will want others to love Him, too.

Any relationship requires attentiveness and precedence. If neglected, it will never yield the blessings it is possible of giving. So many people say they love Jesus but their inaction speaks volumes.

“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.”
― Elie Wiesel

Our indifference toward Jesus may be the difference between life and death? Do you love Him?

 Shanna

Filled to be Emptied

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As of late, I have acquired a new passion. I have fallen in love with milk glass. If you aren’t familiar with milk glass, it is an opaque, milky colored glass that is blown or pressed into decorative objects. It has been in existence since the early seventeenth century but began its immense popularity in American homes in the early twentieth century. Because of its vintage charm and beauty, it is highly sought after by collectors both far and near. It can be incredibly expensive, depending on its origin, and like all glass objects, is extremely fragile. I frequently bring home a milk glass jar or vase after one of my “treasure hunts” at Goodwill. With each new acquisition comes the inevitable response from my husband, “another jar?”  You see, he has difficulty understanding my obsession with something so frivolous that is clearly of little value other than being ornamental. In other words, a jar that holds nothing of use is essentially worthless.

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It brings to mind the words the apostle Paul penned to the church at Corinth in

2 Corinthians 4:7-10

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.  We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;  always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.”

We are more like milk glass than we may care to think.

Gen. 2:7

“Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.”

Our bodies are in all reality “jars of clay”. However, “Christian jars”, unlike milk glass jars, are considered valuable to others for function rather than form. We, as Christians, ­­­­­have an obligation as clay jars to do the following.

 1.Fill Ourselves- We must fill ourselves with the word of God.

2 Tim. 3:16

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness”.

In the scriptures,

….His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue” 2 Peter 1:3 

We are told in 2 Timothy 2:15 to,

“Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

If we aren’t immersing ourselves in the word of God, our jars are empty.

2. Empty Ourselves- Once we fill ourselves with the precious treasure of God’s word, we must empty ourselves of this very treasure, by sharing the gospel with others. Christ himself issued the great commission in Mark 16:15.

“And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.”

And in Matthew 28:19-20

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”

Filled jars must be emptied.

3. Safeguard Ourselves-  Milk glass and clay jars are fragile and easily broken. When we go out into the world to empty ourselves, we will face all types of peril.

Eph. 6:10-18

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed”

In order to endure, we must safeguard ourselves, just as we protect precious items of glass.

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.  Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.  Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;  and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,  praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,”

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Milk glass is beautiful to me. I enjoy seeing it displayed in my home, but in all reality, it profits me nothing and cost me much. It just sits there filled with nothing of which to be emptied and vulnerable to destruction. It is of little value. Milk glass exists to be seen. Christians exist so that the surpassing power that belongs to God and His Son may be seen. Now that is true beauty.

Shanna