Categories
Christian Living joy

Turning the Key

Photo by Jaye Haych on Unsplash

I was intrigued recently with something DeborahMarie wrote on her blog, Great is God’s Faithfulness. The title of the post was, The Key to Life, and it was all about the choice set before God’s people in Deuteronomy 30:19-20.

Moses challenged them to love, obey and commit totally to God–to choose life over death and blessings over curses. This choice would be the key to life, but God would not make it for them.

OK, I thought. I have the master key to life, but it’s useless until I stick it into a lock and turn it. What motivates me to do that?

I found the answer in another devotional the next morning. Glenn Packiam, writing in Our Daily Bread, shared an article called, Costly Joy. The scripture he spotlighted was Christ’s parable of the hidden treasure.

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.” — (Matthew 13:44)

The author then connects the dots to reveal the secret of unswerving motivation:

“Joy drives change–not guilt or duty.”

Glenn Packiam

BINGO! The Joy of the Lord inspires us to choose and use the key to life.

There’s a great example of this in action in Nehemiah chapter 8. The wall around Jerusalem had just been completed, and all the people came together to worship God. These folks hadn’t been to church or heard the Word in a long time. So when the scribe Ezra read from the Law of Moses, the congregation fell under conviction and began to weep. But Nehemiah said, “Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10

According to the book of Hebrews, it was this same kind of joy that gave Jesus the strength to endure the cross (Hebrews 12:2).

It may have been Friday night, but the Lord knew Sunday morning was coming!

You and I have read the book: God wins.

And winners go out in joy and are led forth in peace (Isaiah 55:12).

“Joy is the reason; surrender is the response. The treasure of knowing Jesus is the reward.”

Glenn Packiam

Whose Joy?

This joy that I have

the world can’t take it away

It belongs to God.

Categories
Christian Living grace

The Power of Weakness

I was a bit puzzled with a recent post on the The Clean, Good Life called How To: Pick Something to Improve On. The author, Matcha, challenged me to list my strengths and weaknesses–in order of magnitude–and then get to work on my biggest weakness.

Wait a second! Most self-improvement experts say to focus on improving your strengths, not weaknesses, I said to myself–only half convinced.

Ok, I’ll give it a shot.

Strengths (high to low): kind, genuine, congenial, empathetic, open and gregarious.

Weaknesses (high to low): approval addict, overly sensitive, insecure, impetuous and conceited.

I understand, reading about me gazing at my own navel is not particularly engaging, but please read on.

Conducting this exercise wasn’t easy–especially the part about admitting my weaknesses. But I think I see what Matcha is getting at.

Considering my shortcomings not only made me aware of my frailties, it invited me to confront them.

The apostle Paul had such an aha moment when he prayed for Jesus to take away his greatest weakness–something he called his “thorn in the flesh.”

As you no doubt recall, this is how Christ responded:

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. – (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Paul responds by saying, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” – (2 Corinthians 12:10) He then comments that, for Christ’s sake, he actually DELIGHTS in weaknesses.

For when I am weak, then I am strong. – (2 Corinthians 12:11)

I’ve read these verses of scripture many times, but after Matcha’s improvement exercise, they took on new meaning.

Because God’s power is made perfect in weakness, His grace is always sufficient!

You and I don’t have to fear our weaknesses or avoid them. On the contrary, we should delight in them–knowing that His strength is perfect.

His strength is perfect when our strength is gone.
He’ll carry us when we can’t carry on.

Steven Curtis Chapman

Maybe you’d like to try Matcha’s exercise? What are YOUR strengths and weaknesses? And how will you get to work on your biggest weakness (besides taking Paul’s advice)?😇

Photo by Daniel Mingook Kim on Unsplash

Categories
Christian Blog courage

The Source of Her Strength

“Picnic” by pigpogm is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

In a recent Our Daily Bread devotional, Deep Rooted Faith, Xochitl Dixon tells the story of a 600 year old oak tree that stood next to a church in New Jersey. The tree had survived many storms (including several hurricanes) due to its extensive root system. It’s deep vertical taproot supplied strength and nourishment, while it’s horizontal roots spread beyond the tree’s canopy. Says Dixon, “Most of the life-giving growth occurred beneath the surface.”


My mom and dad were happily married for 49 years. Like many of their generation, my father made most of the decisions. He did the driving, arranged for major purchases, etc. The majority of the time, my mother deferred to him.

When dad died in 2007, the rest of the family wondered how mom would fare. Would she wilt under the strain of making ALL the decisions?

We shouldn’t have worried. After a period of adjustment, my mother began to blossom. She painted her bedroom sunflower yellow, learned to use the riding lawn mower, and traded the family van for a cute little SUV.

For nearly 50 years she let my father lead, yet all the while her tenacious fortitude was just beneath the surface. The secret of her strength was her deep roots in God. Mom was not overt in sharing her Christian faith, but the source of her strength was obvious to all who knew her. And when the time came for her to join my father in heaven, she did not seem to be afraid.

A few months after my mother died, I picked up her favorite Bible. Tucked within the pages was one of her “taproot” scriptures–written on a 3″ x 5″ card in her perfect penmanship.

What is one of your tap root scriptures? Please share, if you’d like.

Here’s one of mine:

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning: great is your faithfulness.

Lamentations 3:22-23 (NIV)