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A couple of summers ago, our whole family was vacationing in Gulf Shores.  We were blessed to be staying on the 21st floor of a condo situated right on the beach.  Of course, I spent the entire week worrying that our youngest granddaughter/dare devil, would end up falling over the railing—although she had no worries as she told me with great confidence that it would be ok if she did because she would just land in the swimming pool below us. 

One afternoon, as we were relaxing out on the balcony, I went inside to get my book when suddenly I heard my daughter yell, “OH MY GOSH!!!”  Of course, my first thought was—Lexi went over the railing.  I ran outside instead to find exhaust fumes so thick you could not see the beach below us.  “What happened???” 

My husband was the first one who could respond, “You are not going to believe it, but the Blue Angels, 5 of them, just flew past at eye level with our balcony.  They were so close we were looking directly into the cockpits!!!”  Well, you can imagine the disappointment I felt.  A once in a lifetime event….and I missed it! 

During my quiet time the next morning, as God often does, He chose to use my disappointment to speak to me and grow me.  He asked, “What would you have done differently if you had known ahead of time the Blue Angels were going to be dropping by?” 

Well, first of all, I would not have wasted one single moment inside getting a book.  I would have camped out on that balcony so I didn’t miss it.  And, I would have been prepared.  I would have invited everyone I know to our balcony to be a part of this amazing experience.  I would have had my camera out and ready and I would have taken time to explain to my grandchildren who the Blue Angels are so they could fully appreciate what was going to happen.  

But, the reality is, the last thing I had on my mind that morning when I got up was that the Blue Angels would be doing a fly-by that day.  God spoke again and said “And yet, you do know that one day I will either call you home or you will see the return of my Son to gather all believers, and you still live like that’s the last thing on your mind.” 

In James 4:14, it reminds us “that we are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”  The fact is, I may have 1 hour or 20 years left—only God knows. The same goes for the lost God puts around us every single day.  We never know how much time they have.  Each encounter we have with them could very well be our last. 

This isn’t meant to be a message of gloom and doom, but of joy in being given these lives of ours to share the amazing gospel message of a God who loves us so much that He sent His son who was willing to be beaten, tortured and brutally crucified for us so that we can spend all eternity with Him.  Why would I not want to live every day of my life as though it could be my last and spend it sharing my Jesus story with a lost and broken world who so desperately needs to know Him? 

Romans 10:14 says, “How then can they hear about Him unless someone (you and I) tells them.  How will they believe in Him who they have not heard?”  They need to hear from us that there is hope in a dark world and that hope is Jesus.

God uses all kind of situations to show me the MANY areas in which I need to grow.  The truth is that I value this lesson He taught me far more than the temporary thrill of getting to see the Blue Angels, amazing as they are! 

God has challenged me to live every single moment of every single day as though it were my last opportunity to tell those around me about the love of Jesus.  He has asked me to be a witness for Him everywhere I go–to everyone I encounter—to make an impact on the world FOR HIM every day I am given here. 

Do people see Jesus first and foremost in how we live our lives and how we love others?  I have heard it said “our evangelism is not effective because our lives do not reflect the Jesus we are proclaiming.” 

A story I heard tells of a little girl who came home one day and was telling her mom of a lady she had met. When her mother asked what the lady’s name was, the girl replied, “I don’t know, but she must have been Jesus’ grandmother because He is all she talked about.”  Oh how I pray that one day, someone will say of me, “I can’t remember her name….but all she talked about was her Jesus!” 

Colossians 4: 5-6 says, “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders, make the most of EVERY opportunity.  Let your conversation be ALWAYS full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” 

As God has challenged me, let me also challenge you.  Wake up every morning with one thought:  “God, let me live my life today in such a way that people every where I go will see Jesus—not me—in everything I think, say and do.”  Begin praying daily “Let the words of my mouth (everything I say), and the meditation of my heart (everything I think), be pleasing in your sight O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” Psalm 19:14 

We are His witnesses in a lost and fallen world and our time is short.  Make the most of it.  Treat every opportunity as if someone’s life depends on it because my sisters and brothers….it does.

Posted by Beth Sweeney with
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In the remake of the movie The Karate Kid, Jackie Chan says to Jayden Smith, “Your focus needs more focus.”  In a recent sermon, Pastor Ralph encouraged us to “Put off the old self and put on the new self” (Ephesians 4:20-24).  Put off anger, doubt, depression, discouragement, dread, fear, worry, and all the other ungodly things that can fill us and cloud our thinking.  Identify the negative things within us and let them go.  Be aware that Satan sees empty spaces in our lives as opportunities.  So, just as soon as we have made space, consider how God wants us to fill that space.  Put on God’s wisdom, a changed heart, a different attitude, and a determination to serve the Lord.

Pastor Ralph also said in this sermon, “Start with the right priority,” and encouraged us to begin each day with God, even if it is only two or three minutes in the beginning.  In April 2017, Lifeway Research asked this question among Americans:  How much of the Bible have you personally read?  The responses:  

  • 10% - none of it
  • 13% - only a few sentences
  • 30% - several passages or stories
  • 15% - at least half of it
  • 12% - almost all of it
  • 11% - all of it
  • 9% - all of it more than once

While polls/surveys are not always a reliable source, the number of people who read and apply the scriptures to their lives continues to dwindle.  Bible illiteracy is currently called a “scandal,” an “epidemic,” a “crisis,” and a “big problem.”  Where do we fall in the above statistics?  Do we ever complete our Bible reading for the day, close the Bible, mentally check it off our list, and then totally forget what we just read?  Or, has daily Bible reading become a hit or miss event?  Or, have we just abandoned it completely and depend on Bible Study and sermons for our once, maybe twice-a-week, spiritual feeding?  What can we do to “focus our focus” and “start with the right priority?” 

Recently, I received a booklet from Our Daily Bread Ministries entitled “Biblical Meditation:  Developing a Heart for God.”  The booklet defines biblical meditation, its benefits, and gives suggestions as how to meditate on Scripture.  Could biblical meditation enrich our time in God’s Word and increase our desire to learn more about God and what He has written to us? Could it help us begin 2020 with the right priority? 

Let’s clarify that biblical meditation is not to be associated with transcendental or western meditation which focuses on inner peace, or emptying our minds, or using our reasoning capacity.  Biblical meditation seeks to purge what should not be within us and fill our hearts and minds with scripture, truth, God’s presence, and a commitment to God’s purposes.  Listed below are some of the things involved in biblical meditation: 

  • Come into God’s presence and ask the Holy Spirit to open our hearts and minds to understand, to feel, to hear, and to act based on His Word.
  • Submit to God’s presence and truth.
  • Focus on God’s presence and God’s thoughts.
  • “Ponder” (think about, reflect on) who God is, what He has done.
  • Align our present life with God’s will for us.

The challenge is to develop the mental discipline of being able to close off our responsibilities, troubles and worries for specific time intervals.  Let our goal be spiritual contemplation that focuses on God, His Word and His thoughts. 

Listed below are some of the scriptures that support biblical meditation: 

Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. (Joshua 1:8) 

Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. (Psalm 1:1-2) 

I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done. (Psalm 143:5). 

Suggestions for biblical meditation:

  1. Begin by selecting a Bible verse (longer portions of scripture or chapters can be used later as we gain experience. (Read the surrounding verses to get the setting and an understanding of the verse.)  We might want to read this verse in several translations.
  2. Write the verse in longhand on a 3x5 card. (Or, highlight it on the Bible app on our phone/computer/other electronic device.
  3. Memorize the verse.
  4. Study the text. Contemplate each word.  What does it tell us about who God is, His plan, His work?  How do we respond to this verse (in prayer, in obedience)?
  5. Pray for God to give you guidance to understand the text.
  6. Allow the Holy Spirit to speak to and through the text. Trust the Holy Spirit to help you.  He is our secret weapon and will guide, teach, correct, encourage and strengthen us as we meditate on God’s Word.
  7. Consider the benefits of nighttime contemplations of scripture, particularly just before you go to sleep. Practice beginning and ending each day meditating on God’s Word.

Let’s look at a verse we have already memorized: 

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want. (Psalm 23:1) 

The Lord is—He is the only Lord and ruler over all, creator of the universe, all-powerful, compassionate, forgiving, just, holy, loving, merciful, faithful, righteous, wise, unchanging, unshakable, our comforter, our intercessor, our refuge, sovereign. 

My Shepherd—He is MY Shepherd who leads by example, affirms, comforts, corrects, encourages, listens, guides, protects, sets boundaries, provides safety and life, laid down His life for us, knows us, and gives us a sense of belonging. 

I shall not be in want—He is our provider.  All our needs are supplied by the Lord our Shepherd, be satisfied and thankful for what the Lord our Shepherd has given us.  Daily make the decision to trust God to supply our needs.     

From this example, go to other favorite chapters or verses such as: 

Psalm 121

Proverbs 3:5-6

Isaiah 41:10

Romans 1:16-17

Romans 15:13 

Since all Christian forms of meditation are open to God’s presence and perspective, sometimes the things God reveals to us result in prayer to thank God, ask His guidance and wisdom in a particular situation, ask for forgiveness for a particular sin, or ask for His help in determining and developing action steps for what He wants to do in our lives.  This is not a lack of focus; it is following the direction of the Holy Spirit.  Once we’ve prayed, we can return to our Christian/biblical meditation.  

As I worked on this blog, Christian meditation has often been typed “Christian medication” and I’ve had to go back and make corrections.  To meditate on God’s Word is, in a sense, “Christian medication” indeed.  Prescribed medication can be effective, ineffective and sometimes even deadly.  A daily “dose” of spending time in God’s Word, seeking His presence and His will, and getting to know Him better will always be beneficial and effective.  Let us resolve to start this year with the right priority by studying God’s Word.  Our focus will have more focus.     

Posted by Dee Schneider with

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