Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Letting The Word Sink In

Growing up, my family attended St. Luke’s Lutheran Church. By the time I was in elementary school, I had the liturgy memorized. The words flowed out of me flawlessly, with no thought required on my part. I could mutter the phrases while simultaneously reviewing in my head what homework I still needed to do or daydreaming about my afternoon plans with friends. Unfortunately, I never allowed God to speak to me through the oft-repeated words.

In our mid-twenties, my husband and I finally tuned in to God’s voice. We asked Jesus to forgive us for our sins and committed our lives to serving Him. Dick felt God calling him into ministry and over the next ten years completed all the schooling required to be ordained.

My aunt and uncle were still members at St. Luke’s. One Sunday during a time when they were without a pastor, my aunt asked Dick to fill in at their church. He readily agreed.

It had been years since I had even heard the Lutheran liturgy, let alone recited it myself, so I followed along in the hymnal. Though the words of the service were exactly the same, I had changed. They now struck a chord deep in my soul, expressing genuine, profound repentance. I suddenly was aware that the liturgy was directly from Scripture!

The Bible says that God’s Word will not fail to do what God plans for it. (Isaiah 55:11) Part of the Lutheran liturgy quotes Psalm 51:16-17 and remains firmly fixed in my mind: “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise.”

As I let the words from the liturgy sink in, God’s Spirit made me aware that, at times, I was still having trouble trusting them. After letting God down in some way, I would try to regain His favor by “sacrificing” things like ease, money, or “stuff”. I attempted to make up for not responding as I should have, or for behaving in a way I shouldn’t have. In truth, those “sacrifices” never counteracted or substituted for doing what God desired in the first place.

Can you relate? Have you ever made promises to God, or offered a “sacrifice” of sorts, in the hopes that a situation will miraculously turn out better? The truth is, we all fall short, let God down, and fail to follow His lead.

So, what does He ask of us when we sin? Leaning on the Scripture found in the Lutheran liturgy, we are assured that God welcomes a contrite and broken heart—a sacrifice everyone can bring! John 1:9 reaffirms this truth for us. "If we confess our sins, God forgives them and cleanses us from everything we have done wrong." Admitting we have sinned, and wanting to turn away from that sin, is all He asks.

Be encouraged!


©2018 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

A Pencil in the Hand of God

Each one of us has received a special gift
in proportion to what Christ has given.
. . . He did this to prepare all God's people for the work of Christian service,
in order to build up the body of Christ.
Ephesians 4:7 and 12

In a 1989 interview with Edward Desmond of TIME, Mother Teresa of Calcutta said, “I am like a little pencil in [God’s] hand. That is all. He does the thinking. He does the writing. The pencil has nothing to do with it. The pencil has only to be allowed to be used.”

Have you ever felt like that—like a little pencil in the hand of God? That what you were doing wasn’t coming from you but from another, wiser source?

I love it when God does that! As a writer, I find that during those times, the words pour quickly from heart to fingers to page. I am as amazed as those who will one day read what I have jotted down. I have no choice but to acknowledge that it is God who is guiding the “pencil”.

According to Ephesians 4: 7 and 12, God gives each person a special gift to be used for the work of Christian service. And, He gives us a passion for that service that can’t easily be ignored.

Recently a blogger that I follow returned to writing after a long hiatus. Like many of us, life interrupted and her writing ministry derailed. But God continued nudging her, prompting her to pick up where she left off so He could speak through her posts. He wanted her to be His “pencil” again.

How has God called you to be the “little pencil” in His hand? My prayer is that you will feel the wonder and thrill of allowing Him to use you as His instrument of saving grace for searching souls.

Be encouraged!

©2018 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

It's All in How You Look at Things

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.” Philippians 4:8 (NIV)

Morgan: “Wow! Your prelude was beautiful!”
Chris: “Thanks, but I just couldn’t get in all the sixteenth notes at the end.”

Morgan: “The pastor’s sermon this morning really hit home with me.”
Chris: “Really? All I noticed was the thirteen times he said, ‘you know’.”

Morgan: “Look at the snow clinging to the trees and bushes! It’s a winter wonderland!”
Chris: “Ugh. I have to drive in this mess.”

In each of these instances, Morgan and Chris were subject to the exact same circumstances. However, what they took away from the experience was vastly different.

With whom do you more closely relate—Chris or Morgan? How we look at things, what we concentrate on, where our focus lies, affects our peace of mind, our faith in God, and our relationships with others.

The truth of Philippians 4:8 is summed up in the old adage, “It’s all in how you look at things.”

Take the example of my hairdresser, Mary, who recently lost her husband after a year-long battle with cancer. All through Joey’s diagnosis and treatment, Mary stood by his side, encouraging him and advocating for him. She was a tower of strength and faith.

When we express our sorrow over his loss, lamenting, “I know you were hoping for a miracle,” Mary smiles and says, “Oh, we got our miracle! In fact, God gave us several. Because the cancer was discovered early during an examination for another problem, we had an extra year with Joey. And, at the end of that year, when treatment was exhausted, it was only a matter of days till God called Joey home, freeing him from pain. That’s another miracle!”

Wouldn’t we all like to be more like Mary and Morgan, and less like Chris? How can we gain a more positive perspective? By living Philippians 4:8:

“In conclusion, my friends, fill your minds with those things that are good and that deserve praise: things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and honorable.” (GNT)

Be encouraged!

©2018 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Right or Easy?

Recently I watched the Harry Potter movie, The Goblet of Fire. While I am neither advocating nor opposing the Harry Potter series, in this movie, Dumbledore, headmaster of Hogwarts, shares a bit of wisdom, “There will be a time when we must choose between what is easy and what is right.”

I missed the next several minutes of the movie as I mulled over Dumbledore’s statement. It is a statement full of truth—in more ways than one, with many scriptures saying the same thing.

Multiple times in our lives, we are faced with the choice to do what is easy or to do what is right. It isn’t a once-and-for-all decision. Having to choose between what is right and what is easy is a facet of many of the decisions we must make. God encourages us not to become tired of doing good. (Galatians 6:9)

While choosing what is right isn’t ALWAYS difficult, sacrifice is OFTEN involved—and sacrifice is NOT easy. Jesus warns us, “If anyone wants to follow after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me.” (Matthew 16:24)

Sometimes doing what is right even involves suffering. But, let us keep in mind what 1 Peter 3:17 says: “For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong.”

When we choose what is right over what is easy, we are following in Jesus’ footsteps. His choice to die on the cross for our sins certainly wasn’t the easy choice—but it was the right choice—the choice His Heavenly Father wanted him to choose.

Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.” When our hearts desire is to please God and follow Him, we can trust Him to show us what the “right” choice is, and will be with us, even when that choice is not the easy one.

Be encouraged!

PS I FINALLY got my comments box back!!!!

©2018 Pamela D. Williams