Do I Love God More Than Pleasure?

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S – “…lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people….always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:4b-5,7

O – Paul is telling Timothy what it will be like in the last days.

A – I don’t want to love pleasure more than God! We have so much pleasure in our culture. It’s so easy to get caught up in good food, nice homes, vacations, clothes, entertainment, so much is right at our fingertips. The more we give our flesh, the more it wants. We can easily, I easily, slip into living for the next meal, the next fun event, the next “comfort”, the next purchase. But what’s that? Those are all temporary distractions. None of that means anything in eternity. Loving God is primary, loving God is supreme, loving God is for eternity. I don’t want to “appear” godly but have no power of the Spirit in my life or to always be learning but never really encounter the truth.

P – Please Jesus, help me to keep my love for you primary in my life. Help me know how to live in the world without living for the world and its pleasures. The pleasures aren’t sinful necessarily but they can turn my eyes from you. Please help me live in balance. Please Lord, help me live in the power of the Spirit, help me know truth.

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A Beautifully Woven Story

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I enjoy romantic fiction. Even better is when a romance has meaning and purpose to the story. Jennifer Slattery’s new book, Healing Love is one of those stories. Brooke is a career minded young woman who is focused on becoming a broadcast journalist. She finds herself side-tracked when she feels forced to go on a mission trip to El Salvador to chaperone her younger sister. She’s not prepared for the emotional impact the trip will have on her heart.

Looking hungry orphans in the eye, seeing the poverty children live in, and comparing that to the life of affluence back home causes her to re-examine her priorities. She finds herself drawn to the handsome translator, Ubaldo, who is their guide and driver for the trip. Ubaldo has pre-conceived ideas about visitors from North America and his prejudices are challenged when he meets Brooke and sees that she has true compassion. We also meet 12-year-old Fatima and her younger sister who end up homeless in order to avoid a painful and dangerous situation.

Can a group of affluent teens from America make a difference in El Salvador? Brooke and Ubaldo are attracted to each other but they live thousands of miles apart and come from different worlds. How could they ever have a relationship? Will Fatima and Dinora survive on the streets without food and water? Ubaldo is trying to help his people find a way out of poverty while he himself struggles to find a place to live.

Jennifer takes all these threads and weaves them into a beautiful story. She paints a clear picture of life in El Salvador and challenges us to consider reaching out beyond ourselves to help others. This book is written with humor, truth, and hope. It includes romance, faith, and gives us a glimpse into another culture. If you enjoy a fiction story that challenges you as well as giving you an entertaining story, you will like this book. I highly recommend Healing Love.

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Encouragement is the Word

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S – “Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.” 1 Thessalonians 4:17-18

“For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:9-11

O – Paul writes to assure us that all who believe in Jesus will be with Him forever. We will either be with Him when we die or if we are alive when He comes back, we will join Him in the air. Either way, we are with Him forever. Our job is to encourage each other with this truth and build each other up.

A – Am I doing my job? Am I encouraging others daily? Reminding them that whether we are awake or asleep, we will always be with the Lord?
P – Jesus, thank you that you will return one day. Thank you that I am yours forever and nothing can take that away. Help me live to encourage others and remind them of this truth. Help me to encourage someone today. I love you Lord.

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With a Thankful Heart

 

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S – “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” Colossians 3:16

O/A – Let the word of Christ abundantly live in you. His word should fill my heart to overflowing. When His word fills my heart, I can teach and admonish others with wisdom as they teach and admonish me. To admonish is to warn, exhort, or caution. When His word fills us then we are able to teach others with wisdom. At the same time singing praise to Him, singing the Psalms and being filled with thankfulness in our hearts. My heart should be filled with thankfulness, not worry, complaints, judgments etc.

I need to let His word abundantly fill me and live in me.
I need to teach and exhort others.
I need to sing psalms and hymns continually in my heart.
My heart needs to be filled with thankfulness to God.

P – Jesus, please help me live this way. Help me make your word an absolute priority in my life so that it fills my mind and heart and comes out in exhortation and song and thankfulness. Thank you that you are so incredibly patient with me. I love you Lord.

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Living For More Than Self

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S – “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” Ephesians 5:15-17

O – We should take careful thought about how we walk, how we live our lives, and not just foolishly trip along, not examining our actions. We need to be wise and make the best use of our time not wasting it just living for the moment, living for ourselves. To make the best use of our time is to understand the will of the Lord. This is imperative because the days are evil. This is not Leave it to Beaver. These are evil days. People are suffering on earth, dying, and going to hell. We can’t just skip through life picking out paint colors, and drinking tea. There’s something greater going on. It’s not sinful to enjoy the gifts we have, but it is sinful to pretend that’s all there is to life. There will be no reward in heaven for just enjoying the simple pleasures of life.

A/P – Father, I need this truth in my life. I need to live for more than just taking care of our house, decorating, shopping, cleaning, eating, and going my merry way. I know this isn’t all there is. I know people all around are hurting. I know so many in the world don’t have the gifts I do. I don’t want to live like the “princess in the tower” or the “girl in a bubble”. Open my eyes to see, to give, to sacrifice, and to be willing to serve. Thank you for all the gifts you have given me! Thank you for the privilege to learn, study, and grow. Thank you for your love.

This is a message straight to me, to my heart. I pray God will help me move beyond where I am and live more wisely. 

Please share your thoughts.

Click to read about the SOAP Bible Study method. (Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer)

 

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The Birth of a Story

Jennifer Slattery Lives Out Loud

I sure spend a lot of time clinging to my safety nets, for one who talks so often about living God’s great adventure. Although, I do eventually drop them, and take that next step, and then the next, though my hands might be clammy and my legs may quiver every step of the way.

This was me, when our family joined our former church for a week-long mission trip to El Salvador back in 2011. My biggest angst? I hated flying. I’ve gotten much better, but back then, every trip felt like torture. While the other passengers slept or read books or chatted with one another, I’d obsess. On every plane crash I’d ever heard of, on every bump or dip as we soared through the sky, on how high our plane flew and how long it’d take us to spiral to our deaths.

Ah, the joys of the writer’s…

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Mama Bear Love

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“That brings out the mama bear in me,” a friend exclaimed!

Parental love is scary strong. Love hits a new parent like a tidal wave. It’s often said that becoming a parent is like having your heart walking around outside your body. Such fierce love struggles with children growing up in a world filled with danger, evil, and pain.

Parents decide to take control and guarantee their child’s safety. An impossible task. Knowing our children have free will to make bad choices adds to our fear. Even when our children are grown, we still want their safety, well-being, and happiness.

Once a parent, always a parent.

Our twenty-four year old son described a health issue he had but that he had no plans to see a doctor. I was sleepless as I imagined him headed to an early grave because of his choice to ignore the problem.

The next morning, reading about Abraham, Sarah and Hagar in Genesis 21,

I found hope.

God promised Abraham and Sarah a son, though past childbearing years. Sarah offered her servant, Hagar, to Abraham so he could have a son by her, planning to raise him as Abraham’s heir. Hagar had a son but a few years later, God fulfilled His promise and by a miracle, Sarah also had a son, the intended heir. When conflict arose between the two sons, Sarah insisted Abraham get rid of Hagar and Ishmael. So, Abraham (with God’s blessing) gave them water and bread and sent them into the wilderness.

Hagar went as far as she could, until the water ran out. “Then she went and sat down opposite him a good way off, about the distance of a bowshot, for she said, ‘Let me not look on the death of the child.’ And as she sat opposite of him, she lifted up her voice and wept.” Genesis 21:16

I feel her pain. She’s done all she can. She’s convinced her son will die. How does a mom watch her son die of thirst?

But… “And God heard the voice of the boy, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, ‘What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is. Up! Lift up the boy, and hold him fast with your hand, for I will make him into a great nation.’” Genesis 21:17-18

“Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water.” Genesis 21:19

Why did Abraham agree to send Hagar and their son into the wilderness? Unbeknownst to Hagar, God had already given Abraham a promise. “And I will make a nation of the son of the slave woman also, because he is your offspring.” Genesis 21:13

Before Hagar entered the wilderness, before she ran out of water, before she collapsed in pain and sorrow, expecting her son to die, God knew what would happen and had planned to make a nation from Ishmael. God had a plan Hagar didn’t know about. Then, He opened her eyes.

As a mom, I can think like Hagar: because of this obstacle, my son will die. But God is sovereign. He’s the one who knows what the future holds and He holds each of us in His hands.

I can trust Him.

I can pray.

God hears my prayers as He heard Ishmael (v. 17). I pray for our son and I give him advice when he wants it, but God already knows what will happen. He already has it covered. He had a plan for Ishmael from the beginning and He has a plan for our son.

I don’t have a guarantee bad things won’t happen to our son. Trusting God doesn’t mean everything will work out as I want or that our son will live to be a hundred years old. It means God already knows the future and He’s already there.

I can trust God no matter what.

Father, thank you that you knew the day you placed our son in our arms how his whole life would play out. You knew from the day he was born every obstacle he would face, each weakness, and each choice he would make. I know he belongs to you and you hold him in your hands. Thank you dear Father! I know I can trust him to you.

Already There      by Casting Crowns says it so well.

 

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