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When Sunday Is Not Enough

Lorna Nichols - Monday, February 20, 2012

Do you need more of God’s presence, His peace, spiritual guidance, and direction?  God promises in His Word that we will find Him when we search for Him with all of our hearts and soul. Deuteronomy 4:29 says, “But if from there (which means no matter where you are in life) you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all of your soul.”

So, how do we look for the Lord with all of our heart and soul?

I used to think this meant making sure I went to church on Sunday. I’d go to church on Sunday, listen to the sermon, and leave feeling uplifted and inspired. After hearing the sermon, I was ready for whatever challenges came my way.

That’s how I felt on Sunday. And then Monday would come around. Everything would have been great if it weren’t for Monday. Monday was the beginning of the work week. Immediately after my first cup of coffee, I’d find myself confronted with issues. Issues turned into problems and problems turned into stress, anxiety, and frustration.  Before long, I’d find myself mentally and spiritually drained and wondering, “What happened to that great sense of peace and well-being I felt on Sunday?”  Does this sound familiar?

Through much heartache and pain, I finally learned that the inspiration I got from Sunday sermons was not enough to carry me through the entire work week. I needed more of God’s Word during the week to sustain me. I came to realize that if I wanted to feel God’s presence each day in my life, I needed more regular doses of God’s Word.

You see, the Word of God is food for our souls. Just as we need food for physical energy, we need God’s Word for spiritual energy. So, I ask again, “Do you need more of God’s presence, His peace, spiritual guidance, and direction?”  If so, I’d like to suggest that you try connecting with God on a regular basis through Scripture. You can read a few passages of Scripture each day on your own—Or—join a Bible Study—Or you can even start a Bible Study using our Big Picture of the Bible study guides, video lessons, and other Bible study resources at www.bigpictureofthebible.com. Reading the Bible is one of the best ways to experience all that God has for you.

 

Written by,

Lorna Daniels Nichols

Website: www.bigpictureofthebible.com

All Around Good Health (God's Wait Training Program)

Lorna Nichols - Friday, February 17, 2012

It always seems to happen at the start of a New Year. People jump on the "let me get healthy" bandwagon. Many resolutions are health related: watch my sodium and sugar intake, cut down on the amount of food I eat, get more rest, have regular medical checkups and the list goes on.

A major emphasis seems to be on exercise and that includes weight training. Weight loss, raising metabolism, strengthening bones and improving coordination are just a few of the benefits. There is another component to consider. It is also a "wait training" program. Yes, in Psalm 46:10, we are encouraged to "Be still (wait) and know that I am God".  Isaiah 40:31 says, "But those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles. They shall run and not be weary. They shall walk and not faint."

Other benefits in God's "wait training program" include improved vision. While waiting for the Lord, we begin to see circumstances in a different light. We see the workings of God in areas we would otherwise miss.

Just like the muscles in our bodies get stronger with the use of various weights, our faith muscles also grow stronger by the variety of times we are waiting on God. Keeping a record of answered prayer helps us to see where we started and how we are moving forward.

One other benefit is in the area of patience. Every opportunity of waiting on the Lord increases our capacity to wait on Him. Our endurance will improve over time.

As we pursue a healthier lifestyle, let's look forward to being involved in our Heavenly Father's "wait training program" too. 

For more writings by Barbara Hodges, visit her blog at www.purplepen-barbsmusings.blogspot.com.

 

 

Written by,

Barbara Hodges

 http://www.purplepen-barbsmusings.blogspot.com

 

When It's Too Good To Be True!

Lorna Nichols - Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Have you ever heard the words, “Congratulations, you’re a winner,” only to find out it was too good to be true? A couple of months ago, a company called to let me know that we had won one free month of their service.  According to this company, our website would receive top ranking with all the major search engines for one month at no cost to us. The representative claimed that every time someone performed a google search or any other internet search using the words, “Bible study,” our website would appear on the first page of the results listing.

Well, I wasn’t buying it.  “What’s the catch,” I asked, “What do you mean by free?” She answered, “You’ll receive our service at no charge for one month; and then at the end of the free month period, someone will call and ask if you’d like to keep our service. If you choose to keep it, then and only then will you be billed for our service.”  To which I responded, “So, you’re telling me it’s absolutely free for one month.” “That’s correct,” she answered. At this point, I began thinking about how this could increase our Big Picture of the Bible book sales. I also thought about the fact that she did NOT ask for our credit card information. After pondering everything over in my mind, I finally said, “Listen, I’d better not end up with a bill for this month or any other month.” To which she responded, “You will not be billed. You’ve won one month’s worth of free service.” I finally said, “Okay, I’ll take my free month!”

 The sales pitch was fast, it was furious, and it was anything but free. Believe it or not, the charges for this service appeared on my phone bill. Yes—That’s right. I said my phone bill. This company had contracted with my local phone company to bill their “so-called” customers for them. I promptly called the search engine optimization company and accused them of misrepresentation. They refused to remove the charges saying I was supposed to call them to cancel the service and not the other way around. So, I called my local phone company, explained everything to them, and they immediately reversed the charges.

What’s the moral to this story? It is this: When it’s too good to be true, beware! The Holy Spirit is trying to tell you something!! I’m reminded of Proverbs 15:22 which says, “Plans go wrong for lack of advice.” Perhaps I should have taken time to get advice from the Better Business Bureau—Or—Better yet, I should have taken time to pray and ask God for His advice. He would have surely reminded me of all the times I’ve actually echoed the words, “Nothing in this world is free.”

 

 

Written by,

Lorna Daniels Nichols

Website: www.bigpictureofthebible.com

 

A Friend of God, Always!

Lorna Nichols - Sunday, February 12, 2012

As Christians, we know that God is everywhere, always present and continually working things out for our good. Yet, during times of trouble and uncertainty, God can seem far away.  We begin to wonder when God is going to show up. As time passes, we begin to question whether or not God will show up.  When things appear to be getting worst instead of better, we allow fear to set in; and before you know it, we’re taking things into our own hands rather than waiting on God. It’s a very human response to trouble.

In Scripture, Abraham is commended as a man of great faith. God told Abram whose name would later be changed to Abraham to leave his father’s house and go to a land the Lord would show him. Abram faithfully obeyed. Yet when a famine occurred in Canaan, the land God had given Abram, he allowed fear to set in. Abram packed up his family and moved to Egypt to escape the famine.  When he arrived in Egypt, more fear set in. Fearful that the Egyptians would kill him and take his very beautiful wife, Sarai whose name would later be changed to Sarah, Abram resorted to deception.  Abram told the Egyptians that Sarai was his sister and not his wife so they would be good to him and spare his life.   

Sure enough, the Egyptians found Sarai to be very beautiful.  The Egyptian Pharaoh added Sarai to his harem and allowed Abram to live because he believed Sarai was Abram’s sister and not her husband. God became angry with the Egyptian Pharaoh and sent a plague to his household.  When Pharaoh realized the plague was because of Sarai, he gave her back to Abram and sent them away. Sometime later, Abram allowed fear to set in again and deceived again in the very same way.  Abram took things into his own hands resorting to deception twice instead of depending on God for protection. You can read about this in Genesis 12 and Genesis 20.

What are we to learn from this part of Abram’s story? Was Abram no longer a man of faith because he deceived rather than trusting God for protection? No! After Abram’s deception, Scripture tells us in Genesis 15:6, “Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord counted him as righteous because of is faith.”  Did Abram fall from God’s grace? No!  Scripture tells us much later in James 2:23, “Abraham was even called the friend of God.”  After Abraham deceived twice, he was still a friend of God. So what are we to learn? Well, this is what I learned: I am a friend of God because of my faith, simply because I believe in God. This doesn’t mean I will never make a mistake. As a matter of fact, I have made a lot of mistakes and will continue making mistakes because of my humanness. However, I am a friend of God even when I make a mistake. I am a friend of God, always. Phew! Thank God!! 

I don’t know about you, but this is great news to me. We serve a loving, forgiving, merciful God who calls us His friend even when we begin to question, even when we begin to wonder, even when we become fearful, even when we decide to take things into our own hands. With all our faults, God is our friend always which means He is still working things out for our ultimate good.

 What did you learn from Abram’s story? I’d like to hear from you!

 

Written by,

Lorna Daniels Nichols

Website: www.bigpictureofthebible.com

 

Our Spiritual Bank Account and Spiritual Wealth!

Lorna Nichols - Thursday, February 09, 2012

The major concern on most people’s minds today is the economy and its negative impact on their lives. Many are worried about their financial situation and are haunted by questions like: Can I pay the mortgage? Will I be able to send my kids to college? How can I make ends meet?  When your problems and worries begin to get you down, hit the restart button and refocus. Remind yourself of the great spiritual wealth you have in Christ. Apostle Paul writes in Ephesians 1:3, “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ.” Paul is telling us that Jesus has already made provisions for our every need and He has left us with a very large Spiritual Bank Account. The problem is that many Christians don’t know or understand how spiritually wealthy they are.

Suppose you had a rich relative who left his fortune to you in a bank account that you knew nothing about. What good is this inheritance if you don’t claim it? We have a rich relative. His name is Jesus Christ. Through Jesus, we have inherited a spiritual bank account that is loaded with spiritual blessings.  We as Christians need to be aware of our spiritual blessings, claim them, and live in the spiritual wealth that is ours. After all, what good are spiritual blessings if we don’t know what they are?

Let’s take a look at the Spiritual Blessings Paul says are in our Spiritual Bank Account. If you have accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior, your Spiritual Bank Account is full of the following Spiritual Blessings:  You have union with Christ. You have the love of Christ. You have been adopted into God’s family. You are free from the penalty of sin. Your freedom has been purchased by Christ. You have been forgiven. You have access to the wisdom of God. You have inherited eternal life. You have the privilege of praising and glorifying Gods. You have the Holy Spirit living inside you leading you to righteousness.  You have God’s grace and ever-loving mercy. You have the privilege of being God’s masterpiece. You have the peace of Christ. You are a citizen of God’s Kingdom. God no longer remembers your past wrongs. You can enter into God’s presence anytime and anyplace. You are a friend of God and so much more.

 So, the next time you find yourself fretting over your financial situation, remind yourself of the great spiritual wealth you have in Christ Jesus. Recount your spiritual blessings, claim them, and live in the spiritual wealth that belongs to you through Jesus Christ.  

 

Written by,

Lorna Daniels Nichols

Website: www.bigpictureofthebible.com

 

 

After God's Own Heart!

Lorna Nichols - Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Samuel went looking for God’s chosen one,

And found him to be, David, Jesse’s youngest son.

David tended to the sheep day and night,

Watching over them with all of his might.

He was a musician, warrior, very wise,

Knew how to speak and was easy on the eyes.

King Saul needed his help in a spiritual bout.

David’s music on his harp moved evil spirits out.

During a battle David went against Goliath,

 who laughed in his face.

David had the Lord on his side and was full of grace.

 A slingshot and stone showed off his skill.

And Goliath, the Philistine, he was able to kill.

 The Lord had a plan for David from the start.

 God knew that David was a man after His own heart.

 King Saul became jealous of David’s life,

And sought to fill his days with fear and strife.

 But it was Saul’s own son, Jonathan,

 who stood by David’s side.

He made sure David had places to hide.

 David reigned over Israel forty years.

Through many heartaches and many tears.

He encouraged himself in the Lord,

And we can too,

As we meditate on God's Words,

All the day through.

Written by,

Barbara Hodges

 

For more writings by Barb, visit her blog at: http://www.purplepen-barbsmusings.blogspot.com

 

 

Imperfect People Used By God

Lorna Nichols - Monday, February 06, 2012

Have you heard people say that Christians are self-righteous? Judgmental? Critical of others? Gossips?  Surely not you. Well, sometimes we are so busy trying to be good Christians that we start comparing ourselves to others. Or perhaps, we criticize others to make ourselves feel better about what’s going on in our own lives.  If you were perfect, then you could have given YOUR life for the sins of the world.  The point I'm making is that there are no perfect people so why do we expect perfection in others?  Note that Jesus didn't say come to me all that are perfect and lightly laden.

But, because we're not perfect, Jesus invites us to lay our burdens on Him.  If we were perfect, we wouldn't need Jesus. The nice thing about a fairy tale is they begin with “Once upon a time” and end with “and they lived happily ever after.” Who has a life like that?  But, God uses imperfect people.

Take David, who was a murder and an adulterer. What a dysfunctional family he had. But, David repented and truly loved God. Samson is criticized for losing focus and acting foolishly with the power of God. But, in the end, Samson knew to call on God.  Martha wasn't focused on Jesus and thought other things were more important. And, Paul, was abrupt, a wretch, had a temper, and persecuted the church.  These are a few imperfect people that God used.

So, how do we validate our criticism of others?  Jesus loves people despite their imperfections, faults, or weaknesses.  People matter to Him.  Romans 11:36 says, “For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory.” If we live our lives with intentions of bringing glory to God, we don't have to be perfect.  He can use our imperfections and those of others to draw people to Himself.

 

Written by,

Rita Daniels

Visit our Website at: www.bigpictureofthebible.com

 

 

Making Godly Choices!

Lorna Nichols - Saturday, February 04, 2012

Scripture tells us that God placed the first man, Adam, and the first woman, Eve,  in the Garden of Eden and said they could eat fruit from all the trees in the garden except one—the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. God warned, “If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die” (Genesis 2:17).

 One day, Eve was walking through the Garden minding her own business—or was she. I say this because for some reason, I tend to picture Eve regularly hanging out near the forbidden Tree and eyeing its fruit long before the serpent came along. Have you ever thought about this? Now, the Bible does not support my theory, but I believe Eve had been eye-balling that fruit for a long time. She was probably gazing at the forbidden fruit and wondering why God said not to eat it. What’s the big deal with this fruit?  

 Have you ever noticed that this is how we get in trouble today? It starts quite innocently. We happen to be in the wrong place, at the wrong time, with the wrong people.  Experience has taught me that being in the wrong place, at the wrong time, with the wrong people, quite often leads to bad choices, wrong decisions, and deep trouble.    

 In Eve’s case, Satan conveniently showed up disguised as a serpent. He told Eve she wouldn’t die if she ate the fruit, but rather she’d be like God, knowing good and evil. Eve saw how good the fruit looked and then ate the forbidden fruit. Her husband, Adam, ate it also. How did the serpent convince Eve to disobey God and eat the fruit?  He appealed to her human desire for power, possessions, and pleasure by questioning God’s Word, distorting God’s Word, and misinterpreting God’s Word.   

 Now, you might be thinking that a piece of fruit wouldn’t have tempted you. So, let’s change the scenario. Instead of fruit, it was chocolate! Now, what do you think you would’ve done? Can’t you just hear Satan saying, “Chocolate is good for you. It’s rich in antioxidants which promotes good health. Chocolate prevents depression and gives you that extra burst of energy you need to make it through the day. Come on! You deserve it.”

 When that internal voice in your head serves up bad choices, recognize it for what it is. It’s Satan appealing to your desire for power, possessions, or pleasure. When in doubt, ask yourself, “Does this agree with God’s Word?” –Or ask—“What would Jesus do?” Either way, to make Godly choices, you have to know God’s Word. If you want to more fully understand God’s Word, visit our website at www.bigpictureofthebible.com.

 

Written by,

Lorna Daniels Nichols

Website: www.bigpictureofthebible.com

 

 

Stressed? Connect with God through Scripture!

Lorna Nichols - Thursday, February 02, 2012

The end of last year was particularly stressful for me and my husband. Before Christmas, we both were attacked with some kind of virus that just didn’t want to go away. Just as we’d think we were over it, it would come back with a vengeance. We got better in time for Christmas and then for several days in a row, we received news that someone we knew had passed away.  In the meantime, I was taking my Dad back and forth to the doctor and caring for his needs.  In the middle of all of this my husband and I were trying to create our Bible lesson videos and with each step in the process a major problem would pop up.

Although I knew this was an attack of Satan, I began getting depressed. One day while all of this was going on, my aunt called and asked me to pray for her. I thought to myself, “Pray for you, you need to pray me.”  As much as I teach about connecting with God through Scripture, it seemed to evade me. I finally started calling the name of Jesus. I just kept saying His name, Jesus, over and over again. Believe me, there’s power in the name of Jesus. Eventually, the Holy Spirit began helping me remember Scriptures like:

 Psalm 121:1-2 which says, I look up to the mountains— does my help come from there? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth!”

 Psalm 91:14-16 in which God says, “I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name.  When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble.  I will rescue and honor them.  I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation.”

 Nehemiah 8:10 in which Nehemiah said to the people of Israel, Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the LORD is your strength!"

 2 Chronicles 16:9 which says, The eyes of the LORD search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.”

 As I remembered Scripture and meditated on the promises in God’s Word, I gradually began feeling better. How did I get out of that pit of despair? God’s Word did it. I connected with God through Scripture.  The Lord heard my call and He strengthened me!!

 

Written by,

Lorna Daniels Nichols

Website: www.bigpictureofthebible.com

 

You Are God's Highly Valued Masterpiece!

Lorna Nichols - Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Scripture tells us that on the first day of Creation, God created the light of day and dark of night.  On the second day, the sky and atmosphere were created. On the third day, God created the earth, seas, and vegetation.  On the fourth day, the sun, moon, and stars were created.  Sea life and birds came into being on the fifth day. On the sixth day, God created land animals.  Everything God created on each of these days was good. 

After creating land animals, God said, ‘Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us’” (Genesis 1:26).  What does it mean to be made in the image of God? We know that we are not exactly like God because God is a Spirit with no physical body. We also know that God created us, which means He is Superior to us. So, being made in the image of God most probably means that we were made to display God’s righteous character.  God gave us some of His attributes. He gave us the ability to think and to reason, to communicate, to love, to forgive, to show kindness, and so on.  

Just think!  We were created in the very image of God to display His righteous character.  Before creating human beings, God had already created everything else in the world and said it was good. But, when God created us humans, Genesis 1:31 says, “God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good!”   In other words, we are more than just good to God. We are very good to God. We were made in the image of God and He highly values each and every one of us! 

In Isaiah 43:7, God tells us why He created us. God says, “Bring all who claim me as their God, for I have made them for my glory.”  We were created for God’s glory. Our purpose is to glorify our Creator through our words—the things we say; and our actions—the things we do.  Apostle Paul says it like this in Ephesians 2:10, “We are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” In other words, you’re valuable to God and He has a purpose and a plan for your life!!  As you go throughout your day, repeat this thought to yourself over and over again: I’m valuable to God and He has a purpose and a plan for my life!! 

Written by,

Lorna Daniels Nichols

Website: www.bigpictureofthebible.com