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Archive for the ‘Pondering Biblical Truth’ Category

Don’t worry about anything;
instead, pray about everything;
tell God your needs, and don’t forget
to thank him for his answers.

Philippians 4:6 TLB

It’s been one of those all-too-familiar frustrating and unproductive days.  Maybe you can identify? Father, please increase my prayers and decrease my worries.

I had planned to get a number of invites out to prospective faculty for the July 26-28 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference and tackle the never-ending to-do list for the May 16-19 Colorado Christian Writers Conference. But Emmy . . .

Erin & Emmie 2
Our adorable Labradoodle puppy is now 8 months old, 47.3 pounds, and a much bigger handful than we ever anticipated. Her favorite game, when we catch her with something in her mouth that she shouldn’t have, is “Catch Me If You Can.”

This morning, it was a AAA battery! I don’t have a clue where she found it or  left it. I just know it wasn’t in her mouth when we finally caught her, and it wasn’t anywhere to be found in the house. And I searched, everywhere, down on my hands and knees and tummy.

Convinced that Emmy must have swallowed the battery, I did a quick Internet “what to do if” search and then a quicker call to the vet who said to bring her right over.

Three x-rays later revealed no battery inside Emmy.  Now what, besides paying the $270 bill? Since she found it once, certainly she’d find it again. And this time she might not be as lucky.

We put Emmy in quarantine in my office and continued the search with no success. Finally, around dinnertime I fluffed the blankets on our bed – again. I was tempted to crawl in and pull the covers over my head when . . .  You guessed it! There was the battery. There were some tooth marks, but thank the Lord no leaking battery acid.

We’ve raised three children, three Golden Retrievers, and babysat three grandchildren. None have been as much of a challenge as this Doodle puppy.

I prayed and did lots of research before we got her. Now I can’t help but wonder, and worry, that she’s more than two seniors in their 70s can handle. But surely Father is not surprised, and surely He can use this strong-willed, difficult puppy to teach me some new tricks. I do love her. So, thank You, Father, that Emmy didn’t swallow the battery and need surgery. And thank You for yet another lesson in trusting You.
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If you’ve had a puppy (or have one now), what is the biggest challenge you’ve faced and overcome?

 

 

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Empty tomb

Darkness Shattered

They had believed he was the Messiah.
Leaving everything behind,
they followed him.
The Kingdom of God
had seemed so real, so near.
He healed the sick,
fed the hungry,
calmed the storm at sea –
and in their hearts.
His words had given them life
and hope and purpose.
But now he was dead.
How could they have been
so mistaken, so misled?

Hiding in the room
where he had broken the bread
and passed the cup,
hopelessness and despair
closed in around them.
They laughed –
a cold, hard, bitter laugh –
when Mary said she had seen him.
People didn’t come back to life
after dying on a cross.

Suddenly the darkness shattered
at the sound of the familiar voice.
“Peace be with you.”
Jesus stood before them
not dead – but alive!
Light filled the room
and the darkness in their hearts.

Everything he had taught them was true.
He was and is and shall be
alive – forevermore!
Christ is risen.
He is risen, indeed!

Marlene Bagnull

 

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Only Love

crucifixion-clipart-RTAG4M8TL

Only Love

Despised and rejected.
Forsaken – it seemed,
even by His Father
who turned His face away –
Jesus writhed in agony,
His hands and His feet
nailed to a tree.

“They’re not worth it,”
Satan must have taunted.
“Come down from the cross.
Give them what they deserve.
Death – now
and for eternity!”

All of heaven’s armies
stood on alert – ready
to obey the Son’s command.
Would Jesus choose
to save Himself – or men?
Would He endure to the end?

Only love kept Jesus on the cross
knowing only His blood
could set men free.
“It is finished!” He shouted.
Sin and death no longer reign.
Christ has won the victory!

Marlene Bagnull

 

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EPSON MFP image

Abide in Me.
Be grafted into Me,
for on the Cross
I allowed My body to be broken
in order that I might receive you,
in order that I might draw you into Me.
I have exposed to you My inner self,
and I have opened a way for you
to become one with Me.

Place your life into Mine.
I will surround you with My love.
I will cover you with My protection
that you may stand steady
despite the gales of life.
I will nourish you
with My unlimited resources.
I will quench your thirst
with My life-giving water.

As you allow Me to shape and prune your life
through your obedience to My teachings,
I will help you to grow
and become so much a part of Me
that your life will produce
the fruit of Christlikeness –
the fruit of love, joy, peace,
patience, kindness,
goodness, faithfulness, gentleness,
and self-control.

grapes pexels-photo-760281
And through this fruit
that I will produce in your life,
others will see Me in you;
and they, too,
will be led to become grafted into Me.

Based on John 15:1-8; Galatians 5:22-23
Marlene Bagnull

 

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Tomorrow we remember how Jesus rode into Jerusalem as the crowds cheered, “Hosanna!  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” Yet less than a week later they shouted “Crucify him!”

Jesus entering Jerusalem

None of this caught Jesus by surprise. Indeed, we’re told in Hebrews 12:2 (TLB) that “He was willing to die a shameful death on the cross because of the joy he knew would be his afterwards.”

Have you stopped to consider that you are the reason for His joy?

Years ago my pastor’s wife told me that if I was the only person on this earth, Jesus still would have come and died just for me.

We know that He is coming again but that He tarries because He does not want even one to be lost. And so He is calling you, He is calling me, to “Get His Word Out.”

An outline of this message – really a Bible study that I’ve given several times as a keynote – is available online. I hope you’ll download it and make time to prayerfully consider the passages.

This week as you focus on Jesus’ passion, ask Him how He wants to use you to share His love with those who do not yet know He loved them enough to go to the cross.

blessed

“Blessed is He
who comes in the name of the Lord!”
The crowd cheered and sang praises.
They waved palm branches
and threw their cloaks before Him.
But Jesus was solemn as He traveled that road –
that road to the cross.

As God incarnate He knew all that was to come.
He saw not just His own death on the cross,
but the persecution of His followers
and the destruction of Jerusalem.
He saw nation rising against nation –
the madness of yet-to-be-born rulers.
And Jesus wept.

He would be wounded and bruised for our sins,
chastised that we might have peace,
lashed that we might be healed;
yet few would accept His gift of life.
The darkness of evil would continue to reign,
but the light of His love
would not be extinguished.

Entrusted to us,
His light will grow brighter.
A cloud of witnesses are cheering us on,
to daily take up our own cross
and follow Him closely.
Blessed is He who is coming – again!

Marlene Bagnull

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Matt mountain.png

What is the biggest obstacle you face in accomplishing what God has called you to do?

For me, it’s faith – or rather, to be honest, lack of faith.

Despite all the amazing things I have seen Him do, when faced with a new challenge, I still struggle to trust Him. Some mountains seem too big, too steep, too treacherous. It’s easier to question His call, to explain why I’m not the best person for the assignment, to suggest He choose someone else who is more qualified.

But then, I remember,

 You can never please God without faith, without depending on him.
Hebrews 11:6 (TLB)

I think of the exciting adventures I would have missed if I’d said no. More than that, I would have missed the lessons learned through needing to depend on Him. Most of all, I would have grieved the One who has been and is so faithful.

What mountain are you facing? How can I pray for you?

~ *~ *~ * ~

To encourage you as you climb your mountain:

Written by the women who are part of Linda Evans Shepherd’s Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA). Click here for a free subscription.
awsa.png

 

 

I’ve been a member since Linda founded AWSA seventeen years ago.  It’s an incredible group of over 450 women. Click here to view a message from Linda and receive a free gift.

 

 

 

 

Between the Lamp Posts front cover

 

 

 

 

I was blessed to edit this book last fall and was so impressed with it that I purchased copies for fifteen of my friends for Christmas. I encourage you to visit Becky’s website and watch her video where she talks about why she wrote this devotional book. There is also a link to order it from Amazon or Kindle.

 

 

 

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The Gift

The Gift

Many memories come to mind
as I reflect on the years that have flown by
and on Christmases past.

I remember the little artificial tree
that sat on the buffet next to my bed in the dining room.
I’d fight to stay awake at night to gaze at that tree
and pretend what it would be like
if Daddy believed in Jesus and celebrated Christmas with us.
Maybe then he would let me have a real tree.

I stopped believing in Santa Claus
the year my stocking was filled with coal.
Later that day Daddy gave me two walking dolls.
“You don’t deserve them,” he said
“but I worked hard to get them.”
I hated those dolls.

Memories are powerful.
They can cause us to live in the past and miss the present.
They can even destroy our hope for the future.
But the One whose birth we celebrate on Christmas
came to save us from bondage to a painful past.
He has set me free!

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Guest post by James N. Watkins

If you have children, nieces and nephews, or younger siblings, you know that a three-year-old’s favorite word is why.

“Johnny, hold my hand while we cross the street.”

“Why?”

“Because I don’t want you to run out in front of a car.”

“Why?”

“Because if a car hits you, you’ll be hurt or killed.”

“Why?”

“Because if it’s a contest between a thirty-five-pound boy and a three-ton SUV, the truck is going to win every time.”

“Why?”

“Because the laws of physics state that mass plus momentum equals . . . Just take my hand!”

And on itgoes-right into adulthood!

“Why didn’t God heal my friend?”

“Why do bad things happen to good people?”

“Why do I still have acne at 50?”

I’ve worked up way too much spiritual perspiration trying to answer why my second-grade Sunday school teacher committed suicide, why I was laid off from the perfect job in publishing—twice—or why bad things happen to such good people as you and me.

I have learned that while why is often a futile question, God is more than willing to answer other questions. But, like the popular game show, Jeopardy, the answers are in the form of a question.

What can I know?

“But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways” (James 1:5-8).

So, while I’ve struggled with hundreds—probably thousands—of questions about God’s workings, I have grown in my knowledge of who he is. While agonizing about an estranged relationship, I burst into tears—for God. I had described to a friend my pain: “It feels like my heart has been cut out with a chainsaw, run over by a logging truck, and then fed through a wood chipper.” If I was feeling this excruciating pain for one broken relationship, how was God feeling about billions of heartaches? It was one of the few times I actually felt I understood God.

I can also find the answer to . . .

How can I grow?

I’ve always leaned into Romans 8:28:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (NIV).

But what is that “purpose”? The very next verse answers: “To be conformed to the image of his Son” (Romans 8:29). So do other verses:

“And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image (2 Corinthians 3:18b).
“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:1).

That’s our purpose! So ask, how can I grow more like Christ through this difficult time.

Who can I show?

Second Corinthians 1:3-6 has become one of my favorite passages in encouraging me while I’m going through terrible times:

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all ourtroubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer” (NLT).

The Greek word translated comfort is paraklesis. It is a calling near, summons for help; a prayer, a plea; exhortation, admonition, encouragement; consolation, comfort, solace, refreshment; or a persuasive speech, motivational talk, instruction. And it’s feminine case. No one comforts like a mother.

We offer our best comfort to those experiencing what we have personally gone through.

So, sorry, we can’t always answer the why questions, but we can answer these three.

Condensed from The Psalms of Asaph: Struggling with Unanswered Prayer, Unfulfilled Promises, and Unpunished Evil by James N. Watkins. Browse and buy at jameswatkins.com/asaph/ 

Psalms of Asaph

Jim is a gifted author. Thank you, Jim, for “writing His answer.”

Jim was on faculty the first year that the Greater Philly Christian Writers went from a day-long seminar to a two-day conference some 30 plus years ago. I can’t begin to count the number of times since then that he has served on faculty.  I’m delighted that he will keynote and teach a three-hour workshop at the new Write to Impact Lives Conference in Lancaster, PA, February 9-10. More info coming soon at www.writehisanswer.com.

 

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hurricane

The devastation in Texas from Hurricane Harvey and the fear of the havoc Irma will cause in Florida is overwhelming.

But hurricanes are not the only things that have the power to destroy lives. Are you in the midst of a storm? You can be an overcomer.

  1. Keep a balanced perspective. Do not allow yourself to be swallowed up by nurturing negative thinking patterns, but look for the positive (Phil. 4:8).
  1. Turn your eyes on Jesus (Heb. 12:2-4), knowing as you come to Him that He really does understand all that you are feeling (Heb. 2:18; 4:15-16; 5:7-8).
  1. Tell the Lord your honest feelings (Ps. 13:1-3; 69:1-3) and your needs (Ps. 62:8; Phil. 4:6; 1 Pet. 5:7).
  1. Look for the “silver lining”—for the good things God can work through what you are enduring (Rom. 8:28). Ask, Lord, what are You trying to teach me?
  • To depend on Him power and not myself (2 Cor. 12:8-10).
  • To be a sensitive and credible witness (2 Cor. 1:3-7).
  • To build my faith and character (Rom. 5:3-5).
  1. Be still (Ps. 46:10). Listen to and claim God’s promises.
  • He is with me (Isa. 41:10,13; 43:2-3; Rom. 8:35-37).
  • Nothing can separate me from His love—feelings are not facts (Rom. 8:38-39).
  • His help is not dependent upon my faith but His faithfulness (2 Tim. 2:13).
  • He will meet all my needs (Phil. 4:19; Rom. 8:32).
  • Peace and the fruit of His Spirit, regardless of circumstances, are His gift to me (John 14:27; Isa. 26:3; Gal. 5:22-23).
  • His power is available to me (Isa. 40:28-31; Eph. 1:19).
  1. Choose to use problems as opportunities to experience and display God’s power  (2 Cor. 4:8-11).
  1. Develop an expectant faith-filled attitude as you learn to wait on Him (Ps. 37:7) and praise Him before, as well as after, He answers (Ps. 42:11; 71:14, 16).

 

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4th of July

As we celebrate our nation’s independence, I want to encourage you to not overlook the freedom that Jesus Christ offers us, that He purchased on the Cross.

Jesus on cross

If anyone knows HTML, please teach me how to add space between paragraphs and lines! And how to remove the bracket that is not in the source code! 

 

“And you will know the truth,
and the truth will set you free”
from . . .

the consequences of sin – Isaiah 1:16-19; Romans 3:24; 1 John 1:9

the power of sin – Romans 7:15—8:2; 1 John 5:3-4

worry about financial problems – Psalm 34:8-9; Matthew 6:31-34; Philippians 4:19

limitations that negate – Isaiah 40:29-31; 2 Corinthians 19:8-10; Ephesians 3:16,20; Philippians 4:13

aloneness – Psalm 9:10; 54:4; 139:1-5; Revelation 3:20

discouragement – Psalm 9:10; 42:11; 138:3; Romans 10:11; Galatians 6:9; Hebrews 11:1

fear – Psalm 34:4; 91; 118:6-7; Isaiah 43:1-5

wondering why – Isaiah 30:20; Romans 8:28; 2 Corinthians 1:3-7; 4:8-11

wanting to give up – Psalm 27:14; 42:11; Habakkuk 2:3; John 15:5; Romans 8:35-37; 2 Corinthians 8:10-12; Colossians 1:29

feeling inadequate – Psalm 34:9; 81:10; 1 Corinthians 1:7; 2 Corinthians 12:9-10; Philippians 4:13; 2 Timothy 1:6-8

feeling separated from God – Psalm 139:7; 145:18; Romans 8:38-39; James 4:8-10

weakness – Psalm 18:29,32; Isaiah 40:29-31; Habakkuk 3:19

feeling unloved – John 3:16; Ephesians 3:18-19

doubts – John 14:12-14; 16:24; 17:19

inner turmoil and confusion – Psalm 37:11; Isaiah 26:3-4; John 14:27; 16:33; Philippians 4:6-7

impatience – 2 Corinthians 3:18; Galatians 5:22-23; Hebrews 10:36

uncertainty – Psalm 32:8; 37:34; 119:105; Proverbs 3:5-6; Habakkuk 2:3;
John 8:12; Galatians 5:16; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; James 1:5-8

feeling useless and untalented – Romans 12:4-8; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11; Ephesians 4:7,11-12; 1 Peter 4:10-11

the power of the enemy – Ephesians 6:10-17; 2 Thessalonians 3:3; 1 Peter 5:8-10

sorrow – Psalm 43:5; Isaiah 25:8; 2 Corinthians 1:3-7; Revelation 7:17; 21:4

not knowing how to pray – Romans 8:26

being down on ourselves – John 17:19; Romans 5:1-2; Philippians 1:6; 3:12-14; Jude 25

feeling like our future is hopeless – Psalm 32:8; 73:22-24; Proverbs 23:18; Isaiah 55:8-9; Jeremiah 29:11-13

feeling overwhelmed by problems and burdens – Psalm 55:22; 68:19; 146:8; Matthew 11:29-30; Romans 5:3-5; 8:31-32; 1 Peter 1:6-7; 5:7

being intimidated by temptations – 1 Corinthians 10:13; Hebrews 2:18; 4:15-16

fear of failure – 1 Chronicles 28:20; Psalm 37:5; Proverbs 16:3

defeat – Psalm 118:14; 1 Corinthians 15:57-58; 2 Corinthians 3:18; 4:8-9

depression – Psalm 118:24; 139:6-12; Isaiah 46:4

hesitancy to give – Proverbs 3:9-10; 28:27; 2 Corinthians 9:8; Philippians 2:4; 1 Peter 5:2

rejection – John 6:37; Jeremiah 33:25

unfulfilled yearnings – Psalm 37:4; 107:9; 145:19; Ecclesiastes 5:7; Isaiah 44:3; Matthew 7:7; John 6:35; 7:37-39; 15:5; 16:24; Revelation 22:17

ignorance – Psalm 16:7; 1 Corinthians 2:16; Colossians 2:3; 3:16

fear of sharing our faith – Matthew 10:19-20; Luke 21:14-15; Acts 1:8; 2 Timothy 1:8

never-ending frustrations, struggles, plodding – Joshua 22:5; Psalm 37:34; Romans 12:11; 2 Corinthians 6:4-10

being overwhelmed when our faith is weak – 2 Timothy 2:13

anything else that would put us in bondage – 1 Peter 5:7

Compiled by Marlene Bagnull

If anyone knows HTML, please teach me how to add space between paragraphs and lines! And how to remove the bracket that is not in the source code next to the picture of Jesus on the cross. Meanwhile, this paragraph is supposed to be there but isn’t.

Yes, Father, I need to read – again – the verses about patience.

 

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