Investing our Time

“‘Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.’”- Matthew 6:19-21 NKJV

I am in a different season of life than many of you, but here’s something life experience has taught me: there are lessons to be learned in every season. I’d like to share with you what I’m learning.

I don’t need all the ‘things’ I thought I did. This has shown up in so many ways. I’m doing daily Facebook lives for another group, some of the same people show up every day. One friend sent a note, “I love seeing what you are wearing every day!” You know what, I counted, and in 19 days I’ve worn a handful of different tops. I never gave a thought to wearing a different top every day. I gravitate towards a few things that I enjoy wearing. I have a washing machine. I need to give away a lot of clothing. I cook with the same small set of my pans and it’s been no hardship at all to donate fabric and thread from my sewing supplies to the mask-making efforts in our community.

I enjoy simple pleasures. I love reading, writing and dabbling in watercolor paints. I like sitting on my deck in the sunshine and studying God’s word. I even like social distancing visits at my daughter’s, where no touching is allowed. We stand on the drive and my teenage grandsons, who are home for a change, join us. I do miss hugs.

God provided a mission for me during this time. I’m retired, no children in our home, and God knew that watching and reading the news was not in my best interest. So…he provided a thought, a push: Share that devotional you loved with others. It’s an older devotional. Out of copyright, so I can. And each day at noon I pour into the lives of others. I’m laying up real treasure there. God is harvesting right before my eyes!

I have no idea what God has asked you to invest your time in during this season. Maybe it’s homemade meals, or family games, or teaching your children. But God has a path of blessing for you, he always does. If you are feeling harried, or bored, or even afraid, ask God, “what is the path for me right now?” It doesn’t have to look big for God to create treasure from your effort. I show up for 15 minutes a day. God shows off with my investment. Plant those tiny seeds. Don’t worry about what you or your children are missing. Look for God in simple things. Invest where he guides. There are lessons and blessings hidden in this season and God longs to reveal them.

This post appeared first on the Balanced and a Beautiful in Christ Facebook group where I write regularly. Thanks to Jessie Courson for the lovely graphic.

Welcome to Isaiah’s Legacy Blog Hop – Stop #2

Blog Tour and Scavenger Hunt
Join the fun February 19-25th!

1 Week ~ 24 Blogs ~ 3 Incredible Prizes!

Learn a little about Isaiah’s Legacy and enter multiple giveaways while picking up CLUES at each stop. Compile all the clues, submit the final PHRASE at the last stop, and you’ll be entered to win one of 3 Grand Prizes

Learn a little about Isaiah’s Legacy and enter multiple giveaways while picking up CLUES at each stop. Compile all the clues, submit the final PHRASE at the last stop, and you’ll be entered to win one of 3 Grand… Click To Tweet

What are the prizes? They’re completely unique to the winners! 

Mesu will contact each winner personally to chat about what they would most like to see in Israel, and then she’ll SHOP for just the right gift while touring Israel, March 6-19! She’ll then purchase a personal and memorable gift specifically chosen for each of those three winners and ship them to each one when she returns. How fun is that?!

How does the Scavenger Hunt & Blog Tour Work?

  • Begin at Stop #1. At the end, you’ll find a CLUE and a link to the next stop. Progress to each stop IN ORDER.
  • Collect all the clues—in order—and submit the full phrase at the last blog stop in the Rafflecopter form. Every stop has a clue, so be sure not to skip any along the way!
  • You may enter the final giveaway only once and win only one grand prize. 
  • The Hunt begins 2/19/20 at noon EDT. Deadline for entries is Tuesday, 02/25 at midnight Eastern.
  • For best results, hunt through our list using Chrome or Firefox as your browser (not Explorer).

There is NO RUSH to complete the hunt—you have a whole week! As you visit each blog, it’s our hope that you get to know Mesu’s BFF team and discover the heart behind Isaiah’s Legacy.

So Glad You’ve Joined Me!

Image of book cover for Isaiah's Legacy

My name is Loretta. This is the fourth book I’ve helped promote on Mesu’s BFF team. I love the way Mesu’s writing compliments my Bible study with her in-depth research and Biblical accuracy. As a Bible Study writer, this is important to me!

Want to dig deeper into God’s Word about the king in Isaiah’s Legacy? CLICK HERE to check out the FREE downloadable Bible study on Mesu’s website. 

Thanks for stopping by! Remember to write down your CLUE before clicking to the next stop.

Here’s the Stop #2 Stuff!

Clue to write down: was to me

Link to Stop #3

Bookmark STOP #1 so you can check the tour schedule and get back on track if at any point you get lost or find a broken link. 

Enjoy the hunt!

Wait! Before you go…

I’m going to offer a chance to win a $10 Amazon Card to one individual. If you enter, you will be signed up for my mailing list (but don’t worry, if you are already signed up you won’t get a duplicate.) Just jump over to this page, sign up for my newsletter and you will be linked to the rafflecopter I’m using to choose! I will send you an email if you win!

The raffle has ended. The winner was Connie S. Connie, I’ve sent you an email! Congratulations!

And if you don’t have a copy of the book yet, grab one now!

Spending My Time Well: How to set priorities

“’I have the right to do anything,’” you say—but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’—but I will not be mastered by anything.” – 1 Corinthians 6:12 NIV

I am a champion time waster. I dawdle over social media. I perform low priority tasks to procrastinate over completing more important matters, fearing my efforts won’t measure up. Then, I decide I’m too busy to engage with friends because I would rather crawl into my introverted shell than engage.

In the 1960s, a best-selling business book Tyranny of the Urgent was written by Charles Hummel. This book discusses the tension between urgent and important. Do I give into the pressures others place on me to complete a task or create pressure of my own without weighing importance before I choose where to spend my time? What things scream “now” that rush me to react before I stop to weigh importance? How many unimportant “urgent” requests have I let hijack my life?

In the above passage, Paul details why Christians should not participate in sexual immorality. The same verse is repeated almost word for word in 1 Corinthians 10:23 where he talks about eating meat sacrificed to idols. Paul offers a principal to live by. We should not live to please ourselves but to remember that our life choices testify who we are. As Christ-followers, we should live to point others to Christ.

So the question is, what masters us? What gets us off track, or out of balance, as we try to live in Christ? Do emotions master us? Does entitlement? Are we self-centered when we should focus on others? Maybe, like me, you do not use your time as well as you could. Maybe your nemesis is something else.
To find God-given balance, we must look to God. If I were to lay open my planner before you, it would reveal how I spend my time. But more than that, it will reveal my priorities.

Making Wiser Decisions

Two weeks ago, I adopted a new practice (writing this post convicted me). In my morning time with God, I now lay my day before him. I ask, what should stay? What must go? I seek His guidance for making decisions throughout the day about how I spend time.

God has yet to reach down and mark through an entry or to add one. But, I am more aware through the day that the phone call from a friend who needs to vent may be an assignment I need to take even if I dread picking up the phone and am tempted to let it roll to voicemail. I recognize that a detour in my route to the gym may be an invitation to open my eyes to something I had not noticed before–perhaps an opportunity for service.

I want my time wasters gone! I want to rest in God rather than mindless activities. I want to be alert for opportunities to serve others, stretch myself and say yes. I want to write regularly, because I feel that is the main work God has called me to in this season. Following His plans helps me find balance and rest for my soul.

I also take a sabbath because I believe God can use me to accomplish what I’m assigned to do in six days. I prioritize a day of rest and worship without feeling the pressure of my schedule.
I’m older than most of you. In this season of life, I am compelled to finish well and point as many to Christ as I am able in the time I have left on earth. I regret I have not always recognized the importance of this attitude. I excused myself, thinking I’d get to certain important tasks when work was not pressing or when resources were more abundant.

I will leave you with this quote from Elizabeth Elliot: “If we really have too much to do, there are some items on the agenda which God did not put there. Let us submit the list to him and ask him to indicate which items we must delete. There is always time to do the will of God. If we are too busy to do that, we are too busy.”

Don’t Focus On the Overwhelm

Life has been a bit overwhelming for me these last few weeks. It seems that in every area of my life, pressure is building. I feel like the State of California waiting for the big one. Eventually, it’s all going to fall apart. But as I sat in silence this morning, thinking about the recent events and wondering how I was going to manage it all, a verse I memorized so long ago that it was the King James Version, came to mind. 

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee. 

Isaiah 26:3 KJV

I wasn’t casting about looking for a Bible verse to calm me. I was just sitting quietly before God doing my best to focus on something other than the overwhelm. Handing my concerns to Him rather than give in to the rising panic. And there it was. I said it out loud just because I really did need to hear it! I felt strengthened, so I said it again.

Then I paraphrased it to hold it close all day…“I will keep you in perfect peace when your mind is stayed on Me.” My personal message this morning from God. That seed planted in my heart long ago was springing to life. It was bridging the gap in my composure, which threatened to grow wider.

Slowly, I began to feel solid, less likely to slide out of control and into self-pity or panic. I renewed my point of focus.

I’ve been playing around with a podcast idea and feel compelled to encourage with God’s Word. Today was just one more reminder for me of why knowing the Word is such a critical component of living life well.

Read more reasons for committing God’s Word to memory here.

When you find yourself in hot water, and let’s face it, we all do, what we have put into our lives is what will pour out. To finish well, I need to live lives Steeped in the Word of God.

What If You Don’t Have to Try Harder?

Are you a doer, a striver, or maybe a perfectionist? Always trying harder to do good things in the hope that you will be found loveable or worthy or any other tag you are trying to attach to your reputation? If you are, I have some great news!

I’m learning so many things from the book of Galatians. I’m planning to share what I’ve learned in a Bible Study, but that’s not quite ready. If you would like to join me in getting ready I’ve recorded all of Galatians in a podcast format. In my minds-eye, I’m picturing a scroll that has just arrived. We eagerly unroll it and I stand up before our group to read the news that Paul has sent. When you hear it out loud, all at once it is a good way to put everything into context.

I made the recording for me really, so I could listen in the car and get my brain wrapped around what Paul has to share. Then I realized, I might not be the only one who could benefit from hearing it this way. If you would like to join me in tuning your ear to Paul’s letter then I’d invite you to use the link below. I think ultimately this will be available on whatever format you like to use for podcasting, but I’m told it takes a day or two for that to happen.

In the Meantime

Here’s a favorite verse for us to lean into this week.

Have you lost your senses? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?

Galatians 3:3 (NLT)

Good News: The path to living as a Christ-follower is not about trying harder. There is no list of secret rules. It’s really very simple, love others. Notice I did not say it was easy, but the Spirit promised us help.

Tell me, did you listen? Do you plan to? Drop me a note and let me know

Are You Tired? Ready To Lighten The Load?

Discipline, it’s not one of those magnetic words that the minute we hear it sticks, and we are determined to have it.  Yet, I believe this is the word that God has asked me to focus on in 2019. Unlike the first thoughts I had, I’ve come to understand it’s not a word that has been asked of me to wrestle my heart, mind, and soul into submission. God isn’t like that. He may pursue us relentlessly, but he does not drag us down and twist our arm behind our backs until we say “uncle”. He does not send us to our room and tell us we can not come out until we are ready to do what it is he has asked of us. God makes requests, gives us space, and sometimes consequences. Deeply desiring that we will, in the end, choose him.

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”  Matthew 11:28-30 (NLT)

Jesus had chosen his 12 apostles at this point and was beginning to teach them in the manner of the Jewish rabbi, or teacher. He would lead them to become disciples. He spent time with them. He talked with them about their thoughts, and he pulled examples from the daily experiences they shared.

The Rationale

Why have I chosen discipline? Because my soul needs rest! I read a lovely little book by Michelle DeRusha entitled “5 Unconventional Spiritual Practices For Your Soul”* In her chapter entitled The Spiritual Practice of Walking the Dog, yes, you read that correctly, she says this:

“The restless agitation we feel simmering just under the surface hints that we are missing something important, that our souls are yearning for more, but we don’t allow ourselves the silence and space to figure out what that something is.”

And if I’m honest, I do have that restless agitation. I realize that I want to spend this year going deeper with God. While my temptation is always to go wider, how much more can I read, how much more can I learn, always more! I am ready to do things differently. I want to spend more time just being with God. Because really that is what the spiritual disciplines are about.

My temptation is to seek distraction over quiet. To choose doing over being.

My Challenge

And so, I challenge myself to:

  • Sit in silence with God each day. Not try to do anything for Him, or say anything. Just be with him.
  • Listen while I sit. I want to hear all God has to say to me. Not just grab a quick answer to a question I’ve asked then whisper thanks and jump up and be on my way.
  • Experience the practices that Jesus observed while on this earth. These include prayer, fasting, study of the scriptures, and time with friends.

For me, this is the essence of the spiritual disciplines. To learn from Jesus’ example. Jesus tells me that his lessons provide rest for our souls. This mind that never seems to shut down could use a bit of rest. And so I begin. I spend time with Jesus, I watch him, and I listen in prayer and silence. And I respond to those gentle lessons. And contrary to our modern interpretation of discipline as in pushing and punishing ourselves into submission, I’m instead going to choose discipleship. And if you look closely, you will see that there is a common root.

What about you?

Are you ready for some quiet time at Jesus’ feet? If so, will you think of joining me on this quest for personal change? For growing deeper without striving harder? I just love that my Jesus says tie yourself to me (that’s what a yoke is, it ties two together.) And when you do, I’m going to do the heavy lifting. You will not find that what I ask of you is difficult. As a matter of fact, you will find rest.

*DeRusha, Michelle. 5 Unconventional Spiritual Practices for Your Soul. Michelle DeRusha. Kindle Edition. It’s a free book, of just 24 pages. So if you read on kindle then consider grabbing it here.

Facing The Future With An Assignment

So they worshiped him and then returned to Jerusalem filled with great joy. Luke 24:53 (NLT)

He’s been here, on the earth and is gone for now, from sight anyway. So here we are just about to step into a new year in the same place as the disciples who stood on that mountain. We have an assignment to accomplish while we wait for his return.

We can stand here and celebrate the coming as a child for a few days, but we need to be obedient. That’s where the joy is found.

During the time between his resurrection and his ascension, Jesus had opened the minds of his disciples to see clearly what the prophecies were telling us. Yes, I will come to you, but then, I will ascend into heaven and sit at the right hand of my father. He had told them this before, but now they got it! (Luke 24:27)

He issued his assignment- Tell people about me. He promised power from the Holy Spirit, and he spoke a blessing over him.

How different this day than the day they thought they lost him to death! Before they had felt abandoned, let down, and had no idea what they were going to do with the lives that looked nothing like they had a few short years before. Now, they knew he was alive and powerful even though he would no longer walk beside them physically. The emotion now was joy, rather than grief. No one felt abandoned. They had work to do as they eagerly waited for the return of their Lord. The mission was intact. And they knew their friend was sitting in a place of great power.

Friends, we have work to do too. Many of us are taking stock of what we have accomplished in the past year and harboring hopes of a productive year ahead. I’ve been praying and studying and seeking God’s guidance for my year ahead too.

I know without a doubt my assignment is to teach his word. This may take many forms for me in the coming year. I will continue to write this blog; I will study with my Tuesday ladies and offer my leadership. And, I will step into the assignment I feel God is giving me to write a Bible study. I’d appreciate your prayers for my efforts, and I find I need accountability so could you just drop me a note occasionally and ask me how I’m progressing!

Let’s Apply This Week’s Verse

  • We are all called to tell others about Jesus, but that will look a bit different for each of us. Ask God to help you get clear on what your personal version of the assignment looks like.
  • As you face your assignment, who do you rely upon?
  • How do you stay tuned into the adjustments which may happen to your specific version of the assignment?
  • When you think about the assignment you’ve been given are you filled with great joy? If not, what do you think you might do to find joy in your assignment?

Father, as we step into another year help us gain real clarity on our own personal version of the assignment. I love how you personalize everything. I know you have given us each a role that we are perfectly equipped to tackle as we work through your spirit. Help me to remember when I am feeling overwhelmed that I’m probably trying to go it alone, rather than looking to your spirit for guidance and help. Help me to remember my assignment is meant to glorify you, not to glorify me.

One More Thing

Can you believe it’s been a year? Fifty-two weeks of a verse a week!

If you would be willing, I’d really benefit from your feedback as I step into my own assignment.  Just click on the link and it will open in a new tab. 

(The survey is now closed. Thanks to all who participated.)

I will not be posting a blog next weekend. We will be spending time with our family. I appreciate that you have invested time reading what I’ve written and you can encourage me by joining in to look further into God’s word with me in the next year. I am planning to blog at least weekly as I have throughout the last year. I will continue to post a verse a week for you to memorize or just ponder and I will do my best to carry out the assignment God has given me.

Merry Christmas!

When Your Life Makes No Sense

In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away! Luke 15:7 (NLT)

What were you thinking? It’s a question my mother liked to ask when in her eyes I’d done something that made no sense. 

What was Jesus thinking when he came as a baby, lived life as an ordinary man then stepped into his public ministry calling all men to him?

Off The Deep End

His brothers thought he’d gone off the deep end. And the Pharisees, who recognized that he was indeed a powerful teacher, saw him hanging out with tax collectors and other undesirables. A career ending move that made no sense to them, and they did not hesitate to point it out, because after all, they were the wise leaders in this part of the world.

All Jesus was thinking is that the sinners needed saving. He didn’t have far to look to find a sinner. He was surrounded by them everywhere he went. Some of the folks, like the tax collectors, knew there was sin in their lives and welcomed a man who promised a way out of the trap of seeking after money, which came with its own set of problems.

Blinded By The Rules

But the Pharisee’s couldn’t see it. They were the rule followers. They thought they had it made on the pathway to the kingdom of heaven. Jesus knew otherwise, and even though the religious leaders saw themselves as the educated men of the day, he tried to break the news using a story, a way to sneak up on the truth and face it head-on.

Maybe you see yourself as one of the ninety-nine. It’s tempting, isn’t it? Well, let me tell you before we were one of the ninety-nine we were the one who had strayed. We’ve all been there, we all struggle daily not to go there again. This message might have been couched in terms of one who needed saving, but the message here really is we are all that one!

And that’s what he was thinking, looking forward to the joy of wrapping each ‘one’ in his arms as the ninety-nine look on and welcoming them to his home, because all along, each ‘one’ already had his heart. This was the joy set before him.

And that’s what he was thinking, looking forward to the joy of wrapping each ‘one’ in his arms. #steepedintheword #averseaweek #memorizetheword Click To Tweet

Looking Further at This Week’s Verse

  • Think back on life before you were the one who prompted the rejoicing when you repented. How did life feel?
  • Do you think remembering the ‘before’ can help us relate to those who have not yet joined the pen of sheep who recognized their shepherd?
  • How does it feel to know that you are the ‘one’ the one he loved, the one he saved, the one he wants to spend forever with?
  • How can you share your saving shepherd with the ninety-nine this season?
  • Are you willing to be a part of saving the one even when what you have to do makes no sense to those around you?

Father, thank you for seeing me and deeming me worth saving. I don’t want to sit smugly by and look down at those who still need you. I want to wade into humanity just like you did, making friends with the folks who still don’t quite get what you did for them. I want to share you rather than point fingers and criticize the lives of those who know no better. 

I know it’s tempting to think that everyone in our media-saturated world knows you, but really so few do. Many only know the God of rules that are impossible to follow, much like those Pharisees. Fewer know the God who did the unthinkable, risk the approval of the brothers he surely loved and just waded into messy lives with the hope of plucking those lives from the fire.  Give me opportunities to just wade into the messy, and give me the courage to go without hesitation. I know that today I’m numbered with the ninety-nine and I rejoice in that. But, don’t ever let me forget where I came from.

How Do I Recognize God’s Voice?

As he was praying, the heavens opened, and the Holy Spirit, in bodily form, descended on him like a dove. And a voice from heaven said, “You are my dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy.” Luke 3:22

My husband has a tradition. When one of his daughters or his grandchildren celebrate a birthday, he calls and sings happy birthday to them over the phone. I had been wondering if, as the grandchildren got a bit older, they thought this was silly.

My granddaughter stopped that thought cold. John (my husband) had gotten her voice mail when he called and because she was working was not sure if he would catch her in person, so he recorded his song on her voice mail. She called back later to talk to him and said, I’m going to keep that recording so when you are gone, I can always play it on my birthday. I’m a bit envious really because I’ve lost family members whos voice I’d love to have recorded but do not. However, I imagine that if they were to call me on the phone today, even these many years later, I would recognize the voice of those I loved.

John writes in Revelation  4:1 that the voice he heard was a voice he’d heard before. God spoke similar words at both Jesus baptism and at the transfiguration on the mountain, which John saw with his own eyes, and heard the words with his own ears.  It’s not clear to me if it was the voice of the father or the voice of the Lord Jesus, but I have to tell you, I love that the voice of God is familiar.

I have never heard God’s voice audibly. But he speaks to me as I read his word and to my inner being through the spirit. I am learning his voice. I want to be like John; I want the voice to be familiar.


The Old Testament prophets testified that in the last days, God would pour out his spirit on his people. The apostle John tells that John the Baptist was told that he would know the Messiah because he would be the one upon whom that the spirit settles, the one who would baptize with the Holy Spirit rather than just water. (John 1: 32-34) God didn’t just send a dove, he proudly claimed his son. There you have it, undeniable credibility!

As Christ-followers that same spirit has settled on us. Not only are we also proudly claimed, I believe the spirit aids us in recognizing God’s voice. First, I think the spirit is that voice I hear in my inner being (John 14:26). And, I believe the spirit aids me in understanding what God is saying through his written word (Hebrews 4:12). This is one of the ways the word can be living and active by my way of thinking.

Source of Joy

God loves his son, and I’m sure he brought joy in many ways, but being an obedient servant who came to walk this earth experiencing the human experience and offering himself as a sacrifice, that was a source of Joy. Why can I say that? Because God loves us. Jesus is proof of that. The obedience of Jesus set us free. No cheap freedom for us, but a costly one. When you pay that kind of price, it’s valuable. Our freedom is a source of joy for God. I get giddy just thinking about all that love poured out.

I take joy in knowing I can hear and recognize God’s voice. I long for the day when I hear him say to me, face to face, well done beloved daughter, you bring me great joy!

I take joy in knowing I can hear and recognize God’s voice. I long for the day when I hear him say to me, face to face, well done beloved daughter, you bring me great joy! #steepedintheword #memorizetheword #averseaweek Click To Tweet

Looking Further at This Week’s Verse

  • How do you hear God’s voice?
  • Are there times you wonder if it’s God you are hearing? How do you think you can break through that doubt?
  • Do you think time spent in God’s word helps us to recognize his voice? In what ways?

Father, Thank you for making it so clear that Jesus was your son. And thank you that even though we have not met him face to face we share with him the gift of your spirit.

I pray that the spirit will become a beacon in our lives pointing us to you so that we can point others in the right direction too. Help us to learn to listen closely as we hear the spirit speak in our innermost selves and as we read and speak your powerful words.

Help us live lives that express the joy we feel at being set free from sin’s grasp. And keep us faithful until the day we meet you face to face and recognize your joyful voice of welcome.


Unless otherwise noted, all verses quoted here are from the New Living Translation.

Memories That Deliver Life-Changing Joy

It’s an old memory and a reminder of how things have changed. But it also reminds me that the unexpected can be life-changing.

Almost from the first day of the first grade, my public school teacher began to work with us as we memorized the Christmas story from the book of Luke, King James Version.  Yes, I said public school. In December, the first-grade students would line up in the gym standing on the bleachers. Wearing white smocks with big red bows, we would recite together for our parents and pretty much everyone in our little town. This was quite a big event every year when the entire grade school repeated the same performance our parents might have offered up on a cold winter night.

And do you know, I can still recite the Christmas story from the book of Luke, although as I have done a quick refresh of my memory through the years, I’ve now memorized it in the NIV version.  That’s a tip for you: now and then, you may need to review what you have memorized just to refresh the details. And, if one version isn’t doing it for you, choose one that works.

But the real reason I can remember this passage of verses is that it's a story. A tale of true events, long ago, that I love hearing and which still makes my heart joyful! #steepedintheword #averseaweek #memorizetheword Click To Tweet

But the real reason I can remember this passage of verses is that it’s a story. A tale of true events, long ago, that I love hearing and which still makes my heart joyful!

Just as my heart set out on a journey to enjoy and memorize God’s word when I was a six year old, I want to set my heart this season on memorizing verses of joy! Not every day in life is sunny, but joy transcends happiness and having a few verses tucked away for times of need is a good strategy for me.

I’ve selected four verses, moments of joy from the life of Christ, to end my year. I hope you will join me, but let me just say this before I offer up the verses…the real goal is not memorizing the words from the scripture. The real goal is to steep your heart and mind in the words of truth. To soak up the truth into your life. Even if you can never repeat a verse word for word, if you have the gist of it planted deep in your memory and your life, you have been successful!

Week 49

They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. Luke 2:10

Week 50

As he was praying, the heavens opened, and the Holy Spirit, in bodily form, descended on him like a dove. And a voice from heaven said, “You are my dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy.” Luke 3:22

Week 51

In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away! Luke 15:7

Week 52

So they worshiped him and then returned to Jerusalem filled with great joy. Luke 24:52

Looking Further at This Week’s Verse

They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people.

They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. Luke 2:10

This is the delivery of the birth announcement to a group of shepherds on the hillside. Yes, there was joy, but there was also trepidation. Something supernatural was afoot, and that makes us uncomfortable. Discomfort was a thread running through the whole story.

Mary, you are going to bear a child out of wedlock. It had to be a shock, it had to come with a few moments of nerves, but ultimately, she trusted God and rejoiced.

Joseph, your intended is going to bear a child, it’s not your’s but is from God. We see a record of Joseph’s shock and awkward position, but he chose to enter this story that is filled with sorrow but ultimately leads us to the only lasting joy.

I was reading this morning of the current interest in the supernatural. It seems to me this is the perfect story for those who seek answers in the supernatural. Yes, it’s implausible. Yes, it may come with a few feelings of discomfort. That should not surprise us; we are walking on holy ground! God has entered the sorrow of the human story, and the intended result is pure joy!

I’d invite you to flip over to Luke. Read through that Christmas story to kick off this season of advent. It’s an old story, but it’s truth. It’s an unlikely but joyful entry of our Savior into the world. I suggest you just start reading at Luke Chapter 2.

Let’s Think This Through

  • When you consider the Christmas story in light of the supernatural events that are unfolding, describe how the aspect of miracles is significant.
  • Do you tend to avoid conversations with those who are not Christ-followers about the supernatural? What do you think might happen if we embraced this aspect of the Christmas story as a point of discussion?
  • When has God surprised you with joy? What was your first reaction?
  • What do you make of the paradox that one called “the man of sorrows” is the source of great joy?

Father, it is good tidings of joy that I focus on as I consider what you have done for me. All around me I see people focused on Christmas. Provide opportunities for me to proudly share your Christmas miracle. I don’t want to shy away from parts of your story that are supernatural because it’s uncomfortable to talk about. I want to meet the hunger for something more in empty lives with the miracle of this story. But I also want to reinforce that I don’t see it just as a story, I see it as a truth. Thank you for the miraculous gift of Jesus.

Can you believe this is the final month of 2018? Whether you have been following along through the whole year or joined us part way in, I hope you will jump on the joy bandwagon for a few weeks. Let’s celebrate a joy that will last forever, a joy that has nothing to do with the circumstances in which we find ourselves on any given day. And everything to do with a picture that’s bigger and grander and more miraculous than any other. A story, just like Mary, Joseph, and a group of shepherds on a hill one night,  we have been personally invited to join.

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