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Bible Study Heaven

Bible study books           Lisa Burkhardt Worley continues to sit at the Lord’s feet but on Tuesday, she’ll begin a series of devotions that were inspired through her extended quiet time.  In the meantime, this devotion was originally published on March 7, 2013.  

            Are you a lover of Bible studies like me? In my hall closet I have a shelf I call “Bible Study Heaven.” Every time I finish a study, the completed workbook goes on the shelf. Countless Beth Moore studies, some by Rick Warren and Lysa Terkeurst and numerous other teachers, are all tucked away on one shelf and I rarely bring the books out again. After twenty years of studies, the shelf is getting full. When I looked at the collection of workbooks in their resting place, I wondered if all those studies were worth it. Am I a different person today than when I began to delve into the Bible two decades ago?

It’s a question all of us can ask ourselves.  Are we changed by reading God’s Word?  Is our character really becoming more like Christ’s? This question is worthy of reflection.

In my case, I know I am not the same woman I was twenty years ago. 1 Timothy 3:16-17 says, All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

            Early in my Bible study years, God reproofed me. I became aware of the depth of my sin as well as the grace of God through a study of Romans. I plugged my name into Romans 1:21-25: For although Lisa knew God, she neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but her thinking became futile and her foolish heart was darkened…..Therefore God gave Lisa over in the sinful desires of her heart to sexual impurity for the degrading of her body with one another. She exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. I had always sugar coated my sin and now had to face it, repent and accept God’s grace. It was a turning point for me.

God trained me in righteousness. Through Bible study, I’ve learned about the heart of God and I’ve learned how to listen to my Creator. God transformed from God to Lord of my life and Father. I’ve studied his peace, joy and mercy and how to take my thoughts captive when my thinking doesn’t line up with God’s Word. Through the reading of James, I’ve learned the importance of taming my tongue. By examining Philippians, the Holy Spirit taught me how it looks to be humble like Jesus.

In my most recent study, God corrected a life-long behavior. with some practical advice on how to handle conflict. I learned it’s better to address an issue gently then to stuff frustration, something I had done for years. My mother was extremely passive because of her mental illness so we never had healthy conversations when I was growing up.  There was no conflict to ever deal with because nothing was ever discussed.   I tried it a couple of times then during the course of the study and found out it was a whole lot better to get things out in the open rather than fume on the inside.

So as I gaze at the countless books in “Bible Study Heaven” I realized my labor was definitely worth it and I would do it over again. Psalm 119:105 says, Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. I don’t know who I would be or where I would be without God’s Word. Without his lamp, I guess I’d still be stumbling around in the darkness and the shelf in my closet would just be another place for storage.

What about you? How have you changed by studying God’s Word through the years? Are you a different person because of it?

U-Turn

U turn            The Lord has asked founder Lisa Burkhardt Worley to be still and sit at his feet for a while (Psalm 46:10).  So because of this, Pearls of Promise is re-running some of its most popular devotions from the Pearls archives.  Today’s devotion was last published on December 29, 2012. 

            Years ago, a friend of mine and I decided to take a trip to Colorado with our children, two two-year olds and an eight and a nine-year old. It was a long trip with small children so we wanted to make the drive in as short a time as possible.

On the way home, I was chatting with my friend when I looked up and saw a highway sign that read, “Las Vegas-280 miles.” “Las Vegas? I shouldn’t be headed towards Nevada. I was supposed to be going towards Texas.”

It was then that I realized I was traveling the wrong direction and somewhere along the way, had missed a turn. I had to make a U-turn! As it turned out, I had ventured twenty-miles in the wrong direction.  Overall, a forty-mile and forty-five minute mistake! As much as I did not want to turn around, I realized I had to in order to get to my destination.

Isn’t life like that sometimes? You think you are headed the right way; in fact, the signs you see are actually pointing you one-way, but then you hit a dead-end and have to turn around, as difficult as that is.

The apostle Paul knows this concept. He thought he was doing the right thing as he marched down the road to Damascus, breathing murderous threats against Christians. But then a brilliant road sign named Jesus blinded him and let him know he needed to recalculate the route for his life.

Can you imagine the sorrow Paul felt when he realized he was wrong all those years when he thought he was right? It must have been difficult to make a U-Turn, but he knew his mission was headed in the wrong direction. After his life was redirected, instead of persecuting Christians, Paul preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus (Acts 9:27) and risked his life because of his boldness.

What about you? Have you hit a couple of roadblocks lately and now you realize you have to make a U-Turn? In my case, I recently went down a path that proved to be a dead-end before. Why didn’t I learn from my previous journey? Always the optimist, I thought it would be different this time, but I ended up in the exact same place. Have you had situations like that?

We must learn from our past and we must seek God as we navigate through the future. Ultimately, He has placed in us a sophisticated navigation system, but there’s one catch.  It only works when we activate it each morning through time spent with Him. God wants to lead you down a path that requires no U-Turns. The only time we head the wrong direction is when we leave Him behind.

Spotlight or Lamp by Catherine Weiskopf

Lamp 3

The Lord has asked founder Lisa Burkhardt Worley to be still and sit at his feet for a while (Psalm 46:10).  So because of this, Pearls of Promise will be re-running some of its most popular devotions from the Pearls archives. Spotlight or Lamp was published on October 4, 2012.

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. (Matthew 5:14)

When God asks us to be the light of the world which one does he mean? I asked myself this question as I looked at all the different lights around my house. Our backyard had a glaring spotlight for when the kids played basketball in the evening. I used a laser pointer for presentations. The kitchen was fitted with slow, energy saving LED lights that gave light from overhead. Soft glowing lamps lit the living room.

I was thinking about these lights while I talked to my sister one day. “Mom doesn’t understand how I can talk to Andrea because of how she left her husband,” my sister said. “But I don’t want to judge her.”

Her words were a laser focused right on my guilty heart. I was dealing with a similar situation. Two neighbors had dumped their husbands and found two new boyfriends. How should I treat them? Like a spotlight pointing out to everyone what they were doing wrong? Or a confused motion sensitive nightlight that went off instead of on when they were around?

My sister continued with a story of another woman ostracized because of her affair. “Her family isn’t talking to her,” she said. “When they see her in a store they ignore her.”

“That’s terrible,” I said, feeling the poor woman’s pain. What followed can only be described as the great throat clearing from the sky. “Ahem,” followed by, “Does this sound familiar?” The words rang in my head.

Yes, that’s what I was doing, ostracizing people because of their behavior. I saw them at the bus stop everyday and didn’t say a word. I thought what they were doing was awful. And further more I thought they were awful people for doing it. And as long as I’m being honest . . I had slipped into talking about their awful behavior. Plain and simply, I’d taken on the role of being the great spotlight in the sky. I was judging them and wanted all to see their bad behavior.

The Bible is full of advice about judgment. Jesus himself cleared a street of spotlighters with the simple phrases, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”(John 8:7)

I wondered how I should handle the bus stop. Since a spotlight was out, what kind of light should I be?

A day later, shopping I got the answer to this question. I saw a gorgeous lamp. A light bulb set between two brass ornate pieces-the base and the top. Surrounding the bulb where strings of crystals surrounded by strings of glass beads. The light this lamp gave off reminded me of the broken bits of rays I see when the sun breaks through a cloud.

I realized that shinning my light meant being with people in the mess and trying to help them see God’s light and love. God wanted me to be the light that breaks through the clouds and darkness. Light that is warm, heavenly, and shining from within outwards. God didn’t want me to shine my light onto a situation; he wanted me to shine my light into their lives.

Dear God,

Help me to be your light shining into this dark world. Help me to be a loving, healing and warm light so that people will be drawn to you through me. Catherine Weiskopf

 

Fight the Good Fight

The Lord has asked founder Lisa Burkhardt Worley to be still and sit at his feet for a while (Psalm 46:10).  So because of this, Pearls of Promise will be re-running some of its most popular devotions from the Pearls archives.  Today’s devotion was last published on April 6, 2013. 

boxing matchI have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Last night in The Bible mini-series, these were Paul’s last words before being carried off to be executed. Paul’s life had been a battle: he suffered imprisonments, beatings and had been pummeled with stones. He had been shipwrecked and had endured hunger and extreme cold.  Paul stepped into the ring many days to engage in the boxing match called life.

What kind of battle are you in now?

Years ago, I was struggling with a difficult move to the Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex.  My husband had been working in Dallas four days per week for about four years while I remained back with the kids in San Antonio.  It had been challenging to be apart so much but at long last,  my husband’s work moved us to North Texas and the family was together again.  In our new home, I imagined a blissful marriage, neighbors waiting at my door to welcome me to the neighborhood and a smooth transition to a new church, but it didn’t happen like I envisioned.  I was attending seminary at the time and there were many days where I was so battle weary I could barely put one foot in front of the other to walk to class.

One day as I was taking my car into the shop, I heard the words, “Fight the good fight.”  I knew that verse from 1 Timothy but was this really the Lord speaking to me?  It did come out of left field, which is what usually happens when I receive a God message.

Ironically, I had picked up a little Beth Moore pocket book to read the day before receiving this word from God.  The pamphlet happened to be on the subject of spiritual warfare.  It’s called Arm Yourself Against the Enemy’s Schemes.  The book had been sitting on my desk for at least a half-year but for some reason I decided to read it while my car was being looked at by the mechanic.  I thought, “This is interesting in light of what could have been a message from God.”

The next morning, God confirmed the message.  There was no longer any doubt.  My husband and I do a devotional together in the morning and we happened to be on 1 Timothy 1, verses 18-20.  I began to read the words and could hardly get through them,  They read: I am giving you these instructions, Timothy, my child in accordance with the prophecies made earlier about you, so that by following them you may fight the good fight, having faith and a good conscience.  There it was.  I knew there was no coincidence.  What were the odds of this happening?  I then told my husband what had occurred and he too believed this was God’s confirmation.

You see, I had been very discouraged the day before I received this call to listen.  I had been praying fervently for my situation to change and had still not seen total resolution.  I was battle weary and God knew I needed encouragement from him.

What does it mean to fight the good fight?  I’ll quote the words I read that day in my Holman New Testament Commentary:

“The good fight is the struggle which all Christians engage in when their efforts are focused toward honoring Christ and accepting responsibility for personal holiness.  It is about keeping the faith individually as well as in the church.   This is a militaristic term that admits to a hostile environment:  “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

God was telling me that life here on earth is a daily spiritual battle and that I needed to not give up. It was important to stay on my knees fighting for truth and holiness in myself and others. I was not to allow the enemy to win.

Our Father in heaven knows that life is not perfect.  Jesus says in John 16:33 says, In this world you will have trouble but he gives us good news, Take heart! I have overcome the world. 

A good boxing match will go the full twelve rounds before the final bell rings.  God wants us to know he’s in the ring with us and his son Jesus Christ, has already taken the knockout punch for us.  Our job is to stay in the ring and fight the good fight, then we have victory.

 

Teenage Kok-Maw by Catherine Weiskopf

Shoplifting“Mom, you’ll never believe what happened,” Ben said as he stormed in the house after a day out with friends.

With four boys together for most of the day, I knew anything was possible.

“We had gone into CVS for a snack and when we walked out one of my friends was holding a bottle of hand sanitizer he hadn’t paid for,” Ben continued. “Why would you steal that? I said to him.”

“It’s no big deal. It’s so small and inexpensive,” his friend answered.

In Ben’s mind it didn’t matter how small the object was, stealing was a big deal so he grabbed the hand sanitizer out of his friend’s hand and stormed back into the store.

Placing it on the counter Ben said, “I’m sorry, my friend stole this.” And he walked out.

This proud mama bear was amazed at the decisiveness of our own Dennis the Menace. There was no hesitation or questioning about what was the correct thing to do.

There is no way, as a teenager, I would have done what he did. I, in fact, had the same opportunity to test my character when I was in high school. One day while shopping with a good friend, she decided to shoplift a tube of mascara. I said nothing and just went along for the ride. Keeping quiet about my disapproval, I was nervous the whole way home with stolen lute in the car. Of course, I knew stealing was wrong but the lines between right and wrong were smudged by other wants: wanting to be liked, not wanting to make my friend mad, and not wanting to embarrass anyone.

If we have knowledge of wrong, like I did, but don’t put it into practice is there any value in having knowledge in the first place?  

Kok-maw is the Hebrew word for wisdom and means to be wise in thought and deed. “Wisdom begins with knowing what is right according to God and ends with action.” (Quoted from If I Only Had. . . Wrapping Yourself in God’s Truth During Storms of Insecurity by Lisa Burkhardt Worley and Catherine Weiskopf) Matthew 11:19, says it this way, The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, “Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.” But wisdom is proved right by her deeds. Wisdom is proved by action not by what fires around the gray matter of our brain.

In my eyes my fifteen-year-old son displayed wisdom well beyond his years that day. He is inspiring me to ask myself some tough questions: When I know something is wrong what do I do about it? Do I let the want of being liked freeze my actions? How can I have the wisdom that is wrapped up in the single Hebrew word of kok-maw?

There is only one way for our God given wisdom to have an affect on the world. Action. Like Ben, we are called to know right from wrong, and then with that knowledge grab the wrong decisively and make it right.

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