Visit weekly for a fresh Word!
  Valerie Holmes

WORD WEALTH


“PORTRAIT OF A JUDGE”

                I’d like to paint a picture for you today, but it definitely won’t be a pretty one – certainly not one you would purchase, and I pray that as you look into this portrait it will not be a self-portrait.  It’s a portrait of a Judge.  At the mention of the very word “judge”, your mind no doubt paints a picture of a courtroom with a sober, black robed, person of authority sitting with a gavel in his hand.  The thing is, this person has actually earned the right to become a judge.  The dictionary defines a judge as one who 1: forms an opinion through careful weighing of evidences and testing of premises.  This tells me that the office or function of a judge is not necessarily bad, but the way in which he “judges” is critical.  That’s where the word, “judgmental” comes into play.  Judgmental is defined as, “characterized by a tendency to judge harshly”.  So the portrait I want to paint for you is not really of a judge, but rather of a judgmental person.  As Christians it is most necessary that we are able to judge correctly, fairly and hopefully mercifully, the solid evidence placed before us.  Our standard being the Word of God which is of course, “the discerner of the heart and intents of man”. 

               So a Judge is not my concern today, but rather the “judgmental”.  This is such a ginormous problem in the body of Christ today and yet it’s an issue that the Word holds such great warning of.  Negative consequences are inevitable if participated in.  Jesus said, “judge not, lest you be judged!”  He went on to further warn by saying, “with the same measure you judge, you will be judged!”  Whew!!  That’s scary, and yet few seem to be scared!  For the most part I have observed that most of those who set themselves up to be judge and jury, don’t even know they’re doing it.  It seems to be their “natural” tendency, and some are even proud of their judgments – thinking themselves to be wise, further feeding the feeling of superiority that all judgmental people have.  It never ceases to amaze me how “spiritual” we make our judgments, actually crediting them to the “wisdom and discernment” of God.  How can something so blatantly “natural”, or human, or carnal, be from a God who is super-natural?  So let’s get back to the portrait.

1) A judgmental person always looks at your situation and blames you!   They have to blame you because they think themselves so spiritual that they certainly aren’t going to blame God!  Should a judge have been peering into the prison cell of Joseph or Paul or Peter, he would have said something like this:  “Well, guys, initially I thought your situation was a short test from God who would quickly deliver you so you would bring Him great glory, but since that isn’t happening, and this jail stuff has gone on for so long, it’s obvious it’s a consequence of what YOU have done and YOU are to blame – God is not testing you anymore, He’s disciplining you!  You! You…have been bad!!  A judgmental person has no tolerance for time.

2)  A judgmental person judges solely on what they “see” with their physical eyes and “hear” with their physical ears.  They believe they have ALL the evidence about your situation and give no thought to the fact that maybe there is more, or another side of the story, or something personal that they may not know.  The judgmental person always uses the Word of God in a “cut and dry” way.  “The Word says if you do ‘this’, God will do ‘this’, so you must not be doing ‘this’!  It’s all your fault.”  Sounds spiritual, but the older I get, the longer I serve God, I find out how “far His ways” really are above mine.

3)  A judgmental person appears to care, listen, and even comfort, but this is usually done to gather information.  In the end they will slam their gavel down and say, “well, if you wouldn’t have done this …”, or, “if you would only do this …”, which brings me to my next point.

4)  A judgmental person will always talk about themselves and tell you how they have “done life” right. They think of themselves as “right” and are proud of the “right” choices they seem to have made, and if only YOU would do the “right” things they did, then your life would be “right” like theirs too!  Like the person who inherits a million dollars and says, “well, I tithed all my life”.  And if you’re tithing too, but don’t have money flowing in, then they are sure you’ve done something to inhibit it.

5)  A judgmental person lives in a “now” state and is not a visionary.  The verse, “all things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purposes”, sounds good, but in a judgmental person’s head they really translate that verse to read, “if your good, all things will work together” – good like them.   A total “works” mentality. They can only see the present, they cannot believe for the future.  Everything is based on consequences.  Judging and pride = kissing cousins! How contrary to the Word that makes it clear that all my righteousness is like filthy rags!

                Anyways, the portrait isn’t totally complete but I hope you get the picture.  One of the most beautiful fruits I’ve received during this difficult season of my life and ministry, is that mercy, grace and compassion in me has quadrupled.  The tendency to judge another human being on any level is almost non-existent at this point.  Almost, I said, I daily need His grace to maintain this state.  Every day I pray that the gifts of knowledge, discernment, wisdom and understanding would fill the place of judging in my heart.  These of course are promised to me in Proverbs.

                To those of you who are experiencing the battle of your life and have felt the sting of a judgmental person, let me encourage you.  Joseph and Job are examples to those who have been plunged into desperate circumstances and yet to the best of your knowledge you have not blatantly sinned, disobeyed God or outright rebelled against Him.  You have a million questions and you know what it feels like to be watched, everybody trying to figure out, “why”, should such a thing be happening to you?

                My heart breaks for the countless saints who were judged when they became terminally ill.  When it appeared God wasn’t going to heal them, the judgmental person reasoned that obviously they had disobeyed God in some way and that this is the consequence.  I mean God is good and He’s been good to them, so once again it must be your fault.  Like Job’s friends they have to justify it in some way for their own relief.  When pastoring I will never forget a precious family who watched their son die of aids.  When he wasn’t healed there was a quiet buzz that this was not only the consequence of the son’s own sins, but also the sins of his parents.  How utterly un-godly, how utterly un-Christlike.  This is the truth about both Joseph and Job.  It’s not over till it’s over!  God knows the beginning from the end.  God had a plan from the beginning to raise Joseph up to be a deliverer for His people and bring Him great glory.  Joseph’s response to his desperate circumstances caused all this to come to pass like clock-work.  He endured his brothers jealousy, was sold as a slave, imprisoned twice, falsely accused of raping a woman, (in her dreams), forgotten – but then … freed! exalted! became the second most powerful leader in all of Egypt!  well respected!  rich!  and … vindicated!  But … still broken, still humble, for it is a broken and a contrite heart that God can use. 

                Job lost everything!  Everything!  He endured the horrific and constant analysis of his judgmental “friends”, desperately cried out to God to search his heart, show him his sin – but then … DOUBLE!  Double for his trouble.  God restored everything!  “So the Lord blessed Job in the second half of his life even more than in the beginning.  For he now had 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 teams of oxen and 1,000 female donkeys.  He also gave Job seven more sons and three daughters.  Job lived 140 more years after that, living to see four generations of his children and grand-children.  Then he died and old man who had lived a long, full life.”  Job 42:12-17  Both men survived their dire circumstances, fulfilled their purpose in God, remained faithful, and brought God the glory He so richly deserves.

                The woman caught in adultery is an example of someone who faced a devastating situation and it actually was because she had sinned.  She failed, she sinned, she did wrong!  She faced death that day, she actually could have died.  She had to be thinking, “this could be my last few hours”.  When the judgmental and religious crowd dragged her to the ground and encircled her with large rocks in their hands, they felt so superior, so powerful. “Look what we’ve caught!”  But dwell with me for a few minutes on the end of the story.  Read John 8:1-11.  It says Jesus stood up again, which tells me that He must have been bent down to her level.  And he didn’t ask her, “what did you do to make this crowd so angry that they want you dead?”, no, instead He asks her, “where are your accusers?  Did even one of them condemn you?”  “No”, she said.  Then Jesus ENDS the whole situation by saying, “Neither do I, go and sin no more”.  He was saying, I don’t condemn you, but don’t do it again either.  At that moment, Jesus restored her life to her.  She lived!!

                And that’s what I believe Jesus wants to restore to you today.  No matter what you’re facing, no matter the reason, Jesus came to restore your LIFE to you.  I don’t have time to judge you, but I have time to love you.  Everything about Jesus is a restorer, a deliverer, a forgiver, a giver!  Your situation is temporary!  Even if death is your diagnosis – it’s still temporary, for when you see Jesus you will be more alive than you have ever been before.  Tune out the voices of the judgmental and tune in the voice of Jesus.  He says:

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.” Romans 8:28 NLT   You love Him and He has called you.

“The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy.  My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” John 10:10 NLT     (“… I have come that they may have life and that they may have it more abundantly.” – John 10:10 NKJV)

“So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the crawling locust, the consuming locust, and the chewing locust, my great army which I sent among you.  You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, who has dealt wondrously with you; And my people will never be put to shame.  Then you will know that I am the Lord your God and there is no other.  My people will never be put to shame.”  Joel 2:25-27  NKJV

                Let me close with this, “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.  For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.  So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be PERFECT and COMPLETE, NEEDING NOTHING.”  James 1:2-4 NLT

Bless you! Xo

Valerie


WORD WEALTH

A favorite reassuring verse for so many Christians is Jeremiah 29:11.  I like to read it in the New Living Translation.  It says, “I know the plans that I have for you, says the Lord, they are plans for good and not for disaster to give you a future and a hope.”  This verse confirms to me on the most ordinary days, the most blessed days and even the most difficult of days that the future holds great things.  God has pre-designed a plan for my life that is good, not disastrous; full of hope and just simply … a future.  It also reminds me that God, as my Father, knows things about my future that I don’t know and that’s okay. 

Don’t you just wish God would pull back the curtain that hides our future just a little and let us see what lies ahead?  It would make all the teaching, training and learning we’re experiencing so much easier. 

God does have a plan, but our finite minds can’t even begin to understand just how big and how great that plan really is.  It reminded me of a conversation I had with Destiny a few years ago.  I made an incredible spaghetti dinner.  Well, I thought it was incredible, a nice crisp Italian garden salad, garlic bread, homemade spaghetti sauce and pasta.  I called our little Destiny, our twelve year old, into the kitchen to set the table, her usual job.  Half way through I reminded her that she had to switch the utensils around that the fork goes on the left over the napkin and the knife and spoon goes on the right.  After patiently listening, she nicely said, “Mom, what does it really matter, it’s not like we’re going to a ball or something.”  Well, true enough, it was just our family and only a spaghetti dinner, but a witty response quickly flew out of my mouth.  I said, “That’s true Destiny, we’re not going to a ball, but someday when Prince Charming comes along in your life and wants to take you to the ball, Mommy will be so glad that you know that the fork goes on the left and the knife on the right!  (I suspect she’ll be glad too.)

Well, just a cute story I know, but it got me thinking about two things.  One, that I as her mother could see much bigger things ahead in her future than what she could see, and secondly, that it was my job to prepare her for that future even if she finds it difficult, tedious or unnecessary.  It also showed me how much hope I have as her parent about her future.  I just know that she has such opportunity, such hope, such exciting days ahead of her.  I am full of expectancy that our children will reap a wonderful harvest from what Myles and I have sown into their lives.  As a parent, most of my life is spent in preparing my children and positioning them to walk into that bright future.  I am constantly teaching, training and encouraging them in real life situations to prepare them for their future. 

This is exactly what God is doing with us.  Think about the way God describes our future.  He talks about it with such hope, such expectancy, such joy.  In Deuteronomy 28 God says, your future will be blessed!  Blessed in the city and the country, your children will be blessed and so will your business.  You’ll be blessed when you’re coming and blessed when you’re going.  That is, if you obey whatever the Lord commands you.  Your future … exceedingly, abundantly, above all you could ask or think.  God not only expects your future to be great but has actually planned it out for you.  Just obey Him. 

You know, when the Lord spoke these words to the children of Israel they were in captivity in Babylon.  Captive, not a nice time for them. It’s hard to believe in a bright future when you’re captive in a dark present.  But that’s what’s so great about the word “future”.  It’s so much more powerful than the words yesterday, past, or even present.  You have a “future” and a hope!   If you read the whole chapter, you’ll learn the wise instruction God gave His people as they waited for Him to unfold His good future plan.  He encouraged them to build homes, plant gardens and multiply.  He said, work and pray for the very city that was holding them captive.  He was encouraging His people that He had a new day coming, a day of deliverance, but until that time, continue to live and learn.  Do you think the things the Lord is taking you through right now, teaching you, like I was teaching Destiny, are to prepare you for the incredible future that lies ahead?  That maybe these future plans He has will be best lived out when you receive His teaching well?  That maybe He knows something you don’t know and it’s greater that you could ever imagine? 

This one thing I do know, Jeremiah 29:11 is as much for you as it is for me.  Whether you’ll ever go to a ball or not in the future I don’t know.  But I do know one thing the future holds for us both.  One day we are going to attend a feast together.  It’s called the marriage supper of the lamb.  Jesus is preparing it right now and everything that happens in your life is to make sure that you make it there.  And I think that when you and I sit in the presence of the King of King, who we love, we’ll both be glad that we know the fork is on the left and the knife and spoon are on the right!

Remember, the greatest treasure you will ever find is in the wealth of His Word!

 

WORD WEALTH


To journal or not to journal … that is a question I want to address today! Why should a Christian keep a journal? I think I have earned a place in the Guinness book of World Records for the person who has started the most journals.   If my family really wants to get to know my inner most thoughts, prayers, lessons learned and spiritual insights, they just have to go through the house and open any drawer or every fifth book on our bookshelves and they will find some kind of journaling.  Notes written on torn paper or books with only 5-10 pages filled.  I have gotten much, much better over the years, let me tell you why.

The area of journaling has been something the Lord has consistently “called” me to for many years, but one that I have not always taken too seriously.  I really, really want to write a book someday.  Obviously the Lord knew that long before I was born, so He was graciously helping me learn the art of sorting out and recording my thoughts.

At some point, early in our ministry, I hesitated to journal because I had adopted a fear of having someone find my journals and read them, should anything happen to me.  I was told, by more experienced ministers, never to write down anything that I did not want someone else to find and read.  Though I didn’t have anything outrageous or even overly personal to write, their words of caution kept me from writing any personal thoughts or feelings for fear they would be read and twisted, misinterpreted or judged.  Maybe you have feared the same thing.

Well, as I’ve matured, I have realized the wiser truth in the teaching is this: 1. never write anything about another person I would not want them to read.  2. live my life so that I have nothing to hide and 3. it’s okay to record my innermost thoughts and feelings, even struggling, searching, desperate feelings. That’s what David did. That’s what the Psalms are all about.

The Bible consistently encourages us to “meditate” on the Word of God.  Meditation is the pre-requisite for journaling.  And journaling is a form of mediation.  Meditation is simply thinking and rethinking and thinking again on a certain subject matter.  Journaling is the record keeping of that thinking. 

Let me share a few reasons why I believe journaling is a wise and profitable practice for every Christian.

·         Journaling is a place to write down your questions and then the answers when they come.

·         It’s a place to record what the Spirit illuminates to you in His Word. 

·         It’s a place to chart your spiritual growth – measure your progress.

·         It’s a compilation of material READY to help and minister to others.

·         It’s a place to record your battles and your victories.  Your testimony of God’s faithfulness in the darkest periods of your life as well as the times you overcame, by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of your testimony.  Your journal is where you record your testimony.

·         Journaling helps us keep life in its proper perspective.  The perspective that lines up with God’s Word.  One writer said, “I have found that writing my fears down one by one can often remove the panic I feel when they are invading me like a hostile army.  When we look at our fears lying helpless there in black and white on the pages of our journal, they often assume their proper size.”

Journaling or writing has the powerful ability to freeze time.  To stop time in its tracks.  To record permanently those events, experiences and happenings so that you can go back to them again and again and gain richer insight and understanding.

Let me close my thoughts by quoting one of the best writers on spiritual journaling.  Elizabeth O’Connor says, “Journal writing is enforced reflection.  When we commit our observations to writing we are taking what is inside of us and placing it outside of us.  We are holding a piece of our life in our hands where we can meditate on it and deepen our understanding of it. Journaling takes a lot of courage, a lot of endurance, a commitment to press on when we want to quit, but remember, the goal of journaling is to make Jesus Christ the Lord of our life.”

The Word of God says, “Write the vision and make it plain”.  What are you seeing?  What are you envisioning?  What is God showing you?  Write it down.  Remember, the greatest treasure you will ever find is in the wealth of His Word!

WORD WEALTH

If you haven’t already been there, you will certainly come to a place in your life where you will need some encouragement.  Now thank God that He uses people to encourage us.  I thank God for the many people He uses to encourage me.  Yes, God uses people to be a great source of encouragement.  As a matter of fact, that is what every Christian ought to busy themselves doing every single day.  At the end of every day, before you close your eyes in sleep, ask yourself this question.  “Who have I encouraged today?”  But … if you put too much value and spend too much time always waiting for someone, a human being to encourage you, you could wait a really long time.  David had a better idea.  He learned to encourage himself in the Lord.  What David did was remind himself of truth that he knew in his heart with absolute certainty that was past truth, present truth and future truth. 

  This is my favorite marker.  It’s yellow and it’s called a china marker.  It’s what I use to highlight the great things God shows me in His Word.  In the front of my bible I’ve written something I call the yellow brick road.  I have written it mostly for my children should they read my Bible.  What it really is, is the path that I’ve tread through the Word that got me to the right place, the safe place, the best place in Christ.  Having travelled this path ahead of them, and marked it out well, they are sure to make the journey with less bumps and bruises.  It is a path of encouragement for me that leads to victory.  It is similar to taking this map and highlighting the highways I’m going to take on a trip.  I call this the yellow brick road of course because my highlighter is yellow, but also because of the similarities of the famous yellow brick road story where young Dorothy and her companions travelled in search of courage, love and intelligence…. Only to realize that all they needed, they already had. It’s really a wonderful spiritual parallel, as we realize that we have not been given a spirit of fear, but,  instead, exactly what the lion, tinman and scarecrow needed, we have  been given a spirit of power and love and a sound mind!

 That’s the real power of encouraging yourself in the Lord.  It’s a path of reminding yourself that what you need, in Christ, you already have.

This is what I’ve written in the front of my Bible. It reads:  “Follow the yellow brick road!  If you follow the yellow markings in this Word of God you will find the greatness, goodness, faithfulness, mercy, grace, awesomeness, character, kindness and full power of Almighty God!  This is my prayer for my children that they may know how truly great their God is! 

You need to mark a path and memorize it.  Because you are dealing with an enemy who likes to catch you off guard, throw a curve ball, sneak up on you as a wolf dressed like a lamb, you’ve got to make sure you’ve got a clear path through the Word of God.  When the enemy attacks it’s no time to be reading, “and so-and-so begat so-and-so”.  You need a clear path. The Word of God is your greatest weapon against the enemy of your soul and nobody can put it inside of you and activate it like you and the Holy Spirit together.  This is where I run to and this is what I do.  Follow the yellow brick road.  Here’s something I’ve just recently started to do.  I am choosing one verse that encourages me from every book of the Bible.  That makes 66 verses, and I’m memorizing each one.  When I need to remind myself of God in my past, God in my present and God in my future I speak those 66 verses.  It sounds something like this:  “Is anything too hard for the Lord?  I will be blessed wherever I go, coming in and going out.  The Lord will bless everything I do and will fill my storehouse, give me an abundance of good things.  I will lend and not borrow, and be the head and not the tail!  The Lord watches over the path of the Godly.  The Lord has set the Godly apart for Himself.  For you bless the Godly oh Lord, surrounding them with your shield of love.  The Lord has heard my plea.  The Lord will answer my prayer.  God is my shield, saving  those whose hearts are true and right.  God is a judge who is perfectly fair.  Those who know your name, trust in you, for you oh Lord have never abandoned anyone who searches for you.  The Lord’s promises are pure, like silver refined in a furnace, purified seven times over.  God is with those who obey Him.  You show unfailing love to your anointed.  Your goodness is so great.  You have stored up great blessings for those who honor you.  Those who trust in the Lord will never lack any good thing.”  That’s the sound of encouragement. 

Listen, if God sends someone your way, and He surely will, to encourage you, receive their words well.  (That is if they line up with God’s Words of course).   Go ahead and enjoy all the encouragement you can get, but your greatest encouragement which will  lead to your greatest victories, will come from what has been revealed to you by the Holy Spirit in the powerful, written Word of God Himself. It will lead you all the way to your home in Heaven where the streets are paved with gold… there really is a  yellow brick Road.  Remember, the greatest treasure you will ever find, is in the wealth of His Word!

WORD WEALTH

(This is an interactive skit we performed on television)

Have you ever heard the term, “chip on your shoulder”?   “She has a chip on her shoulder or he has a chip on his shoulder.  I think almost everyone at some time or another has had a chip of some kind on their shoulder.  So what does that term really mean?  The dictionary describes it like this:  a challenging or belligerent attitude, hostile, angry, defensive, combative or assertive.  In layman terms we might have described someone with a chip on their shoulder as having a “hang-up”.  You know most people can’t see their own chip, but others can see it as plainly as the nose on their face.  Usually the chip is back far enough (from way back in their life) that it’s well hidden from their view and they cannot see it for themselves.  So how can we identify these chips, where did they come from, and how serious are they? 

Thank the Lord I just happen to have five examples of people with some MAJOR chips on their shoulders right here in the studio.  Let’s see, Cathy, what chip are you carrying? 

Cathy – well, I’m carrying sour cream and onion because life has just gone sour for me and I’ve been crying ever since. 

Well thank you Cathy for sharing.  Now Myles, looks like you’ve got quite a chip on your shoulder, tell me about yours. 

Myles – well, I’ve got a BBQ chip on my shoulder cause I’ve been burnt by life, burnt by my friends, burnt by my family, burnt by my boss and worst of all burnt by my church.  Burnt, burnt, burnt, I’m BBQ’d to a crisp! 

Ah, thank you Myles, lots to deal with.  Eddie, Iooks like you’ve got one too, tell me about yours. 

Eddie – Well, I’m carrying a salt and vinegar chip on my shoulder.  I’m just plain bitter and everybody just keeps rubbing salt in my wounds.  I have every right to be this bitter.

Wow, we’ve got issues in this studio.  Well, moving on, whatcha carrying Lori?

Lori – Well, I’ve just got a plain chip on my shoulders, no flavor, no ruffles, nothing, just plain old me.  Nobody ever noticed me, just a flower on the wall I am – totally neglected.  If fact, I can’t even believe you’re making me a part of this, nobody ever notices me. 

Oh dear, what a sad story.  Well, last but not least, Judge, those big shoulders are carrying some pretty big chips, tell me about them. 

Judge – These are Nacho chips ‘cause I’m tired of everybody taking my stuff!  These are nachos, their mine!  Mine, mine, mine!  Nachos!  From the day I was born everybody’s been taking everything that's suppose to be mine.  Take, take, take!  Stole my chocolate bar when I was five, stole my bike when I was seven, stole my girlfriend when I was seventeen!  Take, take, take, nobody’s taking from me anymore!  Their nachos, their mine. 

Well, you are a sad bunch, but I’m gonna help you.  So Judge, stop eating your chips and listen. 

These chips you’re carrying are the result of five areas of our lives that have shaped our personalities negatively and affected our character throughout our life.  Specific incidents, circumstances, words, and memories that have left a negative and damaging impact.   These five areas are:

1. Power people – These are authorities you should have been able to trust to protect you and love you but instead, betrayed you or failed you.

2. Community atmosphere - This includes the environment in the home you grew up in, the schools and churches you attended, and how your friends treated you.

3. Self-perception – The disappointments of life have caused you to no longer believe in yourself or your future and have distorted your self-image.

4. Recurring criticism – When you’ve been told a lie often enough, eventually you gave up and believed the deception. 

5.  Memories - These are life experiences that are too painful to shake and they have begun to define who you are and how you react to life and people.

When the enemy has infiltrated these five areas, he intends to hold you back and keep you from fulfilling the destiny that God designed for you.  Should you continue to carry these chips you are sure to be less productive and far less fruitful.  They will affect you in every area of life, your family, your finances, your career, your relationships and your faith.   It’s time to shake off the old chips. It’s time to claim victory over the past and grasp the glorious future God has promised.  It’s time to shake off the lies, hurt, pain, disappointment and shame of yesterday and run the race to the finish. It’s time to shake off everything the enemy has tried to label and identify you with.  I’m reminded of this great old story I’ve heard Myles tell more than a few times.  One day a farmer's donkey fell down into a well. The poor animal cried for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do. Finally, he decided the animal was old and the well needed to be covered up anyway.  It just wasn't worth the trouble of retrieving the donkey.  So the farmer invited all his neighbors to come over and help him. They all grabbed a shovel and began to throw dirt into the well. At first, the donkey realized what was happening and cried. Then, to everyone's amazement, he quieted down.  A few shovel loads later, the farmer finally looked down the well and was shocked at what he saw. With every shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing. He would shake it off, stomp it down and take a step up. As the farmer's neighbors continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off, stomp it down and take a step up. Pretty soon, everyone was amazed as the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and trotted off!  You know, life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds of dirt. The trick to getting out of the well, the dark and difficult place, is to shake it off and take a step up.  Decide to let each of your challenges, those five negative areas be stepping stones.  With the first shake say, “I’m forgetting the things that are behind, I’m pressing forward, I’m reaching for the high calling of God in Christ Jesus, and ask God by His Holy Spirit to redeem your past, make sense of your present and give you hope for the future.  Then stomp it down and step up.  With the second shake, say, I am more than a conqueror by the blood of the lamb and the word of my testimony.  Then stomp it down and step up.  Then with the third shake say, no weapon formed against me shall prosper, then stomp it down and step up.  Then say … I am the righteousness of God in Christ; I am the head and not the tail.  I am blessed coming in and going out; I am a child of the most High God.  Then stomp it down and step up.

Before long you will walk right out of the negative areas that tried to shape you and begin to see yourself taking on a new shape, shaped by the Word of God, shaped by the promises of God, shaped with new attitudes, strength, purpose and destiny.  Shaped with shoulders that can’t hold any chips … okay Judge, you can eat your chips now.

Valerie

WORD WEALTH

I am so concerned at the number of people who are Christians, followers of Jesus Christ and yet almost never read the Bible for themselves. They watch Christian TV, thank the Lord, even attend church, but never actually use their own bible to learn and hear from God.  Studying the Bible in a deeper sense is something even more remote for an embarrassing number who say they are Christians. That can’t be you! It just can’t be you!  That’s not what God wants for you! Almost every time God speaks to His servants, He speaks through His Word.  That’s why the enemy will go to such extremes to keep you from the Word.  Every time you read your Bible, your goal as a Christian should be, to be able to clearly hear the voice of God speaking through His Word, respond immediately in obedience to that voice and then enjoy the blessing from that choice.

Abraham Lincoln said, “I believe the Bible is the best gift ever given to man.  All the good from the Savior of the World is communicated to us through this book.”
George Washington said, “It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.”  If this great world leader knew this about governing the world, how much more do you and I need this book to help us as we govern our own lives?

My goal in this Word Wealth segment is to inspire you to fall in love with the Word of God and help you develop a daily, consistent habit of reading and praying it.  I know that if you do this faithfully the day will come when you can hardly stay asleep in anticipation of what God is going to share with you that day.  You will become addicted to the peace and the power that it provides.   It has been so transforming in my own life that I have become completely dependant on the Word that is either on paper or in my heart.  

Imagine this with me.  If you're like me, you carry your cell phone everywhere.  You make sure it's charged up and handy at all times.  Well, I wonder what would happen if we treated our Bibles like we treat our cell phones?    What if we carried it around in our purses or pockets, making sure it was instantly accessible?    What if we flipped through it several times a day?  What if we turned back to get it if we forgot it?    What if we used it to receive messages from the text?    What if we used it while waiting for our Dr.'s appointment, or our food in a restaurant or while waiting for the kids to come out of school?   What if we couldn't live without it?   What if we gave it to our kids as gifts?   What if we used it when we traveled?    What if we used it in case of emergency?  Now, here is some really good news...unlike our cell phones, we don't have to worry about our Bible being disconnected ... because Jesus already paid the bill.  And no dropped calls!

Now, a cell phone could actually save your life given the right set of circumstances.  But the Bible was given to save our eternal souls, point us to heaven and give us victory on the journey.  Cute cell phone analogies aside, you really must trust your entire life to the heaven-connection you will create through your dependence on every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God.  I have no doubt the battle will become much more intense as the Lord's return draws near, so we must be Word-equipped.  Like Eph. 6:17 tells us “ ... take up the sword of the Spirit which is the WORD OF GOD!”   Pick it up every morning, charged up and ready to go!  Remember, the greatest treasure you will ever find is in the wealth of His Word!

 WORD WEALTH!
Way up in the storage area of our home are five very important boxes.  They’re called memory boxes and each one belongs to one of our five children.  If you could see them you would laugh.  They are all nicely labeled with each child’s name and completely overflowing.  Not one of the lids will fit on properly.  You can just imagine what’s inside those boxes.  Treasures from my children gathered over the span of 24 years.  Now the items inside these boxes are all precious, but if I had kept everything that the kids ever gave me or drew for me or made for me, I would have had to dedicate an entire room just for the storage of all these things.  So, out of absolute necessity, I have had to sometimes, rarely, but sometimes, discard a few items over the years, and keep only the most precious. 

It reminds me of something that happened with probably at least three of our five kids.  If you’re a mother, I know you’ll be able to relate to this story.  It was entirely possible that after a picture had hung on our fridge for a lengthy period of time, and thinking that surely the child had forgotten it was there, I would remove the picture and actually “throw it out”. (music) Now understand, this is serious business.  The sheer risk of the child knowing I had tossed one of his pictures was heartbreaking to them to say the least.  Therefore, I didn’t just toss this artwork onto the top of the trash for the artist to find, I would bury it so deep under, well, you don’t want to know under what, and sure enough, the Lord is my witness, within what seemed like only minutes, I would turn around to find the very artist, that drew the amazing picture, in absolute shock, holding the crumpled picture.

Well, I guess only a mother can relate to the horror on the face of the child as they say, “How did this get in there?”  (Talk about be sure your sins will find you out)  Now of course, the temptation that every mother faces, as her face blushes and her heart nearly beats out of her chest, is to take the picture, uncrumple it, place it back under the fridge magnets and say, with the same level of horror and shock, “How in the world did that get in there?”  But, feeling the conviction of the Holy Spirit to not be deceptive, I gently sit the child down and explain that Mommy has five million and twenty four thousand pieces of amazing artwork from all five of you kids and just maybe I can’t keep all of them and have to choose the ones that have the best memories attached to them.  I mean really people, this stuff is precious, but how many Popsicle stick jewelery boxes can one mother keep and, what about this ashtray, who knows who made that!  I mean honestly, we’ve never smoked a day in our life.  I guess the teacher must have smoked!  And here we have …. (show stuff).  That’s right, I’ve got more locks of hair and baby teeth than you can imagine.  You name it, I’ve got it!  Artwork, rare indeed, that really is priceless.  Precious memories I CHOSE to keep.

Well, it’s amazing how the Lord uses the little daily happenings and stories of our lives to remind us of His love, but once again He did, as I chuckled over this memory.  Do you know that God sorts through all the memories He has of you too?  That’s right, by His own choice He throws out plenty of them.  The Bible says He throws them farther away than the east is from the west and chooses to only keep the good ones.  The day that you asked Jesus to forgive you of your sins, He got rid of every memory that wasn’t valuable, that didn’t have a good “memory” attached to it.  As a matter of fact, the Bible says that He can’t even remember the things that we remember, that is until you remind Him of course.  You know, reminding God of your failures, sins and shortcomings is sort of like digging through the trash, finding that failure, holding it up to God and saying, “Do you remember this?”  Thank the Lord He doesn’t!  He doesn’t remember any sin that you’ve asked to be forgiven of.  He may even say, “What sin?” In Psalm 103, just a few verses before my Bible tells me that He has removed my rebellious acts as far away from me as the east is from the west, it also says that He will not constantly accuse us or remain angry forever and that He has not punished us for all my sins or deal with us as we deserve.  No, He just simply forgives and then simply forgets.  Hebrews 8:12 says it like this, “I will forgive their wrongdoings, and I will never again remember their sins”.  What a savior!  I hope you love Him today.  I hope you feel His love for you.  His absolute, unconditional love that chooses to forgive and forget.  If you have never asked Jesus to forgive you of your sins, then this is the perfect moment. 

 
Valerie

                          val@mylesholmes.com