Category Archives: Parting Words from The WORD

Parting Words From The WORD…How Good is My Sacrifice?

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

As we’ve discussed before, I’ve been competitive all my life. It doesn’t matter whether it’s leg-wrestling or a game of Pigtail, I WANT TO WIN!

We’ve also discussed in the past how easy it is to get lulled into the lie of a works-grace, especially if we’re naturally competitive and struggle with a check-off mentality. Oh, we know that salvation is only through grace and not something we have earned, and yet, when we least expect it, Satan can ratchet up the pressure and insinuate his lies into His truth.

Yesterday, as I continued my Bible study of Planted: Sit, Stand, and Walk with Jesus , Annie Pajcic addressed the subject of obedience. As I reflected on the topic of obedience, I remembered the story of Saul and how the Lord commanded him to destroy King Agag, all the Amalekites, all their families, and all their possessions.

But Saul had a better idea. Yes, he destroyed all the people, but he captured King Agag. He killed all the Amalekites and their families, but kept the best sheep and cattle. Bottom line, he disobeyed God.

Although Saul defended his actions by saying he did it for the Lord and saved the best animals to offer as sacrifices to God, Samuel responded with these powerful words:

“Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
    as much as in obeying the Lord?
To obey is better than sacrifice,
    and to heed is better than the fat of rams.
For rebellion is like the sin of divination,
    and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,
    he has rejected you as king.”
I Samuel 15:22-23

Samuel’s words reminded me that all the great things we may do for God don’t count for much if we aren’t sincerely following His commands. Are we following the letter of the law, but ignoring the spirit of it? Are we proclaiming Christ and Him crucified, but finding fault with everyone around us? Are we writing books to change hearts, but hardening our own hearts to the concept of grace for all?

Friends, we can write books and articles, create great programs, visit prisoners, go on mission trips, and give back more than the tithe, but if it’s done with a works mentality and a judgmental heart, if we’re not following the Lord’s commands found in His Word, our sacrifices of talent, time, and money are nothing more than going through the motions.

After all, obedience to His Word is greater than any sacrifice we may offer.

I pray God’s blessing on the works of your hands and your hearts,

Vonda

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Parting Words From The WORD…You Wouldn’t Ask Me To Do That, Would You?

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Today’s Parting Words From The WORD is a rerun from March, 2012. I ran across it as I was searching to see if I had addressed a specific verse in a prior post. But when I found this one and read it, I was almost moved to tears…again.

I vividly remember writing the post, and even though more than two years have passed since writing it, it still stirs me from the deepest part of me.

On a day when we remember our freedoms and rights in America, are we willing to give up what we want for what He has for us to do?

What will He ask me to lay down? Will I be faithful to do it?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Most of us here are writers and speakers. It’s not only what we do, but it also cuts to the core of who we are. We often say we write or speak because we have to, that we feel God has given us the ability to communicate so we can share Him, the cure for a lost and dying world.

This past Sunday morning, my friend and writing sister, Edie Melson, posted her compelling poem, A Divine Obsession, in which she states a repeated refrain, “I write because I must.” And to that I say, “Amen, sister!” I read Edie’s beautiful post Sunday morning, took comfort in the truth of her words and God’s blessing on me as a writer, and headed to out the door to worship.

In Sunday School that morning we studied 1 John 2 and I was reminded again that God called John and Paul and Peter and James to be writers and communicators, just as He has called you and me. Of course, I’m NOT saying our words are the inspired Word of God, but I am saying He put in us everything we need to be able to spread His Great Name through the written and spoken word.

Praise and worship time brought me to that place where I want nothing more than to be in His presence, seeking Him and His will. Then during Sunday morning worship, our visiting pastor, Russ Chambers of Hingepoint Church in CA, challenged us with a powerful message about the cross.

I had had a great morning, starting with Edie’s vivid poem about writing, straight to Sunday School and the reminder that God had called me to write and speak, just as He called the scribes of His Word, right on to anointed worship before the Lord, and then to Russ’ message, to which I could nod my head and my heart in agreement.

But then Russ said, “Our personal preferences have to die.”

In that very moment, my writing and speaking and teaching and singing and acting flashed before me. A catch gripped my heart and mind. Surely He would never ask me to lay THAT down on the altar…would He? After all, He’s called me, gifted me, ordained me if you will, to be a communicator of the Truth of His Great Name!

But…what if…my goodness, I can hardly say it…what if He asked me to lay it all down?

I admit, I’ve had fleeting thoughts along those lines through the years, but it’s usually just that–a fleeting thought. After all, why would God choose us…only to later UNchoose us to be writers and speakers? But this time the possibility was real, more urgent, more in the moment.

Even as I write this, I can hardly wrap my mind around the concept. But as one who loves the Creator and all it means to call Him Lord, I have to accept that the day could come when He says,”It’s over.”

It scares me how much that thought scares me.

Oh, I can speak in my spiritual voice and say yes, we must be willing to lay everything down for Him and His sake. And I believe it with as much belief as my heart can muster. But if I’m honest–which I’m trying to be here–I hope He doesn’t ask that of me. The truth is, I don’t want to lay it down.

After all, as Edie so brilliantly wrote, “I write because I must.”

But as God clearly showed me this weekend, I cannot let my preference for and my joy in writing or speaking or acting or singing or teaching determine what I will or won’t do with my life.

I have to remember I’m merely a sinner, saved by the blood and sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross. The time He has given me to be a writer or speaker or anything else could very well come to an end. But that wouldn’t mean my life as a useful tool of God would be over.

It would simply be the beginning of another new thing.

“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’” Isaiah 30:21 NIV

I pray God’s blessing on the work of your hands and your hearts…regardless of what He has for you–and me–to do,

Vonda

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Parting Words From The WORD…Amazing

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

I’ve mentioned recently that I’m doing the Bible study, Planted, by Annie Pajcic and I’m really enjoying it. Lots of insight into Psalm 1:1-3 and how we’re to sit, stand, and walk with Jesus.

And although every day’s lesson is great, yesterday’s was especially tender. I knew immediately I wanted to share it with you!

Annie shares how Robert McGee’s book, The Search for Significance, changed her life by helping her see who she was in Christ, that appearances and approval of others have no bearing on her worth. And they don’t determine our worth, either.

Then she quoted Romans 5:8 from The Message:

But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him. Romans 5:8 (MSG)

“God put his love on the line…sacrificial death…while we were of no use whatever to him.”

I’ve heard that verse all my life. Memorized it as a young girl in GAs. Proclaimed it as a speaker and teacher. But never have I grasped the concept as completely as I did when I read it this week.

I was of no more use to God than a clump of South Carolina red clay, but it was at that very moment…in all my filthy uselessness…that He sacrificed His precious Son for me.

Amazing.

I pray God’s blessing on the work of your hands and your hearts,

Vonda

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Parting Words From The WORD…Thanking God for You

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

As I write this, it’s been another busy day…week…month…and year. And yet, I’m encouraged every day by your kind words and comments. I know there are those who wonder why we work so hard for so little.

But it’s just not something we can explain, is it? We work together to grow each other as writers and speakers. We work together to grow in faith. And we work together to grow in love.

(I hope you don’t mind my taking the liberty to add the word, sisters, to the verse below. I know that’s Paul’s intent.)

We ought always to thank God for you, brothers [and sisters], and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing.
2 Thessalonians 1:3

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Parting Words From The WORD…Words Encourage Others

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

As you read this, I’m on a personal writing retreat with my friend and fellow writer, Robin Bryce. We’ve been working on a co-authored book for at least three years now, but between our own illnesses, caregiving, unexpected family responsibilities, busy schedules, and interruptions, we still haven’t finished.

And it won’t be completed this week.

But praise God, His written Word is complete. He spoke it and men transcribed it thousands of years ago, in order to give us hope and encouragement today.

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Romans 15:4

And praise Him that our written words, transcribed today, may give hope and encouragement to others in the future.

I pray God’s blessing on the work of your hands and your hearts,

Vonda

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Parting Words From The WORD…When You Don’t Know What to Pray For

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Hello friends. If you’re a regular follower of my blog, you know that I’m off-schedule today. My Friday post usually comes out first thing on Friday morning, but this has been an unusual week.

Today I simply want to ask for your prayer. My sweet 96yo father-in-law has been seriously ill in ICU this week. As a matter of fact, the doctor told me this morning that it’s unbelievable that he even survived. What a mighty God we serve!

He’s now out of ICU and in a room where they can still monitor his heart. He’ll have several more days of treatment there and then will most likely go to a rehab facility for a week or two for continued therapy and strengthening.

There have been so many blessings and evidence of answered prayer during this struggle. Thank you to those who knew of the situation and were praying for us. Our loving Father certainly poured out His blessing on our family by giving us more time with Gary’s dad, at least for now.

But to be honest, at this point, I don’t even know specifically what to ask you pray for. Of course we want to have many more years with him, but what if we don’t get them? Or what if he lives, but it’s with misery and pain?

Would that mean that God didn’t hear our cries? Of course not.

I’m thankful that even though I may not know what to pray for, I do know there is One who does.

…the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. Romans 8:26b

Please join me in our shared weakness and ask the Holy Spirit Himself to intercede to the Father on our behalf. After all, we know that is a prayer will always be answered.

I pray God’s blessing on the work of your hands and your hearts,

Vonda

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Parting Words From The WORD…I’m His Favorite, by Judith Robl

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

(Thank you to writer and speaker Judith Robl for responding to my call-out for guest bloggers. With all the recent writing conferences, I thought her devotion is perfect for today. Thank you, Judith!)

I’m His Favorite, by Judith Robl

Focus verses: Genesis 37:3-11

Joseph is a boy – a teenager really. Can’t you just imagine his youthful cockiness as he tells his dreams to his brothers?

And the fact that he is his father’s favorite just adds fuel to the fire.

At a writers’ conference several years ago, I sat at the supper table with a young woman who’d had a great day. She concluded her recitation of God’s blessings to her with “I’m His favorite.” As we all took turns sharing our triumph for the day, she’d interject to each “how wonderful! You’re God’s favorite.” It became a running by-word for the remainder of the conference. And it was a reminder to us that God cared about each of us in every detail.

In fact, we’re each God’s favorite. He loves us each as if we were His only child. But this does not give us reason to be cocky and self-assured.

Rather it should make us more sensitive to the feelings of others, more ready to encourage and support their efforts to know God better.

We can best reflect His love by speaking gently and humbly, by loving unconditionally, and by admonishing softly with God’s truth.

Father, God,
Wrap us in the security of Your love. Help us reflect it to all we meet who are starving for knowledge of You.
In Jesus most precious name,
AmenJudith Robl headshot

Bio: Judith Robl is the author of As Grandma Says (Harvest House) and founder of Reflected Light Ministries and speaks to women’s groups about prayer, forgiveness, and drawing closer to God. Trained as a secondary level English teacher, Judith has a heart for mentoring. She and her husband, Martin, have been married almost 50 years and enjoy time with their grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

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Parting Words From The WORD…The Right Rights

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

As a new nursing student in 1977, I learned there are 5 Rights we’re supposed to confirm before giving medication to a patient. It’s a way to assure that we’re safe as we deliver powerful, life-changing chemicals. The 5 Rights of Medication Administration are:

  • The Right Medication
  • The Right Dose
  • The Right Time
  • The Right Route
  • And of course, The Right Patient

As a new student of The Word after truly giving my life to Christ in 1984, I envisioned a similar checklist for those who shared Christ with others. In my mind, The 5 Rights to Sharing the Gospel were:

  • The Right Degree
  • The Right Church
  • The Right Past
  • The Right Clothes
  • And of course, The Right Words

But once I really began to study God’s Word, I realized I had the rights all wrong. Here are The 5 “Rights” of Sharing the Powerful, Life-Changing Gospel Message to a Lost and Dying World:

  • The Right Relationship—Am I a true follower of Christ who has an active, vibrant, one-on-one relationship with God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit?
  • The Right Savior—Am I sharing the truth of the grace, mercy, and love of our Savior Jesus Christ, or am I preaching a works religion?
  • The Right Position—Am I speaking with humility, confessing my own struggles and failures, or am I standing proud, confident in my own abilities?
  • The Right Reason—Am I speaking up in order to bring God glory, or to put a notch in my imitation belt of truth?
  • And of course, The Right Love—Am I tender toward the lost, loving them as Christ would? Do I love them enough to keep trying when they turn me away, or am I determining when I’ve had enough?

My mouth will tell of your righteous deeds, of your saving acts all day long— though I know not how to relate them all.  Psalm 71:15 (NIV)

We may not know everything about His Word or how to share it fluently, and we may not have a theology degree or go to the biggest church or have a good past or wear the best clothes or be the best speaker, but with the right Rights, our mouths can tell of His righteous deeds and His saving acts all day long.

And lives will be changed because of it.

I pray God’s blessing on your hands and your hearts,

Vonda

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Parting Words From The WORD…I Can Do It All

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

(Thanks to Edie Melson for allowing me to repost this much-needed message while I’m in AZ with my mother. I admit, it’s a message I need to hear again and again!)

I Can Do It All, by Edie Melson

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13

This was one of the first Bible verses I ever memorized. It’s a heady verse for someone like me. Someone who loves to say yes for two reason— the sheer joy of being involved and the fear others wouldn’t like me if I couldn’t perform. It was a dangerous combination. But I truly believed this verse gave me the ability to say yes to everything, and God would provide a way.

Fast forward several years, and the price of saying yes began to take it’s toll on my mind and body. I no longer lived a life of joy and victory. Instead I was a slave of over commitment. And I finally broke. It wasn’t pretty. Diagnosed with severe depression and several other mental health challenges it took me months to recover.

It was a painful lesson, and one I had to learn to ever be able to move forward. When forced to give up everything, I thought I’d never get to do anything fun again and that everyone would dislike me. (Stupid I know, but it’s really what I believed.) Slowly I began to realize God’s plan didn’t involve me saying yes to every good activity or need within my community.

I also discovered that when I said yes to something that wasn’t intended for me, I was in the way. I’d taken a task from someone else and denied them the joy of obedience. I’d become a roadblock in the journey God had for them.

I’ve also learned not to equate a need with a call from God. By that I mean just because I see a hole that needs filling it’s not my job to jump in. God has proven perfectly capable of providing for the needs of those around me.

Now I’m living a much more balanced and joyful life. I’m still not perfect, there are days I just can’t say no. But He’s shown me that the things He’s given me weigh no more than a feather, no matter how labor intensive. But when I pick up a job or a burden on my own, no matter how small the time commitment, it weighs on me like a ton of bricks. That in itself makes me wary about saying yes without hearing from God.

To sum it all up:

I’ve learned that I really can do it all…as long as I’m not trying to do everything.

Today I encourage you to look at the balance in your life. Do you need to lay something down that’s intended for someone else? Are you crying out for rest because you’re carrying a load not meant for you? There is rest and peace, all you have to do is let go.

Edie Melson, originally posted on The Write Conversation 4-14-13

 

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Parting Words From The WORD…If Mama Ain’t Happy…

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Mother’s Day. A time to celebrate our moms and do everything we can to make them happy. After all, we all know the saying, “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.”

But today I realized that many of the moms in my family, among my friends, and in my circle of influence are anything but happy. With broken hearts, they cradle seriously ill children, suffer unimaginable loss, and face another day alone.

They cry. They beg. They pray.

Today, as I prayed for those precious moms, I wondered, “Lord, why do they have to struggle at such a deep, gut-wrenching level, especially this weekend?”

And then I remembered Mary.

Mary, the mother of Jesus, knew what it meant to suffer. As a pregnant, unmarried teenager, she could have been stoned to death. And even though Joseph took her as his wife, the townspeople still knew. They could count the months. And I’m sure they did. Whispered accusations. Judging eyes. How hard that must have been for this virgin woman-child who simply wanted to please God and submit to His plan for her life.

But that was only the beginning. On the day Mary and Joseph presented Jesus at the temple, a man named Simeon blessed them and then told Mary that her Son would “cause the falling and rising of many in Israel . . . And a sword will pierce your own soul, too.” Luke 2:34-35. He told Mary she was going to suffer.

And she did.

She knew how it felt to lose a twelve-year-old child for three days (Luke 2:41-50) and to be ignored by her Son (Mark 3:31-35). Her other children rejected Jesus (John 7:5) and she was apparently widowed at a young age.

But the worst anguish of all was watching Jesus suffer at the hands of those He came to save. Not only was her innocent Son being put to death, but a guilty murderer was going free in His place!

Oh, how Mary’s heart must have broken when she saw Him hanging on that cross! At that moment—in the midst of His suffering—what did she see? Did her mind replay His childhood? Did she see the mischievous smile of her little boy? Did she hear His giggles and feel His hugs and smell His sweaty hair?

Or did she see the blood of the Sacrifice, willingly given for her own sin, and the sin of the world?

Regardless of what she saw at that moment, I can assure you of one thing—Mary was not happy.

It just wasn’t fair!

But Mary had hope, because she had a history with God. She could look back and remember the day He spoke to her. The day she answered with, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.” Luke 1:38.

She could look back at the day her suffering was foretold, and know God had a plan.

There’s comfort in a history with God. There’s comfort in knowing that regardless of what happens, He has a plan. He doesn’t tell us life will be wonderful, but He does tell us life will be worthwhile, that He can use us in the midst of our suffering.

Mom, grandmother, daughter, sister, aunt, friend…Are you hurting today? Are you wondering why He doesn’t heal him? Why He took her away? Why He doesn’t seem to hear you?

I pray today, regardless of what you’re going through, you can remember something wonderful in your history with God and take comfort in it. I promise you it’s there somewhere.

And then remember that He does indeed have a plan, a perfect plan to give hope and bring good, even in the suffering. After all, Jesus said:

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27 NIV

Grace and peace be yours in abundance during this special weekend.

Vonda

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