Category Archives: Parting Words from The WORD

Parting Words From The WORD…

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

The words, “Be strong and courageous” are seen over and over in the Old Testament. God said it to Moses. Moses said it to Joshua. God said it to Joshua. Those are the stories we know and recognize about being strong and courageous.

But did you know that David said those very same words–and more–to his son, Solomon?

David also said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the Lord is finished.
I Chronicles 28:20

In this situation, David was giving encouragement to Solomon about building the temple. He told him to be strong and courageous, just like God had told Moses and Joshua. But did you see what else David said?

David added the words, “…and do the work.”

He then goes on to say that God will not fail or forsake him until all the work is done on the temple. In other words, God will give him everything he needs to get the job done.

God has done that for you and me as well. He has given us the talent and the passion to be writers and speakers, and He will see it through until we complete our jobs.

Just as David said to Solomon, I believe God is saying to us today: Be strong…be courageous…and yes, do the work.

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

Vonda

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Parting Words From The WORD…Our Words or His Power?

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

The message of Jesus is simple–so simple that even a child can understand. And yet, we so often wrestle with finding words that will elevate us in the eyes of our listeners.

Of course, I’m not saying we shouldn’t speak clearly and visually, but we certainly don’t need to make the Gospel and our words to describe it more complicated than it is.

Jesus is God’s Son.
We are sinners.
We can’t be good enough to get to heaven on our own.

We need a Savior.
That Savior is Jesus.

He is the sacrifice for our sin.
He took the punishment we deserve.
We believe it.
We accept the gift He offers.
And we are clean.
End of story.

Simple words, clearly spoken, and powerfully demonstrated, just as Paul described.

My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.
1 Corinthians 2:4-5

May we always rest in the power of His words.

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

Vonda

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Parting Words From The WORD…He Delights in Me

Image courtesy of Steve White/ChristianPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Steve White/ChristianPhotos.net

Last weekend, I had the joy of getting away on a Dash-Away weekend with 11 other sisters (most of whom I didn’t know) to focus on our relationship with and worship of the Lord. What a powerful weekend it was! Many received breakthroughs and whispers from God’s heart, and I was one of them.

As we were sent out to spend time with the Lord and seek His face, I had one issue on my mind: With balancing so many plates at once, what am I supposed to give up in order to please Him and honor Him with my time and energy? There was nothing I wanted to give up, I wanted to do it all! But was I taking on too much simply in an effort to perform and earn my salvation?

I made a list of all the things I have going on right now and then asked the Lord to show me what I should let go of, what didn’t please Him, even though it was a good thing. I asked Him to show me if anything I was doing was simply out of a drive to perform rather than His guidance. I was shocked by the answer.

I won’t go into all the details, but after directing my mind to a safe, loving memory of my daddy and me floating on inner tubes at Tybee Island, I received a precious, new impression of how my sweet Daddy’s love for me pales in comparison to my heavenly Daddy’s love.

I remembered how often I would “perform” for my daddy . . . and how he loved it when I did. It didn’t matter if I was singing or playing the piano or acting or being goofy or dashing across the goal line as a PowderPuff half back, my daddy would always delight in my performance and often wanted to share it with family and friends.

And the more he delighted in me, the more I wanted to perform. It wasn’t that I had to, but that I wanted to. I didn’t do it to earn his favor, I did it because of his favor. I delighted in seeing his delight.

As I reviewed those scenes from my memory, I clearly heard my heavenly Father say, “I delight over you when you serve out of my love.” What? He delights over me, even in all my busyness? Could He possibly be like my daddy and delight in my “performance” of these specific good things? I felt Him say yes.

What a weight was lifted off my shoulder. I didn’t have to give up anything! And although that doesn’t remove the stress and pressure that sometimes comes with ministry and good works, it did free me to know that–at least for now–I was working within His will for my life.

I was delighted to think of my heavenly Father sitting in the stands or the audience or on the den sofa, smiling at me, filled with delight at my “performance” for Him. And now I know He wants me to continue to share with others.

It’s a great place to be.

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10

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

Vonda

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Parting Words From The WORD…A Time for Rest and Renewal

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

In the past six weeks, I believe I’ve read more blog posts about rest and renewal than I have in the past six months. And yes, I’m adding another one.

But this one is different. This one isn’t saying I should, or I ought to. It’s saying that I am. Resting and renewing, that is. As you read this, I am on a much-needed spiritual retreat. And for the first time in years I’m not leading or speaking or teaching or organizing. The only thing I’m doing is being.

I’m escaping to the mountains, getting away from responsibilities and To-Do lists and simply being with the Lord, focusing on the beauty of His creation and the greatness of His love.

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth. Psalm 121:1-2

I pray God’s blessing on your work…and your rest.

Vonda

(And if you need a spiritual renewal weekend with time to rest in Him, check out Dash-Away.)

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Parting Words From The WORD…A Change of Plans

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

As some of you know, this year has been a busy one. Beyond the usual writing and speaking demands, Gary and I are honored to be able to love on his precious parents as they need more care. Needless to say, my days are full.

So on those rare days when I’m home all day and can attack my business To-Do list, I have a big list. A really big list.

I had such a day recently. No meetings. No errands. No responsibilities other than work. All…day…long. I couldn’t wait to hit that list. I was going to get so much done!

Then the phone rang. Instead of hitting my list, I put it down and hit the road.

Don’t get me wrong. I wanted to do what needed to be done. It just hadn’t been in my plans, so it felt more like an interruption.

This past Tuesday I opened my copy of Jesus Calling and turned to the day’s devotion. On this predetermined day, God chose to use Sarah Young’s words to break my heart.

In respect to Sarah Young and the copyright of her devotion, I won’t use her words, but here is the gist of what she envisioned Jesus saying:

Vonda, you’re one rebellious woman. You think your plans are so important, and you become frustrated when something happens to change your day. If you truly believe and trust in my sovereignty–as you say you do–why can’t you consider the change in plans come from Me? Who do you think you are?

My heart broke as I read her beautifully-written words. She was right. Who did I think I was?

My devotion time that morning was spent confessing my sin and praising God for His attention to the minute details of my life…regardless of what I might have planned. And just for the record, I’ve had to recall that lesson several times since Tuesday.

Am I the only one?

Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:21

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

Vonda

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Parting Words From The WORD…Blameless in His Sight

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

 

The book of Ephesians was written by Paul to the church at Ephesus, and it was written for us today. Unlike many of his other letters, this one wasn’t written to address any particular sin or conflict. Instead, it was written to encourage the Church at Ephesus–and us as believers–to recognize who we are in Christ, to count our blessings and be thankful, and to live and work together in a way that honors the Lord as brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, children and parents, and slaves and masters.

He ends the chapter with the description of how to accomplish those things: by facing each day dressed in the full armor of God, prepared for battle…which we can be sure will come.

But what I want us to look at is this verse:

For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. Ephesians 1:4

Some may read that and think we think we’re perfect. Or they may think we have to be perfect and blameless before we can come to Him.

If you know me, you know I’m not. As a matter of fact, I’m a long way from it! But through the sacrifice of Jesus’ blood in place of mine, I am–unbelievably–holy and blameless in his sight.

Sinless…no. Blameless…yes.

Praise Him!

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

Vonda

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Parting Words From The WORD…Encourage Your Pastor

Praying hands christianphotosnetAs many of you know, October is Pastor Appreciation Month in churches and denominations around the world. So when I found a note I had written years ago in my Bible titled “10 Ways to Encourage Your Pastor,” I thought this might be a good time to share it.

I wish I could tell you who was speaking when I wrote these notes, but I’m afraid I can’t. And since my notes aren’t verbatim of his message, I feel free to write them here. It was a good reminder to me, and I hope it’ll be a good reminder to you.

Gary and I have a wonderful pastor, Larry Scott. He is everything you’d want in a pastor! I’m going to be working on these specific ways to encourage him and can show him how thankful we are to have him at Westside Church, in Simpsonville, SC.

10 Ways to Encourage Your Pastor

  1. Live a biblically-successful life. Tell your pastor how much you’re growing through his ministry.
  2. Make a personal commitment to help him know true success through biblical faithfulness, love, service, holiness.
  3. Don’t ask or expect him to be involved in everything.
  4. Let him be the person God has planned for him to be. Maximize his strengths and celebrate them; talk about his strengths behind his back; minimize his weaknesses and flaws by filling the gaps respectfully.
  5. Provide adequately for him.
  6. Love his family.
  7. Guard and protect the pastor and his family. Believe the best in him; refuse gossip; share kind words.
  8. Treat your pastor with respect.
  9. Find or create opportunities to thank him and his wife for their ministry and service.
  10. Pray constantly for him, his marriage, and his family.

There they are, 10 things we can do to help our pastors be who God created them to be…and they don’t cost us a cent.

Part of #4 was my favorite: “Talk about his strengths behind his back.” Wow. It’s sad, but there are so many times that the opposite is true. Wouldn’t it be great if we all spoke lovingly and graciously about our pastors behind their backs? Can you imagine the encouragement that would be for them?

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29

What about you? Did you find a favorite way to encourage your pastor this month?

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

Vonda

(Photo courtesy of ChristianPhotos.net)

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Parting Words From The WORD…Do We Have Instructed Tongues?

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Since you’re reading this blog, it’s likely that you feel called by God to be a writer or speaker. So when I found this powerful verse in Isaiah recently, I couldn’t wait to share it with you!

The Sovereign Lord has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught. Isaiah 50:4

At first glance, this looked like a great verse for us to claim as speakers and writers. But after doing some research, I found that Isaiah 50:4-9 (some commentators say 50:4-11), is the third of four Servant Songs, foreshadowing of our Savior, Jesus Christ. And it fits Him so perfectly!

But I must admit I was disappointed that it looked like we couldn’t claim the verse for ourselves.

In the verses prior to verse 4, God is chastising Israel for not recognizing His omnipotence, His power, and His love for Israel. He reminds them that He was not too weak to protect them from their enemies, but that they were the ones who turned away from Him. After generations of rebellion and defiance, God had had enough and had allowed them to suffer the consequences of their choices.

But He also provided the answer to those choices—Jesus, the One who knows the word that sustains the weary. Praise Him! Praise His Holy Name!

And the good news is, as followers of Christ and students of His Word, we are directed to be like Him, which means to shine His light, and to share His saving grace with this lost and dying world. In other words, as we study, as we pray and seek His face, as we confess our sin and meditate on His promises, several things happen:

  • We DO receive an instructed tongue
  • We DO know the Word that sustains the weary
  • We ARE challenged to listen to and follow His words
  • We ARE taught my His Holy Spirit

Praise Him! Praise His Holy Name! So follow, study, shine, pray, confess, and meditate. Then go, write, speak…and share the Word that sustains the weary.

It is a verse for us today.

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

Vonda

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Parting Words From The WORD…Waiting is Hard to Do

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Waiting is hard, but it’s something we must learn to embrace…or we’ll never do what we’re created to do.

We wait for the right words, the right agent, the right publisher. We hurry to get the submission in on time, only to wait long past the expected response time. Two months, three months, six months, a year. How long are we supposed to wait for their answer?

If our goal is to write for publication, we must wait as long as it takes.

If we want to have a deeper relationship with the Father, we have to learn to wait for Him, too. While we’re waiting, we might try to find the right church, the right Bible study, the right prayer. We hurry to do all the right things, only to wait long past the expected response time. Two months, three months, six months, a year. How long are we supposed to wait for His answer?

If our goal is to hear His voice, we must wait as long as it takes.

Wait patiently for the LORD. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the LORD.
Psalm 27:14 NLT

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

Vonda

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Parting Words From The WORD…Making an Idol Out of Hardship

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

As I spend time with the Lord, there are days when He whispers words of encouragement in my ear, when His love is comforting and validating and full of grace. And then there are the other times.

This week, as I read about idols and the warnings of what they are in our contemporary life, I heard a new definition. As a follower of Christ, I’ve been taught about idols, I’ve been taught not to put my confidence in a thing, position, or person, but to put all hope and rest in Christ alone. But in my study a few days ago, God whispered something new, something I’d never heard before.

Sometimes a conflict is an idol. Sometimes we put our hardships of life on a pedestal, visiting and revisiting it often, making sure we hold it up high for all to see.

The moment I heard it, my heart pounded in reply, “But God, You know what he…”

I can’t even tell you the story because if I’m honest, I know my motivation would be to–again–raise up the conflict and gain sympathy in your eyes.

Father, forgive me.

All that to say, could there be something in your life–something that isn’t a blessing, isn’t money or position or talent–that has become an idol? Has something bad been a way to gain something the world says is good?

Do you have a hardship, a conflict, a relationship on the pedestal?

If so, would join me in knocking it down?

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Matthew 5:43-48

Create in me a clean heart, O God…

Vonda

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