Category Archives: Parting Words from The WORD

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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Parting Words From The WORD…How to Stay Connected in Scuba Diving and in Life

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

I used to love scuba and cave diving in the Ichetucknee Springs in Florida. As my body numbed at the frigid spring water, my senses warmed at the brilliant schools of colorful fish. I could see forever! But then we would enter the caves.

Guided only by our flashlights, we floated single file into the deep cavern. Then, as planned, we’d turn out the lights. I remember catching my breath as the blackness enveloped me. But even though I couldn’t see, and felt as if I couldn’t breathe, I didn’t panic.

With my hand tightly wound around the guide rope, I had nothing to fear. I had the lifeline, the communication to the outside world. At the other end of that rope was light and freedom. However, if I failed to hold on to that source of communication, I could be consumed by the darkness. I could even die.

Communicating with God saves us from darkness as well. It leads us to eternal light and freedom…the light and freedom that can only be found in Him.

Communicating with God saves us from the darkness of eternal death.

…my God turns my darkness into light. Psalm 18:28

For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. Isaiah 41:13

May we walk in the Light today…and everyday.

Vonda

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Parting Words From The WORD…It Is Done or It Is Finished?

jesus holding cross lost seed dot com

I think I’ve mentioned that Gary and I are in the middle of a 18-24 month study of Revelation. It has been an amazing journey, digging deep and learning the details of John’s vision of the Tribulation. Prior to beginning this study, I knew about the Great Day of the Lord, but had no idea of the depth of the horror of it.

Every week has been eye-opening, but none so much as this week’s study of Chapter 16 covering the last seven judgements, the Seven Bowls of God’s Wrath. From boils, to blood-filled seas, to blood-filled rivers, to people scorched with fire by the sun, to darkness, and to a dried up Euphrates.

Finally, the seventh angel pours his bowl into the air and:

…out of the temple came a loud voice from the throne, saying, “It is done!” Then there came flashes of lightning , rumblings, peals of thunder and a severe earthquake. No earthquake like it has ever occurred since man has been on earth, so tremendous was the quake. The great city split into three parts, and the cities of the nations collapsed…Every island fled away and the mountains could not be found. From the sky huge hailstones of about a hundred pounds each fell upon men. And they cursed God on account of the plague of hail, because the plague was so terrible.
Revelation 16:17b-19a, 20-21 NIV

A loud voice from the throne shouts, “It is done!” and the earth shakes…And the price is paid for sin.

The power of those words immediately took me back to a similar scene. But at the cross, God’s Son shouts, “It is finished!” and the earth shakes…And the price is paid for sin.

Two three-word sentences that change the course of history. One gives life. One takes it away.

After studying Revelation for almost a year, it appears that the signs are clear and time is drawing near. God is serious. We must be, too.

I love Him because He loved me first, and gave His life for me.

Vonda

(I don’t think I’ve ever specifically asked you to share a post, but would you share this one? Somebody’s eternal life could depend on it.)

Image courtesy of LostSeed.com

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Parting Words From the WORD…We Remember…

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

As Christians, we know we have been set free. From the moment we truly give our hearts to Christ and seek to live for Him, we know our sins are as far as the east is from the west, hidden beneath the deepest ocean, and no longer remembered by God.

But we aren’t God. We remember. And we hold tight to those memories, giving an ear to Satan and his condemnation. Perhaps you’re like me and have a relative or acquaintance who never lets you forget how miserably you fail at being perfect, like Christ.

Sometimes believers even wallow in the failures themselves, convinced that they are worthless to God because of those failures.

But God has a different plan through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ. The scriptures are clear that through Him we truly can be set free.

I once read this short verse about freedom and was surprised that I’d never really considered the power and profound truth it proclaims.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1

Christ died, was buried, and arose for our freedom from the slavery of sin. Paul instructs us to deny and refuse to carry the burden anymore.

We are new creations, freed from the old, delighting in the new. 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…My Sin Washed Pink?

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Some of you may have seen my Facebook post Sunday afternoon. I was praising God for Who He is and what He did in our service Sunday morning at Westside Church in Simpsonville, SC. The Lord moved so powerfully that we simply worshiped and gave testimony to His greatness for the entire service. Pastor Larry Scott had a message, but as God sometimes does, plans were changed.

Our youth had come home from beach camp, on fire for Jesus and sharing that fire with us. The Truth of His Word came through song and the message through praise. The words of one song, At the Cross by Chris Tomlin, spoke so tenderly to my heart. I can’t write the words out here because I don’t want to dishonor copyright law, but here are the words that broke me.

“…where Your love ran red and my sin washed white…”

Did you get that? His love ran RED and my sin was washed WHITE! My sin was washed white, not pink! Not a mixture of red and white, but all white. No guilt. No shame. His red blood didn’t partially cover my sin. I’m not partially clean, but completely, totally, forever washed clean and white! No trying to measure up. No missing the mark and starting over. No disgrace. No fear.

My sin is washed white! Hallelujah!

It’s been over 24 hours since that service, and I still can’t get that song, those words, and that picture out of my mind. My sin…all washed white by His red blood…forever. Thank you, Jesus.

“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool…” Isaiah 1:18 NIV

Glory to His Name!

Here’s the official video from the Passion Conference 2014. Listen with your heart and your spirit. And then listen again. I can’t imagine anyone not being moved at the reality of our Lord’s grace. We owe it all to Him.

YouTube Preview Image

Glory to His Name!

Vonda

 

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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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