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NIV is used unless otherwise noted.

Concentrate, Please!

We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard,
so that we do not drift away.
Hebrews 2:1

Are you listening to me? Please pay attention!”

I said those words countless times throughout my son’s childhood. As I tried to teach my son, a host of things vied for his attention. A leaf blowing in the wind, a spider on the ceiling, or even the freckle on his hand held more sway than math facts or spelling.

I am encouraged that King Solomon implored his son to pay attention as well. (Proverbs 4:1, 20, 5:1, 7:24). And he had to tell him more than once!

I have some similarities to my son, however. As I attempted to complete a project today, I have popped popcorn, watched the baby birds outside, texted friends and played with the dog. Sometimes it’s so hard to focus!

For me, it takes effort and determination. In Hebrews 2:1, we are encouraged to pay the most careful attention to God’s word. This isn’t just an occasional glance but an intense awareness. Without this conscious focus on God’s ways and his words, we are in danger of drifting away. Drifting happens little by little. Other things take priority, drawing us away from what we need most – closeness to God.

If we pay attention to what we have been taught, more benefits come our way. If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your well-being like the waves of the sea (Isaiah 48:18). Peace and well-being will accompany us. Who doesn’t need more of those?

Ladies, shall we be attentive students? Let’s seat ourselves at our Teachers feet, learning from him and listening to his words. Jesus said everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher (Luke 6:40). If I’m going to be like my teacher, I definitely want it to be Jesus!

Lord, help us pay close attention to you, blocking out all other distractions. Teach us your ways so we will be steadfast.


Friend or Foe?

How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word.
Psalm 119:9

The book of Nehemiah contains a remarkable story of overcoming adversity. I have read, listened to and taught the lessons in Nehemiah.

In chapters 3-6 two naysayers, Tobiah and Sanballat, seethed with anger that Nehemiah and the Israelites were trying to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem. These rascals used all the means at hand to prevent the completion of the wall.

First, they mocked, despised and plotted against the people. When that didn’t work, they sought to discourage, confuse and intimidate them. Lastly, they attempted to discredit and ensnare Nehemiah. Despite the constant resistance, the wall was completed in only 52 days!

All was well – or so I thought. I was taken aback to hear that the nefarious Tobiah had returned in chapter 13 of Nehemiah. Why is that scoundrel back? I wondered. Tobiah was seen moseying in the temple courts. If that wasn’t bad enough, the Israelites had given him provision in one of the temple storehouses!

How could the Israelites have allowed a notorious enemy to live among them? Because the people were no longer following God’s plan in some areas. Psalm 119:9 tells us how to stay or get back to the path of purity – by living according to God’s word.

Fortunately, Nehemiah came to the rescue! He ousted Tobiah and all his belongings. He then replaced the temple articles and offerings in the storeroom.

Ladies, in what areas of our lives have we allowed Tobiah to take up residence? Often it isn’t the obvious sins that plague us. Less noticeable ones may may creep in. Laughing at off-color jokes. Spreading gossip. Watching inappropriate movies. Crowding out the time we used to spend with God. It might be time to boot Tobiah out and purify the storeroom!

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting (Psalm 139:23-24).


What is Truth?

I, the Lord, speak only what is true and declare only what is right.
Isaiah 45:19b NLT

“What is truth?” Pilate posed this question to Jesus before sentencing him to be crucified (John 18:38). Ironically, the Truth was right in front of him and he didn’t even know it. Jesus told his disciples, I am the way and the truth and the life (John 14:6). Everything Jesus said or did exemplified the truth because he is truth.

Jesus wants us to know what is true and what is not. In Matthew alone, Jesus said I tell you the truth thirty times! God the Father said, I the Lord, speak only what is true and declare only what is right (Isaiah 45:19 NLT). Jesus called the Holy Spirit the Spirit of truth (John 16:13). If God the Father, God the Son or God the Holy Spirit says something, we can know it is true.

What about the other parts of the Bible? Two apostles of Jesus addressed the Bible’s trustworthiness. Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3:16 that all Scripture is God-breathed. God’s Holy Spirit inspired the people who penned the Bible.

Peter asserted, above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:20-21).

Since Scripture is true and originates from God, we can use it to determine what is true. There have been times I was convinced I was right. I could even argue my case. But, while reading the Bible, I found that my thinking was faulty. I had a choice. I could continue in defiance or accept the truth of God’s word. Ignoring the truth is to my detriment. There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death (Proverbs 14:12).

Thank you, Lord, that we can rely on you and the truth of your word.


A Father’s Day Gift

Jesus answered, “Love the Lord your God will all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the most important commandment. The second most important commandment is like it: “Love your neighbor as you love yourself”’ 
Matthew 22:37-39 GNB

“What do you think Dad would like for Father’s Day?” My children wanted to get their father a special gift.

I wondered, what would our heavenly Father like for Father’s Day?

David left us his insight into a similar query. I imagine David thought something along these lines. “What should I give God this year? Let’s see, I gave him a goat last year. Maybe that prize-winning bull over there. It’s impressive! No, I know the perfect gift!”

I will praise God with a song; I will proclaim his greatness by giving him thanks. This will please the Lord more than offering him cattle, more than sacrificing a full-grown bull (Psalm 69:30-31 GNB).

What was the difference between an animal sacrifice and a song of praise or a poem of thanksgiving? God established the animal sacrificial system, after all. Sacrifices and offerings were the obligatory gifts of the day, like a card and tie for dads now.

But David wanted to give something better, something that would touch Father God’s heart. It would take time and introspection but would be worth all the effort. Building relationship would please his Daddy.

My husband would much rather hang out with his children on Father’s Day than any gift he could be given. A hug or a simple “I love you, Dad” is enough.

When asked the foremost commandment, Jesus said to love God and love others. Again, relationship is preeminent.

Thankfully, David wrote many songs (psalms) we can pray back (or sing) to God. Hymns, praise choruses or Christian CD’s work also.

Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name. And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need (Hebrew 13:15-16).

Happy Father’s Day, Daddy God!