It would be awesome if I could come up with something wise and wondrous to say about the new year and new decade.
In the past 24 hours I’ve spent quite a bit of time praying for multiple people who were in absolutely crazy and even dangerous situations. One of them even commented that it was as if 2020 decided to go out as insanely as it’s been.
No, I don’t expect things to change dramatically overnight, though I do look forward to the new. I’m just glad. I’m glad I’ve grown this year, instead of the opposite. I’m glad I’ve learned this year, instead of stagnating. I’m glad I’ve loved people this year, instead of…yeah.
I’m particularly glad that my God has been with me every step of the way, because He never leaves me or forsakes me. At one point this year, when I was having a rough moment, He said, “You never walk alone.”
That’s the answer, and I thank Him for it. Whatever comes in 2021, whether it’s as crazy as 2020 has been or is truly a whole new era, I’ll be ok because He is with me.
I just completed my study of the book of Judges, which ends with some of the saddest words in the Bible: “In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.”
The last few chapters illustrate the utter depravity Israel sank into after Joshua died. It’s horrific, and I cannot help but see a parallel.
“No king but King Jesus!” is a phrase associated with the American revolution, a heart cry that made its mark on our nation’s founding documents. Letting God reign made a difference at our founding as it did at Israel’s founding.
In the book of Judges, we see that when God is removed from His rightful position things go south because people are left to do whatever seems right to them. This is where we are in the US today. Moral relativism rules and depravity dominates – and the failure started in the heart of the Christian just as surely as, in the book of Judges, it started in the hearts of the Israelites.
If there is to be any hope for our nation as a whole, it starts with us. We Christians MUST put Jesus back on the throne of our hearts, letting Him rule. Then, and only then, will we be in position to be the light of the world so others can be drawn to God. Then, and only then, can we hope to experience a moral revolution in this nation we love.
I originally posted this on Facebook two years ago today. When it showed up in my memories, I decided it needs to be shared again. The Bible is IMPORTANT my friends.
Reading through the Bible is powerful, especially reading through it quickly enough that you still remember previous books while reading the current one. Im always in the process of a readthrough, though some have taken me longer than others – this time being one of those.
So I’ve set a goal of finishing my current Bible readthrough by mid September, forcing me to read more every day. Reading so much so fast makes a lot of things more clear, and in this case it has forcefully reminded me of two things I already knew, two vitally important things that we should all bear in mind.
God DESPISES pride. Repeatedly, you see people being called down for their actions, but God forcefully makes it clear on myriad occasions that the root of those evil actions is pride. People often misquote one verse as “pride goeth before the fall.” That’s bad enough, but in reality that portion of the verse reads, “pride goeth before DESTRUCTION.” You can recover from a fall, but destruction? Pride is, literally, the devil’s sin – and he “generously” shares it with us so we can join him in destruction.
It’s all about bringing glory and honor to God’s holy name. MANY times in Scripture, God rescued or promoted or chose to delay punishing His people not because they deserved it, but to protect His reputation. “Hallowed be Thy name,” is not just four words in a model prayer. We truly need to do our best, behave always in a manner that reflects that holiness, that brings glory and honor to Him.
Read your Bible. It’s the most awesome book on the planet.
Read the whole thing, from cover to cover. It will open your eyes like they’ve never been opened, and every time you read it through you’ll grow more than the time before.
Read it from cover to cover as fast as you can at least once. It will revolutionize your walk in ways you can’t even begin to imagine.
I was going to quit, but think about it. If you were to read a novel the way most of us read the Bible, a line here and there, you’d never grasp the whole story. Even if you read a novel the way most read through the Bible, you’d read maybe a page a day. How much of page/day 12 would you still remember on page/day 332? Not much.
But if you read through the Bible like you read through a novel, you REMEMBER, and you start seeing connections you’ve never seen before. It’s legit mind blowing, my friends!
Our FATHER! Not some uninterested god who created the planet and then walked away, not an angry God who has to be appeased. No. He is MY FATHER who loves me and will love me forever, who wants the best for me, who has good plans for me.
who art in Heaven
He’s not bound by Earth. He has a higher perspective. Where I can only see what’s around me, He can see everything. Where I have access only to the resources at reach, He has it all.
Hallowed be thy name
My father is holy. His very name is holy, and I commit myself to living a life that reflects His holiness, to strive to have a reputation that reflects well on my Father. Yes, living in this world can make that a challenge, so I ask, “God, help me.”
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven
Yes! It’s GOD’S KINGDOM that I want to see here on Earth, where HE rules, where HIS will and ONLY His will is done just as surely as it is in Heaven. I know it will happen ultimately, and pray it is soon. I also pray that it be in ME today. Let God’s kingdom come in the earth that is Tammy Cardwell. Let God’s will be done in the earth that is Tammy Cardwell.
Give us this day our daily bread
Yes, please provide our physical needs for the day. Even more, let me feed on God’s Word. Let me chew on it and find in it the spiritual nourishment I need for the day. Let it strengthen me and help me grow.
And forgive our debts as we forgive our debtors
Ah, Lord God, give me the ability to always walk in forgiveness. I refuse to let unforgiveness poison my soul, and want to always forgive, whether or not the other person ever deserves it or asks… or even admits they were wrong. And Lord, forgive me for my sins as I forgive them.
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil
Yes, oh yes. Lead me in every step I take, Father, so that I can stay far away from temptation and the evil that comes with it.
For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever
And that is the bottom line. It’s ALL about God. No one ranks higher. No one has His authority or power. He was in the beginning and will be throughout eternity.
These are probably my favorite shoes…at least today. I have literally worn them out so completely that the duct tape you see is only covering holes in my soles – not really doing much to protect my foot. But you can’t see this important detail when you’re just looking down at my shoes.
Today, when I admitted to myself that I really need to dumpster these beauties, it occurred to me just how much they resemble the way we are sometimes.
We can look all pretty on the outside, making everyone think we’re just fine, while our souls seem to be held together with duct tape. The wounds may be hidden, but they are very real. I encourage you, don’t let yourself stay in such a condition. God is there, and He doesn’t just patch us up; He makes us new.
A friend used to tell her children, as they walked out the door, “Remember whose kid you are.” She wasn’t talking about herself, but God. When we keep in mind the fact that GOD is our FATHER, it changes us. It changes the way we think, the way we act, who we are.
So who IS our Father? Today, my Flourish journey (Passion Publishing/LifeWay) inspired me to do something I’ve never done before. I added the words “my Father” to a passage…and it seriously brought the Word’s message home in a whole new way.
Psalm 24:1-10 (ESV)
“The earth is my Father’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for my Father founded it on the seas and established it on the waters. Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord my Father? Who may stand in my Father’s holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god. They will receive blessing from my Father the Lord, and vindication from my Father God their Savior. Such is the generation of those who seek my Father, who seek Your face, my Father, God of Jacob. Lift up your heads, you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory, my Father, may come in. Who is this King of glory? My Father, the Lord strong and mighty, my Father, the Lord mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, you gates; lift them up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory, my Father, may come in. Who is he, this King of glory? The Lord Almighty – my Father – he is the King of glory.”
THAT is who your Father is, child of God, and don’t you forget it.
I recently had to stop in the road because two little dogs had dashed into the street. One crossed the road, but the other got confused and was wandering. I prayed for the poor things, but then I realized what they’d been after and was floored.
A large dog was jogging beside a woman. He stayed right at her side, never seeming to even notice the little yapper that was chasing after him. He never broke stride, never looked away. He was doing EXACTLY what he’d been trained to do.
And he was carrying his own leash. Literally. He held it in his mouth as he jogged down the sidewalk beside a woman who obviously had total trust in him. And the two made me think.
In a sense, we’re all like that dog. God calls us to run along beside Him, but though He gives us a guide (the Word and the Spirit) that He could use as a leash to control us, He ultimately leaves the decisions up to us. What do we do? What do I do? Do I actively choose to walk faithfully beside Him, not turning to the right or left?
Psalm 119:111 (ESV): Your statutes are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart.
God’s Word is the one thing I can invest in that is eternal. I know the “lay up treasures” verse isn’t exactly talking about The Word, but it still applies. If my goal is to get ready for eternity, then I should practice today what I will be doing a thousand years from now – obey whatever God says, fully and forever.
God’s Word IS my heritage forever! Unlike a trust, which can be broken and the money done away with, God’s Word will never “run out” and cannot be taken away from me. Even were armed men to come in and remove every Bible from my home. The Word I have planted in my heart is THERE, and there it will remain, providing a continual return on my investment.
I’m going through the Flourish journey (Passion Publishing/Lifeway) with friends, and we’re studying Psalm 119. I’m also, in my private time, working my way through Job yet again. It is amazing how much the two books teach me the same lesson.
“If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction. I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have preserved my life. Save me, for I am yours; I have sought out your precepts. The wicked are waiting to destroy me, but I will ponder your statutes.” Psalm 119:92-95 (ESV)
These verses also reflect a truth about Job. He could have written them, in fact. Job’s delight was in God’s precepts. They were more important to him than food. They were the most important thing in his life.
This passion is why his faith was so great that it prompted God to bring Job to the devil’s attention, and even though Job slipped near the end of the trial, the foundation that was his faith kept him from going under.
After all was said and done, it could have been Job who declared, “If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction.”
In our Flourish journey, we are sharing what God teaches us, and I love how He gives each of us our own, personal lessons while we study the same words. So far, my lessons have all revolved around this point: The Word is paramount, and making it the focal point of my life is essential. It’s not that I CAN immerse myself in it and make it a part of me; it’s that I MUST immerse myself in it and make it a part of me.
Everything else that seems important will eventually disappear. Only one is eternal: God’s Word. (1 Peter 1:24-25) That alone should be enough to make us realize how vital it is to our very lives.
Only a short distance from this bridge, over which I’ve passed numerous times through the years, lies the entrance to New Hope Cemetery. This is an old cemetery with a fascinating collection of aged headstones. This is a rustic cemetery and it holds the earthly remains of some of my nearest and dearest.
Too many times, we’ve followed a hearse over this bridge, taking a loved one to their final resting place. Several times, we’ve crossed the bridge to visit the graves of those we’ve not seen in so very long. The last time I was there–the day I took this picture–we were “visiting” Mother.
You’d think this bridge would represent loss to me, would inspire pain, but it doesn’t. Why?
The answer lies in the cemetery’s name–New Hope. Yes, we’ve laid our loved ones to rest here, but I know that in each and every case they were born again and destined for Heaven. For them, and those of us who expectantly wait to see them again, this place offers hope indeed–hope of that new life, true LIFE that will never end–eternal life in the very presence of God, surrounded by those we love so much…HOME.
So this picture shows a path of hope, a man-made construct that bridges the past and that glorious future as we follow the road home.