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Matthew 7:12 on My Mind

NewOMM“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”Matthew 7:12, NIV

Most of us know the Golden Rule, I think. But have you memorized the Bible words? Do you know where to find it? Jesus actually spoke the words, giving us this gem of advice for living life well: Do to others what you would have them do to you.

I came across this verse in a devotional I read this morning which triggered my desire to memorize its words. I invite you to learn them with me. And I invite you to put them into practice, if you don’t already do this. Jesus emphasized their importance—and the way they simplify life for us—in the last part of the verse: for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. Just think about that! If we always do to others what we would have them do to us, we’ll always be doing what’s right in God’s eyes.

The wording of the verse in the NKJV can help us with the practical application, I think: “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them.” (Click here to read the whole verse in this version at BibleGateway.) In other words, if there is something that we really want someone else to do for us, we can find someone to do that for. We treat other people the way we’d like to be treated. We give what we long to receive.

For example, if the thought of receiving a card or letter in the mail appeals to you, send one to somebody else. If you wish someone would call and invite you to lunch, call and invite someone to join you for that meal. If you learn that someone has been saying unkind things about you behind your back, be sure that you aren’t talking that way about her or anyone else—and resist the temptation to start. Pray for that person instead, like you wish she would pray for you.

Is there a tedious chore you wish your husband would help you with or do for you as a surprise? Pick one that he usually does and do it while he is at work. (Don’t tell him that you did it or expect him to notice either. If he figures it out, that’s a bonus. Otherwise, see if you can get away with doing something kind without being caught!)

A few more ideas:

If your legs are healthy and you don’t have a lot to carry or children to keep track of, leave the closest parking places at the store for someone who may need them more.

Smile and say Hello to people as your paths cross; acknowledge their presence! Let them know they have been seen.

Show your gratitude to others for whatever they do for you as often as you can.

Do you get the idea? Do you have an idea of your own to share? Leave it in a comment for others to read. Let’s work together to make Matthew 7:12 the way we live!

Jesus, thank You for these precious words. Help us to remember them. Then help us to live them—creatively! As we recognize kindness and attitudes we wish others would show to us, help us discover ways to show these to others—especially to people in our lives who particularly need to feel Your love. Amen.

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Matthew 18:3 on My Mind

NewOMM“And he said: ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.’”Matthew 18:3, NIV

This verse has been on my mind a lot this week. Well, the essence of this verse has been on my mind. I just now got around to looking it up to read the actual words, as opposed to those I remembered. And now I want to memorize it. How easy it is to forget that Jesus wants us to discover the strengths of children and use these strengths as we go about our kingdom business.

No. Jesus isn’t calling us to a life of immaturity. There are other places in the Bible where we’re told to grow up. In the context of this command, the disciples have been arguing about who will be the greatest in God’s kingdom. Jesus calls a little child into their midst and tells them to stop bickering about who’s best and to strive to be like the kid. That child had no hope of being the most important among such a group, so the child was simply there, came when called, and allowed himself (or herself) to be Jesus’ object lesson of the day.

Children have many strengths that adults tend to lose as they grow up. I’ve been reminded of one of these this week—which is why this verse has been on my mind. I’m reading a book (which I’ll be reviewing in a few days) about a little girl with cancer who does some inspirational things in her final year of life. God only granted her twelve years of life on earth, yet she made the most of that time, establishing (with the help of her family and friends) a non-profit organization for encouraging other kids with cancer. Her example motivated many grown-ups along the way.

It all started just a few weeks after Jessie Rees learned she had cancer. Her parents walked into their kitchen to find her filling paper bags with toys from her own collection to give to kids she’d seen in the hospital that day.

When kids see that something needs to be done and know that it’s the right thing to do, they don’t stop to work out a perfect plan or consider the sustainability or cost of the project or worry about what other people might think or if they need special permission. They just do what they can with what they have and believe that all will work out well.

Granted, someone needs to plan and consider and work out the fine details. Jessie needed all kinds of help from the adults in her life. But nothing would have happened if she hadn’t taken that first step with childlike faith.

This grown-up has a lot of dreams that she lets the adult in her hold back. I need to learn a lesson from Jessie and start taking a few more childlike steps of faith. I’m going to start by memorizing this verse. Then I’m going to do what it takes to mark some of my dream achievement to-do list items done.

Jesus, thank You for the inspiration of a little child. Teach us to be more childlike as we pursue the plans You’ve made for us. Amen.

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When Right Is a Sacrifice

DSC02018e“Do what is right as a sacrifice to the Lord and trust the Lord.”Psalm 4:5, NCV

When does doing right become a sacrifice?

  • When there is opposition to it?
  • When you’re tired and would rather rest?
  • When no one notices, responds, rewards?
  • When it means facing a fear?
  • When you’re alone?

Father, none of these reasons or any others I might think of could ever outweigh Your right to my loving obedience. Help me to take this verse to heart, do right, and trust. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Born Again? Absolutely!

“Jesus replied, ‘Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.’”John 3:3, NIV

A few weeks ago, I stumbled across an article listing phrases the author thought Christians should stop using and why this was his opinion for each. One of those phrases was born again. The author, a Christian himself, said Christians shouldn’t use that phrase because it confuses people.

DSC01954eI’ve been thinking about that.

You see, Jesus actually coined that phrase. Jesus! Our own, eternal Master, Savior, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Son of God, Jesus said that people need to be born again.

He introduced the concept to Nicodemus, a religious leader who visited one night to ask Jesus questions about His teachings and miracles. True. The concept did confuse Nicodemus, who asked, “How can someone be born when they are old? Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!” (John 3:4).

But that’s the point. Nicodemus’ confusion made him curious, and his curiosity gave Jesus the opportunity to explain. In fact, that conversation led to Jesus presenting the single, most important Truth that all people, everywhere, throughout all time need to know: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

It seems to me that this one, little phrase has been used effectively ever since then to open doors, eyes, minds, and hearts to the good news that Jesus’ sacrifice makes it possible for people to be saved from sin and to enjoy eternal life in the presence of God.

After Jesus’ death and resurrection, His followers continued to use the term. Peter used it: “For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God” (1 Peter 1:23). James, Jesus’ own brother, also used the concept: “He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created” (James 1:18). Instead of rejecting the phrase, these followers of Jesus listened to Him, absorbed the Truth, claimed it for themselves, and shared it with others.

We can do this, too!

If the concept perplexes you, and you fear you’ll only confuse people if you try to explain it, I encourage you to read, ponder, pray, and study it for yourself until you make it yours like Peter and James did. Until then, share God’s Truth with others in your own way as the Spirit leads. This Spirit has an infinite number of ways to lead people into God’s Kingdom. As opportunities arise, say what you feel led to say.

If, however, the Spirit prompts you to talk about being born again, please don’t hesitate, fearing this is wrong. If you’re using the words of Jesus, as the Holy Spirit leads, God will help you speak, and He’ll help those who listen to understand. The God Who loves the world is faithfully helping His born again children to deliver His Truth to whoever is ready to hear it, believe, confess, and be saved.

Father, thank You for the privilege of sharing this good news. Please give us opportunities to tell others about all that Jesus has done for them. Fill us with Your Spirit and give us just the right words to say. We love You, Lord, and we know You love Your creation. Please help us to share Your Word and to encourage each other as we do. Amen.

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Revelation 21:4 on My Mind

NewOMM“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”Revelation 21:4, ESV

We’re memorizing this verse this week simply because of the hope it gives us. Someday the circumstances that cause us to grieve, cry, or suffer pain, whether physical or emotional, will cease to exist. And God Himself will wipe the last tears from our eyes. We need to remember this because in this world, we do have troubles and, sometimes, they cause us to mourn, cry, and feel pain.

Parachute PrayerICFor this reason, I’d like to use today’s verse as a trigger for Parachute Prayer. When tears come to our eyes, whether through our own hurts, out of compassion for someone else’s, or even because of a moving story in a book or movie, let’s pause to consider Revelation 21:4 and to thank God for what He promises to do someday. As we place our hope in Him, He’ll comfort us even now. That’s a truth worth remembering.

Father, thank You for the promise of Heaven. I look forward to seeing You face to face someday. I wonder if those last tears You wipe from our eyes will be tears of immense joy at finding hope fulfilled forever at last!

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Psalm 119:18 on My Mind

NewOMM“Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.”Psalm 119:18, ESV

I started a new Bible study this morning: Abiding Love by Denise J. Hughes. It’s a six-week study of 1 John. I’m actually doing this study with members of HelloMornings.org, a group of Christian women who encourage one another to wake up early, study God’s Word, and exercise regularly. New six-week studies start every eight weeks, giving everyone a two-week break between studies. To learn more visit the Hello Mornings website.

Today’s On My Mind memory verse comes from the Abiding Love study. Hughes has artfully placed this verse at the top of every single, Bible study page to remind readers to start every study using this verse as their prayer.

Psalm 119:18I love this! It’s already my habit to start each day’s quiet time with a prayer that God will help me to focus and to see what He wants me to see. I ask Him to highlight the headline of the day, and then I watch for it as I study and pray. (Today’s quiet time headline was: God is the boss. Follow His lead always! I already knew that, but, for whatever reason that I’ll probably discover as the day goes on, God wants this message freshly implanted in my head. I’m glad He put it there.)

Memorizing verses like Psalm 119:18 will remind us to start our times of Bible reading with such prayers. God has given us His Word in order to help us know Him, to praise Him, to live for Him, and to love others like He does. It really is full of wondrous truths. But we’ll only see them if we ask God for eyes that are open to see.

Father, thank You for Your Word and for our growing knowledge of You through it. Please open our eyes. Help us behold solid truth every day, so we can live right for You. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

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Psalm 18:36 on My Mind

NewOMM“You provide a broad path for my feet, so that my ankles do not give way.”Psalm 18:36, NIV

I’m approaching today’s verse, the last of five in this series, with just a little bit of fear and a whole lot of laughter. You see, several years ago, I happened upon Proverbs 3:26“For the Lord will be at your side and will keep your foot from being snared,” on a day when I’d accidentally impaled my foot on a nail. (I’ve never believed the timing was a coincidence!) Then this morning, I almost tested gravity on my treadmill. Thankfully, my ankle did not give way.

When I run, I’m really finicky about my shoes. Before I tie them, I make sure I don’t feel any sock seams or folds that might rub blisters. After I tie them, I double check because I really hate blisters! I double knot my laces, so they won’t come untied to trip me. Then I move my foot around a bit to make sure I haven’t tied the laces too loosely or too tight. Either can cause problems that will haunt me for the rest of the day. It takes a few extra minutes to get my shoes just so, but it ensures my run will be more comfortable–which usually means I can go further!

This morning, however, even though I’d double-knotted my laces, one bow somehow slid to the side, far enough over that I actually stepped on it a few times and almost tripped. I can’t even imagine how painful a fall on a treadmill would be, but I’ve witnessed several on TV. (Our family really loves watching AFV!) I’m thankful I didn’t experience such a fall today. And, as I did back when I discovered Proverbs 3:26, I’m groaning and giggling over today’s verse.

I just love You, Lord! Your timing confounds me. It also tickles my funny bone.

I hope you’ll join me as I memorize Psalm 18:36 this week. Our Father loves us and watches over us. He provides all we need! We can trust Him as we follow Him through life’s spiritual journey. We may trip and fall physically, but if we’re living in His presence, spiritually He’ll ensure we will stay healthy and strong.

Father, we thank You! Help us to stay on the path You provide and stick close to You always. Amen.

To review the full passage we’ve been contemplating for the past few weeks, click here. Did anyone memorize all five verses? Congratulations to you!

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Psalm 18:35 on My Mind

NewOMMYou make your saving help my shield, and your right hand sustains me; your help has made me great.”Psalm 18:35, NIV

“You have given me the shield of your salvation, and your right hand supported me, and your gentleness made me great.”Psalm 18:35, ESV

This is our fourth week of five, memorizing Psalm 18:32-36. I hope you’ve been following along, adding one verse each week. If you’re new here, though, don’t worry! Psalm 18:35 is quite powerful all by itself. I encourage you to jump right in, focusing on this one verse this week. To see the whole passage at BibleGateway.com, however, you can click here. To see the previous three posts on this passage, click here, here, and here.

Before we go on, I do ask that you indulge me in something I don’t usually do. My OCD tendencies rebel against it. My editorial training does, too. But some things just can’t be helped! So far we’ve been looking at this passage in the NIV. It was my intention to continue in that version through the whole thing. But I stumbled across verse 35 in the ESV and loved it! In this instance, it makes everything so clear. So–I will memorize the passage in the NIV, but I will share my thoughts on the verse from the perspective of the ESV. In my mind, one brings out the meaning of the other. As we remember the NIV, we’ll also remember what we learned about each phrase from the ESV. Please consider this a parallel version study.

Verse 35 of our passage goes right along with my post from last Thursday. In that post, I talked about how all people alive on Planet Earth right now are somewhere in the process of making right choices in order to grow in Christ. Some have yet to choose to follow Him at all. Others are learning to choose to do the things that will help them mature spiritually. They are choosing to grow toward God–or not. In Psalm 18:35, David explains what has happened since he chose to accept God’s call on his life and to serve faithfully as king.

  1. God saved him from all his enemies. Through Christ, God has saved us from bondage to sin (if we have turned away from our sin and asked Jesus to be Lord of our life*). Remembering we have the shield of salvation can give us courage to face anything. With the promise of eternal life, we have nothing to lose when we live our lives for Christ.
  2. God’s right hand supported him. References to God’s right hand are symbolic of His power. God is all-powerful. He was powerful enough to protect David and establish him as king. He is powerful enough to help us achieve anything He calls us to do.
  3. God’s gentleness made David great. I picture moms with preschoolers here. These moms must be firm, yet gentle as they love, discipline, teach, nurture, and train. An overly harsh approach will cause children to live in fear, unable to mature and function independently. Firm, but gentle correction enables children to grow in confidence, able to make right choices and develop strong skills. David didn’t have an easy life, but God dealt with him gently even as He used some tough realities to prepare David to be a great king. God never gave David more than he could bear. God does the same for us.

Father, thank You for the shield of Your salvation, the power we need to do anything You ask, and Your gentle guidance intended to make us great. David chose to cooperate. Help us to do so, too! For the glory of Your Kingdom. We love You, Lord. Amen.

*If you haven’t yet asked Jesus to be Lord of your life, please click here to learn how. It’s easy! He’s waiting to hear from you today. He loves you. He died for you. He lives for you today. (The link will take you to a post I wrote on an older blog of mine. If you don’t know Jesus as your Savior, my request still stands!)

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Psalm 18:34 on My Mind

NewOMM“He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze.”Psalm 18:34

Today we continue our five-week concentration on Psalm 18:32-36 with verse 34. I hope you’re memorizing this passage with me. If not, I pray you’re absorbing some truths from these verses that will firmly stick in your mind. That’s the goal when we meditate on God’s Word. We want to hear from Him and to remember His words to us.

When I first looked at verse 34 today, considering what I wanted to write about it, thoughts of spiritual warfare came to mind. Personally, I don’t need to know the fine points of hand-to-hand combat or how to bend a bow of bronze, but I do need to know how to pray when Satan attacks me, my family, my friends, or my community. We all do! If we ask God to train us for this, He most definitely will. Requests like that are pleasing to Him; He wants us involved in the unseen fight for the souls of all people. He’s their Creator, after all.

I think there’s a deeper truth to this verse, though. David, its author, was a warrior. He wrote Psalm 18 to praise God for delivering him from his enemies, most notably King Saul. David did need to know the fine points of hand-to-hand combat. His life depended on him being able to bend a bow of bronze. In today’s Bible verse, David is recognizing God’s provision for his specific need.

Psalm 18:34Not only did David need these skills at that time–they served him well throughout his life, from his role as a shepherd defending sheep from lions and bears to his role as the King defending God’s people placed in his care. David recognized the truth that God prepares his people to capably complete the tasks He calls Him to do.

God didn’t call me to be a warrior like David. Instead, He called me to read and write and study and teach. When I consider Psalm 18:34, I reflect on the preparation and training and guidance God has given me for this throughout my life. He has led me to jobs and projects and assignments and classes and through experiences that enable me to serve Him wherever I go. He trained me. He graciously gives me whatever skills I need. Reflecting on this, I’m filled with joy, contentment, thanksgiving, and praise.

As you consider Psalm 18:34 this week, I invite you to reflect on how and for what God has trained you. What is your calling? How has God trained you for it? Are you faithfully using the skills He’s granted to you? What work of God in your life are you most thankful for today?

Father, thank You for training us to face what is ahead. You prepare us to do whatever we must. You also grant us skills we need to serve in whatever capacity you’ve called us to. Help us to recognize Your work in our lives and to go, as soon as we’re able, to fulfill each day’s calling. Thank You, as always, for going with us. Without You, we’ve no hope. You are the God of Providence. We love You, Lord. Amen.

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Psalm 18:33 on My Mind

NewOMMLast week I invited you to join me in five weeks with Psalm 18:32-36. We focused on verse 32. Today we’re adding verse 33:

“He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he causes me to stand on the heights.”Psalm 18:33

Last week I told you that I love this passage because in it, David gives God credit for everything! When we meditate, like David did, on all that God does for us, it’s like wrapping oneself up in a warm, comforting, and secure blanket entirely of God!

Today’s verse focuses on the stability we find in God. Sometimes when we follow Him, He leads us through frightening terrain. Yet He makes us able to handle the journey. He makes our feet like the feet of a deer–sure and steady and able to walk where no person can go. Then God causes us to stand on the heights–able to see where we came from below, yet ever closer to our Lord. When we trust Him by following His lead, He takes us where we’re meant to go.

  • He arms us with strength.
  • He keeps our way secure.
  • He makes our feet like those of a deer.
  • He causes us to stand on the heights.

Father, it’s looking like You do all the work! Thank You for Your care, Your provision, Your protection, and Your presence. We love You, Lord! Amen.

If you need a refresher course on verse 32, click here to view it at BibleGateway.com. To see the whole passage there, click here.