Hidden Treasure

Tulip2As I rummaged through shelves in the garage one day last week, I remembered I had stored a dirt filled container of tulip bulbs for the winter. Ah yes, there it was. Sitting in the dark on a shelf, I found the pot. Not only was it hidden in darkness but something had been placed on top that shielded the pot from any exposure to light. As expected, the dirt was completely dried out as there had been no exposure to water the entire winter.

To my surprise, when I removed the covering, I noticed about a half dozen tiny green stems poking through the dirt. How can this be? This plant had been hidden from light and water for almost a year. How is it possible that these bulbs not only weathered the winter in darkness but began new life without a trace of water?

I took the container into my kitchen and began a crusade of water and exposure to light. Slowly, the stems grew longer and others appeared as well. It looked like there would soon be a large crop of tulips in full bloom right in my kitchen.

In this process, I kept thinking there must be a spiritual lesson here. What was the Lord saying to me? Perhaps, it was a reminder to never give up on people. Even when their lives appear to be in a dark and arid land, a spark from God could be moving them upward. Maybe a little encouragement from a friend, a little watering would bring them to their destiny.

Or maybe the lesson is that just as the darkness of the dirt held a hidden treasure, so God’s word holds hidden wealth in a secret place as He speaks to us. The tulip bulb was pushing through the dirt to grow and reveal its glory in the beauty of its flower.

Isaiah 45:3, “I will give you the treasures of darkness and hidden wealth of secret places, so that you may know that it is I, the Lord, the God of Israel, who calls you by your name.” 

When God reveals hidden things to us, it’s so we can know Him more intimately, so we can appreciate and enjoy the beauty of Jesus. Watch for hidden treasures in your life.

 

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The Cup

CoffeeThis is Easter Week and I wonder what you know about the cup Jesus had to drink. Do you ever hear a sermon that inspires your faith in God to new levels? I do…every Sunday a Brighton Chapel. Pastor Rustin used a visual aid by bringing in his favorite cup that he uses for coffee every morning. He shared how he looks forward to his first cup of coffee in the morning flavored with French Vanilla creamer. It’s a pleasant start for the day.

Then he reminded us of Jesus’ cup, the one that Jesus asked the Father to remove. In Matthew 26, Jesus was overwhelmed with sorrow and said, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

Have you ever wondered what exactly was in the cup that caused Jesus to be so distraught? What was so distasteful about this cup? Rustin explained that Jesus knew what He would be facing at the cross, all the violence, false accusations, betrayal, rejection, humiliation, flogging and the excruciating pain of the crucifixion…all these awaited Him… in the cup. Beyond that, He would be carrying the overwhelming load of all the sin of the entire world, the very sin that beckoned God’s wrath. The One who knew no sin would literally become sin. II Cor. 5:21, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

Did you catch the good news at the end of that verse? Jesus chose to drink the cup of God’s wrath so that we could be free to enjoy God’s righteousness, his mercy and grace. Jesus laid down His life so that He could give us the cup of the New Covenant, so that we would never have to fear God’s wrath. Romans 5:9, “Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.” Jesus loves us so much that while we were yet sinners, He died for us. What an amazing cup He drank so that we could drink from the cup of new life in Him with all the benefits of salvation.

Walking in Victory

VictoryRecently, I attended a conference put on by four local ladies. Three of them, Ingrid Lochamire, Connie Gochenhaur, and Donna Bontrager spoke about a difficult trial in their life. Two were still in the midst of the trial and one was on the other side. Yet, it could be noted that all of them were walking in victory because they saw Jesus at work in their midst and they had chosen to trust Him with every outcome. Yes, it is possible to live a victorious and triumphant life while in the midst of a painful trial. II Cor. 2:14, “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.”

Connie had learned to praise and thank God that He was working even when no outcome was yet visible. This is what walking in faith is all about, believing in the unseen and expectantly waiting on and trusting the Lord. She went on to relate that we don’t need to pray like a beggar. When we know who we are in Christ, we can boldly approach God and bring our requests with confidence.

The concept that most struck me was when she said, “Satan wants to define us by our trials but God wants to design us through our trials. (I’ll let you chew on that for awhile.)

Brenda Yoder finished the evening with a compelling teaching from Genesis 22, the story of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his only son, Isaac. Brenda expressed that worship is more than singing on Sunday morning. It has more to do with a lifestyle of giving God the sacrifice of what’s most precious in our life. Are we willing to worship by laying down what we most desire? She challenged us to think about what is most valued in our lives. Just as Abraham was willing to lay his only son on the altar of sacrifice, we, too, are called to do the same with relationships, finances, heart desires, pleasures, trials and difficulties, the things that we tend to cling to. It starts with a heart to lay it all before God and to trust Him. Then, just as God provided a ram for the sacrifice at the last minute, our trust leads to His provision in our situations. Phil. 4:19, “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

Thought Closet

Thought Closet“Yep” says Jennifer Rothschild, “between your pierced ears and beneath your colored hair, you have a thought closet. It is full of everything you say to yourself. And what you put in your thought closet is what you will wardrobe your life with. So, our thought closets need daily attention to keep them in the condition Christ intended.”

Last weekend, I attended a Jennifer Rothschild conference. Jennifer is a beautiful blind lady who has an amazing walk with God. In her recent blog, she spoke of a “Thought Closet.” I was intrigued and read on. Here are some thoughts that resonated with me.

“God declares that all has become new (2 Corinthians 5:17)! That means the old, grimy gunk is gone and you are clean, renewed, and fresh. Sometimes, though, our thought closets can get awfully cluttered. What God made “new” can become dingy and neglected. Oh, girl, when this happens, it’s easier to find ourselves struggling with self-loathing, negative attitudes, and accepting lies as truth. So, how can we keep our thought closets new and clean?”

“We must tell ourselves the truth about who we are and what we have in Christ. Scripture says that our newness comes with a beautiful wardrobe. We renew our minds when we speak truth about what we have in Christ.

  • A New Heart (Ezekiel 11:19)
  • A New Song (Psalm 40:3)
  • New Mercies (Lamentations 3:22-23)
  • A New Spirit (Romans 7:6)
  • A New Self (Ephesians 4:24)

If you lack any of these new things, “talk truth to yourself. Speak out loud to your soul statements that reinforce what God has given you: a new heart, a new song, a new soul, new mercies. That’s one way to keep your thought closet new and clean.

“In Psalm 57:8, David told his soul to “awake” in the midst of his failures. The Hebrew word “awake” is used 65 times in the Old Testament. It means to rouse oneself, incite, or to stir up. Sometimes we become sleepy and apathetic toward some of our poor choices and negative attitudes…. When we tell our souls to “awake,” as David did, we become alert…and are amazed by God’s grace.”

So, let’s allow God’s Word to renew our minds with Truth as we spring clean our thought closet.

Olympic Issue

A OlympicsHave you ever heard God’s voice as a voice of conviction and you knew He was right? I have to confess that recently, I lost my biblical perspective and actually enjoyed doing something that is counter to my belief system. We were watching the Olympics and especially enjoy the skiing segments. We all know that there have been some very vocal people from the American Olympic teams who have chosen to use their status as a platform for their vitriol against our president. They are happy to be part of the Olympics representing the American people, but wanted everyone to know they were in no way representing Trump. So, my thinking was, well, I and over 60 million Trump supporters are part of the American people that you are racing for. If you’re going to disrespect our president, then, I will pray that you do poorly in the Olympics. I hope you mess up your events and win no medals. I would rather see a foreign country go home with medals than someone who has contempt for our president. So there!

Throughout the week, I felt a kind of smugness about my prayer. I felt it was right to pray against this kind of outspoken poison. Then, we went out to dinner with some friends Saturday night and during the conversation, I self-righteously expressed how I had been praying a particular Olympian would lose and I gleefully shared how my prayer was answered and they came in 5th in their event which meant…no medal for them.

My friend didn’t say anything to my diatribe but gave me a pained look. I immediately recognized that look as conviction by the Holy Spirit. God was not happy with my attitude. My balloon popped. I knew that wishing and even praying for someone to fail is not a correct biblical response. God reminded me that we’re to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. This person did poorly in her event and was dismayed and I was rejoicing. Right there in the restaurant, I quietly asked God to forgive me. Then I asked Him to bless her in any upcoming events. Later, I thanked my friend for that look and explained how I was convicted of my sin.

It was I who had been on a “slippery slope,” (pun intended) going downhill fast in my witness for Christ. I think there are times when we must be sensitive to and thankful for correction from God. This was that kind of time for me. While I still don’t like anyone’s vocal disdain of our president, I learned it’s important to leave them in God’s hands. By wishing ill on them, was I not doing just what they were doing? Romans 12:14, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.”

New Book is Out!

Betsy with booksI’m excited to tell you that my new book, “Come Walk the Narrow Path with Me,” is now available locally at Great Lakes Coffee Shop where I will also have a book signing on Thursday, February 15th from 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. If you are local, I also have books to sell. You can contact me through this website. And, of course, all three of my books are on amazon.com.

If you are looking for a book to encourage and inspire you in your walk with Jesus when it comes to sharing your faith, this book is for you. Most books on witnessing are “how to” books. This one is over 35 true stories of actually talking to people about faith. Each opportunity is unique, planned by God, and a rich hands on experience. You will see that when we listen for God’s nudging and step out in faith, He shows up and reveals what to say.

God calls us to be “fisher’s of men.” We are to simply deliver His message of salvation to people. You will read about everyday people that God has opened doors for me to talk to about Jesus. People on airplanes and in foreign countries, neighbors, friends, women in jail, relatives, grocery store, tow truck drivers. Jesus loves everyone and has a plan for every life.  Witnessing is simply partnering with the Lord, allowing God to initiate and then sharing who He is with people.

My New Book!

Book Cover1

I’m excited to let you know that my new book, “Come Walk the Narrow Path with Me,” will be available mid January. This book is filled with personal testimonies of unique opportunities God has given me to share my faith over the years. As Christians, we are called to be witnesses, simply telling others about Jesus. I think you will find my stories compelling as you read about various people God has brought across my path and their varied responses to Jesus’ offer of eternal life. I’ll let you know when it’s available.

Tower of the Flock

A lamb“When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me,” John 15:26.

My blog is devoted to hearing God’s voice. Whatever we hear from God, we can know it is a testimony of Jesus in our lives. The Holy Spirit always points to Jesus. What I’m going to share with you now will probably be new to you as it was to me several years ago. It blew me away.

We’re in the Christmas season and what could be more appropriate than the Holy Spirit revealing something interesting about Jesus? You are probably familiar with the Christmas story in Luke 2. You remember how the shepherds were watching their flocks and an angel appeared telling them of the good news of Jesus birth. Then the angel said in verse 12, “And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” Notice the word “sign”. Have you wondered why the idea of Jesus being wrapped in swaddling clothes in a manger would be a sign?

Have you heard of Migdal Eder, the Tower of the Flock? Probably not.

First some background…From Micah 5:2 we know that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem Ephratah. The word Bethlehem means, “house of bread” and the word Ephratah means “fruitfulness.” When we think of fruit in Israel, we think of grapevines. Jesus said, “I am the bread of life” and “I am the vine.” The very place Jesus was born represented communion, the bread and the wine.

From Micah 4:8 Jesus is announced at the “Tower of the Flock,” Migdal Eder. This was a two story tower located in a field in Bethlehem Ephratah. Archaeologists have found the remains of this structure. It was built of rocks piled two stories high and it was from the windows on the second story that shepherds watched over the flocks.

An interesting fact is that the shepherds who worked in the fields were not the lowly shepherds we usually think of. Actually, they were shepherd priests, priests from the temple where sacrifices took place. The tower, called Migdal Eder, was the location for birthing sacrificial lambs. Priests were involved to be sure the lambs were unblemished. So, while shepherds watched over the flock from the second story of the tower, shepherd priests would bring the pregnant sheep to the lower level to deliver the lambs.

As soon as a lamb was born, it was swaddled, wrapped in strips of cloth made from priestly undergarments in order to keep the lamb unblemished. Then the lamb was placed in a manger so it wouldn’t be trampled.

“And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”

When the shepherd priests heard the angel’s announcement while they were watching over the flock and then went into Bethlehem and saw baby Jesus wrapped in swaddling cloths lying in a manger, they must have exclaimed, “This is the lamb of God, unblemished, prepared for sacrifice. This is Christ, our Messiah, our Savior!” These shepherd priests were the only ones who would understand the sign. It was a word from God through angels to them alone.

Further, is it possible that Jesus swaddling cloths were from the same source as the lamb’s cloths? Were they from a priest? Remember, Zechariah? He was Mary’s cousin, Elizabeth’s, husband and John the Baptist’s father. He was likely the priest on duty whose clothes may have been used to wrap baby Jesus. This would mean that Jesus, our High Priest, first clothes were those of a priest!

Jesus is our High Priest and I love what Hebrews 4:15, 16 says of Him. “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

So, as you celebrate the birth of Jesus this Christmas, remember the revealed background of this babe in a manger.

(“Unlocking the Secrets of the Feasts,” by Michael Norton. It should be noted that the above information has been documented by Messianic Rabbi’s and archeological findings.)

 

 

The Invisible Woman

Do you ever feel like you’re invisible? Does it seem like people don’t notice you or care about things you do? In this powerful video, God spoke words of truth that set her free.

You can read of Hagar in Genesis of whom it is said, “Then she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, ‘You are a God who sees'”;

Rainstorm

A RainstormWe were vacationing in Colorado this summer visiting some relatives and friends. One very rainy morning, we had planned to hike at Staunton State Park. A couple years before we had discovered this park but hadn’t had a chance to hike at that time. As we discussed with my cousins what to do that day, Bill and I decided we wanted to head to the state park despite the rain. We knew we might not get to hike but the 45 minute drive would be filled with great scenery. My cousins looked at us as though we were crazy and decided not to accompany us.

As Bill and I drove away, it was pouring down rain and didn’t let up the whole way to the park. But a funny thing happened. About 20 minutes into the drive, I felt the Holy Spirit prompting me to pray for dry weather so that we could hike. While this seemed like a strange request since rain was forecast for the whole day, I did pray. As I brought my request to God, I began to sense the playfulness of Jesus. It was as though He told me that I should just watch and wait, that He fully planned to grant my request. I could even envision Him smiling.

We enjoyed the scenery as we traveled but it did rain the entire way to our destination. As we pulled off the highway into the park entrance, I quickly noticed that the road looked dry. The rain had not only stopped suddenly but amazingly, it had not rained at all at the park. We pulled into a parking place, turned off the windshield wipers and headed for the hiking trail. We enjoyed a lovely two mile hike with excellent weather. As we approached our car to return to my cousin’s home, I felt a couple of sprinkles and as soon as we got in the car, there was a downpour.

Several things were obvious from this story. God led me to pray. He delighted in answering the prayer in a way that I couldn’t miss. And I’m pretty sure He got a kick out of doing so.