Wednesday, January 19, 2022

A Sacrifice of Praise - Emily Marszalek

Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. Hebrews 13:15 NIV

When I arrive home from work, my dog Charlie always greets me with a full-body wag and a stuffed animal portrayed proudly in her mouth.

Whether her stuffed pig, blue dinosaur, or frayed flamingo, Charlie always presents a gracious offering to me—her way of expressing her love and joy in our reunion. She does it not because she expects to receive something in return, but out of unconditional love for her master.

Witnessing Charlie’s elation in presenting me with a stuffed animal sacrifice, I’ve often reflected on what I offer God each day. Often, my prayer time is spent focused solely on me and my needs and desires. While God invites us to present our needs—and while He delights in providing those needs—we must not forget to offer Him a gracious offering in return.

The writer of Hebrews instructs us to continually offer a sacrifice of praise to God. In Philippians, Paul advises us to not be anxious about anything but to present our requests to God with thanksgiving. In 1 Thessalonians, he tells us to rejoice always.

We can praise God for all He has already provided. We can thank Him for who He is. We can rejoice before Him, knowing that we have the privilege of serving the Almighty Creator of the heavens and the earth.

We serve an amazing God. As we present our requests, anxieties, stresses, needs, and fears to Him, let’s not forget to also offer Him a sacrifice of praise, gratitude, and joy. As we maintain a heart of gratitude toward God and a sacrifice of praise on our lips, we honor our Master.

What are you offering to God today? 

Tweetable: What types of sacrifices are you making for God? 


Emily Marszalek enjoys the simple pleasures in life with her two Goldendoodles—Charlie and Lucy—and her fiancé Nick in the Pacific Northwest. Her writing has appeared in publications including Angels on Earth, Chicken Soup for the Soul: Listen to your Dreams, Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Blessings of Christmas, The Lutheran Digest, Refresh Bible Study Magazine, Christian Broadcasting Network, and Daily Inspired Life.


Thanks to all our faithful followers who share our posts! We also invite you to follow and like us on FacebookPinterestTwitter, and Instagram. Help us spread God's encouragement through His Love Lines.

Monday, January 17, 2022

Meandering Monday - Giving with Joy - Martin Wiles

Welcome to Meandering Monday, where we take a trip back to an earlier post and enjoy it again.

I will offer you a sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the Lord. Psalm 116:19 NLT

As the offering plate passed, Nancy tossed in her envelope—but not willingly.

What she had once easily and joyfully given now stung when it left her hand. Life had taken a sour turn and snatched her happiness with it. Two kids and a full-time job consumed her time. The husband who once loved her decided he wanted a younger version and no responsibilities to match. As she placed her money in the plate, all she could think of was how she needed it to clothe and feed her children and put gas in her car. She hated to admit it, but she often thought about grabbing it back—or not even giving it in the first place.

The psalm’s author is anonymous, but if it happened to be David, he was no stranger to sacrifice and heartache. His military faithfulness was rewarded with jealousy from an emotionally disturbed king who hunted him down as he would have a criminal. Incest infected David’s family. He was even betrayed by his own son who ran him out of town and stole his mistresses to boot. In spite of his troubles—some self-inflicted and some not—David was able to offer a joyful sacrifice of thanksgiving to God.

Thanksgiving may be a sacrifice I can offer, but no one ever said sacrificing would be inherently easy or joyful. Only as I understand that God is in control of my life’s situations and is working them for my benefit can I offer him joyful sacrifices. When I question his motives or his power to turn around my circumstances, my sacrifice will be more difficult to make—if I make it at all. Even if I do, my motives will probably be questionable at best.

Giving with joy is easy when we remember God’s unconditional love and that he always has our best interests at heart. Harming us is never on his mind.

Are you giving God your sacrifices with a joyful spirit?

Father, we offer You the sacrifice of praise with a joyful heart.

Tweetable: Are you giving with joy? 


Thanks to all our faithful followers who share our posts! We also invite you to follow and like us on FacebookPinterestTwitter, and Instagram. Help us spread God's encouragement through His Love Lines.

Saturday, January 15, 2022

The Challenges of Aging - Martin Wiles

Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. 2 Corinthians 4:16 NLT

“I guess I’m just dying.”

For five years, we had attempted to get a doctor to test Mom for dementia. We saw the signs—not many, but they were coming with more regularity. Since her mom had contracted dementia and then Alzheimer’s, we were concerned. Each doctor swept our concerns under the rug. They asked her a few questions, and then told her she was okay. They only saw the snapshot; we saw the full picture.

Then one day, Mom fell at a local department store and hit the back of her head. We sent her to the emergency room where they did a CT. The scan showed white-matter brain disease, which a number of things can cause. When her family physician reviewed the results, he agreed to refer her to a neurologist.

The neurologist asked Mom several normal questions. She answered them all correctly. No signs of confusion. Then he drew an analog clock face and told her to fill it in and to show the time as 10:30. Confusion reared its ugly head. Mom drew the clock and numbers backward, as well as the time.

Mom’s rendition of the clock led the doctor to put her on medicine. He also scheduled an MRI to look further at her brain.

What we’ll have to undergo with Mom before she dies, we don’t know. One thing we do know: aging brings challenges. My wife and I are already facing them, and we’re not as old as Mom.

Mom’s words when she and my wife left the doctor’s office rang truer than she knew. In fact, we are all dying from the moment we take our first breath. Even though God used Paul to spread the gospel to the Gentile world, Paul knew his body was giving out. Thankfully, his spirit wasn’t.

None of us can stop the aging process. It affects some more than others, but we all face some aspects of living in bodies that break down as they grow older. We can eat right and exercise our bodies and minds, but we’ll still age. The culprit is sin, which made its entrance into the world through the disobedience of Adam and Eve long years ago.

What we can do is keep going—at least in some way. Physical disabilities confine some, but even under confinement we can pray, send cards, email, make calls, and text. God doesn’t want us to retire from his work.

Preparing for death is important also. Mom has written her obituary and made all the arrangements, but her greatest preparation came when she trusted Christ as her Savior. That’s true for anyone.

Don’t fear the challenges of aging. God’s grace will see you through each one.

Prayer: Father, give us grace and strength to face the aging process with faith in You. 

Tweetable: How are you facing the challenges of aging? 


Thanks to all our faithful followers who share our posts! We also invite you to follow and like us on FacebookPinterestTwitter, and Instagram. Help us spread God's encouragement through His Love Lines.

Friday, January 14, 2022

Beef and Chicken Stew

 

Ingredients
1 ½ POUNDS BEEF STEW MEAT

3 CHICKEN BREASTS

1 CUP CELERY (CHOPPED)

2 ONIONS (QUARTERED)

2 CUPS CARROTS (CHOPPED)
     
6 POTATOES (QUARTERED)

1 CAN ROTEL

5 GARLIC CLOVES (CRUSHED)

SALT/PEPPER

Directions
COOK MEAT UNTIL TENDER.

ADD VEGETABLES AND COOK UNTIL TENDER.

ADD A CAN OF BEEF BROTH IF NEEDED.

STEW CAN BE THICKENED WITH 1 ½ TABLESPOONS OF CORNSTARCH AND WATER. 


Thanks to all our faithful followers who share our posts! We also invite you to follow and like us on FacebookPinterestTwitter, and Instagram. Help us spread God's encouragement through His Love Lines.

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Walk-on Wednesday - Blessed by Being Blessed Out - Martin Wiles

Welcome to Walk-on Wednesday. By Hump Day, we are struggling, but we believe a good devotion can strengthen us to finish the week strong. 

What blessings await you when people hate you and exclude you and mock you and curse you as evil because you follow the Son of Man. Luke 6:22 NLT

As the pastor, Jack had no input in the decision other than to give his consent to what the church leaders felt was a good decision.

Don, on the other hand, didn’t see it that way. He had taken a new position in the church, but now he felt his honor was being attacked by the church leaders’ decision. Even though it just made good business sense to do what the leaders initiated, he received it as an affront to his credibility.

Since the leaders who made the decision were longtime friends, the pastor became the object of his anger. Don thought he should have stopped the decision. After all, he was the pastor. But he hadn’t. From that moment on, he lashed out at his leader in public and private. He didn’t hold back in letting him know how he felt about the decision and what he felt about him as a leader.

This verse falls in the middle of others referred to as the Beatitudes—Latin for “blessing.” What Jesus proposes, however, appears illogical. When others hate me, I should be happy? When I’m left out, I should be glad? And when others curse me, I should throw a party? Countercultural actions for sure. Actions that would definitely make others sit up and notice. How in the world could I receive a blessing from being blessed out?

Only with a proper view of circumstances can a blessing out by others give birth to a blessing. The offended church member wasn't really mad at the pastor. His self-image was at stake, so he used what psychologists call displacement—directing anger at a neutral subject or item.

When we identify with Christ, opposition will arise from various and sometimes surprising sources. Joy is possible, however. While there is no merit in suffering for doing something wrong, there is comfort when we suffer for a good cause: the name of Christ.

Learn to count it a joy when others revile you because you stand for Christ.

Prayer: Father, for the joy of suffering for your Kingdom, we thank You.

Tweetable: How do you handle the blessing outs? 


Thanks to all our faithful followers who share our posts! We also invite you to follow and like us on FacebookPinterestTwitter, and Instagram. Help us spread God's encouragement through His Love Lines.

Monday, January 10, 2022

Meandering Monday - When God Writes - Martin Wiles

Welcome to Meandering Monday, where we take a trip back to an earlier post and enjoy it again.

I will put my laws in their minds, and I will write them on their hearts. Hebrews 8:10 NLT

Having something written on paper is one thing; having it written on my heart is quite another.

My father was a writer, but to my knowledge, he never had anything published. He wrote, nonetheless. For almost fifty years, he preached. Three times each week, he delivered sermons to his congregations, and three times every week he took pen and paper and wrote the words he planned to say.

His spiral-bound books of sermons—along with the many loose-leaf ones he composed—are now snuggly tucked away in my possession. As time progresses, the pages will yellow, and the ink will fade. Eventually, the words may become illegible, but his words will remain as long as I do. For most of those fifty years, I listened to his sermons. His words are written in my heart.

God gave his original words to his people on stone tablets. His commands were clearly visible for them to view. Having them written on stone, however, carried no weight in matters of obedience just as my father’s sermons couldn’t force anyone to obey his pleadings. A greater force was needed. Under the New Covenant Jesus established, words are no longer written on paper but on the heart.

God has placed his laws in my mind and written them on my heart. No one has to tell me what they are; my conscience clues me in. Now that I have them on my heart, they aren’t cumbersome to obey. Rather, I willingly and enjoyably obey his demands and plans for my life.

If every Bible and religious book in the world were destroyed, God’s word would remain in the hearts of his people. He has engraved it there. Enemies nor time nor torrential elements can remove it from where it’s embedded. What was once a set of external rules is now internal—a set of commands the Holy Spirit continually reminds us of and encourages us to obey.

How are you reacting to the laws God has written on your heart?

Prayer: Father, we thank You for placing Your word in our hearts where it is always safe and available. 

Twitter: What has God written to you? 


Thanks to all our faithful followers who share our posts! We also invite you to follow and like us on FacebookPinterestTwitter, and Instagram. Help us spread God's encouragement through His Love Lines.

Saturday, January 8, 2022

Fishing for God - Martin Wiles

Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” Matthew 4:19 NLT

As I looked at their setup, I marveled.

One of our stops when my wife and I last visited Georgia was the Pavilion and pier on Tybee Island. After walking through the Pavilion, we made our way along a pier that extended into the ocean.

As we exited our vehicle to begin our journey, a couple beside us got out of their truck. But not with just themselves as we did. They had a cart on which they loaded all manner of fishing equipment. Walking along the pier, I saw many others like them, and when we got to the end of their pier their numbers increased.

Fishermen and fisherwomen of all ages and appearances—but with one thing in common. They all had the proper gear to fish for what a person catches in the ocean. The carts helped them easily get their gear to their destination. Their fishing rods weren’t the ordinary variety I’ve used to fish in lakes and ponds. Their circumference was greater, and their length longer. Huge ice chests sat around, filled with drinks, food, and live bait—some bait almost as big as the fish I once kept to eat. But these folks weren’t fishing for just ordinary fish. They sought the large fish found in the ocean. Some even caught small sharks.

When Jesus called His disciples, He promised to make them fishers of people. And for a reason.

Fishing for people requires preparation and a mindset. We must believe we need to fish for people. The reason they need to be caught is that they are swimming the wrong way. All of us are born with a sinful nature that separates us from God. Unless we accept the forgiveness for our sins that Jesus purchased on the cross, our eternal destiny will be a place we won’t enjoy, and our present life before getting there will be less than God intends.

Fishing also takes effort and trust. The folks on the pier went to great lengths to take their gear to the pier and to prepare for their fishing adventure. They also trusted that they had the correct bait. If the right fish came along and saw it, they would bite.

Although God goes before our people-fishing adventures through the presence of His Spirit, we must go—in whatever ways God directs—trusting that he will put those in our path whom he wants us to influence, talk with, hang out with, or become friends with. God wants us to fish, and He’ll provide everything we need to do the job right.

Why not get your things together and go fishing in God’s name?

Prayer: Father, send us on the fishing adventures so we can catch those You want us to catch. 

Tweetable: How's your fishing? 


Thanks to all our faithful followers who share our posts! We also invite you to follow and like us on FacebookPinterestTwitter, and Instagram. Help us spread God's encouragement through His Love Lines.