If you look at some of the key words in Greek, you gain the HOW of walking toward Jess and toward joy.
Deny means to say “No” or repudiate — so to deny yourself could be applied to ask, “Is anything competing for my love for Jesus?” Sometimes our self wants to prioritize belongings, indulgences, hobbies, work or even relationships as more important than Jesus.
Pick up is to raise or lift. This reminds me of our call to lift Christ higher:
May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,... (Gal 6:14)
“Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.” (Rev 5:3)
Follow mean to accompany Jesus. At the root of this compound word is a picture of walking alongside, as along the road or to join as a disciple. One example is :
As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen.“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”At once they left their nets and followed him. (Matt 4:18-20 emphasis added)
As you look at the year ahead, ask yourself:
How can I say “Yes” to Jesus and prioritize him as number 1?
How can I elevate and lift of Christ and the cross?
How can I follow Jesus closer, as a committed disciple?
Pam Farrel is author of 52 books including being co-author of Discovering Joy in Philippians, Discovering Hope in the Psalms, and Discovering Jesus in the Old Testament (co-authored with Jean E Jones and artist, Karla Dornacher, from Harvest House Publishers). www.Love-Wise.com
If I am lost in a city, I like to go to a map so I can see the “big picture.” The same thing is true of discerning God’s will. Having an overall general understanding of God’s book, character, actions and words helps us to understand God and to understand how He works.
Read the Bible through in a year.The One-Year Bible or one of Tyndale’s One Year Bible Devotionals, like Devotions for
Women on the Go are options. You might read a new translation or use a different study tool as you read, but year after year – even if it takes you a few years to read it through – God’s Word will become anchored into your heart.
Study the Bible chronologically. Studying the Bible this way has helped me form my philosophy and methodology of ministry. For example, because I see how God lays foundations, then builds on them, I want to do the same in my ministry.
Study the character of God. By studying who God is, I get to see how He thinks, acts, and relates to people. When I am in a tough spot, especially when I have to make a quick decision, I go back and ask, “What would God’s character have me do?” This year, I had several important decisions on my mind, decisions that would dramatically impact my family, my ministry and my future. I felt compelled to travel back to the place I started my Christian walk more than 30 years ago – in the book of Matthew.
I re-read all the words of Jesus in the gospels, seeking the heart of God on the matter before me.
Dive Deep Into A Topic: For several years, I have been in the psalms. First as one of the writers for Discovering Hope in the Psalms: A Creative Bible Study Experience, then the following few years as a teacher of that study of the Psalms. The benefit of a focused topical study is you move closer to the heartbeat of God in that area of life or scripture.
Other ideas for study are the names of God in the Old Testament, the verses that speak of God as the Father, the names Christ is called in the Old and New Testament, and the names and character of the Holy Spirit. When you layer God’s Word into your life on a daily basis, you gain the ability to see things from God’s perspective. Jesus explains it with the phrase, “You are in me and I in you” (John 14:20, John 17:21-22). The Word of God is the key ingredient in protecting your life: “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Prov. 4:23).
She said “Yes!” to the angel when it was explained that the Spirit would overshadow her and she would conceive. (She was a very young mother)
“I am the Lord’s servant…May your word to me be fulfilled” (Luke 1:38).
She endured social ridicule because she was seen as a woman who became pregnant while still engaged. (People didn’t get the emaculate conception yet)
She rode a donkey in travel the days leading up to his birth. (This would be a sacrifice even if she was not expecting)
“You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:12)
She had to go hunting for a son who was busy doing his father’s business in the temple. (There were no Amber Alerts to help her find her bright and bold missing son)
43 After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it.44 Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends.45 When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him.46 After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.47 Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers.48 When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.”
49 “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:43-49)
She followed Christ as he ministered. (It is hard on we moms to switch roles from being the leader of our child to one where the grown child leads us)
She took her broken heaert to the foot of the cross and watched her kind, perfect son be crucified by an ungrateful mob and the immoral ruling soldiers and leaders.
“Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother” (John 19:25)
She waited, in hope, for three days, to see the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise to rise again. She went to the tomb to annoint his body. (She hoped for the best, prepared for the worst. Waiting as a mother is a very hard thing– but waiting for an “overcoming death” miracle must be the hardest of all).
When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought spices, so that they might come and anoint Him. Very early on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen.They were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” Looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away, although it was extremely large. Entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting at the right, wearing a white robe; and they were amazed. And he said to them, “Do not be amazed; you are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who has been crucified. He has risen; (John 16)
She had a weeks with her son, then she most liekly watched him glorified and enter heaven– never to return in her lifetime. (A mom laways misses a grown child, but a child in heaven when you are still one earth is one of the most difficult duties a mother can endure.)
Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. (Acts 1:9)
I had a great mom too. She followed Christ’s example in that she sacrifced much to keep her three children safe when her husband would drink too much, rage too long, and embarrass with his behaviors too often.
Chances are you have a great mom too. And even if she is not all that great, she is great for one very important reason– she gave you life!
So call her! Thank her! Send her flowers!
Happy Mother’s Day
Pam Farrel is a grateful daughter, author of 45 books she happily wrote late at night and early in the morning to buy groceries for her three athlete sons who ate bags and bags of graoceries– but have grown into great godly sons who call their mother for Mother’s Day. Pam is the author of several parenting books including 10 Best Decisions a Parent Can Make.
As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?(Psalm 42:1-2)
This word picture is of a deer searching, longing, desperate for living water to quench her/ his dying thirst. To me it is much like the kind of person Jesus talks about in the Sermon on the mount that God wants to bless: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” (Matt. 5:6)
God is looking for contrite hearts.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. (Psalm 51:17)
Broken in this verse means to “shatter into tiny pieces”. And contrite is to “crush to bits” I like to picture this as the tiny pieces of stained glass that in the hands of an artist becomes a magnificent work of art, more beautiful and valuable after it has been broken. In my life, many of my mentors have served as the artisans that God has used to put my life back together.
God is looking for grateful hearts
Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations (Psalm 100:4- 5)
People with grateful hearts, seek out spending time with others who want to thank and praise the goodness of God. All the many mentors of my life have taught me to be grateful, thankful, appreciative of every moment of time someone has shared with me, sacrificed for me, so I could learn to know God better.
Maybe today, thank God for drawing your heart to Him, and thank those who helped you along the way to have a heart that is fully God’s.
I am a Bo Peep. Yes, I grew up on a Suffolk sheep farm–
so Psalm 23 is very personal to this Shepherdess’ heart.
Let’s just glimpse at the first few verses:
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.
One of the common heart cries of the human race is for greener pastures- a life better, brighter, quieter or calmer. God knows this is dream is on our hearts.
When I read, “He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul,” that is exactly the experience of my upbringing. I would often walk barefoot through the deep, lush, green grass of the pasture, as the sheep serenely grazed. I would take a blanket and a Bible, and lie down and spend quiet hours communing with God.
I might walk over to the creek, and sit on the simple wooden plank that created a bridge, and sit and rest quietly dipping my toes into the cool stream. This was my place of solace and restoration, far away from the chaos my alcoholic, raging, earthly father might be creating in our small farm house. To this day, resting in an open meadow, or the sound of gently tinkling chimes, remind me of the restorative rest the Good Shepherd can create even in the midst of chaos.
Take a blanket and your bible and find a green pasture, a meadow, a park with a shady tree and
take a short oasis with the Good Shepherd
“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— (John 10:14)
Pam Farrel is the author of 45 books, and international speaker who will always be a country girl at heart.
This week, I signed a contract with Harvest House Publishers for my 45th book. This one is a wonderful collaboration between myself and a wonderful Bible study teacher, Jean Jones and a very talented artist in Karla Dornacher (see Karla on Etsy). We each bring our strengths to the book and we also pull our platforms together for greater reach and influence.
I have had the joy of co-authoring with some amazing people:
“Two are better than one” is a phrase often heard at weddings, but that concept can be extended to ministry and business relationships:
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor (Eccl 4:9)
The upside reasons to co-author:
Greater Flexibility: It may or may not be less time writing—because the time you save on sharing writing will be taken up with conversations, but it is less time in front of the screen and at the keyboard – typically. This team-player approach maybe helpful if you have a full plate of speaking engagements or a day job because you often “take turns” doing pieces of the book so your work time can be a little more diversified in the various tasks—not just mainly in front of the screen.
Greater Audience Reach: books that are co-authored or collaborations bring each author’s sphere of influence into the circle come launch time. It could also mean a varied platform as one of you might be terrific at Instagram while the other rocks facebook. One might have a radio show or podcast while the other has a powerful online video presence. A co author might also have a reach into an audience you don’t have. For example, when we teamed with youth speaker of women of Faith’s Revolve tour, Chad Eastham, so he could translate our “Waffles & Spaghetti” material to the net generation.
Greater Trust: Often in a co-authoring situation, a reader will see two trusted or three trusted names and the power of so many quality people in one book is appealing so it can move a persons to buy the book.
Greater Balance: Sometimes co-authoring will help you gain those few extra hours to sleep, work out, or spend with your spouse of family.
Greater Veracity: With many voices, you must have agreement of theology. You are less likely to go off track spiritually with greater accountability.
Greater Friendships: All our co-authors have become dear friends because of the honest conversations and numerous hours spent connecting over deep, important ideas. We have also remained friends because up front we talk over co-author details so everyone if unified and pulling in one direction. We always have an agreed upon mediator, and to date we have never had to use that person/company.
Greater Synergy: Having varied ideas, styles, voices, passions is electric! You may just enjoy the energy and excitement of a team project.
Co-authoring isn’t for everyone—but it could be for you.
“Did you want a four or a seven-day Caribbean cruise?” the travel agent asked.
What a choice. Even one day on that luxurious cruise ship is enough to make me salivate with excitement. But recently, unfortunate cruising events broadcasted by the media brought that thrill a notch down.
Many feel pity for those passengers who found a nice cruise turn to a crazy nightmare. But when sailing in our own ship to success, the fate isn’t much different.