29 Dec

The End is Near…

…the end of 2017 that is! And of course that also means planning for 2018, goals, hopes, dreams and yep ONE WORD to rule them all… those goals, hopes and dreams!

For me, this is always a key to starting the year off with a purposeful direction in mind. This past year it was JOY… and for sure exercising joy even when I didn’t feel joyful always re-directed my thoughts and my very heart to the joy that is found in the Lord, no matter what! It has been good to find joy in even the most devastating events of the year. In the news especially! Between all the hurricanes, fires, mass shootings and war I felt joy when viewing the people who stepped in to assist, comfort and restore those affected!  In my personal life, a sad occurrence with my son has a bit of light to it in that he may prayerfully be overcoming some life hurdles. Ultimately what I learned about JOY was that even in the darkest times, if one looks for it joy can be found-and there at the center is my God!

Before I share my word and verse for this year, I want to share what my #1 hope/goal is. I’ve had the moniker and web space for Abiding Ways Ministries and this blog for a very long time.  (Since Feb 2002!) and sadly, haven’t done a whole lot except for “Along the Way” in years! My vision back then was to create a Bible study website as well as a place to learn more about theology, history, culture of ancient times, languages and even methods of study. Ultimate goal and still the mission of Abiding Ways is to do what I can to help folks gain greater Bible literacy. If you’ve read any of my past posts you know I also touch on social issues of today as it relates to biblical principles and especially those things Jesus taught. Well, this year, I hope to go beyond vision to actively pursuing this mission! While I don’t desire donations or funding etc, I am considering other “marketing” possibilities to increase readership. You may have noticed the “share” buttons at the top of the page-I hope you’ll use them. I’m thinking also about a newsletter to highlight popular posts (monthly?) as well as a dedicated Twitter and Facebook area. I’ve tried Facebook before and well, didn’t get much feedback. It could be that I didn’t pay that much attention myself. Well, my ultimate plan is to post twice a week for starters and more often as led. Of course, the Romans study, but also timely articles on social issues and sharing my views especially as it relates to my faith in Jesus. So, now that you know all that– here is my verse for 2018—

If you haven’t guessed already, my ONE WORD for this year is ENDURANCE ! 

I am the first to admit that I am not the most consistent person when it comes to blogging, but I do try to be an obedient child of God. And it came to me the other day while praying about this that my focus has really been all wrong. This mission I’m on here on the “inter-webs” hasn’t really been a priority. Call it wrong thinking or just a bit of fearfulness at the enormity of developing and maintaining a website for God and sure, like Jonah, I try to ignore it! However, during that same time of meditation I was plainly told THIS IS YOUR CALLING! Not just as wife, mother, grandma, friend, but as a disciple do what I’ve been telling you-“Go into all the world and get the message out!” and so, as the new year ends, that is what I pray to do! For an older gal like me, endurance isn’t something that comes like it did when I was 25! So, other things are having to go by the wayside. Especially some of those bad habits like cruising Facebook because I don’t want to fold laundry, or turning on the TV during the day instead of writing, preparing my next post or vacuuming the house.

Before I sign off for the year- I did a brief word study on my Word… just right-click and save.  For my verse Strong’s says the following:
5281. ὑπομονή hupŏmŏnē, hoop-om-on-ay´; from 5278; cheerful (or hopeful) endurance, constancy:— enduring, patience, patient continuance (waiting).

Now you can’t argue with that can you? And it IS the Greek word used most often in the New Testament.

And so, let’s wrap this up! I suspect you’ve now endured enough – HAPPY NEW YEAR!

The LORD bless you and keep you;
the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

21 Dec

Things on My Mind as Christmas Comes…

Can you believe that Christmas is in FOUR days… and a new year begins less than two weeks from today!?!

I have a love/hate relationship with this time of year. I love all the love that comes with the holiday spirit and I hate it because I review my good and bad of the last twelve months with a view to improving on the good stuff and maybe letting go of some of those goals and dreams that seemed so right this time last year. It’s a time to remember those who are no longer with us as well as to rejoice in new friends, new interests and maybe, just maybe accomplishing what might otherwise seem impossible.

As I’ve mentioned before, being more disciplined and consistent about posting here is in the top three for 2018. I love writing and posting. I’m not in it to sell anything or make it a business. My primary purpose is, and has always been to give witness and my personal testimony of Jesus work in my life. A secondary vision, especially in 2018 will be to prayerfully increase interest in studying scripture and teaching what I’ve learned in my studies. I find it sad that so many who are called Christians have so little personal knowledge or interest in studying what He taught and what His apostles and disciples spread throughout the world. Sadly, some accept without question whatever preacher, pastor, or teacher they follow is telling them without benefit of reading and studying for themselves. Indeed my hope is to encourage anyone and everyone to be Berean-Minded( Acts 17:10-12). Needless to say as I continue to tweak the blog, I hope you’ll share on your Twitter and Facebook pages if you find anything worthy.

While I do a lot of personal study I also have a few select devotionals and teachers I follow. My favorite is Chuck Swindoll and “Insight for Living”. I’ve always found his teaching deep and with practical applicable lessons for those of us in the 21st century. John Piper is another favorite and you can find him and an abundance of resources, many of them free at Desiring God website. Others include Richard Rohr and James McDonald. Click as you will for their websites. I find Rohr especially deep. While I am not of the Catholic tradition, this Franciscan monk has insight that goes beyond the basics.

My daily devotions recently changed and include the “Book of Common Prayer (1979) Daily Office Lectionary”. I found a website that provides the liturgy and worship for these readings and use Life Application Bible notes to gain greater understanding of the readings especially as it may apply to me!

Well, now you know a little bit more about where I go for outside help and direction. There are many others I read including Christine Caine, Beth Moore and of course my pastor Craig Groeschel! Again, I encourage you to drop in at Life.Church during the holiday. Our Christmas message and worship begins tonight and through next week!

I will be celebrating my first year of “winter season” as I now have to apply for Medicare… and it is good. What I’m learning (Yep.. ol’ gals can learn new tricks) is that much of what used to seem important even a few years ago isn’t such a big deal. In fact, there isn’t much that is except loving others, and serving God as He leads. As I grow older this truth becomes more and more apparent… the world needs Jesus! And it is up to those of us who follow Him to get out there and share His love.

As we anxiously await the day of His coming into the world, keep this in mind. Our duty as believers is to first, love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. That means not just believing there is a God but doing what He says in complete obedience-relying on the strength given to us by Him in the power of the Holy Spirit that now lives in each of us. Secondly we are to love our neighbors-ALL OF THEM-as we love ourselves. Yes, that even means the grouch next door, the Muslim down the street, the immigrant who just moved here from another land. It means your boss, your co-workers and of course, your family!

I may or may not post before New Years Day… don’t know yet what the plan is. My beloved, in his Grinch-y way, will be working for his co-workers who have family for both Christmas and New Years. He’s pretty giving of himself for an unbeliever… and there’s always hope in my heart that our Lord will grab him where it counts-in his heart and mind! Me? I’ll be sleeping in the spare room or in the living room as he goes to bed earlier for these workdays. At midnight or right before, I read Luke 2 and worship and pray.

Until then, I hope each one of you has a very Merry Christmas and a most joyous and blessed Happy New Year! I’m looking forward to digging deep and wide into the Book of Romans with you!

19 Dec

Romans Overview-Part Deux

I know it’s been a long time in coming… a goal for the new year is more consistency in blogging here. I know it’s my calling and Lord knows I try. Perhaps in my quest to improve Bible literacy, the devil is also in the details?

First a little review…
You can also view the other posts. The first is here and the second is here (Click the links)

If you’ve read this epistle (letter) through a few times I’m sure you’re convinced that this is Paul’s best! A masterpiece which brings together all of theology in brief! For me, it confirms all the basic truths that IS the gospel message! Needless to say, I find myself turning to the Book of Romans over and over. It is also why I am pointing you readers to it as well! I sometimes gobble it up, and other times just nibble and snack. So much to digest and it’s all meat!

Having learned how it is structured and main points is just an introduction-an aperitif if you will. For now, a very general guidance and our direction for future and deeper study in the coming year!

Next: let’s say a little about the church that was in Rome. Paul had not yet visited but wanted to very much (Rom. 1:13, 15:23 ) but was hoping to do so soon. So, how did it happen that there were believers in Rome? We can conclude from the fact that when Paul wrote this letter, the faith of those of the Roman church were already well known (Rom. 1:8). It may be that as there were also many Jews there who came to believe that the gospel came with them. Peter also mentions at Pentecost that there were visitors from Rome. It’s quite possible that having become believers, they shared it with others upon their return. It is also likely that the church at Rome was a mix of Jewish and Gentile believers. Many of the Gentile believers, before coming to Christ, had been Jewish proselytes to Judaism. It is commonly believed that Paul wrote this epistle while he was in Corinth during his time in Achaia and sent it with Phoebe, a sister in the church at Cenchrea who was going to Rome.

Now a little about Paul, though I admit that studying the man is almost as fascinating to me as studying Scripture!
-Paul was a Pharisee before his conversion on the Damascus Road! He knew the Jewish law from top to bottom and everything in between!
-He was brought up in the Greek culture and the Hellenic life. He was familiar with all Greek literature.
-Paul had ROMAN Citizenship which gave him extraordinary privileges in the Roman world.

So, here we have a man knowledgeable in the extreme with Hebrew ways, a cultural Greek and a freeborn Roman citizen. This made him, in my opinion, uniquely qualified for his calling! Exhibiting intellect, strength of will (aka discipline), deep feeling and sympathy for all, his character is a perfect blend of who Jesus was looking for to be a witness to all the world! Most of all, what always continues to draw me to study this man is his conversion directly by Jesus. Beyond all else he was the perfect man to blend how being a believer in Jesus was the legitimate outcome, development and completion of all the truth found in the Old Testament!

A Little More Doctrine (no groaning!)

Browse through the first eight chapters again. It’s all about HOW THE GOSPEL SAVES SINNERS! This can be summed up by the statement “Present righteousness and final salvation through Christ BY FAITH” Sadly, nowadays in our deeply commercial, industrial ,urbanized, mechanized world we live by the clock and have less time to consider and ponder and meditate on the deeper things. Materialism seems to rule the masses. The next great technical gadget and of course the many distractions that encompass the internet. Despite all that there ARE hearts that are uneasy and seek more than what is seen. That desire, that rightness with the Creator. THAT is a major part of Paul’s message in these first words of Romans. Check out Rom. 1:18 , Rom. 1:21-23, Rom. 2 , etc.
Paul is going to tell us where righteousness can be found but first he tells us where it is NOT found! Not in worship of nature or in religion! Ultimately he says, “It is NOT found in me!” He then writes all about where it IS found-the Gospel; which is his message in Romans 1-8. There are two aspects to this righteousness-the legal and the moral, or said another way, the judicial and the dynamic. The Gospel provides both! Righteousness is IMPUTED, that is it is judicially given through the awesome payment Jesus paid on the cross. There is also righteousness IMPARTED – the power given through and by the renewing Holy Spirit of Christ JESUS. This is JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH ALONE IN CHRIST ALONE!

So, by faith ,believing all that Jesus said, who He is and in His resurrection we have:
– Peace with God
– Access to God by faith
– Joy in the hope of glory
– God’s unconditional love in our hearts
– Saved from God’s wrath
– Joy in God
(Romans 5:1-11)
Note also those things we are now “dead” to… that no longer have power over those who believe:
Dead to sin-alive to God
Dead to the Law-married to Christ
Dead to the flesh-led by the Spirit

Pretty awesome ain’t it!! By simply believing Jesus, surrendering our being to Him, we become free of the curse of death and eternal wrath!
I’m going to end this here for now and let you dig in a little bit more to these first eight chapters.
It’s a lot to consider, to ponder, to meditate on.
If you’re not yet a follower of Jesus Christ, today I invite you to join me on this marvelous and adventurous road. It’s not going to make you rich, get the mate you have your eye on or anything like that. What it DOES do is set you free to be YOU. The YOU that God created you to be…and He welcomes you to come NOW-just as you are!

You can tell God that you are willing to trust Him for salvation. You can tell Him in your own words or use this simple prayer:

Lord Jesus, I ask You to forgive my sins and save me from eternal separation from God. By faith, I accept Your work and death on the cross as sufficient payment for my sins. Thank You for providing the way for me to know You and to have a relationship with my heavenly Father. Through faith in You, I have eternal life. Thank You also for hearing my prayers and loving me unconditionally. Please give me the strength, wisdom, and determination to walk in the center of Your will. In Jesus’ name, amen.

So, if I’ve helped you in any way this year to draw nearer to God, I’d love to hear from you! You can comment below. All comments are moderated so if you don’t want it published, just say so, OK. I know this is a deeply personal decision. I also want to invite you to my church-ONLINE! Check out my church LifeChurch @ Church Online to meet others who are following Christ or seeking to know more. There are over 80 opportunities to watch the message, worship in song, and even seek personal prayer. All of the live chats (yes we talk in church!) are moderated by trained hosts from all over the world. I host on Tuesday mornings 8:30 AM Central Time-USA and if you are there… say HEY DONNA!

One of my personal goals for the coming year is to post more consistently (at least once a week) despite anything life may send my way. I covet prayers for the coming year as we dig deeper into Romans. My “plan” is one or two chapters a week so we finish up before Easter Sunday April 1. After that we’ll go into full “excavation mode”. You can download a tentative outline by clicking –Romans Excavation Plan!  We may delve more into the culture and history surrounding the book as well as sneaking in a little Greek here and there! And of course a bit more about Paul-the man!

For the rest of this year may your days be merry and bright. For the coming year… I pray you may draw nearer to God and Jesus Christ our Lord. I’m considering a make-over of the blog and trying to put together a few other features and classes … pray with me and for me, ok? I’m always open to suggestion also.

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