People who know Mickey and me today, know us as ministers. We’ve pastored a church, written books, have been speakers and missionaries. We also have a terrific family with 4 married children, 14 grandchildren, and one great grandchild.
We love life and love each other.
Many people know that the source of all of these blessings is our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. What many don’t know is that each of us had very dramatic encounters with Jesus which turned our lives around.
I want to share my story here…
It Was the End of the World As I Knew It…
I was lying face down on the floor of my suburban Atlanta home. Shattered. Exhausted. Afraid.
I had a good job and three adorable daughters. But I was overworked, trying to take care of everyone and everything. I was tired, emotionally drained, and constantly worrying about the well being of my daughters.
You see, two years before, I had gone through a very painful divorce that had left me feeling ashamed and lonely. My family didn’t believe in divorce. I didn’t believe in it. But there I was.
The world I had known had ended. The world that had started out seeming so good…
That world had started in college, when I wanted to think of myself as an intellectual. So when I read books written by a leading “scholar” from Yale Theological Seminary, I believed them. After all, he was from Yale. He must know what he’s talking about, right?
And when this “scholar” attempted to remove all of the miracles from the Bible, not much was left. I began to doubt my faith.
It seemed the fad in those days was to denounce or “modify” Christianity. I was attending a Liberal Arts College with a supposed Christian orientation, and one of our courses was on the Bible. So we analyzed and looked for “myths.” And one of the professors with lots of charisma pointed out many concepts which he considered to be myths.
Once again, I thought the professor was smart, and I believed him.
The outcome was that I continued to consider myself a Christian, but with modified beliefs. I no longer understood what the life of Jesus had accomplished. I began to think of Him as a good man. Like many other Good Men who headed up other world religions.
Soon after college, I married a like-minded man, and we began our lives together. I loved decorating our home and entertaining friends. Over the next thirteen years, I gave birth to 3 beautiful daughters, and loved being their mother.
It started out as fun. Lots of ballgames. Plays. Concerts. Travel. Parties.
The Bible had been moved back from the frontlines. Society began to dictate my thoughts and my lifestyle. I wanted to be up to date on the latest styles and topics. To know what was going on in the world. To read the latest books.
After all, my active social life required that I would be up to date on these things.
Oh, did I mention that this social lifestyle also included lots of social – and maybe not so social – drinking? Well it did.
And arguments. And more and more confusion.
In fact, things got so that they weren’t much fun anymore…
Then came the crash…and a crash it was!! A bitter divorce.
Depressed, lonely, angry, and afraid, for the next two years, I attempted to put together a single life that made sense to me. But all I could find was overwhelm. My job provided most of our needs, but I was exhausted.
So the night came when I had had enough. As my adorable girls slept, I fell face down on the floor of my den and I prayed.
It wasn’t a traditional prayer.
Forget all the books. Forget all the intellectual rhetoric.
I had a tremendous need for help.
Who cares what some professor thinks now?
I was desperate…
Jesus, if you are real, I need you. And I want you in my life.
What happened next was astonishing. It was almost instantaneous. The tears left. The fear, the sadness, the overwhelm disappeared. What was left was overwhelming joy.
It was shocking. Could this be real? What’s happening?
In an instant I had changed. I knew that Jesus was alive, and I knew that He had impacted me. I felt a warmth like liquid love being poured out on me.
I had no idea of the adventurous life He was about to lead me into. I just knew that everything was going to be O.K.
The next few days are memorable because I could tell that I wasn’t the same. My attitude – toward people – toward my own life – was different.
And I had a hunger to read the Bible. I threw off the concepts which I had borrowed from others, and began to allow the Bible to speak to me personally. And it was speaking volumes.
I ran across the verse which says,
If any man be in Christ he is a new creation. Old things are passed away and behold all things have become new. And all of these new things are of God. (II Corinthians 5:17).
That obviously had happened to me. I could tell that I wasn’t the same. Amazing!
I remember that encounter with Jesus as if it happened yesterday, but really it happened to me many years ago.
The end of my world was the beginning of a new one. A world with more clarity. More understanding. More courage. More love and faith. And true happiness – which can only come from our Father God.
A few years later, I met my current husband who also had had a dramatic encounter. His story is different, but he too met Jesus personally while alone in his home. And he too had a dramatic change in his life. Soon after our marriage, we had a son to go with our three daughters.
We have spent the last few decades on an adventure with God. Never boring. Many times challenging. But always filled with a knowledge of God’s love and care for us.
We’ve seen many miracles along the way.
Now your own personal encounter can happen for you also. You don’t have to be in a church. It can happen in your home – or anywhere.
Here’s the thing…
With every other religion the purpose is to follow a certain set of rules – or a certain philosophy. They all sound good. They all promote compassion toward others and doing good deeds
What I had never understood before my salvation was that with Jesus, it’s not about believing a philosophy or following a set of rules. It is about literally receiving His Spirit, the Holy Spirit, to come and live inside of us. Making us new. Fresh. And Alive. Truly being Born Again.
You see, the other dead philosophers are not living in our realm. Jesus is. He was resurrected and is alive. He is in heaven, but His spirit is here living inside of us when we receive Him. Right here. Right now.
My prayer is for you, as you read this, to have your faith strengthened, If you are a believer.
If you are not a believer, let me encourage you to seek Jesus. Ask Him to show you the truth. Is He real? Yes, He is. And He is eager to turn your life around also.
Your story won’t be like mine. Every one is different.
But Jesus will begin a new life which you never knew existed. A life of love, peace, and great joy.
And as you continue, you will grow in your understanding of who He is and who you are in His Kingdom.
You’ll read the Bible with fresh eyes. Verses will leap off the page and you will know that your Heavenly Father is speaking to you personally.
My prayer is that you, too, seek Jesus.
Do it! The love of God is waiting for you.
There is a verse is Deuteronomy 29 which we didn’t cover yesterday, but I think it is really important in understanding the Bible. Deuteronomy 29:29 says “the secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of the law.”
We have seen how God has tried to protect His people from Satan before they were ready to understand their foe. He couldn’t reveal all that we know now about the devil, because they were not prepared to deal with him. They didn’t have Holy Spirit living on the inside of them like we do today.
So in the same way, over the years God has revealed more and more of His Word to his people. If we will keep ears to hear and eyes to see, we will understand more and more. Yet there are still some things which are secret from us until the time He wishes to reveal them.
That’s one reason that doctrinal error gets started. People reading the Bible try to understand with their minds – and not their spirits – what God has said. We need to wait for Him to reveal it.
Now back to Moses. Moses prophesies through song about the days ahead. God is showing him that eventually the nation will turn from God and worship idols, and their blessings will dry up. (I hope that our nation will wake up before it’s too late for us). As he says, “This is not an idle word for you; indeed it is your life.”(32:47)
Moses is allowed to go up to the mountain and look over the Promised land, but he can’t enter. He tried to strike the rock (representing Jesus) twice, instead of speaking to it the second time. He didn’t regard God’s Word as Holy.
Remember, we need to learn from this. We have to regard the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross as Holy. Once and for all time God’s only Son was sacrificed for our sins on the cross. He paid the price for us to enter the land of our promises from God.
We don’t try to strike Him again for our answers. We receive what He has done, we pray for wisdom, and confess the Word concerning our issues. Jesus paid the price for much more than we are receiving.
I pray that all of us enter into a new, greater revelation of His Word and what it means. We must contend for the Word; we must contend for the faith. Faith reaches out and receives our answers.
We have to have those faith hands.
Mark 15: 24-47
We see over and over how Satan’s plans work for God. I Corinthians 2:8 says that “none of the rulers of this age understood God’s wisdom, for if they had understood it, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory.” So Satan and his demons thought they were defeating God’s plan. Instead they were fulfilling it.
God’s Lamb – His Son who would be the ultimate sacrifice for our sins – was sacrificed on Passover by the High Priest – just as he was supposed to be. Isn’t it amazing to see how God works?
Then the veil in the temple was torn from top to bottom. God Himself tore the veil to signify that now all men can go into His presence. No longer is this reserved for the High Priest once a year. It’s for all of us.
Now we have the ability, not only to have forgiveness, but to live our lives in communion with our heavenly Father. He has adopted us as sons and wants to spend time with us.
The ball is in our court now. He has made the way and now beckons us to Him. We are the ones who have to make the decision to receive what he has done.
Easter season is near. I pray that all of us will make a decision to walk and live in a deeper revelation of what he has done for us.
There’s always more to learn and more to receive. When we spend time with our heavenly Father and His Word, we have at our hand new realms of understanding and empowerment.
I pray that his will be the year we decide to do it!
“For the land, into which you are entering to possess it, is not like the land of Egypt from which you came, where you used to sow your seed and water it with your foot like a vegetable garden….But the land into which you are about to cross to possess it, a land of hills and valleys, drinks water from the rain of heaven, a land for which the Lord your God cares; the eyes of the Lord your God are always on it, from the beginning to the end of the year.” (Deut. 11:10-12)
That’s your life now, as a Christian. Before you came to the Lord all you had was striving and striving in your own strength, but now, you know that God’s eyes are upon your life and your Promised Land. He is watching over you in all that you do.
Sometimes it may not seem like it, but it is true. What you and I have to do is reach out for that promise, just like the woman with the issue of blood or blind Bartimaeus did with Jesus. They reached out and received what He had, when others just watched Him walk by. Now it’s our turn. We too can reach out and receive this promise from our Father. (more…)
There is an old saying which goes something like this: The Old Testament is the New Testament concealed, and the New Testament is the Old Testament revealed. I like this analogy, because it is so true!
When we start reading the Old Testament, there are lots of questions. “Why are so many people killed?” “Does God just not like some people?”and on and on.
When we read the New Testament, we see more of what God’s plan was all about. He was going to bring redemption to the earth. But since He never would (and never will) treat people like puppets, He had to find some people who would cooperate.
Without God in their lives, men were destined for great evil and destruction of each other. So He had to search for some who would allow themselves to be influenced by Him. Only then could He work His plan of bringing His Son into the earth.
It took many years – even centuries – before His great plan could be accomplished. But step by step, He faithfully continued, working with those who would allow Him.
With these ideas in mind, let’s look at these early chapters of Genesis.
Genesis 4- 9
We start with Cain and Abel. Each of these bring an offering to the Lord; an offering from their livelihood. God was pleased with Abel’s offering and not with Cain’s. Do you wonder why? Abel’s offering was a sheep sacrificed to God and Cain’s was produce of the ground.
Even at that early time in history, God was trying to show that a blood sacrifice was essential for His perfect offering. He was pointing to Jesus, who would be His blood sacrifice. we will see this idea continue throughout the Old Testament.
Then eventually we get to Noah. As we see, man without God, was running wild, so God needed to start over. Men had fallen into so much sin, and their hearts were so hard, He could not deal with them anymore.
So that’s why He found one man who would listen: Noah. Noah proved himself by being obedient to perform the strange task of building an ark, and when the time came to take His family and representatives of the animal kingdom into the ark for safety. Then God destroyed all the rest of creation with a flood which covered the earth.
It was preservation for our deliverance.
Matthew 3 and 4
Jesus is baptized by John the Baptist. The prophet knows that God is sending redemption, so he is “preparing the way.” He is preaching to people, trying to get them to repent and turn back to God.
He speaks of One who will come, whose ministry would be the greatest of all time. Recognizing Jesus as the Savior, John baptizes Him and hears the voice say “This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.”
Then Jesus is led into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil, so that He could prove Himself to the spirit world.
If you will notice, we see once again the importance of words. As Satan tempts Jesus in the wilderness, again and again He fights the battle with words. And not just any word, He uses the Word of God. “It is written. It is written.” He uses scripture over and over to defeat the devil’s schemes.
We will see this principle at work many times. Hopefully we will learn to use this weapon of God with greater force, as we see how it is done.
That’s about all I have for today. If you want to add, please do!
Project 2013: Read Your Bible Through in a Year starts tomorrow. Remember that “context is everything,” when you are reading the Bible. That’s why it’s so important to read it through. You begin to see God’s overall plan. There is a continuity throughout the Word which many people miss, as they jump around from verse to verse.
I will be commenting each day. Sometimes I may have lots to say; sometimes little.
It would be great for you to leave comments also.
There are a few rules:
- We are assuming that the Bible is truly God’s Word. (If you don’t believe that the Bible is truly His Word, you are welcome to read along with us, but please don’t try to argue that God wasn’t behind the writing of this special book).
- And speaking of arguing, let’s don’t do it. If you have positive insights, please feel free to express them, but don’t be argumentative.
- If you miss a day or two or three, don’t give up. You can catch up with us.
- Try to look at the Word with fresh eyes. If you have read the Bible through many times before, you may feel that you already know everything it says. Let God speak to you anew and afresh as you read. That’s where the blessings are.
- We will be reading from the Old and New Testaments every day.
So here goes
January 1: Genesis 1 and Matthew 1
January 2: Genesis 2, 3 and Matthew 2
January 3: Genesis 4, 5, 6 and Matthew 3
January 4: Genesis 7, 8, 9 and Matthew 4
January 5: Genesis 10, 11, 12 and Matthew 5
January 6: Genesis 13, 14, 15 and Matthew 6
January 7: Genesis 16, 17, 18 and Matthew 7
January 8: Genesis 19, 20, 21 and Matthew 8: 1-17
January 9: Genesis 22, 23, 24 and Matthew 8: 18-34
January 10: Genesis 25, 26 and Matthew 9:1-17
January 11: Genesis 27, 28 and Matthew 9:18-38
January 12: Genesis 29, 30 and Matthew 10:1-20
January 13: Genesis 31, 32 and Matthew 10:21-42
January 14: Genesis 33, 34, 35 and Matthew 11
January 15: Genesis 36, 37, 38 and Matthew 12:1-23
January 16: Genesis 39, 40 and Matthew 12:24-50
January 17: Genesis 41, 42 and Matthew 13:1-30
January 18: Genesis 43 ,44, 45 and Matthew 13:31-58
January 19 Genesis 46, 47,48 and Matthew 14:1-21
January 20: Genesis 49, 50 and Matthew 14:22-36
January 21: Exodus 1, 2, 3 and Matthew 15:1-20
January 22: Exodus 4, 5, 6 and Matthew 15: 21-39
January 23: Exodus 7, 8 and Matthew 16
January 24: Exodus 9, 10, 11 and Matthew 17
January 25: Exodus 12, 13 and Matthew 18: 1-20
January 26: Exodus 14, 15 and Matthew 18: 21-35
January 27: Exodus 16, 17, 18 and Matthew 19
January 28: Exodus 19, 20 and Matthew 20:1-16
January 29: Exodus 21, 22 and Matthew 20: 17-34
January 30: Exodus 23, 24 and Matthew 21:1-22
January 31: Exodus 25, 26 and Matthew 21: 23-46
I’m looking forward to a great year of growth in understanding of Gods plan.
So get ready for the starting bell tomorrow!
Happy New Year!