Word Transformation: The Rhema of God

God’s Word contains power to transform a person’s life. The secret to “Word transformation” is two-fold: first the reading of the Bible and secondly, in living out its specific instructions. In the New Testament, there are two words commonly found to reference “God’s Word.” One is logos, which in its broadest term includes the Bible and its Christian message. The Bible is rightly called the “logos of God” because it denotes the expression of God’s thought and revealed will. The other use of God’s Word is rhema (rhay’mah). Rhema focuses attention on a specific word, command, or utterance of God directed to an individual and their life circumstance.
The significance of rhema can be illustrated by its first occurrence in the Bible (Matt. 4:4). When a word or phrase appears for the first time in the Bible, it is deserving of special attention because it is the introduction of new truth to man about God. Every other occurrence of that truth in Scripture builds upon the example established by its initial appearance.
In this foundational scripture, Satan challenges Jesus to change stones to bread. He counters Satan’s temptation by responding that man is to live by “every rhema  that comes from the mouth of God.” Subsequent temptations are diffused with specific words or utterances from Scripture. (Matt. 4:5-11) The new truth revealed in Matthew 4:4 was that man was to live by God’s specific rhema (word) to them. Jesus’ retorts to Satan show how we are to respond to life’s circumstances–follow the rhema God reveals to us.  
The importance of rhema (versus logos) is seen in God’s directive to believers to “take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word (rhema) of God.” Here the reference is not to the whole Bible as such, but to individual scriptures which the Spirit brings to remembrance for use in time of need. The only requirement is that there has been regular storing of Scripture in the mind.  When you immerse yourself in God’s logos through reading and meditating, you are setting yourself up to receive the rhema of God.

As I Look in the Mirror…Remembering MOMA

The occasion–my sister’s 70th birthday.  I rebuked the cold of Cottage Grove, Minnesota to spend this special time with my “Sister Dear.”  How much fun it was to laugh and be silly once again like we did when we were little girls.  We even shared her king-size bed for our five days of true sisterhood. As we experienced this special time, I caught glimpses of our mother in my sister–her face, her smile, her gestures, and her wisdom.  Oh my, we DO BECOME OUR MOTHERS.  I had dread that thought as a young woman, believing I had mastered both my life and my personality. But as the Psalmist shared, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”  Hopefully also, with age comes wisdom and I now see the true gift we have inherited from our mother.

The old folk use to think that our loved ones might be seen shortly after their passing–a quick glimpse to reassure our souls that they are always with us.  Moma never did appear that way.  She did, however, give us glimpse of her in the faces, actions, and wisdom of her children she left behind.  I saw her in my sister Jean this weekend and oh yeah, when I look in the mirror, I see her too!

One Mountain Please!

On December 31st, 2011, many people made New Year’s resolutions that will guide their personal energies for the next 365 days.  One year earlier more than 90 million adults (41%)made similar personal pledges.  Goals will be careful crafted by businesses and organizations as they decide where to focus their financial and human resources.  All these efforts are designed to produce successful outcomes for the upcoming year. But in evaluation of all the resolutions and goals, I am sure, there are few that request “a mountain.” 

Caleb displayed extraordinary confidence as he requested “this mountain” for his inheritance. His confidence stemmed not from his physical strength or his capabilities as a mighty warrior.  His confidence was based on the promises of God, His faithfulness, and His sustaining grace.  Joshua responded to Caleb’s request by blessing him–setting him apart for God’s enablement so he would be enriched and successful in his task.  Hebron became the inheritance of Caleb because he wholly followed the LORD God of Israel. (Joshua 14:14)
2012 will present many challenges and opportunities.  How we respond to both will depend on our “faith perspective.”  If we believe that our success is tied only to our efforts, we open ourselves to personal criticism and negative self-talk when things don’t work out as we planned.  We become victims of self-imposed pressure, resulting in worry and anxiousness.  If, however, we  trust in God and believe His promises for us, we can be assured success. (Prov. 3:5-10)  As we prepare our New Year’s resolutions, we would be wise to adopt Caleb’s wisdom and “look to the hills from which comes our help, our help comes from the LORD who made the heaven and the earth.” (Ps. 121:1-2)

A Balm in Gilead

Balm of GileadJeremiah was called to be the moral voice for a nation that didn’t care about right and wrong.  His heart was torn between his love for his nation and his love for God—a love which demanded obedience.  This internal conflict is why he is called the “Weeping Prophet.”  His weeping, however, was not a sign of personal weakness, but of his great compassion and love for his people.
Christ displayed similar traits of compassion and love as He conducted His earthly ministry. (Mat. 15:32; Mark 1:41)  Oh that we would have a heart like Jeremiah and Christ; that we would be a “balm in Gilead”—a living salve to soothe and heal those bruised by the ills of this world.
  
Our health as a nation, as a church, as a family, as individuals will not progress until we visit the Great Physician, Jesus Christ. (Mark 2:17)  Yes, there is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole…there is a balm in Gilead to heal the sin sick soul.

A Closet Full of JOY, Week 2

 Monday , October 17th 

“The Lord is my light and my salvation-whom shall I fear? The Lord is the Stronghold of my life-of whom shall I be afraid?”  Psalm 27:1
Oh what a wonderful revelation to wake up each day and shout this scripture throughout the house. The Lord is my light and my strength every day of my life. I need not fear because “everything” I go through He goes through with me and strengthens me.


Tuesday, October 18th 

I have indeed received much joy and encouragement from your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you.  Philemon 1:7

If there is ever a time during a difficult task or journey in your life that you feel a need to be refreshed in order to continue; lean on Jesus and God’s Word as we will receive strength and encouragement beyond our wildest imagination.


Wednesday, October 19th

He restoreth my soul; he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Psalm 23:3
Tire not because we realize that all we do, we do for God. He will not give us a task that is beyond our ability to complete and He promised to restore us and God keeps His promises.

A Closet Full of JOY, Week 1

A few months ago I asked a very talented writer to develop a series that would provide “instantaneous joy” for you women on the move.  It would be inspiring yet also give the reader Scripture they could meditate on during their busy day.

And “voila”,  here you have it, “A Closet Full of JOY”.   That talented writer is Myrna Jean Hart and she is my big sis.  So we invite you to our closet, a Closet Full of JOY.  Why joy?  Because God’s Word, spoken through His Holy Spirit, will enlighten and delight you, even in the midst of your trials.

We also invite you to “hang up something cute” in our closet. (We even take other clothing pieces that might work for our ladies–shoes, hats, and other accessories.   Before you know it, we will be trading “beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.” (Isaiah 61:3).  I share with you three (3) garments from the closet to keep you clothed  for the rest of the week.   Help us grow our closet with God’s lovely joy.

Wednesday, October 12th 
“But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today.”  Hebrew 3:13
As Christians we often ask the Holy Spirit, “What can I do to indicate that You live within me and help someone today? It is as simple as the scripture says, “encourage” one another daily.
  
Thursday, October 13th
“Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance.” Proverbs l:5
Have we missed an opportunity today to gain from God’s wonderful wisdom for our lives today? Don’t worry God will give us a second chance to be quite, listen and learn.

Friday, October 14th 
“A cheerful heart brings a smile to your face; a sad heart makes it hard to get through the day. Proverbs 15:13
How many people have you let see that beautiful smile on your face today? You would be surprised at the life changing effect a simple smile can have in enabling others to get through a difficult day.

Back to the B-A-S-I-C-S: Getting More From Your Bible Study

Last week I was guest on a local radio show, Back to the Basics.  From that preparation, came this Bible study aid, “Back to the B-A-S-I-C-S:  Getting More From Your Bible Study.”   Hope it helps.  Let me know how you like it.  SHARE YOUR “Bible Basics” with us.

B-Belief –“ But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit andbelief of the truth” (2 Thess. 2:13)

A-Ask the Holy Spirit for Guidance- “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come.” (John 16:13)

S-Spend time Studying God’s Word – “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Tim. 2:15)

I-Be Intentional in your study-…that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”  (2 Tim 3: 17)

C-Check out what God is saying to YOU-17  And take the helmet of salvation, andthe sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: (Eph. 6:17)

(LOOK FOR SPECS-sins,promises,examples,commands,strongholds)

S-Start living the word- “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.”  (James 1:22)

Numbering Our Days Since 9/11: A Dialogue

September 11 will be known as one of the most horrific days in our countries’ history.  Like the assassinations of  President John F. Kennedy and Rev. Martin Luther King, we clearly visualize where we were when we heard the news.

Psalm 90:12 reads:  “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” With that Scripture  in mind and as we approach the tenth anniversary of 9/11, I have three (3) questions for the WordBytes audience.

  1.  What has changed about your faith walk since September 11th?
  2.  How did experiencing 9/11 affect how you ‘number your days’?
  3.  Describe your relationship with God since 9/11?

The God Who Keeps

Economic upheaval and social strife at home.  Civil wars and natural catastrophes aboard. All these cause us to continually feel anxious, apprehensive, and nervous.  The belief that God keeps us gives comfort and assurance at a time when both (comfort and assurance) are greatly needed. 
In the Old Testament the most popular use of keep is nastar and shamar.  Nastar means to guard, protect, or preserve.  We see this in Isaiah 27:3 when God speaks of His protection of Israel, “I the LORD do keep it; I will water it every moment: lest any hurt it, I will keep it night and day.”  Shamar is similar in meaning—the sense is one of “watching over someone or something.”  It is likened to a hedge strategically placed for protection.  In Number 6, the LORD uses shamar in the priestly blessing for the children of Israel.
“The LORD bless thee, and keep thee:The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.”
The New Testament continues this thought of protection and preservation with its Greek meaning of keep—tereo and phulasso. The book of Jude closes with this popular blessing.
“Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and for ever. Amen.”
God’s also extends His keeping to our emotional and spiritual needs.
  •  You (God) will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in You. (Isa. 26:3)
  •  And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:7)
God’s promise to keep us in “His reach and watchgives us blessed assurance that cannot be matched.  We have nothing to fear for He has set Himself as our sentinel and watchman.  He is the God who keeps. (2 Tim. 1:12)

Pass the Salt – Turn on the Light : A Response to Barna Study

When Jesus left this earth, He left many things for His new found followers to ponder.  Through His Great Commission, He instructed us to make disciples.  Through His teachings,  He taught us how to live our lives until either He returns or He calls us home.  The greatest lesson, however, was included in His Great  Commandment.

First, “love the Lord with all you heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.  Second, love your neighbor as yourself. (Matt. 22:37-40) Therein lies the real opportunity for Christians, especially the church, with its spirtual and financial resources, to show our love and compassion in a world that believes only in “me and mine.” This is the opportunity for churches to contribute to their communities–communities beyond their three (3) mile radius of ther church.

As a nation, we are facing enormous financial and social challenges.  All “indicators of life” are operating at  “record” levels—the highest unemployment, the greatest number of homeless and the largest increase in crime (which includes the cost of food and gas), just to name a few.  But where is the care and concern for the needy, the weak, and the unprotected.  The proverbial “crack” people fall into is already full of the first casualities of our fragmented and fractured society.  I’m not surprised by the “society”–it’s a fallen, sin-sick place doing what it does best–endulging itself.    BUT WHAT ABOUT THE CHURCH, ITS MINISTRIES AND OUTREACH PROGRAMS?  Jesus told the “masses” (similar to today’s  church congregations of believers, seekers, and ‘others’)

  • Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. (Matt. 5:13)
  •  Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. (Matt. 5:14-16)

So what’s the problem with the “salt and the light”? What do you think about the findings in the Barna study? I really want to hear from you “good church folk!”