“Making Jesus Christ attractive to all, getting everyone involved in the glory and praise of God.” Philippians 1:11 (The MSG)

Whether or not I’d be considered an influential leader or a powerful change agent, I am leading others.

While my resume may not provide evidence of being a leader, my actions and attitude and words lead people -literally or virtually- in one direction or another.

In my little corner of the world, in the obscurity of my home office, I have terrific influence. It doesn’t take a booming voice nor a colorful, sunny personality to get everyone involved.

The problem is that I can be completely unaware of my influence over others and where I may be leading them.

Our ability to get everyone involved in something is both subtle and overtly powerful.

The nagging question is…What am I getting everyone involved in?

Is it complaint? I mean, it is 2020…

If I’m unhappy or dissatisfied about an issue, how quick am I to garner support for my point of view? Misery loves company, right? Because when I’m steeped in discontent, I’d much rather you…the whole world… join me in it.

What about service to others? When a need is brought to my attention, I lead by the way I respond.

My response can motivate you in a positive way that makes “Jesus Christ attractive to all” and advances the kingdom of God or my response can breed apathy and feed self-centered thinking and toxic ingratitude.

Rather than a head shake and, “You’re not going to sign up to help with that, are you?”, I could nod vigorously and say, “I’m going to sign up to help meet that need. It’d be fun for us to work alongside each other.”

Consider the subtle, yet powerful persuasion of a simple shrug of indifference and how it might dissuade you from joining the fight when, instead, I could get you involved in something that might have eternal impact

Both responses lead. Which one results in a smile from God?

You and I lead by example. But where are we leading people? In what are we getting them involved?

I’m thankful our involvement doesn’t have to make headline news to have far-reaching impact. It doesn’t even have to demand great cost of time, talent or treasure. But it does afford us the opportunity to make Jesus Christ attractive and get others involved in the glory and praise of him.

How have you responded to opportunity, small or large? How and where have you lead others by example or attitude?

Mary

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Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person and they with me. Revelation 3:20 (NIV)

Have you ever had someone at your door who knocked incessantly? Add to that, someone who was shouting, “Here I am!”

The average person knows it’s foolish to knock at a door when, after prolonged silence, it becomes clear there’s no one home.

But what if the one knocking knew you were home and persisted in their effort to get you to open the door because they had something wonderful to offer?

What if that person was God?

That’s the picture I get when I read this verse in Revelation. For one, it’s written in present tense. God is standing and he is knocking. Also, he offers assurance he will come in and eat with us.

Personally, I would much rather get together with someone when there’s at least a cup of coffee or an appetizer involved. A sit down and dine opportunity is even better. Particularly when there is no obligation on my part aside from opening the door and allowing the presence of God.

Being that Jesus is the Bread of Life, it makes sense to consider that his incessant knocking involves the offering of himself as the ultimate source of nourishment for our soul.

God is eagerly calling out to us and knocking incessantly on our behalf.

If we choose to hear and open the door of our heart and allow him entrance, his word promises he will come in and eat with us.

Oh, just so you know, no masks or hand sanitizer is required for this gathering. And the only thing I’ll catch if I answer God’s incessant knocking is more of himself.

What hinders you from hearing his voice or his knocking? What helps you tune in and find courage to open the door and invite him in?

Mary

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✏️ Two of my 2019 inspirational articles that were published in Refresh, Online Bible Study Magazine, are featured in this 40 short Bible studies compilation, The Power to Make a Difference Available on Amazon.

 

 

“Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine.”

John 15:4 (NIV)

The morning after my husband drove my youngest daughter back to college, I used the time alone to do some deep cleaning in the bedroom she’d occupied since March, no thanks to COVID.

On her nightstand was a pair of Apple AirPods nestled in their charging case. The discovery offered me the opportunity to give these technology wonders a try.

Once I learned which pod goes in which ear and connected to Blue Tooth via my cell phone, I was good to go for listening to my Spotify playlist.

The first time I’d forgotten the AirPods were still in my ears and wandered out of range, I heard the monotone warning,

“Disconnected.”

I grimaced.

When I turned back toward the room where I’d left my cell phone, I heard, “Pairing…Connected.”

When I went outside to check the mail? “Disconnected.”

Upon returning to the house, it was, “Connected.”

The “connected” and “disconnected” directives that piped through my ears brought to mind John 15, the account of the Vine and the branches.

Remain in me, as I also remain in you.

Imagine if every time we wandered too far from the Lord in mind or deed we were gently pinged with his prompt, “Disconnected”

In a similar way, the Holy Spirit works like the AirPods and reminds me to remain in Jesus and stay connected to him.

Just as I can no longer hear music when I step out of range of my cell (the source of my music), I can no longer hear the voice of God when I wander too far from him.

To stay connected to Jesus requires I stay connected to his word:

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given to you.” (John 15:7)

What helps you tune into God’s voice? How does God prompt you when you’ve wandered out of range and struggle to hear his voice? What hinders you from hearing him?

Mary

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✏️ Two of my 2019 inspirational articles that were published in Refresh, Online Bible Study Magazine, are featured in this 40 short Bible studies compilation, The Power to Make a Difference Available on Amazon.

He opened the rock and water gushed out; like a river, it flowed in the desert. Psalm 105:41 (NIV)

Recently I’ve struggled with particular aspects of my current manuscript. What I originally believed was a solid beginning started to feel “off” somehow, the vision for going from beginning to end suddenly unclear.

Doubt nagged like fleas on a dog in the heat of summer.

Maybe I’ve revealed something in the plot too soon?

Are there story elements that don’t need to be included?

What if a character has to “die”. Worse, not make the cast at all?

What if…

Months spent crafting this thing and suddenly it felt like my brain had become one solid rock, devoid of all creative thought.

God in His goodness directed me to this verse:

He opened the rock and water gushed out; like a river, it flowed in the desert. Psalm 105:41 (NIV)

So I prayed, “Lord my brain feels like this rock. I need you to produce water out of it.”

In my case, God answered through four hours on the phone with my craft partner. Soon thereafter, creative waters trickled out, producing a river of ideas.

As pieces began to fall into place and the story slowly emerged, my thirst was quenched.

When I considered the Israelites who’d wandered in the desert and became predictably thirsty, I wondered why God, Who is always good, allowed them to arrive at a place where He knew they’d thirst and make access to water next to impossible. (Exodus 17:1-7)

Why not place the Israelites near an easily accessible source of water, a visual to assure them they’d not thirst and enable their frantic minds to rest?

Ah, but then their eyes would fall upon the water and they’d place their trust in it rather than in Him, the Creator and provider of all their needs.

My same tendency.

In bringing them to a point of extinction, God would be magnified as the giver of life by opening a rock to produce water enough to flow like a river.

He did the impossible in order that He might deliver His people and receive the glory He was—and is—due.

As for my story, I pray God’s truth will flow like a river into the lives of my characters and, ultimately, the reader.

In what ways are you feeling dry and in need of God’s life-giving water? Will you trust Him to open rocks when you most need it?

Mary

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✏️ Two of my 2019 inspirational articles that were published in Refresh, Online Bible Study Magazine, are featured in this 40 short Bible studies compilation, The Power to Make a Difference Available on Amazon.

God is not slow in keeping His promise as some understand  slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. II Peter 3:9 (NIV)

Y’all, help me out here. I can’t possibly be the only one who, when reheating something in the microwave, gives the handle an impatient tug to stop it with only seconds left before the blessed beep of readiness.

The mere fact that a modern day microwave comes equipped with a ‘+ 30 seconds’ option is telling… Otherwise, I’d have to go to the trouble to select ‘Time cook’ followed by a ‘3’ and a ‘0’, and finally ‘start’ before the heating process began.

Poor me.

The grocery curbside pickup? The instant I pull into my chosen spot, why do they make me wait a bit rather than rush out to my car with stuff?

Why is everything and everyone so s-l-o-w??

Maybe the underlying question inside my soul is, “God, why are You so slow?”

His answer is swift.

He is not slow in keeping His promise as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. II Peter 3:9

God isn’t bound by time. He has no need to set an alarm or use a calendar to plan His days.

With the Lord, a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years are like a day. (vs 8) For the rest of us, a day is measured in twenty-four hours and a thousand years is, well, a number of days beyond what my brain wants to configure.

God’s ‘slowness’ is purposeful and loving and good. He is providing time for more and more people to come to repentance. His ‘slowness’ enables me to consider those whose eternity with Jesus is not yet secure and pray for their repentance before His sure and certain return.

His slowness allows me to focus on how I’m living rather than on my need for relief from present difficulty. Can I say with confidence that I consistently live the holy and godly and, uh, patient life that He desires? (vs 11)

Praise God for His slowness! He’s providing time for adjustment before He returns.

Because on the day of the Lord’s return, everything and everybody will be destroyed by fire to make way for a new heaven and a new earth, a home of righteousness (vs 13).

When His ‘slowness’ has run its course, how will He find us living? And who has He placed in our sphere of influence who might be the object of His ‘slowness’?

Mary

✏️If you’d like to receive weekly story-style devotionals and a quarterly author newsletter with giveaways, simply scroll down to the bottom to subscribe via email.

✏️ Two of my 2019 inspirational articles that were published in Refresh, Online Bible Study Magazine, are featured in this 40 short Bible studies compilation, The Power to Make a Difference Available on Amazon.