Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Make your Deposit—NOW

One more day and 2015 will be history.  That means it's resolution time!  Now, what shall I endeavor to accomplish, change, improve, or remove from my life in 2016?  

My husband, who is a pastor, is forever challenging people to memorize scripture.  When he was a youth pastor (about 100 years ago) he did this activity with the students.  He put them in small groups and told them they were going to outer space. (Yes, that's the kind of stuff youth pastor's did in the 1970's.)  He instructed the teams to choose a leader and each team member was allowed to bring one item on the trip to ensure their survival.  He gave the teams a few minutes to strategize.  Then he went around the room and had each group share what they were bringing.  Usually, at least one group would remember their spiritual wellbeing and include a Bible.   

Following that part of the activity, he then told everyone that their Bibles were confiscated.  Then he give them 15 minutes to work together as a team to write down every scripture they knew from memory.  What each team complied together would be the only Bible they would have.  

Of course, the game was meant to show the importance of memorizing God’s Word.  At the end of this group activity it was obvious how little Christians in general heed Psalm 119:11 (TLB) I’ve banked your promises in the vault of my heart so I won’t sin myself bankrupt.

When making your resolutions for 2016, consider the challenge to bank God's Word in the vault of your heart.

Funny thing about bank accounts—we can only withdraw what we put in.  If you want to make withdrawals of God’s word you will need to value it enough to make your deposit—NOW.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Peace On Earth

Peace—perfect peace—peace on earth.  It’s what we all long for.  While most of us live at peace with those around us, the current news tells us that our world is far from a peaceful place.  On a daily basis we may see, hear, and feel the condition of this sinful world pressing in--bringing with it a fear that swallows peace.

Good News:  Even when war is raging—peace on earth is available to the Believer.  In John 14:27 Jesus said:  “I leave you peace. It is my own peace I give you. I give you peace in a different way than the world does. So don’t be troubled. Don’t be afraid.”

I love what Jesus says here, “It is my own peace I give you.”  The peace Jesus is talking about is not perfect tranquility or the removal of all heartache from our lives.  The struggle for peace that Mankind faces is a lack of peace with God because of sin.  The peace that Jesus gives—brings us into right harmony with God, and harmony with God brings peace. 

Next time you feel your peace vanishing remember to assess your peace with God.   Remember what Jesus said, “It is my own peace I give you.”

It’s the only thing that will bring Peace on Earth.

Peace on Earth
By Beverly Joy Roberts

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Why the shepherds?

Many years ago, when our youngest son was about seven, he yelled for me to come.  Normally, I would have yelled back something like, “I’ll be there in a minute.”  Or “You come here.”  However, this time, I could hear in the tone of his voice that he had made a  discovery worthy of the Nobel Prize.  When I arrived I found him sitting with a book open on his lap.  His finger was tapping on a picture in the book.  With his face full of wonder he spoke. “Mom, you are never gonna believe this—there’s a picture of a guy in this book and he looks just like Dad.”  He paused for effect.  Then gave me the zinger, “AND HIS NAME IS BOB ROBERTS.” (his dad’s name)   I looked at the book he was holding.  It was my husband’s college yearbook.  My son had made an amazing discovery and this kind of information was meant to be shared!    

With Christmas days away, this story of our sweet boy made me thing of another proclamation that had to be shared. 

Luke 2:8-15 (NIV) And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.  This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Why the shepherds?  Why didn’t the angel make this proclamation to the temple priests or the religious leaders or shout it over the whole town of Bethlehem?  Why did God give this "game changing" announcement to poor shepherds? 

A well-known Bible teacher named Alfred Edersheim says this, “We can trust that God had a specific purpose for this shepherd audience, and the work they performed suggests the reason. These men who watched the sheep meant for the slaughter received a divine message about the ultimate Lamb who would take away the sins of the world through His death and resurrection.”  Wow, that sounds amazing…

BUT, here’s another thought.  The birth of Jesus was God’s proclamation to the world that things were changing.  Everything was being turned upside down and inside out.  Jesus wasn’t born in a palace and there were no royal robes for Him.  He was born in a stable, wrapped in torn strips of cloth and laid in a manger. God was telling the Gentile world get ready; tax collectors, sinners, the poor—YOU ARE ALL WELCOME.  The shepherds were of little significance in society, but not to God.   They were the ones God chose to hear the birth announcement of His Son.  The reason this is important to me is because most of us at one time or another have felt like an outcast.  God was telling the world then and now—that the have-nots matter to HIM. 

Maybe that’s—Why the Shepherds!

Why the shepherds?
By Beverly Joy Roberts

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

To Give or Not To Give

In the early 1980’s we accepted our first position as senior pastors at a small church in northern Michigan.  Those four years were rich in relationships and pastoral experiences.  However, our first Christmas there, things were financially tight.  A charitable agency reached out to us with a gift card for $60.  It seemed like a million dollars when we went shopping.  Since then our financial situation has vastly improved, still I am reminded of the kindness of that origination whenever I enter a store during the holiday season. 

You would think, that when kindness is shown to a person—the automatic response would be to pay it forward.  Sad to say, it ain’t so.  In my adult life I have experienced an abundance of kindness and generosity, but I’ve not always responded in kind.  A few years ago, someone I respect told me about a decision he and his wife made to never ask—To Give or Not To Give.  The decision for them would always be—to GIVE. 

There is a story about a man who confronted a missionary at the close of his service.  This man was upset because the missionary’s message had put too much pressure on the congregation to help the poor.  His words to the missionary went something like this, “Why do you even bother trying to help the poor?  It’s like trying to empty the ocean one bucket at a time.”  The missionary replied, “I may not be able to empty the ocean but let it be known I emptied my bucket.”

Much is required from those to whom much is given, for their responsibility is greater. Luke 12:48 (TLB) 

In light of this scripture, next time you have an opportunity to help, what will you do?  The challenge we all face is—To Give or Not To Give.  

To Give or Not To Give
Beverly Joy Roberts

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

How Powerful is Your Jesus?

There are two things that I love to do; tell stories about my amazing children and tell stories about my amazing grandchildren.  Last week, I read a post on FB from my daughter-in-law about one of my grandsons.  He’s six and quite brilliant.  I have a total of eight crazy-adorable little people that call me Grandma.  This particular grandson lives half way around the world.  Here is what the FB post said, “Jesus is so powerful he made God be his dad.”  It’s a direct quote from grandkid #3.  I love it!  See—amazing right! 

Although his theology isn’t perfect, his reality is awesome.  It does this grandma’s heart good to hear that he is thinking about Jesus.  His concepts of who Jesus is are being built daily.  His Jesus is all-powerful.  It made me wonder—how powerful is my Jesus?  What can HE do? 

Can he heal the brokenhearted and set the captive free?  Yes, he can!

Can he restore what the locusts have eaten? Seen this first hand!

Is he the balm in Gilead?  You bet!

Can he redeem a life from destruction?  Eye witness to this one.

Can he baptize in the Holy Spirit?  Absolutely!

Will he bring your prodigal home?  Yes, He Did!

Does he quench a smoking flax or break a bruised reed?  Never!  He’s gentle!

Does he turn the tables over in the temple and bring justice to the world?  He’s coming back!

Does he wink at sin?  No—He does not!

Does he have time for the least among us? Yes!

Is He—Deliverer, Strong Tower, Hiding Place, Refuge, Wonderful Counselor, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, The Lion of the Tribe of Judah and the Lamb that was slain?  9x’s YES!

How powerful is Your Jesus?

My Jesus is so powerful—He can capture the heart of a child and led him.  Thank you, Jesus!

How Powerful is Your Jesus?
By Beverly Roberts

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

(Today’s my birthday!): Scars Aren’t Always Bad.

Scars, I’m loaded with them.  I can tell you the story of each one.  One that is especially memorable is on my left forearm.  I was installing vinyl tiles at our cabin.  (…and Praise God we sold that money pit.)   I was on the last tile and sliced into my arm with the box cutter.  A few hours later I had four stitches and a scar. 

In 2nd grade I skipped school—Yes, I skipped school in the second grade.  I was a bit of a handful.  When I opened the storm door a gust of wind caught it.  I put my left hand up to stop the door.  My arm broke through the glass up to my elbow.  There was blood, lots of blood.  Lesson learned:  Don’t use your hand to stop fast moving glass.   Remember I was in the 2nd grade and cleaver enough to cut classes. 

Most of us carry scars on our body and like me you can recall all the details.  You see the scars and think, oh yeah, that was when—blah, blah, blah happened.  Some scars are visible, but others are hidden deep within, too painful to share.  So, how do we handle the scars in our life?  Do we cork up the pain?  Pretend the scars aren’t there.

 What do you think of this statement? Scars aren’t always bad.  You may disagree.  After all the very word scar implies imperfection, a defect of some kind.  Also, we know, where there’s a scar at some point there was pain.   So how can a scar be a good thing?   Scars are good when they are a reminder of how far you’ve come, but bad when they make you a prisoner of your past.

Jesus carries the defect and pain of scars.  In fact, in heaven the only imperfection that we will see are the scars on Jesus’s hands, feet, and side.   These scars will be a reminder to the population of heaven—that the Lamb was slain.  Why did he willingly take the pain and the forever scars?  He did it to remove my scars—my imperfections—my flaws—my past.  They are gone—erased—forever.   

In Revelations 5:6-10 it says, And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne…stood a Lamb as though it had been slain…He came and took the scroll out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne…when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying:

“You are worthy to take the scroll,
And to open its seals;
For You were slain,
And have redeemed us to God by Your blood
Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,
And have made us kings and priests to our God;
And we shall reign on the earth.” (NKJV)

All my scars, the ones I see and the ones hidden away will one day be forever erased.  I’ll remember them NO MORE.  But for now, they remind me how far I’ve come.

(Today’s my birthday!):  Scars Aren’t Always Bad.
By Beverly Roberts

Friday, November 20, 2015

"It’s Com’n Back"

I finished my leaf raking about a week ago.  Well, actually it’s not finished, but I’m done.  The next day I looked out the window at the nearly leafless backyard and a sigh of satisfaction escaped my lips.  That feeling was relatively short lived when reality set in—it’s all com’n back. But first spring will come and along with that my other yard enemy—weeds in the flowerbed.  How I detest them!  I’m ashamed to admit some weeds have actually grown up to 3 feet tall.  I was under the allusion that they were blending in—almost unnoticeable. 

For years, I weeded the garden pulling up the weeds the best I could and if the root would snap off so be it.  The ugly part was gone and everything was lookn’ good.  The weeds were out of sight, mulch down and the perennials were coming up.   I figured, why deal with what was beneath the soil.  Right!   (I apply this principle to house cleaning as well; don’t look in the drawers, closets, or under the beds.)

The truth is I’ve been working on these flowerbeds for years fighting the same weeds.  A few years ago I decided to be proactive.  So I got a bottle of weed killer.  I was ready.  This time when the weeds would snap off leaving the root in the soil I sprayed the root with the killer chemical.  My brilliant discovery—if you don’t deal with the root…it’s com’n back. 

You may be thinking, “Anyone can point out the problem.  How about some of that chemical killer you were talking about.”  Just so happens…I got it.  It’s forgiveness.  Colossians 3:13 tells us to, “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you have a grievance against someone.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”  

Apply forgiveness to that root of bitterness and it will go away for good.  If you don’t—It’s Coming Back!   You have a Savior who has forgiven you.  Now, you forgive and be whole.   

"It’s Com’n Back"
By Beverly Roberts

Friday, November 6, 2015

“An Overflowing Joy”

In the 10th grade I had a friend that was such an encourager.  I remember the first day we meet she came from across the school lobby towards me with a huge smile on her face.  She pointed at the pin on my coat and said, “Me too!”  I looked down and remembered the button on my lapel that was a heart with the words “Jesus Lives Here!”  Excitedly she repeated… “Me too!”  Then she asked me if I was a Christian.  This was the beginning of a two year friendship that was richly rewarding to me. 

God had gifted this young lady with a joyful personality and an overflowing love for the Lord and people.  She spoke with such a contagious enthusiasm about the Lord and how it was a privilege to serve him—in high school.  She loved the Lord and wasn’t ashamed who knew.   The Lord had changed her life and she freely and passionately wanted others to know the secret to eternal life.  I was a better person for having her in my life for those two years.    

I Thessalonians 5:11 (The Message) “…speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you’ll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind. I know you’re already doing this; just keep on doing it.”

Have you ever had this kind of impact on another?  This week purpose in your heart to be an encourager—building up others in the things of the Lord.  Be the one who inspires others to have a joy in Christ that overflows.

“An Overflowing Joy”
By Beverly Roberts

Thursday, October 29, 2015

“If You Say So”

4 When he finished teaching, he said to Simon, "Push out into deep water and let your nets out for a catch."  
5 Simon said, "Master, we've been fishing hard all night and haven't caught even a minnow. 
But if you say so, I'll let out the nets." 6 It was no sooner said than done—a huge haul of fish, 
straining the nets past capacity.  Luke 5:4-6

I was reading a new devotional book recently and the passage for the day was Luke 5:1-11.  This is the story about Jesus teaching from the shoreline and then he directs Simon Peter to cast off from shore and go fishing.  Simon’s response is interesting.  He first tells Jesus the obvious.  I’ll paraphrase, “We’ve been out there fishing all night and haven’t caught a thing.”  In our walk with the Lord many believers STOP here!  After the Lord leads and directs us—we in turn give Him our best argument as to why we shouldn’t do what He is directing us to do.

Simon had his argument ready.  He knew the area.  He’d fished that lake for years.   He had the primo fishing spots.  He knew when and where to let down his nets.  We don’t really know for sure all the thoughts that may have run through Simon’s head after Jesus instructed him to “Push out into the deep water and let your nets out for a catch.”  But scripture does record Simon’s follow-up to this statement.  He said, “…But if you say so, I'll let out the nets."

 Every Sunday School kid knows the rest of this story.  The nets were lowered and when they pulled them out of the water they were so full of fish the nets were breaking.  Simon had to call for more boats to help transport all the fish back to shore. 

This is one of those “Amazing” things the Lord did.  This week the Lord may have something Amazing in store for you.  Will you stop short of your miracle or will you say as Simon did, “…if you say so…” and not miss the miracle.  I wonder how many times I’ve missed the “net full of fish” because I STOPPED. 

“If You Say So”
By Beverly Roberts

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Did I Hit You or Did You Hit Me?

Years ago, I worked in a Childcare teaching the little ones music.  Sometimes while singing or playing instruments we would jump, stomp, crawl, twirl, skip, or march.  One time during a marching around songs we were swinging our arms, and one little four year old boy accidentally bumped heads with another boy.  I saw it unfold right before my eyes and anticipated that things were going to turn ugly quickly.  I could not have testified in a court of law whose fault it was. 

The boys each stopped grabbed their heads and looked at each other.  The looks on their faces were priceless.  Do I cry?  Am I mad?  Did he hit me on purpose?  Did I hit him?  Then suddenly one blurts out. “I’m sorry!  Are you okay?”  Immediately they resumed their marching, swinging their arms and singing. 

Everything hung in the balance for about five seconds.  It was no ones fault.  It was an accident.  What could have been tears and the demise of music class for both boys turned out to be a few second incident that was easily resolved because one boy responded correctly.

"May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer." (Psalm 19:14 )

This week you may find yourself in a head bumping situation.  Are you prepared to respond correctly?

Did I Hit You or Did You Hit Me? 
By Beverly Joy Roberts

Thursday, October 15, 2015

A Cup Full Of Sweet Water

When I was a teenager I loved to write little quotes in my Bible.  Every blank page was filled with youthful collection of meaningful nuggets, sermon notes, or memorable poems.  In the many years since my youth I have often wished I could read some of those poems and quotes that still linger in my fading memory.  These little gems will surface every once in awhile and make for a perfect illustration.     

One of the quotes I can quickly recall I first jotted down over forty years ago in my Bible:   “A cup full of sweet water no matter how violently shaken can only spill out sweet water.”  Jesus said it another way, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”

I can recall a little too quickly a few times in my life when the water that spilled out of my cup was anything but sweet.  Still, I am ever thankful for the gentle working of the Holy Spirit in my life to cultivate and work the fallowed ground.  

On the turbulent days when our cup gets bumped frequently let this scripture be what spills out, “Pleasant words are a honey comb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones." (Proverbs 16:24) 

This week there’s a pretty good chance your cup is going to get bumped.  Will you purpose in your heart NOW to let kindness be the rule of the day?    

A Cup Full Of Sweet Water
By Beverly Joy Roberts

Book Release

    The Journals of Tori Drake Click on the book cover to order on Amazon. Book Review: I consumed this book in three days. Although it was ...