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The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. 18 For Scripture says, “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain,” and “The worker deserves his wages.”
-1 Timothy 5:17-18
Sing the Son Up -
Decades ago, I learned that the Navajo people use a multitude of songs in their ceremonial rituals. Just as Christian songs include invocations and blessings, so do these traditional Navajo songs. But the description I read of one particular type of song that is used in the early morning in Navajo culture has stayed with me all this time and frequently pops into my head during my own early morning walks. The description explained that by using this song, the singer will ‘sing the sun up.’
I love that image and the idea that I can help bring light into the world each morning, but more than anything, I love the words themselves, which I recall with my own personal spin: Sing the Son up.
It feeds my soul and invites my meditation! By praising Christ – ‘singing him up’- I can join angelic choirs in glorifying God! I can pray with song and lift my Savior up as a beacon to the world! But do I ‘sing the Son up’ in my life often enough? Do I praise him as a way to bring light into the darkness, as a way to bring hope to those who are crying out for it?
“You are my strength, I sing praise to you; you, God, are my fortress, my God on whom I can rely.” (Psalm 59:17)
Will you sing the Son up with me?
Jan Dunlap is the author of the new suspense novel Heaven’s Gate: Archangels Book I, the bestselling memoir Saved by Gracie: How a Rough-and-tumble Rescue Dog Dragged Me Back to Health, Happiness and God (Authentic Publishing) and the acclaimed Birder Murder Mystery series (North Star Press, Inc.). She holds MA degrees in Theology and English Studies and lives in the Hill Country of Texas where she spends every clear night marveling at the stars and the brilliance of God’s creation. She is a frequent contributor to FaithHappenings.com and welcomes visitors at www.jandunlap.com and on Facebook at her two author pages BirderMurderMama and Archangels.
More of Jan Dunlap: http://www.jandunlap.com/
CALLED BY HIS NAME -
Your words were found, and I ate them, and Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart; for I am called by Your name, O Lord God of hosts. - Jeremiah 15:16
It is a tremendous responsibility to bear someone's name. From the pages of history we learn of a cowardly young soldier in the army of Alexander the Great. Whenever the battle grew fierce, the young soldier would withdraw to safety. The general called him to account and asked, "What's your name, soldier?" When the timid soldier replied, "Alexander, sir," Alexander the Great sternly warned him, "Either change your name or change your ways."
Jeremiah proudly declared, "I am called by Your name, O Lord God of hosts." By this he meant, "I bear your name." Jeremiah's life reflected how seriously he took that privilege. In spite of opposition and, at times, physical persecution, he stood firm for God. The realization that he belonged to God was a constant reminder to Jeremiah that he needed to reflect His character. Unflinchingly he served his name's sake, even though, according to tradition, it ultimately resulted in him being placed in a hollow log and sawed in half. Every Christian needs to remember that he or she bears the name of Christ. God's Word will be a joy to us when we seek to live in a way that does not bring shame to the name of our Lord. As we study His Word and make it a part of our daily lives, we will find our heart rejoicing in our relationship with Him. We will find it ever more precious that we are called by His name.
Never forget the name you bear--you are a "Christ"ian. If you want to find joy in that relationship, take time regularly to read God's Word. Prayerfully consider how you might live out that Word so you will show those around you what it means to be called by His name.
Every Christian bears Christ's name; live as an honor to His name.
- See more at: http://www.backtothebible.org/devotions/called-by-his-name#sthash.hQpyA7vs.dpuf
Dr. Woodrow Kroll served as President and Senior Bible Teacher at Back to the Bible from 1990-2013. Author of more than 50 books, Dr. Kroll's passion is to increase Bible literacy in America by engaging people in the Bible and connecting them with the Author. His clear, incisive teaching of the Word keeps him in demand as a speaker all over the world. - See more at: http://www.backtothebible.org/authors/woodrow-kroll#sthash.7Yrcap6W.dpuf
More of Dr. Woodrow Kroll: http://www.backtothebible.org/devotions
Highway 395 -
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. —Hebrews 12:1-2
One summer, we held our youth camp at a Mammoth Mountain ski resort that is legendary for its beauty and grandeur. Located in the High Sierras, this majestic setting is breath-taking (partly because it's at 9,000 feet in elevation)! When I looked at the driving directions for the trip, I saw that we'd be driving on Highway 395 for over four hours! Four hours with no place to stop; driving a van filled with freshmen girls. Ouch!
Let me describe most of the trip on Highway 395 in one word: Nothing. Aside from the occasional dust devil swirling through the barren miles of dirt, there was nothing to see, nowhere to stop, no radio stations to listen to, and little intelligent conversations to be had. I was bored. The students were bored with my questions and my constant phrase, "can you talk a little louder? I've gone deaf from too many years in youth ministry standing in front of speakers." It was a four-hour odyssey of pain.
And then, finally, we rounded a bend, climbed steeply for three miles, and we saw the peak of Mammoth Mountain peering at us from above the cloud. The air cooled as we climbed in elevation. The sun appeared more spectacular, more serene, and brighter. The mountain range was etched against the horizon like a watercolor painting, resplendent in orange, red, and gold. Arriving at Mammoth after driving on Highway 395 was like departing hell and entering heaven.
We got out of the car, stretched our muscles, inhaled deeply, and soaked in the beauty. To be honest, I was tempted to drop to my knees and confess that along the way, I had been thinking about where I could bury a few of my students.
Reflecting on the drive, I relearned something I already knew but always tend to forget: regardless how challenging the journey, the right destination makes the trip worth it.
This is true in the Christian journey as well. The uphill and downhill portions that you travel through life are all worthwhile. The curves and detours of life’s challenges can bring wonderful blessings when we trust in God and allow Him to shape us. The long stretches of normal life are enriched when we encounter the beauty found in relationships with family and friends. The miles you traverse to build a close, intimate relationship with Jesus are so worth the investment of time and effort.
And one day, arriving in heaven will make the journey on this earth seem like such a short drive, even if your life has been like one long road trip on Highway 395. You'll round a bend, feel a cool, fresh whisper of wind on your cheeks, know you've been raised to a higher elevation and there you'll be: in the splendor and glory of heaven, with Jesus, forever and ever. You'll drop to your knees and praise. What a day that will be!
Until then, keep driving, my friends. We're all in this together.
1. Where do you find yourself today on life’s journey? Are you in the barren desert, on the mountaintop, or somewhere in between?
2. How do you see God shaping your life as you head toward your final destination?
1 Corinthians 2:9; James 1:4; Romans 8:18
DOUG FIELDS is the senior director of the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family at Azusa Pacific University and the co-founder of Downloadyouthministry.com. Doug has been a youth and teaching pastor at Mariners Church and Saddleback Church for 30 years and has authored more than fifty books. He is a passionate speaker reaching thousands of leaders, teenagers, and parents every year. Doug resides with his wife and three children in Southern California.
More of Doug Fields: www.homeword.com
Pure, Rock and Resurrection -
(Part 2 of 2)
Jesus is the Pearl: He is Pure
As we *consider Christmas, and look on the scene of Jesus’ birth, there is nothing with more purity and innocence than a new born child. Yet, as we follow Jesus’ life we see something that we see in no other life on earth. His was a matchless life, beautifully lived with purity and innocence sustained. The Gospels are full of testimony about the Pharisees and Sadducees desperately looking for a way to find fault in Jesus. Jesus himself asked them to show proof that he was guilty of any sin:
“Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? Whoever belongs to God hears what God says.” (John 8:46-47)
Even at Jesus’ trial Pilate admitted he could “find no fault” in him. Jesus lived the perfect sinless, matchless life. He lived the life we should have lived: pure. It is only because of his pure and matchless life that Jesus was able to lay down his life for us as the perfect sacrifice… the final sacrifice for all sin.
A Gleaming Pearl
For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. (1 Peter 1:18-19)
Jesus is the pearl, not only because he is pure, but also because his life is so valuable. He is the “costly cornerstone” and the greatest treasure. In Matthew Jesus says:
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it. (Matthew 13:45-46)
Jesus is the “pearl of great price” who gave up his throne and paid it all to ransom us from sin and death. When we embrace that in our hearts our only response can be to sell out everything in order to gain Him. Jesus is pure. He is the pearl of great price.
Jesus is the Flower: He is the Resurrection
I love that in her thoughts of symbolism Gracie connected the resurrection of spring flowers with the resurrection of Jesus. Jesus actually compared his own life to that of a seed that is planted and “dies” and rises again. He said:
Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. (John 12:24)
There is life, there is death, there is Resurrection and with that not just one, but many new lives!
Jesus said… “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die." (John 11:25-26)
Jesus not only lived the life we should have lived, but died the death we should have died and conquered death with the victory of his resurrection. The beauty of this is beyond what we can imagine. Because of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection; when we put our faith in Him we receive the same victory.
This is illustrated in my favorite Psalm:
The Confident promises of Psalm 16: 9-11,
Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices, My flesh also will rest in hope.
For You will not leave my soul in [death], Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.
You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Jesus is the flower. He is the Resurrection.
This originally appeared here and is shared with the author's permission.
Monica is her husband’s adoring wife, her little girl’s “Mama,” a crazy dog lover, and everyday falling more deeply in love with the Lord! In September of 2008 the Gills were blessed with a fifth tiny addition to the family (this time a baby instead of a puppy!) Grace is an ever-present wonder and a constant source of joy. Monica has been an active Bible teacher, writer and speaker for women's ministry and youth for twenty years. She loves to combat every challenge of life with this truth: Jesus is the answer! Jesus is always the answer!
More of Monica Gill: www.lifewithgrace.net