By Debbie Altman

 

Perhaps you are travelling a bit this summer and have had to load your baggage into your car, or retreive it at the “baggage claim.” This brings to mind a great story from the Bible…baggage

“And finally….Saul was chosen from among them. But when they looked for him he had disappeared! So they asked the Lord, ‘Where is he?’And the Lord replied, ‘He is hiding among the baggage.’ So they found him and brought him out, and he stood head and shoulders above anyone else.

Then Samuel said to all the people, ‘This is the man the Lord has chosen as your king…’ ”                              1 Samuel 10:21-24 NLT

I love the Bible! It just cracks me up sometimes! Saul was hiding among the baggage! Obviously, in the times this book of the Bible was written–almost 3000 years ago– the author had no clue as to the connotation of the word “baggage” in our culture today. This just makes it even funnier and more powerful to me.

Saul obviously was afraid or insecure about being the first king of Israel. Who wouldn’t be! So he hid amongst the baggage. We are so guilty of doing that ourselves sometimes. We all run from God for many reasons and in many ways. I tried to hide when God began to prompt Craig and I about starting Grace Family Church. (And that hasn’t been the only time either…) We hide amongst our baggage of family problems, past failures, recent failures, inadequacies, and insecurities. We allow the enemy, Satan to whisper lies into our ears that we can never be like that other person, we can never overcome our past, we can never stand strong for God amongst our peers, we can never accomplish our dreams and goals.

Do you realize that God has chosen you for this generation? He wants you to be successful, he wants you to be a leader and influencer like King Saul was to be. As I used to say to my kids all the time, and will now declare to my grandchildren…”Why not you? You have God in you!”

God has chosen each one of you. He wants His kids to stand out in this generation in every way. The Bible is full of miraculous and unlikely success stories when God was the strength and focus of a person’s life. Do not underestimate the power of God in your life and what He wants to do with you. Come out from amongst the baggage…Do not “claim it!” Jesus believes in you and wants to claim YOU for His love and His purposes.

by Becca Christensen

 

God puts people in our lives with a purpose. Frequently when I look back a few chapters into the story, I’m amazed at how the Lord was working before I realized. I love to play hostess. Often you will find my kitchen table surrounded by a heated card game competition or my living room full of friends screaming the answers to taboo (oh wait, that’s actually me that screams). I make a habit of allowing people to bring along friends I don’t know, giving me the opportunity to expand my friend circle or in some cases my mission field.

One guy in my card playing crew asked me if he could bring his new girlfriend. I immediately said ‘absolutely, can’t wait to meet her’. Over the next few weeks as she would sit across the table from me and ask questions about my job, my church, and even my Christian version of a dating relationship I could tell it was a lot to process. Imagine my disappointment when they broke up and I thought ‘oh no, I missed my chance to share Christ’. Despite that breakup, we continued to get together and workout, walk, or she would take me up on my open invite to ‘pop by’ anytime. The conversations continued and so did my prayers.

It is beyond my way with words to explain the excitement I felt when she decided to try church. Shortly after her visit, she was unstoppable: joining a bible study, accepting Christ, and eventually getting water baptized! Celebrating each of these milestones with her despite her attending a church other than mine was encouraging, exciting, and the sweetest gift.

This Easter we were able to celebrate the true meaning of Easter together, for the first time. As we drove home from service I was able to share with her how I had prayed for her even before she first stepped foot into a church building. The Lord had pursued her and put Christians in her life so strategically. I also shared with her how I would never forget when she first decided to attend church she told me that in that tough season in her life leading up to trying church she had noticed the peace that the Christians in her life had, that she didn’t.

4cbbe5a392550b55a2ea2a5bdf7b9f28While the amazing part of this story is her journey and her faith, she grew my faith in the process. Her friendship and her story has been the perfect reminder to me of the power of being a light. In Matthew 5 scripture says that we are ‘the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden’. When we are faithful to live our Christian lives with love, compassion, and unwavering truth God can use that contrast.

We don’t always get to be the one to pray with a friend or family member as they accept Christ. They don’t always attend our church or join our bible studies. Sometimes we get to be a small part in planting the seed that have those results but we don’t get to be part of the results. I was blessed enough, this time, to get to see the answers to those prayers even if they came in the form of text message or face-to-face updates instead of first hand experiences.

My challenge is this – love people well. Welcome them. Be transparent with them. Pray for them. Plant seeds.

 

‘And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love’ –    

1 Corinthians 13:13

 

 

by Michele Laccabue

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I love summer! Time to refresh my soul. Time to rest and recharge. A time when I finally have time to read that 900 page novel under the shade of a palm tree. Can anyone relate?

Summer is also a good time to establish a new Bible-reading routine. Have you ever read the book of Proverbs over a month’s time? 31 chapters in 31 days. A daily dose of heavenly wisdom. The best kind of “One-A-Day vitamin”.

This July, I accepted the challenge. On day 10, chapter 10, God parked me on a word. He typically likes to get my attention by highlighting something at least three times. Ok, God, I’m listening. I wrote these verses in my journal:

“The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life” Proverbs 10:11

“The lips of the righteous nourish many” Proverbs 10:21

“From the mouth of the righteous comes the fruit of wisdom” Proverbs 10:31

At first, I was drawn to the phrases: “fountain of life”, “nourish many”, and “fruit of wisdom”. I desire to be that person that speaks life into another, one that feeds a hurt, encourages a sister, and offers wise counsel. Show me Lord.

Notice the key word, the adjective that precedes each phrase…Righteous

 

A word I have seen numerous times, but, I have to admit, not much time has been spent thinking about its meaning. Honestly, the word is a bit daunting to me. It seems to be reserved for the Holiest of people and a lofty goal for someone like me. With close to 600 entries in the Bible (over 60 just in Proverbs), it is obviously important.

Righteous can simply be defined as: acting in a morally correct (right) manner. To go a bit further, it is: the conformity of heart AND life to the divine law. In other words, a righteous person is actively obedient, pure in heart, and dedicates their life to God and His Word. Yes, still daunting.

Thankfully, there is hope…

Righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to ALL who believe”. Romans 3:22

Jesus is the answer! All who believe and have faith in Jesus are gifted with righteousness. He is the one that demonstrated righteousness in the presence of man and sacrificially removed our “wrongs” so we look “right” in the eyes of God. As Christ followers, we ARE righteous! We are fountains of life. We are able to nourish many, be fruitful, and share His wisdom.

Continue the Proverbs journey with me…

Truly the righteous attain life” Proverbs 11:19

Righteous will go free” Proverbs 11:21

Righteous will thrive” Proverbs 11:28

The house of the righteous stands firm” Proverbs 12:7

Heavenly Father, We praise you! You are alive in us, working in us, energizing us. Because of you, we are righteous and able to do the right thing and use the right words to bring life to others. Thank you for the wisdom we gain through the scriptures. Help us to conform our hearts and lives to your ways each and every day.   Amen