Saturday, December 29, 2012

Looking Back

Regrets only clutter the mind and drain spiritual energy, for once we repent He forgives us and forgets our sins (Psalm 103:10-12). Resolutions seem to be a type of foolish vow that may be broken due to our own lack of discipline or an unanticipated turn in events (Deuteronomy 23:21-22; Judges 11:30-40). 

Resting in God is far better (Joshua 1:13; 1 Chronicles 23:25; Psalm 37:7), remembering His faithfulness (Deuteronomy 7:9; 1 Corinthians 1:9, 10:13) and realizing that He is infinitely good and infinitely great (Psalm 143:10, Matthew 19:17; 2 Samuel 7:22; 2 Chronicles 2:5; Nehemiah 1:5, 8:6, 9:32; Job 36:26; Psalm 77:13,86:10,95:3, etc.).

As the moments of 2012 dwindle away, I find myself reflecting on God’s blessings not only this year but throughout my life. Reviewing how God has prepared each of us for our own unique ministries helps us to appreciate how He not only equipped us with gifts and talents appropriate for His calling on our lives (Ephesians 2:10; Philippians 2:13), but that He engineered our trials and even our weaknesses for our good and His glory (Romans 8:28; 2 Corinthians 12:9).

When God uses a timid, stammering man like Moses to deliver His people (Exodus 4:1-13), a disobedient rebel like Jonah to spread revival that saved Nineveh, and even a Christian-persecuting Pharisee like Paul (1 Timothy 1:12-15) to write most of the New Testament, He gets the glory. He operates in the supernatural, and not in the limited plane of man’s abilities or expectations (Genesis 18:14; Jeremiah 32:27; Ephesians 3:20).

Looking back on how this blog came into being, I remember way back to high school when I dreaded the daily English class assignment of “Responses.” Every day, regardless of our mood or the press of other assignments, we had to write a brief essay, poem, or story that reflected our mood, thoughts or circumstances. That discipline, seemingly unneeded at the time, no doubt helped to generate a weekly blog post even when I am preoccupied with life’s distractions.

Decades later, and a few months after I was saved, my husband and I were flying to Japan to perform in dance shows. I was hoping to sleep on the long, crowded, flight, but God laid it on my heart to dig my laptop out of the overhead bin and to write about His omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence. I felt truly foolish as I started this task, thinking that I really knew very little on this subject; that I desperately needed the sleep as we would start rehearsing the day we arrived in Osaka; and that if I were going to write anything, I’d be much better off working on medical stories that were due once we returned home.

But I followed His lead and wrote about His attributes, the words springing to mind and leaping onto the computer screen with surprising speed and clarity. As soon as I had completed the essay, the battery died, and I settled into a peaceful sleep, knowing that I had been obedient in this assignment. Although I didn’t know it at the time, it would turn out to be a trial run for writing blog posts in the still distant future.

One Sunday a few years after I was saved, I prayed my usual quick afternoon prayer to be Spirit-filled and yielded while singing in choir in the evening service. I sensed that God was saying, “Yes, but there is something else I want you to do.” So I prayed that He would reveal it to me, and literally moments later I bumped into the associate pastor in the hallway. He asked if I would consider teaching a weekly ladies’ Bible study class, as their teacher was moving out of town.

Despite my lack of formal Bible training, I agreed, and found that my knowledge and understanding of the Word grew far more quickly and in depth than it would have had I been only a student and not also a teacher (2 Timothy 3:14-17; 4:2). God was and is always faithful to lead me to Scripture verses, sermons, and other readings (including many of your blogs!) to encourage and guide me in teaching and in writing (Psalm 119:11,105).

But the class suffered many setbacks, including illness and trials of several members, and other circumstances resulting in their leaving the class. Some weeks I was teaching only one or two ladies. I became discouraged that the time and effort I was putting into my weekly lessons was reaching so few people and thought that a weekly blog of these lessons might be a way to reach more.

I knew nothing about blogging, but God had equipped me with computer skills needed for my occupation as a freelance medical journalist. As I began my blog on Memorial Day weekend in 2011, I wondered if anyone would read it. But God sent encouragement my way in a strange format – the movie “Julie and Julia,” in which the writer of a daily blog sees no activity or comments on her blog for six months, followed by an exponential and rapid growth in readership.

Looking back on all this, I am thankful for God’s provision, as the statistics, rankings, and followers continue to grow. But it’s not about the numbers, and if seeds planted in this blog lead even one soul closer to Christ, it would be well worth the effort. The blog has taken on a life of its own, covering topics independent of the Bible study class.

The greatest blessing is comments indicating that readers were blessed by the post. I am so thankful for each and every reader, and for the relationships with new and dear blogging friends all over the globe. I pray that God would continue to use me to spread His Word in this way.  

As part of this retrospective, links to the 10 most viewed posts of 2012 follow:

God's Signature; Three in One

In closing the post and 2012, a New Year’s blessing to all of you:

Philippians 1:2 Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,
4 Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy,
5 For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now;
6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. 

© 2012 Laurie Collett

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Friday, December 21, 2012

Highly Favored (repost from December 2011)

by Kelby Roche
 The angel Gabriel told the virgin Mary that she was “highly favored” with God, yet she was “troubled” when she heard this news (Luke 1: 26-29), with good reason. After recovering from the fear and awe Gabriel caused her by his visitation and life-changing news, Mary had so much more to face as the reality hit her of this incredibly difficult yet significant assignment.

As a teenaged, betrothed virgin, she was pregnant, not with just any child, but with the Son of God conceived by the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:30-35). She would face rejection and criticism by her community, and the hurt and bewilderment of her fiancé Joseph, who thought she had been unfaithful and betrayed him (Matthew 1:18-19). She would escape the prying eyes and wagging tongues by traveling to the hill country to reach her cousin Elizabeth, an old woman also miraculously with child (Luke 1:36-40).

Then Mary and Joseph would set off for Bethlehem (Luke 2:4) on a long, bumpy journey with her precious Child bouncing up and down with each step of the donkey. She would wonder why no innkeeper could find room for the promised Messiah or His earthly family (Luke 2:7). She would endure the pain of childbirth in a smelly stable on scratchy hay, without any earthly comfort or help other than that given by her inexperienced husband and the warmth of the animals.

She would wonder why the King of Kings was not welcomed, recognized, and worshipped by most of those He came to save (John 1:10). She would face the pain and fear of knowing that Herod was trying to kill Him (Matthew 2:16-18) and that a sword would pierce Him and her soul also (Luke 2:34-35).

Yet the Bible says she was highly favored. How had she found favor with God? When faced with the impossible, Mary knew she had no strength, wisdom, experience or support of her own, and that the Lord Himself was her strength and her salvation. She turned it all over to Him, accepting His will and her role as “the handmaiden of the Lord” (Luke 1:38) with grace, courage and praise (Luke 1:46-49). He chooses those whom He favors not based on their ability, but on their availability and yieldedness to His will.

How did God show His favor toward Mary? God often favors His chosen servants not with worldly success, power, prestige, comfort and riches, but with trials that He can use to accomplish His will to His glory. Yet if He called you for a specific mission, He will provide all you need to complete it.

God sent angels as ministering spirits (Hebrews 1:14) -- He sent Gabriel to Mary to inform her of His plan (Luke 1:30-35); and He sent an angel to Joseph so that He would help Mary carry out this plan (Matthew 1:20-25). He sent Mary to Elizabeth so that they could encourage and uplift each other (Luke 1:39-45). He sent angels to tell shepherds to worship the newborn King (Luke 2:8-20) and He sent a star to lead wise men to also worship Jesus (Matthew 2:2-11), giving Mary confirmation that her Child was indeed the Son of God. He spoke through dreams to protect Jesus from the evil plot of King Herod (Matthew 2:12-23).


We can do nothing apart from God (John 15:5,8), but with Him, all things are possible (Matthew 19:26; Luke 1:37).

So no matter what our weaknesses or what resources or experience we seem to lack, let’s be yielded to God’s will, and give Him praise as He works through us! His grace is sufficient; His strength is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9); and to Him belongs all the glory!

Luke 1:28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.… And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.… 46 And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, 47 And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. 48 For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. 49 For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name.

© 2012 Laurie Collett

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(February 5, 2012):

Friday, December 14, 2012

Were the Mayans Right?

Were the Mayans right in their prediction of an apocalyptic event ending the world as we know it on December 21, 2012? As I see it, they were off by at least 1,007 years.

Despite all the hype about the world ending next week, some experts in ancient civilizations are disclaiming that such a prediction even came from the Mayans. Surprisingly, NASA has devoted a whole page on its website to debunking this myth, which may actually have the reverse effect of increasing its credibility.

There is no doubt that signs of the End Times, which Jesus spoke of in His Olivet discourse (Matthew 24) and on which Paul expanded (2 Timothy 3:1-13), are increasing almost daily. Wars, rumors of wars, famine, diseases, earthquakes, wickedness in high places, flaunting of sin, persecution of Christians, false prophets, and chilling indifference to human life and natural affection pervade every aspect of world culture.

All these signs refer to Christ’s second coming in power and glory to defeat Israel’s enemies at the battle of Armageddon (Revelation 19:11-21). This event must take place at least seven years after the Rapture (1 Corinthians 15:51-52; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17), in which dead and living believers receive glorified bodies and are caught up to meet Him in the air. This Tribulation period of seven years corresponds to Daniel’s seventieth week (Daniel 9:24).

The Rapture is indeed imminent, meaning that it could occur at any moment, and the signs of the times that warn of what Jesus referred to in the Tribulation are as birth pangs (Romans 8:22; 1 Thessalonians 5:3), becoming more intense and frequent as the event draws nearer.

The one condition to precede His second coming that has not yet come to pass is the spread of the Gospel message to every nation (Matthew 24:14). Yet even that would not stop the Rapture from happening at any moment. In this technological and Internet age, the seven-year period of the Tribulation is ample time for the Gospel to reach every tribe and kindred before the King of Kings and Lord of Lords appears in the sky with His armies of believers (Revelation 19:14-21).

After the Rapture, 144,000 Jewish male virgins will recognize that Jesus was the promised Messiah (Revelation 14:1-5). Empowered by the Holy Spirit, they, along with two witnesses (Revelation 11:3), will evangelize all nations so that no person left behind will have the excuse of never having heard the Gospel.

All will hear that Jesus was God in the flesh (John 1:14), the perfect sacrifice to pay our sin debt and to reconcile sinful man to Holy God, so that all who trust in His death, burial and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15) as the only way to Heaven (John 14:6) will have abundant, everlasting life (John 3:16; 10:10).

After the seven-year period of the Tribulation, Jesus Christ will preside over the Millennial Kingdom, a time of perfect peace, justice and harmony lasting 1000 years (Revelation 20:4). Only at its conclusion will the heaven and earth be burned up (2 Peter 3:10-13), as all is made new for the Eternal Kingdom in the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:1-2,10).

So if the alleged end of the Mayan calendar signifies the end of the present earth, their doomsday date of 12/21/2012 has to be off by at least 1,007 years, including the seven-year tribulation and the 1,000 year Millennial Kingdom.

But could the 12/21/2012 date apply to the Rapture? Certainly that will be a cataclysmic event, as living believers instantaneously vanish in the midst of critical operations such as driving school buses, piloting planes, or commanding armies. Soon thereafter will follow the devastating events of the Tribulation, including the trumpet and vial judgments (Revelation 8:2,6; 16:1-17).

It seems unlikely that the Rapture would occur on the date of a predicted apocalypse, as the Bible clearly indicates that it will come like a thief in the night (1 Thessalonians 5:2; 2 Peter 3:10), without announcement and when it is least expected (Matthew 24:44). My son and I had an interesting discussion about that -- because one would not expect the Rapture to occur on a predicted date, paradoxically, it might!

Jesus Himself said that no man knows the day or the hour (Matthew 24:36), as proven by Harold Camping and others who have foolishly attempted to predict the Rapture. Two things are certain, though – the Rapture is closer today than it was yesterday, and once it happens, there is no turning back.

Whoever has an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior will be caught up to meet Him in the air, with no more time to lead souls to Him or to consecrate every aspect of our lives to Him as a holy, acceptable living sacrifice (Romans 12:1). May we labor diligently to bring in the harvest (Matthew 9:37-38) before it is too late, so that we may hear Him say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:21-23).

And for those who are left behind, it will be too late. Those who heard a clear presentation of the Gospel but rejected it are unlikely to be saved during the Tribulation, as they will be sent a “strong delusion” preventing them from believing the truth about Jesus Christ (2 Thessalonians 2:10-13)

So don’t get caught up in worldly predictions of doomsday – know your Bible, trust Jesus as your Savior and the only Way to Heaven, and consecrate your life to His service! Your eternal destiny depends on it!

© 2012 Laurie Collett


Saturday, December 8, 2012

What Gifts Will You Bring Him?

During the Christmas season and always, have you considered what gifts you will give your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? What can we possibly give Him that could even come close to showing our appreciation for the greatest Gift ever given – God’s Son given that all who trust Him may have eternal life? (John 3:16)

His story proves that you can’t judge a gift from its wrappings. God the Father’s greatest gift to the world, His only begotten Son, destined to become the perfect sacrifice for all sins, and to return again to rule the universe in glory, was presented in a very humble way. He came as a helpless baby, born into a humble family, delivered in a lowly stable (Luke 2:7).

Just as the Wise Men of Christ’s day sought Him out and aimed to give Him their very best gifts (Matthew 2: 1-12), so do wise men and women of today seek Him and consecrate to Him their lives and the very best gifts they can offer.

You don't have to shop for these gifts, because He is the source of all good things (James 1:17). You won't have to go into debt over them, because you can't outgive God, and the more you give Him, the more blessings will flow back to you (Luke 6:38). They're always exactly what He would want and a perfect fit, as long as you're following His perfect will for your life. And you don't have to worry that they'll be returned -- you can be sure they will, as He gives back to you many times over all that you entrust to Him (1 Kings 17:10-16; John 6:5-13).

God judges our gifts to Him not on their greatness, because there is nothing that He needs from us. Anything we have is pitiful compared with His infinite wealth (Psalm 50: 7-12), and all that we have came from Him in the first place (James 1:17). Instead, He judges our motives, our willingness to trust all to Him, and the sacrificial nature of our gift (Luke 12:48; Luke 21:1-4).

 If He has blessed us with talents, material wealth, or other resources, He requires us to be a channel through whom blessings flow, because to whom much is given, much is required (Luke 12:48. But even if others do not consider us blessed in worldly terms, we can please God with our giving. When Jesus saw the poor widow throwing two mites into the treasury (Luke 21:1-4), He praised her more than all the others because she gave all that she had.

The absolute amount or greatness of the gift we give Him is not important, but what matters is how much of what we have we give back to Him. He is pleased with sacrificial giving because it shows our trust in Him, our faith that He will give back to us in abundance.

A sinful woman broke open a costly alabaster box containing precious ointment – possibly her inheritance or dowry -- that she used to anoint His Head. Jesus promised that this lavish gift would always be remembered in Scripture (Mark 14:3-9)

Elijah, prophet of God, followed God’s direction and asked a widow to give him her last morsel of food. When she did so in faith, God provided for her daily (1 Kings 17). God always honors His promises to those who trust Him in faith.

A similar story of God taking a seemingly small gift, multiplying and magnifying it to do great good, then giving back in abundance, is the miracle of the five loaves and two fishes (John 6:5), in which Jesus feeds a crowd of thousands with only a little boy’s lunch that he willingly gave. The disciples use the reasoning of men, not trusting in God’s supernatural ability to provide.

But God wants us to demonstrate our faith – it is never a question of whether He is able, but of whether we have faith.  No one goes away hungry, and there are 12 baskets full of bread left over, which must have gone to the little boy to feed his family and no doubt his whole village.

In this season of gifts, may we always remember and thank the greatest Giver and Gift of all time. The best gift you could possibly give to anyone on your gift list is to share the Gospel with them! You can give it freely to everyone without taxing your budget; one size fits all; and they’ll never need to return or exchange it. Christ – the perfect Gift -- is truly All that anyone needs!

May we give Him what He has given us – our body, mind and spirit -- as a living sacrifice to His glory! 

© 2012 Laurie Collett