A simple, but powerful, way to read through the Bible – John 1

Let me share with you one simple way that I’ve found to really personalize and apply the scripture that I’m reading that day.

Read through the Bible, one book at a time, one chapter (or a portion of a chapter) each day. Each day, choose one specific verse that really speaks to you that day and use that verse to write out a prayer.

Today I read through John 1 and chose John 1:34 for my verse of the day.

“And I have seen and borne witness
that this is the Son of God.”

John 1:34

I wrote this prayer based on that chapter and verse.

Father, thank You for making Yourself visible so that we can be Your witnesses. Thank you for the witnesses who came before me, for John the Baptist who told his disciple Andrew who told his brother Peter, and for Philip who told his friend Nathanael. Thank you for those who have told me their stories, testifying to the realness of God! I pray that You would make me Your faithful witness. Give me the wisdom and the words to testify to the TRUTH of what I have seen and heard. I pray that my children and my husband and those that I’m discipling would be Your faithful witnesses, too, not giving way to fear, not being ashamed of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, who came to take away the sins of the world. Amen.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about how this worked for you. How do you study the Bible every day?

Where is your Focus?

On the Problem or the Purpose?

On the Father or the Failure?

On the Trials or the Triumph?

On the Savior or the Storm?

Jesus told us that we would have tribulation in this world. Why are we surprised? But Jesus also said TAKE HEART, I have OVERCOME the World!

Daily we have to actively choose to fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith who for the JOY that was COMING endured the cross.

We, too, can endure and overcome with hope and peace … because of our FAITH in our Risen Savior who conquered death. We, too, know that JOY is coming. These trials are light and momentary when compared to the eternal WEIGHT of GLORY!


I’m looking forward to ETERNITY with Jesus. Who wants to join me there?

The road is indeed narrow, but Jesus made a way! Jesus made a way where there seemed to be no way. Jesus made a way to reconcile sinful man with Holy God – by His death on the cross, paying for my sins.

Jesus IS the way, the truth and the life. No one can come to the Father except through Him, but WOW what GOOD NEWS that there is a way at all for a sinful woman like me to spend eternity with a good and holy God!!!

Who needs to hear this good news today? If God’s given you this hope, go share it with someone who needs it!

TWIG

A Long Look Back at 2020

For all of its tests and trials, 2020 was a good year, full of God’s unfailing kindness, mercy and love, if we choose to look for them.

On this first day of 2021, I want to look back at 2020 and remember.

January 2020

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

November

December

If you made it this far, Thank you!

Let me share something with you, we all have to choose where to place our focus.

Do you want to dwell on the masks on the faces and the big dream wedding that never was?

Or do you want to be thankful for the people wearing the masks and the wedding that still happened?

Even right now, at this very moment, I’m finishing this post from the E.R. waiting room as my husband got rear-ended by a speeding car while sitting at a red light.

Will I dwell on the totaled vehicle or give thanks for God’s protecting hand?

Last month I chose a new word for 2021: LOOK!

Look up. Look to Jesus. Look at what is eternal. Fix my gaze on God’s goodness.

TWIG

A prayer of worship, and a prayer for strength – from Romans 11:33-36

“Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! “For who has known the mind of the Lord,
or who has been his counselor?” “Or who has given a gift to him
that he might be repaid?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.” Romans 11:33-36 ESV —

The Unchanging in the Middle of a Crazy Covid Christmas

This Christmas Season, we can dwell on how strange this holiday and this year have been … or we can dwell on those things that remain the same.


“The LORD will reign forever and ever.” (Exodus 15:18)


“I will sing of the steadfast love of the LORD, forever; with my mouth I will make known your faithfulness to all generations.” (Psalm 89:1)

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)


“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.” (Isaiah 40:8)


“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)


“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” (John 5:24)

Join me in prayer.

Heavenly Father, Thank you for the hope we have in Jesus Christ. Thank you for your faithful, steadfast love, that we can trust You, that You are a promise keeping God, our everlasting rock, our eternal anchor, our unending peace in the midst of chaos. We pray for people all over the globe to know Your unchangeable love, joy and peace. You are the beginning and the end, the Alpha and Omega. We praise Your name in the middle of these days of uncertainty. Amen

That’s My King! Do you know Him?

“That’s My King” by S. M. Lockridge

I wonder if you know Him?
Do you know my King?

The Bible says
He’s the King of the Jews
He’s the King of Israel
He’s the King of Righteousness
He’s the King of the Ages
He’s the King of Heaven
He’s the King of Glory
He’s the King of Kings
and He is the Lord of Lords

Now that’s my King!

No barriers can hinder Him from pouring out His blessing
No means of measure can define His limitless love
No far seeing telescope can bring into visibility the coastline of His shoreless supply

He’s enduringly strong
He’s eternally steadfast
He’s immortally graceful
He’s imperially powerful
He’s impartially merciful

That’s my King!

He’s God’s Son
He’s the sinners’ Saviour
He’s the centerpiece of civilization
He’s unparalleled
He’s unprecedented
He’s pre-eminent
He’s the loftiest idea in literature
He’s the fundamental doctrine in true theology
He’s the miracle of the age
He’s the superlative of everything good
He’s the only one able to supply all of our needs simultaneously
He supplies strength for the weak
He’s available for the tempted and the tried
He sympathizes and He saves
He heals the sick
He cleansed the lepers
He forgives sinners
He delivers the captives
He defends the feeble
He blesses the young
He serves the unfortunate
He regards the aged
He rewards the diligent
And He beautifies the meek

Do you know Him?
Do you know my King?

My King is the key of knowledge
He’s the wellspring of wisdom
He’s the doorway of deliverance
He’s the gateway of glory
He’s the pathway of peace
He’s the roadway of righteousness
He’s the highway of holiness
His promise is sure
His life is matchless
His goodness is limitless
His mercy is everlasting
His love never changes
His word is enough
His grace is sufficient
His reign is righteous
His yoke is easy
and His burden is light

Do you know Him?

He’s incomprehensible
He’s invincible
He’s irresistible
I’m trying to tell you
The heaven of heavens cannot contain Him
Let alone a man explain Him

You can’t get Him out of your mind
You can’t outlive Him
And you can’t live without Him

The Pharisees couldn’t stand Him
but they found out they couldn’t stop Him
Pilate couldn’t find any fault in Him
The witnesses couldn’t get their testimonies to agree
And Herod couldn’t kill Him
Death couldn’t handle Him
And the grave couldn’t hold Him

That’s my King!

He always has been
And He always will be
I’m talking about
He had no predecessor
and He’ll have no successor
There was nobody before Him
and there’ll be nobody after Him
You can’t impeach Him
and He’s not going to resign

That’s my King!

Do you know Him?

He’s the Master of the Mighty
He’s the Captain of the Conquerors
He’s the Head of the Heroes
He’s the Leader of the Legislatures
He’s the Overseer of the Overcomers
He’s the Governor of the Governors
He’s the Prince of Princes
He’s the King of Kings
And He’s the Lord of Lords

That’s my KING!

“For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.” (Matthew 6:13 KJV)

“Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things,
and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” (Revelation 4:11 KJV)

A Few Good Friends

I’m on Day 6 of a 40 Day Facebook fast. I’m using a devotional by Wendy Speake called “The 40-Day Social Media Fast.” Today’s devotional was entitled, “A Few Good Friends” and it hit me right between the eyes.

I spent most of my teenage years as an outsider. As a brainiac and an atheist, though I wanted to fit in, I didn’t.

As an adult and born again follower of Jesus, I never want others to feel left out, like I was.

I cast my net wide.

I love everyone.

I invite everyone.

Any age, any skin color, any religion, any economic level, whatever – I love you all.

I love to greet the new people who wander nervously into church. I love to seek out the person sitting in the corner at a party. I love to make the newcomer and the outsider feel appreciated and valued.

8 or 80, male or female, made up or beat up, I want to be your friend.

The struggle for me is that love isn’t always reciprocated, even in the family of Christ. Sometimes I’m too serious, too friendly, too deep, too religious, too loud, too … whatever. And it still hurts me more deeply than I wish it did. 😰

I love getting likes and shares on my FB feed (and my blog). I purposely share some fun family photos and silly memes on my Facebook feed, just so people don’t think I’m too “religious” or too “deep.”

The most personal things I write, which are usually both deep and religious, don’t garner nearly so many likes or shares, but I keep on writing them because that’s how God made me. I think these writings are some of the works that God has prepared for me to do, that God has uniquely designed me to write. (Ephesians 2:10)

Thanks to each of you for being on this journey with me. Whether you’re one of my 3 special friends or whether we’ve never even met, I love you and I want you to know Jesus.

Your love or disdain for me does not change my value in my Father’s eyes. Whether you like my post or not, Jesus likes me. In fact, Jesus died for me, and His approval is all that really matters. ❤

“We don’t need everyone to like us, love us, invite us, or include us. In God’s economy, two or three faithful friends make for great wealth.”

Wendy Speake, The 40-Day Social Media Fast

What does God value?

This is my lesson for this week. May it bless many and bear fruit to the glory of Jesus.

I am the younger of two children. I have only one sister. She is older than me. Her name is Kristan.

Growing up, I was always competing with Kristan. I never felt like I was as good as her. She was a quiet girl who didn’t cause much trouble. I always thought she was prettier than me. She was taller than me – and she still is. She was an excellent piano player while I struggled through my piano lessons.

Because I felt like she was better than me in so many ways, I tried to be better than her in other ways. I showed off by being talkative, friendly, outspoken, and loud. I earned awards in science fairs and debate competitions. I went to a special school for the top students in my city, yet I still felt like I was in her shadow.

Have you ever felt that way? Have you ever compared yourself to someone else and felt like you weren’t as good, as smart, or as pretty as them?

Last week we talked about what people like to share on social media like WeChat and Facebook.

I think one reason why people like sharing on social media is because they want people to praise them. We all want people to think we’re smart, beautiful, kind, and good. We all want people’s praise.

Now that I am an adult, I still find myself comparing my strengths to others’ weaknesses. I like to share the highlights of my week when my family did something special. I don’t share the moments when I got mad at my husband. I don’t share when my house was a mess and I served frozen pizzas for dinner. I don’t share when I spent 2 hours scrolling mindlessly through Facebook. I want to show the good things my kids or my husband or I did. I still want so much for people to praise and value me. This is still a struggle for me.

How about you?

I want to show you a short video of a young man with Down Syndrome speaking at a meeting for some American government leaders. While you’re watching this video, I want you to think about how you feel watching this young man and how you would feel if he was your son.


You can watch the full video here: https://youtu.be/vtS91Jd5mac

If you were this young man’s mom, would you be proud to call him your son? Why? Why not?

Now let’s think about our own families. If you had a son, would you value him more if he was the top student in his Chinese class? What if he won a track meet or an English competition? What would he have to do to make you proud?

What about God? What does God value? What makes God proud? To find an answer, let’s consider the story of the shepherd boy David who grew up to be the King of Israel. The first king of Israel, King Saul, had disobeyed God and God was looking for a new man to be king of Israel. God sent His prophet Samuel to a man named Jesse to find a new king from one of Jesse’s sons. When Jesse’s first son arrived, Samuel thought, “Surely this is the Lord’s anointed,” but Samuel was wrong.

“But the LORD said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him.
The LORD doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance,
but the LORD looks at the heart.”” (1 Samuel 16:7 NLT)

但耶和华对撒母耳说:“不要看他的外貌和他高大的身材,因为我不拣选他。
耶和华看人不像人看人,人是看外表,耶和华是看内心。

Let’s try reciting this verse together. First, you can listen to me say it. Then, we will say it together.
Finally, I’d like a few sisters to try it by themselves.

God had chosen Jesse’s youngest son who was out in the field caring for the sheep. As we are told in Acts 13:22, God had chosen David, the son of Jesse, because he was a man after God’s own heart who would do everything God wanted him to do.

Does that mean that David never sinned? Does that mean that David never broke God’s laws? No, it doesn’t. In fact, David committed adultery with a married woman and had her husband killed. Yet, David was repentant over his sin. David grieved over his sin and turned to God for forgiveness. David held fast to God and had faith in God even when life was very hard.

So, what exactly is in a man’s heart which makes God value him?

What do you think, sisters? What makes a person worthy to be called God’s child?

God created each and every person in His very own image. Every single person ever made was created in the image of God – no matter their skin color, no matter their wealth, no matter their intelligence or ability level, no matter how much money they have. Every single person has value in the sight of God because every single person is created in the image of God.

But not everyone is God’s child.

Jesus “came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn–not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.” (John 1:10-13)

The only thing that can make you God’s child is faith, faith in Jesus Christ, the only Son of our Heavenly Father God. This alone is what makes you worthy. Faith is the greatest value.

And even this faith is a gift, as we read in Ephesians 2:8, “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.”

As you trust in God, then He will strengthen you and guide you to do great things for Him. He will change you, grow you and make you more like His Son as you trust in Him.

Like I once worked so hard to be better than my sister, when I became a Christian, I worked so hard to earn God’s love. But I was wrong. There was nothing I could do to deserve God’s love.

“Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might,
let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this,
that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD
who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth.
For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.” (Jeremiah 9:23-24)

耶和华这样说:“智慧人不可夸耀自己的智慧,勇士不可夸耀自己的勇力,财主不可夸耀自己的财富。
夸口的却要因了解我,认识我而夸口;认识我是耶和华,我在地上施行慈爱、
公正、公义;因为我喜悦这些事。”这是耶和华的宣告。

Let’s try reciting this verse together. First, you can listen to me say it. Then, we will say it together.
Finally, I’d like a few sisters to try it by themselves.

God delights in steadfast love, justice and righteousness. Yes, He does. And He wants us to do these things, too, but He wants us to do them by faith. He wants us to obey Him by faith.

Jesus chose the intellectual Paul, a Jewish Pharisee and a persecutor of Christians, to share the good news of salvation with the lost. But Jesus also chose four common fishermen like Peter to spread the gospel. Does Jesus love the intellectual Paul more than simple Peter? No.

As Paul wrote in the beginning of his letter to the church in Corinth,

“For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards,
not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.
But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise;
God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;
God chose what is low and despised in the world,
even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are,
so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:26-29
)

弟兄们,你们想想,你们这些蒙召的,按人“人”或译:
“世上的标准”、“世界的标准”来看有智慧的不多,有权势的不多,出身尊贵的也不多。
但是 神却拣选了世上愚笨的,使那些有智慧的羞愧。他也拣选了世上软弱的,使那些刚强的羞愧。
他也拣选了世上卑贱的和被人轻视的,以及算不得甚么的,为了要废弃那些自以为是的,
使所有的人在 神面前都不能自夸。

Do you think if your child got better grades or your husband had a better job, then God would love you more?

Do you think that if you were prettier or smarter or richer, then God would love you?

What if you memorized more Bible verses or prayed more or went to church more often, then would you be worthy of God’s love?

What if you gave all you owned to the poor or gave up your life as a martyr for Christ, then would you finally be valuable to God? (See 1 Corinthians 13 for more on this!)

Look at these pictures of my husband and my son in our backyard. My husband is much taller than my son when you look at them up close, but when you compare either of them to the height of the trees, they are both so tiny.

We may like to compare ourselves to one other, but when we compare ourselves to God, then we see how short we truly are. None of us are perfectly good, wise or holy. Only God. God loves you because He is God. He is your Creator, and He wants to be your Father. There is nothing you can say or do or think to make yourself worthy of His love.

In your own power,
you are unworthy and undeserving,
but in Christ Jesus you have infinite worth.

I don’t know whether you need to hear this because you need to be reminded not to show favoritism to your children or your coworkers or your friends, or because you need the reminder that you can’t earn God’s love, but I know that you need to hear this. 

When you place your trust in Jesus Christ, God’s Holy Spirit comes to live inside of you. When God looks at you, He sees His Son, Jesus Christ, in your heart. Jesus Christ is who makes you worthy and valuable, completely worthy and infinitely valuable, and Jesus Christ is the truly the only one truly worthy of praise.

Let me encourage you to share this good news with someone else this week.

Worth, Value and Worthlessness

This is my lesson from last week with the international women’s discipleship group. I pray it would bless many!

WORTH can describe either a monetary value (cost) or a personal, moral value. This coat is worth more money than that coat. Spending time with my mom is worth more than watching TV. Let’s try this dialogue to learn more about the word “worth.”

  • Abby: Hey, Mom. Look at these shoes! Aren’t they cool?
  • Mom: Yes, they are. Those shoes are beautiful. How much do they cost?
  • Abby: $120.
  • Mom: Wow, Abby. They are so expensive! Are they worth that much to you?
  • Abby: Not really, Mom. I found this pair over here. They’re only $40 and I think they’ll be great.
  • Mom: Good work, Abby. I think these shoes are worth $40. Let’s get them.

When we’re buying something, we look at how much the thing is worth. How much will I pay for a car or a house or a pair of shoes? How much will I pay someone to clean my house or take care of my children? It depends how much it’s worth.

VALUE has a similar meaning to WORTH. VALUABLE has a similar meaning to WORTHY.

Let’s try this dialogue to learn about the words, “value” and “valuable.”

  • Betty: Honey, I love you so much. I really value the time that we spend together. Thank you for taking me out for dinner tonight. I had a great time.
  • Husband: Betty, I love you, too. You are my most valuable treasure. You are worth so much to me!

We can also use the word “WORTHLESS” to describe something that is not important, something that is not valuable. Worth + less = not worthy.

In looking at the Bible for “worthless,” I really liked this Bible verse. Let’s learn it together.

“Turn my eyes from worthless things and give me life through your word.” Psalm 119:37.
求你使我转眼不看虚空的事;又使我在你的道中存活。

First, listen to me say it, then we will say it together. Finally, I’d like three ladies to try it on their own.

“Turn my eyes from worthless things and give me life through your word.” (Psalm 119:37 NLT)

Just like we have limited amounts of money, we also have limited amounts of time. Our lives here on earth won’t last forever. There are only 24 hours in a day. There are only 365 days in a year. We don’t want to waste our time or our money on worthless things.

One way you can see what is valuable to you is by looking at where you spend your time and your money. Pay attention to your calendar and your bank account.

If you suddenly had three hours of free time what would you do?

  • Go shopping or go to a fancy restaurant?
  • Clean the house or play with your children?
  • Read through WeChat or read through the Bible?

I’d like three new women to share their answers.

If you were surprised to receive an extra 1,000 yuan, what would you do with it?

  • Would you pay your electric bill or buy your groceries?
  • Would you buy a new purse or a new book?
  • Would you give it to your parents or to someone in need?

I’d like three women to share their answers.

Let’s look at another Bible verse about what is valuable versus what is worthless.

Job 28:17-18 says, “Wisdom is more valuable than gold and crystal.
It cannot be purchased with jewels mounted in fine gold.
Coral and jasper are worthless in trying to get it. The price of wisdom is far above rubies.”
黄金和玻璃不能与它比较,纯金的器皿不能与它交换。
珊瑚和水晶都不值一提,取得智慧胜过取得红宝石。

We can also show what we value by what we think about and talk about. What do you fall asleep thinking about and wake up thinking about? What are you excited to talk about to your parents, friends, kids or husband? What do you post on social media?

  • Your cats or your kids?
  • Your favorite movies and music?
  • A new restaurant or a new coat?
  • A Bible verse or prayer request?

I’d like three new women to share their answers.

As a women’s group, we want to value what God values. We want to love what God loves.

We’re going to talk about this more next week, but tonight let’s just look at this one Bible verse:

“Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry,
or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within,
the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.”
(1 Peter 3:3-4 NLT)
不要单注重外表的装饰, 就如鬈头发, 戴金饰, 穿华丽衣服;
却要在里面存着温柔安静的心灵, 作不能毁坏的装饰, 这在 神面前是极宝贵的

What is valuable to God? What should a woman value? What should a woman not value?

Further reading: Proverbs 31:10-31, Matthew 6:19-34

Counting rubbish

The other day when I was teaching English online to a student in China, our lesson was about taking care of the environment. This 11-year-old boy kept using the word “rubbish,” rather than “trash” or “garbage” like you’d usually hear in the United States of America.

Merriam-Webster dictionary defines this word as “useless waste or rejected matter, something that is worthless or nonsensical”

Though the word, “rubbish” sounded odd in my ears during that lesson, it is exactly what the translators chose for Philippians 3:8.

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—

Philippians 3:7-9 ESV

What do we need to count as useless, as worthless, as waste, in order to gain Christ?

Whatever it is, it’s worth it.