It all began in 2008. Somewhere…perhaps in a Bible study or a sermon…Romans 12:1-2 floated into my heart like an autumn leaf twirling to the ground. It was not an unfamiliar pair of verses, but neither were they sealed into my memory….yet.
Before long, these verses began popping up everywhere. In a sermon, in whatever Bible study I was doing, devotionals, on the radio…flitter, I fully expected to walk into a bathroom stall somewhere and find them scrawled on the wall. Seriously, it was comical how God was using repetition to force me to pay attention to these verses. The more I heard them, the more I realized that there was a message, a life message, in them for me.
In the eight years since, I have tucked these verses deeply into my heart and made them into an almost daily prayer for my life. I believe they are the key that opens the door to the authentic Christian life. Let’s start with verse 1.
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. (ESV)
As we think about authentic Christianity, about being a stand-out Christian in a world that tells us to shut-up, what possible help could this verse be? Sacrifice? Holy? It all sounds very antiquated, doesn’t it?
Paul is doing a little bit of what I like to call ‘guilt trippin’ his brethren. He is saying something like this: “Look at what God has done for you. How in the world could you not give your all for Him? It really is what you should do.”
One thing that is important for us to understand is the context in which Paul wrote Romans. In that day there was a prevalent philosophy that said that the soul or spirit was inherently good, while the body was inherently evil. Because the body was considered to be evil and would die eventually, it didn’t matter what you did with or to your body. Your soul/spirit was what mattered. For this reason, many people participated in immorality, believing that as long as their heart/spirit was right, they were good. There was a huge disconnect between the body and the spirit. Might sound a bit like today, huh?
So, back to how this verse impacted me. One day while I was exercising I was deeply impressed by the Holy Spirit to begin praying this verse back to God. So I did.
Lord, I offer my body to you as a living sacrifice. I am yours. Change me. Use me. Make me into whatever you desire.
Now, this is not a prayer to be prayed flippantly, because sacrifices in the Old Testament did not remain alive. So, what I was saying to God is take whatever does not please you and crucify it, kill it, so that all that remains is holy and acceptable to you.
Vance Havner once said that the problem with living sacrifices is that they tend to crawl off the altar. This required an intentional, deliberate act of my will. I had to be willing open the doors of my heart completely to the Holy Spirit, holding nothing back….NOTHING BACK! I had to be willing to allow Him to clean out impure thoughts and selfish desires. I had to be serious about crawling up on that altar and allowing my flesh to be crucified so Jesus could live through me. What Jesus has done in my heart since I began praying this prayer is stunning. He has given me an intense desire to be more and more like Him.
Authentic Christianity requires that we give God the ultimate sacrifice of self….body, mind, and spirit. The world needs to see Christ-followers who are walking out holy lives because they have offered their bodies as living sacrifices for the cause of Christ.
MEDITATION MOMENT: What would you need to do in order to make Romans 12:1 a reality in your life? What is hindering you from offering your body as a living sacrifice? I would love to pray for you in this regard. Feel free to leave a comment or email me at email@example.com.
Have you heard about Journibles? They are a series of beautiful books that offer space for you to write out that specific book of the Bible. I love my Romans Journible. I scribed the entire book of Romans in it. The Word comes alive even more when you write it out. Here is my Amazon affiliate link to the Romans Journible. Order your copy today and begin writing out the book of Romans.
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Y’all last week was pretty amazing, wasn’t it? We sat as still as flies on the wall as God held out a scroll sealed with seven seals to whomever was worthy to open it. John, in the throne room of God, cried like a baby because no one was found worthy to open the scroll. Today, we continue our journey in Revelation 5 where we discover if anyone was found to be worthy to open the scroll.
Oh, by the way, are you part of the Facebook group for this study? In that group I have linked every post in this series. If you would like to join the group, please send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you back a link that you will need to click on in order for me to add you to the group.
Did you download and print the Revelation 5 drawing last week? If you missed it, please go here to get it.
Let’s read all of Revelation 5 today.
1 Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals.
2 And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?”
3 And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it,
4 and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it.
5 And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”
6 And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.
7 And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne.
8 And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.
9 And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation,
10 and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.”
11 Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands,
12 saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!”
13 And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”
14 And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.
This passage from Revelation 5 has all the makings of a dramatic scene straight out of Hollywood. There is weeping in heaven because no one was found worthy to open the scroll. Then, suddenly there is silence as a heavenly light shines on One near the throne. The music swells as the Lion of the tribe of Judah, Jesus Christ, steps forward and takes the scroll out of the hand of God. Every eye in the room, every eye on earth and in heaven is on the Lamb who was slain before the foundation of the world.
In a split second the weeping in heaven has turned to rejoicing and praise. Jesus is the undisputed Worthy One. Why is Jesus worthy? We are told in verses 5, 9 and 10. Jesus conquered. What did He conquer? He conquered sin and death by shedding His blood on the cross and paying the ransom that death had placed on each soul who ever breathed earth’s sin-polluted air.
Consider the anthem of praise that is raised to Christ:
“for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.”
I could teach from those two verses for quite a while. It is the story of atonement and redemption and sanctification. Jesus did the work of salvation, and because of His work, He is worthy to possess and open the title deed to earth and mankind.
In these verses, Jesus is called by several names. I want to give you Scripture references for each for additional study outside this post, then offer you something marvelous to ponder.
Lion of the tribe of Judah ~ Genesis 49:8-12
Root of David ~ Isaiah 11:1-10 and Revelation 22:15
Lamb standing as though slain ~ Isaiah 53, especially verse 7
Let’s camp for just a moment on the fact that Jesus is the ‘Root of David’. One of my commentaries, The New American Commentary, referenced Matthew 22:41-46 where Jesus asked the Pharisees a question that apparently stumped them. “Whose son is the Christ?”
Every good Jew of that day knew that the Messiah would be the son of David. Yet, Jesus goes on to ask the Pharisees why it is that David, in Psalm 110:1, calls Jesus, “Lord”. Jesus was forcing the Pharisees to consider not only His incarnation, but also His pre-existence. The New American Commentary says this:
“Messiah is at once the root from which David himself arises, and he is the offspring of David through his incarnation. That he is both the Root and the offspring of David is possible because of the Lord’s preexistence.”
Is that not stunning? Have you ever considered that? This would have been heresy to the Pharisees because Jesus was solidifying His Messiah-ness with these words. The fact that this description, Root of David, is used in Revelation 5 is a clarion call to the Jewish heart to believe and receive Jesus before it is too late.
This is a long post because I included the entirety of Revelation 5 in it, so I’m going to wrap it up and encourage you to study the worship portion (verses 9-14) on your own. It is definitely worth your time to consider the worship of Jesus that takes place in heaven.
Now, let’s engage:
- What from our study today encouraged your heart or blessed you?
- As you study Revelation, I hope you will begin to see Israel as the target audience of the book. What have we studied thus far that supports that theory?
- Please share anything that speaks to your heart from the worship portion of chapter 5.
Friendship is a treasure not to be taken for granted, and it is the topic of today’s link-up. I thought it might be fun to offer a couple of great quotes about friendship, so here goes.
I adore Winnie the Pooh, so here is a great quote from a Pooh book.
Friendship is all about entering in to another soul’s world. You and I may not share the same life experiences, but we can take another person’s hand and let them be sure of us. I am so blessed to have many wonderful friendships. I hope these quotes made you smile and think of a person or people whom you consider to be a friend.
We are a topic driven link-up, which means that we link posts that pertain to the topic of the week. Posts that are not on topic will be deleted.
We will offer a month’s worth of topics each week so you can plan and prepare for a post that helps you enter into the conversation. Here are the topics for the next month:
April 20 ~ Friendship
April 27 ~ Pot Luck
May 4 ~ The Funnies
May 11 ~ Mothers
Just a reminder that the link-up goes live on Wednesday morning at 5am and will stay live until the following Monday at 5pm. If you link up at The Loft, please do not link-and-run. We want to create conversation and community, therefore, we ask that if you linkup one post, please visit two others. There are some beautiful people who link-up each week, and visiting their posts is the best way to get to know them.
Now, it it time to get to today’s link-up. Our prompt today is FRIENDSHIP. You will find the linky at the bottom of my post. Enjoy the fellowship at The Loft.
Now it is time to linkup!
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“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)
The vast majority of us have heard, and may even be able to quote part, or all, of this verse. In the midst of Paul’s wrestling over some affliction, God tells him that the grace that God gives is enough, it is sufficient, to see Paul through the thorniness of his thorn. This is a magnificent verse that is often quoted by pastors and others who are comforting someone going through a trial. It is full of truth, the hard kind of truth, but truth, nonetheless.
While most of us have heard this verse, do we always live like we are the recipients of lavish grace?
Grace. God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.
Grace. God giving us what we do not deserve.
Grace. Graciousness. Benefit. Favor. Gift.
Have you ever found yourself saying something like this?
“Lord, I want to change.”
“I need to kick this addiction.”
“I want to be healthier.”
“I spend too much time on the internet.”
“I want to love my husband/wife/children more.”
“I need to be a better friend.”
We all have places in our lives that would benefit from change, yet so many of us never see those changes happen. Why? Could it be that we fail to live fully in the grace that Jesus died to provide us? Perhaps we try to make changes in our own power, rather than appropriating the power of God?
You and I, as Christ-followers, have everything we need to make lasting changes that will help us look more like Jesus to a world that desperately needs Him. Jesus died so that we could live out of grace. His Spirit resides in us to help us make those changes that will transform us to look more like Christ. Maybe it is time we try a new approach to making positive changes in our life?
My dear friend, Arabah Joy, has a new resource available for the first time this week that encourages and enables us to set Grace Goals.
As we go through life, we set goals for all sorts of things: school, job, exercise, food, etc. Why not be intentional about grace just like we are about other things?
The Grace Goals Course helps you, a Christ-follower, set simple goals that will bring about lasting change in your life. It is a goal-setting resource that helps the believer go deep enough spiritually so that the change happens in the heart, as well as the mind.
“Grace is the power of God. It is more than God’s forgiveness when we do wrong…it is God’s enablement to do right. Grace is what has the power to transform a person’s life.”
So, friend, what area of your life needs a change?
I have already begun working through Grace Goals with several areas in mind where I need to see lasting change. Will you join me?
You can sign up for Grace Goals now. The cost is only $15 for the Grace Goals downloadable bundle. In the bundle, Arabah Joy provides a 48 page workbook with 5 mini workshops, as well as printable worksheets. The lessons are concise and thought-provoking. They will help you identify areas that need change and begin working toward that change. In addition, you will have optional access to a private Facebook page for all Grace Goals members where Arabah Joy will be available to interact with you. Beginning December 28th, she will work through the 5 workshop within the Facebook group.
So, what are you waiting for and what have you got to lose? I invite you to join me as we set Grace Goals for deep and lasting change in our life. Click any Grace Goals link in this post for more information or to purchase Grace Goals.
DISCLAIMER: I am an affiliate for the Grace Goals course. If you purchase Grace Goals by clicking on any of the links within this post, I will receive a small commission. It is a small way that I help support my family. Thank you for the love.
Today it is my pleasure to introduce to you a new author, Doris Durbin. Doris and I live in the same town and go to the same church. A native of Florida, Doris and her husband, Ed, moved to my hometown in the 1980s. In the past two years, Doris has released two historical Christian fiction novels: The Captain Takes a Wife and The Captain Seeks the Lost. Both are excellent reads, and I’m thrilled to be interviewing Doris today.
Doris is a retired librarian who has a wonderful gift of writing. Her stories are believable and engaging. Her characters are true to life and relatable. Although I am typically not a huge reader of historical fiction, Doris’ books kept me interested and intrigued. It was a huge plus that she set her stories right here in the north Georgia mountains, using towns and areas that were as familiar to me as my own home. Each of her books points the reader to Jesus as the source of comfort, sustenance, and salvation. Doris is also an extremely talented painter.
I’m excited to introduce Doris to you. Once she has shared her heart and passion with you, be sure to hang out until the end of the interview where I am hosting a giveaway of signed copies of both of Doris’ books.
LEAH: I may have readers who have not had the pleasure of ‘meeting’ you online. What would you like for my readers to know about you? Please introduce yourself to them.
DORIS: I was born in Plant City, Florida and moved to Blairsville with my husband Ed and our three children in 1983. I went to work as a school librarian in 1985, working first at Woody Gap, then Union County Middle School, and finally Union County High School, where I retired in 2011. Ed enjoyed a career as a high school social studies teacherfor thirty-eight years, retiring in 2010.
I’ve been interested in writing and art for many years. While I was a librarian I sponsored a high school writer’s club, which produced a literary magazine that showcased student writing and artwork, and I also found time to paint watercolors, but I didn’t start writing novels until I retired.
Before I retired, I helped to edit and illustrate the local history book How Firm A Foundation; a History of the First Baptist Church of Blairsville, which was published in 2009, and that was one of the things that got me thinking about the ideas that led to “The Captain Chronicles.” I was very interested in the stories of the historic pastors of our church and thought it should be possible to write a fiction series with a circuit-riding preacher as the protagonist.
LEAH: What occupies your free time? Hobbies, interests?
DORIS: I’m never at a loss for something to do. I think that a verse I learned as a child has had a strong impact on me: “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might.”
I’ve had a variety of hobbies throughout my life. In the past, I sewed, quilted, and made pottery. Those hobbies have mostly gone by the wayside. Now, in addition to reading, writing, and painting, I knit and spin—with a spinning wheel, not a bicycle!
I became actively involved in watercolor painting after taking a class from Beryl Stokely in 1993. For four yearsI exhibited paintings at the Mountain Arts Association’s annual Festival of Arts at the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds, and I participated in other local shows. My artwork includes landscape, still life, and the occasional portrait, but I especially enjoy painting scenes of the local mountain area. I feel that there is so much beauty here in my own back yard that I’ll never run out of something to paint. Several paintings are currently on display at the Olive Tree Art Centre in Blairsville, and some others can be seen on my web site.
Since retiring, I’ve had the good fortune to take some classes at the John C. Campbell Folk School, studying the fiber arts of spinning and knitting as well as painting. I wanted to learn how to spin in order to understand the 19th century characters I was imagining, butdiscovered that I enjoy spinning for the fun of it.
LEAH: What are some items on your bucket list?
DORIS: Right now, I want to write some more books about the characters I’ve created in “The Captain Chronicles.” I’ve become very attached to them, and I want to see what happens next and give a more complete picture of events that happened before the current stories. Naturally, I want these to be wonderful, well-written books that will become wildly successful. And that means I need to conduct research, interview people to get the local history right,and do all those things that authors need to do to get their work done and out there. As a knitting instructor informed me recently, “You haven’t really retired, you’ve just changed professions.”
Back to the “bucket list.” In addition to writing novels, I’ve always wanted to write and illustrate a children’s picture book. One day maybe I’ll get around to that. A picture book about a spinner would combine many of my interests: watercolors, writing, and spinning—and I could read it to my grandchildren! Wouldn’t that be fun?
I’d like to live long enough to write all the books I’ve imagined, finish all the knitting projects I’ve started, spin all the fiber I’ve collected, and use up all the yarn I’ve bought.That sounds like a great fairy tale, doesn’t it? I’ll just tell the grim reaper that I can’t go until the yarn runs out! All those sales at our local yarn store will have added years to my life expectancy.
I also want to spend as much time as possible with my husband and our family. They are the most important priorities on my list.
LEAH: How did you develop an interest in writing and when did you begin writing seriously?
DORIS: I’ve always loved books, from my earliest memories of The Three Little Kittens Who Lost Their Mittens. I’ve always loved the smell and feel of books and have been fascinated by their illustrations. I think it is a natural step when you love something to want to get further into the process. It’s not enough toread the books; you want to make them yourself. When our children were young, before I went to work fulltime as a school librarian, I tried my hand at writing picture books and one or two YA novels. I didn’t have an agent, but in those days it was still okay to send unsolicited manuscripts to publishers. Writing was fun, but trying to find a publisher was very discouraging and time-consuming, and I got a lot of rejection slips! Just before I went to work fulltime I got a nice personal note from an editor. She couldn’t use the book I had sent, but she liked my style, and she wanted to see other books. That should have been an opening for me, but the timing was wrong. I didn’t have any other books to send. Just then a job opened up, and I walked through the door that opened, and I put my dream of writing on hold. I didn’t entirely forget it, though, and through the years that followed, I had opportunities to study writing, think about ideas for stories, attend writer’s conferences, and help a few students who were interested in writing. Finally, when I retired, I had time to try again.
LEAH: Every book has a backstory. What is the backstory behind your book? What was the impetus for you to write this book?
DORIS: Several things had an impact on my imagination. First is the mountain setting, both the landscape and the culture. Many of the people in the Georgia mountain area where we live have a strong connection with their history. When Ed and I first moved here, we got to know a wonderful storyteller named C.R. Collins. He had grown up in the Choestoe area, and he told us stories that had been handed down for generations. Those stories gave us a sense of connection to the mountain community and to the people of days gone by. Reading our church history gave me some ideas, too. I found the stories of the preachers particularly interesting. In addition, I’m a reader of mysteries. One series I have enjoyed in the past is the Brother Cadfael series by Ellis Peters. In that series, the protagonist is a monk in a monastery in 12th century England. I wondered, If a monk in 12th century England can be the protagonist of a mystery series, why not a 19th century circuit riding preacher in North Georgia? Ideas followed! And I’m very fortunate to have my history-teacher husband on hand to help me get the history right and to brainstorm with me about what could happen.
LEAH: Share with us a bit about your books.
DORIS: I started writing my novels after I retired in 2011. The first was The Captain Takes a Wife, published in 2013, and the second is The Captain Seeks the Lost, which was published in 2015. This series of action/adventure/inspirational/mystery/historical novels takes place in the 1870’s in northern Georgia and features a veteran of the Civil War who becomes a circuit-riding preacher in the Appalachian Mountain community of Choestoe. A third book is in the planning stages, and I have ideas for more stories in the series, both prequels and sequels to the current books.
LEAH: Why should someone read your books? What do they offer them personally?
DORIS: I hope that people will read my books because they’re good stories. I know I’ve done my job when someone tells me, “I couldn’t put it down!” The characters have come alive for me, and I hope they will do the same for readers. I care about my characters and want them to succeed in spite of hardships, obstacles and past mistakes.Besides a rollicking good story, I hope that my books offer a believable look at the way people lived in the 1870’s in the mountains, and perhaps some modern inspiration, too—some idea that it’s possible to make good choices and be good people—even now, in a very different age.
LEAH: How can my readers find you? Blog? Social media?
DORIS: My website and blog are here: www.dorisdurbin.com
You can email me through my website, and please let me know if you want to be added to my mailing list. I can also be found on Facebook.
I’m still learning my way around on social media, and I plan to make improvements to my website and Facebook pages as time goes by.
LEAH: Where can my readers buy your books?
DORIS: Any independent bookstore can order my books. (I would love it if demand for my books caused them to stock them!) They are also available from www.amazon.com, www.barnesandnoble.com, and other online retailers, as well as from the publisher: www.westbowpress.com.
In the North Georgia area, books are available at these places:
In Blairsville, at the Historic Courthouse on the square, The Flower Garden, Ingles, the Book Cellar, The Olive Tree Art Centre, and Shirley and Ronnie’s Hair Design.
In Gainesville, at the NE Georgia History Center and at Frames You Nique, on the square.
In Hayesville, NC., at Chinquapins, on the square.
In Murphy, NC, at Living Waters Christian Book Store
In Franklin, NC, at Daltons Christian Bookstore
In Blue Ridge, at The Arts Center.
LEAH: What final thoughts would you like to share with my readers?
DORIS: I hope you enjoy my books and that they are a blessing to you. If you like them, I hope you’ll help me get the word out that they are available. Tell your friends, read them in your book clubs, request that your local libraries and bookstores stock them, write reviews for me on Amazon.com and other sites. It’s still true for me that writing is easier than marketing, and I can use all the help I can get!
Doris, thank you for taking the time to visit with my readers today.
Now, for the GIVEAWAY!
Today I am hosting a giveaway of signed copies of both of Doris’ books to a single winner. The giveaway will be open for 2 days, and I will choose a winner on Wednesday, October 28th.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Good Friday morning!
As I ease back into blog writing, I wanted to give you a picture and a quote today. I read this quote recently in a post by Dr. Jim Denison and it has stuck with me. It is all about LEGACY and the impact that each of us have…even when we do not realize we are making a difference. That difference can be for good, or for worse. The decisions you and I make and the words we say today can have far-reaching consequences, so we must choose well. Oswald Chambers says it better than I. Walk faithfully! Here is your picture and thought for the day.
Have a wonderful weekend. I’ll see you back here on Tuesday morning.