Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas! My weekend had a great start on Saturday morning...
The Ventura County Star published an article on December 24th, 2012, about my book Grace of Giving and the award it won. It also talked about my travels, the non-profit organisation Traveling Light we started in Holland earlier this year and much more. You can read the article on-line by following this link. If the article inspired you in your writing journey, please be so kind as to click the share or recommend button at the end. Thanks!
In 2012 I discovered a few new gems in the Christian blogging world. I really would like to highlight Blessings in His Grip, "a site designed to offer resources and helpful hints for bringing God's Word into every day prayers". Tricia and Joan post a scripture and a short prayer a few times a week. The posts are short but very powerful and practical, a great way to start the day. Please, be so kind as to check this wonderful blog idea.
Many of you may know the blog The Christian Writers' Marketplace, written by Sally Stuart, but just in case... her blog has lots of information on writing, contests, conferences, resources etc. A must have on your blog roll if you are a writer!
He will be great and will be called the Son of the most High God. The Lord God will make Him a king, as His ancestor David was, and He will be the king of the descendants of Jacob forever; His kingdom will never end. (Luke 1:32-33)
Mary must have been stunned when she heard the words of the angel who visited her. A kingdom without end? That was certainly unheard of. The Middle East at that time had a violent history in which kingdoms rose and fell constantly. Yes, they had enjoyed years of peace and prosperity, but it never lasted longer than a lifetime. Change was always in the air and each time a ruler took over, the people eagerly awaited better times. Certainly this time things would lighten up.
The angel’s promise to Mary however, differed greatly from the political propaganda she had heard so often. He talked about someone who would become king because the Lord God would make Him king. This was not a matter of human performance, political strategy or violent conquest. The establishment of this new king was a matter of divine appointment. No wonder His reign would be of eternal nature and His kingdom could not be taken over by a rival. The angel’s message was a prophecy of things to come. Mary carried the Kingdom seed in her womb, a small and humble beginning of something that would change the world forever.
Through Yeshua, the Son of God, the Kingdom of Heaven came on earth and it has grown into the biggest Kingdom of all. Millions, yes, hundreds of millions of people are subject to the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. Surely, it will never end!
This post wraps up the great benefit package, as presented in Psalm 19, that is ours when we live according to God's Word. Verse 8b is my favorite: The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.
The commands of the Lord are not dull or dark, they are radiant! Radiant means bright with joy and hope. Our problem is, as was the problem of the religious people in Jesus' time, that we have added too many man made rules that sucked the very life out of God's Word. Often we value tradition more than the life giving words of God Himself. In Mark 8-9 Jesus says: You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions. And he continued, You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!
I meet so many people who have a hard time with what God commands, but their anger and fear is often based on what religion taught them, not on the teachings of Jesus.He urged his disciples: If you love Me, keep My commands (John 14:15) and he is still urging us today. Why? Because the commands are radiant, giving light to the eyes. They will bring a sparkle in our eyes, a joy in our step and His love in our hearts!
Jesus is the center, the reference point for every teaching, no matter what the subject. We cannot have grace without Him and we cannot fulfill the commands without Him!
In the previous two posts we looked at the benefits of Gods law. For the New Testament generation the law is not something that brings condemnation, it is something that brings life... but only if we see it in light of what Jesus Christ has done. He din't come to do away with the law, He came to fulfill it. Romans 13:10 says, Love is the fulfillment of the law. If we say we are unable to fulfill the law, we are saying we are unable to love.
In Psalm 19 we can read that the law revives our soul and makes us wise. If furthermore says (verse 8), The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart.
Yes, they are right and give joy to the heart. Who doesn't want a fresh re-fill of joy? Joy is fruit that the Holy Spirit desires to produce in our life. Joy is something the world cannot give, never! It might give us happiness, fun, pleasure or laughter... but joy is a divine virtue that only God can bring about in our heart. Studying AND applying Gods precepts will bring joy to our hearts. That is why the Lord wants to write His greatest commandments on our hearts: Love Him first and your neighbor as yourself! That will bring a joy no one or nothing can take away from you!
Again, I want to urge you: don't shy away from learning more about God's law and grace. The books in The Ten Commandments Series will bring joy to your heart!
The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple (Psalm 19:7b)
God's statutes are trustworthy, they don't change with the weather or the latest trends. They can be relied upon, circumstances nor situations have any influence on God's written statutes. What was true yesterday, is true today and will be true tomorrow. Time has no influence on God's statutes, which is actually a very comforting thought.
Besides being an anchor in turbulent times, God's statutes will make the simple wise. Now that is a benefit of studying AND applying God's commandments that we should not deny. Who doesn't want to be wise?
Again, as in the previous post, I would like to challenge you to dive into God's Word (maybe with the help of one of my books) and find out how law and grace come together in Jesus Christ.
Walking through the Bible I opened the door of Psalm 19 and there, smack in the middle of David's praise, I found the blessings for studying and applying God's command-ments. Since my books are based on the Ten Commandments, I thought it would be interesting and helpful to share with you the benefits of studying His Word. I'll call it the benefit package 101.
The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul (Psalm 19:7)
The law of the Lord is not boring, outdated, or even uninteresting... it is perfect. As the apostle Paul later wrote: the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good (Romans 7:12). God's law has not changed, the meaning has changed. In Old Testament times it was there to point people to their shortcomings and need for a savior. In New Testament times it is there to help us build a better and more godly society. The law now needs to be written on the hearts of the people.
The law is not only perfect, it is also reviving to the soul. We no longer keep or obey the law, we fulfill it by living it. And in doing so our soul gets revived, our soul gets watered, so we can flourish and refresh others. Are you longing for a revival deep down within you? Are you longing for a refreshing rain that will encourage and lift you up?
I challenge you to read one of my books and e-mail me whether it was reviving to your soul or not...
Recently my older brother in Holland had two serious accidents in one day. First on his way to work and later on his way back home. While riding his scooter a car came from the opposite side, suddenly turned and hit him hard. He walked away from the head-on collision without a scratch, just very sore! Now, that is a miracle!
This morning I was reading Psalm 18 and I got a clear picture of God's hand... He reached down from on high and got a hold of me; He drew me out of deep waters (Psalm 18:16). My brother was not drowning in water, but he experienced a serious attack on his life and the hand of God reached down. I am so thankful He did that. And you know what, He did that because He loves my brother. Verse 19 says, He brought me out into a spacious place; He rescued me because He delighted in me.
Why do some people survive an accident like that while others don't? I don''t know. I don't even know if there is an answer that makes sense, but I do know WHEN God reaches down in this miraculous way, we can be very, very thankful.