What’s Your Standard?

by Sarah Nelson

As Christians we are blessed abundantly.  One of our greatest blessings is having the living, active, God-breathed Word in our hands when we open our Bible and read His message for us.   It is a source of comfort, guidance, and wisdom.  As it says of itself, God’s Word is perfect and sufficient for each one of us.  Many of us have multiple copies of Scripture in various translations to feed and nourish our souls.

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17

We are also blessed with many resources that also can encourage us in our walk with God.  Go to nearly any mall and you will find a Christian bookstore filled with marvelous music, dynamic books, spiritual films and Christian artwork to fill our hearts and homes.   May I encourage you today, as I challenge myself, to compare what is offered by even the most well-intentioned of sources with the written, infallible, Word of God?   Does the teaching within a song, book, or movie, detract or go above what the Word teaches?  Does it make us simply feel good, or shamed, complete, or lacking?  Or does it instead point us to the Scriptural truth that we are sinners, saved by grace, and grace alone?

The American College dictionary defines the word standard as follows: Standard – An authoritative model or measure, a pattern for guidance,by comparison with which the quantity, excellence, correctness etc. of other things may be determined.

Sisters, we must always have God’s Word as our standard for living the Christian life.   His Word never changes, yet is ever new.  His Word is always trustworthy, even when our emotions are not.  His Word points us to Him, and what He did on the cross, and not to ourselves and what we have done.  There are many resources that can aid us in our spiritual journey, but they must always echo the standard of truth found in God’s Word.

An old Sunday School song comes to mind, will you sing it with me?  “The B-I-B-L-E, Yes that’s the book for me!  I stand alone, on the Word of God, the B-I-B-L-E!”  God’s Word, it is a firm and solid place on which to base our lives.  It is a proven standard in which we can fully trust as being God’s message for yesterday, today, and for all time.

More Than a Song

by Sarah Nelson

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:1-11

Years ago while I was a student at AFLBS (Association Free Lutheran Bible School), Pastor Tom Olson was our Choral Club (now called Proclaim Choir) director.   He had no easy task getting a group of 18-20 year olds to reign in their energy, focus their attention on sheet music, and respond to his direction.   He quickly won our trust and cooperation as he made being in that choir about more than just singing words and hitting (hopefully) correct notes.  It was an opportunity to sing praises to Our Lord and King with brothers and sisters in Christ.  Pastor Olson cared about us performing to the best of our abilities to honor God, but he cared about something else more.  He cared about us knowing Jesus, living in harmony with one another (so important on those long bus tours), and pointing others to the Savior!

Before our Spring Tour in 1986, Pastor Olson gave us an assignment.  It wasn’t to learn Amazing Grace in Norwegian, nor was it to write postcards to our parents from every tour stop.  It was to memorize Philippians 2:1-11.  My first thought was not one of enthusiasm.  As the pianist (struggling) I already had work that I needed to get done before we left on tour.  Yet, I worked on committing that portion of Scripture to memory.  After all these years, I don’t remember many of the song titles we performed.   I don’t remember the names of all the churches and towns we visited.  I do remember those precious words from Philippians.  I remember the words of a young pastor in training who cared enough to help a group of college age students realize the great sacrifice Jesus gave for each one of us.  I remember the encouragement he gave us to look to Jesus as our example of humility, and of putting others first so that we may glorify God.  Lessons well taught, and long remembered.

Fig-Less, Fruit-Less, and Crop-Less

by Sarah Langness

I’ll be honest: this last weekend was probably one of the most difficult ones I remember having. On Thursday night, after sleeping for a mere 2-1/2 hours, my baby boy woke up with more snot in his nose than I ever imagined possible. Throughout the course of the night, Zeke was up every hour or so needing his nose suctioned. The following night, though not as full of fluid snot, Zeke was unable to sleep in his crib because he was so congested. Saturday night it appeared everything had drained from his little nostrils into his throat – and whether it was pain awaking him or something else, he was once again up every hour or so. To top it all off, I was single-parenting it for the weekend as Jordan (who was battling the same cold as his son) was committed to speak at a youth retreat in northern Minnesota . By Sunday, as you can probably imagine, this momma was pretty exhausted. 

Although those nights were difficult (and we’re still not out of the woods), there was an inner strength holding me up. Friday morning, as I sipped my coffee, I read through tired eyes these verses of Scripture. They became the words that I clung to and repeated when I wanted to cry out of exhaustion:

“Though the fig tree should not blossom and there be no fruit on the vines, though the yield of the olive should fail and the fields produce no food, though the flock should be cut off from the fold and there be no cattle in the stalls,yet I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. The Lord GOD is my strength.” – Habakkuk 3:17-19a

Do you know what it means to “exult” in something? It means to “show or feel a lively or triumphant joy; to rejoice exceedingly”. That’s pretty intense. Habakkuk describes a situation far worse than my own this past weekend – he is describing famine. No fruit on the trees or vines. No crops in the field. No cattle for meat. A desperate situation. And yet, amidst all those horrible, life-threatening situations, Habakkuk decides to rejoice. To rejoice exceedingly. To find joy in the God who had saved him. To find strength in the only One who had strength. 

Let’s face it. There are times life is just plain HARD. Things are not going to go our way. We are going to feel tired. We may feel hopeless. We might feel desperate. But we are not alone. There is One strong enough to hold us up during those difficult times. In Him we can rejoice because He gives us the strength we need – not all at once, but day by day. 

“When everything falls apart, Your arms hold me together. When everything falls apart, You’re the only hope for this heart. When everything falls apart and my strength is gone, I find You mighty and strong. You keep holding on.”

Praying for Your Pastor’s Wife – Day 14

Pray that your pastor’s wife will focus on the Word of God and walk by faith in the fear of
the Lord—rather than the fear of man. Pray that she will not seek acceptance from
others or compare herself with them, but that she will discover true freedom in her
position in Christ.

The fear of the LORD leads to life, 

So that one may sleep satisfied, untouched by evil.  Prov 19:23

Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain,
But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.  Prov 31:30

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.  2 Tim 2:15

And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.  Heb 11:6

And I will walk at liberty,  For I seek Your precepts.  Ps 119:45

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.   In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, which He lavished on us.  In all wisdom and insight He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory.  Eph 1:3-12

Taken from Revive Our Hearts

Praying for Your Pastor – Day 14

Pray that your pastor will focus on the Word of God and walk in the fear of the Lord—
rather than fear of man—as he prepares his messages. Pray that he will seek to please God rather than men, and pursue holiness rather than the praise of men.

But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.  Acts 6:4

The fear of the LORD leads to life,
So that one may sleep satisfied, untouched by evil.  Prov 19:23

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.  2 Tim 2:15

And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.  Heb 11:6

I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom:  preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.  2 Tim 4:1-2

Taken from Revive Our Hearts

Praying for Your Pastor’s Wife-Day 7

Pray that your pastor’s wife will remember truth and practical principles from the Word
of God during times of trial, and that the Scriptures will bring her comfort. Pray that the
Word will become her delight and song when circumstances are tough.

My soul weeps because of grief;
Strengthen me according to Your word.

I have remembered Your ordinances from of old, O LORD,
And comfort myself.  Psalm 119:28, 52

Taken from Revive Our Hearts


by Lorilee Mundfrom

What does the word “hope” say to you?  I’ve come to love that word, “hope”.  To me, one who has hope has confidence.  A person who is hopeful cannot help but be positive in their outlook.

I have a goal of doing a Scripture word study on the word “hope”.  Do you know how many times the word hope is used in the Word of God? On the BibleGateway.com website, I put in a search for the number of times the word hope occurs in the New International Version of the Bible, and it gave me 174 times.  18 of those occurrences were in the book of Job and 31 of those were in the book of Psalms.  The “weeping prophet” Jeremiah used the word hope 14 times in Jeremiah and Lamentations (certainly some, but surely not all, of those were references to when he had lost hope or the Israelites had lost hope).

Jeremiah 29:11 says, For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Lamentations 3:21-22 says, Yet this I call to mind and therefore I havehope: Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.

Psalms 42: 5, 42:11, and 43:5 all say the same thing:  Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.

I have struggled on and off with feelings of “hopelessness” in my life.  Sometimes these feelings come because of physical difficulties.  Sometimes they come because of being emotionally drained.  But when I go to the Word of God and find Scriptures like the ones quoted above, I cannot help but find comfort and peace in the Lord because He is my Hope and my Comfort.  He is my Peace and my Salvation.  He is faithful to His word and He is the One I can praise. As I praise Him I find Hope!

Some time ago I was listening to a radio broadcast on my way to work.  The program was about a man who had been a minister of the Word for many years.  When he was age 47 he went through a very difficult time of depression in his life.  He had such a hard time continuing on with his ministry.  But he did because he knew God had called him.  He stated the times before going to church on Sunday morning were probably the darkest times for him.  It was most difficult for him to get the courage to go.  But he did and he found that as he gathered with other believers and worshipped the Lord, and shared the Word of God with them, he was most encouraged and found great hope!  It took time for him to come out of these difficult days, but eventually he realized that when he focused his thoughts on God and the Hope that he had in Him, he was able to get through each day stronger and more hopeful than the day before.

HOPE – what does that word mean to you?  To me it is a confidence that I can have, even when days are hard, that God is with me and He will get me through even the most difficult times.  We don’t know what the future holds for any of us.  But we do have HOPE because we know our future is in His hands!

HOPE – I know Heaven is in my future!  When my work on this earth is done, however long or short that time may be, I have HOPE (confidence)  of going to Heaven, being reunited with loved ones who have gone on before, and seeing Jesus face to face.  This has nothing to do with me – it is all to do with what Jesus has done for me.  What a glorious time that will be!