Thursday, March 15, 2018


By Susanne Scheppmann
Key Verse:
Mark 7:14-15, “Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, "Listen to me, everyone, and understand this.  Nothing outside a man can make him 'unclean' by going into him. Rather, it is what comes out of a man that makes him 'unclean.'” (NIV) 

Dust bunnies run under the bed.  Spidery cobwebs dangle from the ceiling.  Handprints point the way to the bedrooms.  Filmy windows play hide and seek with the bright sunshine.

Yes, it’s time for spring-cleaning.  When the air warms and the sun shines brightly, it puts me in the mood to clean my home.  I heave furniture so I can vacuum underneath.  I teeter on a ladder as I stretch to remove telltale signs of fall and winter from my home.  Most of the time I abide by the slogan, “A tidy but comfortably cluttered home is good enough for me.”  However, I do like spring-cleaning.

Do you know that spring-cleaning began thousands of years ago in the Middle East?  It all started when God issued the decree to the Hebrews to eat the Passover meal and celebrate it for the generations to come.  One of the requirements in commemorating Passover was to remove any type of yeast or leaven from their homes.  The Jewish Book of Why explains, “Why must the Jewish home be scoured clean before the Passover holiday?  To find leaven in a home after the holiday has begun is considered a serious breach of Jewish law.  From biblical times onward, the law had required that every bit of leavened bread and all materials and products associated with it (that is, leaven) be removed from the house before Passover so that it will not even be seen during the holiday.”  

So what’s the big deal with yeast?  In the New Testament, we are told that yeast represents various types of sin.  Many times Jesus warned His disciples, “Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees.”  He didn’t want the disciples to be influenced by the cold legalism of the religious teachers.  The Apostle Paul elaborated on yeast a bit more.  He wrote, “Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast--as you really are.  For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth (1 Corinthians 5:7-8 NIV).  Paul points out just what the key verse for today indicates.  It’s the junk inside of us that makes us unclean, not what’s on the outside.

Even as I scrub my house, I need to consider spring-cleaning my soul.  Should I remove a few sullied attitudes?   Do I need to spit shine my life with sincerity and truth? 

Do you recall that even Peter needed to be wiped down a bit?  Before they celebrated the Passover feast, Jesus began to wash the disciples feet.  Peter hesitated, not wanting Jesus to do it.  However, Jesus insisted that Peter needed a little sprucing up. Here is how the Apostle John tells the story:

    He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, "Lord, are you going to wash my feet?" 

    Jesus replied, "You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand." 

    "No," said Peter, "you shall never wash my feet."

    Jesus answered, "Unless I wash you, you have no part with me." 

    "Then, Lord," Simon Peter replied, "not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!"

    Jesus answered, "A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean (John 13:6-10 NIV).

So, yes!  If Peter needed to be cleaned-up, I know I do too.  Just as my home gathers dust, dirt and smudges over time, so does my soul.  I need to get the tarnish of yeasty sinful attitudes out and allow God to polish me up to shine for His Kingdom.  Ephesians 5:26 even tells me what type of polish to use, “Cleansing her by the washing with water through the word.”  (NIV)
On that note, I think I will quit vacuuming the drapes.  Spring-cleaning my soul sounds much more compelling.  I am going to enjoy the warmth of this beautiful spring day.  I’m off to the backyard with my Bible in hand!  
Lord Jesus, I thank you for the power of Your Word.  As I study its truth, reveal to me the attitudes, thoughts and behaviors that You desire to cleanse in me.  Polish me to shine for Your Kingdom.  In Your Precious Name, Amen.

Application steps:
Stroll through your house and decide what needs spring-cleaning.  Closets?  Drawers?  Make a list of what you would like to accomplish in your home.  Decide to tackle one project a week in your home. 
Now take a spiritual inventory.  What needs to be cleansed within you?  Bitterness?  Unforgiveness?  Lack of love?  Using your Bible’s concordance look up verses to memorize that will aid in your spiritual spring-cleaning.

Refection points:
Do I pick-up my home daily?

Do I read my Bible everyday?

How much priority do I place on spiritual housekeeping?

What can I do to incorporate more time in God’s Word throughout the week?

Power verses:
1 Corinthians 5:7-8, “Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast--as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth.” (NIV)

Luke 11:39, “Then the Lord said to him, "Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness.” (NIV)

Leviticus 10:10, “You must distinguish between the holy and the common, between the unclean and the clean.” (NIV)
Galatians 5:22-26, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” (NIV)
© 2006 by Susanne Scheppmann. All rights reserved.

Friday, February 23, 2018

  The Ex-Factor 

By Susanne Scheppmann
Key Verse:
    “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (Romans 12:17-18 NIV) 

 “Your ex-husband stayed with you when your son graduated?” my friend asked.

“Yes,” I said.

“That is the weirdest, most amazing thing I have ever heard,” she responded

It’s true. My ex-husband has stayed in our home a couple times for special occasions. I admit it felt odd. However, it was worth my uncomfortable feelings, because it allowed my children to observe a living example of forgiveness, kindness, and gentleness through the grace of God. 

In addition, my husband’s ex-wife has celebrated Thanksgiving dinner with our family. These few hours of “making peace” enabled me to create a deeper relationship with my stepdaughter. In my opinion, the results were well worth the anxiety I experienced prior to the “ex’s” arrival.

Although God does not command us to invite ex-spouses into our homes, He does expect us to forgive and attempt to be at peace with them as long as it depends on us. Out of all human relationships, “the ex-factor” holds the most potential to create conflict and bitterness. Every “ex-factor” contains its own problems, dilemmas, and special circumstances. As with any problem, we should always seek God for wisdom. 

So, as we proceed with the attitude of our key verse, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone,” let’s seek God’s advice and wisdom. He will direct our steps in any difficult relationship. Let’s put into practice Proverbs 2:9-11, “Then you will understand what is right, just, and fair, and you will know how to find the right course of action every time. For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will fill you with joy. Wise planning will watch over you. Understanding will keep you safe (NLT).” The wisdom of God with the direction of the Holy Spirit will help us discern the right course of action with every relationship—even the ex-factor.

Dear Lord, grant me the desire and ability to pursue peace in every difficult relationship. Give me wisdom in complex relational interactions. Thank you for Your love and forgiveness in my own life. Allow me to mirror Your love and forgiveness love to others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Application steps: 
Consider the various relationships in your life. Make a list of people you feel animosity toward. Ask for the desire and ability to forgive anyone you harbor anger or bitterness against. Seek God’s direction with His words, “as far as it depends on you,” that you might live at peace within these relationships.

How do I reflect God’s love in difficult relationships?

Are my children able to see my attempts at peace making?

Have I sought God’s wisdom in dealing with thorny people who intersect with my family?

Power verses:
Ephesians 4:31, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of malicious behavior.” (NLT) 

Hebrews 12:14-15, “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” (NIV) 

Luke 6:37, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” (NIV) 

© 2008 by Susanne Scheppmann. All rights reserved.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Prince of Peace and a President
By Susanne Scheppmann

Key Verse:
I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone-- for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 1Timothy 2:1-2 (NIV)    
I tucked away the last of the Christmas decorations.  My house appeared tidy again after the Christmas disarray.  I began to dust the furniture and shelves when I came to the Nativity set.  I had purposely left it out as a reminder to celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus all year along.  

I reflected on the recent holidays and sweet joy filled my heart. My thoughts leapt forward, “What is the next celebration coming up?”  I realized it is the inauguration of our 44th President.
I gazed at the Nativity scene. Several times during December I heard the familiar verse from Isaiah 9:6, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Then I recalled the next verse that speaks of Jesus’ role in government—an eternal government. “Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this. (Isaiah 9:7 NIV)  What joy!  What peace to know that Jesus is king of kings and Lord of lords that is a cause to celebrate no matter what country we live in.
This month, the United States is inaugurating a new President.  It’s a time to observe and utilize our religious freedoms.  Let’s start by praying for our newly elected President and all government officials.  Let’s honor God’s command found in our key verse, “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone-- for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.”  As followers of Christ who is the Prince of Peace, let’s honor, respect and pray for our President. 

Let’s remember the baby in the manger is the King of kings and Lord of lords. He is also the Wonderful Counselor who guides Presidents and leaders as we lift them up in prayer.

Dear Lord, I pray for our national leaders. Allow their hearts to be open to Your wisdom and guidance. Remind me to pray for them fervently and frequently. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Application steps: 
A make a note on your calendar, weekly or monthly, to pray for our leaders in government.  Pray for them specifically by name.  Pray for wise decisions as they work with a myriad of problems that include terrorism and the economy.

Do I complain about our government or pray for it?

In what issues should I pray for our government?

 Power verses:
Romans 13:1, “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” (NIV)
Daniel 2:19-21, “During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven and said: "Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his. He changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning.” (NIV)
Revelation 19:11,16, “I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True . . . On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.” (NIV)

©© 2009 by Susanne Scheppmann. All rights reserved.