Friday, February 17, 2017

“A Knee-print Valentine”

“A Knee-print Valentine”

By Susanne Scheppmann

Key verse: 
Mark 12:30, “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' ” (NIV)  

Lacy white paper glued to bright red paper constructed to enchant others.  Cutout hearts invite—Be Mine Valentine! Pastel candies with cute phrases provide a sweet conversation between two people.  February is the month noted for Love.

However, after searching for just the right valentine card this year, it dawned on me that I can spend more time looking for an endearing phrase for my husband, than I do telling God how much I love Him.  Personally, I have never seen a “valentine” card to God.  Have you?

This February I will certainly bestow my love on the special people God has placed in my life, but I am also determined to love God “with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength.”  Why?  Because the Apostle John writes this truth, “We love because he first loved us.” (I John 4:19, NIV)  The only reason, I can even begin to love a Holy Almighty God, is because he loved us by sending His son to die on a tortuous wooden cross for me.

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,
 that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
(John 3:16 NIV)

He loved me first.  He loved you first. Do you have a love relationship with Jesus Christ?   Perhaps, you feel unloved during the month of Love, but you don’t need to.  There are four simple steps to beginning an eternal love relationship with Him.

·      Believe He is the Son of the Living God
·      Believe He died for your sins and was resurrected to eternal life.
·      Ask for forgiveness of yours sins.
·      Accept Him as Lord of you life.

Now whether you have just begun a love relationship with Jesus or if you have journeyed with him for years, how about presenting Him with an outward display of your love? 
My valentine message to Christ will be a special time on my knees. I pray that my creaking knees will be a sound of praise to His ears.  The carpet indented with knee-print kisses and elbow-mark hugs on the sofa will be the loving signature of my devotion to Him. (And I will not make my usual list of needy requests.)  This knee-print valentine will be just whispers of love, to a God who deserves to be worshipped in complete loving devotion.  

Lord Jesus, I thank you for loving me enough to die on the Cross.  Lord, I want you to know that I love you.  I want to learn to love you more each day.  Teach me how to love you with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. 

Application steps:  
Do you remember making valentines in school?  Well, today take fifteen minutes and make a Valentine’s Day card for God.  It doesn’t have to be beautiful, but it should be heartfelt.  Dig out your glue gun, a red crayon, a few pieces of paper, and make a love note to God. Then hang it on your refrigerator as a reminder this week to tell God that you love Him. 

Refection points:       
Do you know that God wants to be the love of your life?

How can you show God you love Him?

With whom can you share the story of God’s love? 

Power verses:  
Psalm 42:8, “By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me-- a prayer to the God of my life.” (NIV) 

Psalm 66:19-20, “But God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer. Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me!” (NIV)

Jeremiah 33:3, “ 'Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.' ” (NIV)  

Zechariah 13:9, “…They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say, 'They are my people,' and they will say, 'The Lord is our God.’ ” (NIV)  

© 2005 by Susanne Scheppmann. All rights reserved.

Closet Clues

“Closet Clues”

By Susanne Scheppmann
Key Verse:
If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don't fuss about what's on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body.  Matthew 6:25 (MSG)

I discovered a lot about myself during a recent cleaning expedition of my clothes closet.  Blue stood out as my favorite color.  How could I own so many blue tops?  I found that somewhere in the recesses of my mind, I hold the fantasy I am going to fit into those size 10 jeans again.  I believe my favorite outfits might someday come back in style.  With a glance at the floor, I recall my husband suggesting, “You might be a shoe-oholic.”  

Spring-cleaning my closet became a safari of sorts. I separated.  I bagged and hauled out many worn, useless, too small, and hardly worn items. I sat down exhausted after finishing my cleaning mission. 

Then I asked myself, Why do I own so many clothing items that a full walk-in closet bursts at the seams?  Two answers settled in my mind—God’s blessings and my own self-indulgence.  

Starting today, I will attempt to put less value on my clothing and more significance on what I wear on the inside.  The Apostle Paul said, Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 13:14 (NIV) 

In addition, I will purchase my clothes with more thought.  Do I need it?  Will I wear it?
If yes, I will remove one old item when I hang it in my closet.  Also enduring styles, not fads, will populate my wardrobe.  

Now I do love shoes, but I want to be a good steward of my money.  Most shoes I own don’t wear-out before they go out-of-fashion.   Again, Paul advises us on our footwear, For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News. Ephesians 6:15 (NLT).  Now he doesn’t infer I shouldn’t wear stylish shoes, only that I take into consideration what the true importance is in life.  So, I will determine a shoe budget and stick to it. Regardless of those strappy summer sandals on sale at the mall.  I will not listen to the urge to buy, even if they are cheap and adorable.  

Dear Lord, remind me of what is truly important in the big scheme of eternity.  Help me to be a wise steward of my money when I shop for clothes.  Lord, each morning remind me to clothe myself with humility and love, so that others see You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Application Steps   
Glance through your closet and then take notes on what your closet reveals about your personality and resources.  Mark a date on your calendar to give your clothes closet a thorough cleaning.  Then when the day arrives, sort into piles the items to keep, the items to donate and the items that need to be thrown away.  

© 2005 by Susanne Scheppmann. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Route 66

“Route 66”

By Susanne Scheppmann

Key verse: 
Psalm 119:32, “I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free.” (NIV)  

I rebelled against God. My fist shook in anger as I turned to walk away in my own selfish pride.

But God, in his merciful love, wooed me back. I’ll will never forget that moment.

The jazz music of Knott’s Berry Farm echoed across the hot pavement. The smell of fried chicken and sweet funnel cakes taunted my stomach. After a long play-filled day, my family and I browsed through the shops. My head peeked through a door and detected the musty smell of books. A bookstore!    

I ambled in to peruse the shelves. Immediately, I realized it was a Christian bookstore. I hadn’t been in one of those in years. I almost headed out, but I hesitated.  

“Can I help you?” asked a sweet voice?

To my own surprise, I answered, “Huh, yes. Could you show me that Bible, please?”

She handed me a rose-colored leather Bible. I felt my heart melt inside of me. Suddenly, it seemed like I had come home after a long tiring journey. After I purchased it, I raced for the car. The rest of my family still shopped, but I sat in a little blue Volkswagen Jetta reconnecting to the Father. A prodigal returned to her Father’s waiting arms.

I remember hearing His quiet voice in my spirit. 

“Let’s start over. Use my Word to learn true freedom.”

Over the next couple of years, I studied the sixty-six books found in the Bible. I learned how to make wise decisions. Forgiveness flowed to those who had hurt me. I parented my two boys with more patience. My husband gained a more loving and devoted wife. I discovered true freedom in following God’s direction in my life. 

Those sixty-six books became “a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” As I soaked my heart in the Word of God, my path in life became clearer. God’s Word developed into a daily roadmap of direction, which I call my Route 66.

Now every morning I reach for my Route 66. I can’t imagine a day without it.  

Father God, wake me each morning with a desire for your Word. Open my eyes to see the truth of Your Word in my daily life. Help me to apply your timeless concepts and principles to the decisions I need to make. 

Application steps:  
Pray the words of Psalm 119:18 and then read all of Psalm 119. Underline all the verses that touch your heart. Memorize Psalm 119:105 and ask God to light your path with His Word each day.

Refection points:       
How often do I read the Bible?

Do I look for areas in my life where I can apply the truth of scripture?

When I need direction, do I seek answers from God’s Word?

Power verses:  
Psalm 119:18, “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.” (NIV)  

Psalm 119:89, “Your word, O Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens.” (NIV)  

Psalm 119:96, “To all perfection I see a limit; but your commands are boundless.” (NIV)  

Psalm 119:105, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” (NIV)  

Psalm 119:165, “Great peace have they who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble.” (NIV)  

© 2005 by Susanne Scheppmann. All rights reserved.

Reflections of Renewal

“Reflections of Renewal”

By Susanne Scheppmann

Key Verse:
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Psalm 51:10-12 (NIV)  

Today my car registration came up for renewal. I received notification that my magazine subscription will expire if not renewed immediately. Almost everything has a renewal of some sort, including my life.

I struggle out of bed each morning to stumble bleary-eyed to the earthy aroma of coffee. After just a couple of sips, I feel renewed. Caffeine works wonders in my drowsy morning state.

With the ceramic mug entrenched in my hand I mosey to my next renewal. A few moments spent with Jesus Christ. The brief morning interlude prepares me for the day ahead. So many times, I wake up crabby for any number of reasons, a spat with my spouse, raging hormones or lack of sleep. 

But as I settle into a quiet time with God, I sense His peace. I experience the Holy Spirit renewing my spirit with calmness and serenity. He “renews a steadfast spirit within me.” I accept gratefully his reassurance in the day looming ahead.  

With my head down, I ask him to create a purer heart in me. I need Him to wipe the slate clean of my anger with my husband. He calms the raging hormones by bestowing self-control upon me. I can manage the monthly moods, instead of them managing me. He gives me renewed energy even though I lack my necessary eight hours of slumber. The words of Isaiah 40:31 spring to life in me, “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (NIV)

Suddenly, I feel energized. I start the day’s chores with an upbeat attitude. OK, first I’ll call my husband and apologize. I’ll renew the magazine subscription and then I will head to DMV to renew my car registration. 

Finally, I’ll come back tomorrow for another replenishing for myself, for without a continuous renewal of my spiritual life, I would surely expire. 

Dear Lord, help me to make my quiet time with You a priority every morning.  Renew my spirit as a reflect upon You and Your Word. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

© 2005 by Susanne Scheppmann. All rights reserved

Monday, February 6, 2017

“The Attitude Flu”

“The Attitude Flu”

By Susanne Scheppmann

Key verse: 
Philippians 2:5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus. (NIV)  

Somehow standing in long lines to return Christmas presents, isn’t as fun as when I was waiting patiently for my perfect gifts to be rung-up.  During the holly jolly Christmas season, familiar carols floated in the air.  I could smell the potpourri of cinnamon and apples.  Waiting was almost enjoyable.

However, now I stand stewing about the slowness of the clerk.  If she went any slower she would be in reverse, I think to myself.  

As I study the faces around me, I realize it appears we have all lost our holiday zest.   As a matter-of-fact, I am just plain crabby.  I think I have caught the attitude flu. And do you know what is the worst part of having this type of flu?  It can be contagious. 

Why?  Because others react to my attitudes.  For example, if I am scowling at the clerk when my turn finally arrives, she probably won’t be very patient with me, either.  If I growl at my husband when he walks through the door this evening, most likely I will put him on the defensive.  If I complain in the car with my children listening to each word, I’ll have whining children for the rest of the evening.  Yup, the “attitude flu” is very contagious.

However, there is good news for us who battle occasional bouts of bad sentiments the Bible can give us a good vaccination against it, if we will take to heart what it recommends.  For instance, Philippians 2:5 advises us, Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.  

Great advice, but what was the attitude of Jesus?   When we read the Gospels, we see that Jesus was always ready to listen to others.  His kindness spurred others to kindness.  His patience exhibited itself repeatedly with his disciples who asked endless questions and made stupendous errors.  Yet, he loved the little children who clamored to sit on his lap. 

Christ’s perfect attitude can be summed up in Galatians 5:22-23.

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.

It is a New Year, a new beginning. Starting today, I have decided that I will vaccinate myself each day with a good healthy dose of Scripture. I will meditate on it and ask God to help me develop the same healthy attitude of Christ Jesus. I know I will feel better and so will everyone else that I encounter.

Will you join me in the fight against the “attitude flu?”    

Father God, help me to recognize when a negative attitude creeps into my day.  Each day as I read your Word, embed it into my life. Help me to develop daily the same attitude that was in Jesus.

Application steps:  
In a Bible concordance look up the words: joy, kindness, and patience.  Write one or two verses on an index card.  Tape them on your mirror or fridge as a reminder to keep the attitude of Christ Jesus throughout the day. 

Refection points:       
What situations can usually cause me to develop the “attitude flu?”

What would my family say about my attitude each day?

How can I develop the attitude of Christ Jesus?

Power verses:  
Ephesians 4:23-24, To be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. (NIV)  

 Ephesians 4:26-27, "In your anger do not sin": Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. (NIV)  

Ephesians 4:29, Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. (NIV)  

Galatians 5:22-23, 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. (NIV)  

© 2005 by Susanne Scheppmann. All rights reserved.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Hair Issues

“Hair Issues”

By Susanne Scheppmann

Key Verse:
Philippians 4:13, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” (NIV)  

I have hair issues.  My hair tends toward silky and straight regardless of the current style.  Do you remember when “big hair” was in style?  My tresses didn’t cooperate. They went for the flat look.  Or what about the new trend of cute flips outward and backward? Ha!  Not my locks. They stubbornly hang downward obeying the command of gravity. As I said, I have hair issues. 

Now don’t get me wrong.  I am very grateful for my hair.  Although, it doesn’t always oblige my daydreams of high-fashion hairdos, I wouldn’t trade my hair with anyone else.  Why, because I have found that “hair products” give it strength to be what it isn’t.  When I infuse it with an outside resource, it can literally stand up and do anything.   

Each morning as I rub, squirt, and spray my head it reminds me of my Christian walk of faith.  When I attempt to perform on my own, I fall flat.  But when I allow the Holy Spirit to infuse me with power I move in strength. Even the Apostle Paul relied on the power, of Christ when he felt defeated.  He wrote in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.” (NIV)  

A Biblical example of hair issues, weakness and the power of God is Samson.  Do you recall his story?  If not let me give you the cliff note version of a guy with major hair problems.

Samson was this hunky strong dude in the Old Testament.  The Spirit of God rested on him from his birth.  His mother was told not to cut his hair. Ever!  He had great physical strength, which produced a big ego and lots of testosterone.  Sadly, the guy held a penchant for attractive, but ungodly women. His romantic encounters created continuous havoc for many people.  Finally, he fell in love with Delilah.  His enemies bribed Delilah into finding out the secret of his strength so they could capture him.  After much whining and manipulating, she discovered the secret to his mighty power; his hair had never been cut.  Ah ha!  The enemies cut his hair while he lay asleep on her lap.  His strength vanished.  His adversaries captured him, and then they gouged out his eyes and took him to grind their grain in a dank prison.  Nice story so far, huh?

Scripture gives us a glimpse of Samson’s thoughts in Judges 16:20, “…He awoke from his sleep and thought, "I'll go out as before and shake myself free." But he did not know that the Lord had left him.” (NIV)  

Fortunately, the story doesn’t end there. Samson’s hair not only grew back, but he realized where to obtain true strength.  The Bible concludes this story with Samson praying, “"O Sovereign Lord, remember me. O God, please strengthen me just once more, and let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes." (Judges 16: 28 NIV)  After this prayer, the Lord graciously fulfilled Samson’s prayer. 

Just like Samson, sometimes we falsely believe we can do life on our own terms. When we try to survive in our power and strength, we fail. If we are to thrive, we must let Christ permeate us with His power.  Then we can say along with the Apostle Paul, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13 NIV)

So if you are like me and have “hair issues,” let your morning beauty routine become a time of prayer for strength for the day.  As you coat your hair with mousse, gel and hairspray allow God to pour His Holy Spirit into your soul.  You’ll be amazed at the staying power of your tresses, but also at the power of God in your life each day. 

O Sovereign Lord, remember me.  Give me the spiritual strength I need for today.  Each morning as I get ready for the day, remind me to ask you to fill me with your Holy Spirit. I know that it is only through Your power, that I can do all things. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Application steps:  
Take a moment to count how many hair products you possess. Include shampoo, conditioner, gel, mousse, hairspray, etc.  Think about what each product does for your hair and why?  Now ask God to do the same thing within you.  Ask Him to clean, soften, straighten, and strengthen you, so that you may say, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”  

 Refection points:      
What are my weaknesses?

Do I believe I can live my life without the help of Christ? 

Am I willing to show my weaknesses and to ask God for help?

Power verses:
Exodus 15:13, “In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed.   In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling.” (NIV)  

Psalm 18:32, “It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.” (NIV)  

John 14:16, “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever.” (NASB)  

© 2005 by Susanne Scheppmann. All rights reserved.

Friday, February 3, 2017

“Amazing Knee-Mail”

By Susanne Scheppmann

Key Verse:
Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear. Isaiah 65:24,  (NIV)  

Email amazes me. Right now, I am flying across country 38,000 feet above the earth and I jotted an email note to my girlfriend. When the plane lands, I will hit a computer key and within moments, my message floats through the atmosphere and somehow lands in my friend’s e-mail box. “You’ve got mail.” Amazing!

Now this brings me to a thought. That is exactly how prayer works. It springs from my mind right into the ear of God. Nothing can hinder my whispers to Him. In fact, Scripture tells me that God hears me before I even speak a word. “Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear.” (Isaiah 65:24, NIV) Amazing!

Prayer works like e-mail, only you do not need a computer. You can sit, stand or kneel. Whatever position you find yourself in, you can speak to God. I prefer to kneel when I pray in the mornings, so I think of my prayers as knee-mail.

Before they call I will answer.” God promises to reply to our prayers. Sometimes the answers may not always be what we want. Or many times, we don’t even recognize how he answers our requests. It is as if we hit the delete key and never see the answer.  

However, I find great comfort in knowing that he receives my prayers with a listening ear, just as surely as my girlfriend will open her email tomorrow. She might not reply right away, but I know heart-to-heart communication took place. Our prayers work the same way, they build-up our relationship with God. 

For myself, I need to learn to send knee-mail as frequently as I send e-mail. I desire to commune with God, so he will communicate with me. He waits for me to call. “Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. (Isaiah 58:9a NIV)” Amazing!  

Father God, help me to make prayer a priority in my day. Father, I want to learn the discipline of prayer. So, before I open up my email each morning, remind me to get on my knees to have sweet communication with you. 

Application steps:  
Pray the words of Psalm 119:18 and then read all of Psalm 119. Underline all the verses that touch your heart. Memorize Psalm 119:105 and ask God to light your path with His Word each day.

Refection points:       
Do I believe that God hears my smallest request?

How much time do I spend on e-mail in comparison to praying?

Do I watch expectantly to see how God might answers my prayers?

Power verses:  
Psalm 91:15, He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. (NIV)  

Isaiah 58:9a, Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. (NIV)  
Psalm 34:17, The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. (NIV)  

Psalm 55:17, Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice. (NIV)  

Psalm 69:33, The Lord hears the needy and does not despise his captive people. (NIV)  

© 2005 by Susanne Scheppmann. All rights reserved.