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Post  Admin on Sat 14 Sep 2019, 10:50 pm

Welcome to the Nugget

September 14, 2019

Canopy of Webs
 

By Answers2PrayerSubscribeUnsubscribeDevotionalsContact us    I had heard about the size, abundance and toxicity of Australian spiders. This was, in fact, the only thing that put any kind of a damper on my enthusiasm for visiting this fascinating continent.

I would learn, however, that the stories were a bit larger than life. During my 3 months stay on the continent, I didn't notice any particular overabundance of the creatures. In fact, when I compare the spiders in any home we stayed in while away to my own home, I believe I may have just as many spiders of comparable sizes!

There was this one spider event, however, that was, indeed, memorable. We were out hiking along the coast of Victoria, Australia, just off the Great Ocean Road, when we came upon a rather large cluster of spiders. It had been my experience that most spider webs are individual affairs, spreading from one inanimate object to another. Not so with this cluster. Each individual web served to connect two or more others to form a huge canopy of webs that was probably 3 m sq. (9 ft sq).

God has recently placed a great burden for my heart for unity in the church, and this has been the theme of several recent Nugget articles. After all, was this not a major theme of Jesus' final recorded prayer before going to the cross (see John 17:11, 20-24)? With this in mind, I had only one thought as I walked away from that canopy of webs: If only the church would be so unified! If we would stop looking after our own individual needs long enough, we might see that we can, indeed, hold each other up, and the result would be a church that not only cares for its own, but also reaches out to cover the world at large!

Recently, as I penned the devotional on unity that appeared in the Nugget last week (Each Tiny Leaf), it occurred to me that understanding the power of unity isn't enough. What we really need to know is how to achieve this unity.

The secret, I feel, lies in 1 Cor. 12:13: "For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body--whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free--and we were all given the one Spirit to drink." (NIV). We can only be unified when we are all filled with God's Spirit. It is His Spirit that brings unity!

Have you received the gift of the Holy Spirit?

The answer is 'yes'! Even though not everyone has received the spiritual gifts recorded in 1 Cor. 12, all true followers of Jesus Christ have been filled with His Spirit: "And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ." (Rom 8:9 NIV; See Titus 3:3-6).

Why is it then, that we have not achieved unity?

I would suggest that it is because we aren't all using the power we have been given to attain unity. It's kind of like the barbeque unit on your deck. It may be there, but if you don't use it, you'll never be able to produce barbequed meat!

Here are a few suggestions I found for achieving our potential for unity:

1.    We must pray, like Elisha of old, for more and more of God's Spirit, upon us, and also, on our brothers and sisters in Christ (See 2 Kings 2:9).

2.    We need to love each other as Jesus loves us: "...he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant...he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death--even death on a cross!" (Phil. 2:6-8 NIV; see also John 13:34).  

3.    We need to take lessons from that cluster of tiny spiders in Victoria Australia...We must stop worrying only about ourselves and instead, we need to start supporting our fellow brothers and sisters. (See 1 Thes. 5:11; Heb. 10:24-25, etc.).

4.    Most importantly, let's look to Jesus' example: "I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you." (John 13:15 NIV). He spent His time on Earth giving to others. He healed the sick, fed the hungry, comforted the broken-hearted and brought hope to a hopeless generation. He even took the role of the servant and washed His disciples' feet (See John 13:5-17); and perhaps the most vivid portrayal of His love and selflessness is the cross itself (See Phil. 2:6-8). 

Interestingly, when I stood under that canopy of webs, I didn't even get squeamish. How could I have been afraid when they had so much to teach us about unity in the church?

Prayer: Father God, may we utilize that power for unity that you have already given each believer. May we follow Jesus' example and humble ourselves, putting aside our own ambitions, our apathy, our complacency, so that we may love one another as Jesus loves us, that we may support each other in every way. May we desire unity as much as You do! In the precious name of Jesus, Amen!

In His love,
Lyn

Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author -- "Aboard God's Train -- A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer", Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart. 
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If you feel compelled, let us know by sending us an email. 
 
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Post  Admin on Wed 11 Sep 2019, 12:35 pm

Welcome to the Nugget

September 10, 2019

Waiting in the Wings
 

By Answers2PrayerSubscribeUnsubscribeDevotionalsContact us    I've never been an early riser, but over the past few summer months I've been waking up with the birds. Mostly crows and magpies, their vocal chords are in my opinion not blessed by God with tranquil song. Their abrasive rise and shine squawking begins at the crack of dawn and helps facilitate my personal sleep deprivation. So conceding defeat, I habitually grab my slippers and head to my favourite appliance, the coffee pot. From there I open my patio door and let the morning breeze slip in through the top to bottom screen. But more often than I care to admit, what also slips into my mornings is the tendency to allow my mind to wander down the path of disquieting uneasiness.

I'm not talking about miniscule things like, "did I put the toilet seat down?" I'm talking about big ticket items like, "the physical and spiritual health of my family", "where will I find a job I'm qualified for", or more succinctly, "why do I worry in the first place if I've placed my faith and trust in Jesus Christ?" Let's face it; we humans are worrywarts even when the bible says, "Don't worry about anything; instead pray about everything." (Philippians 4:6 NLT).
 
As I sipped my 6am coffee a few days ago and stared anxiously into the backyard, a pair of blue jays landed in the neighbor's tree and promptly announced their presence with a distinctive jeer. It was then I almost spilled my coffee because it's rare to see them in our neighborhood. Blue jays are one of my favorite birds, and their unexpected arrival instantly shifted my daybreak angst to a spirit of placid joy, and yes, peace.

Since I've always loved birds, I'll go out on a limb here, no pun intended! I believe God reassured me that morning that I need not fear; that when I bring my prayers and petitions to Him, the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard my heart and my mind in Christ Jesus. Through God's still small voice, my blue feathered friends accomplished just that.

Watching them was a beautiful reminder that my life and circumstances are in very good hands; God's hands. "Look at the birds," Jesus says. "They don't plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly father feeds them." (Matthew 6:26 NLT). The verse goes on to tell me that I'm far more valuable to Him than the birds are. I don't know about you, but I find that way cool!

When I shared my Jay moment with a friend, she replied with these words, "Keep looking to those blue jays. They are God's little encouragement to you that he hasn't forgotten, and He never will." Her response affirmed what my heart already knew. That when I foolishly pick back up the worries I've already placed at the foot of the cross, God assures me, "Yes, the Lord is for me; he will help me." (Psalm 118:7 NLT).

Will there still be mornings when I'm up early and my thoughts are riddled with future concerns? That is most assuredly a given. But as I wait for God to unravel the fears in my life and weave them into something beautiful according to His plan and purpose, I'll keep watch for those divinely orchestrated things that remind me I'm not alone. And if you my friend put your faith in the right place, namely Jesus, I hope you're getting more sleep than me!

Sometimes we have to sit quietly in the wings and wait for God to work his magic before allowing us back on life's stage. And thankfully it's during those desert moments that He promises to never leave us, nor forsake us. So the next time you wake up early and anxiety creeps in, remember if the birds aren't worried about tomorrow, then as children of the living God, why should we?

Now where did I put my binoculars?

Paul Smyth 
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Post  Admin on Sat 07 Sep 2019, 11:01 pm

Welcome to the Nugget

September 7, 2019

Animals...ALL Around, Part 3: Too--Commonplace? Camouflaged? Masked by disappointment?
 

By Answers2PrayerSubscribeUnsubscribeDevotionalsContact us    In the previous two parts of this mini-series, we learned that God's blessings and the fullfillments of His promises abound around us at all times. The problem is that we don't always recognize them. Some of the reasons may be because we are rushing through life; because we are expecting things in 'our' timeline instead of God's; or because we are distracted by our busyness or the problems that surround us. But what if we have put aside our busyness and our distractions, and it still seems that our prayers are bouncing off the ceiling?

I was sitting quietly on a bench one day, watching for birds. The only ones that seemed to abound, however, were the Australian magpies. I dismissed them as far too commonplace. It's too bad, for if I hadn't written them off, I might have been blessed by their warbley song and by the intelligent manner in which they flit about doing tricks and being clowns...

God's blessings may seem mundane as well. You may be grieving the loss of a beloved spouse, for example, and all you want is a hug. Your purring cat jumps on your lap and begins to lick your hand; but you push her away. Wait. Maybe it isn't the physical hug you were wishing for, but is the comfort your cat is trying to give any less of a blessing? Is it any less of a sign that God loves you and sends you comfort in any way possible?

That same day when I chose to ignore the magpies, I was sitting quietly and watching intently; yet other than the magpies, all I could hear was the ruckus of a bunch of crows. I was pretty discouraged. Where were all the beautiful, exotic Australian birds? After a while, it occurred to me that I was so focused on my discouragement that I had stopped looking for birds. I began to concentrate on the sounds around me, and gradually I began to notice that the "crow" calls were actually not coming from crows at all. Rather, they were coming from a flock of...cockatoos! But wait...I didn't see any white spots in the tree the noises were coming from. Instead, the "bumps" littering the branches were—black! Then I began noticing the white tails and cheek patches on those "bumps". My "bunch of crows" was actually a rare flock of Carnaby's Black Cockatoos!

In the same way that I was so focused on the disappointment that I almost missed the flock of cockatoos, when we focus only on the negative, we risk missing the potential blessings God has for us. Paul tells us to, "...give thanks in all circumstances..." (1 Thess. 5:18a NIV), because when our minds are occupied with thanksgiving, our hearts will be open to seeing His blessings. Remember that: "...whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." (Phil. 4:8 NIV).

There was one more lesson that our non-productive animal hunt in Australia had to teach us about recognizing God's blessings. We were on the Sea Acres Rainforest Boardwalk near Port Macquarie, NSW, Australia. I was walking quietly and watching all around, but 1/3 of the way into the walk, I still hadn't seen my first wild creature. We came upon a family then. The kids were excitedly calling out something about seeing a lizard, and their dad was bent over the rail pointing towards the forest floor. We searched the ground carefully where he was pointing, and to our surprise, there was a huge lizard, about 1 metre (3 feet) in length and at least 40 cm wide. We didn't see him because he was well camouflaged onto the forest floor, and we didn't have the experience in knowing how to find lizards in their natural habitats!

In a similar way, we were involved in a non-productive search for Koalas one day when we came across an arrow on the trail that someone had fashioned in sticks. When we looked in the direction the arrow was pointing, sure enough, there was a koala high up in a gum tree.

These two experiences illustrate another vitally-important clue for learning to recognize God's blessings. We may not have the experience to know how to find them in our lives. Sometimes we need to rely on others to point them out to us. As we accept their assessment of the situations and praise God for His hand of comfort and strength, we can then pass that comfort on to other people: "who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God." (2 Cor. 1:4 NIV)

Friends, just like the animals and birds did abound in Australia, God's blessings and the fulfillment of His promises abound in our lives as well. Our job is to focus on the positive, to praise Him in our troubles, to learn from others, and to understand that God can use anything that catches our attention to pour out His blessings upon us.

Why not take some time today to identify a few of God's blessings, and then stop to give Him praise? I believe you will find that your own problems will begin to diminish in the face of the love of God poured out continually all around you.

In His love,
Lyn


Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author -- "Aboard God's Train -- A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer", Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart. 
Announcement:
This is the final part of the "Animals...ALL Around!" mini-series. If you have missed any parts of this series, you can access the entire series by clicking here. if you do not have access to the internet, email me and I will be happy to send you any parts you have missed. God bless you as you learn to identify God's abundant blessings in your life today!
 
©Copyright 2011 Answers2Prayer | Matt 10:8 "Freely you have received, freely give."
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Post  Admin on Thu 05 Sep 2019, 8:45 pm

Welcome to the Nugget

September 5, 2019

Animals...ALL Around, Part 2: Masked by Distraction...
 

By Answers2PrayerSubscribeUnsubscribeDevotionalsContact us    Last Tuesday, in "Animals...All Around, Part 1", we saw that just because we don't always recognize God's blessings doesn't mean they aren't there. We also saw that sometimes we don't recognize God's blessings because we are too busy to stop and watch for them. Are there other reasons we don't see the fulfillment of God's promises in our situations?

While touring in Australia, I told myself that I was watching for animal life 24/7. In reality, however, while driving I was watching the road and trying to remember to drive on the left. When out hiking, I was often swatting flies or watching where I put my feet. Take, for example, the day I decided to take a walk through the park while my husband visited the ANZAC museum in Albany, Western Australia. I was doing the right thing, right? I was taking the time to stop the mad scramble and search for birds. Unfortunately for me, only a few paces into my walk, "nature" began to "call", and I had to switch the focus of my search from birds to toilets! Needless to say, I heard birds calling out as I rushed to find that all-important place, but I didn't stop to look for them. Could it be that one of the reasons I didn't see more animals was because I was, in general, too...distracted?

In the same way, so often we don't see God's abundant blessings because we are too distracted by other things: Problems, illness--even just the busyness of life--can all blind our senses to the touch of our God. It doesn't mean He isn't there, it simply means we don't see Him. We need to stay focused on seeking the blessings God pours out on us, even--and perhaps especially--when emergencies arise!

Here are a couple of examples:

1. You are feeling so overcome with fear that when an encouraging email arrives, you don't even open it. Or if you do, you don't even realize that the encouraging words are actually God speaking into your situation.

2. You may be feeling discouraged and depressed, like the "sun" of prosperity and happiness will never shine again. You pass someone who attempts to make eye contact with you to give you a cheery smile. You don't even notice. What you don't realize is that this particular person's smile was the ray of sunshine you had been hoping for. He was sent to you by God to give you hope, but you were too distracted to even see him.

Another reason we were never able to see certain Australian animals in the wild was that many are nocturnal, and the ones that were not nocturnal tended to be "crepuscular" (in order to escape the heat of the day, they usually don't come out of the cooler forests except in the early mornings and late evenings). We, on the other hand, were forced to be "diurnal" (opposite of nocturnal)! Because of the problem with animals on the roads at night, we were actually not allowed to drive our rental car anywhere except in town between dusk and dawn. As a result, we could not be in the animals' habitats at the times when we would have been able to see them.

In the same way, we may be expecting God's blessings to pour out on our own timetable. What we don't realize is that God's timing is always right, even when it differs from our own. Take, for example, the sale of a home. God prompts you to move to another town. You put your house on the market, but it doesn't sell right away. Why isn't He blessing your obedience with a quick sale? Is it, perhaps, because the timing isn't right? Maybe the home you need to purchase in the new town isn't available to you yet, or there may be some other reason for the delay. The point is, God will bless you with the sale of your home. It may not, however, be in your timing. Just like we needed to be in the forest at the right times to see certain of the Australian creatures, we need to recognize that God's blessings will come at just the right time.

God's blessings abound; however, in order to recognize and receive them, we must await God's timing, and we need to stay focused and not allow our circumstances to distract us.

There were times, however, in Australia, that I was wholeheartedly looking for diurnal animals in the daytime. I was in their habitat and I was taking my time and staying completely focused on the search, yet I still didn't find any. Are there times in our lives that we are seeking God's blessings in His time, times when we are attentively pushing aside our distractions and taking the time to watch and wait, but those blessings still seem to elude us? Join us on Saturday for "Animals...ALL Around, Part 3"!

In His love,
Lyn

Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author -- "Aboard God's Train -- A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer", Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart. 
Announcement:
Join us on Saturday for some ideas in "Animals...ALL Around, Part 3: Too--Commonplace? Camouflaged? Masked by Disappointment?"
 
©Copyright 2011 Answers2Prayer | Matt 10:8 "Freely you have received, freely give."
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Post  Admin on Sat 03 Aug 2019, 11:47 pm

Welcome to the Nugget

August 3, 2019

What a Friend, Part 3
 

By Answers2Prayer Subscribe Unsubscribe Devotionals Contact us     In the concluding part of our series on "Friendship"; today we focus on the final two dimensions of Friendship...


Comfort...

For a moment, let's remain in the realm of inter-personal relationships within the Church. Jesus, our greatest everlasting friend, "...comforts us in all our affliction..." (2 Cor 1:4a ESV), then should we not do the same in our earthly relationships with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ? Of course: "...so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God." (2 Cor. 1:4b ESV) 

A true friend is one who will love us at all times (See Prov. 17:17), and especially by comforting us during adverse times. Now, who do you think would go out and search for David the fugitive to comfort and encourage him whilst he was fleeing from the murderous and envious King Saul? You guessed it, it was Jonathan (See 1 Sam 23:16-18)!

The same could also be said about a certain man named Onesiphorus. If you're having a hard time recalling who he is, don't worry about it. He may not be as well-known as, say, Paul, or Peter, but his actions deserve to be noted here! The Apostle Paul himself issues a "friendship certificate", so to speak, to this resident of Ephesus. According to scripture:

"As you know, all the Christians who came here from Asia have deserted me; even Phygellus and Hermogenes are gone. May the Lord bless Onesiphorus and all his family because he visited me and encouraged me often. His visits revived me like a breath of fresh air, and he was never ashamed of my being in jail. In fact, when he came to Rome, he searched everywhere trying to find me, and finally did. May the Lord give him a special blessing at the day of Christ's return. And you know better than I can tell you how much he helped me at Ephesus." (2 Tim 1:15-18 TLB)

On the subject of comfort, on the flipside are the so-called "friends" of Job. It has been said that with the kind of friends Job had, he did not need any more enemies (although they did eventually repent for their misdeeds, and thus, that is a different matter altogether. See Job 42:7-10). Rather than comforting Job in the midst of his severe troubles, there they were attributing Job's woes to his "secret sins" (See Job 11:14-15), virtually rubbing salt into his wounds. No wonder Job called them "miserable comforters" (Job 16:2 TLB)!

Time for an introspective; do we belong in Jonathan's calibre of friendship, or should we end up in Job's "friends" category?


Confide...

There should be no secrets hidden between friends. Do you have any pressing problems in which certain details must not be revealed to anyone of this World? Then look to what Joseph Scriven, the writer of "What a Friend we Have in Jesus", did and bring it in prayer before your most trustworthy friend, Jesus.

Conversely, does God hide His plans from His friends? Of course, He doesn't!

"Friendship with God is reserved for those who reverence Him," declares the Psalmist. He goes on to add, "With them alone he shares the secrets of his promises." (Psalm 25:14-TLB ).

Our Heavenly Father would not hide His plans from His friend Abraham (Gen 18:17/2 Chro 20:7/James 2:23), nor would Christ, who elevated His disciples from the position of mere servants to that of His friends: "No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you." (John 15:15 ESV).

On the meaning of our friendship with the Lord, St. Augustine of Hippo wisely declared that "The Bible was composed in such a way that as beginners mature, its meaning grows with them." As our Friendship with our Lord grows deeper and deeper more and more treasures within it become accessible to us, making us fall even more in love with the Almighty One (Dan 2:22)!

Oh, what a friend we have in Jesus! Besides just comforting us at all times, He also confides in us his Heavenly matters--even as we grow in Him! Hallelujah!

Prayer: Lord Jesus, we are eternally grateful for treating us as Your friends and confiding many spiritual secrets with us. May we always be grateful to Thee who loved us first, even while we were Your enemies. We glorify Thee out of love borne out of gratitude. Amen

Suresh Manoharan
An unworthy servant
J and SM Ministries  
Announcement:
This is the final part of the "What a Friend" mini-series. If you have missed any of the previous parts, you may access them online by clicking here. Otherwise, email me and I will be happy to forward them to you.

In His love,
Lyn Chaffart, Moderator, The Nugget, Scriptural Nuggets (www.scripturalnuggets.org ), with Answers2Prayer ministries (www.answers2prayer.org ).
 
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Post  Admin on Thu 01 Aug 2019, 6:00 pm

Welcome to the Nugget
August 1, 2019

What a Friend! Part 2
 
By Answers2Prayer Subscribe Unsubscribe Devotionals Contact us   
 
In the second and the penultimate part of our series on the Biblical perspective of "friendship" today we focus on 2 more aspects of Friendship...

Covenant...

JPrince Jonathan entered into a covenantal relationship with the lowly Shepherd boy named David by symbolically donating his robe and armour (See 1 Sam 18:1-4). In the same way, our Lord does the same thing when we receive Him as "Lord of our lives" (Rom 10:8-10 ) by entering into a covenantal relationship with us through a "donation" of His Holy Spirit, which He then deposits into our hearts ("and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee." 2 Cor 1:22; See also Eph 1:13-14).
 
It is by this marvellous arrangement that we see the regeneration of a christian, and that the Lord provides the christian the essential resources to fulfil the terms of their eternal covenant. And what is this eternal covenant? Simply put, is all about living as per His will at all times: "So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." (1 Cor 10:31 ESV).

While covering this subject, it would serve us well to understand the meaning of the word "covenant" and clearly distinguish it from the very similar term "contract". Though these are thought by many to be synonyms, this could not be any further from the truth. While both words have conditions to be fulfilled between those who are tied to it, the word "contract" is usually used to typify an agreement between two parties of the same stature (e.g.: a building contract between the landowner and a building contractor). On the other hand, "covenant" signifies a binding agreement between two unequal parties, one of whom is surely greater than the other. While in the Biblical context, the agreements between that of a prince and a shepherd fits this definition. So does a marriage or a will left behind by a father. I think it would be safe to say that the relationship between a Saviour and a sinner also perfectly matches the definition of a cove nant in the earthly realm.

Digging a little deeper into the covenant between Prince Jonathan and the shephard boy, David, we can observe that while Jonathan would frequently keep his promises even by putting his own life in danger at times (See 1 Sam 20:1-34), David would fulfill his vows as well at the proper time by adopting Jonathan's son named Mephibosheth as his own and granting him all the privileges that went along with it (See 2 Sam 9). By the same token in our Saviour-Sinner covenant. Our eternal Saviour-Friend-Christ has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." (Heb. 13:5b). we at no point of time, ought to turn our backs to Him ("but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul ha s no pleasure in him.But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls." Heb 10:39 ESV).


Charity...

In response to the Saviour's act of genuine friendship, it would serve us well to examine our own relationship with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ--especially those who are new to faith. Our friendship should be marked by absolute humility (the ingredients of genuine love -- See 1 Cor 13:4-5), and even a lack of envy if by chance they were to, say, surpass us in our spiritual growth.

I believe that the Jonathan-David relationship can be easily compared to that of our Lord Jesus Christ and his "senior" in both age and ministry, John the Baptist. With the advent of David and Jonathan's ever-growing bond, morale amongst the masses may have possibly dipped as a result. Beforehand, Jonathan would single-handedly slaughter his enemies one by one (1 Sam 14:1-15); but now, he would instead stick with David through the thick and thin of battle and would even put his own life on the line for him (1 Sam 20:1-34).

Similarly, John the Baptist, though older and with more ministry experience, would wisely observe that Christ must become greater than himself: "The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom's voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. He must increase, but I must decrease." (John 3:29-30).

In stark contrast to this exemplary friendship stands the eyesore of a relationship that David had with the fiendish Saul, Jonothon's senior. Actually, this type of negative connection can also be seen between the senior Jewish religious leaders and Christ!

It seems like history likes to repeat itself! Coincidence? I don't think so!

Sometimes we see cases of the Cain vs Abel relationship being replayed throughout history. A good example would be the Pope vs. Martin Luther; with the senior one exuding envy and rage. Thankfully, however, we also see cases of Jonathan and David being replayed inside the Church; those of quiet, yet admirable grace. In the Indian context, the Bakth Singh graciously mentoring the younger, albeit rapidly maturing Church members whom he is mentoring.

When it comes to the newer, more popular Christians who are receiving more attention and fame than us older ones, are you acting like a "fiend" towards them? Or like a "friend"? Take some time to carefully reflect upon yourself.

Prayer: Father, grant us grace to always behave graciously with younger Christians who may be more talented than us. In all our interactions, may your Name be always glorified. In Jesus' Name. Amen.

Suresh Manoharan
An unworthy servant
J and SM Ministries
 
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Post  Admin on Tue 30 Jul 2019, 9:54 pm

Welcome to the Nugget

July 30, 2019

What a Friend, Part 1
 

By Answers2Prayer Subscribe Unsubscribe Devotionals Contact us     With regards to the state of the world in recent times, and how governments across the planet are being driven further and further towards globalization, an image of a complex and intricate spider web begins to slowly take form in my mind. Even the slightest touch or ripple can cause the entire structure of the web to vibrate in due course. This analogy certainly held true back in July of 1958, when the small country of Paraguay pioneered the first ever "Friendship Day", which would later be fully recognized by the United Nations. On April 27th, 2011, the UN officially declared that "World Friendship Day" would be held on every July 30th. The UN even declared that the new celebration would have its own mascot: the adorable and largely iconic Winnie the Pooh! In India, we celebrate World Friendship Day on every first Sunday of August.

However, long before the world ever thought of celebrating friendship, the immortal song "What a friend, we have in Jesus", which was written by a faithful Christian named Joseph Scriven, was released nearly a century beforehand (specifically in 1856.) While during his own personal tragedies, and under the guise of that memorable song, he let his sentiments flow out from deep within his heart and thus, had experienced the Lord’s almighty embrace (See 2 Cor. 1:3-4).


What makes the Saviour our unique friend? Well, at a time where the world celebrates World Friendship day, yours truly will bring to you a three part series that will show the unique traits of friendship with Christ the Redeemer and the responsibility that comes our way by being the beneficiaries of it.


Conquer…

Let it be said that it takes a great act of selfless love to win over the heart of a person. Our Lord’s friendship credentials of sacrificial love is best captured in this Scripture portion which states:

"For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son." (Rom 5:10)

We have all heard and seen tales of legendary heroes who are born, or chosen to defeat great evil. For example, Indian Scriptures are overflowing with tales of avatars being chosen by deities for the sole purpose of destroying malevolent forces. But on the other hand, we have the sinless, eternal and almighty God donning flesh and blood specifically to die for His enemies who wouldn’t hesitate to crucify Him themselves! How’s that for a role reversal?

When hearing about these deeds and sacrifices, people would naturally wish to seek friendship with such a compassionate and loving individual, who would go to any extent for ensuring the welfare of others. I am no exception to this either. On October 16th, 1983 as the nuances of the Gospel were being explained to me, I sought and sealed my own "Friendship pact" with the one who was willing to stoop to such low levels (See Phil. 2:4-11) in order to conquer my heart.

Prayer: Lod Jesus, I can never adequately thank Thee for delivering me from my hapless state of sin. Let me always display gratitude for loving me first at a time, I was your enemy. I magnify Thee for the display of Your everlasting love. Amen

Suresh Manoharan
An unworthy servant
J and SM Ministries  
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Post  Admin on Tue 16 Jul 2019, 4:07 pm

Welcome to the Nugget


July 16, 2019


The Appalachian Trail


By Answers2Prayer Subscribe Unsubscribe Devotionals Contact us  Guide to the Appalachian Trail


I settled in the back seat of an Uber car the other day, folded my white cane, and stuffed it in my bag. As I usually do, I began a conversation with the driver. As expected, we became friends. That's because I ask questions that prompt them to share and keep sharing about their lives.


This last driver told me about his brother who wrote the guide for the Appalachian Hike. I learned this adventure can take from 5 months to 10 years to complete. Gulp. But with the help of the guide, the hike is doable. In it, he details all the challenges, the best gear to bring, places to avoid, potential dangers, list of easier routes, best places to eat, how to find laundromats, lodging, etc.


Whew! Sounds like more than I can handle...




The long hike called life


But whether we like it or not, we're all, indeed, on a long hike called life. And the path is often filled with challenges, unexpected turns and obstacles. The good news is that much like the guide for the Appalachian trail hike, God wrote the guide for us to follow and reach the destination called peace.


Not sure where you are on that hike? Or maybe peace is a foreign word in the midst of this world's chaos? Good news; the guide to finding that peace is free, available and in the language any hiker can understand.




Let's conquer obstacles


With that guide in our hearts, we're ready to conquer obstacles of any kind.


We need a companion. We need encouragement. We need a comforting word. And we desperately need someone to tell us that all will be okay. That's why God's peace comes through this truth: "For he will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted that have no one to help. He will take pity on the weak and the needy and save the needy from death." (Psalm 72:12-13 NIV)


Oh, those difficult and unexpected turns of heartache that barge in. Most are out of our control. Some crash in because of other's sins. Yet, God knows the oppression against our soul, and right when we cry out for help, "He will rescue them from oppression and violence, for precious is their blood in his sight. The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble." (Psalm 72:14 NIV).


Fear visits. We fear we won't make it to the finish line. When we grumble about the sorry turn of events and the unfairness, when we long for His presence, peace fills us because, "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging." (Psalm 46:1-3 NIV)


Gloom hovers over. When no one understands. When most cannot help, peace conquers sadness. "You are sad, I'm listening, and I will save you from your troubles." (Psalm 34:6 NIV)


Helplessness invades. But God offers His peace through this invitation: "When clouds of grief try to overtake you, ask Me for consolation and relief. Cry out to Me in your times of trouble, and I will save you from your distress." (paraphrased from Psalm 107:19).


Frustration won't let up. When we walk in circles around the same mountain of adversity, tears blur our vision; the path looks crooked and rough. That's when His guide instructs: "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight." (Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV)


Better days are coming, hang on to the guide; the One who wrote it is with you. He never abandons or leaves you. And with Him by your side, there is no fear. There's only strength for each step. Reassurance for every turn. And He ushers the peace that carries power.


Let's pray: Father, how often, with a restless heart, I've embarked on the hike with my own plans and my own map in hand. Forgive my prideful ways and grant me a heart of humility. Show me how to follow your steps, to allow your guide to lead me. And find peace as I learn to walk on the path you prepared for me. In Jesus' name.


What guide are you using for your hike today?


Janet Eckles


If this message resonated with you, please visit Janet's cyberspace home for more inspiration. 
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Post  Admin on Sun 14 Jul 2019, 1:17 am

Welcome to the Nugget

July 13, 2019

Of Thermometer and Thermostat Believers, Part 3
 

By Answers2Prayer Subscribe Unsubscribe Devotionals Contact us     In the concluding part of our introspective series of examining whether we belong to the "Thermometer" or the "Thermostat" category of believers, today let's focus on yet another "Thermostatic" Saint...


Cell...

Let's dive headfirst into the Scriptures...

"I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear." (Phil 1:12-14 ESV)

Hey! The Apostle Paul, far from being discouraged at his confinement to a restrictive Roman "cell" (actually house arrest), was a true "thermostat". In addition to "regulating the temperature" (read preached the Gospel with boldness) of fellow Christians outside of his "cell", he also introduced the heart-warming Gospel to the Roman Soldiers who were guarding him (See Acts 28:16).

Speaking of Roman soldiers (on duty on shift basis) who were always in the vicinity of that great Apostle, it is often asked "who was a prisoner to whom?" Was the Apostle Paul a prisoner to the Roman soldier? Or the other way around? The ever present bubbling infectious joy (the words "joy" and "rejoice" are used not less than 11 times in the Epistle to Philippians) in the Apostle, along with the power of the Gospel in his words, were having their needed impact on the Roman soldiers, as the above-captioned Scripture portion testifies.

Say Reader, are you sharing the Gospel with your fellow plane, train or bus "prisoners"? (Opps! Sorry! I mean "passengers"! Remember that for a few hours, those who are seated beside you cannot "escape" from you!) After establishing a common point of contact, say sports or politics (see 1 Cor. 9:20-23), are you filling their ears with the contageous joy of the Gospel?

Did the Apostle Paul's "thermostat" role in the "heat of his fiery trials" remain confined to only fellow Roman Christians outside his jail and the Roman soldiers inside it? Not at all! Boy, it spanned hundreds of miles. From Rome, courtesy his imprisonment (Rom 8:28) he would dictate Epistles (to scribes such as Tertius - See Rom 16:22), which in turn "regulated" the spiritual temperature for the good of Churches in Ephesus, Philippi, Colossae, and even in the life of an individual named Philemo n. Thanks to his imprisonment, we now have access to the "rich spiritual treasures" contained in these four Epistles.

In conclusion what I would like to say is the God-honoring lives of His Saints like that of the awesome threesome in Babylon, of devout Daniel and of pious Paul would play "thermostat" transcending even time and space. Boy, I for one, had the cockles of my heart "warmed-up" writing about them...thousands of years after their inspirational acts. Say Hallelujah, if reading about them produced a similar effect in you!!!

Prayer: Father, we praise and thank Thee for the wondrous heroes of faith who have preceded us in History. Their lives inspire us even today. Enable us to always walk in the straight and narrow of pleasing, while always influencing the World for the better. Help us to be "thermostat" believers instead of "thermometer" believers! In Jesus' Name. Amen

Suresh Manoharan
An unworthy servant
J and SM Ministries 
Announcement:
This is the last part of the "Of Thermometer and Thermostat Believers" mini-series. If you have missed either of the two previous parts, you may access them online by clicking here. If you do not have access to the internet, please email me and I will be happy to forward them to you.
 
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Post  Admin on Thu 11 Jul 2019, 7:08 pm

Welcome to the Nugget

July 11, 2019

Of Thermometer and Thermostat Believers, Part 2
 

By Answers2Prayer Subscribe Unsubscribe Devotionals Contact us     In our introspective series of examining whether we belong to the "Thermometer" or the "Thermostat" category of believers, today, in the penultimate part of the series, let's focus on yet another "Thermostatic" saint...

Fast forward by another 46 years (539 BC) from the time of the heroics of Shadrach, Mesach and Abednego (585 BC), and what do we see in Daniel Chapter 6? Yet another Royal decree goes throughout the Medo-Persian Empire, only this time the empire was much bigger than the one in Babylon. The book of Esther tells us that the empire covered 5.5 million square kilometers (See Esther 1:1)!

The proclamation this time? "Peace be multiplied to you.  I make a decree, that in all my royal dominion people are to tremble and fear before the God of Daniel, for he is the living God, enduring forever; his kingdom shall never be destroyed, and his dominion shall be to the end. He delivers and rescues; he works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth, he who has saved Daniel from the power of the lions." (Daniel 6:26 ESV).

Now what was the reason for this Royal Decree?  Now it was on account of Daniel, who in the midst of "fiery trying circumstances", preferred to play a "thermostat" rather than a "thermometer". Rather than being cowed down by the King's orders, given at the behest of Da niel's enemies: "whoever makes petition to any god or man for thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions..." (Daniel 6:7b ESV), Daniel, as was his wont, preferred to petition the "King of Kings" three times daily (see Daniel 6:10). The eventual result of it all was not only that God's saving power was amply demonstrated, but also His Name, which had been tarnished courtesy of the Jewish exile in 586 BC, was magnified throughout the world over once again.

And Daniel's enemies? Poor guys, the same ones who had hoped that Daniel would serve as a sumptuous dinner to the famished lions, ended up instead as a delicious breakfast to them! A lesson within a lesson here for us, folks! Never fiddle with God's people (read fellow christians- especially the anointed ones...see Zech. 2:8)!

Hmmmm...Where were Shadrach, Mesach and Abednego at this time of Daniel's "fiery trial"? Jewish Biblical Scholars speculate that they could have used their influence over the erstwhile King Nebuchadnezzar during the Babylonian's reign itself and got their "postings" in the Land of Israel before 539 BC. As such they, may not have been in the "radar" of Chapter 6 of the Book of Daniel...

Prayer: Father, enable us to overcome the worldly pleasures that come our way to conform us into the World's image. Strengthen us always to walk in the straight and narrow path of pleasing Thee even whilst impacting the World for the better. In Jesus' Name. Amen

Suresh Manoharan
An unworthy servant
J and SM Ministries 
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Can christians influence those around them, rather than being influenced by the world? Please join us on Saturday for the final part of Thermometer and Thermostat Believers to learn from another powerful Biblical example...
 
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Post  Admin on Thu 04 Jul 2019, 9:01 pm

Welcome to the Nugget

July 4, 2019

God's Citizenship

By Answers2Prayer Subscribe Unsubscribe Devotionals Contact us     Poor doggie, July 4th is a torture for him. My friend's puppy had to be protected from the noisy fireworks that blasted his furry ears.

For him they were a nightmare, for me the sound of July 4th fireworks reminds me of a dream come true.

A few decades ago my parents chose to make the U.S. our home. Soon after, we received our residency papers and five years later, the big day arrived. We entered a large court room. The red, white and blue of the American flag covered the front wall.

"Raise your right hand," the immigration official instructed me and my family. And with gratitude bursting in us, we pledged our allegiance to the United States. At the same time, we renounced our allegiance to our native country of Bolivia.

Oh, how I wish I had made that same pledge giving my allegiance to God's plans and His will. I didn't. Instead, I vowed to follow my own.

And, with misdirected passion, I crafted the blueprint for my life--get married, have healthy beautiful children, enjoy financial security, serve God and watch our grandchildren grow up around us with love overflowing.

That was the path to happiness I envisioned, and the plans I designed. But God had a different path. His didn't match my own. And that's when the battle began. I clung to my plans and resisted His.

Have you done that? You formed simple expectations, nothing extravagant, nothing complicated. And when least expected, your world turns upside down with disappointment dragging with it unwanted heartache.

The reason is our plans have great intentions, but flawed expectations. They hold a specific image of what life should be but lack the foresight of what life often brings.

There's good news.

Sweet freedom begins when we let God's will rule, when we allow His will to dictate our moments, order our days and design our future.

To accomplish that, He invites us to step in the courtroom of His love. Raising our right hand, we pledge to renounce those unrealistic dreams, those flawed plans. And turn our allegiance to His plans instead.

And should nights turn lonely and the black of sadness close in, those plans of His speak tranquil reassurance to our soul.

Jesus gave us the secret to that tranquility. He came to His knees with similar sorrow and, in the midst of pain, He said: "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done" (Luke 22:42).

He relinquished to God's Will. He gave up His own. He stepped away from His desires and invited God's instead.

What were the results?

He suffered still, but victory came. He was crucified, but glory followed. He took His last breath, but when he came back alive, He breathed in us life eternal.

Today in the midst of all the ugliness of life, we do the same. We declare, "Not my will, but yours, Lord." And His will takes over. Makes the way. Opens doors. Erases fear. Heals the wounds. Pours grace and makes the impossible possible.

What will it take for you to surrender and pledge your allegiance to God's divine will?

Janet Eckles

If this message resonated with you, please visit Janet's cyberspace home for more inspiration. 
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Post  Admin on Sat 29 Jun 2019, 10:13 pm

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June 29, 2019

Tremble...In the Presence of the Lord!

Lessons From the Psalms, Part 10: Psalm 114
 

By Answers2Prayer Subscribe Unsubscribe Devotionals Contact us     In response to recent requests from subscribers, the Nugget will be featuring a devotional based on the book of Psalms once a month. We pray you will be blessed by this focus on the one book of the Bible that Jesus quoted the most.

Last month we saw that in ancient Judaism, the book of Psalms were divided into five books and were known as the "five books of David". Today's interesting fact is that ancient Judaism saw these five books corresponding and contrasting with the "five books of Moses". They saw the image of the five books of the law in the five books of the Psalms, and it is recorded that they regarded it as a second Pentateuch, an echo of the first...

Today's lesson from the Psalms focuses on Psalm 114. It is actually not known who authored this song. Though it is often accredited to David, some say it was penned after the division of the kingdom into Israel of the North and Judah of the South. Whether we know the author or not, this Psalm builds us up in the depths of our despair. Consider these first few verses:

"When the Israelites escaped from Egypt--
   when the family of Jacob left that foreign land--
the land of Judah became God's sanctuary,
   and Israel became his kingdom.
The Red Sea saw them coming and hurried out of their way!
   The water of the Jordan River turned away.
The mountains skipped like rams,
   the hills like lambs!" (Psalm 114:1-4 NLT)

This Psalm begins by reminding its listeners of God's almighty power and might by directing our attention to a monumental event in history: Israel's deliverance from Egypt and their conquest of Canaan. If God's miraculous power could accomplish all of this, is there anything He cannot do?

Most of us right now are in the midst of some kind of a bad situation. It seems the troubles are folding in on all sides, and it is tempting to say, "Where's God?" The best thing we can do in the midst of these circumstances is to remember the works of the Lord in the past.

Now no one alive actually was in that party that crossed the Red Sea and the Jordan River on dry ground; however every one of us has experienced God in a miraculous way. Maybe He got you into an education program or helped you pass a test. Maybe He arrived just in time to pull your tractor out of the ditch. Maybe He provided a good job. A warm house. A loving family. All you have to do is prayerfully think about it, and you will find multiple examples of God's power in your life.

I would suggest that you then use the format of Psalm 114 and personalize your prayer. Here is one I could easily pray about the time that in my ignorance about Canadian Immigration, I took a job in Canada, put my belongings on a moving truck and sent it to Canada, all before I had my immigration papers signed...

"When we immigrated to Canada--
   when my family left the land of our birth--
Canadian Immigration saw us coming and hurried out of their way!
   The process that should have taken 9 months took 1 hour..."

If we want our faith to truly be supercharged about whatever situation we find ourselves in at the moment, Psalm 114 urges us to then reflect upon the miracles:

"What's wrong, Red Sea, that made you hurry out of their way?
   What happened, Jordan River, that you turned away?
Why, mountains, did you skip like rams?
   Why, hills, like lambs?" (Psalm 114:5-6 NLT)

Why not spend some time reflecting on the miraculous nature of God's goodness to us in the past? Again, it is helpful to personalize this. My personal song might continue something like this:

"What's wrong, Canadian Immigration,
   that made you hurry out of our way?
What happened, Embassy,
   that made you approve our applications immediately
   instead of making us wait the prescribed 9 months?"

After reflecting on the miracles, Psalm 114 goes on to glorify the power of the almighty God, our God, the One Who loves us enough to die for us, the One who did everything to make a way. It reminds us that nothing can stand before the presence of the Lord:

"Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord,
   at the presence of the God of Jacob.
He turned the rock into a pool of water;
   yes, a spring of water flowed from solid rock." (Psalm 114:7-8 NLT)

Friends, whatever it is you are going through, it cannot stand in the presence of the Lord without trembling! Remember: "What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?" (Romans 8:31 NLT)

Take whatever it is that is before you now, and pray it into these final two verses:

"Tremble, O death of a spouse, O sale of a home, O (insert your current problem here) 
   in the presence of the Lord, At the presence of the MY God.
He allowed us to begin the jobs we had waiting for us in Canada right away,
   And this illness, this (insert your current problem here) is nothing in His presence either!

Feeling weary, filled with doubt and despair? Follow the Psalm 114 formula:

1. Remember God's miracles of the past.
2. Reflect upon them.
3. Claim the Truth that nothing (and that includes your current situation!) can stand in the presence of the Lord without trembling!
4. Challenge your situation to try to stand before the Lord!

Then sit back and make yourself comfortable, because in God's time, He will cause your situation to crumble and fall!

In His love,
Lyn


Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author -- "Aboard God's Train -- A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer", Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.  
Announcement:
In response to recent requests from subscribers, the Nugget will be featuring a devotional based on the book of Psalms once a month. We pray you will be blessed by this focus on the one book of the Bible that Jesus quoted the most. For previously-published Lessons From the Psalms, please click here.
 
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Post  Admin on Thu 27 Jun 2019, 10:15 pm

Welcome to the Nugget

June 27, 2019

Family Reunion
 

By Answers2Prayer Subscribe Unsubscribe Devotionals Contact us     "I am not asking on behalf of them alone, but also on behalf of those who will believe in Me through their message, that all of them may be one, asYou, Father, are in Me, and I am in You. May theyalso be in Us, so that the world may believe thatYou sent Me." (John 17:20-21 Borean Study Bible)

Epiphanies often come to us at the strangest times and wisdom often awakens in us in the most unusual places. It was a late Friday afternoon and my family and I were at the grocery store. We usually shop on Saturdays but the early Spring weather forecast had predicted a Winter snowstorm. Thus, here we were grabbing groceries in time to beat the storm.

Unfortunately everyone else in town had the same idea. The store was both crazy and crowded. Everywhere I turned shopping carts were blocking my path. The more I tried to maneuver the less progress I seemed to make. We were stuck and stressed and it looked like we weren't getting out of the store anytime soon.

It was at this point that somewhere deep in my heart I heard a voice speaking to me. "Why are you rushing?" it asked. "Relax and enjoy this moment. Look around and see who you are with."

Thankfully, I listened to it. I opened my eyes, cleared my mind, and relaxed my heart. I let go of my stress and smiled. It was then that I saw something very beautiful: my family. I wasn't just seeing my own children either. Everyone in the store was my family. The old lady pushing her cart was my sister. The little girl grabbing for her favorite cereal was my daughter. The big guy with the bushy beard was my brother. I didn't know the names of any of them but at that moment we were all one. We were Children of God on a wonderful journey of learning and love. I wasn't at the store. I was at the family reunion. I slowed to a stroll then and spent my time sharing smiles, kind words, and friendly laughter with my family.

Our Heavenly Father loves us so much. He created us to love each other as well. He created us to be one family here on Earth. May we always live then as brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, fathers and mothers. May we always live as one.

Joseph J. Mazzella 
Announcement:
How about looking for ways to treat your neighbours as family today?
 
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Post  Admin on Tue 25 Jun 2019, 11:49 pm

Welcome to the Nugget

June 25, 2019

One Bad Apple

By Answers2Prayer Subscribe Unsubscribe Devotionals Contact us     I was at my desk following my morning routine the other day. The screen reader installed in my computer read Psalm 34 to me. (This is because I'm blind and use a screen reader to operate my computer). So, there I was, delighting in God's Word while I munched on my morning apple.

I noticed the apple was softer than its usual juicy, crispy texture. But focused on what I was listening to, I didn't stop to analyze it.

Moments later my Mom walked in. She grabbed my hand. "Honey, honey. Don't eat that."

I halted my chewing and gave her a look of shock. What could have rattled her so much?

Then my stomach churned a bit when my mom pointed out that I was eating a rotten, really rotten apple. Maybe there was a worm wiggling there. But she didn't say.

But wait a minute! Don't for a moment feel sorry for this blind chica. You might have done the very same thing.

Life is good...or is it?

There you are, following your own daily routine in life, carrying God's promises in your heart. And in your mind, you have engraved His instructions. Life is good.

But then the nightly news comes on. The world looks black. Life brings on a glitch. Relationships fall apart. And the view of our own world brings gloom. Without realizing it, we take bites of stress. We grind our teeth into rotten reminders of past failures. And mix them up with today's pain. Before we know it, we munch on that bad mush of worry and fear.

No wonder we're taking Maalox to soothe the emotional indigestion that burns during sleepless nights.

Been there? God knows we all have. So, we need to change. God's plan is for us to live in triumph. Yes, rotten spots come up, but we can still be victorious. Yes, disappointment visits, but we don't have to let in. And yes, heartache barges into our life, but we don't need to embrace it.

What the victorious person looks like.
And to make it easier for us, the description of the person who achieved all this is found in Psalm 112:6-8:

1. Nothing shakes him. No matter what bad news or rotten circumstances pop up, he lives calm, confident and secure because, "Surely he will never be shaken; a righteous man will be remembered forever. He will have no fear of bad news..." (vs. 6,7a)

2. No fear defeats him. When the world fears, He increases his faith. When the world panics, he stands firm. When circumstances become darker, he looks to God's light: "His heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD. His heart is secure; he will have no fear..." (vs. 7b,8a)

3. Nothing keeps him down. When evil approaches, he declares victory. When attacks pour in, he knows the battle is won. And when his foes gain ground, he gains trust. "...in the end he will look in triumph on his foes." (vs. 8b)

That's what living in triumph means--embracing the promise that God defeated our foes. Welcoming a new beginning. Believing in a greater promise. And anticipating a new tomorrow.

Let's pray: Father, I admit I've chewed on rotten episodes in life, but I thank you for your path to triumph. Thank you for the wisdom to know that in You, I cannot be shaken. In You, I have no fear. In you, my foes are defeated. And in you, my life is secure. In Jesus' name, amen.

Janet Eckles

If this message resonated with you, please visit Janet's cyberspace home for more inspiration. 
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You don't care for punishment?  What if you knew it was for your own good?  Join us on Tuesday for "No Pain No Gain", a mini-series designed to help us see why correction is not only permitted but encouraged!  
 
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Post  Admin on Sat 22 Jun 2019, 6:10 pm

Welcome to the Nugget

June 22, 2019

The Bellbird, Part 3
 

By Answers2Prayer Subscribe Unsubscribe Devotionals Contact us     Over the past couple of devotionals, we've learned some powerful lessons in church unity from the interesting bell miner, also known as the "bellbird".

I must say, however, that the first fact I learned about bellbirds didn't come from the internet. It came directly from the lady in the campground reception office who checked us into our cabin that day in Eden, NSW where I first heard the "bells". When I asked about the pretty tinkling noise, she rolled her eyes, and the tone of her response dripped with disdain. But I didn't get it. I was enjoying the silvery bell-like calls. What was there about this warm-blooded, flying "carillon" that made the campground receptionist so annoyed?

A quick internet search revealed that she wasn't the only one annoyed by these little birds, and after just 24 hours in the region, I began to understand...The bell-like call rarely ever ceases, and once a bellbird colony "moves in" to a neighbourhood, it rarely ever leaves. As much as I love birds, I had to admit that if I had to hear that bell-like call 24/7, it would likely drive me crazy. There is just one thing that can be said for certain: The call of the bell miner will not be ignored!

In "The Bellbird, Part 1", we learned that Jesus specifically mentioned unity at least four times in the pastoral prayer given just before He went to Gethsemane. The reason Jesus gives for requesting unity, however, is worthy of special mention: "I pray that they will all be one...so that the world will believe you sent me." (John 17:21 NLT). Jesus' reason for praying for unity is none other than--evangelism!

Remember that Jesus does not wish for any to be lost ("...He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent." 2 Peter 3:9b NLT). His desire is that everyone be saved!

The incessant call of the bell miner may be annoying to those who have to listen to it, but it teaches us a powerful lesson. What if we were to be as incessant about evangelism as the bellbird is in making its bell-like call? What if we were to spread the gospel every chance we got? We would most definitely be noticed!

Of course, the bellbird call is annoying; and if we were to incessantly talk about God, it would likely be seen in the same light. There are, however, many other ways to preach the gospel, and only a few of them require that we open our mouths. Here are a few examples:

1. We preach a powerful sermon in our unity alone: "I pray that they will all be one...so that the world will believe you sent me." (John 17:21 NLT).

2. We preach a powerful sermon when we love one another: "So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other." (John 13:34 NLT). When we reach out to others in love, they notice, and it isn't annoying to them. Isn't Jesus the perfect example of Someone who showed incessant love? Aren't we called to follow His example? "Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God." (Eph. 5:2 NLT).

3. We preach a powerful sermon when we care for one another: "I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!" (Matt 25:40 NLT). When we feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, give clothing and shelter to the cold and homeless, provide means for education and medical care, etc., we go a long ways in evangelising the world.

Remember the Sermon on the Mount? "In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father." (Matt. 5:16 NLT). This is what the bell miner does 24/7. This is what we are called to do as well.

Let's learn from the bellbird. Let's stand in unity beside our fellow believers. Let's pray for them, strengthen and encourage them and help them in their times of need. But let's also be incessant about spreading the gospel to a lost and hurting world by showing love and support, feeding the hungry, encouraging the discouraged, comforting the hurting and providing shelter to the cold and homeless. In doing so, our good deeds will shine out for all to see and everyone will praise our Heavenly Father.

(If there are any bird enthusiasts out there who are interesting in actually hearing a bell miner bird, click here. If you live in Eden, NSW, or any other place where there are colonies of bellbirds, I will understand if you don't choose to click this link...)

In His love,
Lyn


Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author -- "Aboard God's Train -- A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer", Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart. 
Announcement:
This is the last part of "The Bellbird" mini-series. If you have missed any part, you can access the entire series by clicking here, or by email me.
 
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Post  Admin on Thu 20 Jun 2019, 10:31 am

Welcome to the Nugget

June 20, 2019

The Bellbird, Part 2


By Answers2Prayer Subscribe Unsubscribe Devotionals Contact us The bellbird is actually a member of the miner bird family, and is more correctly known as a "bell miner". Last Tuesday, in "The Bellbird, Part 1", we learned valuable lessons in unity and selfless giving from these interesting birds; but as I continued to read up on the bell miner, I would learn other inspiring facts about the specie...

Apparently the bell miner aggressively and communally defends its colony against any and all other insect-eating birds who might compete for their favorite food, the psyllid bugs that feed on eucalyptus sap. It made me think: What if we, like the bell miner, were to also aggressively and communally defend the church from intruders?

I'm not referring to human intruders here, for we are told that our battle is not against flesh and blood: "For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places." (Eph. 6:12 NLT). Rather, I am talking about the various and serious attacks of the devil.

This would, of course, include every temptation that comes our way. Imagine how strong the church would be if we were to stand up with one another and fight against any temptation that our fellow brothers and sisters in the church might be facing. If we could stop being judgmental, we would create an atmosphere where those who are weak would feel comfortable sharing their struggles with us. It would open the doors to being able to pray for them and to encourage and strengthen them in their faith. When we stand by one another, when we pray for one another, we are building each other up, we are making each other strong, we are encouraging each other, we are assisting each other in defeating temptation.

Is it for nothing that we are told multiple times in the New Testament alone to encourage one another? "So encourage each other and build each other up..." (1 Thessalonians 5:11 NLT; See also Heb. 10:24-25; Eph. 4:29; 1 Cor. 14:26; Rom. 14:19, etc).

Of course, temptation isn't the only tactic used by our spiritual oppressors. Illness is another of their favorites, and this is why the bible teaches that we should pray for the sick: "Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results." (James 5:16 NLT). What if we were to take lessons from the bellbird and band together to pray against this "predator" that is trying to claim the wellbeing, even the very lives, of our fellow brothers and sisters?

Another type of spiritual attack is addiction. Most of us don't feel comfortable admitting we have addictions. We are afraid others will point the finger and we will be criticized and ostracized; and maybe we are just a bit too proud to admit our weaknesses. What if we were to remember the bell miner? What if we were to join together in prayer instead of pointing the finger at those who are bound by addiction? What if we were to reach out in spiritual warfare and battle alongside these victims of the devil's oppression? What if, instead of judging one another, we were to encourage each other? What if we were to fight the good fight side by side? Imagine how empowered those with addictions would feel! Imagine how encouraged, how better able to rise up and fight!

The list could go on, but the point is, the bell miner's habit of aggressively and communally defending its colony against intrusion teaches us a valuable lesson in aggressively and communally defending the church against spiritual intruders!

Think about it!

In His love,
Lyn

Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author -- "Aboard God's Train -- A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer", Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.
Announcement:
We would only stayed in Eden, NSW, one night, but it was enough for me to personally experience a somewhat annoying fact about the bell miner... Please join us on Saturday for the final part of "The Bellbird" mini-series, to see what their one "annoying" trait has to teach us...

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Post  Admin on Tue 18 Jun 2019, 2:57 pm

Welcome to the Nugget

June 18, 2019

The Bellbird, Part 1
 

By Answers2Prayer Subscribe Unsubscribe Devotionals Contact us     We were entering a campground in Eden, a small town on the southeast coast of New South Wales in Australia, when we first heard, in the air all around us, the silvery tolling of tiny bells. When we looked around, however, there were no bells to be seen...

I asked the lady at the campground reception about the source of the silvery sound. She rolled her eyes in response, and her one-word answer dripped with disgst: "bellbirds!"

Ever since we landed on this beautiful continent, finding new sorts of Australian birds had become a bit of a hobby, and my interest was pricked. I was especially excited, later that day, to have the privilege to seeing and photographing the little "carillons" as they flitted about, feeding in the local gum trees and sending forth their incessant silvery calls.

Once back in our rented cabin, I looked the bellbird up on the internet, and I was immediately inspired by what I learned...

The bellbird lives in colonies, yet despite the fact that the colonies tend to be large, there are general only 3-4 pairs of birds that are nesting. The non-breeding colony members will apparently spend their days assisting the breeding pairs by gathering food and helping to raise the young! I couldn't help wondering how different our local churches might be if we took some lessons from these creatures. What would happen if we all banded together? Rather than looking out only for ourselves and our own advancements and happiness, what if we were to spend our time helping our fellow brothers and sisters? What if we were to bring each other food? Help each other with the raising of our children? Be there to comfort and encourage each other in our troubles?

Wait. I'm being a bit idealistic, aren't I? We are far too busy with our own lives to give of ourselves to each other all the time. And besides, is it really all that important anyway?

One look at Jesus' famous pastoral prayer would firmly answer this question...

The evening before His arrest, Jesus' prayer revealed what was nearest and dearest to His heart. Isn't it interesting that one of the major themes of His prayer is none other than unity in the church? "Now I am departing from the world; they are staying in this world, but I am coming to you. Holy Father, you have given me your name; now protect them by the power of your name so that they will be united just as we are." (John 17:11 NLT). It is said that when God is really trying to hit a point home, He repeats Himself; and Jesus went on to pray for unity in the church three other times in the same prayer (see vs. 21, 22, 23)! Shouldn't this speak to us about the impo rtance of unity? Of taking care of one another? Of being one, just like Jesus and the Father are one? Just imagine what this might look like in the church!

How do we achieve this unity?

It all begins with unselfish love. We need to love one another as Christ loved the church. He put aside His own ambitions to come to this earth, to die on a cruel cross, all because He loves us that much (See 2 Cor. 8:9). Just like most of the bellbirds in a colony must put aside their own ambitions so that they can help each other, we must also put aside our own desires and plans in order to help one another.

But wait. There are bellbirds who do not put aside their own ambitions. Remember that there are usually 3-4 breeding pairs in each colony!

In the same way, we will find that just as there are seasons for helping others, there is also a season for receiving help from others. What this means for us is that our primary focus needs to be on the unselfish giving of our time, our talents and our resources to help our fellow brothers and sisters; but when the time comes when find ourselves in need, we can be sure that God will also provide for that need!

Let's take lessons from the bellbird. Let's put aside our personal ambitions in order to be able to reach out and help one another. Let's strive to be the church that Jesus prayed for just before He went to the cross. Let's strive to live together in unity and love...

"How good and pleasant it is when God's people live together in unity! It is like precious oil poured on the head...It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore." (Ps. 133:1-3 NIV)

In His love,
Lyn

Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author -- "Aboard God's Train -- A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer", Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart. 
Announcement:
Further internet research revealed that the bellbird colonies had another important lesson to teach us all about what a unified church looks like. Please join us on Thursday, for "The Bellbird, Part 2".
 
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Post  Admin on Sat 15 Jun 2019, 11:11 pm

Welcome to the Nugget

June 15, 2019

A Pleasing Aroma...
 

By Answers2Prayer Subscribe Unsubscribe Devotionals Contact us  "These offerings are given as a special gift to the Lord, a pleasing aroma to him." (Num 29:6 NLT)

If you were to simply read this text out of context, your thoughts might go something like mine did: Wow, that offering must be fresh bread or cinnamon rolls! Definitely something that smells nice!

When you read the text in its entirety, however, you see that this is not the case. Consider the preceding verses: "It will consist of one young bull, one ram, and seven one-year-old male lambs, all with no defects...In addition, you must sacrifice a male goat as a sin offering to purify yourselves and make yourselves right with the Lord. These special sacrifices are in addition to your regular monthly and daily burnt offerings, and they must be given with their prescribed grain offerings and liquid offerings." (Num 29:2b-6a NLT)

The "offering", then, that has such a "pleasing aroma", is nothing more than animal sacrifices...

Now I don't know about you, but having been raised vegetarian, the smell of any meat cooking is not "pleasing" to me. I do understand that the majority of the world would not agree; however, this passage isn't talking about just cooking meat. It's talking about burning it! I believe most of you would agree that the odor of burning flesh does not smell "pleasing"!

Taking this a bit farther, I would have to say that even if the odor of burning meat was a pleasant one for me, what is there about slaughtering bulls and rams and lambs that is "pleasing"?

Yet this phrase, "pleasing aroma", is used multiple times throughout the books of Moses, and the context is always that of slaughtering animals for burnt offerings (See Ex. 29, Lev. 2-4, Num. 29, etc.)...Just what is so pleasing about burnt offering?

I am currently reading the Pentateuch, the first 5 books of the Bible. I have been asking myself this question throughout the books, but it wasn't until I arrived at Numbers 29 that I began to understand...

Let's remember that the Bible teaches us that sin separates us from God: "Listen! The LORD's arm is not too weak to save you, nor is his ear too deaf to hear you call. It's your sins that have cut you off from God. Because of your sins, he has turned away and will not listen anymore." (Is. 59:1-2 NLT)

Let's also remember that: "...without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness." (Heb. 9:22 NLT). Thus the animal served as a substitute. It died in the place of the sinner.

When God said that the animal sacrifices were a "pleasing aroma" to Him, could it be that He desired for their sins to be covered? That He desired for there to be nothing separating Him from His people? That He desired to walk with them? To talk with them? To have a relationship with them? Did the odor of burning sacrificial meat simply signify to God that the sins were covered and the door was open for relationship? Was this why God called the sacrifices, "a pleasing aroma to Him"?

The Truth of the matter is, God wants to be with us!

It is true that the sacrificial system was not adequate as a long-term solution, for: "...it is not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins." (Heb. 10:4 NLT). Thus these sacrifices could only "cover up" the sin, so to speak. And since God wanted a permanent fix to this sin problem that caused Him to be separated from the ones He loves, He further proved His love and His desire to be with us by making a better way: "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:19 NLT). God sent His own Son to be the sacrifice that permanently removes our sin. And since, "There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends" (John 15:13 NLT), doesn't this serve to prove His ultimate desire to be with us? To spend time with us? To lavish His love upon us?

The next time you smell burning meat, remember this lesson from the mosaic laws: The reason God considered the stench of burning meat to be "a pleasing aroma" is because it signified that their sins were covered and He could commune with them. Let's all let that stench be a reminder to you that God wants to have that relationship with each of us, too, and in order to ensure that it would be even easier, He sent Jesus...

Hum. Maybe my neighbour's burning barbeque doesn't smell so bad after all...

In His love,
Lyn

Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author -- "Aboard God's Train -- A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer", Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart. 
Announcement:
Many of you have written in asking about my recent experience with Breast Cancer, and I want to thank each of you for caring, and especially for your prayers. I recently had my first follow-up with Oncology, and I am pleased to report that it went very well! You are invited to read some of the highlights of my ride with God through this valley of my life at Cancer Experiences.  Or if you prefer the whole story, email me and I can tell you how to access the it...
 
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Post  Admin on Thu 13 Jun 2019, 10:49 am

Welcome to the Nugget

June 13, 2019

When Fear Attacks

By Answers2Prayer Subscribe Unsubscribe Devotionals Contact us     "I took my small dog for a walk one night," my friend Ian said. "The area was dark except for a light near the big fountain in the courtyard of the apartment complex."

"I heard my neighbor yell from her second-floor balcony. But the sound of the water in the nearby fountain drowned her words. So I returned the greeting. Since it was Christmas time, I assumed she had yelled out Merry Christmas."

"Then her shout became louder, 'Look behind you, Ian'!"

I turned. And my eyes caught the glimpse of a big, furious javelina charging at me and my small dog. Heart thumping, with one swoop I scooped my puppy. And I took off like a bullet. That's when I had my Forest Gump moment. My neighbor shouted, 'Run, Ian, run!'"

Ian had his neighbor, but we have the Lord shouting to our soul, "Run, run as fast as you can." When would He say that? Each time we're being attacked by the beast of fear.

You're been there, haven't you? During dark nights, out of nowhere, with no warning, fear charges at you. Fearful that money will run out. Fearful our kids won't grow up like we want them to. Afraid of losing our health. Fearful to be alone. Afraid to stay with the wrong person...afraid to leave them. Afraid we'll never heal from the heartache.

Goodness gracious, God is shouting to you and me, "Run, run from that spirit of fear."

And with the same authority as David did, with the same assurance and assertion, we declare: "The LORD is my light and my salvation- whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life--of whom shall I be afraid?" (Psalm 27:1, NIV).

Father, how foolish to be afraid, knowing you're the stronghold of my life, of my decisions, of circumstances, relationships and my future. With your power working in me, I have the strength, the courage and the authority to defeat any attack of fear. In Jesus's name, amen.

Janet P. Eckles

If this message resonated with you, please visit Janet's cyberspace home for more inspiration. 
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God is concerned about even the minutest points of our lives, and if we let Him, He will guide us into the right decisions, 100% of the time! Our only job is to seek His guidance every step of the way. Visit us online for the previously-published series, "God Guides"!
 
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Post  Admin on Sat 08 Jun 2019, 10:07 am

Welcome to the Nugget

June 8, 2019

Famous People
 

By Answers2Prayer Subscribe Unsubscribe Devotionals Contact us     I discovered that there had been someone famous in my office...

As a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) in an active stroke rehabilitation program, it is standard for family members to accompany their loved ones to speech therapy; and when a new stroke survivor showed up in my office with his out-of-town son, I thought nothing of it. It was only about five weeks later that I would learn from a completely different source that this stroke survivor's son was actually quite famous.

I knew this information should not have made any difference whatsoever in the way the speech therapy sessions went, and I worked hard to ensure that it didn't. There was definitely a difference in my nerves, however. They zinged with anticipation, and I found myself with added internal motivation to do my best and to showcase my patient's improvement.

But wait. Why should the knowledge that this person was famous have made any difference whatsoever? Shouldn't I have always attempted to put my best foot forward? Shouldn't I have always been encouraging my patients to do their best? Shouldn't every patient and every family member who ever entered my office have always inspired me to give outstanding speech therapy?

We've often heard it asked, "Is that something you'd do if Jesus were sitting beside you?" Usually that question is prompted by the fact that you might not be thinking/saying/acting in a way that is Jesus-like; but isn't God omnipresent? Doesn't He see all things? Isn't He always with us? Doesn't this mean that we should always think/act/say the things that would bring honor and glory to His name?

The incident with this stroke survivor's famous son also made me think a tiny bit more. You see, I didn't have even the slightest clue that this particular patient's son was someone famous. He acted in exactly the same way as the hundreds of other caring adult children who have accompanied their parents to my office through the years. There was nothing haughty about his demeanour, nothing different in the way he obviously cared about his dad's wellbeing and looked to me for advice with his dad's communication difficulties...

It made me realize that we all "famous" in our own rights. We all have talents. We all find ourselves in the position, at least occasionally and to one degree or another, in the position where people look to us seeking advice or acceptance. How should we act in those situations? Should we place ourselves above others, looking down on them because we know something better than they do? Or should we act, like my patient's son, as if there is nothing different about us at all?

Jesus, our perfect example, gives us faultless advice: "So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples' feet, drying them with the towel he had around him." (John 13:4-5 NLT). Jesus, the only One who totally and completely deserved our reverence, got up and performed the job of a servant!

This shouldn't surprise us, however. His entire time here on Earth was spent performing the job of a servant, and this role took Him even to the cross: "But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed..." (Isaiah 53:5 NIV)

Famous people walk among us daily. In fact, to others, each one of us is in a position of authority from time to time. Our job is to follow Jesus' example of humility and treat everyone equally, as Jesus did. When we do, then learning that a particular stroke survivor's son is famous will not affect our behaviour in the least, for we will have always treated that particular patient and his son, and the countless others along the way as well, in the manner merited by royalty.

It certainly gave me food for thought throughout the rest of my career...

In His love,
Lyn


Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author -- "Aboard God's Train -- A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer", Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart. 
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Post  Admin on Thu 06 Jun 2019, 10:53 pm

Welcome to the Nugget

June 6, 2019

Dixie
 

By Answers2Prayer Subscribe Unsubscribe Devotionals Contact us     "Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us." (1 John 4:11-12, NLT)

On a cold, snowy day in March my cat, Dixie died. I walked into the bathroom to find her lying motionless. I stroked her head, and gently held her in my arms. Then I carried her to the woods behind my house to bury her. I tried not to cry as I walked. She had lived sixteen years, after all. I knew her health was fading too. Always a skinny cat she had been eating less and less lately until I could feel her bones through her gray fur when I petted her. Still, the tears fell.

Dixie like most cats was quite a personality. She enjoyed napping in the sunshine on top of my desk by the window and after I would make dinner I would often find her sneaking a snooze on the still warm kitchen stove. She loved attention but only on her own terms. She didn't like to be picked up but would climb on my chest when I was in bed, curl into a ball, and fall asleep. She would walk off if I tried to pet her but would later curl into the crook of my arm and purr while I read in the evenings. She would never meow unless she could get food out of it and sometimes she would sneak in like a panther on the prowl and steal the food right off our plates. She disliked our house full of dogs and spent her time either irritating them or hiding from them. Yet, she will always have her own special place in my heart and I know I am going to miss her.

I have lost so many dogs and cats in my half-century of living. It is one of life's cruel ironies that we get to live so many years and they get to live so few. In spite of the loss, hurt, heart-break and tears, however, I couldn't imagine myself living without them. They have taught me again and again that you have to live this life with an open heart. You have to love and keep loving even when it hurts and even when you lose the ones you love. You have to know that the love and joy are worth the pain. That may be one of the greatest lessons that God has for us to learn here. I am just glad He gave us dogs and cats to help us learn it. Keep loving then, always!

Joseph J. Mazzella 
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Post  Admin on Sat 01 Jun 2019, 9:47 pm

Welcome to the Nugget

June 1, 2019

The Home Mini, Part 2
 

By Answers2Prayer Subscribe Unsubscribe Devotionals Contact us     
Last Thursday I discribed the Google Home Mini my son gave me for an early Mother's Day. I outlined how I had initially been quite disappointed with the machine due to its lack of ability to do the things I was asking it to do. I was sorely tempted to put the thing back in its box; but I didn't. Instead, I allowed my son to set it up on the counter, and I began learning what it is good for. In so doing, I learned a powerful lesson: We cannot simply write people off because they can't do what we want them to do. Instead, we need to accept them for who they are and appreciate about them the things they can do.

It would seem, however, that there was another lesson my Home Mini had to teach me...

You see, when I came so close to throwing the thing out the nearest window, I was passing judgment on the machine. I was declaring it totally worthless, when in reality, it is actually quite useful for the things it is programmed to do. Especially when I lose my phone!

Am I guilty of judging people as harshly as I was judging that little machine?

You know what I mean. That lady really did drive me off the road. She completely doesn't know how to drive! How can the province of Ontario allow her to have a drivers' license at all?

My mom's neighbour really did call the police on my mom for feeding peanuts to the squirrels. Have you ever heard of anything as hateful, controlling, un-neighbourly?

And my workplace did really cut funding to the excellent, necessary programs I initiated and ran for over 15 years. They are certainly and completely without heart!

But wait. Do we truly see the "big" picture?

One of the things that frustrated me about my little Home Mini was its inability to control my lights, thermostat and alarm clock. After all, it was able to do that at my son's house! What I didn't realize was that my son had some additional equipment required to interface his lights, furnace, etc., with his Home Mini. I do not have that equipment at my house, and in essence, I was accusing my Home Mini of not being able to do something I simply didn't have the proper equipment for it to do. I was judging the machine without all the facts.

And if I think about it, when I judge others, I am doing exactly the same thing...

Take, for example, that woman who nearly drove me off the road. What I didn't know was that this mother's vision was completely clouded by tears as she drove to the hospital to identify the body of her only son. She simply didn't see me. Perhaps it really wasn't safe for her to drive in that state of mind; however, the offense hardly dictated that she have her drivers' license revoked. It certainly didn't merit the judgment I passed on her...

And my mom's neighbour? What I didn't know is that her daughter is deathly allergic to peanuts. The squirrels left traces of my mom's peanuts on her porch, the little girl got into them and nearly died. The neighbour's reaction, as harsh as it may have seemed, was simply a "knee-jerk" reaction resulting from the motherly instinct to protect her child. Sure, sending in the police instead of making an effort to talk to my mom may seem unneighbourly, but it certainly didn't merit the judgment I passed on her...

Then there was my place of work. What I didn't know was that if they hadn't found ways to save money, hundreds of their employees, including, perhaps, myself, would have soon found themselves without a job. Yes, the decision closed the door to helping some of the people in the community; but it ensured that a vast number of others would continue to receive the help they needed. Did they merit the judgment I passed on them? Probably not... 

The point is, when we judge, we usually do so without seeing the full picture. Just like I judged my little Home Mini as "useless" when I actually didn't have the equipment it required to do what I was asking, we condemn people without knowing where they are coming from. Perhaps it is time to try to see thing from their perspective. Perhaps we need to forgive them, even when we don't understand their actions. Perhaps we need to love them, even when they do wrong. In so doing, we just may learn to see the good in people, even in those who hurt us. Is it for naught that the Scriptures teach us:

1. To not judge? "Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged." (Matt. 7:1 NLT).

2. To forgive? "Make allowance for each other's faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others." (Col 3:13 NLT).|

3. And to love our enemies? "You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor' and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven." (Matt 5:43-45 NLT)?

Hey, I think I found another excellent use for my Home Mini. It makes a great object lesson about passing judgement...

In His love,
Lyn

Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author -- "Aboard God's Train -- A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer", Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart. 
Announcement:
This is the last of the "Home Mini" mini-series on judgment and acceptance. If you missed the previous part, you can access them on the web by clicking here. If you have no access to the internet, please email me and I will send you the previously published parts.
 
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Post  Admin on Tue 28 May 2019, 4:09 pm

Welcome to the Nugget

May 28, 2019

Seven Truths to Hold onto when You Feel Attacked

By Answers2Prayer Subscribe Unsubscribe Devotionals Contact us     When evil attacks, our soul wants to shrink in pain, our heart shatters and our mind fills with gloom. Unless we run to God's promises for refuge.

We need His protection because often as unexpected as rain on a sunny day, adversity pours. And when it does, we're stunned at the reason why. Why us? Why now?

I asked those questions years ago. When my boys were small, I had wiped the kitchen counter and mopped the floor for the umpteenth time. I folded laundry, fixed meals, calmed cries, changed diapers and picked up toys off the floor as I did every day. The routine, the monotony and the endless chores sometimes pushed me on the couch, wanting to scream, "I need a break."

That break came when in a matter of 18 months, a retinal disease robbed my sight completely. And facing the horror, the sorrow and the desperation, I sat on that same couch, wishing, oh wishing so badly that those "monotonous" days could come back.

Have you done that? Complained and ranted about how life is, hard, routine and so difficult? Then, suddenly a wave of bad news crashes your life. And pain enters your world. Then those days of routine, mundane and filled with tasks are ones you wish to come back. In fact, you'd do anything to go back to what you had before. Anything to be relieved from the current pain.

And to make it worse, we're attacked by regret, sorrow and anguish.

But God knows. He has the protection from those attacks. He has the shield from the arrows that pierce our peace. And He has the promises, the specific instructions, the powerful path for us to follow all outlined in Chapter 54 of the book of Isaiah.

1. When life's unfairness flogs our heart, we're tempted to give up. "'...but with everlasting kindness I will have compassion on you,' says the LORD your Redeemer." (Isaiah 54:8b, NIV)

2. When you wonder if He's the same as He was long ago. He says, "'To me this is like the days of Noah, when I swore that the waters of Noah would never again cover the earth. So now I have sworn not to be angry with you, never to rebuke you again.'" (Isaiah 54:9, NIV)

3. When you question the power of His love, He assures "'...Though the mountains be shaken, and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed," says the LORD, who has compassion on you.'" (Isaiah 54:10, NIV)

4. When you wonder what will your future look like. What will the new chapter hold? He states, "'Afflicted city, lashed by storms and not comforted, I will build you with stones of turquoise, your foundations with lapis lazuli. I will make your battlements of rubies, your gates of sparkling jewels, and all your walls of precious stones.'" (Isaiah 54:11-12, NIV)

5. And when you wonder what will your legacy hold? He gives the answer: "'All your children will be taught by the LORD, and great will be their peace.'" (Isaiah 54:13, NIV)

6. When you question what will be next, what you can expect, He addresses that too: "'In righteousness you will be established: Tyranny will be far from you; you will have nothing to fear. Terror will be far removed; it will not come near you.'" (Isaiah 54:14, NIV)

7. When you ask for constant security. He says, "'If anyone does attack you, it will not be my doing; whoever attacks you will surrender to you.'" (Isaiah 54:15, NIV)

Though blindness has been part of my life for over 30 years, these promises shined a constant light of beautiful hope. And they will for you too. If storms crash your life and bring rain of heartache, know that these same promises prevail over the winds of fear. His Word hushes the thunder of sorrow. And as you wait patiently, His voice speaks to turn your adversity to joy.

Which promise speaks to you in the storm? I'd love to hear your answer.

Thank You, Lord, for your great comfort that surround us continually, even when heartache and turbulence enter our lives. May we be ever mindful of Your promises to turn our adversity to joy. And trust in Your great faithfulness as we wait on You to fulfill those promises. In Jesus' name, amen.

Janet Eckles

If this message resonated with you, please visit Janet's cyberspace home for more inspiration. 
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Post  Admin on Sat 25 May 2019, 10:23 pm

Welcome to the Nugget
May 25, 2019

The Right Kind of Praise...

Lessons From the Psalms, Part 9:
Psalms 100
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By Answers2Prayer Subscribe Unsubscribe Devotionals Contact us   
 

In response to recent requests from subscribers, the Nugget will be featuring a devotional based on the book of Psalms once a month. We pray you will be blessed by this focus on the one book of the Bible that Jesus quoted the most.


This month's Lesson from the Psalms comes from Psalm 100. But first:


Interesting facts From the Book of Psalms:

Today's interesting fact from the book of Psalms is that in Judaism, the book is traditionally broken up into 5 different sub-books and is known as the "five books of David". We still see this division in many of our current Bibles.


Today's Psalm:

Today's lesson from the Psalms focuses on Psalm 100, a Psalm that provides a formula for praise.

As an introduction, please go back in time with me about 10 years, to a time when my family had been instructed to pray about which high school our oldest son, "D" would attend. There were three candidates, one of which was the local public high school, Centennial high. Join our family around the breakfast table one Saturday morning...

Mom: "So did you all pray about the high school?"

Younger brother shrugs...

Dad starts to answer but is cut off...

D: (Jumping in) "Yup! God gave me Psalms 100!"

Rest of family, staring blankly for a full minute, then finally, as one: "And? What does Psalms 100 say?"

D: "uh...I didn't read it..."

Mom, speaking forth what the looks of puzzlement around the table are all trying to communicate: "How do you know that God spoke to you through Psalms 100 if you didn't even read it?"

D: (Grinning) "Don't you get it? Psalms 100? What's the French word for 100? 'Cent', right? God was telling me I should go to 'Cent'ennial High!"

It's an amusing story, one that illustrates how God can speak to us in different ways; but when I went back to actually read Psalm 100, I realized something powerful about motivation for prayer, something that might have helped us in our dilemma about the high school, had we made the effort to follow the guidance of Psalm 100...

First of all, Psalm 100 is an outline for how we are to praise God. It says:
 
1. "Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth!" (vs. 1 NLT);
2. "Worship the Lord with gladness." (vs. 2a NLT);
3. "singing with joy." (vs. 2b NLT);
4. "Acknowledge that the Lord is God!" (vs. 3 NLT);
5. "Enter his gates with thanksgiving..." (vs. 4a NLT);
6. "...praise His name." (vs. 4b NLT).

Most of us don't get quite this "into" our worship. We may sing, but do we shout? Do we sing for joy? Do we acknowledge that Jesus is the Lord? Do we have thanksgiving on our lips? Do we sing our praises because of His glorious name? Or do we praise God as an adjunct to our list of prayer requests?

I don't know about you, but my tendency is the later...

The Psalm goes on to tell us who should praise Him: "...all the earth." (vs. 1 NLT). Notice that it doesn't specify that only those with answered prayers should praise Him. It tells us that we all must praise Him, no matter what our circumstances!

The Psalm then tells us where to praise Him:
1. "Come before Him..." (vs. 2b NLT);
2. "Enter His gates..." (vs. 5a NLT);
3. "go into His courts..." (vs. 5b).

We may not have a physical temple with gates and courts anymore, but we are the temple of God, for His Spirit dwells in us (See 1 Cor. 3:16-17; 2 Cor. 6:17-18, etc.). When we go to the Lord in our quiet place for prayer, for meditation and reflection, to simply sit at Jesus' feet, we are, in essence, entering "...His gates..." and going "...into His courts...".

Finally, the Psalm also tells us why we should praise God...
1. "He made us..." (vs. 2a NLT);
2. "...and we are His. We are His people, the sheep of His pasture." (vs. 3 NLT);
3. "For the Lord is good..." (vs. 5a NLT);
4. "His unfailing love continues forever..." (vs. 5b NLT)
5. "...His faithfulness continues to each generation." (vs. 5c NLT)

Of especially special note is that the primary reason most of us praise God is not listed in Psalm 100: It does not tell us to praise God because we want something from Him or that He has just answered some prayer. In fact, unlike many of the Psalms, there are absolutely no reference to prayer requests in this Psalm whatsoever!

It all made me think...Does praise even get 50% of my prayer time? I seriously doubt it...

I believe the vital lesson to be learned from the lack of "requesting" and the total focus on praise in Psalm 100 is that when we praise God, we should be doing it out of love and adoration, because of His goodness and mercy. We are to praise Him, as stated in the Psalm, for His goodness and love and faithfulness, not because we are trying to turn His hand.

This is what I realized when God spoke to my son through the Psalm title. We are to go before the Lord in thanksgiving and praise--without any other agenda. Perhaps if we had all not been so busy seeking God's guidance, we might have been more inclined to spend time praising God for Who He is. Then we would have been open to His voice speaking His wisdom to us. Fortunately, there was someone in our family that day who had this insight...

Friends, stop seeking God with to-do lists. Instead, put aside for a bit your own concerns and seek Him in the Psalms 100 way: With nothing but praise and thanksgiving on your agendas! I guarantee you will be blessed beyond imagination.

And--quite probably--you will also receive the guidance and blessings you seek...

In His love,
Lyn


Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author -- "Aboard God's Train -- A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer", Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.  
Announcement:
In response to recent requests from subscribers, the Nugget will be featuring a devotional based on the book of Psalms once a month. We pray you will be blessed by this focus on the one book of the Bible that Jesus quoted the most. For previously-published Lessons From the Psalms, please click here.
 
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Post  Admin on Sat 04 May 2019, 9:52 am

Welcome to the Nugget

May 4, 2019

Covered Bridges:
Lessons From Cape Breton, Part 13
 

By Answers2Prayer Subscribe Unsubscribe Devotionals Contact us     There is something powerfully nostalgic about a covered bridge. Being one of the few remaining windows into our past, the structures were not only romantic and beautiful, but useful as well. They spanned the world's waterways, completed roads and provided shelter from the elements for passers-by. They kept water out of the wooden joints where it might freeze during winter or cause rotting during the summer, they kept the bridge from drying out in very hot weather, and they kept the snow off the road. And finally, since the horse, the primary means of transportation in the covered bridge era, didn't particularly like crossing rushing rivers, the cover gave the bridge enough of a "barn" appearance that the animals were more likely to enter calmly and volitionally.

Why are bridges no longer covered?

Because their reasons for being covered are no longer valid. Bridges are no longer made of wood, they are no longer used by horses, etc., and the remaining covered bridges are but a sad reminder of what used to be.

On our way home from Cape Breton, we happened upon the Baker Brook Covered Bridge. Like what has happened to so many, this particular one is closed to motorized traffic and has been replaced by a larger, stronger concrete bridge that is much better suited for the quantity of heavy, fast traffic that now crosses the Baker Brook.

From our vantage point at the southern end, both the old bridge and the new one beside it were clearly visible. As I stared at the two, I couldn't help thinking that the new bridge is nothing but an eyesore. After all, why do we continually have to change things? What's wrong with the way things used to be?

This is a familiar sentiment to me in other parts of my life. Not being someone who deals well with change, the smallest problem or the tiniest interruption to "my" plans is not welcomed in the least. I believe that many of you can sympathize, for when a particular set of bad circumstances makes something that has been important to our lives redundant or perhaps no longer available, we grieve the loss. Maybe it is the child who grows up and moves away; or maybe it is the medical issue requiring that a body part be removed. Perhaps it is when a spouse decides he or she no longer wishes to be part of the family, or perhaps there has been a death in the family. Whatever it may be, just like the covered bridges of the past, the so important part of our lives has somehow been redeemed "redundant" and has been removed.

But let's not forget that when the Baker Brook Covered Bridge was closed, a new bridge was built. These two bridges over the Baker Brook serve to teach us a powerful lesson: When circumstances remove something of vital importance in our lives, we can trust God that our needs will still be met. Hasn't He promised to take care of us? "And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus." (Phil. 4:19 ESV). Even when our car is totaled and we are left without transportation; even when we are fired from our jobs; even when death has taken our loved one: God has promised that He will never forsake us: "Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you." (Deut. 31:6 ESV). Though there may no longer be a "cover" on the "bridge", God is and always will be,
"...my hiding place and my shield..." (Ps. 119:114 ESV).

Hasn't He said that even when we are going through terrible times, He is our shepherd (See Ps. 23)? Doesn't He promise that we will want for nothing (vs. 1)? Doesn't He give us rest? Provide for our needs (vs. 2)? Doesn't He leads us to Salvation and a future with Him (vs. 3)? Doesn't He promise to be with us through the car crash, the bad medical diagnosis, the broken relationships (vs. 4)? Doesn't He promise us comfort and nourishment (vs 4b-5)? That no matter where life leads us, His goodness and mercy will always be there, and at the end, we will dwell with Him forever (vs. 6)?

Will we miss the "covered bridges" of our lives?

Yes, naturally we will.

Do we need to worry about the future without them?

No. God is all we need.

Interestingly, when compared to the old covered one, the new, modern bridge over the Baker Brook is much stronger and much more able to withstand the quantity, speed and weight of modern-day traffic. Is it possible that one of the reasons the "covered bridges" of our lives are being "decommissioned" is to show us that God may have something even better in store for us? Though things will never be the "same" as before, perhaps God is in the business of making things more functional: "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." (Rom. 8:28 ESV).

I'm happy that those decommissioned covered bridges still stand, for they are a vivid reminder of past joys; but I thank God that when those "covered bridges" of our lives need to be decommissioned, He provides new and stronger ones for us to use!

In His love,
Lyn

Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author -- "Aboard God's Train -- A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer", Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart. 
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