FEAR NOT!

Nike Chillemi is my guest writer today. I’ve “known” Nike for many years–well maybe not many but several. Like me, she writes suspense novels,. She is the self-proclaimed Crime Fictionista! Sure wish I’d thought of that title.

Anyway, thanks Nike for this devotional.

He Said “Do Not Fear” by Nike Chillemi

The King James Version of the Bible says “fear not” 103 times. Other versions have a similar amount of fear nots or say “do not be afraid.” In fact, scholars have said it’s the most repeated command in the Bible. Since He has said it so many times, it must be important to God that we fear not.

Right at the beginning, God tells Abram (before the name change to Abraham) not to fear. Genesis 15:1 [NASB] ~ After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision saying: “Do not fear Abram, I am a shield to you.”

As far as I can determine, Jesus says “fear not” eight times in the Gospels. One of these sayings touches me deeply every time I read it in the Bible. Luke 12: 32 [NASB] ~ Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.

As a writer of detective stories, I’m well aware of fear. I’ve researched fear, written about fear. However, the point of my novels is never to glorify fear. Rather, I strive to create main characters who are flawed, ordinary people facing many personal issues, yet they manage to overcome their fear and anxiety to fight evil when they come upon it.

Of course fear is not a thing of fiction. Fiction takes fear from real life. We hear daily of the almost unimaginable terror of ISIS, an entity deliberately striving to create world-wide fear as a tactic to achieve tyrannical power. Ebola seems to never go away. There is nuclear threat.

On a personal level people face fear every day: fear that they won’t be good enough, attractive enough, smart enough, that they will fail. I think fear is a tactic of the enemy to steal our faith. If the enemy can create fear in believers, he can steal faith right out of our hearts. Fear is the antithesis of faith. It will steal our faith in God’s great and powerful ability and have us focus on our puny inability.

Christianity is a faith that teaches love. Believers grow and come to know that love, God’s kind of love, overcomes fear. First of all, we must each receive and deeply know how much God personally loves us. He loves us so much He gave His Son for us. His love for us never ceases. He is there whenever we call on him. When we overcome our fear and are able to walk in love, it opens the way for God to bless us. God is in the blessing business (good health, the right mate, secure finances, and so much more). And when we walk in love, we are able to pass the blessing on to others. And believers are indeed to pass the blessing on. We are God’s hands and feet on the earth.  Where the blessing flourishes, fear has trouble getting a foothold.

Me,pix

A little more about Nike…Like so many authors, Nike Chillemi started writing at a very young age. She still has the Crayola, fully illustrated book she penned (colored might be more accurate) as a little girl about her then off-the-chart love of horses. Today, you might call her a crime fictionista. Her passion is crime fiction. She likes her bad guys really bad and her good guys smarter and better.

Nike is the founding board member of the Grace Awards and is its Chairman, a reader’s choice awards for excellence in Christian fiction. She writes book reviews for The Christian Pulse online magazine. She was an Inspy Awards 2010 judge in the Suspense/Thriller/Mystery category and a judge in the 2011, 2012, and 2013 Carol Awards in the suspense, mystery, and romantic suspense categories. Her four novel Sanctuary Point series, set in the mid-1940s has won awards and garnered critical acclaim. Her new contemporary whodunit, HARMFUL INTENT released under the auspices of her own publishing company, Crime Fictionista Press has finaled in the Grace Awards.

Blog: https://nikechillemi.wordpress.com/

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Nike-Chillemi/e/B0050ZD44O/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1/186-9398678-9394414

The Beatitudes

Matthew 5: 3-12

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

MORE RED WORD WISDOM to share today. As I explained, my current Bible studying is revolving around Jesus’ words.  I have a feeling studying Jesus’ words are going to take most of this year. Obviously, I can’t go in to every verse so today I’m focusing on the Beatitudes. The Beatitudes were part of his Sermon on the Mount, which was his first major speaking event.

Studying these were a revelation to me. They demonstrate the many layers of God’s Word. Simply reading a Bible passage and moving on to the next  is never enough. It pays to do a little research and see what Bible scholars (the experts) have to say about a specific verse. Then put the verse in your own words so that you understand it for yourself.

Today, we’re just going to look at the first Beatitude. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed is a term that refers to the inner joy and peace that comes from being right with God. Another definition I came across that I love is DIVINE REWARDS. Doesn’t that say it all?

 

Blessed are the poor in spirit. What does poor in spirit mean? Spiritually bankrupt. Nothing to offer God. No way to save yourself.

After much reading and studying, I came up with this definition: understanding I am “poor” spiritually, that I have nothing of worth to offer to God. Therefore, I can’t “buy” my way into heaven with good works. Only after understanding this principle, are we ready to accept God’s gift of salvation.

 

That’s only the first Beatitude, there are seven more, which I’m not going to get into since I’m out of space. But I would love for all of you to take one of the Beatitudes and tell us what it means to you!

 

GOD BLESS & GOOD READING!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RED WORD WISDOM

The Bible is filled with all the wisdom we need to have a successful life here on earth. And certainly the words of Jesus are no exception. In fact, perhaps, his words deserve some extra attention so I’m starting a new Bible study that focuses on Jesus’s Words.

Time wise, Jesus’s first recorded words were found in Luke 2: 49 (NIV) when he went missing and Mary and Joseph found him at the temple. “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”

The New King James Version says it this way:  “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?”

I think both versions have something to teach us.

In my Father’s house. When you spend time at another’s house, it implies a relationship with that person. I don’t believe it’s an accident that Jesus’s first recorded words point to having a relationship with God—His father. Our Father. First and foremost, we were created to have a relationship with our Creator.

Don’t neglect that relationship.

About My Father’s business. Jesus knew that he was put on this earth for a reason—to do God’s business. We were put on the earth for that very same reason. Jesus was put on this earth for a very specific purpose—and so were we.

My purpose is not the same as yours. And yours is not the same as anyone else’s. Once you have that relationship with God, then it’s time to discover the business your Father created you for.

Get about His business.

Wow! Jesus’s first words give us direction and purpose in our life. Can’t beat that. I have a feeling this Bible study might take a lot longer than I realized.

UNTIL NEXT TIME…GOD BLESS & GOOD READING!

 

 

Are You Putting God In A Cage?

This is not the first time I’ve used this devotion, but I love it! It’s a good reminder for me–and maybe for you?  So I use it from time to time. I hope you enjoy it as well.

ARE YOU PUTTING GOD IN A CAGE?

James 4: 8 (NLT)

“Draw close to God, and God will draw close to you.”

Friends told me this story of a rescued dog long ago, but I’ve never forgotten it. The dog’s owners decided to use cage training to housebreak their young puppy. Cage training consists of having the puppy spend time in his cage until he figures out where to go potty and where not to.

Unfortunately, the owners missed the point. They brought their young puppy home and, as expected, the puppy soon had an accident. His owners punished him by putting him in the cage. With each accident, they would punish him by keeping him the cage for longer periods. Naturally, the dog would have another accident in the cage and so the cycle went.

Eventually, the dog was in the cage for several days at a time without food or water. The owners didn’t understand why the dog had turned mean.

Dogs are great pets when they are loved and nurtured. The more time we spend with them the stronger the bond becomes. The key to any relationship is the time, attention and effort given. That holds true for relationships with animals, people, and God.

The more time and effort we put into a relationship the more we receive.

What about our relationship with God?

Do we treat Him in a way that we wouldn’t treat a dog? Do we take God out of the cage on Sundays for a few hours and then stick Him back in until the next Sunday? We may even have good intentions but…life can get so busy.

I know that happens to me more often than I care to admit. I have good intentions to spend time with God but then life happens. Before I know it, I begin to lose my patience, my joy, and my peace. That’s when I know it’s time to draw near to God and He’s always there waiting.

Don’t cheat yourself out of a loving relationship with God because you think you don’t have time. There is no right or wrong way to spend time with God. Here are a few of my favorite ways to spend time with God:

While you do your chores, listen to praise music.

Pray whenever the mood hits.

Start writing a list of what you are grateful to God for–big and little things.

Rent a Biblical movie.

Put index cards and a pen by your Bible. Write out verses that are meaningful.

Sing your favorite hymn–even if your husband doesn‘t like your singing.

Reflect on God’s goodness as you notice His beautiful handiwork.

As you fall asleep, end your day with a pray of praise and thanksgiving.

Be creative, be flexible, and enjoy your time with God. The more time you spend with him, the more peace and joy you will experience. As you reap the benefits of spending time with God, you will soon find yourself craving more time with Him. He’s here right this moment–waiting for you.

What’s one of the ways you enjoy spending time with God?

UNTIL NEXT TIME…GOD BLESS & GOOD READING!

PAUL’S ADVICE TO WRITERS

 

1 Peter 1:13

Therefore, prepare your minds for action, be self-controlled,

set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.

 

Paul may not have written these words with a writer in mind, but I think it’s great advice. We can learn much when and where we least expect it. Let’s take a look at the verse part by part.

STEP 1: Prepare your minds .Being an excellent writer takes more than sitting down at a computer and writing. First, you must be a reader, and I don’t mean one or two books every year. One of the best ways to learn to write is to read, read, and read!

Second of all, as a Christian writer, you want to be excellent at what you do. And that means being good at the craft of writing. There are lots of ways to do that, such as classes, workshops, reading books on writing, joining writing groups and critique groups. Along with learning more about the writing craft, writers need to learn more about the business of writing as well. But whatever you do, you must prepare your mind.

STEP 2: Action. You can’t stay in step 1 forever. Some people talk about wanting to be a writer. Some people study writing.  But the only way to become a writer is to write.  So even as you continue to learn all you can about writing, you must write. Writers write!

STEP 3: Be self-controlled. So much to do and so little time to do it! We live in busy times. A multitude of people, activities, and responsibilities tug at us.  You can’t say yes to everything and still have time for writing. Being a writer takes a commitment, self-control, and self-discipline and time. Lots of time. If you can’t make a complete commitment to writing , this may not be the season for you to follow the dream as wholeheartedly as you want. You can still work on steps 1 & 2 so that you will be ready for step 3 when the time is right.

STEP 4: Set your hope fully on God’s grace. How long will it take you to reach your writing goals? I have no idea, but I can assure you it will be longer than you want or expect. Whether short or long, keep your eyes focused on God and His goodness, and know that He is faithful.

Paul’s words may not have been intended for writers, but when you consider the fact he wrote a majority of the New Testament, I believe he knew what he was talking about.

 UNTIL NEXT TIME…GOD BLESS & GOOD READING!

Thursday Thoughts (and questions)

Zechariah 4: 6

Not by might, nor by power but by My Spirit says the Lord of Hosts.

I thought I’d try something a little different on this cold wintery Thursday here in Ohio. I have a stack of index cards with Bible verses on them. Every day I try to read a few. It’s one of the ways I renew my mind since I can’t really memorize because of my bad memory. So anyway, here’s today’s, and I’d love to hear your thoughts or answers to some, any or all of these questions:

1. Does the verse mean we shouldn’t work as hard as we can at whatever we’re doing?

2. As a writer, what does that verse mean when it comes to book marketing and promoting myself?

3. Can you put the verse in your own words to better enlighten us to the meaning?

Thoughts or questions?

UNTIL NEXT TIME…GOD BLESS & GOOD READING!

Be A Super Bowl Christian!

Who doesn’t want to be a champion, especially on this Super Bowl Sunday, right?

My preacher had a great sermon today so I thought I’d share the highlights. So thanks, Tom, for inspiring this post. He entitled it SUPER BOWL CHRISTIANS. Don’t you love the title and wouldn’t we all love to be a Super Bowl Christian. Being a Super Bowl Christian might mean different things to different people but there’s a few things we all need to do if we want to become one.

DESIRE: You can’t win the game if you don’t care about it. Psalm 42: 1 says, As the deer pants for the streams of water so my soul pants for you, O God”  To be a Super Bowl Christian, we should desire a relationship with God above all else. 

DISCIPLINE: To be all that we can be, we must endure a little discipline in life, sometimes self-displine but also from others. (Just ask the Army!) Discipline is not a bad thing. Hebrews 12: 7 tells us,  “Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father.” To be a Super Bowl Christian, we must accept and learn from the discipline, not be made angry, frustrated, or bitter.

DETERMINATION: This step is about focus and commitment. Lots of people start lots of things every day, but it takes determination to finish. Proverbs 24: 16 says it all, “For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again.”  To be a Super Bowl Christian, you’ve got to get back in the game no matter how many times you fall.

DENIAL: This is a painful one–because it’s about self-denial.Something we’re not very good at these days. We want what we want when we want it, and we don’t want to sacrifice anything to get it. .Paul tells us in Romans 12: 1, ” Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship.”   Each time we make a sacrifice as we run our race, we move a little closer to the goal line. To be a Super Bowl Christian, you must be willing to sacrifce.

DISTINCTION If we follow the other four steps to the best of our ability, then we will have completed the race we were given to run. We will live a life of excellence, a life pleasing to God. As Paul said in Phillipians 3:14, “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”. And we, too, can say we are a Super Bowl Christian.

Can you even begin to imagine what your life might be like if you practice these four steps consistently and to the best of your ability, not just in spiritual matters but in all areas of our lives?

You might finally lose that extra weight.

You might get that garage cleaned out so you can finally park your car in it.

You might finish up that high school or college degree.

To be a Super Bowl Champion means to live the life of excellence God calls each of us to live.

Any other ideas what we need to do to live a life of excellence?

UNTIL NEXT TIME…GOD BLESS & GOOD READING!