Highways To Zion - Judy Nichols
Highways to Zion is a weekly devotional message on WVMC FM designed to encourage you in your daily walk with Christ through lessons from everyday life. Here are the archive's of past devotional messages.
|January 2015 Archive||July 2015 Archive|
|February 2015 Archive||August 2015 Archive|
|March 2015 Archive||September 2015 Archive|
|April 2015 Archive||October 2015 Archive|
|May 2015 Archive||November 2015 Archive|
|June 2015 Archive||December 2015 Archive|
See what Judy has to encourage you this week...
Week of November 22nd
Psalm 136 begins with the words, "Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His loving kindness is everlasting." After two more verses exhorting us to give thanks, the writer gives an overview of God’s acts of loving kindness toward Israel. These include His acts of creation, redemption from slavery in Egypt, rescue of His people from the armies of Pharaoh, guidance through the wilderness, defeat of mighty kings on their behalf, endowing them with a land of their own, and remembering us in our low estate. Remembering God’s gracious acts on our behalf is always a good way to spur us to give thanks.
When God finished his work of creation, He looked at all He had made and said it was "very good" (see Genesis 1:31). In spite of war, injustice, prejudice, and pollution, this old world is still a very beautiful, nurturing place. And God made it just for us. Thank Him for making the blue sky, the green grass, the sunshine to warm us, and the rain to water the earth. Thank Him for the picture of new life every spring, the abundance of harvest in the summer, the dazzling brilliance of the fall foliage, and the serenity of new-fallen snow.
God’s redemption of the children of Israel from their slavery in Egypt foreshadows the redemption of God’s people from slavery to sin, which was accomplished at the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. In Romans 6, the Apostle Paul tells us we have been released from the grip of sin’s control. "Knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be made powerless, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin . . . for sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace" (Rom. 6:6,14). How grateful I am for God’s amazing grace that provided a way for my escape from the bondage of sin.
Just as Pharaoh’s armies pursued the Israelites, so the evils of our culture pursue us daily and seek to recapture us. But the truth of God is that Jesus’ sacrifice was adequate not only to redeem us, but also to rescue us ongoing. Galatians 1:4 says, "the Lord Jesus Christ gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age." Thank God that His activity in our lives does not end with our salvation, but continues as He sanctifies us and preserves us in the midst of a perverse generation.
And as we make our way through this life, which at times can seem very much like a wilderness, we can have confidence that God is leading us. In Psalm 23:3, David says of the Lord, his Shepherd, "He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake." And Isaiah the prophet assures God’s people that, "He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry; when He hears it, He will answer you . . . Your ears will hear a word behind you, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ whenever you turn to the right or to the left." Thank you, Lord, that you have not left us alone, without direction, but You lead us by your indwelling Holy Spirit.
While we may not experience human authorities opposing us, the Scripture tells us that we do war against rulers in the unseen realm. "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places" (Eph. 6:12). And the good news is that the war has already been won. Jesus Christ’s death on the cross won complete victory over sin, death, and Satan and his forces. Col.2:15 sums it up succinctly: "When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through [the cross]." Are you weary and wounded from the battle? Take heart, and give thanks to God that Jesus has won the victory!
God gave the people of Israel a land to be their home. It was a land "flowing with milk and honey" (see Exodus 3:8), a good place to live. God made the earth for us, and life here is pretty good. But on the eve of his crucifixion, Jesus said, "In my Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also" (John 14:2-3). We can’t begin to imagine the wonders of the new heaven and new earth. Or will we even care what our surroundings look like in comparison to being in the presence of Jesus? Thank you, Lord, that though we live now in these fallen, mortal bodies on a beautiful, but imperfect world, we can know that "our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ" (Phil. 3:20). We will have an eternal home far beyond anything we could imagine.
Just as God saw the suffering of His people in Egypt and took action to rescue them, so He sees our broken and helpless condition. King David wrote in Psalm 103:13, "For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust." When Jesus was criticized for eating with tax collectors and sinners, He said, "it is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance" (Luke 5:31-32). One of the greatest gifts God can give to anyone is to see himself as he truly is – fallen, broken, and desperately in need of a Savior. Then we can truly give thanks for "being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 3:24).
Think back over your own personal history. Remember how God saved you from the things that held you captive. Remember how He has delivered you from the temptations of this age. Remember the finality of Christ’s work and the totality of His victory. Remember that you have a place that Jesus is preparing just for you, in heaven, in His presence. Remember how He has met you in your weakness and trials. Remember, and give thanks.
© J.H.Nichols 2004
Week of November 15th
STRUGGLE AND LOVE
My three-year-old granddaughter’s life has been one of struggle. As an infant, she struggled to breathe; she struggled with eating because of reflux disease. She struggled with repeated eye infections and had to have her tear ducts surgically opened. She struggled with low muscle tone and still struggles with learning to speak. Every skill she has mastered, every milestone she has achieved has come at the cost of great struggle.
But she doesn’t "know" – the way we who have observed her know – that life has been a struggle. Struggle is all she’s ever known; it’s normal life to her.
What she does know is that she is loved, so very loved! It’s not just her family – parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles – who love her. Everyone who knows her loves her, positively adores her. She is one of the sweetest children on the planet. Her life of struggle has not affected her outlook on life at all. She approaches life with joy, accepting whatever amount of effort required as perfectly normal. If she knows she is different from other children her age, she gives no evidence of it.
Such is the power of love.
Love is the most transforming power in the universe. "Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends" (1 Cor. 13:7-8). Our family bears with her failures, believes in her potential, hopes for God’s glory to be revealed in and through her, and endures the struggles with her. Our love will never end. And she has been bathed in this love from the moment of her birth. It has made her who she is. The struggles of her life are secondary.
Scripture says, "God is love" (1 John 4:16). So we may rightly conclude that if God loves us (and we know He does – John 3:16), then He bears with our failures, believes in our potential, hopes to be glorified in and by us, and in sending His Son Jesus Christ into the world to live fully as a human, in truth endures our struggles with us. His love will never end. And we have been bathed in it from the moment of rebirth. If we let it, it will transform us into the people God created us to be. Our struggles, too, are secondary.
The struggles we have faced, now face, and will yet face are, indeed, "momentary, light affliction . . . producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison" (2 Cor 4:17) compared to God’s great love for us. Our call is to "look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen, for the things which are seen are temporal but the things which are not seen are eternal" (2 Cor. 4:18). The struggles of this life are temporal; God’s love is eternal. God’s love is big; this world’s troubles are small. May we keep our eyes fixed on God’s great love and let it make us all we are meant to be.
© Judy Nichols 2015
Week of November 8th
Romans 12:1 says, "I appeal to you therefore . . . by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship." It is God’s amazing mercy that prompts us to dedicate our whole lives to Him. We no longer bring an animal to an altar to be killed and its body burned, as the Old Testament saints did. These animal sacrifices were pictures of the ultimate sacrifice of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ. Rather, we offer ourselves as those alive from the dead (Rom. 6:13). All we are, all we have, all we do, all we ever hope to be or have or do, we lay it all down as an offering to God.
What is amazing to me is that this offering of ours is called "holy and acceptable to God." The Old Testament sacrificial animals had to be perfect; they could not be blind or lame or have any blemishes or sores. Yet we who are still so frail, so imperfect, so dogged by the flesh, He accepts as holy.
God accepts the offering of ourselves not because of any merit on our part, for there is none. Neither does He accept it because of any effort on our part to be holy, though we certainly do strive for holiness because of our reverence and love for Him. He accepts our sacrifice of ourselves only on the basis of the shed blood of the Lamb of God. His Son, Jesus Christ, was holy, perfect, and without moral blemish in His human life on earth. He is the innocent One upon whom the blame for the world’s sin was laid. He is the One who took the wrath of God, which we deserve.
Having removed the barrier of sin that separated mankind from God, He is now free to view those who belong to Christ as perfect and holy, just as His own Son was. Indeed, He now views us as in Christ. Another amazing fact!
What becomes of our offering ourselves is not up to us, but up to God. He may use us and our gifts to bless others and glorify Himself. He may also call us to lay them down permanently, as it were. Certainly there are times in all our lives when something we thought would be God’s will for us turns out to be otherwise. Then, like Paul, we are called to view everything as loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ (Phil. 3:8). A sacrifice is only a sacrifice if we leave it on the altar. And being in Christ, being called holy and acceptable to God, is undoubtedly better than trying to have our own way.
Have you presented yourself to God as a living sacrifice? Are you willing for all you are, all you have, and all you do to be at His disposal? God’s amazing mercy has made it possible for you and me to be holy and acceptable to Him. Nothing else compares with that.
© Judy Nichols 2015
- November 28thSecond Annual Christmas Bazaar - St Paul Lutheran Church
- November 30thWHC Hygiene Pantry
- November 30thWHC FREE CLOTHING
- November 28thSt. Michael Lutheran Church Free Community Meal and Praise Worship Service
- December 5thIndiana Wesleyan University Chorale
- December 13thYoung Adult Service - Crossroads Community Church