The Bucket List Is Nothing New!

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According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of a bucket list is, “a list of things that one has not done before, but wants to do before dying.” What comes to your mind when you hear bucket list?

For some people, that bucket list consists of travel to an exotic foreign country or the thrill of doing something crazy (to the rest of us) like skydiving or bungee jumping. Others have it in their hearts to self-publish a book including their devotions (this is on my bucket list), life stories, hobbies, or passions. The inspiration for bucket lists can seem endless!

My dear friend and fellow blogger Donna Cronk (www.donnacronk.com) has turned her bucket list of opening a bed and breakfast in her hometown into two novels: Sweetland of Liberty (2014) and That Sweet Spot (to be published this year.) We dream, talk, and even write about our bucket lists.

The idea of a bucket list is nothing new. Examine this passage from Luke in the Bible and you will recognize the feelings evoked by the desire and the fulfillment of a bucket list item. Luke 2:25-32: Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. Moved by the Holy Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God saying: “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.”

The Holy Spirit placed that overwhelming desire in Simeon’s heart to see the Lord’s Christ before he died. Simeon fulfilled his bucket list by being sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s nudging. Simeon showed up at the temple with expectancy. He embraced his bucket list and praised God for granting his heart’s deepest longing. We hear the joy in Simeon’s response, “You now dismiss your servant in peace.” Paraphrasing in other words, “My bucket list is completed. I can die in peace now.”

What desires has God placed in your heart? Are you listening for the Holy Spirit’s confirmation to realize that dream in God’s perfect timing? Are you open to the new experiences that God wants to bless you with?

God gives us the possibility to dream big. Bring your heart to God and let Him transform you with a bucket list that will thrill and fulfill you. Like Simeon, a personal experience with the Lord’s Christ is to be at the top of the list!

Luke 1:27

For nothing is impossible with God.

 

Luke 18:27

Jesus replied, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.”

 

What Does Repentance Look Like?

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The simple definition of repentance that I remember from church is, “To turn around.” I see this theme emphasized literally and figuratively in the book of Jonah.

In chapter one, Jonah disobeys God’s word to go to Nineveh. In fact, Jonah goes in the opposite direction from Nineveh. Chapter two is Jonah’s story of coming to repentance. Chapter three is a picture of Jonah turning around and heading straight to Nineveh. Chapter 4 is God’s correction of Jonah’s thinking and God’s softening of Jonah’s heart to beat in unison with His heart.

The lessons in the Old Testament never get old. Chapter three shares the signs of true repentance expressed by Jonah, the people of Nineveh, and the king of Nineveh.

1) Vs. 3  Obey God’s word.

2) Vs. 3  Do things differently from the past.

3) Vs. 5  Believe God’s word.

4) Vs. 5  Mourn over one’s sins.

5) Vs. 6-7  Set the right and godly example for others to emulate.

6) Vs. 8  Stop sinning.

7) Vs. 8  Ask God for mercy and forgiveness.

8) Vs. 5-8  Align our priorities with God’s will for our lives.

May we draw closer to God through the repentance of sin. God’s heart is for us to enjoy the safety, the purpose and the joy of a life lived fully for Him, unhindered by sin.

Jonah 3:1-5

Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.” Jonah obeyed the word of the LORD and went to Nineveh. Now Nineveh was a very important important city—a visit required three days. On the first day, Jonah started into the city. He proclaimed: “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned.” The Ninevites believed God. They declared a fast, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth. 

 

The Contrast Found in John 20:19-31

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In John 20:19-30, we find the disciples behind locked doors after the crucifixion of Jesus. This passage relates the disciples’ first encounter with the resurrected Jesus. Ultimately, it is a true story about overcoming fear and doubt to discover genuine joy in Jesus’s presence.

What the World Gives Us:

  • Fear (Verse 19: The disciples were behind locked doors for fear of the Jews.)
  • Doubt (Verse 25: Thomas would not believe until he saw Jesus, scars and all, for himself.)

 What Jesus Gives Us:

  • Peace (Verses 19, 21, 26: Three times Jesus says, “Peace be with you!”)
  • Joy (Verse 20: Jesus’s presence in our life results in joy to overflowing.)
  • Calling & Commission (Verse 21: “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”)
  • The Holy Spirit (Verse 22: Jesus inside of us.)
  • Power (Verse 23, Implied: An equipping to do God’s work.)
  • Belief (Verse 27: The substance of faith that crushes doubt.)
  • Personal relationship with God (Verse 28: “My Lord and my God!”)
  • Life (Verse 31: Life in Jesus is for the present and carries into eternity.)

 

John 20:26-29

A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among then and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Favorite Parable

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Which parable of Jesus is your favorite?  I have one. It is the “Parable of the Workers Paid Equally,” found in Matthew 20:1-16.  The parable can be summarized as different groups of workers started at different times (working more or less than their counterparts), but everyone was paid the same wages at the end of the day.

The reason why this particular parable is my favorite is because I am the worker that started in the middle of the day.  I was an adult with kids before I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior.  Even though I didn’t work for God as a child, a teen, a college student, a newlywed or a new mother, I still receive the full wages of heaven at the end of my life.

I distinctly remember the feeling I had when I first read this parable.  It was relief that I hadn’t blown my opportunity with God. Of course I missed out on many blessings along the way, but I still get to share in the biggest reward of all.

Sometimes, I act like I have to work twice as hard to make up for lost time.  But this parable allows me to relax.  God is more interested in my future with Him than in my past without Him. This parable reminds me that we are never too old, too late, or too lame to come to Jesus and say, “Put me to work in your vineyard. I want you to be my boss.  I can’t wait to be paid in blessings.”

Matthew 20:12-14

‘These men who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’ “But he answered on of them, ‘Friend, I am not being unfair to you.  Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’

King Josiah’s Example (2 Kings 23:1-30): Part 2

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No one wants to stop reading in the middle of a good story.  Hence, Part 2 for King Josiah’s life story.  In 2 Kings 23:1-30, we witness a man on fire for God with a mission for God’s holiness.  King Josiah’s reign recorded in this chapter provides us with fourteen more godly examples to follow. Between 2 Kings 22 and 23, I found, count ‘em, 24 godly examples from King Josiah’s life.  How many am I following in my life?  Not nearly enough…

1)      Vs. 1         Have a godly support system.

2)      Vs. 2         Put God in the center of your business.

3)      Vs. 2         Read God’s word.

4)      Vs. 2         Share God’s Word with everyone in your circle of influence.

5)      Vs. 3         Personally choose God for your life.

6)      Vs. 3         Live out a deep faith that consumes our hearts and our souls.

7)      Vs. 3         Set the example and the atmosphere for others to choose God.

8)      Vs. 4-16   Get rid of idols from our past and present that threaten our future with God.

9)      Vs. 21-23 Celebrate in a corporate setting what God has done for us.

10)    Vs. 24       Distance yourself from people that will pull you away from God.

11)    Vs. 24       Live according to God’s word as your instructional manual.

12)    Vs. 25       May our reputation with the LORD precede us and follow us.

13)    Vs. 25       Follow the LORD.

14)    Vs. 30       Make our stand for the LORD.

2 Kings 23:3

The king stood by the pillar and renewed the covenant in the presence of the LORD- to follow the LORD and keep his commands, regulations and decrees with all his heart and all his soul, thus confirming the words of the covenant written in this book. Then all the people pledged themselves to the covenant.

King Josiah’s Example (2 Kings 22): Part 1

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I remember being on the fence (so to speak) about God’s truth in Jesus Christ. I decided to learn more by reading God’s word in the Bible.  I started at the beginning.  In Genesis and Exodus, there are so many exciting stories and examples of faith to relate to and be inspired by. Then I hit Leviticus, the book of laws.  That’s when things starting falling apart.  I didn’t get it.  Twenty years later with the hindsight of faith, I love the Old Testament.  I still stumble over the names, places and who was king when, but I have found a treasure trove of wisdom in those seemingly harder and duller passages.  2 Kings 22 is one such nugget.  In this chapter, I found ten examples of King Josiah to follow in my own life.  There is so much we can learn from the examples of those who came before us.  Even better, when it is an example that honors God with obedience.

Please feel free to add or expound on the examples I have listed.

1)      Vs. 1-2  Choose God’s ways.

2)      Vs. 2      Stick to the straight and narrow, not turning to the left or to the right.

3)      Vs. 5      Care about the church as a place to honor God.

4)      Vs. 7      We can’t do it all and we aren’t called to do it all.

5)      Vs. 8,10  Surround ourselves with godly people to keep us accountable to God.

6)      Vs. 11      Keep our hearts softened towards God.

7)      Vs. 13      Recognize evil in the world, including our own.

8)      Vs. 13      Take ownership for our sphere of influence (those we are in authority over.)

9)      Vs. 19      Humble ourselves before God.

10)    Vs. 19      Grieve over sin.

 

2 Kings 22:1-2

Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem thirty-one years. His mother’s name was Jedidah daughter of Adaiah; she was from Bozkath. He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD and walked in all the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left.