"My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness..." 2 Corinthians 12:9b

Monday, April 25, 2011

Do What Is Right

I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to agree with each other in the Lord.
Yes, and I ask you, loyal yokefellow,
help these women who have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel….”
Philippians 4:2-3

The words on the computer screen stung like a whip striking out of nowhere, biting and tearing at my heartstrings. What had I said to deserve this? A seemingly innocuous comment had provoked a harsh and unexpected response. My first impulse was to strike back.

Just as I began to formulate my answer, the phone stopped me. On the other end I heard the voice of my sister, and loyal yokefellow. She listened to the angry words I had planned to reply with, and answered me in her gentle way, with a reminder of what our dad used to say. He always said that no matter what anyone else does, it is our responsibility to do the right thing.

I was reminded of these two women in the Philippians with the unpronounceable names, Euodia and Syntyche. These were Christian women who had obviously worked hard alongside Paul for the sake of the gospel. They must have had an ongoing dispute that was affecting other people for him to address it publicly, yet he only gives two verses to the matter. Agreeing with one another in the Lord means to set aside our own feelings in order to do what pleases Him—make God and His kingdom the priority.

With the help of my sister, I formulated an answer that addressed the circumstances which had more than likely provoked the angry response. I offered to pray for the person that had hurt me, and thanked them for a recent kindness that I had planned to ignore in the light of their hurtful words.

It was not easy, doing the right thing seldom is. But you will have the satisfaction of knowing that perhaps God worked through you to ease a hurt you don’t even understand, and at the least, you did the right thing. I guaranty it will change your heart attitude and allow you to grow and perhaps look differently at what you say and do that might be perceived as hurtful by others.


Copyright by Norma Gail Thurston Holtman. Do not use without written permission of the author.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Victory in Jesus

“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our
Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:55-57

I dropped my children off at school and headed home. It was dark and rainy, the mountains hidden in clouds. But suddenly rays of brilliant sunshine broke through the blackened clouds. It seemed as if all of heaven was shining through that one small opening, the tops of the clouds shining in radiant silver, so beautiful it brought me to tears. As I pulled over to retrieve my sunglasses, it was as if the voice of God whispered in my ear that He was showing me a glimpse of heaven and to remember it for what lay ahead. I even prayed He would prepare me to meet what ever was coming, trusting Him for strength to see it through. I had no idea what I was asking for.

Later, as the clouds departed and the sun came out, we arrived home from school to see that my husband was home early. We hurried inside, ready for some unexpected fun. But one look at his face told me that something was terribly wrong.

In a moment I will never forget, my world was shattered. My mother had called him from a friends’ where she and my dad were visiting. The men had gone fly fishing, and there, in the midst of the river, my father was struck by lightning out of a clear blue sky, killing him instantly. As my sobs subsided, I realized that the message from my heavenly Father had been preparation for the home-going of my earthly father. I had seen the heaven where he now resided.

Through the bitterness of grief and pain our family was sustained by the words of my precocious eleven-year-old son. “Mom, Grandpa went from fishing on that river in Farmington to fishing on that river that flows through heaven.” The simplistic faith of a child, transferring what he knew of earth to what he had heard of heaven brought the kindness of a loving God to our hurting hearts.

Do you have grief and pain that nothing eases? Do you fear death, or grieve the loss of a loved one?

As Christians we do not grieve as those who have no hope. We cling to that eternal hope. The message of Easter is for everyone who places their faith in Him.

Through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, death now holds no sting. Heaven’s gates are open wide!


Copyright by Norma Gail Thurston Holtman. Do not use without written permission of the author.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

I AM

“When Jesus said to them, I am He, they went backwards
(drew back, lurched backward) and fell to the ground.” John 18:6 AMP

I was seventeen years old and my heart was breaking. I sat in the dark on my bed, crying, hurting, alone. On my closet door was a picture I had torn out of our church youth magazine of Jesus with the crown of thorns pressed over his brow. I had only recently discovered that such a thing as a personal relationship with Jesus Christ existed.

Though I couldn’t see it in the dark, that picture of Jesus, blood coursing down His face from the sharp thorns, was clear in my mind. I realized for the very first time that He understood my pain. He had suffered also—I could take my questions to Him, and I cried out for Him to take away the hurt. To this day I can remember how I felt at that moment, the almost tangible presence of the Lord Jesus, there in my darkened bedroom—there inside my grieving heart.

When Jesus spoke those words, “I Am He” the soldiers sent to arrest Him fell back in fear. They recognized that He wasn’t just saying that He was the person they were trying to arrest. His words were the statement of the Name above all other names, the Name of the great “I Am,” the God of the universe. They fell back because that Name has such power; power to heal all our pain and sorrows, to forgive all of our sins. That Name is the name of Jesus.

I had accepted Christ as my Savior before, but on that that night I accepted Him as the Lord of all my life, I gave Him control. Things have never been the same. Out of that one moment when I reached out to Jesus, a new life was born. My family all came to know Him and He set my feet firmly on a path that would lead to a life of serving Him—a life of being blessed by Him. I have a certainty that, even in trials, He is with me.

Have you come to the place in your life where the great “I Am” is the Savior from your sins and the Lord of all your life? If not, make this Easter the time that you let Him renew and restore your life. Let the great “I Am” become the Lord of all you are.

Copyright by Norma Gail Thurston Holtman. Do not use without written permission of the author.

Friday, April 8, 2011

What Is Your Passion?

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me. And now, look, your house is abandoned and desolate. For I tell you this, you will never see me again until you say, ‘Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord!’” Matthew 23:37-39 NLT

Our pastor preached Sunday about Jesus living His life with passion. He asked when last time was that you were passionate about something. My husband looked at me and answered that it depends on the moment. I do tend to be a passionate person. I tend to form strong opinions and hold onto them. I believe strongly in things and will wear myself out working for them. But what our pastor was talking about was having a passion for the things of God, knowing and acting on His purpose for me.
One of the things we see Jesus doing in the last week of His life was weeping over Jerusalem, the fickle people who crowned Him as King one day, but would crucify Him within a week. Look at the tenderness of His compassion for those who would not see Him for who He really was. What a tender picture to paint, of a mother hen gathering her fluffy yellow chicks under her wings to protect them. He longed to come to Him, but they had chosen a path that would determine the course, not only for themselves, but for the city of Jerusalem and the entire world—the crucifixion of the Son of God.
He had a deep desire for those people who had heard Him teach day after day in the temple, had seen Him heal their sick and gather their children around Him in love, to see Him for who He really was. He wanted them to know Him as the Lamb of God who would willingly give up His life for their sake.
I believe I know His purpose for me. But I plan to search my heart this Easter season, to look deep inside and make certain I truly weep for the things that made Jesus weep. Am I truly fulfilling His purpose for my life as He wants me to, or as I want to?
What is your passion in life? Do you weep for the things that made our Lord and Savior weep?
Let this Easter season be a time of allowing God to reveal to you what is in your heart, and of showing you what is in His heart for you. Become totally focused on what He created you to do—and then do it.


Copyright, Norma Gail Thurston Holtman, April 2011. Do not use without permission of the author.