Jesus Christ — The Theme

by Sharon Merhalski

People send me a lot of forwards and articles. I don’t have time to read all of them but a statement in one article grabbed my total attention:

“Jesus Christ was the theme of their life.”

As I sat with God and mused on this statement I first thought of a themed birthday party and how obvious the theme is when a person enters the room. From the decorations in the house, the cake, the plates, napkins, cups and games…all will display the theme. And often the birthday person will even wear clothes displaying the theme of the party.

I then thought of Bronner’s, a Christmas store in Michigan where every single thing in the building portrays the Christmas theme…even the way the sales clerks dress. From the time a person gets the building in view until the time they leave and the building is out of sight, the theme of the establishment is unmistakable.
I did a word study to help me further understand the word “theme.”

Theme: a subject or topic of discourse or of artistic representation; a written exercise; a melodic subject of a musical composition or movement (Webster’s Dictionary)

Theme: the theme is not intended to teach or preach. In fact, it is not presented directly at all. You extract it from the characters, action, and setting that make up the story. (Learner.org)

Our person—our life—not just what we speak–is a message…an “epistle” which in the Strong’s Concordance means: written message; letter.

2Cointhians 3:2-3 “Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.”

2 Corinthians 3:3–Barnes Commentary: “They had been made manifest to be such by their conversion. The sense is, it is plain, or evident, that ye are the epistle of Christ.”

“Jesus Christ was the theme of their life.”

Philippians 2:12 “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”

Work out—Strong’s Concordance G2716 to work fully, that is, accomplish; by implication to finish, fashion: cause, do (deed), perform, work (out).

My heart is filled with questions: What theme have I worked out in my life–with the Holy Spirit–for others to see and not just to hear? How much of my epistle have I written in my own strength and wisdom? Does the theme I have worked to ‘write’ honor and glorify the Lord Jesus Christ and show—not just tell–the power of His resurrection?

I believe God makes it clear that we are responsible to author our lives: In the Old Testament He admonishes us to “up and sanctify yourselves” and in the New Testament He admonishes to “work out”/cause/fashion our “epistles”. We are responsible for writing our books that all men will read. The question is does that book we have chosen to write have the theme of Jesus Christ from the first word of chapter one to the last word of the last chapter?

We just loaded our new web magazine with articles, and we are continuing to do so. Some of the articles were moved over from the old web site…but not until each was read and often edited by the author. Some old articles were even discarded. Some may ask why they needed to be edited…or discarded? Because God continually works to mature/change His children, desiring to teach us Biblical truths, often dispelling things previously learned and believed. (I have grown to believe that all of us need to take inventory to see what we may be embracing that has sadly become the ‘norm’ instead of what the Word of God plainly says is absolute truth.)

The Bible says we need to “put off” and “put on.”

Ephesians 4:22-24 “That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old
man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the
spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in
righteousness and true holiness.”

As I sit here this morning I am asking God to show me where I need to use an editor’s pen. I am seeking the Holy Spirit, “the Spirit of the Living God” to re-set…where needed…the theme of my epistle that God may be totally glorified in every nook and cranny of the pages.

Lord, I so desire to be like the Christmas store in Michigan where my theme is plainly seen from the moment a person approaching gets me in view. I want the manifestations of the absolute truths of the Word of God and the power of the Spirit of God to consume the pages of my epistle for Your glory only and the power of Your might through the workings of Your Holy Spirit.

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Published in: on August 20, 2009 at 11:47 am  Leave a Comment  
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Fainting at the Evil All Around

by Sharon Merhalski

While watching the news this morning I felt ‘faint’ from all of the negative and violent input. God brought this verse to my heart: Psalm 27:13 “I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.” Sometimes it isn’t easy for me to see the goodness of the Lord in the world around me.

After looking up the word “believed” in the Strong’s Concordance I realized seeing the goodness of the Lord is more than simply believing…it is my properly building up or supporting that belief with God’s Word; my fostering it as a parent or nurse; putting my trust in the LORD I believe. God reminded me that I have a part in my not fainting at the happenings of the world around me. But God…none of His children have to live in fear…or lives of “when in trouble, when in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout.” Praise the Lord.

Published in: on July 28, 2009 at 1:48 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Bible: Funeral Script or Lively Hope?

by Sharon Merhalski

“The Bible is not a script for a funeral service, but it is the record of God always bringing life where we expected to find death. Everywhere it is the story of resurrection.”

This quote caused me to stop all activity around me and sit still with God. I think it would be a perfect opening statement of a book on the Christian life…ALL of the Christian life: Home, church, school, work…both relationships and activities.

This passage of God’s Word filled my heart as I listened to God:

1Peter chapter 1
:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
:4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,
:5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
:6 Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:
:7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:
:8 Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:

As I sat with God I sensed in my heart a question: What do I allow to enter my heart to nurture my spirit? Do I choose to fill my ears and read with my eyes the Bible spoken, taught, sung, written as a funeral script or a lively hope? Do I leave church rejoicing “with joy unspeakable and full of glory” because I am full of lively hope? Or do I leave more downtrodden from the complexities of life than when I entered the church? Do I close the book cover on that Christian best seller renewed in lively hope given by His glorious resurrection or drowning in morose feelings of being worthless and deserving of Hell? Do I enter praise and worship with the Christian music I listen to…or a depressive hole?

We are affected by all of the activities we choose to enter into…and our spirits will be affected accordingly.

Jude 1:20 But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost,
Jude 1:21 Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.

“The Bible is not a script for a funeral service, but it is the record of God always bringing life where we expected to find death. Everywhere it is the story of resurrection.”

Published in: on July 14, 2009 at 3:16 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Susie Wanted Dinner

By Sharon Merhalski

Ron had the day off from work and decided to meet his family’s need for food when they came home that evening. He thought about what to prepare and decided to make a large dinner for the family instead of hamburgers on the grill. After taking time to consider how much he loved his family, and how thankful he was for them, he decided to make their favorite meal…a Thanksgiving dinner with every possible trimming anyone could imagine!

That evening when Ron was putting the Thanksgiving feast on the table Susie, his little girl, came in from outside and said, “Daddy, I’m hungry. Can I have some dinner?” He sweetly answered, “yes” and called the family to the supper table where each took their usual seat. Everyone gasped at the abundant table set with linen, china and crystal! Each member of the family was in awe at what dad had done for them…just for them!

Before prayer dad shared his written words of love and devotion and told them the sacrifice of his labor of love was his gift for them…and they were worth far more to him than the pain from the third degree burn on his right hand and the deep cut on his left thumb.

When the perfectly delicious food was passed mom carefully put each kind of delicious and nourishing food on Susie’s plate. Oddly, with each spoonful of food Susie said again, “Daddy, I’m hungry. Can I have some dinner?” Each time Susie repeated the question her Daddy quietly reminded her that her answer was right in front of her—it had already been provided for her–and all she had to do was eat it. However, Susie never picked up her fork or spoon and incessantly asked, “Daddy, I’m hungry. Can I have some dinner?”

Daddy, quietly, and with much patience, again read part of his written text to remind Susie he had already, with abundant and unconditional love, provided all she could hope for to answer her need but she kept saying the same thing, “Daddy, I’m hungry. Can I have some dinner?”

About half way through the meal it became evident to her loving father that Susie’s repeated request for food was not going to be met because Susie had decided by her actions that she was not going to believe her request had already been answered…even though it was in her reach. Her unbelief in the finished work of her father, and his written words, left her hungry, discouraged and still seeking for the answer to her need. All Susie had to do was assimilate the blessing.

What prompted me to pen the above paragraphs? I was prompted by a question that filled my heart when I was studying the goodness of God: How many times have I asked or begged God for what His Word assures me He has already provided for me…what He had already been placed within my grasp? The answer to that question birthed much thought coupled with regret that I had not begun to consistently live this truth a long time ago.

Two examples:

How often have I prayed for God to be with me in a circumstance? Whether I feel His presence or not the Bible says He lives in me so how can He not be with me on every mountaintop and in every valley? I need to thank Him for His presence, not ask Him for it. And, oh the times I have asked God to be especially near someone in a trial instead of thanking Him for His abiding presence in their lives.

How often have I begged for God to give me peace in heart-wrenching times? God’s name is Jehovah-Shalom: God is peace. All of the peace I need has been provided in Jesus. All I have to do is accept and assimilate peace and thank Him for His provision.

I’ve always known that faith is not faith if I can see it. I realize now when I have prayed for what God has already provided, instead of realizing it is mine to simply accept in unwavering faith, I get easily wrapped in unbelief because I cannot see, feel or touch the provision. Unbelief hinders what God is able to provide for us…it renders us powerless…it grieves the Holy Spirit.

The disciples left us with a good example of unbelief that rendered them powerless and the frustration of Jesus for the situation.

Matthew 17:16 And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him.

:17 Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me.

:18 And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour.

:19 Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out?

:20 And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.

Published in: on June 5, 2009 at 7:51 pm  Comments (1)  
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Growing Children of God Need to Ask Questions

The older I get the more I realize the importance of our growing-up experience. For example, a child growing up in a dysfunctional home will, in some degree, have issues to overcome later in life. A child who had the experience of negligent home-schooling will, in some degree, have educational issues to contend with or overcome. A child who was raised by the television with little parental training, will have issues with cognitive and coping skills…and potentially a host of other issues.

I’ve counseled people who have grown up in dysfunctional homes for decades…and heard and read about many others. I know the issues and problems I’ve had to overcome, and am still overcoming, because of what I experienced and learned in the dysfunctional home in which I was raised. The questions of “how were they parented?” or “how were their parents parented as children?” often comes into play as a person walks a path of healing…re-learning. As I thought about this yesterday my mind whirled.

At sixty years old my husband and I often find ourselves talking about our Christian upbringing—wealth of Bible and Christian life teaching–from our first pastor after we gave Jesus control of our lives. Yesterday I stopped to consider our looking back at the teaching/training of the pastor who nurtured us when we were infant Christians. I realized the importance and parallels of our physical and spiritual childhood experiences and teachings. We’ve had other good, loving, Bible-teaching and godly-living pastors in our 40 years of Christian living. However, our foundation and belief-system, like that of a small child, was constructed when we were infant and growing children of God.

In the last couple of years God, using His blessed Word/His Balm of Gilead and His Holy Spirit to lead me and guide me into truth, has worked to change some ‘truth’, teaching, I received as an infant Christian. Not ‘connecting the dots’ I’ve often wondered why I have had such a struggle at times to let Biblical truth replace old teaching. It dawned on me yesterday that this is the same struggle people have with replacing teaching/truths they learned in a less-than-nurturing childhood.

Young children do not have the skills to process and discern truth, right from wrong or what is morally acceptable. Children need parenting to show them…teach them. If the parenting is right, moral, nurturing, loving, the experience of growing up is a healthy one. This is equally true for our Christian experience: How we were grown up in the Lord while our diets consisted of milk…when we were too immature to study and digest the meat of the Word of God…determines the health/strength/understanding/power of our Christian lives. Of course, this can be changed with much study, seeking, accepting and assimilating revealed Biblical truth.

I believe the first step in strengthening my Christian life came when I let myself accept the fact that some things/truths I was taught as a young Christian did not line up with the Bible…some ‘truths’ were not even in the Bible. On my path to growing past some old teaching I had to ask the same questions people need to consider when walking paths to spiritual and emotional healing: “how were they (my pastors and spiritual mentors) ‘parented’ in the Lord?” or “how were the people they learned from ‘parented’ as babes in Christ?”

For example yesterday I studied the doctrines and teachings of the church one of our pastors was born into and raised in…and later left. My study helped me to realize where some of the untruths he taught as Bible truth came from…his spiritual childhood training which he never questioned. Our ‘parents’ and ‘grandparents’ can have a huge impact on what we learn, who we are and how we teach others…until we choose to change the wrong beliefs through seeking Bible study. “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” II Timothy 2:15

Change is uncomfortable. Change is good. Knowing the truth sets us free to live victoriously in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Published in: on May 5, 2009 at 12:47 pm  Leave a Comment  
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