Trusting God

Today, actually yesterday now, has been a gloriously challenging day! Why? My husband and I had to say goodbye to our furry friend of almost fifteen years from 444 miles away. Now as the day has closed and I prepare to close my eyes, I find my mind running at warp speed as my body begs for rest.
I find myself tracing God’s hand through our experience and realizing now more than ever that when I can not understand the reason things happen the way they do that God is still in control, and He always works things out for our good and His glory. I also find myself wondering why this lesson is one that it seems to keep coming back around.
Just a brief backstory, Cinnamon (our Pomeranian) came to live with us as a wee puppy in September 2001. She was quite precocious and lovable at the same time! Eighteen months later, a quieter more sedate Abby joined our family and Cinnamon adopted her as her baby. This past fall we had to limit Cinnamon’s use of our deck and stairs due to failing eyesight. Being a creature of habit, she, however, decided to sneak away and go up the stairs. She misstepped which resulted in a very long fall for such a small dog. We were surprised and pleased when she recovered as well as she did.
Fast forward to a couple of months ago. We were invited to participate in a powerful leadership conference along with a group from our church. As we began to make plans to attend, Cinnamon’s health deteriorated. The vet exam determined she had an infection, but her heart was strong, and she had a lot of life in her. Again, she seemed to rally. We knew she would need more personal care than a kennel would be able to give if we were to go out of town for the conference; so we prayed “Lord if you want us to go, help make provision for Cinnamon’s special care needs.” If He opened a door, we’d go; if not we would go another time.  He opened a door, and we knew she and Abby would receive wonderful care.
Yesterday (Thursday) the conference began and back home, Cinnamon began a battle for every breath. Our sweet friend called about an hour before it began telling us Cinnamon had taken a turn for the worse during the night. She compassionately took care of Cinnamon for us for the next three hours. Sadly, we have to say goodbye to our long-time companion.  We find peace from knowing our friends were lovingly caring for her. Even so, I wonder about the timing and wish we had been there for Cinnamon; not that it would have changed the outcome. In fact, God in His wisdom may very well have orchestrated the timing. Perhaps it was to help ease the blow of the loss a beloved pet or to teach us to be gracious and accept the help of others to carry our burdens. Is it possible it is just life, and it was not part of His plan? I suppose that is possible as well.
Whatever the case, I am reminded that God is faithful, and He is good even when circumstances would challenge that in our human understanding! He redeems our lives and our circumstances when we allow Him to. There will be no more questioning or blame here. If or when regret at not being there tries to creep in, I will rest in Him and not in my understanding. I resolve to trust Him and His timing beyond my understanding and in knowing this, I will find peace as my heart grieves. I will choose to remember that He is faithful and He is my peace and my joy even in the midst of troubling or hard circumstances.  His grace is always sufficient!!

May you also find in Him grace, peace, and joy! Blessings to you this day!

Challenged to be Bold

How bold are the prayers we pray?  In  Christ, do we truly pray with the realization that the creator of the universe calls us sons and daughters?  I just finished watching a video clip  by Lisa Bevere. Speaking at the Love Life Women’s Conference, she said: “The world needs you to pray scary prayers instead of scared prayers!” Another quote was: “If you are not praying the kind of prayers that scare you; believe me, they are not scaring the enemy!” That is challenging just by itself.  Then I laid down my Bible and it opened to Isaiah 45 and my eyes were drawn to this passage…

 “Drip down, O heavens, from above, and let the clouds pour down righteousness; Let the earth open up and salvation bear fruit, and righteousness spring up with it.  I, the Lord, have created it.  “Woe to the one who quarrels with his Maker—An earthenware vessel among the vessels of earth!” Isaiah 45: 8 & 9 NASB

 Now that is a powerful prayer!! 

 This passage is talking about a King named Cyrus who is appointed by God to set His people free from exile and return them home to Jerusalem and to rebuild the temple so they could worship God freely as free people once again. Verses 1-8 were a commission by God to Cyrus rather than a prayer. However, if you have been even somewhat keeping up on the political scene or even have just perused the social media scene for a few minutes; I am betting you have seen some of the craziness! If you ventured to watch one of the many debates, I know you’ve personally witnessed it yourself.  The debate last night was a very loose interpritation of the rules of debate at best. Three people competing to all talk at once, over and over again. There were times I just wished the moderator would speak up or the sound tech would cut the microphones to stop the chaos. Alas, this is the nature of political debates today.

    The people across all races and all belief systems in this country are worried about the course things have taken or will take over the next years. What will we be leaving behind for our children and grandchildren to clean up with the great debt this country owes? How can we bring back balanced spending and get rid of debt? Is our military strong enough to protect us? What about the economy? Borders? Will the Constitution and it’s amendments including the 1st and 2nd be upheld? The questions just keep coming and many Americans whether or not they will admit it range from concerned to flat out scared of the course that seems to be played out before us. People want answers. They want to choose the right leader.

     Maybe it is time; perhaps past time, for believers all across this country to lay down our concerns, fears and questions down at the feet of our Creator and begin to pray bold prayers.  Our God hears His kids when they cry out!  We can vote; we can speak out about injustices, freedoms, rights; we can educate people; we can be an informed and educated person; all these are important! But it is He Who: “removes and establishes kings and rulers.”  Not sure or unconvinced? Do your remember the ‘hanging chads’ and the declaration that Bush would not have a second term? Or the declaration that the little known candidate Obama would not get enough votes?? 

Daniel’s prayer – Daniel 2: 19- 23  The mystery was then revealed to Daniel in a vision at night, and Daniel praised the God of heaven and declared:  May the name of God be praised forever and ever, for wisdom and power belong to Him.  He changes the times and seasons; He removes kings and establishes kings. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding. He reveals the deep and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, and light dwells with Him.  I offer thanks and praise to You, God of my fathers, because You have given me wisdom and power.  And now You have let me know what we asked of You, for You have let us know the king’s mystery.”

 Maybe, just maybe it is time to we make sure our hearts and motives are right and find some great scriptures and pray some very bold scary prayers for our lives, for the lives of those we love, for our country, and even for those who are against us!  Our battle is not with flesh and blood…Ephesians 6:10-13 Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by His vast strength.  Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics of the Devil.  For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.  This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand.”  

Brothers and Sisters;                                                                                                                                       May grace, peace and boldness be multiplied to you! 

 

 

 

 

 

Who Are We Building For?

Have you ever noticed there are some very hard sayings in scripture?  They are generally words that we can be tempted to either skip over or  forget about; sometimes intentionally because they challenge or scare us.  Let’s consider Matthew 7: 21-23:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

What does this mean? Clearly, the people in this situation thought they were doing the work of a Christ-follower and expected to be included in those who would enter the Kingdom. Yet Jesus says to them, “I never knew you.” I don’t know about you, but this statement certainly gives me pause!  It brings up many questions in my mind and makes me want to take an up close look at who I am.  What does a true believer look like?  We can go back and take a look at Matthew 5, 6 and 7 for some answers.  Is it enough to just believe in Jesus Christ? After all, James 2:19 says that  even the demons believe that there is one true God and because of that they tremble or shudder.  They certainly won’t be entering the Kingdom of God.   Maybe it just isn’t as simple as some today make it seem.  How many times have I heard it said  “believe on the Lord Jesus and you will be saved.” Are we propagating cheap grace? Fire insurance? and numbers? or are we truly interested in making disciples as Christ instructed? It is certainly worth consideration!

Romans 10:8-9 tells us: “8 But what does it say? “THE WORD IS NEAR YOU, IN YOUR MOUTH AND IN YOUR HEART “– that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, 9 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.…”  How if we have done this, do we go from salvation to depart from me, I never knew you?  Have we come to a place or are we coming to a place in the western world where we teach about salvation and then drop the ball when it comes to scantification?  Do professing Christians look decidedly different in their lifestyle than non-believers?

I want to be careful here to explain. I am not talking about looking different by telling everyone they are going to hell because… 9you can fill in the blank0. Nor am I talking about people who go around telling everyone one what they are doing wrong and why in a judgemental and condescending way. That is not how Jesus worked! Jesus met people where they were along His way and He loved them. Did He tell the woman at the well and others about their life, yes. But He did so in a way that compelled her to go back to her people and tell them about this man who told her all about her life and invited them to know Him. That tells me He was gentle and loving because  judgemental and condescending generally does not produce positive results but anger and resentment.

Another possibility is that we in the western world do not understand the concept of Lord.  Most have never been under an immediate autority other than our parent(s).  We may have been under authority at work where we are ‘paid’ to do as we are told. AS a whole, we are very independent and most often whether right or wrong self-governed people.  Submission to someone else is quite foreign to many of us.  Christianity is all about submission to Christ. Paul said follow me as I follow Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 11:1). Christ is our ultimate example of how we are to live our lives.  His life was lived according to what Father God asked of Him.  The mark of a true believer/follower is to be conformed to the image of Christ. Everyday our life should look a little more like His if we are truly His followers.

Perhaps one explanation of the above scripture is that those Jesus would say this to were attracted to the power and miracles but not to the person of Christ. Maybe they imitated His outward actions but did not imitate His personality or inner behavior. Perhaps they lacked the heart connection that comes from a personal relationship with the Lord and were using Him for what He could do for Him rather than having the heart of one who follows and serves.   Could it be that the pull of the world and love of worldy pleasures were just to great for them to lay down or overcome?  How are we doing personally?  Is the pull of the world greater than our desire to become more like Jesus?  Who do we look like?  The world? Or are we being conformed from glory to glory into the image of Jesus Christ?   Preaching to myself here…

Heavenly Father,  thank you for Your grace and mercy to Your people! Lord, thank you that wisdom is available to each of us if we ask You for it. I pray that you will give us a heart for You and to be Christ’s representative’s on this earth; loving others as He loved us and walking out the Fruit of the Spirit with each step we take. I ask that Your Bride will arise and walk differently in this world, that we will be known for our love each other and for others and that love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, goodness and self-control will dominate our lives and touch the lives of all who are around us.  May there be unity among the body and may revival breakout beginning with the body of Christ. In the mighty and powerful name of Jesus Christ!

May grace and peace be multiplied through all who believe!

Why Struggles?

     Over the past few days, I have been looking back at life. You see, my husband and I have been asked to be a part of a relationship conference this next weekend. It will consist of a brief testimony from five couples about marriage and then will be followed by a “rapid fire” question and answer period. The groups will be divided into unmarried, married under ten years, married over ten years. Then all the groups will reunite for an overview and more q&a.  We are blessed to have four couples with over 35 years experience participating!

     I have to say the secret to our longevity in marriage is most likely tenacity. That put plainly; stubbornness.  We are both stubborn people and come from stubborn people. We also started our marriage out with the mindset that this is forever. By beginning from the faith perspective and from a Biblical world view, that means our perspective was to make it work; fix what was broken.  Have we ever felt like quitting? Yes. Thankfully, when one was discouraged the other usually picked up the slack and we muddled our way through by prayer, God’s help and sometimes sheer determination. Has it always been easy? Not at all!  We really were just babies starting out; though we’d never admit it then.  I remember one couple in their sixties who were friends with our parents declaring, “they will never make it! It’s puppy love and they are too young to get married.” I wonder what they’d say today…

     I spent some time this weekend looking back at the things we have been through together.  I was amazed to see how quickly the challenges began in our marriage and how those struggles were clustered together; back to back, and sometimes year after year. Many were heavy duty challenges, not just the typical adjusting to life together or financial issues.  Those can be difficult enough. We experienced a number of deaths of loved ones close in succession; some following long term illness and some sudden.  It was  a little shocking to look back.  It was also pretty gratifiing at the same time seeing all that we have come through and how it changed each of us; how we grew through those times.

     The thing is, often it is those very struggles in life that cause us to grow, mature and strengthen.  They push us to do something other than just get by.  They force us to look for answers, to seek wisdom.  Hopefully they lead us to seek out God; His wisdom and understanding; and godly answers.  Even when that is not the case, we are able to learn what not to do the next time and what does not work.  As we grow and mature through these times, it puts us in the perfect place to help others who go through similar situations.

     “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.  For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 ESV  

     I could’t help but feel a little overwhelmed and amazed as I glanced the highlights of the years.  Just the major events, both the good ones and the hard ones.  Would we have ever signed up for this if we’d known what was coming?  I really don’t know. I would hope so!  I have to say as good as the good has been and as hard as the hard has been; I wouldn’t change a thing! There are times we each wish we had done better or differently but the truth is it has all worked together for good to get both of us were we are today.  We are better for those struggles because they have changed us. They have stretched and matured us.  Fears are fewer; faith is stronger. Best of all, our Heavenly Father is so very real and present in our lives.  He is the true reason that we are here today!  If our stories can help others coming along behind us, all the better.

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.  For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.  Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:14-16

     By His mercy and grace, we have and continue to hold fast in both our faith and in our marriage.  Love deepens with both the good times and the struggles we face when our hearts are set on Him! He is the unifier and the glue that holds this relationship together on the sunny days and on the stormy seas.

 “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” Isaiah 43:1b-3a ESV

May God’s mercy, grace and peace surround you this day!

 

Find Rest in the Promises

 

What a powerful scripture!  We have received the same promises as the Hebrew children wandering in the wilderness! This challenged me to ask this question…  Just how many promises does the Bible contain? Enter Internet search engines. They are great for my inquiring mind; just remember we can’t believe all we read there.

How many promises are there in the Bible?  The answers I found varied widely.  The first site I found concluded there were 3,573 (bible info.com). Others ranged from 3,000 all the way up to over 30,000! No two sites agreed on the number but that doesn’t really matter for our purpose today.  The point is the Bible is full of all kinds of promises for our life and according the the verse above they are not just for the people of old; they are for us.  I don’t know about you, but that gives me great hope and excitement.

You don’t have to live long on this planet before you realize that life can be very challenging at times!  Our desire is to live fairly uncomplicated lives and we want that for our children as well.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t always turn out that way for us.  If you have circled the sun a few times on this planet, you know this!  When life decides to hurl curve balls and fast balls our way, what do we do?  How do we keep the gale force winds in life from blowing us right into hopelessness, depression and despair?  Sometimes we seek out council from a trusted parent, sibling, mentor, friend or other relative.  It’s great to have those people in our lives!  What if the situation is too overwhelming; too complicated; to big; to tender; or perhaps just too embarrassing to share?  What happens when that burden is excruciatingly heavy and there seems to be no relief from it’s weight in sight?

Jesus says, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 (HCSB)

Or as the Message words it:

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Live freely and lightly! That’s what I want every day! So how do we accomplish this is our lives?  What are some practical steps?  How do we rise above what the world throws our way?  How do we overcome discouragement, fear and doubt?  I guarentee many will think my answer is over-simplistic and that’s ok. I’ve been there too!  For many it will seem not only over-simplistic but far fetched.  It’s fine, your doubts will not cause any resentment from me.  The answer to every question, need or dilemma we have is in the Word of God.  I have put it to the test and every single time I have come away with help; comfort; peace.  Our post modern culture will tell us God’s Word isn’t revelant or that it’s archaic.  They may say it’s too restrictive; all about rules, etc.  Even if there is just a bit of truth in what is culturally said about the Bible in our day, how can you dismiss it if you have never truly tested it for yourself?

Whether the actual number of promises found within it’s covers is 3,000 or 33,000; one thing is sure.  One of them will fit what you’re facing at least on some level and is worth deciding to stand on that promise in faith.  When doubt comes, pray and speak the promise over and over. I doesn’t hurt to keep a check on your motives in the process; are my motives pure and is my heart in the right place?

As a believer and follower of Jesus Christ, the best gift we can give ourselves is knowing who God says we are in Christ and being grounded in His Word and His promises. Why? Because the Holy Spirit will remind us or bring it to our mind in time of need or crisis. This is a process and takes time. In the mean time, when attacks or problems come what do we do?  Personally, if I don’t know a promise for my situation, I grab my phone; open the browser and search… Scripture for ______? You can fill in the topic with the need. Example: scripture for doubt, fear, discouragement, rejection, etc. Who does the Bible say I am in Christ? What does the Bible say about healing?

A word of warning,  if you are using the Internet, not everything you find will be accurate and true so test what you find. Also, check it against God’s Word; that it is in context with the scriptures around it; test it against other scriptures; and pray for wisdom, understanding and revelation reguarding the scripture.   This may seem a little complicated, but it is worth it because it works. It is possible to rest in Christ even in the middle of a storm!

A few promises to start with:

2 Timothy 1:7  “For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline” NASB

Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” NIV

James 1: 5-8  “If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who “worry their prayers” are like wind-whipped waves. Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open.” MSG

Deuteronomy 31:6  “Be strong and courageous; don’t be terrified or afraid of them. For it is the Lord your God who goes with you; He will not leave you or forsake you.”

Hebrews 13:5-6  “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said,  “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”

Isaiah 43: 1-2 ““Now this is what the Lord says — the One who created you, Jacob, and the One who formed you, Israel — “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine. I will be with you when you pass through the waters, and when you pass through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you. You will not be scorched when you walk through the fire, and the flame will not burn you.”
‭‭ ‭HCSB‬‬

Be Encouraged

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This scripture is one of hundreds of favorites! It is a reminder that our Heavenly Father does not miss a thing. Just as He chose Israel, we are also told we are chosen. He has a purpose and plan for every one of our lives but when difficulties and trials come along we can forget. Sometimes we will wonder; does God see what’s happening? Does He hear our cries? At times it may feel God is far off and distant; He is not! Sometimes when He is silent we can wonder if God is still near; He is! More times than not when I feel any of these, the truth is I am tired or impatient. I want things to happen in my timing rather than in God’s timing. I want to know what I don’t know about the situation. I just want the difficulty to be over.

Thankfully, God knows our hearts. He also knows we are humans and we have weaknesses. Psalm 3:14 reminds us, “For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.” His Word also reminds us that even when we are faithless; He is faithful. Paul told us in 1 Coriinthians 12 that God’s grace is sufficient and in our weaknesses, He is strong! Jeremiah 29:11 and the verses following are a great reminder that our Father knows us; He loves us. God has good plans for us and for our future! He’s not sitting up there idle even when it might seem that way to those of us down here. His timing is perfect and God is always working things out behind the scenes. Romans 8:28 tells us that God works all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. Notice it did not say all good things but that all things (even the bad things) can be worked for our good and His glory.

We will always have trials and troubles as long as we walk this earth BUT God is able to help us whatever comes into our path, if we are patient and allow Him to work. In the end, He will redeem it and use if for our good and His glory. Does that mean we will like what we sometimes must walk through? No! What it means is we will not have to walk through it alone and He can and will redeem it and use it to refine us into a better person in the long run. It may not be in our time frame, but it will happen in His perfect timing. I can say with complete honesty, every trail I have struggled with (in hindsight) has worked to make me who I am today. There have been many struggles that I just wanted to go away. There have been great, seemingly senseless losses of loved ones. There have been trials that if you’d asked me then my remark would have been, “I will not survive this!” Do I want to repeat them? NO! I can say with all certainty and confidence looking back on those times that I NEVER walked alone even when it felt as though I did. God never abandoned me even if it felt like it. Lastly, everyone of those experiences have culminated in who I am today and have solidified my faith; taught me to face my fears; and given me hope to go forward and walk this path no matter what the world or the enemy throws my way!

Our God is faithful! He will never leave or forsake His child! Feelings lie and say He has, but He will not!

Abundant Wisdom-Only One True Source

Greetings!

I just Googled wisdom and who knew there are “about 230,000,000 results for wisdom in 0.32 seconds”! From dictionary definitions to blogs to Psychology Today, the web is full of  information on wisdom. Everyone has an opinion. One article gives us the thirty-two key dimensions of critical thinking. You can find information on wisdom from many differing religious views, from scientific views, from the educational community and almost any view point you could possible hold. Can you imagine researching wisdom by this method? Suppose you are truly looking for wisdom in a particular situation. You could spend several lifetimes searching and never get through all of the information if you are depending of the web because more and more information is added daily. It was exhausting just reading a few of the things available.

I ask myself:

  • Is this  wise use of my time?
  • Did I learn anything beneficial?
  • Was it worth the time I spent; effort in proportion to outcome?
  • What percentage of my time was wasted?

James 1:5-6 But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.”

Most of us have times we are stumped and in desperate need of wisdom and often need it “yesterday”. The last resort many times even for believers is to ask God; to earnestly seek Him in prayer for the very thing we are standing in need of. Whether we think it is too small to bother God with,  that He is too far away, or that He has much bigger things to deal with; often we just do not seek His help. Sometimes we are just too self-sufficient, too stubborn or just lack the faith to take God at His Word. Yet James if very clear in it’s promise; God’s promise! Ask Him and do not doubt, when you lack wisdom. He gives generously (simply, openly, frankly, sincerely-Strong’s G574-BlueLetterBible); and without reproach or shame.

Solomon made the choice to ask for wisdom because of his young age, for understanding and the ability to discern between right and wrong in order to judge rightly when it came to God’s people.  (1 Kings 3)  Just as James promises us wisdom when we ask; God was pleased to grant Solomon’s request. in fact, God was so pleased that in addition He gave Solomon riches, glory and a long life and promised there would never be another among the kings like Solomon all of his days.(verses 10-16)  Then Solomon’s wisdom was tested…beginning in verse 16 conflict arose. Two women living in the same house, three days after one had given birth the other also gave birth. There were no others in the house to witness what happened next. One of the women’s son died during the night because she laid on it and she switched her baby for the other, leaving that lady to think it was her child that died. After closely looking at the baby, she realized that it was not her child but the baby of the first woman. The dispute was taken before the king for resolution. what came next though quite harsh sounding was actually quite genius and a great example of God giving Solomon discernment and wisdom. The king declared, “divide the child into and give each woman half!” all the while knowing that the true mother of the child would never agree to that arrangement but would rather give her child up altogether than to allow that child to be killed and divided between them. The mother who had lost her child had nothing more to loose and agreed with the King, the child should be divided. By this declaration, it became clear who the mother of the living child was and he was returned to her. Justice was served.

Depending on the translation there are at least two hundred and twelve different scriptures on wisdom throughout the Bible. That number increases if you include similar words like wise, understanding, learning, justice, insight,knowledge, reason, etc. Even so, it is no where near as overwhelming as 230,000,000 entries and you can bet the wisdom you find within the covers of the Bible will be much more helpful than what you find any other place.

That being said, here are a few more words of wisdom that I have uncovered today, I hope that they will bless you!

  • Job 28:22-24   “Abaddon and Death say, ‘With our ears we have heard a report of it.’ “God understands its way, And He knows its place. “For He looks to the ends of the earth and sees everything under the heavens.”
  • Job 28:26-28   when He established a limit for the rain and a path for the lightning, He considered wisdom and evaluated it; He established it and examined it.”
  • Job 28:28  “He said to mankind, “The fear of the Lord is this: wisdom. And to turn from evil is understanding.”

  • Psalm 37: 29-31   “The righteous will inherit the land and dwell in it permanently. The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom; his tongue speaks what is just. The instruction of his God is in his heart; his steps do not falter.”

  •  Psalm 90: 11-12    ” Who understands the power of Your anger? Your wrath matches the fear that is due You. Teach us to number our days carefully so that we may develop wisdom in our hearts. Lord—how long? Turn and have compassion on Your servants.”

  •  Psalm 104:23-25  “Man goes out to his work and to his labor until evening. How countless are Your works, Lord!  In wisdom You have made them all;

    the earth is full of Your creatures. Here is the sea, vast and wide,
    teeming with creatures beyond number— living things both large and small.”

    Proverbs 2:1-9  “My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, listening closely to wisdom and directing your heart to understanding; furthermore, if you call out to insight and lift your voice to understanding,
     if you seek it like silver and search for it like hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and discover the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding. He stores up success for the upright; He is a shield for those who live with integrity so that He may guard the paths of justice and protect the way of His loyal followers. Then you will understand righteousness, justice, and integrity—every good path. For wisdom will enter your mind, and knowledge will delight your heart.”

     May 2016 be a year of seeking true wisdom from above and may God’s goodness, mercy and grace be apparent all along the journey!

 

Courage to Realize our True Identity

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Knowing who we are, our identity In Christ, truly frees us! Seeing the value He places on our lives frees us to love, forgive, let others off the hook when they mess up. It gives us power to stay strong in the face of betrayal or hurt!

How? The God and Creator of all living things loved us and wanted relationship with us enough to come in human form as a baby. He grew up experiencing all we ever would and because He knew His worth and purpose, He withstood all kinds of accusation, abuse and betrayal without defending Himself or Fighting back.

Consider some of Jesus’ sufferings…

  • His family called Him out of His mind.
  • One of those closest to Him also betrayed Him.
  • Religious leaders marveled at His wisdom yet tried to trick Him.
  • Those same leaders plotted against Him and planned His demise.
  • The disciples often doubted Him either in word or deed.
  • He was beaten beyond recognition, to the point of not looking human.
  • Forced to carry the cross; yet another weapon of torture and death.
  • Finally, placed upon that cross to slowly suffocate to death, having to lift Himself up just to catch a breath, causing great pain as He did so!

Some considered it weakness when Jesus did not fight back, defend Himself or call upon His Father’s help; but consider the strength it took. Jesus was secure in His true identity, His purpose and the power He had; yet despite the world’s treatment, in His last few words He could show Grace and say, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”  Oh, what mercy and grace!!

This is God’s tremendous love for you and me. This is where we find our true identity and He labeled us priceless when God’s Son, His one and only Son, came and limited Himself in human flesh born in a humble setting. Then some thirty odd years later the King of Kings submitted Himself to abuse, false accusation, betrayal, brutality and ultimately death as a sacrifice for every sin ever committed; all for us to be able to have a relationship with the living God. At Christmas we celebrate His coming and because His story doesn’t end here we have great hope and victory over not only sin but also over death! Christmas celebrates Jesus coming; Easter, the fact that death was overcome at His resurrection! For now He is seated by God,  at our Father’s right hand ever interceding on our behalf!

This my friend is true love! This is our identity, our value to God and this is Grace! Jesus took all these sufferings and those cruel spikes for us. That’s the Gospel and that is true love displayed! May we have the grace and courage to love like our Savior loved even when it involves some suffering or pain!

Merry Christmas!

Grace and peace to you as we celebrate the Advent of Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord!!

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Courage to Expand Our Thinking

Good morning friends!

This morning my scripture reading was Isaiah 41 and last night Job 38. This morning as I pondered the passage in Isaiah and thought of it in context of Job 38’s questions that God posed to Job; my mind kicked into high gear. Both of these passages are great examples of the absolute greatness of our God. We as humans tend to place God in a box with limits on what He can do or what He will do. Many see Him a a harsh Heavenly Father either because that’s their impression from the Old Testament or because of a less than positive experience with their earthly Father. Others tend to see only the merciful and grace filled Heavenly Father. Yet others believe in Him but do not think He is actively involved in out day to day lives but see Him as a distant observer.

There are as many differing ideas of God as there are people who walk this earth! As human beings, some deny Him all together; and those who believe in God tend to limit their belief based with their own experiences with Him or what they have witnessed in the lives of others to whom they are close to. Yet and still we are human and most of us have a preconceived idea of God; if you will a nice tidy box that we relegate Him to in our lives. Whether it is as simple as not bothering God with the small stuff with which we struggle or perhaps being focused on our circumstances or world events to the point of being overwhelmed into believing He can’t or won’t help; God is bigger than the box we try to put Him into!

Consider that many see God as angry and punishing in the Old Testament, but what about His graciousness and His great patience found there. Example: consider Abrahams inquiries to God about Sodom and Gomorrah Not only did he ask about relenting in His wrath once, but Abraham began with “Would you save the cities for 100 righteous men? 50? 25? And finally, 10? There are many examples of patience, grace, mercy and all God’s attributes found all throughout the Old Testament and the New. So today, I am challenging myself and you, if your game, to spending this Christmas season and 2016 considering what kind of box you may have placed God into? Isaiah 41 and Job 38 is a great place to ponder His greatness. What is His true characteristics? What does He think about us? What is the true depth of His love for us? His forgiveness? I submit to you that He truly cares about His creation, His children. Yes, even the small stuff. He sees every smile and every single tear. May we be able to say with great confidence in 2016 that there are no words to completely describe our God and continue to expand our thinking to a greater understanding of Him in this New Year and every year to come! Our God is limitless!

“Now to Him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us — to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.””

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭3:8, 20-21‬ ‭HCSB‬‬

 

Grace and Peace to you!!

 

 

 

Courage to Consider

                                           How we should respond when we disagree? 

 

     This morning the little time I had while getting ready for an appointment, I took a few minutes to read an article online.  This article was posted on the Christian site and it was giving information about a group of people in Texas who are opening The church of Lucifer and some members of the body of Christ that were there to protest. There was also a video clip on the site that shows the behavior of both sides.

      As far as protests go, it seemed quite calm and fairly simple though some of the signs were objectionable from my point of you I’m sure those who carried them felt strongly and that they were standing up for other Christians but even more so for God. Something deep inside of me was unsettled even after reading this well-written article. It is a common occurrence to see articles of this nature; almost every article of this type leaves me a bit unsettled, especially when they are aggressive or hateful.  

    As a prepared for the appointment, I prayerfully pondered what I’d read and I came up with a response/comment. More accurately, a few questions. This was the comment I posted in response…

                     I have to say the protest did look calm and peaceful for the most part…

                     BUT I must ask this question to the protesters…Is a protest with large 

                     signs and some that were less than kind the way Jesus Christ would

                     have approached these folks?? Those who are in deception do not 

                     know they are in deception. Jesus choose to walk among the people 

                     humbly, gently peacefully and kindly. He firmly and lovingly taught God’s 

                     ways in a way that compelled lives to change and follow Him and allowed 

                     them the choice to follow or not. He always spoke the truth in love. His

                     harshest words were reserved for the Pharisees and Sadducees who

                     lorded over His people and held them to a higher standard than they 

                     themselves lived up to. Flesh and blood are not our enemies as Christians. 

                     

                       Ephesians 6:2   “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 place. 

                     Heavenly places!! That means warring on our knees and loving people into

                     the kingdom and out of darkness.”

 

                    “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness,

                    faith, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. Now      

                    those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions

                    and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, we must also follow the Spirit.

                   We must not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one

                   another.”

                    Galatians 5:22-26 HCSB

 

     After responding, I placed my thoughts on the back burner and had some worship and prayer time as I drove to the dentist.  Well as you most likely know, most of us have little to do while sitting in the dental chair whether it’s for dental work or for a regular cleaning. There is usually some music playing in the background, or in my case the TV in the room switched to a station of random choosing that held little interest to me. Some of you will not understand, but others will totally get it; I want to those whose brain never stops.  You see, I have an inability to just sit back, relax  and let my mind go blank. It’s always jumping around back-and-forth on some topic or another and now I’ve come full circle back to the feeling this article provoked! And then more questions…

 

                     Is there any precedence in the Word of God that promotes protests?

                     We are commissioned to tell the Good News (Gospel), but does it tell 

                      that it is the Holy Spirit draws the unbeliever and brings understanding?

                      Are we trying to be the Holy Spirit in someone’s life?

                      Does the Creator of the entire universe really need His creation to 

                      defend Him?

                      Is it true that Biblically, Paul called believers in Christ to follow him as he

                      followed Jesus Christ?

                      Did Jesus Christ ever involve Himself in a protest or take it upon Himself

                       to defend God, His Father? Or even defend Himself, for that matter?

                       If allowing individuals to chose Him or reject Him was God’s idea, 

                       is it really our place to step in and try to force others to choose our way or

                       beliefs?

 

       My point is this, if we are loving God with all our heart, soul, and strength; following wholeheartedly after Jesus and His example; and walking in the Spirit (exhibiting His fruit); people will be drawn to the Christlike lives we live. That opens to door to share the Gospel in power because they will see us living it and be drawn to His likeness in us. Will all listen or receive? Probably not, but with God all things are possible. We may share the things we are against in protest thinking we are doing good and helping others but are we really doing good or being decisive? If we do so in a way that has not been sanctioned by God or His Word, can it really be good thing? These are but a few of the questions rolling around in my head today in hopes of growing deeper and stronger in obedience to His Word and His ways.

 

 Grace and Peace to you my friend!