Tuesday, June 21, 2022

The Unknown


 “Now when the seven thunders uttered their voices, I was about to write; but I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, “Seal up the things which the seven thunders uttered, and do not write them.” – Revelation 10:4

 Reading through Revelations again this morning, just looking for that hidden manna, I came across this verse.  Read it slowly.  Read it in context. Take it in. 

To me when reading it in context it was like an aggravating open ending of a great movie.  What?  No Part 2?

But consider this.  What if God told us everything that was going to happen from today till the end of our lives?  You’d know the day your best friend would pass away – and how.  You’d know the troubles your kids would get into.  You would know every sickness you’d ever have, and when.  And you’d know if you were to recover, or not. 

God is merciful in so many, many ways.  But perhaps the most merciful gift He has given us is to not know the future.  Friends, we couldn’t handle it!  We’re living day to day now and suffering from depression, anxiety, and all sorts of emotional issues.  We simply could not cope with knowing all the evil things and bad things that would occur in our future.

For that reason, the “little book” and the things said in the seven thunders were not given to us.  Now I can imagine what is for the rest of my life – but it’s just an imagination – nothing concrete, so it doesn’t afflict me. 

Father I thank you that each and every day, every minute, every second is in your hands to lead us through the course of events you’ve planned for us.  Your care for us is greater than we can fully understand.  I thank you for the hidden victories and catastrophes, and the day to day monotony that levels it all out.  I thank you that YOU are in charge of my life.  I thank you for Your love, knowing that your plans for me are for good, and not harm.  Father let us just rest in you, trusting your will.  Amen.

Friday, June 10, 2022

To Him who Overcomes

 


“Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” - Romans 12:21

Six times in Revelation, John has recorded what rewards we will receive if we overcome.

The word Overcome is translated from the Greek work Nikao (G3528) which is from the root word Vikn (G3529).  It means to overcome, conquer, prevail, get the victory.  Strongs Concordance breaks it down as: to conquer, to carry off the victory, come off victorious, of Christ – victorious over all His foes, of Christains – that hold fast to their faith even unto death against the power of their foes, and temptations and persecutions. When one is arraigned or goes to law, to win the case, to maintain one’s cause.

Here's what Revelation tells us will be the reward of those who overcome:

Revelation 2:7 “Thim that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.”

Revelation 2:11 “He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.

Revelation 2:17 “To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.

Revelation 2:26-28 “And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:  And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father. And I will give him the morning star.”

Revelation 3:5 “He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.

Revelation 3:12 “ Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.

Revelation 3:21 “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.

But Revelation isn’t the only place the word Overcome is used.  There are other passages that tell us HOW to overcome.  Here are a few of them:

Romans 12:21 “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

1 John 4:4 “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.

1 John 5:4 “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.

1 John 5:5 “Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?

There's an old song called "Victory in Jesus". Friends, Christ is our victory! Our faith in Him, and our Holy Spirit given from Him when we believed in Him, that is how we overcome. As long as our faith stands true, as long as we stand on that solid rock, we will be those that overcome!

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Turn Your Eyes


"And this One shall be peace." - Micah 5:5

My 6 year old granddaughter Pearl tried her best to teach this 58 year old woman how to play Roblox. Now I'm a technical person, a software developer for over 30 years, and I just can't get it. I tried hard, and I am still trying. YouTube videos will be my next guide.

I had some early morning thoughts this morning that were of value - and that's rare. I usually lay in bed making those long lists of everything that I've not gotten done, everything I need to do, and things I forgot. But this morning I was thinking of Roblox!

In so many ways a lot of these games are much like life. You work hard to get a certain thing - a new block, a garden, a house - my house is Pink, per Pearl's guidance in Roblox. But we spend time earning all these things, and truly so many of them just clutter our lives.

I think sometimes God has to turn our eyes away from the routine life we lead, and let us see His path for us. After driving in Maryland traffic for 5 days, thinking back, everyone was either driving to get something or driving somewhere to earn money to get something, or driving somewhere to enjoy something. Drive, drive, drive, drive. Maryland traffic is much like the Indy 500, but with unexpected exits - on the left and right. It's tiring, in fact completely exhausting. If there was ever a visual of "The Rat Race" that traffic was it for me.

Thinking this morning, God softly turned me back to what is important. It's not Roblox - it's Pearl and my relationship with her. It's not coloring - but my relationship with Millie. It's not spending time with my son and daughter-in-law going to a zoo (it was supposed to rain and we missed it), but spending time just talking, enjoying each other's personalities and thoughts and dreams.

Today I go back into the rat race. A race against time, with meetings an hour or half hour all day, 124 (exactly) emails begging my attention, and continual text messages.

So how do we survive the stress and honestly, dehumanization of our daily lives which make us more like a fidgety squirrel trying to reach a nut out of our realm? We turn our eyes, hearts, and minds to Jesus. He is our peace (Micah 5;5, Ephesians 2:14). And how do we do that? We take time to escape the race. We pull over for a coffee break, we take time to look outside at His beautiful creation, and praise Him for it. We push ourselves off the hamster wheel to become human again, with kindness to each other that's not seen or felt on a Maryland highway or any other.

I recall a weekend where I heard the phrase "If you don't know who you are, the world will tell you who you are." Stop letting it boss you around. Be who God made you. God bless you all as we re-enter the rat race. Let us keep our heads up, and look up.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Believing

 

All things are possible to him that believeth” – Mark 9:23

It’s easy to believe in what we can see.  We cross a bridge believing it’s going to hold us up.  We throw our laundry in the washer expecting it to come out clean. Those are examples of faith – believing without seeing.

It’s harder when we have to believe for something that appears impossible.  (Reminder – nothing is impossible with God.) I’ve learned that believing for what I see is only possible with God takes two questions. 

The first question is CAN GOD.  The answer to that one is always yes.  If God loves his people enough to split open a sea to let them go to safety, if He enters the fiery furnace with them, if He turns lions into tame kitty cats, if He breathes into dirt and dirt becomes a live man, then we know GOD CAN. 

The second question is the harder one - WILL GOD.  We don’t know the thoughts of God, the plans of God, or the reasons things happen sometimes.  We can try to imagine it, and only become further from the truth with our feeble thoughts. 

But when we change that second question to WHY WOULD HE NOT, we have a new list of things we can pray about.  Then we pray for those obstacles to be removed and pray fervently! 

Empty your heart - and your tears - to God. Remove the religious and recited words and open your heart.  Present the whole matter to God, believing HE CAN, understanding WHY WOULD HE NOT, and believe that when any obstacles are removed, HE WILL.

And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” – Matthew 21:22

Saturday, April 16, 2022

The Swing

 

"Therefore, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” – 1 Peter 5:6-7

When I was a little girl, probably 6 years old, I remember swinging on the school playground.  I don’t know who was pushing the swing at that time, but I remember thinking that they were going to push to hard and I’d be pushed out of the swing and onto the ground.  I would think that same thing every time.  That meant possible cuts and scrapes, but it also meant I would get dirty, and I’d have to stay in dirty clothes all day at school. That’s one of my earliest memories of having anxiety.

As the years went on I noticed my mind was always busy with something – but only when it wasn’t occupied with some other thoughts, such as schoolwork or conversations.  I started having migraines at 9 years old – about once a week.  My grandmother Pearl came to the school and took me home so many times I can’t count them.  Those migraines went on till I was in my mid-thirties.

As I became an adult I noticed that my mind was never silent. Never.  It was like a hamster on a wheel that just wouldn’t stop.  The hamster, I believe, runs the wheel because all he really wants out of life is to get to the top and escape.  If you’ve ever owned a hamster, I know you agree.  But that wheel in my head would start thinking of one thought, like what do I wear to work, and within a minute of time I would have thought about a dozen things. 

In my later years, the wheel would run while I was trying to sleep.  When a noise – even a tiny noise – woke me up, I’d lay there for hours with hundreds of thoughts going through my head.  I wouldn’t be able to go back to sleep.  They would be thoughts of things at work, worries about my children, worries about some project I was trying to complete at the house, worries about this ailment or that.  Somehow throughout the years, worry was on that wheel. 

Every morning I would pray for a good day, and for wisdom over the work I was given and the people I would work with. God blessed me at work, that is a most definite fact.  But when the day was over, the worries would encapsulate my thoughts.  And I’d worry about the next day.  I’d worry about what I should have said and didn’t.  I’d worry about every little thing down to the color of ink I used to write (no more red pens for me). I honestly began to think that this was just my personality.  I told myself I was a “worry wart”, a “control freak”, and so on. 

A few years ago, my doctor looked me in the eyes and said, “you have anxiety”.  I firmly said, “No, I don’t think it’s that, I think I’m just nervous.” He laughed and said that’s what they used to call anxiety. So, after prescribing a pill to me, within a few days, I began to feel so much less anxiety.  I don’t know how a pill can correct your thinking, but it did stop all the worries – somewhat.  There are still times, like a couple of days ago when Don and I were sitting outside, that I would reflect on the 10-12 projects I have around the house and how I’m going to get them done.  But for the most part, I can keep my thoughts in my head without the wheel running.

All of this to say one thing.  “Cast all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you” is sometimes given without context.  The same is done with many verses of the Bible.  We need to remember that when the Bible was written, there were not chapters, verse numbers, and such.  It was written the same way I’m writing this – a stream of thoughts coming from the heart and mind.

In context you’ll find what I was NOT doing with the churning worries I was going through.  The full passage says, Therefore, HUMBLE YOURSELF under the mighty hand of God, that He may EXALT YOU in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

What God wants is for us to trust Him with our cares, rather than carrying them ourselves and in our own strength.  If we don’t humble ourselves, and let Him lift us up, we stay where we are…struggling.  But if we will just acknowledge that we’re not able to do this on our own, God will help us.  God is not a fan of self-pride.  Read Proverbs 6:6-19  of the seven things he hates.  The first one is “a proud look”.  When we can let go of our pride and humble ourselves to ask God for help, He exalts us.  Exalt how? There are no limits to what He can and will do. 

There came a point to which I had to just look back and KNOW that God was at work the entire time.  God has done things for me so great that I wouldn’t brag about the thing, but I can brag about God.  He’s never stopped loving me or helping me.  And I know He has exalted me.  I know God pushes my swing.

My confidence in letting go and letting God gets stronger every day.  I just wish I’d know the key to casting all my cares on Him earlier in life. 

And for those of you who don’t believe a Christian needs medication, I don’t know what to say to you except, God Bless You that you’ll never need it.  My God is the creator of all things and gives the wisdom required for those that create medicines for our earthly bodies. As for the spiritual body, He gave us Jesus. 

“For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation” – Ephesians 2:14


Monday, March 28, 2022

Faith and Obedience

"But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only." - James 2:20-24


Hebrews 11 talks of people of great faith, like Abraham, Noah, and Enoch. Each and every one of them stepped out of their reality to do what God had said. Faith in God will create actions. God will ask you to use your Faith, and by doing so you are obedient to God. In turn, God is pleased because you were obedient. Faith honors God, and God honors Faith.

These people of long ago received something in return each time. Abraham received an Inheritance. Sarah received a child. Read Hebrews 11 and look for the word 'received' and you'll see their rewards.

If I have gas in my car, I can have faith that I can drive it. But if I choose not to, that gas lays dormant. Our faith in God is the same way. Yes you can have faith and not exercise it just like you can have legs and not run. But God is pleased with obedience (Matthew 12:7). Eventually that gas will evaporate, and the legs will lose their strength. Faith is like a muscle - you use it to strengthen it.

Having faith in God, believing He will save us is step one. But a relationship with God is so much greater than just a ticket to Heaven. Having faith that God can and God will do great things in us and through us is the life of spiritual luxury! When you believe He loves you and will take care of you enough to do what He says, go where He sends you, then you experience the fellowship of God, God being PROUD of you, God being HONORED by you.

Faith is a gift from God. Obedience to God unwraps that gift.

Thursday, December 16, 2021


Cast your bread upon the waters,
For you will find it after many days.
Give a serving to seven, and also to eight,
For you do not know what evil will be on the earth.
If the clouds are full of rain,
They empty themselves upon the earth;
And if a tree falls to the south or the north,
In the place where the tree falls, there it shall lie.
He who observes the wind will not sow,
And he who regards the clouds will not reap.
As you do not know what is the way of the [a]wind,
Or how the bones grow in the womb of her who is with child,
So you do not know the works of God who makes everything.
In the morning sow your seed,
And in the evening do not withhold your hand;
For you do not know which will prosper,
Either this or that,
Or whether both alike will be good.” – Ecclesiastes 11:1-6



With the destruction that has hit Western Kentucky and other areas this past weekend, it’s hard not to live in fear when we see the winds picking up, as they have today.  But…God is good! 

 

There’s more to that than just three simple words.  There’s a lesson. 

 

Is God good even when destruction comes, when those die that we have loved, when there are no homes, churches, schools, medical offices, or grocery stores to go to?  Does God care about those that are suffering, even though the destruction was in and from His own hands?

 

The answer is an astounding YES.  He is always good! He works all things for the good of those who love him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).  But that doesn’t mean we walk around in a sheltered bubble.  Evil exists in this world. Disease exists.  Destruction exists too.  We all live on the same planet and each of us has an effect, positive or negative, on each other.  Satan has his effects too. 

 

In our minds, without reasoning why, we try to fit God into the things we understand.  We try to weight His power with what we know as powers that we understand.  We try to weigh His intellect with our own, which is the only intellect we know.  We try to fit God into a man-sized box that we can understand.  Yet, God does not fit. 

 

God has told us that He doesn’t think or act like we do. His thoughts, His ways, His plans – they’re all above our own understanding (Isaiah 55:9).  If He did act and think like us, would He be God at all?

 

God sees the full plan - even future events are already known to Him.  In Isaiah 4:9-10 God says, “Remember the former things of old, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me,  Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure,’.  Our minds cannot even perceive what we will be doing tomorrow – or if we’ll even still be here tomorrow.  God has a unique perspective on all our lives.  He knows the highs and lows that we will be faced with.  He knows the pain and the joy. 

 

The verses from Ecclesiastes 11 at the beginning are as beautiful as poetry.  But in all it’s beauty, God says don’t fear what could happen – just live!  Throw out your bread without worrying where tomorrow’s will come from, feed more than you think you should, sow your seeds, and rest of God’s goodness.  Whether those seeds grow or die, God is still good.  His goodness is out of the realm of what we would understand is good. 

 

I don’t mean to belittle what has happened in our communities over this past week.  It’s horrible.  It’s hard. And we’re not going to get over it any time soon.  But please don’t live in fear.

 

When my kids were little I’d often have to pull things away from them that they could swallow and choke on.  Every time I did they would cry.  Was I being mean to them, bad to them?  No, but they didn’t understand.  Rest in the fact that we do not and cannot understand God’s ways either.  What we can understand, and I hope we all understand, is that God does all things out of love for us.  Let that Love be enough.

 

 

 

 

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Abide in Me – A Social Initiative

 

"Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.” – John 15:1

 There are so many social initiatives to better our world. I doubt anyone can count them.  We want to save the climate, the whales, the sea turtles, the forests, the grasslands, and so forth.  But the greatest initiative we have is to bring Jesus to all people.  Saved people are eternal people.  It is Gods plan in a nutshell. 

Yet in our world today, there’s very little evidence of God’s ways.  We have children killing their parents, parents killing their babies, young people killing total strangers on our highways and in gatherings of people.  We have no care for life at all anymore.  Life means nothing! Why? Because we’ve left the giver of life out. 

Jesus said “abide in me”.  That means our life should be lived through Him.  Think of it as putting on a full body suit of Jesus.  Our hands become His hands.  Our feet become His feet.  Our words become His words.  If we abide, live in Him, we bear the fruit God wants from us: saved souls, the lost being found, the 1 sheep that wandered away is found. 

But Jesus goes on to say in verse 5 “for without Me you can do nothing”.  Oh that doesn’t mean we do absolutely nothing, sitting on our hands every day.  It means that nothing good can come from us.  Remember what is says about our heart?  It is deceitful, desperately sick, evil continually (Jeremiah 17:9, Genesis 6:5).  Reflect on that…deceit, sick, evil.  Is that not what the world is like today?

Now, here’s the hard part.  If we, Christians, are supposed to be the light of the world (Matthew 5:14), and the world is full of evil and darkness, who went wrong?  It wasn’t God.  It wasn’t Jesus.  It wasn’t the evil people of this world.  If the light goes out, it’s because we don’t abide in Jesus.   We abide where we can do nothing good.

My Christian Brothers and Sisters, it’s time to get out of the dark closet and be who we’re supposed to be – a city on a hill that CANNOT be hidden (Matthew 5:14).  We need to fall in love with Jesus again.  We need to dwell in Him – our feet are His, our hands are His, our voice is His.  Our fruit is going rotten because we no longer abide in Him.

Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me,” – John 14:11a

“I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.” – John 14:18

 Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.” – John 14:23

“You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. “ – John 15:14

 You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.” – John 15:16

 

Thursday, November 4, 2021

Jesus' Kingship




“Therefore, when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone.” – John 6:15

At this time, Jesus had been teaching a multitude of people that followed Him. He had just fed five thousand people with the two fish and five barley loaves and taken up 12 baskets full of fragments of the meal.

Jesus, knowing their intent to make Him their king, departed. But what if He had not?

If he had remained, they would have made Him their King, their ruler. They would have worshipped Him instead of God. And their worship would not have been for who He was (the Son of God) but for what He did. And in the end, He would not have been our Savior.

Sometimes we must give up opportunities for fame and importance to possess a more important goal. In this life, which is temporary, many will have popularity. But the Kings and Superstars of this world fade away like the flowers of Spring.

Jesus had a greater goal than an earthly Kingdom. Through His sacrifice He became not only our King, but also our High Priest, our Savior, our Judge, and our brother. He was granted more power than this earth could offer.

"And when they found Him on the other side of the sea, they said to Him, “Rabbi, when did You come here?” Jesus answered them and said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.” - John 6:25-27

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Zacchaeus' Truth


 “And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up [a]and saw him, and said to him, “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully.  But when they saw it, they all complained, saying, “He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner.”

Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.”

And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham;  for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” – Luke 19:5-9

We all know about Zacchaeus.  There’s even a song written about him for children. You probably know it:

Zacchaeus was a wee little man
And a wee little man was he
He climbed up in a sycamore tree
For the Lord he wanted to see

And when the Savior passed that way
He looked up in the tree
And said, 'Zacchaeus, you come down!
For I'm going to your house today!
For I'm going to your house today!'

Zacchaeus was a wee little man
But a happy man was he
For he had seen the Lord that day
And a happy man was he;
And a very happy man was he

But there’s so much more about Zacchaeus that we don’t get from this song.

Zacchaeus was hated by those that knew him.  He was snubbed because he was a tax collector. In those days tax collectors were predominately bad people who took more than they should and kept part of the taxes they collected for themselves. 

But in Zacchaeus’ own testimony to Jesus he said he gave half of what he had to the poor.  Moreover, if he ever overcharged anyone, he gave it back to them four times over.  Zacchaeus wasn’t just a wee little man, he loved poor people enough to help them.  He was honest.  And when Jesus came to town, knowing he was short and wouldn’t see him pass by, he climbed a tree to see him.  His admiration for Jesus was that strong.

We often do the same thing.  There are certain places that if people work there, we consider them as sinners.  Yet the truth is, we all need a job!  We work to take care of our families the best we can.  Judging people by where they work makes about as much sense as judging them by color, shape, size, smell, or anything else.  Friends there are good people and bad people of all sorts of shapes and sizes.  And because only God truly knows anyone, we need to withhold all judgement.  For, after all, with the judgement you give, you will also be judged.  Now some of us have made a long list of ways we will be judged.  Isn’t it time to stop adding to that extensive list?

Zacchaeus may have been a wee little man, and a tax collector.  But Jesus chose to stay at his house, and to see him as the son of Abraham.