Friday, October 14, 2022

Fear and Knowledge

 


For He taught His disciples and said to them, “The Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill Him. And after He is killed, He will rise the third day.” But they did not understand this saying and were afraid to ask Him. – Mark 9:31-32

 Way back at the beginning of my IT career, I was sent to a conference in Evansville, Indiana.  I was so fresh into the IT world that I was still wet behind the ears! But I was eager to learn, and determined to take notes on everything, learn everything, and then …. “air message”.  The lecturer kept saying “air message”. 

In my mind I kept wondering what that was.  Was it a fault code from bad air in the room?  We were working with a mainframe at the time – one just a few weeks shy of using punch cards.  “Air message” he would say and regardless of what the remaining part of the sentence was – I stopped at those two words. 

Finally, we got a break, and I asked another lady who was attending what “air message” was.  She laughed hard!  Who knew that no further than from Cadiz to Evansville I’d run into a change in dialect. While I heard “air message” the speaker was saying “error message”.  I felt like a bubble headed ninny! But – because I asked – I got a lot out of the rest of the lecture.

Jesus’ disciples understood Jesus’  words.  Dialect was not their problem.  I think it was because of their pride they didn’t ask more questions about Jesus’ statement that He would die and be raised again on the third day. 

Mark wrote “they were afraid to ask Him”. Keep in mind, Jesus had  just overheard them trying to figure out who would be greatest as they walked through Galilee.  He had also just healed a boy from lifelong demon oppression – when they couldn’t.  No doubt their thoughts were the same as mine when OI didn’t want to ask, “what’s an air message?” – but should have – and would have understood more.

Sometimes we go through trials in our lives and we just don’t understand why.  Was it something we did, something we said? Are we being punished by God?  Is there something we’re supposed to learn from it? 

God welcomes all questions, and in His time reveals all answers.  Friends, it’s not like He doesn’t know our every thought!  Never be afraid to just ask. I’ve heard people say, “knowledge is power”, but honestly, knowledge is peace. It will uncloud your heart and head so you can move forward.

Friday, October 7, 2022

Yes or No is Enough

 


“Because John had said to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.”

Therefore, Herodias held it against him and wanted to kill him, but she could not; for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just and holy man, and he protected him. And when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly.

Then an opportune day came when Herod on his birthday gave a feast for his nobles, the high officers, and the chief men of Galilee. And when Herodias’ daughter herself came in and danced, and pleased Herod and those who sat with him, the king said to the girl, “Ask me whatever you want, and I will give it to you.” He also swore to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, up to half my kingdom.”

So she went out and said to her mother, “What shall I ask?”

And she said, “The head of John the Baptist!”

Immediately she came in with haste to the king and asked, saying, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.”

And the king was exceedingly sorry; yet, because of the oaths and because of those who sat with him, he did not want to refuse her. – Mark 6:18-26


I was raised to believe that I should not dance because dancing is why John the Baptist was beheaded.  But if we read this – and read it to understand – we see that it was the oath Herod gave that made him “exceedingly sorry” and caused him to behead John the Baptist. Dancing had nothing to do with it.  Instead, here we find why God says not to swear or make an oath to anyone. 

In Matthew 5:31-37 Jesus says:

“But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Nor shall you swear by your head,  because you cannot make one hair white or black. But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.

I know there’s times when people will not believe we are going to do what we say.  But that’s their problem – not ours.  The way to prove your honesty is just that – prove it by being honest.  Come through on your promises, and treat the promise made in simple words will build your character.

But creating an oath, promising more than you can deliver, or swearing on anything is just a good way for to allow satan to steal your honesty and give you grief.  It’s a trap when people need more than your Yes or No.  Don’t fall into it.

 

Thursday, August 18, 2022

Adultery

 


Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously”? – James 4:1-5

I have to read this passage multiple times to take it all in.  James is saying so many things here.  But the basis of it all comes to one thing.  We are called “Adulterers and adulteresses”.  The words here are not regarding a man or woman cheating on their spouse.  It’s regarding God’s jealousy for us, and our desire to be part of the world, ignoring and even rejecting His love for our own passions and pleasures. 

We struggle in so many ways to meet up to the world’s expectations!  We try to look the part of a successful person, act the part of a perfect mother and wife, and be the best employee anyone could have so that we earn their favor.  We go into debt to appear to be successful.  We teach our children the dos and don’ts of the world, but far too often – we fail to teach them even the 10 commandments. 

By putting all our energy into living up to the world’s expectations, we encircle ourselves with wars and fights in our soul.  We’re depressed, tired, broken, defeated, and disengaged from God.  We know from Ephesians 2:14 that Jesus is our peace – yet we leave Him out of our lives.  We discredit the relationship with have or don’t have with Him for the relationships we have in this temporary life. 

James 4:4 says to be friends with the world is to be an enemy of God.  One may ask, why would it make us an enemy because after all God made the world?  The simple answer to that is yes, He did make the world, but we have corrupted it with our own desires.  When we try to meet up to the expectations of the world, we begin to worship the world.  We want the world’s money, the worlds fame, the worlds approval, and all it has to offer!  The word worship means simply to give reverence and adoration.  Is that not what we’re doing?

Is your life a trainwreck? Are you miserable, unfulfilled, anxious, depressed, and feeling like there’s nothing good in this life?  God is a prayer away.  For those that have received His salvation, He tells us He will never leave us or forsake us because His Spirit resides with us. 

But God is a jealous God.  He loves us with a love that is stronger than any other.  And believe me, He will not put up with our adultery with the world.  You’ll come to ruins if you put your faith, love, and hope in the world.   Keep in mind this world is not eternal (Matthew 24:35).  Would you put your money into a stock you knew was going bankrupt? Of course not.  Don’t put your stock in this world, put it – your love, time, and devotion – into the eternal God.  You’ll find something much greater than this world can offer you – peace.


Thursday, July 28, 2022

Be Still


It is in my power to do you harm, but the God of your father spoke to me last night, saying, ‘Be careful that you speak to Jacob neither good nor bad.’ - Genesis 31:29

Jacob had been tricked into marrying Leah when he thought he was marrying his love, Rebecca. Laban, the girls father had tricked him. Later on when Jacobs sheep were doing better than Laban, Laban got mad at him, jealous even.

Jacob knew how Laban felt so he secretly took his sheep and goods and packed up Laban's two daughters to leave his land. Oh this made Laban angry. Angry enough to harm Jacob. But God spoke to him saying "Be careful that you speak to Jacob neither good nor bad." It was a warning from God. Not speaking good or bad pretty much rules out a conversation of any kind.

God takes care of the issues we have with others here - as long as we don't step in and try to handle it ourselves. But sometimes out of anger, instead of leaving it to God and keeping our cool, we jump into the the ring of the opponent. Friends, that's now how we should fight our battles.

Typically, I can sit back and let others fight it out.  Last week I had three persons coming at me asking questions because they were angry at someone else.  I simply added that person to the email thread and walked out of it.  I don't like drama.  Let me rephrase that.  I do not like drama.  It brings stress, hurt feelings, conflict among friends, and a world of hurt that even thought it fades into the background, it never goes away.

This week I've had two of my coworkers come at me with undeserved anger. In the company I work in and have for nearly 15 years, this just doesn't happen. The first conflict came from a woman hurling ridiculous insults at me. On this one I jumped in, demanded an apology, refused to speak to her till I got one. I have to walk back into the drama today to settle it.

The second was yesterday. After having notified them that I was at the ER with my mom I got a nastygram telling me that I was supposed to be in the meeting - even though they knew where I was and why. This one I leave in God's hands. I do believe He can fight all my battles - and I believe He wins every time.

That's the lesson from this verse: Be Still. We often feel like we have to defend ourselves, not be ran over or used as a doormat. But the only way we can turn it around is to give it to God. People are mean because of what is inside them. That's often the problem instead of the circumstances. It's either envy, jealousy, pent up anger from something else, or just a need to be a bully thinking they can gain ground and become more powerful if everyone submits to their bullishness.

We can't fix heart problems. But God can. God can not only change a heart, but give a person a new one - a new creature in Christ. All we can do is anger them more of become a doormat.

When the Israelites were crossing the Red Sea, Moses gave them a piece of advice we all should take. "The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.”"(Exodus 14:14)

Protect the peace in your life, but do it by maintaining your peace with God. Let Him fight those battles and you'll never lose.

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.