Tuesday, April 6, 2021

The Boobytrapped Christian

 

"She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”" – John 8:11

 

She was caught in the very act of adultery.  She was dragged into town and in front of Jesus.  Can you imagine her shame?  Can you imagine the indignation of those who stared at her?  She was about to be killed.  Stoned to death. 

Then comes Jesus!  Her captors asked him what they should do with her – not because they wanted his opinion, but because they wanted to see if He abided by the Laws of Moses, which stated that she should be killed. 

Quiet Jesus, writing in the dust with His finger.  No one knows what He was writing, but I think at this point it would have been cool if He was writing the sins of her captors!  Then Jesus raised his head and said “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.”  And he went back to writing in the dust. 

All the captors left that day, knowing none of them were without sin.  But there stood sinless Jesus.  Would He throw the first stone?  No.  He simply told her “Neither do I condemn you – go  and sin no more!”

We don’t hear if the woman left, stood around to listen to Jesus, or what became of her.  But I often wonder where she went when she was asked to “go and sin no more”.  Did she go back to the same house she was caught in?  Did she end her adulterous relationship?  Did she become a follower of Jesus?  Did she sing Elvis’s song “I’m caught in a trap, I can’t walk out, be cause I love you too much Baby!”

Many of us seek God’s forgiveness for our sins, and He forgives us all at the request of His forgiveness.  But how many of us go right back into the boobytrap of a life we were living before?  Friends, a sincere request for forgiveness should include a new path for life, a change in your heart to desire to walk away from your sin. 

But so many times I find myself asking for forgiveness and not even trying to change my ways.  I wear out God’s mercy and grace on my sorrow for a sin, but I don’t stop what I’m doing so I don’t have to be sorry anymore.  Doesn’t make much sense, now does it?

Friends, when you decide to give “it” up, whatever it is, be sure you have a path out of it.  You wouldn’t stop smoking and leave cigarettes lying around, you wouldn’t give up cake and have one on the counter.  If you’re going to walk away from your sin, know what you’re walking into.  Chart your path out of it.  And ‘go and sin no more’. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Casting



"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." - Ecclesiastes 11:1-4

This passage can be mysterious read through the poetry used. We in this age would be lost to comprehend it the analogies.

The passage is actually about giving to others. "Cast your bread upon the waters" is an analogy regarding sowing rice. Rice and bread are necessities of life. We are even to pray "Give us this day our daily bread", which not only refers to loaves of bread, but to the things we need to survive.

The instruction to give to seven or eight is ended by stating that we don't know what evil will be on the earth. It may be that the very ones we give to will become those we one day need to give us bread. The wheels of fortune often turn.

The clouds drop rain when they're full - regardless of where they are. Rain is an analogy of God's blessings. We don't know when or where He will give them.

Trees when they die, an analogy to the death that faces us all, lie where they die. They can't be helped at that time. And sometimes that death is alone and unexpectedly.

Lastly, Solomon writes: "He who observes the wind will not sow, and he who regards the clouds will not reap."

Friends, Solomon realizes that many of us look to do good, but don't find the right time. Yet, if you observe the wind, which you cannot control any more than you control your money, health, life, or the day, you may never give! So give without worry.

If you wait till the perfect time do a thing - you'll most likely accomplish nothing.

If you look at those in need and will not give because you're not sure if they are truly in need, you may never give at all. There are many imposters claiming they are in want. But guess what! God put them in YOUR path! If you are diligently trying to divide the impostors from those who have genuine need, in the time it takes you to determine who is on which side, those in need may go hungry, and you will have missed the blessing of giving. Let God sort it out! If they're put in your path, give. Give knowing that your gift is from God and you are giving it back to God through the act of helping others. If it honors God, it is fruitful.

There is no harvest without sowing. Cast your bread upon the waters!

Monday, February 1, 2021

The Lion Outside


The lazy man says, “There is a lion outside! I shall be slain in the streets!” – Proverbs 22:13

This verse has intrigued me for years!  I’ve never understood why a lazy man would not go out and kill the lion that was going to kill him.  But today I find the message intended from Solomon is total different than how I interpreted it.

Adam Clarke writes of this verse: But why does he say so? Because he is a slothful man. Remove his slothfulness, and these imaginary difficulties and dangers will be no more. He will not go abroad to work in the fields, because he thinks there is a lion in the way, he will not go out into the town for employment, as he fears to be assassinated in the streets! From both these circumstances he seeks total cessation from activity.

He does not know there’s a lion outside because he remains inside as he wishes. The verse is about creating self-serving fears and excuses to remain unemployed and lazy. The NLT version states that he “claims” there is a lion.

Proverbs 10:4 states that the one who has “slack hands” becomes poor, and Ecclesiastes 10:18 that because of idle hands the house leaks and the building decays.  God gave man work because man – and woman – was designed to create, build, grow, accomplish great things.  He did not give us a brain to binge watch Netflix instead of working! 

In Genesis 3:19 God tells Adam and Eve “By the sweat of your brow will you have food to eat until you return to the ground from which you were made.  For you were made from dust, and to dust you will return.”.  2 Thessalonians 3:10 says that those who do not work should not eat.  We’re given work as part of the curse created by sin in Genesis, as well as to keep us too busy to sin and get in trouble.

And it’s not about holding down a job, it’s about pleasing God.  Colossians 3:23 says “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not men”.  Work is pleasing to God.

There is no lion outside.  Those that hide from work have the lion inside with them already, and he’s destroying their life.

Sunday, January 31, 2021

A Rose By Any Other Name


 

“A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, loving favor rather than silver and gold.” – Proverbs 22:1

 

Even as a young girl I had ideas about what I would name my children.  I believe I can safely say they’re very happy that I decided against some of those names.  Otherwise my daughter might be named Isla Fairity, or Harmony Grace! 

I think we all as parents try our best to give our child a special name.  Sometimes it’s from a dear relative, sometimes from a novel or movie, and a lot of times it’s from the Bible.  Yet, no matter what that name is, it’s the child who makes the name. 

Let’s do a little survey.  I’m going to give you 5 names, and I want you to write down what these names mean to you. Ready?

Albert

Andrea

Charles

Belle

Katrina

Ted

 

Consider how different these names become when they’re attached to a person or event.

Albert means noble and bright, but was the name of Al Capone.

Andrea means manly or virile, yet many girls carry the name.  You may have thought of Andrea Bocelli, a famous opera singer.

Charles means free man, but Charles Manson would disagree. 

Belle means beautiful, but few would call Belle Gunness was a serial killer.

Katrina means pure, but most likely you remembered hurricane Katrina.

Ted means a gift of God, but Ted Bundy who raped and murdered numerous women and girls had nothing to do with God.

Shakespeare said “a rose by any other name would still smell as sweet”, but if Rose became the name of a plague or serial killer, we’d no longer appreciate the name Rose.

Proverbs says a good name is greater than riches and gold.  But that name is just a name.  The proverb refers to the reputation that backs up the name. 

Several times in the Bible God renames someone.  I believe it’s so that they could walk in a different reputation.  Saul, killer of Christians, was first called Paul in Cyprus after his conversion.  Simon was a fisherman, but Peter was the name he was given, meaning “upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18).  Abram became Abraham when God told him he would be the father of a great nation, and his wife Sarai became Sarah.

It’s not the name that you should desire, it’s the reputation. 

I heard something today that hit home regarding names.  We all love the name Jesus and have read the Philippians 2:9 which says God gave Jesus “the name which is above every name”.  I’ve always seen this as a statement of the sacredness of the name Jesus.  But not today.  It’s about reputation. It’s about the man, not the name.  As I heard a pastor say it today.

The name Jesus is above Covid 19.

The name Jesus is above depression.

The name Jesus is above poverty.

The name Jesus is above evil.

…and you can continue the pattern.  Jesus is greater than all our problems.

Yes, a name is special.  But when we’re choosing one for our children, it’s not going to be a good name unless it has the attachment of a good reputation.  A rose stem without a flower is nothing but thorns.

So here's the thing. Parents, put as much attention on keeping your child's reputation a good one as you would your own. Let them grow up to understand right and wrong, to have hearts full of love and goodness. Teach them through your own actions to be patient, kind, loving, giving, and so on. Friends, we are all the product of our environment to a great extent. Make your child's environment free of all forms of evil. Explain to them what a reputation is and the value of keeping it clean.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

What is Understanding


“Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!” As for him who lacks understanding, she says to him,  “Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed.  Forsake foolishness and live and go in the way of understanding. – Proverbs 9:4-6

Wisdom is spoken of as a woman in the Bible.  In fact, in Greek, the word for wisdom is Sophia, a popular female name.  In this passage, Wisdom has prepared a table, and has sent young women to invite in those that need wisdom.  They speak in the passage above.

But there’s a difference in how the word “Understanding” is used.  Our Bibles have translated it into the same word, but in the Hebrew it is actually two different words.

In the passage “as for him to lacks UNDERSTANDING” the Hebrew word ‘leb’ is used (Strongs H3820). Here is its definition:

·         inner man, mind, will, heart, understanding

·         inner part, midst

·         midst (of things)

·         heart (of man)

·         soul, heart (of man)

·         mind, knowledge, thinking, reflection, memory

·         inclination, resolution, determination (of will)

·         conscience

·         heart (of moral character)

·         as seat of appetites

·         as seat of emotions and passions

·         as seat of courage

 

In short, it speaks of the heart. If you look at the various parts of the definition, you can understand what the person without understanding is one with the weakest of all these.  It’s a weakness of mind.  It’s a weakness of control over appetites, emotions and passions.  It lacks knowledge, reflection, determination, and a good conscience. 

In the last of the passage above where Wisdom says “and live and go in the way of understanding”, the Hebrew word is ‘biynah’ (Strongs H998).  Its definition is:

·         understanding, discernment

·         act

·         faculty

·         object

·         personified

Biynah is focused on the use of wisdom, wisdom applied.  It’s no longer just in the mind, it’s a way of life.  A man or woman with wisdom uses the knowledge they have received.

Here’s an example.  If I know there’s a police officer watching traffic at the intersection of 139 South and 68/80, and I choose to take my chances and go 80 miles an hour through there, my wisdom about the situation has not been deployed.  I’m without understanding.  Head knowledge is as useless as an unread book on a bookshelf.  If you don’t apply it – it’s wasted. 

And that is why understanding is so important.  True understanding is applying wisdom to your life.

“Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding. “ – Proverbs 4:7

"And when thou hast learned all within thy reach, know that thou knowest but little of the manifold wisdom of God. Let what thou hast learned humble thee, by showing thee how very little thou dost know. " - Adam Clarke
 

Sunday, January 10, 2021

God Our First Responder

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;  and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:6


Since 9/11 I’ve heard the phrase “First Responders”.  I do believe that was the first time I heard it.  It refers to a group of precious people. They come from different occupations: our nation's Service men and women, Nurses, Doctors, EMT’s, Firemen, Police Officers, and many others.   

They are at the frontline of many of our current problems.  They tend to the patients with COVID, risking their own lives and that of their families.  They show up when there are bomb threats and move the innocent to safety.  They stand to defend the nation here and around the world.  First responders are the FIRST called when things go wrong.  I want to humbly give my gratitude for all the work they do.  For all the nights they are awakened from deep sleep and roll out of bed to help others. For the mornings when they leave home not knowing if they will make it back.  For their long mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausting days.  For tenderness they express holding hands with a patient as their life ends, while the family watches over the internet.  Their sacrifices are endless!

Friends, these First Responders are taking care of all of us.  When we call on them they go and they serve. But they cannot control all that happens.  They cannot prevent death, destruction, hatred, violence, racism, brutality, and so on.  What they do is take care of the aftermath.

I heard something this morning that got me to thinking.  The phrase was “Prayer should be our first response – not a last resort.” I’m going to ask right now that if you are reading this, please do not be offended.  I’m not here to cause controversy or take sides.  I’m here to deliver God’s truth as gently as I can. 

Here are some other phrases I hear often:

“Well…at least we can pray.”

“All we can do now is pray.”

“I’m sending prayers and good vibes”.

“You’re in my thoughts.”

“It’s out of our hands.”

To those phrases, I just have a few questions:  What other than prayer do you think you need to do?  Prayer is not “all we can do”  it is the first thing we should do.  If God is almighty and in control, and the Bible says He is and He has proved He is, then isn’t a conversation, a plea, given to God the FIRST thing we should do.  And if all you’re sending up is “good vibes” and your “thoughts”…explain to me how that does anything?  Do you have some magical power that causes you vibes and thoughts to do great things?  And honey, it’s always been out of your hand!  I’m sorry, but there comes a time when we must try to correct those we love.  Please don’t be offended. But understand that prayer is what is needed instead.

Before our First Responders are called in to overcome the things of satan, should we not reach out to God.  Friends, spiritually and physically speaking, God is our First Responder.  No one can change the course of this life except God. 

You want to save a town like Nineveh?  Call on God. 

You want to be saved from the flood that rages?  Call on God.  

You want to weather the fire without even being singed?  Call on God

Do you need to flee from an enemy and the sea is not parting for you to cross over? Call out to your First Responder, God!

I get it. I even experience it. We all lose sight of who we really are and who is controlling this world. It’s easy to watch the news and become troubled, anxious, worried, and fearful.  Friends turn that mess off!  You’re watching it won’t make it go away, and it is affecting you in a negative way.  I can tell you – you will survive without watching the news, reading social media posts that trouble you, and listening to all the chaos that’s going on in this world.  In the long run, this is all TEMPORARY.  Let God have it, and don’t let it bother you.  Call on your First Responder and ask for peace.

Do you know that the absence of peace is?  Unrest.  Have you seen that lately? Have you seen it in those that are fearful of COVID, fearful of race riots, fearful of police riots, fearful of shootings at the mall, fearful of our country’s relationship with foreign countries, fearful of______ (you fill in the blank)!  That my friends is unrest. 

Jesus tells us in Matthew 11:28 “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”  Ephesians 2:14 says that “He Himself is our peace”.  Instead of living in unrest – give yourself over to peace.  NOTHING in this world will change without God ordaining it. Understand that it is not in your hands, but in the hands of God.  God changes hearts.  God removes plagues. 

I’m not saying stick your head in the sand and wait for the storm to be over!  That’s not how God’s people are to react to anything.  Matthew 5:13-14 Jesus describes the people of God saying, “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.”

Salt left available to the elements will lose its flavor.  We can too.  When our hearts and heads get tangled in the world’s events, we become overthrown by the fears we carry.  God’s word says we are then “good for  nothing” and are “trampled underfoot by men”. Friends, have they taken away your peace?  Is your heart in a state of unrest?  You and I have been trampled!

We are to be “a light to the world. A city that is set on a hill”.  But if we are living in the darkness of this world, the shadows of the depression and anxiety that all this has brought us, our light is dim.  Being the light means overshadowing the darkness of these times.  We must overcome our fear of the state of this nation, the racial divide, the political divide, and give it all to our First Responder, the ONE that is still on the throne!  We must silence the voices of satan which comes with fear from radio, tv, social media, and those obsessed with politics and current affairs, etc.  We must turn over our fears to the ONE who can do something about it – the one who can change hearts and provide peace: God, our First Responder.

Friends, the peace you have is quantitative to the distance you are from God.  A lack of prayer in your life starves your faith.  Set aside time to pray daily and pray over ALL that has you in unrest.  Fear not – isn’t that what God says over and over in His word? Drop those fears at His feet by trusting his omnipotent power.

In John 14:27 Jesus instruct us saying, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

Where’s the instruction you ask?  He says not to let your heart be troubled.  It is up to you and no one else to shield yourself from the things that make you fearful.  Though you may hear of all that’s going on, you don’t have to let it invade your heart and mind.  Turn your eyes and your attention to God.  He saw all this coming, and He knows the end from the beginning. Be light by shining His light.  Be salt and flavor the conversations you have over these things with peace. 

Lord, I pray that your peace would spread like wildfire throughout our country!  I pray you silence satan and end all his schemes against us, your people.  I pray you lead us beside the still waters, let us lie in green pastures, and we will fear no evil because you are with us all the way.  I pray you drive out the plague of COVID as you did the plague of locust with a single wind.  Lord, lift our hearts with your peace.  Lift our hearts Lord and our eyes to focus on You.  Draw us to the shelter of your wings.  Let us be the city on a hill, bright and shining for all to see! Let us bring all who wander to you, Father.  In Jesus Name and because of Jesus, Amen.

(Inspired by the message God gave Pastor Mike Burnette this morning from LifePoint Church in Clarksville, TN. Thank you Pastor Mike!)