February 28, 2017/Like a Good Neighbor

“Like a good neighbor….”

Barry Manilow.

Yes, thanks to Barry we still hear that famous State Farm theme song today. Too bad that he only received five hundred dollars for one of his most famous jingles, but I doubt he’s losing much sleep over it since he went on to greater things in the ’70’s.

You have to admire someone who can put together a catchy tune and a great turn of phrase to get their point across in mere seconds. Most people would recognize the parable of the Good Samaritan but the Bible has plenty of other verses to offer on how Christians should look at their neighbors.

Ephesians 4:25-Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor: for we are members one of another.

Zechariah 8:16 & 17-These are the things that ye shall do; Speak ye every man the truth to his neighbor; execute the judgement of truth and peace in your gates: And let none of you imagine evil in your hearts against his neighbor; and love no false oath: for all these things are things that I hate, saith the Lord.

Neighbors can be friends or foes. They can run in-and-out of each other’s houses, come to your aid when you truly need help, or wave and move on without stopping to know your name. They can bring on envy for the ‘perfect’ lawn, child, marriage, or car. They can rejoice with you over births and marriages and grieve with you upon deaths or loss of a job.

How we treat our neighbor tells a lot about our attitude toward God and whether we care for others. Do we speak truth if our dog gets in our neighbor’s trash? If our kids cut through our neighbor’s yard? Do we gossip over what we ‘think’ we may see going on inside their house? Do we attempt to make peace and ignore the ‘small stuff’ rather than have ongoing sniping over blowing leaves or trash.

Are you there for your neighbor?

One of my favorite musicals was ‘1776’. I loved the music, the story, the actors and actresses, and most of all the DIALOGUE! It was such a fun, well-written tribute to the founding of our nation. At one point, the great actor William Daniels who played John Adams questions just what he is doing: “Is anybody there? Does anybody care?”

Is YOUR neighbor saying that about you today?

Perhaps, today is the day when you should reach out to your neighbor. Make an effort to truly take a moment and make contact with your neighbor. Offer truth and peace. Remind yourself that, like the popular Canadian comedian says in his RED GREEN show: “We’re all in this together!”

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February 27, 2017/ Who Listens?

I’ve been lucky enough to have been able to keep up with my current attempt to write something every day. There will be times when I will slide (maybe due to illness, or a trip, etc.) but it never ceases to amaze me how I begin to think about a topic and God leads me elsewhere! I mean, I have seriously begun writing out an outline and watched God move my mind and my hands on the keyboard in another direction!! Such is what happened to me today!

I guess it is a bit like that old E.F Hutton commercial (which many of you are probably too young to remember!) that went something like this: There would be two men talking–one giving advice and one listening about financial affairs. The one giving the advice would say, “Well, my broker is E. F. Hutton, and he says….” Immediately, everyone around the two men would perk up, stop talking, and pay attention. Then the announcer would come on and invoke the punch line: “When E. F. Hutton talks, people listen!”

When you talk, do you know God listens? Not just when you pray, but when you talk…to people like your wife, husband, boss, children, waitress and waiters, teachers, friends, bus drivers, clerks, etc. Is He going to be happy with what you are saying? How you are treating others?

I’m not happy with what I see around me lately. People aren’t TALKING. They are arguing (quite loudly most of the time) and making no effort to hear what the other person is saying. It quite reminds me of that old proverb that says: You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.” In some cases, the verbal abuse being hurled has reached such a fever pitch that it is akin to our being forced to entrench themselves into one side or another in an argument that simply can’t be won. It is like  a person trying to move a mule. Mules are stubborn. They won’t move until they are good and ready.

Deuteronomy 5: 24-And ye said, Behold, the Lord our God hath shewed us his glory and his greatness, and we have heard his voice out of the midst of fire: we have seen this day that God doth talk with man, and he liveth.

Yes, when God talks people listen. They’d better, because when they don’t they find that He does what He says He will do! He also knows the ways of humans and their nature.

Matthew 22:15-17-Then went the Pharisees, and toook counsel how they might entangle him in his talk. And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men. Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Casear, or not? 

Ah yes, first flatter your enemy. Set them up with a seemingly impossible question so that he/she can sink themself and you can jump on their answer!

Matthew 15:18-22-But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, WHY TEMPT YE ME, YE HYPOCRITES? SHOW ME THE TRIBUTE MONEY. And they brought unto him a penny. And he saith unto them, WHOSE IS THIS IMAGE AND SUPERSCRIPTION? They say unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them, RENDER THEREFORE UNTO CAESAR THE THINGS WHICH ARE CAESAR’S AND UNTO GOD THE THINGS THAT ARE GOD’S. When they had heard these words, they marvelled, and left him, and went their way.

The ‘powers that be’ versus Jesus became entrapped in their own trap. He answered their questions and silenced their unspoken arguments before they could start!

There are a lot of people shouting and arguing right now. It would be better for us to remember that God has all of this in hand.

God is talking as He always does.

Few, however, are listening right now.

If they were, they would be spending more time studying Scripture. What is, and is OF the world, is still under God’s plan. Satan is doing his best to combat that plan by fanning the flames of discord and arguments. Instead of coming together, he stokes whatever fires he can to keep people apart.

Whatever ‘side’ you choose, be aware that if you cannot LISTEN to others you don’t agree with, you are, in fact, aiding the devil.

Be wise.

God wants us to listen to Him.

He’s got it all over E.F. Hutton and whatever channel or pundit YOU are listening to down here!

 

 

February 25&26/Three Little Words-Finale…Who Loves You?

Back in the 70’s everyone knew the catch-phrase: Who loves ya, baby? That was the hallmark of Theo Kojak, the balding lollipop-sucking detective played by Telly Savalas. He was out to get the bad guys and put those law breakers where they belonged. Kojak had a flair for the dramatic–but with a sort of upbeat manner that balanced his normal ‘police’ cynicism. He knew the evils men do,  but he also knew a few smart moves to guarantee they wouldn’t get away with it on his watch!

When I began this series on Three Little Words, I immediately thought of the phrase, I Love You, as most people would. That got me to thinkings. Christians know that God loves them. They know that Jesus loves them.

Well, what about the devil?

I’m not sure I would classify his feeling as ‘love’ but I sure do think he regards us pretty darn affectionately. And why wouldn’t he? After all, Satan is the unseen ruler of our world. Lucifer, this former cerubim, reigns for the time being here on earth.

Isaiah 14: 12-17-How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou has said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God. I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit. They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms; That made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof, that opened not the house of his prisoners?

Satan the I WILL versus God the I AM.

A battle that has raged throughout time. Satan the Accuser. Jesus the Defender. God the Judge.

Yes, the devil ‘loves’ us as part of his tactic to dissuade, distract, tempt, enslave, and capture us to follow his behavior and relegate the I WILL in our lives instead of of kneeling to  God will/I Am.

God has given Satan his access to Him and allowed him his place here on earth–but not forever.

Revelation 20:10-And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and for ever.

Unlike his place in popular movies, television shows, or books, the devil will not ‘reign in hell’. No, Satan will be tormented ETERNALLY in a lake of fire. He is a doomed ruler.

He has to make his time count while he is here, for he knows his final resting place.

Satan offers us a season of ‘delights’ in the same manner he tried to tempt Jesus into sinning and messing up God’s plan.

All of us fall into the devil’s trap at times. We DON’T, however, have to fall into his devious whispers that the delights he offers come from any sort of affection that he is able to provide. Satan regards us as as part of a chess game where he is attempting to gain as many pawns as he can to take with him in his eventual defeat.

Thank God that He sent Jesus as our King to provide the CHECKMATE!

February 24, 2017-Three Little Words/Part 5-I Deserve This

EeWith all that is going on in the world, the one thing that few seldom really discuss or understand is the MOUNTAIN of debt most countries are facing.

You can debate the politics of the situation. You can place blame on political parities, entities, even systems of government. The facts, however, are pretty simple.

Too many people are living well beyond their means.

Debates range as to how to fix the problem. Some blame the rich. Some blame the poor. Some simply don’t care as they are worn from working day-t0-day to eek out an existence.

There is a remedy to part of the problem…buy What you need when you need it and use it until can no longer be used.

Believe it or not, we used to do that. We actually used to FIX televisions, toasters, radios, etc. Bulbs. Tubes. Sodering wires. Hand crank can openers, imagine! Mothers had compost pails beneath the kitchen sink. Everyone had a garden of some sort…even if you lived in the city you had plants on the patio or joined a community garden. If, by some chance, that wasn’t possible you had a vegetable truck calling outside on the street or a LOCAL market that sold FRESH vegetables. Mothers cooked dinner. They canned, dried, or smoked extra vegetables, fruits or meat. Fishing was a popular sport.

Proverbs 22:26 & 27-Be not thou one of them that strike hands, or of them that are sureties for debts. If thou hast nothing to pay, why should he take away thy bed from under thee?

To ‘strike hands’ meant to give your bond for a debt. It would be like signing a note to the bank. Now, the Old Testament rules on debt made it clear that the one owed was not allowed to claim a person’s bed or clothes in repayment of a debt.

Clearly, this is a warning that we should heed on credit. You don’t/shouldn’t  put yourself into debt without a great deal of thought.

What do you truly NEED vs. what do you WANT?

A person doesn’t ‘need’ to go away to college and come out $200,000 in debt. Nor, do they need to eat our every night or buy a new car or even have the latest model computer or cell phone. They may want all this, but they don’t need it.

There are places in New Guiena where some natives have never seen ‘modern’ life. They have no television, phones, etc. Yet, they have their own social and cultural way of life. They can’t want what they don’t have because they don’t realize that they need to ‘want’ this modern way of living. They are satisfied with what they have for they know nothing else.

A friend of mine remembers walking the railroad tracks to attend mass with her family. Gas was rationed. They had a car, her father worked nearby. Therefore, they didn’t get many gas stamps. What they had, had to be saved for emergencies. Sugar was rationed and saved to use for making something special like a birthday cake.

People did without. Many times, dinner consisted of breaded and fried zucchini from their garden in the summer. They weren’t vegan. They were living within their means…and those means didn’t include money for meat!

God wants us to enjoy the fruits of our labor…but He expects us to be wise enough to differentiate between our wants and needs. He has guaranteed us to supply us with our needs (Give us this day our daily bread). Bread, not cake.

No one knows what tomorrow may bring. Are you in debt? If so, take stock of your situation and make a conscious effort to pull back and pay off. Are you buying what you don’t need? Take stock and think about what God might have you do with that money?

Before you charge that next cup of coffee, think of the one who gave His life’s BLOOD to repay YOUR debt. We are deserving to pay the penalties for our sins but Jesus took them all on Him.

What do you really deserve? You deserve to live within your means.

February 23, 2017-Three Little Words/Part 4-Don’t Bug Me!

You might think that these three little words have a lot in common with yesterday’s top of Leave Me Alone. Well, they do and they don’t.

Most people hate to have their concentration interrupted. You know, just when you get to the good part of the movie, or you have a break through on something you have been working on, that telephone marketer calls and they ruin everything.

While I have spent a number of posts going over laws and the reasons for such, today’s topic has to do with legalism. Legalism in religion can be a real problem.

Yes, God gave us laws to follow…but far too many people seem to be focusing on the law when it applies to others rather than to themselves.

2 Corninthians 3:6-14-Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not steadfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away: How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious? For the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory. For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth. For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious. Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech: And not as Moses, which put a veil over his face, that bthe children of Israel could not steadfastly look to the end of that which is abolished: But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same veil untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which veil is done away in Christ.

Seems complicated, yes?

Not really.

Pauls is trying to show that this ‘new testament’ way of life in Christ comes from being SPIRITUALLY filled…not focused solely on the ‘letter of the law’ found in the Old Testament.

Does this then negate Old Testament laws? The laws that set up God’s moral code?

NO!

What it does is illustrate that while God is ALWAYS going to judge us according to HIS righteousness, the focus on the legality of the law has now become changed because the believer in Jesus has received His grace by which the Old Testament law is granted mercy.

Christ actually quoted from Deuteronomy more than an other book during His three years ministering to us. I think that shows he felt the Old Testament was important. And why wouldn’t He? He knew the law. He’d been taught the law from childhood. Now He brings his love of the law given to Israel a ‘final’ chapter to fulfill it.

We see that Moses had to wear a veil to mask the glory of God from the people of Israel.

Why?

There are many reasons but the most logical (in my opinion) is that God wanted them to focus on the words of the tablets that he was carrying rather than his face. Perhaps, he was so ‘changed’ from his communion with God that God’s glory shining through him would have been all that the people would see and discuss–not this new moral code that was given to them?

Whatever the case, 2 Corinthians 3: 17&18 tells us: Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

Focusing on the ‘legalism’ of the law enslaves us so that we concentrate only in obeying from the standpoint of ‘punishment’. Jesus came to offer us the grace of the Spirit so that we become free through his mercy.

We are to obey God’s law…but we are to obey from understanding that His love should engage us so that we become clear as glass in our desire to do so in thankfulness and humility for his grace and mercy.

Don’t get ‘bugged’ into believing legalism is the answer. Work on fine-tuning our flaws to become a clearer glass so illustrate Jesus in our life.

February 22, 2017-Three Little Words/Part 3

Leave me alone.

Boy, do we all know those three little words!

As an only child, I NEED my ‘alone’ time. Growing up as the sole child in the household, I had to learn to amuse myself. Consequently, I find myself sensitive to a lot of noise and people. I can take a lot of people for only so long. To truly relax, I crave days where I can do what I want, when I want.

Jesus never uttered the three little words I refer to above…but He did seek His alone time. I would imagine God-in-human-flesh had to have had times when He just couldn’t take people pressing around Him. He was accompanied by twelve men almost everywhere he went. He had crowds of people seeking Him out for healing, teaching, miracles, etc. He was engaging in a plan that He knew would bring the ultimate sacrifice.

John 6:15-When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone.

He had just fed 5,000 people. Five thousand HUNGRY people. Hungry in body and spirit. Here was someone who understood their needs and was offering them what they hungered for. They wanted to sweep Him off and venerate Him to the highest position that they could.

Jesus probably knew before they did what tactic they would take. He also knew that this wasn’t in the plan…so He left.

He wanted to be ALONE.

Luke 9:18-22-And it came to pass, as he was alone praying, his disciples were with him; and he asked them, saying, Whom say the people that I am? They answering said, John the Baptist, but some say, Elias, and others say, that one of the old prophets is risen again. He said unto them, But whom say ye that I am? Peter answering said, The Christ of God. And he straitly charged them, and commanded them to tell no man that thing; Saying, The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day.

After the miracle of the feeding of five thousand MEN (remember, there were probably more if you counted the women and children) Jesus had to have been weakened in spirit, if not in body. There is a toll that all who work for God endure. How then, was Jesus to renew Himself? By taking time to go off and pray alone.

The way I figure it, Jesus was praying alone but not for long as His disciples were probably in a pretty euphoric state after this miracle. I’m sure they were dancing about, positive that this would cement Jesus’ status among not only the everyday people and leaders, but to the religious leaders of that time as well. So, they were eager for Him to ‘get with the program’. I can see them rushing up to Him, waiting eagerly for Him to report on His miracle. When He asks them to tell Him what the people are saying, He knows that He is about to impart a crucial part of God’s plan to them.
Peter has figured it out…and Jesus gives them a preview of coming attractions…but they don’t really ‘get it’ here. Later, they will remember this conversation and understand the true importance. For now, their eyes are only half-open to the plan.

Yes, Jesus needed His alone time. He must have felt a bit frustrated at times. And during those times, He needed the refreshment that prayer alone can bring.

Make a point to spare some alone time with God so that you may refresh your body and soul. It helps you get through the rest of your day….

February 21, 2017/Three Little Words-Part 2

My husband is a middle child.

Anyone who knows anything about family dynamics, knows that this is NOT the position that you want to be in. The eldest may have to live up to ‘expectations’, but the baby is always spoiled rotten. The middle child? Well, they either get overlooked or end up finding a way to survive on their own.

In my husband’s case, he found a sense of humor that complemented his rebelliousness and mischievous nature. He also found a way to get his point across by slyly engaging whomever he was after in a way that his parents couldn’t punish.

I well remember him doing this when his parents were allowing his eighteen-year-old sister to be a little ‘too protected’. They wanted her to exist solely in a ‘Christian’ job world. (This is not only impossible, it is also un-Scriptural but that is an entry for another day!) In any case, every time he would see his sister he’d begin imitating the singing group Sha Na Na. (If you don’t remember them, you might remember ‘Bowser’ the low-voiced, ‘greaser type’ bass as part ot their ‘Doo Wop’ sound!)

One of their famous hits was the tune: GET A JOB…and hubby took great satisfaction in singing that just about every time his sister was around.

I tell you this because the ‘Three Little Words’ for today are: Get a Job!

Proverbs 16:3 says: Commit thy works unto the Lord, and they thoughts shall be established.

Whatever the job that you work, God wants you to be commited unto to it. In this way, you will find solace that you are following his will. A garbage worker may find his/her sense of humor in seeing what is being thrown away. A teacher may have given up if not for a certain student’s progress. A pastor may stress over a sermon delivered until someone comments on how it affected them in their spiritual walk. Even a postal worker who is plodding along in the hot sun or windy chill may be greeted with pleasure when delivered a vital message.

Humans don’t always love their work. Sometimes, we work with people that we do not care for; that hurt us or disparage us; that suck all the joy from our lives. How, then, can we pretend that we ‘enjoy’ our job?

Only through our attempt to remind ourselves that work is part of what makes us human. Discussions today abound with the coming excitement over Artifical Intelligence. I’m not so sure that it is going to be all that wonderful. When AI takes over our jobs, what are we going to do?

What is the PURPOSE of humanity when they fail to admit to worshipping God? Where will they put their efforts? Will the thirst for knowledge continue? Or will we turn to wanting pleasure without effort?

Look to history for answers should you wish to ignore the Bible. The rise and fall of Rome is similar to what we are experiencing today. They became beholden to foreign labor, indebted to spending what they didn’t have, focused on pleasure at all costs and in all manners.

How did that end?

Not Well!

Work is a necessary part of life. My husband has always said that he: “Worked to live, not LIVED to work.” (He’s a pretty wise guy which is why I married him!)

Wherever you find yourself working today, spend a moment to recommitting yourself to your job and establishing your own manner of handling the ups and downs therein by remembering that this pleases God. No job is too small or unimportant…just as each one of us is unique!

More Three Little Words on the way…