May 23, 2017/Make It Stop

Since I began writing this devotional, Satan has begun more frequent attacks.

It is not greatly surprising. It is, however, difficult. Suddenly, the enemy finds a variety of ways to try to distract, depress, and devour my physical, emotional, and spiritual strength. It is that way with our world, as well. When we see tragic events unfold (especially ones of great magnitude) it affects all of us…especially as they are presented over, and over, and over on television. You want to scream: MAKE IT STOP!

The thing is, if we are aware of what is happening here, what must be happening on the spiritual plane? The battle raging between good and evil surrounds us every day. The devil attacks…over, and over, and over. There are times we don’t even recognize it.

Jesus, however, understood what we were to deal with.

John 17: 18& 19-As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.

Sanctify.

The word itself means to be acquired for a PURPOSE; to be made HOLY.

As God has given His son for us, so now does His son Jesus give us our purpose….to be made holy through Him.

If, then, we are to be made holy while living on earth, is it any wonder that Satan attempts to overcome our efforts in any way possible in order to keep us from the purpose of being set apart?

There have been many days lately when I will admit that I find myself yearning to stop writing; stop praying; stop trusting. I long to give in and take a break to “Make it stop.”

It has become clear, however, that the more that I search out God’s word, the more I cling to what I find myself learning..and that is part of God’s purpose. God didn’t promise His way would be easy. Jesus well understands, “Make it stop” for He dealt with Satan’s attacks while on earth–from the temptation after His baptism, to facing down demon-possessed men, to His beloved friend Lazarus’ death, to scourging before being crucified, to Peter’s denial…in all of these and more could he not have said, “Make it stop!” to His Heavenly Father and would it not have been so?

But Christ knew that just as He had been sent into the world for a purpose, so would it be our purpose for us to be sanctified and set apart to walk this world with the devil nipping constantly at our heels.

As I prayed about the attacks I have been undergoing, I finally began to understand that instead of “Make it stop,” I can only utter, “Handle it, God.”

My defense through all is to toss it up to God. It will never ‘stop’ until I leave this earth, give up, or give in.

I must trust fully in the Lord, knowing that He has set me apart for a purpose and allow Him to uplift me….

May 22, 2017/Withdraws

 

The bank tellers that I deal with probably think I’m crazy.

I am in and out of the bank withdrawing money from one account and putting it into another, all the time. You see, I am a squirrel when it comes to money. I try to save and budget with the future in mind. So, I put money in my savings account for a future purchase in hope that I can save enough in my checking account to cover it before I need to go get it out of my savings account. (Okay, it might not make sense to you, but it does to me!)

Sometimes, this works. Sometimes, it doesn’t. But I am always moving money back and forth. You see, I am an ANT not a GRASSHOPPER. While I know God will take care of me, I believe He is pretty much relying on me to have the brains not to sit back and not pay attention to my spending…which is why it takes a lot for me to go ‘shopping’ for no reason, or go buy coffee out! (The mark-up on drinks when eating out is incredible..which is you see so many elderly people drinking water. We’ve figured that out!) To pay $1.75 or MORE for a cup of coffee??? Maybe on vacation. Or for a special event. Or as a real treat. But every day? No way.

I am thrifty. I check prices. I clip coupons. I make copious lists for budgets, meal preparation, maintenance issues that can crop up. (It’s summer, need to budget for gas for lawnmower/winter need to budget for gas for snow blower).

When Jesus began this prayer, He wasn’t being thrifty with His words. He is praying out loud a very intercessionary prayer that encompassed His adoration of God, His thanks to God, and even a bit of His confession to God….but, in my opinion, I see most of all this prayer is a PROTECTION prayer.

John 17: 14-17-I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

Jesus is bent on reminding God that we are going to be in need of His protection. He has fulfilled the Father’s plan. He has spoken the words; provided the miracles; testified by His actions. He knows exactly how his upcoming crucifixion and resurrection will go down.

Jesus also knows firsthand about the world in which we live.

He must be pretty torn about this. He is, in fact, so torn, that He specifies to His Father that he isn’t asking that God call us OUT of this world to spare us, but that God  makes it a priority to keep us from evil…and He knows that can’t truly happen either as long as we are continuing to live  in this world.

It occured to me that while we have the TRINITY of God, the Father; God the Son; and the Holy Spirit, the Devil also has a threesome. Satan, the “I” angel thrown out of heaven; Satan’s fallen angels (who many describe as demons) followers who aid him; and the sinful enticements that Satan constantly uses us to attempt to vanquish our attempts to remain on a holy path.

Jesus knows it is three against three.

He also knows that God has the upper hand and will triumph…but right here and now…faced with His upcoming trial, the desertion of his disciples, physical torment from the beatings and crucifixion that are ahead, He is taking time to give us our key to surviving here on earth: THY WAY IS TRUTH.

Our protection is simple.

God’s way is truth.

Satan can try every trick in the book. In fact, he did when he set himself up to battle God to begin with.

Truth will overcome lies.

We are protected by the very real fact that once we accept Jesus Christ as Saviour, WE ARE NO LONGER OF THIS WORLD!

Oh, we may ‘live’ here. We have a physical presence on earth until we are called ‘home’ to heaven. But by accepting Christ and all that He stands for,  we are sanctified by God’s truth.

Our ‘withdrawl’ may be yet to come, but we live our days in the ‘saved’ bracket of a budget…and we have been given God’s truth preserved in the Bible to aid us as we are set upon by the evil one as we continue to walk here on earth…

We all fall prey to Satan’s attempts to ‘catch us up’ whenever we can….but Jesus calls us to stay true to God’s truth.

Thy word is truth. Jesus is reminding God that we are His…therefore, He is giving us the insight into God who has, in turn, given us the Scriptures to provide us with the truth which will protect us…

 

May 20&21, 2017/Oh, Grow Up!

I’m having a great deal of trouble understanding what is happening in the world, lately. After some introspection, I have come to the conclusion that much of the blame comes from tantrums. The world needs someone to verbalize: GROW UP, ALREADY!

Each generation, each culture, each form of political government, each family, has its own ‘issues’. We cannot expect one another to understand, conform, or act upon them without realizing that unless we are united through those same joys and sorrows of another’s journey, we cannot really understand it fully. Oh, we can try…but we don’t really understand.

I read a book in my younger years which had a great impact on me entitled: A WALK ACROSS AMERICA by Peter Jenkins (Please, if you can find it, read it as it will impact you as well!) In this book, a young man who was a hippie and dissatisfied by what he saw happening in the United States was told that he might want to ‘see’ (experience) what he was complaining about before he complained so much–so he took it upon himself to begin walking from upper New York state down to the gulf state of Louisiana …without any real money and only his faithful huskie dog, Cooper, as his companion. He’d planned to work along the way to earn money and wanted to see what kind of reaction he would gain from those he met.

During his journey, this long-haired, red-headed man was impacted by many people including a mountain hermit, an African-American family, and others who found him work or offered him a place to stay. Some that he met  freely gave him whatever help or food that they had. Others, tried to run him down.

This man understood that to grow up, one must come to the point of maturity by working to find common ground on what we agree on, in order to begin the more difficult task of addressing where we disagree.

Jesus unites us.

Whatever our color, our country, our background, or even our politics, in Christ we must forgo our initial differences to state that we are Christians first and foremost. We see this in John 17: 11-13-Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves.

In Christ, we are bonded with superglue. Though He is no longer in the world, through the name of Jesus we are ONE. We are a federation that can outdo any one Star Trek explores. Jesus’ feet, once walking on earth, now reminds His Father that He claims us and yearns for us to experience the oneness with the Father that He already has.

So, what then about:”None is lost except the son of perdition that the Scripture might be fulfilled”? Psalm 41:9-Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me. John 13:18-I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me.

Jesus knew the heart of Judas could fall prey to Satan. I believe He also hoped that Judas, having been a part of His ministry, would have a change of heart up until the very last minute. After all, God allows us free will–but in His omnipotence He also knows our choices. Jesus knew, deep down, the path Judas would take–and I am sure it grieved Him just as it still grieves Him today when people refuse to embrace Him.

The strain of His burden is showing in this prayer. He sees the end of His days here on earth fast approaching. His burden of work, His message of God’s love is almost concluded. But Jesus never forgets that while He has come to unite, He knows that His sacrifical death will also divide.

His intercession for us with His Father is an admission that points to His acceptance of the knowledge that although through Him we will glimpse the fulfilled joy of being ‘right’ with God Almighty, this same knowledge will bring the very real conflict conflict between our worldly life and our spiritual life.

Grow up!

It is so easy for us to take the path of division.

Satan spreads division as the wind blows sand. Division between friends, neighbors, countries, states, laws, families.

It is so easy to  hate; to speak against; to dismiss those we disagree with as fools.

We must fight our ‘human’ nature each day to work on becoming focused more on uniting ourselves with God’s spirit. It is a battle that goes on from the moment we accept Jesus as our Savior until we breathe our last–for as Satan battled against God and lost while endeavoring to entice as many of God’s human creations as he can to his side through sin, Jesus sacrificed Himself to remind as many of God’s human creations as He can that they way back to God is through love.

Peter Jenkins began walking across America in the belief the knew what this country was like and how it would react to him. He became a changed man because of people who impacted him along the way. Christians are changed by our very unity in the one who commanded us to first honor God, and then love one another.

Grow up…but do so by reminding yourself that the light in us comes from our desire that Jesus, himself, continues to pray for us to know His joy in being one with His Heavenly Father!

May 19, 2017-The Other Prayer (4)

There is a line that should not be crossed between student and teacher. Unfortunately, that line has been tested far too often according to the news. Too many students are becoming ‘involved’ with their teachers..and vice versa.

This line is a protection. You have someone who is older; who supposedly knows more of the ways of the world and its pitfalls; who is supposedly wiser; who has supposedly developed discipline, dedication, and self-control. (Note the ‘supposedly’ here.) I say, ‘supposedly’ because in our eagerness to allow everyone to forgo rules and the ‘black-and-white’ restrictions over society, we have managed to make people believe that the answers in life are all gray areas with no limits.

Is it any wonder that the tentative boundaries of control that we once had on society is beginning to show signs of cracking?

Jesus came from God as Saviour and teacher. As such, He was bound by some earthly  restrictions in that He could not FORCE those here to accept Him. As God, He has no such constraint. Every knee shall eventually bend in God’s presence just as every tongue shall praise. It will make no difference whether we WANT to do this. His glory will overwhelm us so greatly that we would not even question it.

Here in these verses, Jesus is praying about those that were and were yet to come. He had come to teach His disciples whom He had chosen and also those who were given the ‘spirit’ from God to accept His Divinity during the time He walked our earth. He was also, however, making it clear that He understood that the plan God had created for Him would go on to impact the future. WE are now given to Him, and through Him to God by the acceptance of His sacrifice for our sins.

Jesus as teacher; humanity as students. His words left for our reflection, application, and implementation.

John 17: 6- 10- I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word. Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee.  For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me. I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them.

Jesus.

Son of God on earth.

The Christ who gave us the words of God prays for us.

We, who deserve nothing, witness Jesus claiming us before God. He knows many will not believe and marks this in this prayer. For them, He can do no more than He has…but for us He is serving notice to God that He is on the way to fulfilling God’s plan and allowing those ‘students who believe’ to be a reflection of His glory by claiming Him as their Savior.

As students to the greatest teacher on earth, it would be wise of us to remember that by studying and claiming Him, we have a responsibility to be aware of our actions in our daily lives…

May 18, 2017/The Other Prayer (3)

No matter how old you get, you are always a child to your parents. One of the toughest things to deal with as you age is having to become a parent to your parent. To help bathe your father as a caretaker and separate your emotions to instructing him on when to lift his feet or move his head so that you can shave him while remembering his tender care of you plays havoc on your mind and heart.

I know this because I have lived it.

In many ways, this is part of the life cycle–part that many of us refuse to address. When we were children, our parents treated us as children. When we are older, they still treat us as children! I think that they always see us as being in need of affection, correction, and the wisdom that only they can impart. Perhaps, that is why it is so difficult for them to accept that as life and health take a toll on their physical and mental well-being, we must now take on their role and provide those same attributes in turn to them.

It is even more difficult for us to admit that our parents will be physically parting from us before long. While we know the end results in our mind, it is difficult to accept in our hearts.

Perhaps, that is why when Christ is faced with this situation, he needed the comfort of this very emotional prayer to His Father.

John 17: 4&5- I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.

Family.

Parting.

Glory.

Jesus has offered himself here on earth to His disciples in affection, for correction, and to provide us with the wisdom of His Father. He has accepted the path God set before Him and has finished all that He was to do. Now, He is asking God for His blessing as He begins the path that will separate them.

If we believe we find it difficult to deal with the changes in our lives from children, to parenthood, to the aging infirmity of becoming childlike again, imagine the angst of Jesus knowing that once He was entwined with God at the beginning of creation. Now, Jesus will have to separate himself.

When we stop and consider the true consequences of Jesus’ dying for our sins, we must never forget how much He gave for us. To suffocate, bleed, and be nailed to a cross would have been hard enough–but to become separated from God…THIS truly was our Lord’s His greatest sacrifice…

May 17, 2017/The Other Prayer (2)

I got an new health identification card from the government the other day. As my husband is a veteran, I qualified for a certain health program that helped with expenses before I became eligible for Medicare. This program began the year my husband was granted 100% disability. When the new card came, it came with the beginning date and an expiration date. Imagine my surprise when I view the date 2072 as my ‘ending’ date of eligibility–the government must know something I don’t!!

No one knows how long they will have on earth, but those of us who have accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior know that he grants us an eternal life after death. We are again looking at John 17.

John 17:2-3-As thou has given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life as to many as thou has given him. And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou has sent.

God granted His son Jesus Christ the authority to provide those that believe in Him the condition of eternal life. Jesus makes it clear that those ‘given’ to Him by the Father will be granted the gift of eternal worship at the feet of God.

What a gift! We will return to the purpose of our creation…communion with God. We will KNOW God…and all aspects of His power and magnificence. The God who created all things from nothing. The God who yearns to be part of every aspect of our daily lives. The God whose love is unending. The God who loves us unconditionally.

Jesus will commend us into God’s safekeeping forever.

Obviously, Jesus is aware of the power God has entrusted in Him. The power of life and death with the sole condition being that of faith. Here Christ is making it clear that He knows who He is, what His mission is, and who God is!

Jesus is aware of that ‘train approaching in the tunnel of His life’. In this prayer, however, his passion is to clearly leave behind a record that His disciples will be able to refer to when He has left earth.

Take heart, for Christ is the light that shines in whatever ‘tunnel’ we may find ourselves…and we have it on His authority that once entrusted to God in His name we will live forever….

 

May 16, 2017/The Other Prayer

If I were to ask which prayer Jesus is known for, most would respond with: “The Lord’s Prayer, of course.” But there is another prayer which is just as important and is often overlooked. That is Christ’s own prayer to His Father found in John.

This prayer is an important insight into Jesus and his relationship with God…and should be more emphasized, in my opinion, for it gives us a real insight into how OUR attitude should be to God.

So, for the next few days, we will be examining John 17.

John 17: 1–These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee:

The first thing I noticed when reading this was the simple posture Christ applies when speaking to God. He ‘lifts up his eyes to heaven’. There is a reverence to be found here. Not for Jesus is there posturing and making a big deal to have everyone notice his behavior in the way He prays. No, for Him, there is simplicity. He is speaking to His Father as one would speak to one He reveres, yet is very mindful of God’s rule and power.

The second detail is the quick testament to where they are in this journey and what is coming. Many times during His life and ministry, Jesus has spoken to God. The task appointed to Him was not easy. Now, knowing what is about to happen shortly, Jesus embarks on preparing Himself for by doing what He knows that He must–Give it all up to God.

In giving Himself up to God’s will, Jesus is admitting His dependence and His obedience along with His adoration. He was sent to earth to display God’s glory and His Divine will. What better way to begin this prayer than to get to the heart of the matter right off. He has illustrated the glory of God in His earthly life, and now God will, in turn, glorify Him through Christ’s obedience to His Father’s will.

When we speak to God, it is important that we do so in a like manner. Our time here on earth, though we know not how many days may be appointed by God, should be utilized in a manner that glorifies Him. The children’s song: ‘This Little Light of Mine’ should be our banner as we walk among the saved and unsaved of this world.

Reverence.

Glorifying.

Obedience

Dependence.

While we, unlike Christ, do not know when our time on earth will end, we should attempt to keep these attributes of Christ prominent in our daily prayers and Christian walk..