June 30, 2017/Lord

One of the most interesting books in the Old Testament is Job.

Here was a man who had it all, lost it all, questioned it all, and finds it all boils down to a sovereign God.

Most Christians and non-Christians are familiar with Job’s story. A lot of us feel that we have plenty in common with Job–for Job teaches us a lot about life. As Job questions God, he realizes how inadequate humans are. The expansive concept of who God is; His scale of being; His Almighty Power are an overwhelming concept for all of us to get our minds around.

Job 42:1-6Then Job answered the Lord, and said, I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee. Who is he that hide the counsel without knowledge? Therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not. Hear I beseech thee, and I will speak: I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me. I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.

Job’s questioning God led him to just how arrogant a human he had become. He saw, in himself, the gulf between the Lord God and the humans whom God had created who believe themselves god-like.

We all face these questions as we come to terms with faith.

It is right that we struggle through these questions for, in the end, we find that true faith demands that we do so.

So, I have four helps that are easily remembered:

Live your faith

Offer prayers and compassion to and for others.

Respect God’s word and instructions–even when they aren’t easy or popular (um…this includes his moral and ethical commands.)

Do God’s work in joy and generosity–always remembering what Christ did for you.

What you worship in life DOES shine forth in you. The Lord of your life is illustrated in what you DO, not simply what you SAY.

Never forget that GOD loves you. He will forgive you, walk with you, and commune with you all of your days once you establishtrue communion with Him. To do so, you must simply discover the path that allows imperfect humanity to stand in the presence of perfect God.

How do you accomplish this?

First, take time to actually READ God’s word. This is His ‘life manuel’.

Then, truly meditate upon what you have read and come to terms with what you have discovered.

Faith boils down to our understanding and acceptance on who Jesus Christ is; why He came; what He did; and how willing we are to trust Him.

The more I study and ponder the Scriptures continued in the Old and New Testament, the more I marvel at what a knowing, living, loving God designed this world in which I live.

Trusting Jesus Christ as your Savior is a personal decision. It demands we truly think, debate, and come to terms first with ourselves and our place in the world. We must all go through this process for ourselves. God doesn’t have ‘grandchildren’. He has children. Children who have decided to love, trust, and worship Him.

Once you accept Jesus as Lord you begin an unending journey, one that will change you forever…

June 29, 2017-Eagles

My husband loves eagles. He always has. Perhaps, that is why our trips to Alaska resonated so much. Alaska gives one the opportunity to view eagles in their natural habitat.

While touring we learned a lot about the life of eagles from our guides. One in particular illustrated just how stubborn and determined an eagle can be. This woman explained that she lived near a body of water where salmon often came to grown and spawn. During this time, eagles would gather. One day, an eagle spotted a gigantic salmon and decided that this fish would make a good target. (From her description, that fish was certainly a HUGE target!) Eagles lock their talons onto their prey and don’t let go.

What followed was a battle.

You see, that salmon outweighed the eagle who had decided he’d make a good dinner. Neither was willing to give up. The battle raged for hours before the exhausted eagle finally managed to drag that outsized salmon to shore.

The eagle was lucky not to have drowned in that fight as our guide told us many eagles are pulled under and killed in these battles.

Isaiah 40:31-But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

There are days when we feel we are in a battle that may drown us. That is when we come to God’s word and find the passages which allow us to keep going.

I have been writing this devotional daily for six months tomorrow. I have decided that it is time to ‘switch it up’ a bit…so after tomorrow I will be writing only when God convicts me that I need to share. This isn’t ‘giving up’. It isn’t ‘giving in’. It is simply listening to the Lord in that I need to take some time to renew my strength. I need to be ‘refreshed’ for I am in danger of fainting.

At first, I was determined to ignore God’s command.

I am somewhat stubborn and I like to finish what I’ve begun.

I am also old enough, however, to know that you don’t argue with God. Obviously, He has decided that there are changes on my horizon.

I will still be ploughing onward in study. Maybe, I won’t be writing every day–but, God willing, I will still write what/where God leads me…

June 28, 2017/Lively Stones

Most people have heard at least one of the songs by The Rolling Stones. I mean, SATISFACTION is pretty well known. I have to admit that I’m not a huge 70’s ‘rock’ fan, and I was never a huge fan of that particular group. Some of their hits were just too raucous for my taste. That said, they had a huge following and have toured for many years.

My taste in music runs from opera, to Broadway show tunes, to Big Bands, to songs you can sing to like Don McClain, The Beach Boys, the Temptations, Petula Clark, the Monkees, or the Everly Brothers. That said, however, I love music.

I think God enjoys watching His children celebrate life through music and dance…even rock. 1 Peter 2:5-Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.

While Peter goes on to describe Jesus as fulfilling the Old Testament prophecy of the ‘cornerstone’ which God described in the next verse, this verse also has a message to us.

We are lively stones.

We are part of the house that Jesus began building while here on earth. It is our job to join together to offer our spiritual selves in works that God will find acceptable. Just as Jesus is the cornerstone of our faith and the symbol of God’s temple, so too, we have our place in what He is offering up to His Father. We are ‘young’ in faith and need tempering…but Jesus is acknowledging that as we begin our walk away from the ‘human’ way into the spiritual way we should walk joyfully.

The journey is difficult and not without problems. What lifts us is the loving grace of His example.

The British comedy AS TIME GOES BY has a character how likes to say: “Rock on.”

Rock on today.

Be a lively stone.

The house Jesus is building will last through eternity and we are part of it…so celebrate our relationship with Him.

June 27, 2017-Stop. Look. Listen.

Kindergarten used to be a time of learning to socialize with others, establish bathroom habits, and discover various basic survival skills. One of those skills was the importance of red lights, amber lights, and green lights.

I well remember the teachers imparting the three words: “Red means stop. Amber/Yellow means wait. Green means Go.” (Once you began driving, however, you learned different meanings. Red can mean: “I’ll speed up and no one will notice.” Yellow I associate with Jim on the television TAXI as “What does the yellow light mean? Slow down. “What…does…the…yel…low…light mean? “S-L-O-W D-O-W-N.” And green now means: Faster than a speeding bullet….

Much like the warnings teachers attempted to give us when we were young, God gives us warnings to aid us in keeping on a straight path. Hebrews 6:9-12-But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak. For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister. And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end: That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

We, as Christians, need to remember to stop, look, and listen to those around us. To truly carve out the time to minister to others in the faith and those around us. We are to be the beacons of hope, working through our faith and God-given patience to be caring, compassionate ambassadors for Christ.

As you go about your life today, LOOK at those around you. SMILE as if greeting a long-lost friend. LISTEN with your full attention when someone speaks. STOP to show that you care. In this way, you show the reflection of the faith in Christ that sustains you…

June 26, 2017/Hairsbreadth

Two years ago, we suffered and survived a weather ‘event’. I say the word event because whether the ‘weather experts’ want to call it ‘straight winds’ or a tornado, we lived through and witnessed the force and power of nature up close.

We learned a lot going through this experience. Half of our house was destroyed. Trees blocked all the streets leading to our house. Our handicapped bathroom was gushing water from broken pipes and had fallen down into the crawlspace below the house. The giant oak tree that we’d adorned with its very own ‘face’ had been lifted up and crashed through the bedroom landing right on the bed where we slept. My dog’s wire crate was crushed into mere inches. We had no power for a week. I found that it took three 64oz. water-filled soda bottles to do a quick hair wash and ‘bird bath’.

We came within a ‘harisbreadth’ of dying. The definition of hairsbreadth a very small space or distance. Had the storm arrived four or five hours later, we would have been killed in bed.

When the storm hit, I had grabbed the dog and her leash and fled to the hall (inner space/no windows/well protected. My husband was checking out the storm and saw the row of trees in our backyard snapping like twigs and quickly joined me as we prayed for the protection of our daughter and family who live one house away.

Once the storm was over, everyone gathered outside. We had lost trees, roofs, and parts of houses–but not one person was  injured. Seeing all the damage, we gave thanks for not one person was injured.

Have you ever noticed that when tragedies happen, governments suddenly decide that it is ‘okay’ to pray? Suddenly, these same entities that want nothing to do with religion or God allow dignitaries, politicians, and leaders to acknowledge God?

We lost a lot of ‘stuff’ in a storm.

We wondered, as many do, “Why us? Why, God? Why now?”

Our handicapped bathroom shower (which was an older one-piece unit) has now been replaced with a modern tiled shower and bench. Our bedroom lay out was redesigned so as to make it much more friendly if my husband eventually must use a wheelchair. Windows were installed that allow more light. Blinds that are easy to open and close replaced drapes.

We went from the “Why?” to “Thanks” when praying.

God’s power can be taught and meditated upon with one simple sentence from Matthew.

Matthew 10:30-But the very hairs on your head are all numbered.

Think about it–our God knows the numbers of each and every hair on the head of every single person on earth.

The power of a storm is enormous…but the power of God is INFINITE.

As we walk through the storms of life, be ASSURED that Christ Himself has acknowledged His Father’s power…and His love for us.

There is a purpose in every earthly storm that comes our way. We may not see it at first. We may not see it while we are alive. But we are to be confident that the God who knows exactly how many hairs are on our head on any given day is watching over us…and He loves and cares for us.

June 24 & 25/Responsibility

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all admit when we are wrong and take our ‘licks’?

Today’s news mentions a difficult situation where blame is being tossed back and forth for a death. This is serious business. It would be easy to attach blame quickly. So many times we rush to judgment based on what we read online.

But is what we read online true?

That is the question.

Lately, we tend to see opinions posed as facts.

Complications arise when people make decisions without getting all the information needed. Governments do the same. Imagine a doctor who ‘presumes’ where a tumor is positioned and begins cutting. He will be ‘searching’ through your body. That isn’t good. That is why the discovery of radiation by Madame Curie was such an aid to medicine. Now we have all kinds of imaging. Doctors have more clarity when they operate because they can ‘see’ where the tumors are so that they can remove them. Even the, doctors can get some surprises!

If we could get to the facts, it would be much easier to assign the responsibility and come up with the proper punishment. Old Testament laws did make certain situations easier. If your neighbor’s ox got onto your property because you were a lackadasical owner and didn’t keep your fencing up it was your fault. If your ox escaped through no fault of yours and did damage you had to pay damages–but not as much.

The phrase: SEEING IS BELIEVING is popular. None of us want to be tricked in real life…no matter how much we may enjoy going to witness the tricks of a magician as entertainment.

God sees all…and, as Jeremiah points out to us He has everything under control.

Jeremiah 29: 11-For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 

Confessing a mistake is never easy but it simplifies our lives. Saying, “I am sorry,” or “I was wrong” means accepting swift responsibility for our actions. The longer we wait, the harder it is…and, often the harder the punishment.

Rely on God’s wisdom and direction. Accept the responsibility of your actions and confess your faults. You will be wiser and happier..

June 23, 2017/Stumbling Blocks

One of the very big issues in the early church involved eating. As many foods were offered to other gods (or idols) during this time period, a lot of Christians were wondering how they should act if they were offered these foods as part of a meal.

This may seem a bit foolish to us now–until we stop and realize that we still face these type of issues. Is it wrong to drink wine? What about someone who is on Weight Watchers faced with attending a great church suppers? How do we treat a pregnant teenager who isn’t married?

Paul offers his take on how we should approach getting beneath the surface of such matters in 1st Corinthians 8:  Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth. And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know.
But if any man love God, the same is known of him. As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one. For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him. Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge: for some with conscience of the idol unto this hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled. But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse. But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak. For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol’s temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols; And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ. Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.

Paul tells us not to get so focused on action but on spirit. We all know about ‘intentions’. Offering food to idols in those days wasn’t abnormal. What is more, Paul makes it clear that these so-called ‘idols’ have nothing compared to our knowledge of God. He makes it clear that God provides food for us and that it is not the FOOD that is the problem–it is the IDEA of that offering.

We may not have a problem with eating this food for it means nothing to us–but for others, it may seem as if we are acquiescing in acknowledging these gods as having values. To someone who is a babe in faith, this may pose a real problem.

IF we tempt another with an action we know may cause them a greater chance to sin, then we must truly try our best to avoid putting said temptation in their way.

Many times, people use these verses on drinking alcohol–but there is more here to think about. There are a host of choices in life that tempt us–alcohol, gambling, sex, food, money, etc. Then there are other things…like politics. Want to see someone cause a big argument in a few seconds?

Look, we can hash out all these issues as to whether they are right or wrong in the sight of God (and often do) but the REAL issue Paul wants us to address is where we are in SPIRIT. We KNOW how to push the buttons of other people.

Paul is trying to get us to look at a complicated issue and bring simplicity to it. When you KNOW what you are doing (eating a big piece of cake in front of someone who just began dieting? Serving wine to someone who just returned from an AA meeting? Bragging about your new home to someone recently foreclosed upon?) you are, in fact, offending the tenets of our faith.

Christians are not perfect. We should, however, do what we can to try to please God…that means truly listening and caring for our brothers and sisters in Christ AND others. Take time today to truly listen to those around you and do your best to provide an example of upholding the Christian spirit in love and understanding.