Author Archive

A Time to Listen and Learn

Part One

Right now, as I sit to write this blog, my heart is deeply saddened by the state of our current climate.  Division is ruling and it seems that everyone is taking a side and giving their two cents worth.  The future forecast is gloomy, but it does not need to be this way.  I believe now is the time for all Christians to take a moment and assess where they are in their faith, put on the armor of God, and stand up.  Yes, we are in a crisis, but hope is still vital and needed more than ever.

Everyone feels that this is just a political issue and that it will be resolved once the elections are over.  Sorry to disappoint anyone, but the election is a distraction and not the real issue.  We are at war and we, the Christian, needs to see beyond the distraction and prepare ourselves for this war.  It is a spiritual war as the book of Ephesians points out.

I want to first examine the book of Habakkuk in this blog and then, in my next blog of this series, I would like to provide some words of advice from the book of Ephesians.  Habakkuk is full of many lessons, but the most precious jewel to be uncovered is that God is in control and even when we do not understand what is happening around us, He is still in charge and working.  We need to exhibit patience and obedience as the story will entail.

I want to review Israel’s history and then draw correlations from and compare it to what we, as a nation, are currently going through.  However, first we must look at the context of the time in which all of this is based upon.  Habakkuk’s burden is around 650 to 586 BC.  Under the rule of David, Israel the kingdom was united, but during the end of Solomon’s reign the kingdom becomes divided.  The Northern kingdom was Israel, and the Southern kingdom was Judah (which was the lineage that Jesus would be born into).  As we learned due to this time frame and Israel’s unfaithfulness, many prophets were sent to warn them to repent and turn back to God.

Habakkuk was a prophet during King Josiah’s thirty-one-year reign in Jerusalem.  Josiah was a righteous king who walked in the ways of David, unlike his father and grandfather.  He purged Judah and Jerusalem of idolatry and places of worship to false gods.  At the age of eighteen Josiah started the repair of the House of the Lord.  During this time, the Book of the Law was found and brought to Josiah, as noted in 2 Kings 22:8.

            “Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the secretary, “I have found the Book of the Law in the temple of the Lord.” He gave it to Shaphan, who read it.”

This broke Josiah’s heart, he tore his clothes, repented, and wept.  He took the book to a prophetess who told him that the curses would happen due to the broken covenant with God as noted in 2 Chronicles 34:21-28.

            “Go and inquire of the Lord for me and for the remnant in Israel and Judah about what is written in this book that has been found. Great is the Lord’s anger that is poured out on us because those who have gone before us have not kept the word of the Lord; they have not acted in accordance with all that is written in this book.”  Hilkiah and those the king had sent with him[b] went to speak to the prophet Huldah, who was the wife of Shallum son of Tokhath,[c] the son of Hasrah,[d] keeper of the wardrobe. She lived in Jerusalem, in the New Quarter. 

She said to them, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Tell the man who sent you to me, ‘This is what the Lord says: I am going to bring disaster on this place and its people—all the curses written in the book that has been read in the presence of the king of Judah. Because they have forsaken me and burned incense to other gods and aroused my anger by all that their hands have made,[e] my anger will be poured out on this place and will not be quenched.’ Tell the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the Lord, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says concerning the words you heard: Because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before God when you heard what he spoke against this place and its people, and because you humbled yourself before me and tore your robes and wept in my presence, I have heard you, declares the Lord. Now I will gather you to your ancestors, and you will be buried in peace. Your eyes will not see all the disaster I am going to bring on this place and on those who live here.’”

During Josiah’s reign, King Nabopolassar reigned in Babylon for nineteen years and then was succeeded by his son Prince Nebuchadnezzar in 605 BC.  Previously in 722 BC the Assyrians had captured the nation of Israel.  Both the kings from Assyria and Babylon worshipped and served idols.  This influenced both Israel and Judah.  During a fierce battle at Carchemish (Megiddo) King Josiah died from his battle wounds from Pharaoh Necho II (Pharaoh of Egypt who had helped The Assyrians fight Babylon).  Around 586 BC the Chaldeans carried away the people in Judah into captivity.  Both the major prophet Jeremiah and the minor prophet Habakkuk were taken into captivity as well.  So, who is Habakkuk? He is believed to be a minor prophet that lived during a revival, but then saw the chaos that arose when the succession of kings did not follow the Lord.  He wrote this book during the 25-year timespan when Babylonia conquered Nineveh and the Assyrian empire – around 612 BC and through the fall of Judah when Babylon captured Jerusalem around 586 BC.

After stating a brief synopsis of the Israelite history, we can understand that through their failure to repent of past difficulties, judgment will come.  God gives us so many opportunities to turn ourselves around and to repent, but our incessant refusal does eventually bring final judgment.  We get complacent and take God out of everything, our schools, our justice system, limiting or restricting our individual rights, and even go as far as having The Bible in some areas, banned, or removed.  His anger is justified.

However, for Habakkuk to better understand this righteous anger, he poses a few questions to God and expects an answer immediately.  First, he asks how long must he keep asking for help before the Lord hears and responds; thus, questioning if indeed the Lord hears him.  Upon doing this he points out the violence and destruction all around him, but justice has not been served because those in charge have failed to act.  The problem is that the people were no longer affected by the Word of God and were apathetic as noted in Psalms 119:126.

                “It is time for You to act, O Lord, for they have regarded Your law as void.”

Today we are paralyzed when we take God out of everything such as: prayer in schools, not able to study the Word, yet those in power are now proposing that Islam being taught in the schools, bibles are removed from hotels and some libraries and it is threatening to take a more drastic turn and prevent Christians from worshipping as we currently are seeing during this pandemic.

He does not feel that God is moving during this time of chaos.  Haven’t we all been there?  A trial enters our life, and we feel out of control and unable to find answers, let alone closure.  We can hear and relate to the frustration in Habakkuk’s words.  We fill our cups full of fear and let anger mingle with it and then question why it is overflowing?  Could it be that God was tired of pleading for us to learn whatever discipline he was teaching us or tired of us living without a care in the world?  Maybe action had to be taken so that we could get back on the right path again.

God responds and instructs Habakkuk to be prepared to be amazed in Chapter 1:5-11 of this book.  God is not only moving, but He reveals how His plan will be carried out.

                “Look at the nations and watch– and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told. I am raising up the Babylonians, that ruthless and impetuous people, who sweep across the whole earth to seize dwelling places not their own. They are a feared and dreaded people; they are a law to themselves and promote their own honor. Their horses are swifter than leopards, fiercer than wolves at dusk. Their cavalry gallops headlong; their horsemen come from afar. They fly like a vulture swooping to devour; they all come bent on violence. Their hordes advance like a desert wind and gather prisoners like sand. They deride kings and scoff at rulers. They laugh at all fortified cities; they build earthen ramps and capture them. Then they sweep past like the wind and go on– guilty men, whose own strength is their god.”

Judgment indeed is coming.  Habakkuk was not expecting to hear that and was thrown by this response.  He wanted reassurance of God’s intervention, but God had judgment in mind.  He does not see or understand how this is going to help the Israelites let alone resolve the current situation. Remember that God will use whatever tool He needs to accomplish His will.  Again, we can relate to Habakkuk’s confusion.  How many of us have been in a trial and we got an answer, but not the one we had hoped for?  A lump is found, and it is malignant and must be removed.  A payment is due, but the needed funds to do so is not there and now you are sent to collections.  The perfect job appears, but though qualified, they decide to go with someone else which could lead to the possibility of your home going into foreclosure.

Today, we must look at the underlying current and the foreshadowing we see in Daniel 12:1 and Matthew 24:21.  We have been thrown off kilter this past year with one crisis after another.  Many are speculating if these indeed are the last days.  Personally, I believe that we are in the early birthing stages showing us what the end times will look like when they do finally come, but not as magnified.  I think we are being warned to look out and see what is happening right in front of us.  We also are witnessing God’s hand working throughout all of this.  It will be swift and unexpected. We are forewarned to be alert and ready for when those times do appear.

            “At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people—everyone whose name is found written in the book—will be delivered.”

            “For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again.

Habakkuk’s question moves from his asking for help for the people, but now he questions the plan, which makes Habakkuk nervous.  Judgment was coming and it would be swift, but he is uncertain if the Israelites will die as a result.  Habakkuk basically wants to know how God can approve of this and why is a nation more wicked than Israel being used to carry out the punishment.  Habakkuk reminds God of His God’s promise to their nation that they would not lose their inheritance completely.  However, he concedes that Judah does require judgment and correction, and asks that God will be merciful during this time due to His faithfulness to His promise.

Sometimes when we cannot see the logic of a trial, we naturally tend to write it off, but sometimes we must continue even though we do not understand why it is happening.  We must trust His will.  It is in these moments of silence that we need to bring all our fears or concerns to God and then we need to rely on our faith to sustain us.  Even though the situation is perplexing, we must be patient. 

Our gracious Father does respond again, and His revelation convicts us of the sins of the nation.  He illustrates this with a set of woes to clarify why judgment is coming.  Mankind has seen to their own downfall when they decided to put themselves ahead of others.  We are arrogant and self-serving, but we seek to be in control.  We refuse to depend on and trust in the Lord.  We steal and exhort others for our material gain.  This leads into our desire for power as we are greedy and aim to exploit those below us to meet those needs.  To achieve this, we next seek out violence.  We overthrow countries or devastate portions of our world regardless of the financial and emotional cost to others.  We also give into our lust and corruption by false statements to obtain it or perversion of justice.  However, the main issue is that we refuse to seek out God and be obedient.  We place emphasis on other things/idols and reject Him.

All of this is going on right now in current time.  We reject God by refusing to believe that He exists, we seek to harm others by any means possible, we spread hate and have lost the ability to be merciful, compassionate, and forgiving.  Do we not deserve punishment for this?  We are asking the wrong question and looking for a quick remedy.  We need to draw near to God, repent and serve Him our sovereign king.  We must depend on Him to get us through whatever the trial may be.  Our remedy is to stop fighting and resisting but submit to Him.  Trust Him.  Keep in mind the lessons being taught and learn from them.  Our history is made up of a lack of commitment and respect towards God.  Do not think you have all the answers because my friend, you do not.  Keep in mind that through this storm we the Christian, can see the hope that comes out of the trial because we leaned on God, not the world.  We are His elect and must put Him first in everything. Situations arise and they eventually end, but how we handle it is of the utmost importance.  Assess the situation, take a look at yourself (where you are and what you need to change/learn about yourself), stay connected with God and learn that we must be patient and persevere while He is moving.  He IS moving.  He was then and is now continuing to move.  Watch and do not fear but trust Him. 

My next blog for this series will be focused on the spiritual journey that awaits us.  We must have the necessary armor to defend ourselves against the darkness of this world.  God bless.

It’s Always Time to Share Your Testimony

I think we can all agree that 2020 has been thus far a year rife with disaster; however, it has also been a year of great opportunity.   I know that some of you may be shaking your head thinking where has there been opportunity in all of this?  Let me explain further.

            Because of the disaster or “pandemic” for example, more people have been stepping up and helping their fellow man.  Despite the division some are determined to sow, I see a lot of community unity whenever we stopped where we were and what we were doing and made time to reach out to others in need instead.  People used whatever ingenuity they possessed, to make life easier for those who seemed to be worse off than them. 

            It also matters how we view this situation.  Is it a learning experience or is it a time to throw in the towel and run for the hills?  How do you respond to disaster?  As a Christian we need to realize the purpose of trials.  As Jesus mentioned several times there will be trials and tests for Christians.  Times to be disciplined, times to be refined, to learn and to continuously work on the status of our hearts.  They are meant to be taken seriously and looked at with hope and not despair.  Let us look at a few verses to see what wisdom they offer us.

            Romans 5:3 states that it works patience; 1 Corinthians 10:13 teaches us that though temptation is all around us, with Jesus we can bear the temptation and overcome it; John 16:33 shows us hope when it states that Jesus has overcome the world; Romans 8:18 tells us that though we suffer for a little while, nothing compares to the future glory we will behold; and 2 Corinthians 12:9  shows that God’s grace is sufficient for it is through our weakness that His strength shines through.

             “Not only so, but we[a] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;”

            “ No temptation[a] has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted[b] beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted,[c] he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”

            “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

            “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”

            “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

So yes, indeed trials will come as we saw with Jesus and as we experience ourselves when we stand up for Christ and decide to follow Him and share the gospel.  We see in Matthew 28:16-20, that we are commissioned (Great Commission) to share the Word.  As we read in 2 Corinthians 5:20, we are called to be Ambassadors for Christ.  More than that is the importance of sharing our testimony as 1 Peter 3:15; Psalms 107:2; Mark 5:19; 2 Timothy 1:8; Isaiah 55:11; Matthew 10:32 and 1 John 5:11 will attest to this.

            “Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

            “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.”

            “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect”

            “Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story— those he redeemed from the hand of the foe”

            “Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.”

            “So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God.”

            “So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

            “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven.”

            “ And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.”

So what do we take away from all of this and how do we accomplish this?  God has commanded us and out of obedience we serve Him and do his will.  We do not let the cares of this world sway us from doing what He has called us to do.  Our Lord does not want to see anyone perish as is stated in 2 Peter 3:9.

            “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

Therefore, the reasoning is this:  we are commissioned to share the gospel per our Lord’s instructions.  As aforementioned and restated again, Isaiah 55:11 informs us that the word does not come back void.  It is a seed planted, slowly cultivated, and prayerfully comes to fruition and blooms.  We, as Ambassadors, must follow this command and one way to introduce the gospel is our personal experience with Christ.  Your testimony cannot be refuted.  You are a witness to what happened to you and what brought you to Christ.  We open the door with our testimony, start a discussion and then share the gospel.  We must do this for the gift of grace is open to everyone.  God does not force us to believe, he rather gives us the opportunity to hear the word and then decide on our own if we believe it or not.

This world is turning colder by the minute and hatred is running rampant.  I, myself, do not want to see anyone perish and I use the tools God gave me to share this message.  I also pray unceasingly for the souls of many.  I know it is His hands that will open the eyes and ears of many, but I need to plant the seed and then pray for it to take root.

We also need to use our time wisely.  The age of grace could end at any time and we need to make sure we answered the call for which reason we are here.  I know many are afraid of sharing this, but would you rather they perish, or would you seek to tell everyone about this gift?  You must decide and then step up.  Lives are at stake and it could very well be a loved one.

Do not let the current tide stop you from doing this, but accept the challenge, put on your armor, and then go out into the world on a mission for the kingdom of God.

When we meet our Lord, one day we may also meet others who came to Christ because of our boldness and determination to share the truth.  And that my friends would be such a blessing to witness.  Do not waste a day but persevere for the honor of witnessing to others for the furtherance of the kingdom.  Take care and God bless.

Remembrance

Today, as I sit down and prepare to write in my blog, my mind is overflowing with many thoughts.  Our world changed for the worse on 9/11 nineteen years ago, but on 9/12 our world experienced a new ray of hope and unity shone in the background.  Oh, that we can look back and see the damage done, but also note some bright spots that shone through the disaster.

            This is our history, but as it normally does, lessons are found during our most tragic times.  9/11 is not an exception, but rather a great example of how we can pull together for the common good of all involved.

            The night before was normal to the human eye.  No one foresaw what possibly laid ahead for us the next day.  Yet there it was a low hanging cloud over our heads and ready to rain down upon us.  People followed their usual routine and went about their day as they normally did.

            That day nineteen Islamic extremists hijacked four planes and set their plans into motion.  Two of the planes flew into the Twin Towers in New York at approximately 8:45 am and the second plane hit the other tower approximately eighteen minutes later.  It was not long after the planes hit their target that both towers collapsed.  The third plane hit the Pentagon at approximately 9:45 am, and the last plane crashed in Pennsylvania after it was hijacked and then overthrown by the passengers happening around 10:15am.  Roughly three thousand people were killed because of these attacks and many others were seriously injured.  This was the deadliest attack on U.S. soil.

            Do you remember where you were when all of this happened?  I had slept in that morning and as I was getting ready for work, I turned on the television.  I could not believe my eyes.  It was unbelievable.  I watched because I wanted to find out what happened, and I could not turn away. I saw the towers fall and my heart was in my throat.  I was thinking of all the lives that tried to get out but could not.  Some even jumped to their death.  Others sacrificed their life to assist those who were incapable of getting out on their own. 

            Officers and the Port Authority were on the scene within minutes and our firefighters all responded as quickly as they could.  The objective was to do a search and rescue to save as many as possible to do a search for remains.  Everyone wanted to get involved, we had bystanders, the Mayor Rudy Giuliani, local service men (some Marines rescued people from Ground Zero) and the first responders aforementioned sifted through the rubble during the search looking for loved ones, answers or identification as to who these victims were.  Many of these first responders would lose their life by doing so.  There was debris (roughly 1.8 billion tons) everywhere.  People were displaced, scattered and unable to easily contact their loved ones to let them know they were alive.  All appeared to either be lost or falling apart, but just beyond this tragedy hope arose.  Our current view blocked our focus, but it was there, nonetheless.

            Later that night our President Bush made the announcement addressing the terrorist attacks.  He declared a war on terror and targeted the Al Qaeda terrorists (specifically the leader Osama Bin Laden).  We had a plan to recover, to capture and to move forward.

            Out of tragedy our best always tends to shine through.  People helped one another.  Police and firefighters from all over the country volunteered to come and search for loved ones.  Blood banks were started, and blood was donated.  We stood by each other, lifting one another up and offering to help any way we could.  Pictures were posted of those missing or lost in hopes that all could be identified.  The Department of Homeland Security was created to prevent future incidents from occurring.  Tributes were made in honor of all those lost.  We knew the towers were ground zero and a memorial was made there to represent those who died that day.  We hold remembrance ceremonies to honor the lost, to process the grief, to cherish those that are still with us, and to show a united front of what our country means to us.  We cannot understand the immeasurable pain and grief of such a great loss of life, and we must not forget the sacrifice many made nor how we rallied together as a country to get through this.  This is embedded in our memories forever.  Prayerfully, this lesson not only impacted us, but will not be repeated.

            Yes, evil was determined to conquer that day, but it was God who gave us the strength to bear the load and to step up and help one another out.  We did not let our greatest tragedy or fear tear us down, but we allowed it to bring us closer together.  These are just a few of the bright spots to focus on during our darkest hour.

In summary, America has always been a very blessed nation.  It has stood strong over time and I pray that it continues to do so no matter the threat.  It is the land of opportunity for all that are here and all that are seeking a better life.  Yes, like all nations we have our flaws, but the good outweighs the bad.

            During a time of crisis, we chose to stick together and to fight whomever or whatever the foe was that was attacking us.  We chose to fight for our country and the people within our country. We must continue to do this whether our foe is domestic or foreign.  These men and women who gave their life for this country shall not have died in vain.  We need to remember who we are, what we stand for and what we stand against.  We must stand united and not let anything or anyone tear us down or break us apart.  Division at any time is never the answer.  Neither side can withstand division.  One will succeed and one will fail. 

            We need to hear one another out, reason and to seek a solution; then act on that solution.  Remember who we are, why the framers of the constitution fought so hard to preserve our unity, our freedoms, our rights, and what the flag represents for our country and our beliefs.  Learn from our history, then raise our flag high and focus on the pledge we all learned as little kids.  Remember what it meant then and what it represents now.  I will end on that note and restate our pledge of allegiance.

             “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

            Instead of focusing on do you remember, meditate instead on why we must never forget.  We did get through this rough patch and we can again if we learned the lesson we were taught. No amount of gratitude can be enough to thank those for their selfless act.  We are forever indebted. Are you willing to take a stand for your country?  God bless our land, our people, and our country!

The Cost for Sacrifice and the Reason We Must Do So

Have you ever encountered a situation in which you felt the stakes were too high?  Did you think it was better to step aside instead of facing it head on?  What if instead you did face it and what if it cost you everything to do so?  Would you be willing to step up?

One can never truly say until that very example comes upon them and even then, legs do wobble and refuse to stand.  However, there are those few that do not hesitate and risk it all for the right cause.  This is what we are asked to do as Christians.

Today’s blog is looking at persecution in the world and on our doorstep.  First, what exactly does persecution mean?  Under the umbrella of hostility, we have many definitions of what qualifies as persecution.  It is the hostile environment or ill-treatment of others based on race, politics or religious beliefs.  It can be veiled as oppression, victimization, abuse, discrimination and mistreatment (Merriam-Webster).  The focus today however, is persecution against the Christian.

I wanted to understand the depth of this better, so I searched for the most current watch list of where Christians are being persecuted today.  The top ten countries are North Korea, Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan, Pakistan, Eritrea (bordered by Sudan), Libya, Iraq, Yemen and Iran.  What most of these countries have in common is that they are under Islamic extremism.

Here are some alarming statistics to keep in mind.  According to Christianity Today (in the article “Where It’s Most Dangerous to Follow Jesus” by Sarah Eekhoff-Zylstra 2018), 215 million Christians experience persecution in which Christianity is outlawed or forbidden; thus, punishable by the government.  Out of the ten countries Pakistan has the most violent history with church attacks, abductions and forced marriages. Per Open Doors who provide the Watch List, this Islamic extremism is the driving force of persecution in 35 out of the 50 countries on the list.  Women are raped, sexually harassed, or forced into marriage under threat of death due to their Christian faith.

It is not just Muslim countries but according to Open Doors, the next forefront of future persecution is within Radical Hinduism and Indian nationalism, which will increase the levels of instability that Christians face.

It is a way of life for many countries and it is coming our way soon enough.  Once again according to Christianity Today (in the article “Does the United States Belong on the Persecution List?” by Sarah Eekhoff-Zylstra 2017) domestically, we face an increase of media attacks and more of a legal challenge regarding our religious rights.  However, keep in mind that snowballs may start small, but they do tend to get larger the faster they roll down the hill.  An avalanche is coming to our country.  Right now, it comes to us in the form of lawsuits (such as the baker charged for not making a wedding cake for a same-sex couple), constant media attacks, and the implementation of new regulations such as referendums for teaching LGBTQ history in our public schools or complying to proposed/suggested bathroom alternatives for transgenders.  It can and will get worse as political parties have hidden agendas thinly disguised to implement programs or laws with the said assumption of being politically correct or maintaining set standards by being innovative and progressive, so we can compete with other countries and keep our status quo as a superpower.

We have already taken God out of the schools and our future is threatened when someone can plot to take God out of the church by having pastors/clergy submit their sermons for review.  Regarding our religious freedom, it is being pushed toward private expression per Jeff King, the President of International Christian Concern (in the article “Does the United States Belong on the Persecution List?” by Sarah Eekhoff-Zylstra 2017).  In short, we are falling apart, and I ask, what are we to do, how are we to stand, and is there a remedy for all of this?

Yes, is the answer I would like to address today.  We have been forewarned by Jesus in John 15:18 and 1 John 3:13, that we as Christians, will suffer persecution because of hate.

“If the world hates you, know that it hated me before it hated you.”

“Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.”

The apostles have warned us of this as well.  In 1 Peter 4:12-14 we learn this from Peter, but we also are given the answer as how to deal with this hatred.  We also see this warning in 2 Timothy 3:12.

“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you.  But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s suffering; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.  If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you, on their part he is evil spoken of, but on ye part he is glorified.”

“Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”

How are we to combat hate?  We love instead as Matthew 5:44 and Romans 8:35 teach us.  Not only love but give all the glory to God as 1 Peter 4:16 instructs us to do.  Paul even tells us to rejoice during our fiery trials in 2 Corinthians 12:10 and again Peter tells us in 1 Peter 3:17 it is more important to do God’s will then to fight evil with evil.  This gives us hope and strength to continue down the path of righteousness.

“But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.”

            “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall tribulation or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?”

            “Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.”

“Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake.  For when I am weak, then am I strong.”

            “For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well-doing, than for evil doing.”

Persecution is bound to stir up division, but instead of fighting, we need to seek ways to be unified; thus, cohesive.

We are commanded in 1 Corinthians 1:10 that there be no division between Christians, we are instructed in Colossians 3:13-14 to be forgiving of one another, we have the glue named Jesus Christ within us to strengthen us per John 17:23 and Ephesians 4:13, and only then can we recognize the blessing of unity in Psalm 133:1.

“Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.”

            “Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man has a quarrel against any, even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.  And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.”

            “I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.”

            “Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.”

            “Behold, how good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!”

It is however, more than just unity.  We need to also show compassion to all regardless of the injustice done to us.  We are called to be compassionate in Ephesians 4:32, instructed how to be the salt of the earth in Colossians 3:12-13, taught that we must bear one another in Galatians 6:2, be peacemakers to our enemies in Romans 12:20, and as God has been merciful to us, to show mercy to others in Lamentations 3:22-23.

“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”

“Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any; even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.”

“Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.”

“Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink; for in doing so thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head.”

            “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.  They are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness.”

We cannot and should not stop there.  We need to now gather all our courage and stand up for those in need of defense.  This is the hardest part, but it is also the most necessary.  In the Bible we are reminded multiple times of why we are to look after those less fortunate than us.

The Old Testament lends us wisdom in Psalm 82:3, Isaiah 1:17 and Proverbs 31:8-9 to show our purpose, our gifts are identified in order to be used effectively in Galatians 5:22-25, the honor and blessing of following this request is invoked in Psalm 1:1, the importance of working together and standing up is pointed out in Romans 12:16 and Ephesians 4:16, and ultimately that there are consequences when we fail to follow this wisdom in Ecclesiastes 4:10.  Again, in 1 Peter 3:8,  the necessity of compassion being shown to all is stressed.

“Defend the poor and fatherless; do justice to the afflicted and needy.”

“Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.”

            “Open thy mouth for the dumb in the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction.  Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy.”

            “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance, against such there is no law.  And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.  If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”

            “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.”

            “Be of the same mind one toward another.  Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate.  Be not wise in your own conceits.”

            “From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.”

            “For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow, but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.”

“Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous.”

Our excuse not to act or stand up for others, may or may not surprise you.  Few like to get involved and more likely are prone to being apathetic.

As I just mentioned there are consequences when we decide not to do anything and let someone else either take the reins or the victim suffer on his or her own.

God wants us to act and as Proverbs 17:5 points out, He will punish us for refusing to do so.

“Whoso mocketh the poor reproacheth his Maker, and he that is glad at calamities shall not be unpunished.”

We are forewarned about our desires to live for ourselves only in Ephesians 4:19, to hear only what we want to hear in 2 Timothy 4:3-4, reminded in James 4:17 our failure to do what we know is right is a sin, our apathy for others can lead to our prayers not being heard in Proverbs 21:13, and in 1 John 3:17-18, our insistence to not address or meet the needs of others by either deed or action, thus, begs the question if God even dwells within us.

“Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.”

            “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”

            “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.”

“Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard.”

            “But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?  My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and truth.”

We all deserve to have a voice.  We also deserve to know someone is out there who cares for us and is willing to take a risk for us.  We have been called to this by God.  We need to search for avenues to find answers to these injustices.  Most importantly, pray for the persecuted and pray for their adversaries.  Pray for comfort for the persecuted and pray for mercy from those who wish to do harm to them.  We have an open line to call on God anytime and we must do so.

Samaritan’s Purse is one of the many ministries that have outreach programs to other countries of which this problem is extremely high.  They focus on sharing the word and growing the church, by assisting the refugees terrorized by ISIS, by training people to be missionaries and help the church stand.  We too can get involved as volunteers by being advocates who raise awareness of this issue, we also can write letters of encouragement to those being persecuted in the church, we can donate financial resources, food and ministry materials; thus, making a dent in this huge problem.  When we seek to find a solution, opportunities will arise. Other ministries to research and contact are Open Doors, Voice of the Martyrs, Prison Alert, Barnabas Aid, I Commit to Pray and are good places to start.

Are you up for the challenge?  Do you see a light shining down and encouraging you to step up and take a risk?  I pray so.  We need to look out for one another and love the way Jesus taught us to.  There will never be a better example for us to follow than Him!  Isn’t it worth it?  I believe it is.  God bless.

The Joy of Christmas

            Usually every Christmas, much to my dismay, I get the “blahs”.  Sadly, I confess this, and I know this should not happen for a Christian.  This is such a vital joyous occasion, so the “blahs” should not be a part of it.  Allow me to expound a bit.  I do feel the joy, but I am so tired of the commercialism attributed to this holiday.  I am no Debbie Downer, but I just want people to see beyond the glitz and glitter of the holiday decorations and past the frivolous bids to draw us in just to increase yearly sales.  This is a gift-giving time of year, but the gift we have been given is what I want to focus on today.

As a kid I always loved singing Christmas carols and “spreading the joy of the message” as opposed to the non-joy of hearing my voice.  It was a celebration and an honor to sing these songs praising God.  They are revealing to the world the message of the birth of Jesus and continue to do so to this day.  Talk about the Word not coming back void or fruitless!

Do you have a favorite song?  Do you make time to praise and honor God and our Lord Jesus by singing these songs?  Are they just mere words or can you feel the weight of each syllable?  We should praise Him at every opportunity we are given.

In Luke 2:8-20 we are told about the story of the birth of Christ.  This chapter and verses are usually read every year faithfully by churches everywhere.

            “And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”  Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”  When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”So, they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.”

Imagine our Savior, the King of Kings, coming to and arriving with a humble beginning, yet all of creation (mountains, seas, animals, shepherds, townspeople) acknowledges this auspicious beginning in which everything comes together as prophesied.  The perfect birth, the perfect arrival (no need to go over the top or “show off”).  Every detail was humble and full of praise to our Lord.  Now let’s look at the testimony of these wonderfully written songs of praise.  What do you hear when you listen to the lyrics of these songs?  Ask yourselves and examine your heart.

Do you feel the “unspeakable joy” of Joy to the World?  Can you imagine a weary world finding hope in O Holy Night?  Do you see how O Little Town of Bethlehem proclaims the birth?  This is the setting for the story.  Do you feel the awe of the arrival as the Little Drummer Boy felt when he brought gifts for the baby?  Do you hear the angels streaming from afar praising the birth in Silent Night?  Can’t you just see the humble beginning portrayed in Away in the Manager or hear the angels greeting the shepherds and announcing the birth in the First Noel?  Do you see the promise of reconciliation when you hear Hark the Herald Angels Sing?  What about all of creation acknowledging the King in Angels We Have Heard on High?  Did you notice the shepherds keeping guard and the angels greeting Jesus with sweet anthems in What Child is This?  The theme of peace runs through the songs as well.  In God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen and one of my favorites, I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day to mention a few.  Can you feel the sadness of the singer when he sings about the hate in this world and the failure to recognize the hope that was just ushered in?  God speaks in this song and the singer acknowledges not only His presence, but that “God is Alive and Doth Not Sleep.”  Powerful and to the point!  Can you feel the slight trepidation Mary must have felt when she first found out she was pregnant, but then joy entered, and can you imagine knowing you were carrying the Savior of our world as you listen to Breath of Heaven and Mary Did You Know?  The wonderment of it all:  seeing the miracles He would perform, the message He would feed us and sustain us with, and the sacrifice He would make to redeem and reconcile us with God.  She would give birth to a King and then years down the road watch Him die for our sins.  Can you describe the awe of the birth as well as Do You Hear What I Hear?  Can you hear the King calling us in O Come All Ye Faithful asking us to give our life to Christ?

Christmas is for this very reason, not to give gifts or go to parties and visit Santa.  I am not telling people to avoid gift-giving, but to rethink the gifts to give, celebrate for this purpose and with fellowship, take care of your brothers and sisters in need.  Spread love and joy by telling the world the truth.  A message we are commissioned to share with everyone.  Possibly impact someone by sharing your journey – your testimony.  Show the adoration due the King of Kings and praise Him before, during, and after the storms that come into our lives.    This is such a fruitful opportunity to glorify His name. 

This is the joy that fills my heart and the joy that I ask you to look for in your life.  I have a Savior, a Defender, an Intercessor who watches over me.  I have peace because of the joy and hope for a future.  Play a song, go caroling and share the joy, but never forget the greatest love that was born from this.  When you set priorities in your life to honor and worship God, the blahs may make an occasional appearance, but they never last.  Focus on what lasts – what is eternal.  Take care, God bless, and I wish each one of you a very Merry Christmas!

The Long Journey Back

Have you ever been on a road and you have no idea where it is leading you?  You know that you are going through something, but you have no idea what the lesson being taught is or when it will end.  You are not alone.  God is indeed with you and He is moving in your life whether you can recognize it or not.  Sometimes I see His hand moving by the way things are shaping up or falling into place so fast.  Sometimes I look back at the storm long after it has passed and see that He was moving all through it, but I could not see it at the time it was happening. 

Today I want you the reader, to concentrate on the hope and promise of His word.  This will be the blessed manna you will feed off and it will carry you during the struggle.  I want to center this blog today around one bible verse and it is found in Jeremiah 29:11. It is my favorite verse and I have clung to it so much throughout my Christian life.

            “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.”

So much is packed into that verse!  It is chock full of hope, but before I go any further, we need to keep in mind that this verse does not mean that storms will never arise.  Jesus himself admitted that there will be trials in this life and that in terms of eternity they will be short, but on this side of heaven, and in our definition of time, they may last a long time.  However, each storm brings a lesson and serves a purpose.  Sometimes it is the storm itself that will carry you into the next phase of God’s plan for you.  Right now, you are at point A (in the midst of the storm), but in order to get to the next phase or point C, you have to get through the storm first and find whatever nugget of wisdom God is revealing to you.  Maybe you need to be refined before you can go any further.  In my case (which I will go into later) I needed to learn endurance, self-control and refine my whole trust system.  If I skipped from point A to point C, I may miss a vital skill that God needs me to learn in order to be equipped to do whatever His will is for me.  We all run the race and want to avoid the potholes or obstacles that arise, but we may need to stumble or fall for a reason, so please do not overlook this.  The race is best run by those who learn to pace themselves, are prepared for whatever comes along, and adapts.  We want to finish the race, not quit or walk away.

We also must shift our focus as well.  Instead of wanting the struggle to end or for us to be released from the struggle, we need to focus on how to get through the struggle despite the challenges that come along with it.  We have a powerful almighty Lord who can do anything.  He is the hope to cling to, not the false promises of instant solutions.

Let us look at Jeremiah for a moment because he is a great example of someone who experienced trials, but he was encouraged and strengthened through them.  Jeremiah knew that God was there throughout it all and he relied on God’s strength to carry him.  He was despised.  He spoke the prophecy God gave him, but the people refused to acknowledge him or listen to what the message was.  They were stubborn and refused to follow another’s plan.  It was their way or no way.  He was abused.  He was beaten by Pashur, the priest, for prophesying and put in the stocks.  He was sentenced to death by the officials.  He was told by God to write down His words on a scroll and King Jehoiakim burned pieces of the scroll until the whole scroll was burned.  He was left to die in a cistern that was filled with mud in the court of the guardhouse.   He was called a liar by Azariah when he prophesied that the Israelites should not go to Egypt to live there. 

This is important for us to observe and learn from.  By his enduring his suffering and continuing his ministry this became a foreshadow of what Jesus would go through.  Jesus went through many trials and he never sinned, so why would we expect not to suffer? 

Hope and obedience to God is what got Jeremiah through all of this and Jesus relied on the hope and promises of the Father to endure all that he went through.  The lesson we need to learn here is that when we exhibit the hope that was given to us by knowing Jesus, we shed any fear regarding the struggle, but rather we learn to embrace the struggle instead.  A good reality check is this:  Jesus went through many trials and he never sinned, so why would we, who sin daily, expect not to suffer? 

I found all of this out firsthand.  For the past thirty years I have struggled from one health issue to the other and I was getting worn out.  My problem was not the struggle, but rather it was how I responded to the struggle.  I was opinionated, stubborn, blind, foolish, and determined to do this on my terms.  I sought advice, but if it wasn’t what I wanted to hear then I moved on to someone else.  I had received much wise advice over the years that I now know God was sending to me through others, but I refused to follow it.  I still thought I knew better.  I lost the last few years of my 20’s, all of my 30’s, 40’s and most of my 50’s before wisdom finally sunk in.  I knew I was experiencing a heaping amount of God’s patience throughout all of this.  He graciously gave me more time to finally learn this lesson.  Time I was not owed, nor had I earned, nor was it given to me to appease me, but He with His perfect timing knew how I was going to eventually respond.

I am writing this today because I want others to stop or break this pattern if it applies to you.  We need to humble ourselves and admit we do not have the strength, the wisdom of our own accord to handle this.  His yoke is light, and He has offered to carry the burden for us.  Please accept that offer.

I look back now at all the times I ate what I wanted despite the medical conditions that required me to follow the right guidelines.  I was foolish by taking matters into my own hands.  I cried out for help and when He sent it, I rejected it and went my own way.  I was conditioned to fight.  To be honest, I was fighting doing this rehabilitation even though I knew deep down inside that it was the only answer for me.  I toyed with the idea of leaving the facility within the first few days because I stubbornly felt I either did not need the help or that I could do it on my own.  But that was a lie!  The devil wants to get us away from God.  He wants us to rebel and fail to listen to wisdom.  He could care less whether you might lose your legs or possibly lose your life.  He is only concerned that you stray from God.  He wants to defeat you any way he can, and he will play dirty to achieve just that.  Do not listen to him.

Today take a long hard look at yourself, what your situation is and what the obstacles are.  Stare them in the face and then ask for help.  Cry out to God and pray for His assistance and accept what He sends you.  Drop your pride and leave it at the door and then follow the plan He sends to or gives you.  These are opportunities to build yourself up and to strengthen your relationship with Him.  Opportunities are open doors to walk through; thus, they serve as a great conduit to accomplish His will. Take each day as it comes and remember that in order to learn the lesson properly it may take a few times to grasp it or it may come sooner, but regardless of that, stick with it no matter how long it takes.  I am just beginning, and I know that this road will still get bumpy.  I need to focus on the here and now, continue despite the obstacles and rejoice in all the achievements, milestones or blessings that come out of it.  I began with a small step and now a few days in I have already lost weight and improved my mobility.  I cannot wait to see how this all plays out and where I am going next.  I no longer doubt or fear it, but instead I want to see what is around the corner.  So, hold on to the hope and run with it.  As I have been encouraged, I want to encourage others.  I will be on the sidelines rooting for you during your struggle and I will pray for you throughout the struggle.  It is in His hands – trust that and just walk in the faith.  His promises are true, and He is faithful. God is indeed good all the time! Best wishes and God bless.

The Struggle is Real

Have you ever been in a situation in which you feel that you are just treading water and still finding it hard to survive?  Everything seems to be a struggle – a force to be reckoned with and yet, no matter what you do, it is unavoidable, and you must deal with it at some point.  Everyone goes through this.  Some seem to hide their emotions well and appear as if all is fine, but most are hit hard and cannot thinly veil their response to it.

How are we, as Christians, supposed to act when it happens to us?  Many times, throughout the bible we are told to endure and persevere.  For example, in Romans 12:12 we are told to:

            “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”

We see examples of this throughout the bible; such as when Job endured a huge loss, yet never turned against God, Jeremiah faced threats and prison, but still persevered and preached God’s word, and Paul faced many trials once he came to Christ.  Paul zealously killed Christians, was confronted by Jesus on the road to Damascus, and faced many trials once he gave his life over to Jesus.  He faced imprisonment, was flogged, pelted with stones and shipwrecked.  He embodies perseverance.  Another example is the persistent widow who goes before the judge to right a wrong done to her.  She kept on persisting until she wore the judge down.  The greatest example of this is Jesus.  He persevered and did the will of God despite the many persecutions he suffered.  He endured the cross so that we may be reconciled with God and become heirs to His kingdom.

Knowing what to do holds no weight unless you are willing to apply it.  When your trial draws near and the storm feels like it will never end, that is when you need to hold on to God’s promises and remember what He taught us.  He is our refuge in times of adversity, as pointed out in Psalm 46:1 and Proverbs 18:10.  His strength brings you much joy as Nehemiah 8:12 states.  In Isaiah 31:13 we are comforted by His promise to be there and help us in our time of need.

            “God is our refuge and strength. A very present help in trouble.”

            “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous runneth into it and is safe.”

            “Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

            “For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.”

We are not alone during the struggle as confirmed in James 1:2-4 and Joshua 1:9. We can walk with assurance and without fear as we learn in Psalm 23:4.

            “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

            “Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

            “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

Storms can ravage us and last a long time, but when we are connected and have a strong personal relationship with God, then we can overcome whatever the storm brings.  We are His as 1 John 4:4 tells us.  The solution is evident when we read 1 Peter 5:7 and joy, as well as, contentment, can be found in Proverbs 12:25 if we are faithful. 

            “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”

            “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

            “Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.”

Lastly, when we have assurance in His promises, and stay connected, we can face the struggle head on.  Only then can peace come, but we must stay on the path and walk with God.  However, we are to walk with hope as John 16:33 shows us.

            “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.”

We all struggle, but if we keep our eyes focused on Jesus, we can endure the struggle and continue to do His will for us.  As a Christian this is important advice, but also there is much wisdom behind this as well.  It is instruction that can be applied to our own struggle and to someone else who is struggling.  We all have an opportunity and an obligation to be there for one another.  It all boils down to a matter of choice.  Do you want to be swallowed up by the struggle or find a way to get through and come out stronger on the other side?

Currently I am facing a huge struggle and I made mistakes during this time, many of which I have learned greatly from, and I have made some wiser choices.  I cannot do this on my own and with my own understanding.  I need His strength to hold me up.  I need His hand to hold mine and help me walk without fear.  I do not know the outcome of all of this.  I do know that without Him, I would fail and fall again and again.  Trust that He has you in His hand and that He loves you very much.  Do not look for the “why me” scenarios because we all will have our time of struggle.  Rather look for the lesson or the golden nugget He is revealing.  Maybe you need to make a change and be refined.  Maybe this struggle will become the very tool needed to equip you to do His will.  Please stay connected with Him, continue to pray, and surrender it to Him fully.  He is in control and will never lead you astray.  My heart though heavy because of this struggle is lightened by His word and His promises. I ask any of you who do not know our Lord to seek Him.  He will be found and will draw near to you if you draw near to Him.  We all need a Savior.  Today is a good day to start by seeking Him.  Take care and God bless.

           

Out with the Old and In with the New

The holidays are over.  The tree is taken down and the decorations are packed away.  The resolutions made on the last day of the previous year are quite possibly already broken.  Yes, the new year has arrived and is off to a new start.  The world seeks to start anew, and many are eager to participate.  But can we really start anew?  Is it possible to change or be changed?  I believe it is and I will show how life changes for the new Christian.

We are born into sin and live in a very sinful world.  We are ruled by our own desires, the desires of the world, and of course Satan has his say in all this sinful nature.  What can we do and how can we possibly have a chance to change?  We can turn to the Lord.

Our opportunity arises when we hear the message of the gospel from other Christians (through random conversation or when we share our testimony as how we came to know Christ), but a good starting point is to read our Bible.  Every year approximately 100 million copies are either sold or given to someone.  It is translated in over 2400 languages which has the potential to reach approximately 95% of our world population.  Staggering if you think about it.  The power of the Word of God travels far and reaches many.  We serve an awesome God!

As Christians, we are told in the Great Commission to share the gospel with everyone.  These are endless opportunities to introduce the world to Christ.  Along with sharing the Bible, we must keep in mind that it centers around Jesus and a great start to understanding Jesus is to begin with the four gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John).  The gospel is shared by word of mouth and by people living by the teachings of Jesus (such as the disciples/apostles).  It is an important resource when one studies Christianity.  It is in these four gospels that the Christian obtains the most knowledge about Jesus, as well as, understands who Jesus is and what his purpose was.  The books of Matthew, Luke and Mark are called the Synoptic Gospels due to their similarity and that they all contain a lot of the same information.  Mark was written first, and Luke and Matthew share information that is not contained in Mark.

Matthew was directed to the Hebrews as a message of encouragement, while Mark was written to encourage Christians in Roman; thus, written for the Romans, and Luke addresses the Greeks using a historical stance.  John was written for the whole world and offers evidence of signs which prove Jesus is the Son of God. 

Symbolically speaking Matthew is the symbol of the winged man because it deals with the genealogy of Christ.  Whereas the winged lion is the symbol of Mark’s gospel because it deals with the resurrection of Christ.  By the way, the lion represents strength and courage to the early Christians.  Luke is considered symbolic of the winged ox and deals with the sacrifice of Christ (in the Old Testament oxen were one example of sacrificial animals used). John is the symbol of the eagle (considered the highest inspiration) and John himself wrote his gospel, 3 epistles and the book of Revelation.  These symbols were first mentioned by the prophet Ezekiel in the Old Testament of the Bible.

Now that I have briefly discussed the importance of sharing the good news (the Gospel), and that it is a wonderful opportunity to use this to tell others, we need to understand why finding Jesus is necessary.  I mentioned above that the world is sinful and is in dire need of a Savior.  God sent his only son to us to serve the will of the Father by teaching us (reminding those who already know about Jesus as well) who Jesus is, why he came, and the sacrifice he would make all so that we can be reconciled to God.

Sinners are at enmity with God.  In fact, he cannot even look at us because of our sin.  However, because God loves us so much, he wanted to offer us a chance to be reconciled with him.  Enter Jesus.  Jesus bore the weight of our sin, was crucified, dead and buried to pay the ransom for our sin.  However, the good news is that He rose from the dead and became the victor over death.

We, once accepting and receiving Jesus into our lives, are now a new creation that lives for Christ and not the world.  We are instructed in Romans 12:2 that we once were dead in sin, but now we are alive in Christ; thus, transformed.

“And be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

Once we have received Jesus, after we have repented of our past nature, we learn in Colossians 2:5 that we will receive the Helper, which is the Holy Spirit.  This was also prophesied in Ezekiel 36:26 when stated that we will receive a new heart when we receive the Holy Spirit, who will indwell and help us become refined and transformed as 2 Corinthians 5:17 states.  Colossians 3:10 reminds us to put on our new self to maintain our new relationship with Christ.

            “For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ.”

“A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you, and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh.”

            “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold all things are become new.”

            “And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him.”

Paul has stated that Ephesians 4:22-24 reveals to us the importance of making this change.  It is the way to follow Christ, walk with Him in righteousness and true holiness. 

            “That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”

Earthly resolutions are easy to make and easy to break, but the bond of man and God is not easy to break.  When we acknowledge His existence and seek Him, we will find Him.  When we find Him, we have a new life in which we can serve Him for His glory and reach others to join us by helping them see who Jesus is and will always be.  This is not a resolution, but rather a solution to why we are here on this earth.  We can serve a mighty God and we can reach out to others.  We must develop a relationship with Jesus and continue to seek Him for all our needs.

I was lost for many years and I suffered greatly for it.  I searched and found Jesus.  I asked Him into my life and I have never had any regrets doing so.  The Bible is my instruction book on how to live a life for Jesus and to reach out to others.  It has grounded me, constantly teaches me, and it has shown me who I once was and who I was meant to be.  It has given me a purpose.  I write this blog to speak of Christ and pray that someone who reads it may question themselves and begin to search for Jesus.  You will find Him if you truly seek Him. 

I do not dabble in making false promises to myself or others for the sake of tradition.  I risk it all for Jesus and willingly serve Him for His glory.  Are you tired of making flimsy excuses to change, only to be disappointed when they all fail?  Or do you desire to make a real change?  Fill that empty hole in your heart with Jesus.  You will find peace of mind, contentment, hope and yes, joy.  He is my strength and carries me more often than I can say.  I am currently experiencing a valley that is quite the challenge.  I do not walk in fear, but with faith and hope.  I know He will be with me and He will carry me as it gets harder to walk.  His promises are true, and He will never leave you if you come to Him.  It is worth everything to find Him.  Material possessions and wealth are temporary and will not satisfy you long-term.  Seek Him today and get to know Him.  His grace is more than sufficient.  You will never regret this decision if you truly seek Him.  I pray that you do.  Take care and God Bless.

Lying to Ourselves Part 5: Caught in a Web of Lies

Have you ever been so caught up with something that you start to believe it is true?  Do you have a difficult time deciding what is true and what is a lie?  Welcome to our world!  Nowadays more than ever it is getting harder and harder to discern what the truth is.  I am beginning to think people genuinely like it this way.  We want to believe the lies being told.  Who doesn’t want to believe that they will prosper if they do this, or be happy if they win that?  When we center on the materialism and false promises of this world, we deserve to get everything that comes our way.

 

Right now politicians lie (Yes, sorry to burst your bubble, but they do!), news reporters do not seek to report the facts, but love to flash the bait to reel you in, people give false testimony, and statistics are manipulated to sway the public towards one end of the spectrum over the other (It is all done to serve the means of whomever is pulling the string).  Let’s face it negative stories get more airtime than positive ones.  We are a negative world and negativity has a way of spreading much more quickly than positivity.  I am not trying to be a Debbie Downer here, but we all need to have our eyes open – especially all Christians.

 

Deception entered in the Garden of Eden by a sneaky culprit called Satan.  The world turned the wrong way that very moment Eve and Adam tasted the apple.  As the axis turned the world lost all sense of balance and common decency.  Mankind became selfish and thought only of himself and how he would satisfy his desires.

 

As Christians we need to be alert, proactive and positive and not become adaptive to the worldview.  We are warned many times throughout the Bible about the deception of this world and that we are to walk in the light as Christians and avoid iniquity.  The road of iniquity leads to an eternal damnation in which man will perish forever.  In Romans 12:2 we are told not to conform to the world but be transformed by Jesus.  Psalm 52:2 warns us against being deceitful, and Psalm 12:2 outlines man’s true nature is to deceive, while Mark 7:20-22 warns us of man’s desires, James 4:1 and Ephesians 5:6 warns us the consequences of our desires and deceit, Philippians 3:18-19 warns us that this pits us against God, and 1 John 2:16 tells us that this deception does not come from God, but from the world.

 

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

 

            “You who practice deceit, your tongue plots destruction; it is like a sharpened razor.”

 

            “Everyone lies to their neighbor; they flatter with their lips but harbor deception in their hearts.”

 

            “What comes out of a person is what defiles them.  For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come – sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly.”

 

            “What causes quarrels and fights among you?  Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?”

 

            “Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient.”

 

            “For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ.  Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame.  Their mind is set on earthly things.”

 

            “For everything in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – comes not from the Father but from the world.”

 

 

The world is heavily laced with problems and we, as Christians, need to learn to navigate the storms of life and avoid deception at all costs.  We are reminded in 1 Chronicles 29:15 that we are sojourners in this land and this is not our home.  In Philippians 3:20-21 we learn that our citizenship is in heaven – our true home.

 

“We are foreigners and strangers in your sight, as were all our ancestors.  Our days on earth are like a shadow, without hope.”

 

            “But our citizenship is in heaven.  And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.”

 

So how do we become susceptible of adapting to this world?  Here are some problems and solutions to these problems that will help us stand out instead of blend in with the world.

 

Problem:  The world lives in constant worry and fear regarding their circumstances. When we succumb to the fears and worries of the world, we demonstrate a lack of trust in God and His mighty hand.  This will sabotage any chance of spiritual growth.  Matthew 6:34, and Luke 12:25 reveal what happens when we give in to fear and how futile it is.

 

Take therefore no thought for the morrow; for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself.  Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”

 

“And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit?”

 

Solution:  The Christian needs to live by faith.  When we place our faith in His hands, we have peace and understanding as John 14:27 and 2 Thessalonians 3:16 state.

 

 

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth, give I unto you.  Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

 

“Now the Lord of peace himself give you peace always by all means.  The Lord be with you all.

 

Problem:  The world runs to, or depends on, man for the answers regarding their needs or circumstances.  They seek out other realms such as psychics, willingly accepts stranger’s advice, and trust in man’s wisdom completely.  They do not believe nor accept Jesus; thus, they fail to run to him.

 

Solution: The Christian surrenders his selfishness and learns to depend on God by acknowledging/seeking Him as we see in Jeremiah 29:13 and 1 Chronicles 16:11. We humble ourselves and commit to an active prayer life when we make our petitions known to Him as 2 Chronicles 7:14 instructs us.  He does hear us and answers our prayers.  He is our provider and meets all our needs.

 

“And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.”

 

 “Seek the Lord and his strength, seek his face continually.”

 

 “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

 

We must put our focus on God and not the world as Isaiah 43:1-3 advises us.

 

“But now thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, fear not:  for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.  When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee.  When thou walkest through the fire, though shall not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.  For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Savior.  I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee.”

 

Problem: In our world, man is selfish, seeks to fulfill his own desires, covets what his neighbor has and is quick to start quarrels/fights or risk division to get what he wants.  He would rather stand-alone then stand with others in pursuit of this.  Man blindly lives in hate, anger, resentment and seeks revenge for every perceived wrong.  Man holds onto all of this and refuses to forgive or be merciful.

 

Solution:  As a Christian we need to put God first, then others and learn to love our neighbor, as well as, show mercy to them whenever we have been mistreated or used.  Ephesians 4:31-32 brings the point home by stressing that we are to first let go of all bitterness, hate and thoughts of revenge and be merciful to those who hurt us.  When we learn to forgive others as 2 Corinthians 2:5-11 and Colossians 3:13 warn us, we can see how God in turn will forgive us of our sins as pointed out in Matthew 6:14-15 and Mark 11:25.

 

“Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice.  And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”

 

“But if any has caused grief, he hath not grieved me, but in part; that I may not overcharge you all.  Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many.  So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow.  Wherefore I beseech that you would confirm your love toward him.  For to this end also did I write, that I might know the proof of you, whether ye be obedient in all things.  To whom ye forgive anything I forgive also; for if I forgave anything, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ; lest Satan should get an advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.”

 

 “Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any; even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.”

 

 “For if we forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

 

“And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye ought against any; that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”

 

Yes, problems do arise, but our God is in control and He can overcome any problem.  The solution is to trust the Bible and what it teaches us.  Trust His word and trust what we as Christians know about the awesome powers of our God.

 

  1. The world changes and is getting darker every day, but our God is constant and unchanging as pointed out in Hebrews 13:8.  He is always with us and will never leave us!

 

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today and forever.”

 

  1. Our world is bound by time, but God lives outside of space and time, and is therefore, not bound by it as we see in Isaiah 57:15. He is capable of anything.  He does not live by deadlines or man-made laws.  We are not his equal, so be humble before Him!

 

“For this is what the high and exalted One says, he who lives forever, whose name is holy: ‘I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.’”

 

  1. Man is made of flesh and will die one day, but God is a spirit that lives on forever as told in John 4:24. He is the Alpha and the Omega, He is our Creator – our Sovereign Lord!

 

“God is spirit, and his worshippers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

 

  1. Man faces temptation and most likely gives into it, but Jesus was tempted just like us, yet He never succumbed as we see in Hebrews 4:15-16.  He knew the outcome of every trial yet, He paid the ultimate price for us.  We need to sacrifice whatever the cost to ourselves may be as He sacrificed it all for us!

 

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are, yet he did not sin.  Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

 

In fact, Jesus knew before He came to earth, the suffering he would endure to free us from our sins and reconcile us to the Father.  He was rejected, persecuted, beaten, and crucified by the world.  He taught us how to respond to temptation in 1 Corinthians 10:13.

 

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind.  And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.  But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”

 

Let’s face it the world can weigh us down.  It first shifted once sin entered and as a result, man has adapted and accepted the consequences of that sinful nature.  Man is capable of judging others without all the facts, of holding on to bitterness, past hurt, and memories, and of refusing to let bygones be bygones.  Man will ridicule or persecute those that do not meet his expectations or those who are different.  Man will boast about his own worth and at the same time devalue the worth of someone else.  Man will seek to avenge any wrong (whether perceived or assumed) done to him by getting even or inciting action to be taken, and man will stubbornly refuse to forgive the person or persons who harmed him.  Instead of living by God’s precepts and commands, man lives under the world’s climate and is easily influenced by it; thus, adapting to the worldview.

 

The Christian relies on a much different foundation – Jesus.  He is our compass, not the world.  We live for Him and for His glory and not for what the world claims to offer.  Do not center on the lies, whether they be lies we tell ourselves, lies that Satan tells us, or lies that the world believes in, but keep your eyes fixed squarely on Him.  When we do then we can see how He leads us and where He will lead us to.  He is the only path to life and He will lead us home.  Trust that and never forget all He has promised us.  God bless everyone.

Lying to Ourselves Part 4: Our Need to Be In Control

Man is indeed one strange animal of complexity.  We strive for the best and at the same time we naively believe we are the best.  We rely on our wisdom and what stems from this false perspective is what brings us down every time.  We are infallible, but deep down inside we feel that we are not.

 

Delusional?  Maybe to an extent, but I believe it is much deeper than that.  I believe that we are oppressed by our pride, defiance, rebellion and stubbornness.  This is what weighs us down, and if not addressed, this is what prevents us from living a life with purpose.  Let’s address each of these areas by defining what they are, how we respond and react when we face issues or conflicts, and how we should respond as Christians.

 

I begin with pride since everyone at some point struggles with this.  Pride is an inordinate self-esteem or conceit.  It triggers so many emotions within us.  First, it deceives us because it does not zero in on the real danger of pride, which is the fear of the fall.  Instead of facing that fear, we camouflage it and seek to protect our status as it is instead of striving to be better or aim higher.  Our focus is on the downside of pride because we fail to see what the upside could be.  It weakens us because it makes it hard for others to get close to us.  We fear becoming vulnerable because of what that would expose.  However, it is our vulnerability that strengthens us and shows that we are just like everyone else.

 

When we are prideful we respond by asserting our supposed superiority over others and believe that we are better than others.  We need to reach for the opposite and learn to be humble and accepting of everyone.  The prideful are not better but are the same as everyone else.

 

Our pride does damage as we see in Galatians 6:4 when we think of ourselves first, it does have consequences as we learn in Isaiah 2:12, goes against the very fiber of God and we are then subjected to his justice in James 4:6 and Proverbs 8:13, it brings us down in Proverbs 11:2 and warns us in Romans 12:16 to not be conceited.

 

“But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.”

“For the day of the Lord of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low.”

“But he giveth more grace.  Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.”

“The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; pride and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.”

“When pride cometh, then cometh shame; but with the lowly is wisdom.”

“Be of the same mind one toward another.  Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate.  Be not wise in your own conceit.”

 

Instead we are advised to be humble as the church elect were told in Colossians 3:12, stressing again James 4:6 that we are to be dressed by His grace and not proud, and promised in 2 Chronicles 7:14 that if we submit and are humble, God will hear our prayers, forgive us and heal us.  However, obedience is the key to this.

 

“Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering.”

“But he giveth more grace.  Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.”

“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray,  and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

 

Another issue that we must address is our defiance.  Defiance is an open resistance and we find ourselves being uncooperative.  We respond with anger or with sharp sarcastic biting comments.  Our defiance is a sin as James 4:17 points out, we discover in James 1:20 how unproductive anger is, and 2 Timothy 3:16 informs us that all scripture since it is the inspiration of God, benefits us by discipling us or reproofing/correcting us.

 

“Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.”

“For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.”

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.”

 

The opposite of defiance is cooperation.  When we desire to follow God faithfully, we must seek to work together for the better cause which is furthering His kingdom as the whole church elect.

 

The next issue is rebellion. Rebellion is an open resistance to authority.  Instead of getting along and respecting authority, we willfully choose to be vocal and openly disobedient to God’s will.  There are two examples of rebellion to drive this point home.  The first example is in 1 Samuel 15:23 when Saul disobeys the command of God and he suffers a devastating blow because of it, and the next  example is in Numbers 14:9 which shows us that when the Canaanites rebelled it hindered them from retaining their land; thus God promised the possession of the promised land to the Israelites instead, but with the caveat of them not showing fear towards the enemy (Canaanites).

 

“For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.  Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king.”

“Only rebel ye not against the Lord, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us.  Their defense is departed from them, and the Lord is with us; fear them not.”

 

As previously stated, the remedy is that we need to be respectful to those in authority and seek means of peace which can be found when we choose to surrender our old self and become transformed by the hand of God.  Submission is a choice that we must make regardless of what the circumstances may lead you to believe as we read in James 4:7. In Psalm 46:10 we learn that God is in control and deserves to be honored and revered as our Sovereign Lord.  We are wisely advised in Proverbs 3:5-6 to trust His wisdom and obey even when we cannot discern what is going on or why.

 

“Submit yourselves therefore to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

“Be still and know that I am God.  I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.”

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”

 

Finally, the last issue is our stubbornness.  Being stubborn is a determination to not change our attitude or our position on something.  Stubbornness bears bad fruit such as making rash decisions and suffering consequences as a result.  We refuse to budge because we depend on our wisdom and not God’s.  We feel we have the power within to change on our own and we hate to leave the comfort zone that we are currently snuggled in or we choose to do whatever feels good.

 

Acts 7:51 proves our stubbornness when we resist the Holy Spirit as he prompts us, in 2 Timothy 4:3 we believe in our own wisdom and hear only what we want to hear, we ignore the warning in 2 Timothy 3:1-5 and choose to do whatever we want, and we refuse to learn wisdom in Ephesians 5:15-18, but rely on our emotions instead (even though our emotions deceive us).

 

“Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost, as your fathers did, so do ye.”

            “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears.”

“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.  For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy.  Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof; from such turn away.”

“See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time because the days are evil.  Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.  And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit.”

 

We also naively think that we are in control and get offended whenever someone else tells us what to do or tries to define what is right for us.  In Isaiah 41:10 we see that God is always with us; thus a constant in our lives, in Psalm 46:10 God is exalted; thus in control over his creation, we learn in Philippians 4:6-7 to depend on God for everything, to pray and ask for what we need, and in Luke 12:22-26 we find no reason to be worried for Our Creator always provides and meets our needs.

 

“Fear thou not; for I am with thee, be not dismayed; for I am thy God, I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”

 “Be still, and know that I am God.  I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.”

“Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.  And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

“And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on. The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment.  Consider the ravens, for they neither sow or reap; which neither have storehouse or barn; and God feedeth them.  How much more are ye better than the fowls?  And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit?  If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest?”

 

We become the fool when we discard the warning in Proverbs 28:26; thus, becoming impetuous in voicing our opinions as we see in Proverbs 18:2-3; 18:13 and Proverbs 29:11.

 

 “He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool; but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered.”

“A fool hath no delight in understanding, but that his heart may discover itself.  When the wicked cometh, then cometh also contempt, and with ignominy reproach.”

“He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.”

 “A fool uttereth all his mind; but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards.”

 

The fool tends to make rash decisions and easily jumps to conclusions and speaks before seeking an answer. Out of this rashness comes shame and a rush to judgment as is verified in Proverbs 25:8 and John 7:24.

 

“Go not forth hastily to strive, lest thou know not what to do in the end thereof, when thy neighbor hath put thee to shame.”

“Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.”

 

Distraction is also related to foolishness when we tend to become so busy that we fail to hear God when He speaks to us. We set ourselves up to do busywork and miss whatever opportunity He sends us.  Opportunities are ways for us to continually serve Him (on both sides of heaven) as pointed out in 1 John 2:17, waiting to hear His voice means we should listen for it as restated in Psalm 46:10, and we are asked to faithfully wait and be patient in Psalm 37:7 for each opportunity that comes our way.

 

“And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof; but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.”

“Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.”

“Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him; fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass.”

 

The opposite of stubborn is to be compliant and joyfully do what we are called to do.  We recognize that we need to work together to find a common ground and open ourselves up to other perspectives that may lead to viable solutions. Titus 2:12 and 2 Timothy 2:15 both show what we reap when we live rightly with God, as well as Romans 12:1-2 show us the proper way to manage our emotions and keep them in check.

 

“Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.”

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

 “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.  And be not conformed to this world; but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

 

When we can address these issues and gain a better perspective, only then can we find the hidden treasure underneath this.  God will always provide a way and has everything under His hand.  Jeremiah 29:11 reveals that He wants the best for us.

 

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”

 

When we can set our egos aside and center everything on and around God, we can find peace.  We have no need to be self-absorbed, or stubborn, or unwilling to change, but instead we can think of others and their needs, surrender everything we have to God, learn to love and live with one another and reap the benefits of His graciousness.  He knows us, He perceives all that we encounter, and He has a plan.  Trust it and trust that He is in control and relinquish our so-called independence.  Make that choice today, search for God and you will find Him.  Know Him and you will find calm and have peace of mind.  Grace is a gift He willingly extends to all of us.  Why would you turn this gift down and live under the pretense of having it all together on your own?  I, like everyone else, do not have it all together, but rather I have God and I know my life is in His hands and that is all I need.  Are you ready to have Him meet your needs today?

 

My final installment in this series will be how we adapt to the worldview despite what is going on around us today.  Until then, have a blessed day.

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