For this first installment of Serendipitously Sunday, I looked for some great idea to present itself to me. It showed up while I was organizing digital files and found a few things still in first draft stage. Provision by serendipity doesn’t mean there won’t be any editing, right? It’s a little longer than usual, but I hope readers will enjoy it and be blessed by the concepts. May you all have a wonderfully joyful week ahead.
So, I had it all planned. As soon as my retired hubby left for a day of errands, I was going to use the alone time for doing housework to surprise him when he got home. Alas, before he headed out, he stopped to tell me what he wanted me to do while he was gone. Ack! Now I couldn’t do as I planned because his request ruined my chance to give freely.
How many times have you wanted to be a giving person, and someone stole it away from you? Maybe it came in the form of a required tip percentage on your food bill. Maybe you tried giving to a hungry person, but the beggar demanded money and refused food, so you had to walk away. Maybe you love helping missionaries, but when some preacher says God will curse you if you don’t dig deeper, suddenly it doesn’t feel as good to give anymore. (Unfortunately, pulpit manipulation to give happens more often than you’d think.)
See, free will gives us the right to give from our hearts, and it allows the recipient to receive our gift with all the joy we have to share. I’m certain God created the idea of free will because He wants to receive whatever we give Him as a gift from our hearts and given with full joy.
One of the times I read 2 Corinthians 9:7, I realized it was written more to the recipient than the giver. A good receiver can bring joy to whoever gives him or her a gift. I hadn’t previously associated that with the joy of giving freely, but when I put these two concepts together, I realized something: Though God has authority to control all things, He chooses to leave us with free will because He loves a cheerful giver in all things….not just money.
It is possible to shine God’s light of truth with joy. We don’t have to tell others how their sins deny God if we demonstrate behaviors that uplift God. When we lift Him above all things, He (yes, He, and not us) will draw (not control, push, or force) all men to Himself, and we will receive the joy of another soul accepting Christ as Savior. His word gives a wonderful hymn of praise for salvation in Isaiah 12. Read the whole chapter for encouragement. Verse 3 reads, “Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.”
Yes, God’s Word has strong criticisms for the disobedient, but they are more often delivered to the religious who know better and still disobey. Those who have not yet been drawn to God must first desire to give Him their hearts before He will change their lives. He will replace hearts of stone with hearts of flesh in which He can work. We cannot force that with judgment and condemnation. Our control will kill their free-will desires, and it could prevent God from receiving the cheerful gift He wants.
God takes great joy in giving us free will because we can turn that around and choose to serve Him with joy. We give our hearts to Him joyfully instead of out of necessity. Those of us who already serve Him can learn from His example how to do the same with those who do not yet follow Our Lord. In this, we can be harmless as doves, and in this, we will see more people freely and joyfully give their hearts to God–which, of course, is our intention in the first place.
It’s August 1st, and I have decided to force myself back into daily blogging. My goal is to have a different topic for each day of the week, and since the first fell on a Monday, I’ll start with what I’m calling Musably Monday. On Mondays, I will share my thoughts on any variety of topics, sometimes fresh ideas and sometimes the old stuff I keep in various files and rarely share. For my first post back, here’s a little something I thought about upon waking up one morning last week.
I woke thinking about gifts I’d like to have in my spiritual life; gifts like others have and like I think I should have since I’m a dedicated believer. I mean, if prophecy and healing and faith and visions are so necessary for these end times, surely anyone truly serving Almighty God can have them just for the asking, right? And if one does not have them, that person must be lacking in something they need to be doing to receive such gifts. Maybe we have not just because we ask not, or maybe something else is required to earn and deserve a taste of the abundance God has to offer. After all, so many Christians talk about the gifts and anointings they have received from God as if those gifts are badges of honor, it gives the unspoken message there must be something special about the people and/or behaviors of those who walk in spiritual gifts.
My mind immediately went to the following thought: I wonder what I can do to make God give me…. And there, I stopped. The words make God stuck in my thoughts as not fitting for my relationship with the Great Creator I serve. He is the one on the throne. He is the one who set the universe in order. He is the source of all. Who am I to think I can make God be or do anything? Almost immediately, before climbing out of bed, I got my phone out and began typing more on the subject.
I see many people these days who are pushing to make God this or that. They think by their prayers and certain behaviors, they can change God instead of changing themselves to become better vessels more yielding to Him and His perfect will. Too many want to make Him…
- A God who does what we want.
- A God who does whatever we claim in Jesus’ name.
- A God who gives us dreams.
- A God who fulfills our dreams.
- A God who tells us everything in advance.
- A God who will give us a perfect life if only we have enough faith.
- A God who only talks to certain people doing certain behaviors in certain ways.
Because of these modern teachings, I sometimes find myself asking God what I need to do in order to get Him to: heal me, bless me, fix me, fix others, etc. But, in all truth, I don’t want to “make God” anything He is not. I have no desire to control Him. If I could manipulate Him, He would no longer be God.
Instead of trying to control Him by asking the right questions or perfecting my earthly works, I just want to walk in His presence and get to know Him better and better. I desire to do what pleases Him. I want to come boldly before His throne of grace, not to get Him to do anything for me or give anything to me, but to cleanse and perfect myself in His mercy that I may learn more about how to uplift Him to a lost a dying world.
As I heard stated recently, it’s not the abundance of darkness and sin that cause us problems; it’s the lack of light. We have no shortage of things set against God and His holy word, but it only takes a little light to drive out darkness. We have a promise in John 12:32 that if our Savior is lifted up above the earth (and I believe that would include the works of earthen vessels–good and bad), He WILL draw all men unto Himself. We don’t have to try and make God do anything for us or others. We ask, we trust, and He answers. It is always His will to give us whatever gifts and tools we need to lift Him up because it is never His will that any should perish. (2 Peter 3:9)
When you have a genuine relationship with Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus Christ) as your Lord and Savior, you have something that goes so far beyond religion and behavior that it sustains you. It holds you up when you’re feeling down, and it carries you higher in your moments of joy. It strengthens you when you are weak, and it gives you endurance when you stand to fight the good fight. There is no religious study or sacrifice that compares to being in love with God and know that He is in love with you.
Those times when I read His word and feel as if He is speaking directly to me are priceless. When I pray and somehow know I’m not just talking to air, but that He is right there in the room with me, it makes every sacrifice and good behavior worth it. I do what I do because of who I am in Christ; because of what He made me through the mercy of His blood that was shed on Calvary. It is in those times that I can feel the heart of those who write great lyrics like those written by Rusty Goodman in 1965 for the song Who Am I. (Video with lyrics below.) The chorus says…
Who am I that a King would bleed and die for? And who am I that He would pray not my will thine for? The answer I may never know, Why He ever loved me so, That to an old rugged cross He would go, For who am I.
Today’s Infinite Supply newsletter by Chip Brogden talks about the whom versus the what…
Knowing What vs. Knowing Whom
“I know Whom I have believed.”
2 TIMOTHY 1:12
A certain brother was always emphatic about what he believed until someone with equal or greater argument confronted him. This occurred one day when someone pointed out several supposed “errors” in the Bible. This caused the brother to be very alarmed. He went to an elderly sister and informed her of these alleged errors and wanted to know her opinion. She simply stated that the knowledge of God did not depend upon the answering of these questions.
He thought, perhaps not to you, but to me it is important! So he spent the next year investigating what this other person had told him and found it to be untrue. But, had he simply known God He would not have found it necessary to study the whole thing and reason it out. The elderly sister was right, the knowledge of God did not depend upon the answering of those questions. If you know Who, knowing what and why become less significant.
Source: Lord of All by Chip Brogden
©1997-2013 TheSchoolOfChrist.Org. Permission is granted for non-commercial (free) distribution provided this notice appears. Share this message with your friends!
A friend of mine went into a store in Florida that was owned by a Jewish proprietor. She was wearing a necklace with both a Star of David and a cross on it, so the owner asked her about it. She explained a bit about Messianic Judaism, and he responded with a statement that she later shared with me. He said, “As long as it is who you are and not just what you are.”
When we have the “who” down (both Whom we serve and who we are), we have an identity. With it, we’ve got a better chance of hanging in there when things get tough. It’s part of what attracts people to gangs and similar groups. People need identity, and who better to share an identity with than The King of Kings? As a matter of fact, I heard a story once of a young gang member walking by a church once where someone was singing Rusty’s song. The thought that he could share an identity with a king apparently meant something to him, so he rushed into the church and asked if he could meet that King.
Have you met The King? If so, have you made Him Lord of your life? If you haven’t, you are welcome to write to me to learn more about God. If you already serve Him, I’d love to hear something about your walk with Him, and who you are in Him. In the meantime, enjoy this video of Who Am I as performed by the “Altar of Praise Chorale” and backed by some beautiful imagery…
I have been a subscriber to the Infinite Supply newsletter since 2009, and it has been a source of strength to me more than once. For November, I will share Chip’s posts and add my commentary. He gives reprint permissions as long as I include the copyright (below). I am doing this in case I decide to go forward with writing for National Novel Writers Month (NaNoWriMo) which demands nearly 1700 words per day. It will be more for me since I’m already starting a day late, but I’m not yet certain about my plans. If nothing else, I may at least try to do some work on my original novel every day this month, so that will still need extra time I don’t normally schedule as a daily activity.
From my Infinite Supply Newsletter by Chip Brogden of The School of Christ–November 1st…
Today, Chip’s subject is from Matthew 6:13…
The Glory is His
“Yours is the Kingdom, and the Power, and the Glory forever. Amen.”
There is a Remnant of called-out ones who have seen the Glory of the Son and WILL seek the interests of God’s Only Begotten One. In a time when men solicit the glory and honor and power from one another, there is a Holy Nation of priests and kings who will give the Son the glory He deserves, declaring, “YOURS IS THE GLORY, we will render to You, and to You alone, the glory due Your Name.”
Source: The Irresistible Kingdom by Chip Brogden
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~©1997-2013 TheSchoolOfChrist.Org. Permission is granted for non-commercial (free) distribution provided this notice appears. Share this message with your friends!
This is a shorter one, but I love how the author always brings out some deeper nugget of truth from even just a short Bible verse. Of course, if you view the longer books and articles, there is even more depth, so I highly recommend a visit to his site, a subscription to his Infinite Supply newsletter, and whatever free downloads and PDF studies he offers.
As for today’s message, making sure God gets the proper glory can sometimes be difficult. Notice that I said proper glory. Some people brag on themselves and append all the bragging with some sort of “Glory to God” statement that makes it appear they are giving God the glory. Some others never make the work of their hands known for fear they will take away from God’s glory. Where we want to be is in balance between the two, and while wrestling with this human flesh, that’s not always easy.
How do we market ourselves and promote the products of the creative gifts God has given us without saying something positive about ourselves? We can’t. But, if we don’t speak up, or employ others to speak up for us, won’t we be hiding our talents under a bushel? And how do we justify self-promotion with the Scripture from Proverbs 27:2 that says to “Let someone else praise you, not your own mouth, a stranger and not your own lips.”? I believe all those questions are answered by what is going on in our hearts.
Does your heart seek to uplift God and give Him the glory because you know He alone deserves it? Are you so enamored with God’s provisions and blessings on your life that you can’t imagine your life without Him? That you know you wouldn’t even breathe in and out without Him? Do you feel awkward if you promote yourself because you know you walk in obedience to God and only function in His gifts because He is leading you? If you answer yes to these things, then you should be fine. Remember, He judges on our hearts. Other men may believe us or not, and even our own hearts may deceive us, but He knows the truth from the depths of our souls.
And so much for shorter writing by starting with reblogging someone else’s work. 🙂 Well, maybe I wrote a little less. Anyway, I’d love to hear what you think if you visit The School of Christ or subscribe to Chip’s newsletter. Also, I’d love your thoughts on whether I should start a new NaNo novel or work on my Cloudy Days on Sunshine Street novel every day for the month of November. God bless you all as you seek to glorify Him and walk in obedience to His Holy Spirit.
One of my favorite types of photography is that which they call “macro” because it brings an almost unseen world to life. Macro photography gets as close to a subject as possible while still remaining clear. It allows you to see the eyes on a bug or the tiniest veins in the petal of a flower. Many of the photographers I follow on Flickr take macro photos, and if you do a search for just the word macro, you’ll see the tiny, up-close world I’m talking about.
Maybe it’s the peace that comes with focus required to see things that closely, or maybe I just like observation of detail, but I know it’s a stark contrast to what attracts many others. While I linger to see more things more closely, the world seems to want a super fast view of things from a distance. Commercial advertising on television flashes an array of images at you. Sentences are shortened to fewer words (got milk), and words are shortened to fewer letters or abbreviations (lol). And, no, I’m not laughing in that last line, but it’s an acronym I figure most people know. If you don’t, it stands for “laughing out loud.”
So, I got a new Twitter follower tonight that posts things in micro, which makes sense because Twitter is considered a “micro blog.” He writes micro poetry and micro fiction, and it’s actually quite entertaining. You all know that I’m a long-winded writer, so it might not hurt for me to learn how to say a few things in micro, but I’ll work on that later.
Anyway, this whole micro versus macro thing made me think about the still, small voice of God. Is that considered micro because the Bible calls it small? I don’t know what the writer or his scribe actually meant there, but I consider it more macro than micro. It’s not the fact that it’s small that matters, it that requires closer examination. Just like you have to tune out all the noise in order to hear a person whisper, you must tune out the cacophony of spiritual noise to tune into the voice of Yahveh.
I think we all get the idea that during the days of creation, God’s voice rang out like thunder and made a demand for the world to jump into being. I like the power behind that too, but what if He simply and quietly whispered in a still, small voice? What if that’s all He had to do because there wasn’t a bunch of noise for Him to have to speak over then? So, maybe we were created in quiet peacefulness, and maybe that’s why those of us who seek our Creator seek that peace as a blessing.
I think this new drive of people to see and hear things loud and fast coincides with the distance this world has from The God of Creation. Seeing His beginnings takes time, and understanding them takes even more time. Salvation is not a micro event either. The closer we examine Calvary, the more we realize what Yeshua did for us, and the more we fall in love with Him.
Time is our gift from God to learn whatever we need to make an informed decision about our eternity. We should fill our moments with as much of God as we can, bringing ourselves closer and closer to Him in the process. We can write micro fiction and micro poetry, and we can post micro blogs, but let God and His word be magnified and not diminished in our lives. Amen.
Walk a mile in my shoes, Lord, Then walk another mile or two. Order my steps and show me the way To do what You’d have me to do. Lead me and guide me, walkin’ right here beside me, So I can be more like You. Walk a mile in my shoes, Lord, Then keep walkin’ my whole life through.
Those are the lyrics to a chorus I wrote once while having a conversation with God about His understanding of my life’s trials. They began with the words, “Put yourself in my shoes, Lord,” but I plan to move those words to the verse when I fully develop the song.
I think most of us wonder whether anyone else understands some of what we go through. And even those of us who love God with all our hearts may sometimes wonder if He truly understands. I think poems like the popular Footprints in the Sand come for those kinds of wonderings. And, since there is nothing new under the sun, I would guess people have been turning to God with that question for many centuries.
We can know that God does understand by the fact that He did, in fact, walk miles in human shoes. John 1:1-18 begins and ends with statements that declare Yeshua as both with God and God; both Unique Son and God Himself. Yeshua told His disciples that if they had seen Him, they had also seen The Father. And the verse that convinced me that God was not a child abuser but did love me enough to lay down His own life for me–the greatest love of all, is in John 10:30. Here, Yeshua declares, “I and my Father are one.”
Even with these truths, though, we may wonder if God could possibly understand what it’s like to live in our particular shoes. We look at His life and think maybe we could endure if we were Him. Sure, we could be homeless and sleep on a stone pillow, right? But thinking that was the only way He suffered before Calvary is like Bruce Almighty thinking he had too much to do with being responsible for the prayers of only three city blocks. We haven’t worn His shoes to know His times of rejection and sorrow, like when He looked over Jerusalem and wept for her past and her future. In Matthew 23:37 (NLT) we read…
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me.”
How often, I wonder, has He been there to walk in our shoes, and we haven’t let Him. I speak this for myself as much as anyone. I need to be reminded sometimes that it’s not my job to sit on the throne, and I’m not in control of everything. Still, even as I let go and let God be God and fix things in His own way, I want to know that He understands. And when I slow down and read His word, I find encouragements like the following…
- This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. (Hebrews 4:15 NLT)
- Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. (1 Peter 5:7 NLT)
- “What is the price of five sparrows—two copper coins? Yet God does not forget a single one of them. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.” (Luke 12:6-7 NLT)
With understanding that God does care about me personally, and trust that He will lead in the right direction, I can sing from my heart, “Walk a mile in my shoes, Lord, then keep walkin’ my whole life through.” I hope you can too.
P.S. Just for a little encouragement, here’s a video of the song Give Them All to Jesus…
Sometimes I need to play Pollyanna and to find the good in every situation. It’s not a matter of simple desire, it’s a matter of survival. As a deep feeler, when an abundance of negativity surrounds my days and weeks, I just need to play the glad game. If you haven’t seen the movie or heard the story, click the video above for a clip about Pollyanna’s game. It was something her father taught her before he passed away, and it helped her survive the tragedy of his loss. It wasn’t well-accepted by her bitter aunt and the employees who inevitably picked up on the bitterness that riches could never fix.
Since I became a follower of Yeshua, my glad game is a little different from Pollyanna’s. I still try to find something to be glad about in situations that would otherwise make me sad, but I try to find that reason in Scripture or in a promise from God. Maybe I’ll remind myself that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Or, maybe I’ll just think about how grateful I am to know that Yeshua will never leave or forsake me, so whatever I go through, I will never be alone.
I think King David played the glad game too because he said things like…
- I will be glad and rejoice in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High. (Psalm 9:2 NKJV)
- I will be glad and rejoice in Your mercy, For You have considered my trouble. (Psalm 31:7a NKJV)
- Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous; And shout for joy, all you upright in heart! (Psalm 32:11 NKJV)
- Make me hear joy and gladness, That the bones You have broken may rejoice. (Psalm 51:8 NKJV)
- The righteous shall be glad in the Lord, and trust in Him. And all the upright in heart shall glory. (Psalm 64:10 NKJV)
- But let the righteous be glad; Let them rejoice before God; Yes, let them rejoice exceedingly. (Psalm 68:3 NKJV)
- Oh, satisfy us early with Your mercy, That we may rejoice and be glad all our days! (Psalm 90:14 NKJV)
- Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; Let the sea roar, and all its fullness. (Psalm 96:11 NKJV)
- This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalm 118:24 NKJV)
- The Lord has done great things for us, And we are glad. (Psalm 126:3 NKJV)
Maybe believers should just call it The King David Game when we look for reasons to praise God because it sure looks like he had a handle on the idea of being glad in God no matter what. He even wanted his broken bones to rejoice.
The hardest part of playing Pollyanna is when we face tougher and tougher circumstances that threaten to make it impossible to find something good. My personal version of the game is in my challenge at my website, For One Soul. But, even having this message, it’s not always easy. There have been times in my life that were so hard, even my husband said, “And don’t tell me it might be for one soul because I don’t want to hear that now.” King David talks about feeling like the heavens were brassed over and about watering his couch with tears. There are days when all the encouragement in the world doesn’t feel like it’s enough.
A problem that can arise while playing Pollyanna is when it becomes difficult to accept negative truths. We may try to believe the best about someone when they have clearly crossed a line into darkness or deceit. Or, we may tell people that something is okay when it’s not just because we don’t want to hurt their feelings. Me, I only want to give five-star (or whatever is the best) reviews on things because that’s what I hope to get, but that’s not reality. Only God is good enough to always get a top rating every time. But, if I give top ratings to everyone, then people may even have a hard time believing me when I uplift God as best of all.
So, let’s go ahead and play Pollyanna when we need to balance the darkness and pain around us. Find a reason to play the glad game and to rejoice in God, maybe even by looking for where God will make things work for one soul. But, let’s also keep it honest. It’s a lie to say we are whole when we are broken, but it’s the truth to say we are whole in God because we know He is the Potter who will repair us. It’s the truth to say life is hard, but God is good. And when it gets really tough, we can remind ourselves that what we go through here are light and temporary afflictions. Paul even tells us in Romans 8:18 (NKJV)…
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”
With that promise, I think all of us can get away with playing Pollyanna’s glad game a little bit more often. HalleluYah!
Tonight, I’m digging out an old article from 2004 and revamping it for my blog. I hope you enjoy the devotion.
From John 4:24, New King James Version, we read…God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.
I was on edge during the entire drive. No: Really! The car was much closer to the edge of that winding mountain road than I was comfortable with. So, all the way up to Pike’s Peak, the highest mountain in Colorado, I rode with white knuckles and my fingers gripping the edge of my seat. I’ve never liked being in a car on a mountain road because the edge always seems closer than I want it to, and I worry about someone coming down and both vehicles not being able to fit.
As we neared the peak, I began to feel increasingly irritable. It became almost uncontrollable and totally unlike my normal personality. Nevertheless, when we reached the summit, my bad attitude was temporarily diverted by something I found to be quite odd. I noticed that, for some reason, all the trees were suddenly gone, but I didn’t ask anyone why. I just walked around and tried to get some peace in my spirit while enjoying the scenery, including the rock with the words of America The Beautiful etched into it. Apparently, the writer, Katharine Lee Bates, penned the lyrics after a visit there.
I looked across the span of mountain peaks and valleys below us. There seemed to be a distinct point where the tree growth stopped. It was as if they had all hit an invisible barrier. I guessed that maybe it was just too cold when it got that high up, and I went into the gift shop to warm myself. I worked on making the visit enjoyable, and I felt better in the gift shop, but I still wanted to get back down off that mountain.
As we twisted and turned along the same mountain road on the way down, I spoke up right when we started seeing trees again. I questioned why the trees just quit growing, and though I didn’t share it, I noticed I was starting to feel a little bit better. I guessed it was just because we were finally headed back to civilization. Anyway, brother-in-law who was driving answered my wonderings about the trees. He told me they were gone because we had passed the “timberline” or “tree line,” the elevation at which the oxygen level was too thin for any significant growth.
Now the mental wheels began to turn faster than the car’s wheels. I could see a spiritual parallel to this physical timberline. I looked down into the valleys and noticed that the greatest growth seemed to happen closer to the bottoms of the mountains than at their tops. Click. The wheels began to lock into place. Maybe the “mountaintop experiences” we so often desired of God were elusive for a reason. Maybe where I thought I would find more God–up high–was actually a parallel to the thinner atmosphere and He just didn’t “hang out” up there as much as I’d imagined.
By the time we got halfway down the mountain and stopped to visit another gift shop, I was feeling worlds better, and I found out why. Lower levels of oxygen can cause hypoxia and what is called Altitude Sickness. At that time, I still had undiagnosed and untreated sleep apnea, so I’m certain that didn’t help any either.
Anyway, since God is a Spirit, and Scripture says (in Job 34:14-15) that He is the breath of all mankind, He is basically our oxygen. With or without sleep apnea, all of us need to be where there is more oxygen because the better we breathe, the better we feel. This is true both physically and spiritually. As I processed all this new information, I also realized that the valleys not only had more oxygen, they had more warmth. Both of these are important factors of God’s presence. In addition to the fact that more oxygen creates more growth, more growth creates more oxygen–just as growing Christians produce more of the presence of God.
It is in the valleys, more than on the mountaintops, where we will find God producing more growth–and growth producing more of God’s presence in our lives. It’s no wonder King David was able to declare, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me“. Yes, I was glad to get back down from that mountain, but I will always cherish the experience and what I learned from it. Isn’t it amazing what God can help us pull out of thin air?
Enjoy this video of As the Mountains are Around Jerusalem by the group Lamb…
A minister, a Boy Scout, and a scientist were the only passengers on a small plane. The pilot came running back to the cabin and explained that the plane was going to crash, and anyone who wanted to be saved would have to jump. “But,” he added, “there are only three parachutes and four people. I should have one of the parachutes because I have a wife and three small children. The rest of you will have to figure out what to do.” So, he grabbed a parachute and jumped. The scientist jumped up almost immediately and declared that he should have one of the parachutes because of his value to the world. He said, “I am the smartest man in the world and they all need me.” With that, he grabbed one and jumped. The minister turned to the Boy Scout with a sad smile. “Son,” he said, “you are young and have your whole life in front of you, and I have already lived a rich life. You take the remaining parachute, and I’ll go down with the plane.” Then the Boy Scout said, “It’s okay, Reverend; the smartest man in the world just jumped out with my backpack!”
Inconceivable! How can someone so smart make such a stupid decision, right? But people do it all the time. We’re told in John 1:4-5 (New King James Version)…
In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
With the little bit of light it takes to illuminate darkness, it seems inconceivable that darkness would have any choice but to comprehend it. Of course, the word may also mean that darkness could not defeat it based on footnotes, but I can see evidence in this world that those in the dark have no understanding of The Light. To the contrary, we’re told in John 3:19 (The Complete Jewish Bible)…
Now this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, but people loved the darkness rather than the light. Why? Because their actions were wicked.
It’s not that they are in too much darkness, and it’s not that they are ignorant. They cannot blame being unable to see for their behaviors if they have been presented the truth and knowingly turned it away. There may be difficulty in finding God’s light, and The Light may seem a bit blinding to them when first introduced to eyes not used to it, but it can be done. There is difficulty in bringing sin into our lives. I coughed and hacked and choked when I tried my first cigarette, but I kept working at it until I didn’t. I desperately wanted to be accepted by the girls who introduced me to smoking, and at that point, I felt it worth the struggle.
Maybe it can be a struggle to get free from the bondage of sin, and maybe it will take some work to choke up the darkness we’ve swallowed before meeting God, but it’s worth it. It’s worth it because sin is bondage, and God is freedom. It’s worth it because sin is a lie, and God is Truth. It’s worth it because living in sin is like living in pitch blackness, but living with God is living in The Light. God offers so much light that the Psalmist said it this way in Psalm 139:11-12 (New Living Translation)…
I could ask the darkness to hide me
and the light around me to become night—
but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.
To you the night shines as bright as day.
Darkness and light are the same to you.
If we introduce people to The Gospel, and they choose to remain in darkness, it is not because we have done an improper job of presenting The Light. As you can see from the Psalm, God can turn even darkness into light. No, instead it’s about people who choose to keep their eyes shut tightly against God’s light and hope to claim ignorance in the end. It’s inconceivable to them that their lies won’t work because they are in bondage to them. For those of us who know God and His abundant mercy and grace, we cannot imagine rejecting such love and wonder. To us, rejecting Yeshua and His salvation is inconceivably inconceivable.
Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent. (Acts 17:30 NKJV)
Have you ever tried to live on minimum wage; or below? I have, and it wasn’t fun. Though I don’t have that much now, there was a time when I would have considered anyone who lived like me to be rich. I mean, I can actually go out to eat, and I can order a full meal. At one point of my life though, I couldn’t even think about going out to eat. Later, there was a time when a waitress dubbed me and my family “The Biscuit and Gravy Bunch” because that’s all we ever ordered. It was all we could afford, but it was worth it for the treat of going out and not having to cook or do dishes.
Until a person has had to live at those low levels, they may not realize the stress of such a lifestyle, and unfortunately, that means most who are making the laws have no understanding. But, for all of us who have had to combine multiple families under one roof to bring in enough pay to keep the rent and utilities paid, we know how hard it can be. If we could demand pay equal to the quantity and quality of work we put out, then only those who refuse to do their parts would suffer those low lifestyles. Even the Bible, in Proverbs 23:21, tells us that drowsiness will clothe a man with rags, but it’s sad when hard work can bring rags as well.
Still, there are some problems with the demands for increased wages. One of those problems is that people want an increase in wages even if there is no increase in work ethics or output. Many want to be paid more just for showing up simply because they want a more comfortable lifestyle. When I worked in Arizona, many jobs weren’t required to pay even minimum wage, so even though I worked hard, I lived on about $10 worth of groceries per week. It got me ramen noodles, macaroni and cheese, and lots of potatoes. It may not have been great, but at least I felt I had earned every bite I put in my mouth.
That demand for higher wages regardless of work slips into our spiritual lives as well. As the song says, “Everybody wants to go to Heaven, but nobody wants to die.” People don’t want to die to self either, but they want Heaven on earth with God meeting their every need even if they are not truly sold out to Him. Sometimes, He may give them some extras to draw them closer, but if they continually resist His discipline, He will back away. But does that mean people become lost just because they stop listening and obeying as they should?
It is not my place to judge the final place for our souls, but I can share what I feel based on Scripture. First, we must remember that God only disciplines those whom He loves. If we are hearing His voice and being told to change, we should be thankful for it. But, if instead of being thankful we become rebellious, then we can only blame ourselves for the troubles we suffer. Here’s how the New Living Testament speaks of those who refuse to listen to God’s wisdom in Proverbs 1:25-26; 28…
You ignored my advice
and rejected the correction I offered.
So I will laugh when you are in trouble!
I will mock you when disaster overtakes you—
When they cry for help, I will not answer.
Though they anxiously search for me, they will not find me.
I know that may sound a bit harsh, but it’s just like good parents do when it comes to discipline. We don’t reinforce negative behaviors (like our child running into the street where she can get run over by a car) by rewarding them. God doesn’t either. But this is not about our salvation; this is about our works. Paul talks in 1 Corinthians 3:13-15 about our works (what we build on the foundation of Yeshua) being tried by fire and how that will affect our salvation. Here it is from the Easy to Read Version…
But the work that each person does will be clearly seen, because the Day will make it plain. That Day will appear with fire, and the fire will test everyone’s work. If the building they put on the foundation still stands, they will get their reward. But if their building is burned up, they will suffer loss. They will be saved, but it will be like someone escaping from a fire.
Truthfully, though, is that how we really want to live out our eternity? As someone who was just delivered from Hell fire? How is it we would fight against minimum wage here on earth but be satisfied with it for eternity? We have our name in The Lamb’s Book of Life by the price Yeshua paid on Calvary, but we are responsible for our deeds and the rewards they bring both here on earth and in eternity. God has a fair wage scale, and He is ready to shower us with blessings now and forever. When we can have a high salary and all the company benefits and perks, why should we be happy living on minimum wage with God?
Have you ever hidden a gift in your hand and then put your hands out in front of you or behind your back to let a child guess where the prize might be? It’s a fun game adults like to play with children that adds an element of effort to gift-giving. When we want to give good gifts to children, we might make them play the guessing game with us just to make it a little more fun for both the child and us. It doesn’t matter if it’s our own children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, or whoever. Making the gift more like a prize for them ups the value at least a little bit.
If you’ve played that game, you know that you will do just about anything to get the child to select correctly. Maybe you’ll lean your head to the side it’s in. Maybe you’ll wink on that side. Maybe you’ll lift the correct hand just a little higher or lower, or push it out a little farther, just to have a better chance that the child will pick the hand with the gift. We want the child to get the gift, and we don’t want the child to feel like a failure. We want to give the prize so much that if we are using the behind-the-back technique, we will often just change hands if the child guesses incorrectly.
Off and on, I’ve studied about the effects of prayer on God. I had heard, and even repeated, that prayer doesn’t change God, but instead prayer changes us. God is God and is the same yesterday, today, and forever, so we cannot change Him. We wouldn’t want a God that is changeable just by human requests because then we couldn’t trust Him. But, the other day I was seeking God’s instruction on this topic, and the above scenario came into my mind.
As I played the hidden gift game in my mind, but with God as the parent, I realized how much God wants to shower good things upon His children. He loves to give us gifts and prizes, but He wants interaction with us at the same time. His word says that we have not because we ask not, so if prayer is not for the purpose of changing Him, then His desire for us to ask is about that interaction. He also knows that our faith will increase when He answers our requests.
That understanding came about in the last week. My understanding of prayers that request things of God went a little deeper today. I watched an older 700 Club that did an interview with Max Lucado, and he made a statement that truly clarified things for me. He explained that prayer does not change God’s intentions, but it does affect His decisions.
As a parent or caregiver to someone we love, we will have certain intentions and a certain will that underlies all our decisions. We want whatever will protect and benefit those we love and care for. Even though we want to give them good things, if they ask for something that would go against our intentions or will for their best care, we will deny the request. As Christians, if we ask God for something that goes against His intentions or will for our lives, He will most likely deny that request. Asking Him, however, creates that interaction that enables us to discover God’s perfect will and His intentions for our lives.
In Matthew 7:7 (NKJV), we get the reminder to just “ASK” for what we want. If I write the verse in three parts, one sentence on top of another, note the first letter of each sentence…
Ask, and it will be given to you; Seek, and you will find; Knock, and it will be opened to you.
Yep, the three first lines remind us to simply ask, or as it says in The Amplified Bible and other versions, “Keep on asking.” Again, in The Amplified Bible, we read Philippians 4:6 that tells us to continue seeking God for our requests. It says…
Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God.
Like the old song says, “He’s got the whole world in His hands,” so we can know that He is able to provide whatever we ask for. Reach up in praise and touch the Hands that hold whatever provision you need. Pick a hand and know that you’ll get the prize. Both hands have the nail scars to prove they’ve earned it for you.
Today, my husband asked me to wait on a decision that will affect our future, and my initial reaction was rejection. That doesn’t mean I won’t do it, but I don’t like to wait. And then I read my daily post by Chip Brogden of The School of Christ. His Infinite Supply daily newsletter usually has something in it that I need, and today was no exception. He talks about the disciples fishing without first consulting The Lord, and then obeying at His word and taking in a huge catch. In Chip’s devotion for October 12th, he asks, “Which would you rather have: a whole night of wasted effort on your own, or five minutes of abundance with the Lord?”
I don’t think many of us actually like to wait, but the truth is, life is more about waiting than anything else. When we’re little, we can’t wait to become a teenager, turn sweet 16, become an adult, and all the other steps of growing up. Throughout life, we get excited and can’t wait for things like birthdays, Christmas presents, and vacations. When it’s cold, we can’t wait for spring and summer. On hot summer days, we can’t wait for the cool breezes of fall. If we’re renters, we can’t wait to buy a house. If we have a mortgage, we can’t wait to pay off our house. Cradle to grave, I think more of our lives are spent waiting than just about anything else.
But waiting can be a good thing. It’s all in how we do it. If we actively wait with anticipation, we can find joy in our waiting. There’s a thrill in anticipation that is often better than the feelings we get when we receive the thing being anticipated. It’s like that hopeful place half way through a novel when you really start wondering how it’s going to end. If it’s a well-written work, we’d miss out if we just flipped to the end right then.
Waiting gives us the opportunity to dream and to plan. We can imagine how we would like things to go, and then can do whatever is in our power to push them in that direction. It’s a chance to view the virtual draft of our plans and see if things will actually work. Waiting can be a gift. The words of Psalm 5:3 (from the Amplified Bible) put it this way…
In the morning You hear my voice, O Lord; in the morning I prepare [a prayer, a sacrifice] for You and watch and wait [for You to speak to my heart].
That time for preparation is a gift that can save a lot of future heartbreak. It gives us time to know what we’re getting into, so we don’t blindly walk into something that turns out to be a huge mistake. The Message Bible describes Luke 14:28-30 this way…
Is there anyone here who, planning to build a new house, doesn’t first sit down and figure the cost so you’ll know if you can complete it? If you only get the foundation laid and then run out of money, you’re going to look pretty foolish. Everyone passing by will poke fun at you: “He started something he couldn’t finish.”
Waiting doesn’t just mean standing around and doing nothing, so we don’t have to worry about being bored just because we should wait. Waiting can be a time of service as we walk humbly before God and seek His perfect will in our lives. I mean, think about what they call those people who bring food to your table at a restaurant: waiters and waitresses. They’re not just called that because they spend time waiting for you to place an order and then waiting for a cook to fix it. They offer plenty of service throughout your visit, and that service often makes the difference in whether you will return.
So, like we’re told in Luke 19:13, we should make use of what God gives us while we are here in this life until He returns for us or for all the earth. But, while we are making use of our lives, we need those moments where we stop and wait. We wait and pray. We wait for marching orders. We wait for a sign to move forward. Like the childhood game of Red Light, Green Light, we make sure we wait long enough to know it’s time to go, and then we watch carefully to know when it’s time to stop. The balance of knowing when and how to wait, and finding the joy of anticipation on the journey, can definitely be called “wait control.”
It’s the end of a long but blessed day with interaction between a bunch of writers who love The Creator. That said, since I’m a bit tired tonight, I’m going to cheat a little and just throw in some previously written poetry. If you like poetry, this should make you happy. 🙂 If you don’t like poetry much, I hope you decide to at least explore my prose to see what you may see.
This first poem breaks away from anything I had ever tried before or since. It is called a Pantoum, and I learned it from a prompt at http://www.tweetspeakpoetry.com. (If you like to write poetry, I recommend following this page on Twitter to stay up with their many prompts.) To write this type of poem, read the detailed instructions by clicking the word, though I found a few different ideas for how they should be written by doing a Google search for the subject. In basic, you’ll notice some repeating lines from one stanza to the next (as required), and you’ll notice the last line of the poem is the same as the first. Here’s my effort…
ALOFT THE PETALS
A Pantoum by Crystal A Murray
July 9th, 2013
The rose lay aloft the petals
Strewn across a bed of fur.
She dug in deep to find the mettle
To dive right in and comfort her.
Strewn across the bed of fur,
A welcome invitation beckons
To dive right in and comfort her;
Should she or not her brain reckons.
A welcome invitation beckons,
Come hither to rest yourself just now.
Should she or not her brain reckons,
Would rest come swift or even allow?
Come hither to rest yourself just now,
Relax and close your weary eyes.
Would rest come swift or even allow,
To sleep and dream and touch the skies?
At last she lay upon the bed,
She dug in deep to find the mettle.
She rested there in colors of red,
The rose lay aloft the petals.
And, since we’re talking about roses, here is a video of one of my favorite songs by Linda Ronstadt, Love is a Rose…
This next poem is one of my first attempts at non-rhyming poetry. It’s called A Very Good Rose…
A VERY GOOD ROSE By Crystal A. Murray—(c) 1998 Each petal perfectly formed In the shape of a heart, With a feel of silk and velvet. What a creation is God’s beautiful flower… The rose. Its scent so pure and sweet, So smoothly it unfolds, Revealing at its heart The seed that makes it grow. No matter the color, No matter the size; Whether a bud or full bloom; No matter the differences in perfume, No matter the thorns that pierce the flesh, Still, everyone loves the rose. God must look upon this precious creation- This wonder of beauties. He must breathe in with its scent And sigh contentedly. “Such a great accomplishment.” “It is good!” He says, “And yet”, He says with another sigh, “This is not my best work. I know I can do better.” So, did He create a new rose? With no thorns? A stronger scent? Did He create a never-dying flower? No! In His greatest moment of creation God simply grabbed… A handful of dust And began to mold it. Suddenly, He caught a glimpse of Himself… A mirror image. He molded His new creation To resemble His own image. He breathed into it His own breath. And behold… God’s greatest creation of all time was born! “It is very good!” He said, and He rested.
And to bring this to an end, let me share one more video from YouTube. This one is the song What A Friend We Have in Jesus, but it is sung to the tune of The Rose as made popular by Bette Midler. Try singing it to this tune yourself. It works wonderfully, and it feels great to sing…
May God richly bless you with His abundant grace and mercy, and may you walk in His presence all your days until you walk into His presence for eternity.
Do you know why the little boy through his alarm clock out the window? He wanted to see how time flies. Do you ever want to see how time flies, or has age and the progression of the world convinced you that it always moves too fast unless you’re waiting on something? There are very few times for me anymore where I wish time would hurry up and move. Most of the time, I just wish it would slow down and wait for me.
While thyme may not make a very good gift or present, especially if you get too much of it on your hands ;-), time does make a great gift. Ask those who know their days or hours are numbered, or ask a person who longs for more moments with someone they’ve lost. God knows how much we need time, and He knows exactly how much time we need. Because we don’t see the future like God does, we don’t know how much time a person needs, and it never seems like enough. Of course, God’s idea from the beginning was for us to be like Him and live eternally. That’s why we long so much for those who have already gone on, and that’s why we fight so hard to keep our lives on this earth. Well, most of us anyway.
It always amazes me when I find out about people who don’t cherish their moments here. I mean, yes, I long for eternity with my Savior because I know nothing on this earth will ever compare, but I also enjoy seeing His Light shine in a dark world. I love to see the conversion and transformation of one who was lost and dying without God. I love to see real miracles that make one or more souls truly aware of God’s presence in our lives. And, I love to be used of God to carry His message and His presence into any situation where He can change a life. At the same time, it’s a very great pain to watch a person reject that message, presence, miracle, or love of God and move forward in the darkness without conversion.
A choir I once sang with performed a song with beautiful lyrics that speak my heart about our moments on this earth. I couldn’t find a video with lyrics, so I’ll type the lyrics and then I’ll attach a video in case you want to hear the tune. I don’t know who the writer is to give credit, but the song is called While There’s Still Time. It picks up on the verse from Romans 13:11 that urges us to pay attention to the time…
Tomorrow is just on credit,
There’s no guarantee on life.
You could be gone in a moment;
Your time comes tonight.
You also know that Christ is coming,
And if you’re left behind,
How you’d wished for a little bit more time.
While there’s still time,
Make up your mind.
You can’t be happy living on
The border line.
If you only knew
His plans for you;
You wouldn’t wait,
While there’s still time.
If you’re saved then you’re invited
To spread the news around
To your friends and those you love so much
That time is running out.
Oh just listen to His tender voice,
He’s calling to your heart,
“Draw closer to me child,
While there’s still time.”
And here’s the video…
Time may not matter to God, but it definitely matters to us, and it matters for those we love. It can be easy to be fooled into thinking there is more available than what God has planned. Here’s a little scenario of one reason we might fall for that lie…
The demons were having a big meeting to see if they could stop the great influx of souls that were turning to The Creator. One popped up with the idea to just tell everyone that there is no God. The meeting leader assured everyone that it had been tried, and it worked on a few but was ultimately a failure. Another popped up with the idea to spread the message that there is no devil. Again, the leader commented that it had been tried and failed. The leader asked if anyone had a new idea that had not been tried yet. From far back in the room, a tiny voice whispered, “Just tell them there’s no hurry.”
God’s greatest gift to us is His salvation because it comes through His blood and His love for us. But, in order for us to find that salvation and carry it to others, He has also given each of us a certain gift of time. There is a hurry to value that gift and use it as God intended, for there is no present like the time we have right now.
What does it take for beauty to be beautiful? Perception. Whether it’s a beautiful look, sound, touch, smell, or thought, it must be perceived. We can’t smell with a stuffy nose, hear when we’re deaf, or see when we’re blind, even if those disabilities are temporary. I think we all get out of focus at times, and I think it affects all our senses.
Our lack of perception does not change the quality or beauty of the thing we cannot seem to grasp. That includes trying to see ourselves through God’s eyes, so we can trust His direction for our lives. We fail over and over, and we cannot perceive that God sees us with a love that causes Him to forgive us over and over. We wallow in guilt and feel unworthy, but God wants to swaddle us in His love and help us to understand that His worth is what matters overall.
Imagine if you created something, and you saw it as perfect and wonderful, but someone else came along and kept saying it was horrible. That’s part of the lie the enemy of our souls has tried to create in us since God placed Adam and Eve in the garden. While God gave them every tree except one, the enemy changed their focus and perception to where that one looked greater than everything else they had with God and in the garden. The enemy made them believe they were incomplete without that one provision, and they fell for it–literally.
These days, we have the blood of Christ to cover our imperfections, so God sees us through that. We have God’s written word, so we can understand how He sees us. But, we still have human eyes and human perceptions, so we often see things incorrectly and get ourselves and our lives out of focus. We may focus on a beauty or success that is not beauty or success in God’s eyes, or we may miss a God-given beauty or success completely. When we get out of focus, we end up in chaos and running around as if we are spiritually blind and deaf instead of walking according to God’s path and rhythm.
The lesson of focus has been made abundantly clear to me (no pun intended) through a week of chaos. While I did everything in my power to create a scenario for our authors to present and sell their books, every door I tried to open slammed shut. I wondered if we were missing out on God’s favor, or if we were just under attack. I was missing the mark on both accounts, and I only found my peace in God when I got my perception corrected through prayer.
Here’s what I learned: God called many people to carry His precious good news to the world. He has anointed us to present that message through a variety of methods, and many of those are in the arts. I believe our creativity is a gift from God whether we use it for Him or not. And, because it is a gift from God, it will do its best work when it is done for Him first and for ourselves last. If we get that turned around, we lose perception.
For our writer’s group, we were trying to create an event centered around sales rather than ministry. We thought success meant a lot of people coming to buy our products instead of a lot of people coming to hear a testimony of God’s gifts in our lives. Our perceptions were skewed by the cacophony of voices out there shouting words like marketing and SEO. It doesn’t help that the Christian book market is more than just a niche genre anymore. It holds its own and therefore needs just as much professionalism and proper presentation as any book topic out there. However, if we’re not careful, we can let the marketing become more important than the message.
Well, we learned our lesson, and now instead of wondering how we’re going to handle a bunch of people we can’t sell things to, we’re hoping we can minister to all of them. We did a lot of advertising, but only God knows what souls He is sending and what message He is wanting them to hear. Our job is to be sensitive, so we can perceive His voice and direction. He says in John 10:27 (NLT)… “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” If we keep our perception in Him, we can see and follow His leading, so we will not become blind leaders of blind followers. If we don’t, we may find even His beauty out of focus.
Someone shared the above video on Facebook, and it ranks right up there with those cool videos where people mix corn starch and water and put it on a speaker. The corn starch mix looks a lot like the stuff from the Flubber movies, especially when it’s dyed green. Still, the idea of geometric patterns forming just from changing the volume of a musical piece tied into a plate on a piece of metal really caught my attention. I love fractals and kaleidoscopes, so this fits well with my attraction to patterns.
Anyway, the first thing I thought about, as I watched them turn up the decibels and create different designs, was God speaking the world into existence. I can just see Him speaking with His booming voice, and then seeing the vibrations create patterns in the carbon until molecules pull together and create all that we see. Sound is energy, and what we see is energy either turned on or turned off–just like on a computer screen with its ones and zeroes. I find it amazing!
In reading the scientific reasoning behind the designs, the text said that the salt or sand falls into the places where there is no vibration. If we humans were created that way, then our flesh is the design in the cracks of God’s good vibrations, and that may be why there is such a wrestling match between flesh and spirit. We’re told that God knows our frame, so He knows exactly where our wrestling will come in, and He will be there to help us through it. Of course, when our bodies are perfected like His glorified body, they will be in complete submission to His Spirit, so we won’t have that battle any longer. That is something to hope for.
Now, here’s a test of your age. Do you remember which product used the Good Vibrations song by “The Beach Boys” as a jingle for their commercials? It actually took me a little while to confirm it because I got lost in an interesting article about the original song on Wikipedia. Did you know that, in addition to using the infamous Hammond B3 organ in the recording, they also added the musical accompaniment of a theremin? (The song page says they did, but the theremin page says it was a synthesizer.) And, yes, I mean the instrument that had a solo in an episode of The Big Bang Theory when Sheldon played the Star Trek theme on it just to aggravate Leonard. Of course, after Leonard sent him out of the apartment, a depressed Sheldon then played a great rendition of Nobody Knows The Trouble I’ve Seen. (See video below.) Oh, and to answer my first question, it was a soda that used the words, “I’m drinking up good vibrations,” and its name was… (ʞuᴉɹp ǝƃuɐɹO ʇsᴉʞunS).
Well, I think that’s all I will add on this theme for now unless you want to see the full lyrics of the song. I’d love to see some comments from you about the original video, the song, the Big Bang Theory, or anything else you’d like to talk about. All the links have descriptions if you want to hover over them before clicking, and I hope you find some interesting places to visit from here. Oh, and all the links open in a new tab, so you won’t lose your place. God bless you as you seek to walk with Him and the presence of His good vibrations today and always.
We know from Scriptural promises that EVERY word of God has profit, and that no word of God that is spoken will return to Him without accomplishing what He intended. So, if you are one chosen to speak God’s words, you know that what you are required to speak is both profitable and has power to affect change. In today’s reading from Exodus 6:29 through Exodus 7:7, God again tells Moses to tell Pharaoh EVERYTHING He has commanded him to speak. And Moses once again tells God that he is a terrible speaker and doesn’t think he will speak in a way that will make Pharaoh believe him.
As I read this today, I noticed that the profit of a prophet is not whether or not the listener believes in what the prophet has to say, but instead it is in the value of the spoken words. In these verses, as in some from the past few days, God even tells Moses that Pharaoh will not listen to anything he and Aaron will speak to him. But, even though Pharaoh will be hard-hearted, God says He is sending in Moses to be like God to him and Aaron to be like a prophet for Moses. And not only in words, but God has commanded Moses to perform miraculous works and still says that Pharaoh will not heed them.
God’s words and God’s deeds are important to speak and perform regardless of what those who listen do with them. The profit is there in a true prophet of God, but fear of not being listened to has caused many to speak pretty words to see if they can get more listeners instead of speaking the words of true value even when they don’t sound pretty. The words God gave Moses and Aaron were not pretty for Pharaoh, but for those who believed in the power and deliverance of Their Creator, they were just what they needed. In today’s reading, God even calls the sons of Israel His army and says He is sending them to bring His people out of Egypt with great acts of judgment. The bullies WILL have to pay a price for their bullying.
But the best profit that will come from these words, the profit that should come from any words we claim to speak for God or in His name, can be found in verse 5… then Egypt will know that I am God! Even what some call the “Five Fold Ministry” has one major task; to equip God’s people to work and do service that will build the body of believers in Messiah. We read today that Moses and Aaron did everything exactly as Yahveh commanded them to do even at 80 and 83 years of age.
If we are part of the body of Christ, we have a task to speak God’s word and do His work to build more believers into the body. Share with me what God has put on your heart to share with others. And with that, I’ll leave you with this thought: When all else fails, read the Word of God, and if that doesn’t work, try following it. 😉
As I am not home yet, and won’t be waiting long enough to do a whole post, I am waiting to complete this but posting to let people know that I am trying to stay faithful as much as possible. What will be funny is if I go to read today’s Scripture, and out turns out to be related to the title. We shall see. In the meantime, thanks for waiting with me. 🙂
So, I’m home, but as it’s not quite expedient for me to use my laptop tonight, I’m sticking with the phablet (phone/tablet hybrid), meaning I’ll try to keep it short.
The reading is from Genesis 37:12 through Genesis 37:22. It tells of Joseph’s journey to help Hoff brothers tend sheep and finding them instead in the city. They talked amongst themselves about how they could kill “the dreamer” and make it look like he fell down a cistern. I’m guessing they knew he would tattle on them in addition to their general jealousy.
While they were plotting, Reuben suggested other ways to deal with him that would not have them shed blood. He told them to just put him in the cistern where he couldn’t escape. Reuben was actually planning to come back and get him later.
And that’s where today’s reading ends. But I can tie it to waiting & being faithful since the jealousy & troubles that Joseph was facing were all a part of how God planned to use him to save His people. Right at that point, it might have seemed God was choosing not to intervene, but we know He is faithful and already had plans to turn ask their evil plans to good. Thankfully, that faithful plan began with a brother who had a loving heart and a desire to protect Joseph.
If you ever find yourself helping, and it doesn’t appear that your deeds are bearing fruit, consider this story and trust that God is working behind the scenes even when it seems He is waiting because you don’t see Him.
The content of this poem I wrote many years ago says a lot about everything I’ve written to this point, especially about the covenant made by God in the post for October 17th. I felt this was an appropriate time to share it.
I FOLLOW HIM
By Crystal A Murray – (C)2005
I follow Him…
…Around the corridors of Heaven, where beings created for worshipping Him fall at His feet. He sighs, and I hear Him say, “How I long for a friend with whom I can commune, and who will worship Me and desire to commune with me–because he loves Me.” A few heavy sighs later, I see His breath flowing into His new friend. He smiles and says, “It is very good.”
I follow Him…
…through a garden, where He walks and talks with man and woman. I see His despair on the day He can’t find them because a veil of sin now separates Him from His new creation. I watch as, in pain and desperation, He slays an animal to cover their nakedness and then uses the animal’s blood to temporarily pierce sin’s veil, so He may commune once more with His friends. I hear Him lament that all communication with mankind will now be strife for Him because of sin, but He loves them, and He will not give it up. He will never leave nor forsake them.
I follow Him…
…to His drawing board and see His plans for a temple in Heaven and its counterpart on earth. I also see plans for an ark; a covenant; splitting a sea; how blood sacrifice should work and why it doesn’t; and a way to bring Perfect Blood before the Heavenly altar and permanently destroy the veil of sin.
I follow Him…
…to Bethlehem on a star-lit night; to a carpenter’s shop; to a temple service; to a wedding in Cana and a pool in Bethesda.
I follow Him…
…now to another garden. In this one, called Gethsemane, His flesh and Spirit wrestle. I hear Him pray for my salvation–and yours. The flesh bleeds, but the Spirit prevails. I watch as His betrayer kisses Him … and then flees with Perfect Blood on his lips.
I follow Him…
…to the judgment hall and the whipping post.
I follow Him…
…to the death stake: where Perfect Blood stains the ground … the Centurion’s sword … and the hands of His killers. I see a tomb where His body lays still while His Spirit descends into Hell to take the keys of death and forever deliver His creation–His friends–from bondage. As He returns to His tomb, I watch as His Spirit awakens His body with the dawning of a 3rd-day’s sun.
I follow Him…
…as He comforts those who grieve at His tomb, makes Himself known to disciples walking a lonely road to Emmaus, and fills the nets of forlorn fishermen. I hear Him tell of a Comforter. Soon, I watch as He ascends in a cloud back to Heaven, where He goes to prepare a place for me–and for all who love Him. I see that, even today, He works in Heaven’s Holy Temple as our High Priest continuously offering His Perfect Blood to atone for our sins.*
I follow Him…
…because I love Him and desire to commune with Him. He makes a way because He loves me and desires to commune with me. And someday, with the sounds of a trumpet and a shout, He will split the skies and call His people to come home. And then…
…I will follow Him for eternity!
Genesis 18:19a has The Lord talking to the angels about Abraham and says, “For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment.”
The first time I read this Scripture, my only thought was, “Can God say this about me?” How blessed to have God testify to the angels that He has found a subject He knows well enough to know the subject’s future holds not only personal lawfulness, but also that the subject will teach lawfulness to others.
Today, my husband and I were in our Torah studies in Leviticus. (We’re a bit behind in the actual portion we should be reading, but we don’t want to skip around and miss valuable information.) For a few weeks now, we’ve been reading about the building of the wilderness tabernacle (also called The Tabernacle of Testimony and another topic I plan to write about). As I was listening to the words about all the laws concerning the tabernacle, sacrifices, offerings, etc., I remembered the words I had read earlier from Genesis and something hit me; these laws came well after God called Abraham a “law keeper.” And then I questioned in my mind, “I wonder what laws of God Abraham was keeping?” I understood, even as I asked, that Abraham was not keeping specific laws, but was keeping a lawful heart.
So, here we are in our current society looking to create law after law after law. Now, the focus is on gun laws (whether or not they violate our country’s foundational Constitution). But the gun laws, like the many other laws that are constantly in motion or discussion these days, are just a symptom. They will not create the answer so many hope they will, because they do not fix the real problem: they do not fix the need for laws in the first place–a need that comes from a general spirit of lawlessness.
How could Abraham have taught those of his household to keep the laws of God when there were none yet given? Because he was not teaching specific laws. He was teaching others to have a lawful heart, and to yield to the instruction of God from pure obedience. Later, it was necessary to create a priesthood and nearly 700 levitical laws to direct people because their hearts had become lawless. And, as so many have noted about these laws, and even many of the laws of our land now, they come with a big dose of bondage.
But imagine if we all strived to keep in our hearts the laws of yielding to a Higher Authority. We would automatically think of others before ourselves. We would not have to be instructed not to lie, steal, cheat, murder, etc. We would not purposely do things to others that we would not want someone doing to us. And if everyone lived that way, we would not need any other laws either from God or from man.
There is freedom in having a lawful heart because we do not need to fall under the bondage and condemnation of external law. Even though we will not be perfect, just as King David was not perfect and failed God multiple times, we can be called people after God’s own heart. And in that way, we will not only be able to say that we know Him, but He can testify to the angels, “I know that one!”
Can you recall meeting people who would not let you get to know them? Maybe you tried to show interest in them and show that you cared, so you could create a safe place for them to be themselves. But no matter what you did, it seemed they were all locked up inside themselves. Maybe it was fear, maybe pride, or maybe a little of both, but whatever it was, it was frustrating.
For a person like me who will share just about everything about herself, it’s even harder to deal with someone who is closed up. But thankfully, God is not that way! It thrills me that He says in so many places in His word that He wants me to get to know Him. He says things like, “They that seek me will find me.” Of course, that verse is incomplete. It actually says, in paraphrase from Jeremiah 29:13, “Those that seek me with all their hearts will find me.”
Here’s what today’s reading from Proverbs 2 (talking about seeking God’s wisdom) has to say…
4 If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures;
5 Then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God. (KJV)
God wants us to know more about Him. He wants to share the treasures of His wisdom. But He doesn’t want to give those treasures away to just anyone. He wants to give them to those who desire them and will value them. They are as valuable as silver and gold, so God doesn’t want to just dump them out on those who are satisfied with fool’s gold.
Oh, but if we are seekers, He wants to share with us in abundance. In James 1:5, we’re even told that if we lack wisdom, all we have to do is ask God and He will give it to us liberally. And in James 4:8, we’re reminded that if we draw near to God, He will draw near to us. His presence is an awesome treasure, and this verse amplifies Deuteronomy 4:7 that says, “For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the Lord our God is in all things that we call upon him for? (KJV)”
Doesn’t that just make you want to run to Him and learn more about Him? I know it does me. I’m thankful He’s not a god who is, like the song says, “watching us from a distance.” He is near. His wisdom is near. He simply wants us to seek Him. And when we do, the rest of this chapter talks about how we will fall in love with His wisdom and knowledge and how it will protect us from being led down paths that could be impossible to return from. I cannot fully put into words how much I value His presence and His wisdom, but I welcome you to join me as a fellow treasure hunter, and to rejoice with me for all the wonderful gifts we will find as we seek Him.
- Current Events
- LCW for Edits
- About Writing
- Bible Study
- Fun & Flourishing Friday
- Lyrics and Song
- Musably Monday
- Sabbatically Saturday
- School of Christ
- Serendipitously Sunday
- Slice of Life
- Tech Time Tuesday
- Theologically Thursday
- TV and Movies
- Wordy Winsome Wednesday