The Fake “Good” News

Breaking-News

2 Peter 2: 17- 21

Biblegateway.com

17 These people are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them. 18 For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of the flesh, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error.19 They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for “people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.” 20 If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. 21 It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. 22 Of them the proverbs are true: “A dog returns to its vomit,” and, “A sow that is washed returns to her wallowing in the mud.”

 A spring without water is a dry pit and a mist driven by a storm becomes destructive.  I have been privy to both instances and have stood for just moments in complete darkness.  How does a Christian end up here?
Living in our modern world, we are inundated with quick fixes, complete answers to age old questions, and back doors which will lead us to a fast paced and happier ending.  “If only” becomes our mantra.  Looking for freedom from the worry and stress that drift us softly to a restless sleep.
Some of these messages arrive over the airways in suggestive marketing, or even shared inspiration from important leaders, close friends and neighbors, and even from our own mouths.
18 For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of the flesh, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error.
These words are born from sin.  They are the words that creep out to explain our own actions to those who watch us fall.  Sprinkle it with pride and now we have an opening.
19 They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for “people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.”
This opening helps someone reach out looking for the freedom that will explain away a deep need to heal a sin.  It cries for attention and answers.  Suddenly, an answer or an agreement occurs which offers a sense of relief.  Justification. “I thought I was the only one.  Finally, someone agrees with my cry”  said in the depths of an unconscious soul.
“Finally”, cries the sin that has now captured the heart and enslaves the poor soul seeking for what was already known.
20 If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. 21 It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. 22 Of them the proverbs are true: “A dog returns to its vomit,” and, “A sow that is washed returns to her wallowing in the mud.”
Lies are the news we were seeking.  Turning away from the truth we go back to what entices our ears and can allow our sins to seem minor to those murders and evildoers that live in the darkness.  Yet, we are living in the darkness and handed an artificial light to disguise the ugliness of the situation.
What if we truly believed everything we know about God, our Lord and Savior, and our salvation?
Philippians 4:19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.
When I am in need, He is there and will make sure I don’t go without.

Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

If I worship the Lord, He will give me the desire of my heart.

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 

He loves me and has offered me eternal life by sacrificing His own son.

John 15: 7-8 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.

If I walk in the path He has set for me, and ask for something in prayer, He will answer and allow me to share His love with others.

1 John 1:19 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

If I allow Him to show me the sin and ask for His forgiveness, He makes me new each day.

Isaiah 41: 10 Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

When I am weary and need strength to go on, He will grab my hand and lift me up to carry me through difficult seasons.

If we truly believed each of these and many more truths, how would our lives look? The world tries so hard to douse out the fire for the Lord.  It wants lies to reign and truth to hush.  If we truly believed, the joy of our lives would cast a radiating light that would cause others to follow.

Ephesians 4:14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.

Our belief can not stand alone to keep us from slipping into the muck.  As Christians, we have responsibilities which will solidify our faith and relationship in Christ.

1 Corinthians 15: 58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord,because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

We must do everything in the name of the Lord.  Our daily lives from rise to rest need to encompass Him.  His goodness, His guidance, His abiding love for us.  Every decision, every thought, every opportunity.  It is all His and we are His sons and daughters. Our responsibility lies in truly living and breathing all His truths.

Colossians 2:23-24  Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

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Who Are We Working For?

work-work-work

Romans 8: 18-30

Biblegateway.com

18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to son-ship, the redemption of our bodies.24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

How strong are our beliefs in answered prayer?  We experience frustration and want our closest issues to be  washed away by God’s love.  Nightly we cry out and lift up our requests.  Yet, daily we walk in and try to forcefully intercede to help the process along.  Many times I have attempted to involve myself in letting those around me know that something they are doing is wrong.  Nagging and righting the wrong becomes my job and I’m fully engulfed in righteous behavior.  If only they would listen.

But, who am I working for?  Why do I pray the prayers for those around me?  Am I inwardly focused or outwardly empathetic?

18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

As God’s words speak, our worldly home is not worth even comparing to the one we will enter.  Our humanness aches for the perfection of this destination.  Our lives here are broken, shattered, muddy and full of disappointment.  Those we pray for live in this life and can be seen as a frustration.  The need for answers creeps in and skews the liberation God wants to provide.  He wants us to be free in the hope that is to come.

Isn’t it our job as Christians to pray for others and their brokenness?

22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to son-ship, the redemption of our bodies.24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

We pray without ceasing because that is what connects us to our creator.  Yet, relying on the Spirit is where our prayer should rest.  Too often the prayer is said and our need for answers interferes with the spirits mission.  Our job is hope.  The unseen hope that we long for in our salvation.  Not the hope that comes instantly through answered prayer.  This may sustain our faith for a moment but it will not satisfy our restless souls.  Our restlessness is the insatiable longing for the day we meet our Lord and Savior.

How do we begin to pray the right prayers so that our selfish ways don’t interfere?

26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

As we wrestle with life’s complexities, we seek out God’s will.  The groans of our hearts are met with our intellect and wants for the future.  But our God intervenes with the Spirit who will provide us with answers if we listen for His guidance.  Rest in this or our prayers will be meeting a dead end.

Ultimately, who are we working for ?

Our minds drift in and out of focus.  We may pray, wait, and derail.  As selfish motives whisper in our ear, they tell us to get involved and attempt to help the process so that the issue will begin to fix itself.  I hear my own voice chime in, by reminding the person I pray for to right their wrong.  My mind wins and so does Satan.

Or do we may pray, wait, and expect.  If I wait and expect God to intervene on my behalf, then He wins and so do I.  God’s will accomplished and my hope redeemed through His glory.  Now my work is complete and I have done well.

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

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Win some Lose some

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Matthew 10: 5-23 & 32-42 (NIV)

Biblegateway.com

These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.

“Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts— 10 no bag for the journey or extra shirt or sandals or a staff, for the worker is worth his keep. 11 Whatever town or village you enter, search there for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave.12 As you enter the home, give it your greeting. 13 If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. 14 If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. 15 Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.

16 “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. 17 Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. 18 On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. 19 But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, 20 for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

21 “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. 22 You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 23 When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. Truly I tell you, you will not finish going through the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

32 “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. 33 But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.

34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn

“‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law— 36     a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’

37 “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.

40 “Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. 41 Whoever welcomes a prophet as a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever welcomes a righteous person as a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. 42 And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.”

Do you ever want to lose?  I am sure like many of us, the answer would be a flat at “NO”.  In our world of survival of the fittest and brightest, we know that hard work and dedication will reap benefits.  Sure we may have some set backs but eventually we will win when we outwit, out-power, and over extend ourselves to the point of superiority.

As I go about my daily interactions and common situations, I see many things as a competition.  Can I win an argument at home?  Can I work harder and faster than my colleagues?  Can I be the citizen of the year in my community?  Can I be the friendliest faith filled Christian at church?

Our world is full of people working towards this same goal.  Find a place to be the best so that you will stand out among the rest.  Too many people for each of us to shine.  Win at any cost is what our world tells us.

But, what does our Lord tell us?

Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.

We are to begin our day by seeking out the “lost” sheep.  Not the “winning”  sheep.  These are people who have wandered away from faith and need comfort.  As we go out, we are to serve them and serve them freely.  Jesus proclaimed this to his disciples and in our world it seems so foreign.  How do we begin serving people?

Everyday God gives us a predetermined path to follow. If we are heads down and focused on our win and those we need to beat, we miss the opportunity.  If we look up, and take Jesus’s words as truth, then our heads are up seeking to serve.  This service could be a meal for a sick relative, a comforting word to a coworker, a quiet prayer for the erratic driver blocking our way.  As we serve, we do this freely without hesitation.  Yet, this is a thankless job.

“Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts— 10 no bag for the journey or extra shirt or sandals or a staff, for the worker is worth his keep. 11 Whatever town or village you enter, search there for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave.12 As you enter the home, give it your greeting. 13 If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. 14 If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. 15 Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.

Jesus knew that as you serve you may feel a bit empty.  He knew and still knows that people will be ungrateful and have their hands out looking for something to fix their situation.  In his words He tells us that if someone is welcoming, you should know that what you give them with love will provide them peace.  Yet, He also tells us that if they are not accepting, then move on and keep serving others.  It is not our job to make anyone understand our motives.  It’s God’s job to carry the service through to salvation.

Brush off the dust and let judgement lie in His hands.

16 “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. 17 Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. 18 On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. 19 But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, 20 for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

21 “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. 22 You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 23 When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. Truly I tell you, you will not finish going through the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

So, in our faithful service we want our love to shine and be accepted.  But, all this can easily be seen as trying to win.  It can make people uncomfortable and uneasy that we may be “too good”  for their company.  People may even begin to insult our motives and look at us as a “perfectionist”  serving everyone and ignoring our own needs.

Jesus knows that people will turn this into evil and knows that we will be hated.  Yet, he clearly tells us to stand firm and if needed flee.  This is not about the win, it is about salvation.

34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law— 36     a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’ 37 “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.

Our salvation doesn’t mean peace on earth will be our lives.  No, our salvation will bring us a sword.  The sword of the spirit.  This sword is our defense when our family, our friends, our coworkers come against us in our service.  Yes, this will happen.  Do we change ourselves to create a more peaceful existence?  If we listen to His words, He commands us to lose.  We need to seek the loss and give ourselves to Him.  Carry our burdens and give them to Him everyday through our prayers and praise.  Serve for Him and put our love of the win aside.

40 “Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. 41 Whoever welcomes a prophet as a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever welcomes a righteous person as a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. 42 And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.”

As followers of Jesus, we must stay close and may have others who remain close to us in our service.  If others walk the most difficult path their may be in this broken world along side us, then they too will reap benefits of Jesus’s unconditional love.  Our win comes when we are judged not for our winning attitude, grit, or determination, it comes when we are accepted at Jesus’s throne.  He will look  us in the eyes and say, “Well done my beautiful and loving child. You have served me well.”  Our win is our ever lasting peace and salvation in heaven.

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Christian “Karma” ?

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Matthew 7: 1-2 NIV

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

Biblegateway.com

It is often said, “What you do to others, will happen to you.”  Inflict pain and just wait, it’s coming for you too.  A simple wish for justice. This idea we call Karma comes from ancient Indian religions.  It is the idea of reincarnation.  If you do what is right, you will have a good life when you are born again.  If you currently have a difficult life, then your past life was filled with wrong decisions.  The Western world has adjusted the idea to fit life’s ups and downs.  It also allows for some hope in the hurt.

Justice and fairness for all.  Equality in its finest form.  How can we create a world where everyone gets their just dues?

Life has a way of not playing by the rules.  I have made some real mistakes and have received very minimal consequences.  Yet, I have made some small wrongs and was returned with extreme repercussions.  Even better, I was hurt and wronged when I was being kind.

John 16:33 “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.”

Trouble.  Yes, it will happen.  You don’t know when or sometimes even why.  We will always have someone who won’t see us as God sees us.  Injustice and inequality will happen.  Unfortunately, it lives in this world since our world is broken.  From the Garden of Eden it was tempted and chose against God’s perfection.  We walked away from Him.

Ecclesiastes 3:16-17 

16 Moreover, I saw under the sun that in the place of justice, even there was wickedness, and in the place of righteousness, even there was wickedness. 17 I said in my heart, God will judge the righteous and the wicked, for there is a time for every matter and for every work.

So, how do we cope in the face of wickedness?  Do we place our hope in some cosmic answer of created hope?  Do we place our trust in a broken world to wipe our tears from a hurtful past?

Our only hope and answer lies in our heavenly father.  No judge and jury will fully provide the righteous verdict.

At times, it becomes so difficult to turn our back.  We want an answer.  We want the evil to be eradicated so that only love remains.  We want the poor and the innocent to be released from the prison of hopelessness.  We want our evil past to be washed clean.

Psalm 10: 1-18

Why, O Lord, do you stand far away?
    Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?

In arrogance the wicked hotly pursue the poor;
    let them be caught in the schemes that they have devised.
For the wicked boasts of the desires of his soul,
    and the one greedy for gain curses and renounces the Lord.
In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him;
    all his thoughts are, “There is no God.”
His ways prosper at all times;
    your judgments are on high, out of his sight;
    as for all his foes, he puffs at them.
He says in his heart, “I shall not be moved;
    throughout all generations I shall not meet adversity.”
His mouth is filled with cursing and deceit and oppression;
    under his tongue are mischief and iniquity.
He sits in ambush in the villages;
    in hiding places he murders the innocent.
His eyes stealthily watch for the helpless;
    he lurks in ambush like a lion in his thicket;
he lurks that he may seize the poor;
    he seizes the poor when he draws him into his net.
10 The helpless are crushed, sink down,
    and fall by his might.
11 He says in his heart, “God has forgotten,
    he has hidden his face, he will never see it.”

12 Arise, O Lord; O God, lift up your hand;
    forget not the afflicted.
13 Why does the wicked renounce God
    and say in his heart, “You will not call to account”?
14 But you do see, for you note mischief and vexation,
    that you may take it into your hands;
to you the helpless commits himself;
    you have been the helper of the fatherless.
15 Break the arm of the wicked and evildoer;
    call his wickedness to account till you find none.

16 The Lord is king forever and ever;
    the nations perish from his land.
17 O Lord, you hear the desire of the afflicted;
    you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear
18 to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed,
    so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more.

 

Our beautiful and peaceful Lord hears us.  He hears the shouts at the sky and our prayerful whimpers to the earth.  He sees the trembling of the oppressed.  But, how will He respond?

Isaiah 41: 8-20

“But you, Israel, my servant,
    Jacob, whom I have chosen,
    you descendants of Abraham my friend,
I took you from the ends of the earth,
    from its farthest corners I called you.
I said, ‘You are my servant’;
    I have chosen you and have not rejected you.
10 So do not fear, for I am with you;
    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

11 “All who rage against you
    will surely be ashamed and disgraced;
those who oppose you
    will be as nothing and perish.
12 Though you search for your enemies,
    you will not find them.
Those who wage war against you
    will be as nothing at all.
13 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.
14 Do not be afraid, you worm Jacob,
    little Israel, do not fear,
for I myself will help you,” declares the Lord,
    your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.
15 “See, I will make you into a threshing sledge,
    new and sharp, with many teeth.
You will thresh the mountains and crush them,
    and reduce the hills to chaff.
16 You will winnow them, the wind will pick them up,
    and a gale will blow them away.
But you will rejoice in the Lord
    and glory in the Holy One of Israel.

17 “The poor and needy search for water,
    but there is none;
    their tongues are parched with thirst.
But I the Lord will answer them;
    I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them.
18 I will make rivers flow on barren heights,
    and springs within the valleys.
I will turn the desert into pools of water,
    and the parched ground into springs.
19 I will put in the desert
    the cedar and the acacia, the myrtle and the olive.
I will set junipers in the wasteland,
    the fir and the cypress together,
20 so that people may see and know,
    may consider and understand,
that the hand of the Lord has done this,
    that the Holy One of Israel has created it.

Our Lord is there and will always be there for the ones He calls His children.  Yet, we also have to respond in a way that honors our Lord.  Running, marching, ignoring are not options for allowing him to bring justice.  As Christians we have to praise in the pain, pray in the darkness, and listen for the action.

In all of this the greatest order, is to obey.  Obey His words and stay grounded by seeking Him for answers.

 

Jeremiah 22: 3-5 

Thus says the Lord: Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the resident alien, the fatherless, and the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place. For if you will indeed obey this word, then there shall enter the gates of this house kings who sit on the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they and their servants and their people. But if you will not obey these words, I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that this house shall become a desolation.

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Monumental Idols

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Biblegateway.com

Isaiah 44: 9-12

All who make idols are nothing,
    and the things they treasure are worthless.
Those who would speak up for them are blind;
    they are ignorant, to their own shame.
10 Who shapes a god and casts an idol,
    which can profit nothing?
11 People who do that will be put to shame;
    such craftsmen are only human beings.
Let them all come together and take their stand;
    they will be brought down to terror and shame.

12 The blacksmith takes a tool
    and works with it in the coals;
he shapes an idol with hammers,
    he forges it with the might of his arm.
He gets hungry and loses his strength;
    he drinks no water and grows faint.

As we grow-up around others, we stare at their older lives and crave for that future. As we age, we realize the future is confining, so we look around for an idol or two to meet our current circumstances.  An idol could be past or present.  Living or carved of stone.  Or even an ideology.  

We perch ourselves upon the base of this resurrected monument and peer down at the world.  All our thoughts and feelings rest here.  All our judgments and strong opinions are decided here.

When another from a far away idol approaches with a counter thought, our defenses rise, our wall deployed, and sharp words develop as weapons.  Helmet locked and ears closed.

Jeremiah 13:10 These wicked people, who refuse to listen to my words, who follow the stubbornness of their hearts and go after other gods to serve and worship them, will be like this belt—completely useless!

As the combat is engaged with words of righteous opinions and contempt for opposing views, all of it falls deaf, laying lifeless on the battlefield.  Each person engaged walks breathless and defeated with no win in sight.  Exhaustion becomes enraged by the ignorance of the opponent.  Why can’t they understand and realize the “truth”?

Psalm 135: 15-17 

The idols of the nations are silver and gold,
    the work of human hands.
16 They have mouths, but do not speak;
    they have eyes, but do not see;
17 they have ears, but do not hear,
    nor is there any breath in their mouths.

Slowly each retreats to the safety of their home base.  Now the work begins.  They gather up their evidence and counter arguments.  Taking a stand.  Ready for the fight.  Marching towards their idol.

Blocking the way of each other.  No right in sight.  Arguing, Yelling, Chanting.  Still no movement or adjustment.  Now the temperature rises.  Forceful action must be taken to create the submission of the other side.  Keep forcing until the win.

Ecclesiastes 3: 9- 17

What do workers gain from their toil? 10 I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. 13 That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. 14 I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him.

15 Whatever is has already been,
    and what will be has been before;
    and God will call the past to account.

16 And I saw something else under the sun:

In the place of judgment—wickedness was there,
    in the place of justice—wickedness was there.

17 I said to myself, “God will bring into judgment both the righteous and the wicked, for there will be a time for every activity, a time to judge every deed.”

Our ultimate goal is to find justice.  We as humans need to bring to light what is acceptable and the norm for living.  Set standards.  Set expectations.  Set beliefs.

But, what side will you choose?  If you stand long enough on one pedestal, you will only view justice at that vantage point.

The only white flag in this toilsome battle is our Lord and Savior.  We as Christians must wave the flag and retreat in Him.

God knows all, sees all, and has created all.  Why do we think we have the answers to societies challenges?

Isaiah 44: 13-20

13 The carpenter measures with a line
    and makes an outline with a marker;
he roughs it out with chisels
    and marks it with compasses.
He shapes it in human form,
    human form in all its glory,
    that it may dwell in a shrine.
14 He cut down cedars,
    or perhaps took a cypress or oak.
He let it grow among the trees of the forest,
    or planted a pine, and the rain made it grow.
15 It is used as fuel for burning;
    some of it he takes and warms himself,
    he kindles a fire and bakes bread.
But he also fashions a god and worships it;
    he makes an idol and bows down to it.
16 Half of the wood he burns in the fire;
    over it he prepares his meal,
    he roasts his meat and eats his fill.
He also warms himself and says,
    “Ah! I am warm; I see the fire.”
17 From the rest he makes a god, his idol;
    he bows down to it and worships.
He prays to it and says,
    “Save me! You are my god!”
18 They know nothing, they understand nothing;
    their eyes are plastered over so they cannot see,
    and their minds closed so they cannot understand.
19 No one stops to think,
    no one has the knowledge or understanding to say,
“Half of it I used for fuel;
    I even baked bread over its coals,
    I roasted meat and I ate.
Shall I make a detestable thing from what is left?
    Shall I bow down to a block of wood?”
20 Such a person feeds on ashes; a deluded heart misleads him;
    he cannot save himself, or say,
    “Is not this thing in my right hand a lie?”

We understand nothing and have closed minds to see that God has a plan.  God is our creator and Jesus our savior.  We are to follow Him, seek Him, and praise Him.  He is our answer to everything.  Past, Present, Future.

Step off the pedestal and kneel before Him.  Honor the only idol, symbol or ideology that will save you and I from ourselves.  Our day will come and our Lord will look into our hearts.  He is the judge and will provide the justice. Lift the white flag and rest in Him.

Luke 18:9-14

He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God,be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

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Silent Sorry

Im-Sorry

Luke 15:7 NIV

Biblegateway.com

I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

Deep in my heart, I have locked away feelings of unsaid sorry.  They sit waiting for the right moment to remind me they need attention.  A picture, a place, a situation, a name.  Anyone of these could trigger the lock to release and one to spill out.

I have hurt many people and have been hurt by people too.  Each interaction will eventually lead to the need of; “I’m sorry.”  We make mistakes, hold in pride, and justify our actions to avoid looking as if we are wrong.

My past dances like a shadow just out of reach.  The silent movie of a period of time where a wrong was done and never recognized.  It haunts and taunts and lets me know that this should never of happened.  I didn’t deserve the outcome.  In turn, the death of someone close brings up the need to redo all the wrong I may have inflicted.  How could I have treated this person in the manner in which I see was selfish and judgmental.  If only there was, “I’m sorry”.

At times these three little words, can change the course of our’s and other’s lives.  We have a choice.  Often times the person who felt wronged and was wrong, walks away and avoids the reminder.  The relationship that was, no longer exists.

Luke 6:37

37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.

What can we do to let go of this need for “sorry”?

Judge and you too will be judged in the same manner.  If we let go and forgive the wrong, ours too will be forgiven.  Yet, easier said than done.

Luke 6: 27-36

27 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.

32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that.34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

Our need for the apology stems from our unmet expectations.  One person’s wrong is another person’s right.  Jesus has shown us that we need to love just as He has loved us unconditionally.  He isn’t picky and just wants all people of all walks to accept Him as their savior.  They will not meet His expectations, but He still loves.

Luke 15: 11-32

11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.

13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living.14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’

28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’

31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”

In this parable, Jesus tells us that sorry isn’t needed.  Our humility, our love, and devotion are what provides the forgiveness.  He celebrates us when we commit our hearts to Him and allow Him to work out our wrongs and hurts side by side.  Only He can do this for us and no person will ever be able to love us in this way.

Our expectations of others should be tempered with salt.  There is only one who was and is sinless.  There is only one who accepted all sin for human kind.  Humans are sinners.  They will always need to be in His corner.  Jesus is love and will show us how to let go and allow Him to do all the heavy lifting.

I unlock my secret place in my heart, and call Him to enter.  Here is where the need for “sorry” is met with “you are loved”.

1 John 4: 10 

10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

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Have and Hold

gift

2 Corinthians 9: 6-15 NIV

Biblegateway.com

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written:

“They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor;
    their righteousness endures forever.”

 

10 Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.

12 This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. 13 Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. 14 And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. 15 Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

For one to have is one who possesses, owns, or is blessed.  They have received gifts and in combination, may be uniquely owned.  As we develop our faith in Christ and walk closer to a full Christian life, our blessings multiply.  We give our love of Christ cheerfully to others, we in turn are blessed.

The commitment needed for these blessings is insurmountable.  Each blessing for which we are given responsibility has a value.  Our cup will run over and the overwhelming need to just let some slip away will become our only method of survival.  How could blessings become burdensome?

When we slow down to recognize the wonders in which we possess, our gratefulness and thanks are easy to say in our nightly prayers.  Yet, when the blessing becomes trouble and seen as a burden, our cries for freedom from them take hold.  Our haves of home, family, friends, work, and things seem to be a trap to snare us into worry, anxiety, and stress.

Did our God punish us in His gifts?

11 You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.

12 This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. 13 Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. 14 And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. 15 Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

To hold is to keep, grasp, care for, cherish, and value.  When given these gifts from above, our first instinct is to hold them tightly as if a thief stalks at night.  We desperately focus on the preservation.  At times to the point of exhaustion and frustration.  How often they don’t cooperate with how we want to put them under lock and key.

Yet, has God given them to us for safe keeping?

Our duty as a Christian is to recognize the service we are expected to perform.  We are given the awesome responsibility of taking the blessing and giving it away.  This giving is to be done freely, without reservation, and with a big smile.  Instead of reflecting and soaking up the beauty of what you hold, we need take it and share it with everyone.

As we let go of what we hold on so tightly to, we will be rewarded with knowing that we have given God our thanks.  He will receive the glory and others with praise Him by praying for us in turn.

My heart is warmed by the thought of this type of giving.  But, what does this look like in our fast paced, greedy, self driven world?

It’s opening your home to others.  Inviting others over who need a friend.  Taking time to share God’s word around your dining room table.

It’s sharing your belief and praying for family and friends.  Using God’s word to direct your interactions and your words so they are softly spoken with love.  Taking time to forgive wrongs and allow each of these dear people many chances of redemption.

It’s taking the skills and talents you where generously given and using them for the purpose of God’s will.  Sharing His love in the workplace.

It’s giving away possessions to those in need.

In all of this, we find our true to have and to hold.  To cherish the blessing and hold on to the grace that you have received by sharing God’s goodness with all people.  We are God’s hands and feet carrying His ways and His wants so that love will conquer the broken world.

James 1: 16-18

16 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of all he created.

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Fearful Peace

fear

Matthew 14: 22-33 NIV

Biblegateway.com

22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. 25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake.26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.

27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

29 “Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Do you truly believe?  I am sure you will say, “Yes” as I have many times.  But, after some hard analysis, I have come to realize that the answer is, “No”.

I believe God exists.  I believe Jesus died for our sins.  I believe heaven and hell is our ultimate destination.  Yet, other areas of this belief are gray. Gray and cloudy filled with some doubt, fear, confusion, frustration, and sprinkled at times with bitterness.

Mountaintop experiences with Jesus are extraordinary, happen sporadically and without notice.  They can’t be recreated and coming down from the experience can leave one lonely and depressed.  Can I continue to have faith in the valley?

When questions are unanswered and a nagging feeling for knowledge begs for attention, can I patiently wait?

The moment a sudden unprovoked attack comes to steal my peace, will I fight or flee to safety?

23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. 

Jesus left his disciples and sent them in a boat.  They traveled far from Him because the boat was “buffeted by the waves” and ” the wind was against it”.

It is inevitable when we step away after time with Jesus , we will be battered by life due to the hate born from the ruler of the world.  Life will come to steal our peace and throw us in the jail of fear.  Running scared we hunker down into our safe house wanting nothing to do with what lies out in the dark.

26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.

27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

29 “Come,” he said.

He never stops trying to reach us even in our weakness.  During our times of fear, he reaches his hand calling us out.  I find these times the hardest to overcome.

We have been given the choice and He can’t make us walk in faith.  It is our decision to follow His words as a guide even if it hurts.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

Peter took the leap of faith to follow in the storm.  Yet, he lost his focus.  Oh, that sinking feeling.  I pray, I read God’s word, and I listen.  I move forward and then something sneaks up to bring me back to life’s reality.  Now what?  Why does this happen?

31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Our true belief is tested and our faith wavers.  Doubt is seeded in our hearts.  Lies have been softly whispered and choke out the truth God tries to instill.  Our humanness causes us to trip and run the other way.  But, our great Lord of Lords has the power to stop the storm and calm the seas.  We need to continue to step out of the boat as many times as possible, it’s never too late.

Romans 5: 1-5

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

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Wind Earthquake Fire

San_francisco_fire_1906

1 Kings 19: 11-12

11 The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.

Biblegateway.com

Swirling, Begging, Shouting.  Our lives go in and out of situations which verge on chaos.  Our minds led to fight, flight, or just plain hyper focused on what ifs.  This wound needs immediate attention.  Survival is key.  No other options exist or do they?

At times the wind kicks up just to stir some raw emotions.  Other times a rumble and crack occur to throw us off kilter.  On special occasions everything we know goes up in flames.  It all is what the human experience entails.  No escape and only expectation of its arrival. Satan the creator of all things chaotic.

Luke 8:21- 25

22 One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and set out. 23 As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger.

24 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!”

He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. 25 “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples.

In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.”

Our reaction is first to panic, and seek out ways to escape.  As it sinks in, we become scared and anxious.  How can we settle the sea?  What if things intensify and there is no way out? It has happened before and it will happen again.

What if we didn’t give into the raging fire or unstable ground?  What if we turned, breathed, and chose a quiet posture?

When Jesus was on the boat, I can imagine men pacing and others frozen in fear looking at the all encompassing waves.  As Jesus arose from his restful sleep, He looked at not the waves but the men.  Maybe He felt a bit disappointed in their faith and decided this was the perfect time for a lesson.  With His gentle hands he calmed the sea and began to show His followers how God is even found in the chaos.

1 Corinthians 14: 15 So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my understanding; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my understanding.

When our time comes to show God what we have, what shall we do?  If we take a moment, quiet our minds, and begin to pray with fervent expectations, then and only then will we hear.  In those moments of shear desperation and confusion, God will hear our pleas.

Matthew 21:22 If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.

Every time I have sought Jesus and truly prayed for comfort, peace, and guidance with an honest heart, He has delivered.  There were times where it seemed as if the difficulty didn’t even exist after I prayed.  Other times, He has directed a solution and also even provided a path for escape.  My trust is with Him.

Yet, even though I know he has my back, I forget.  How often when the next fiery darts are aimed right at me, I panic.  The enemy always has a way of catching us off guard in the moments of complacency and weakness.  Even Jesus has been tempted.

Matthew 4: 1-11 

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
    and they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.”

Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”

10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.”

11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.

The only way to safeguard ourselves from what will happen, is to prime our minds daily so that we don’t forget what we have learned.

2 Corinthians 10: 3- 6 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.

If we remain in the word, pray with assurance and praise on our lips, we will win against the chaos.  Yet, the real answer is that we have already won.  Our victory is complete in Jesus.  So, why fret, worry, or become fearful?  With our eyes forward towards God’s path, we need to walk with conviction through any wind, earthquake, or fire, holding our head high with peace in our hearts.

Ephesians 6: 10- 18

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,

John 16: 33  “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.”

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Eyes on the Prize

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Hebrews 12:2 NIV fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Biblegateway.com

Focus.   An action that takes conscious effort.  It can produce successful outcomes or unproductive paralysis.  Our human lives driven to succeed is divided into three parts; mind, body, and soul.

The mind is our most powerful asset and can determine how the other parts function.  Some days it can inspire, others it can deteriorate but always seeking the what, when, why, and how of any given situation.  Constantly analyzing and finding the flaws to sculpt the sought after “perfect” life.

When trouble comes, our mind seeks an escape route. We turn to mindless entertainment and the off switch to let it take a needed break.

If engagement is needed, our body and soul become necessary to the function.  They activate and the three are one.

Philippians 2: 5-8 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!

Our body was uniquely made and goes through many stages.  It starts off growing and developing.  As quickly as it started its development, it comes to a screeching halt.  Now we are left with a responsibility to maintain this ownership.

How easy it is to keep it moving when our mind is motivated and our soul content.  In contrast, how painfully restless it becomes when we are mindless and dissatisfied.  A desire seeps in to be thinner, stronger, faster.

1 Corinthians 6: 19-20 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

Our souls are parched as we restlessly sit and numbly think.  In turn, when we move and ponder our soul swirls with emotions.  Day to day the mood sways with the wind.  Decisions are made and goals are set, but do we have the stamina to continue the fight to maintain each part in complete harmony?

Philippians 3: 15-21

15 All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things.And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. 16 Only let us live up to what we have already attained.

17 Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do. 18 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. 19 Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 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.

Jesus had the pleasure of having the human experience.  God loved us to want to understand our plight.  A mind of selfish desires, a body easily molded, and a soul that fluctuated by mood.  Through His word we are given instructions so that our complex human lives can be managed to bring forth the fruit of His labor.

Our minds need to become sharp.  Reading His word, contemplating His wisdom, and turning to prayer and praise when questions arise.

Philippians 4: 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

The magnificent body we have each been given, needs to become still.  Still to hear God’s coaching.  Still to seek out foods that nourish the well being to accept His calling.  Yet, active when needed , to tire the soul so that to prime us for His purpose.  The body is the temple to which we worship Him.

Acts 2: 26 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest in hope,

A moody soul can not rest in hope.  A soul that puts aside childhood dreams and worldly desires and takes up God’s daily bread, will be full of unexplained joy in unfortunate circumstances.   Settling in, while knowing that the true prize lies in basking in the light of complete freedom.  Heaven on earth.  A means to a glorious beginning.  Completeness in our minds, our bodies, and our souls.

Matthew 6: 9-11

“This, then, is how you should pray: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,10 your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us today our daily bread.

Philippians 3: 7-14

But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

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