PURIM – We Got An Invitation!

I got an invitation!

As a Christian, my spiritual heritage is rooted in the faith of Israel and God’s chosen people. Consequently, when I read the whole Megilla (the book of Esther) and learned about Purim I wanted to celebrate too. Then I saw Esther 9:27!

After thwarting Haman’s plan to eradicate them, the Jews established a custom for:

  • themselves
  • their descendants
  • and all those who allied themselves with them

 

Wow. An invitation encouraging us to celebrate together for generations to come, united in these ten teachings from Esther:

 

  1. We don’t need to see God to know He is there

 

Though never directly named in the book of Esther, God is seen is through the existence of over a million Jewish people, including Mordecai and Esther.

 

Every time I meet a Jewish person I see living proof of God’s faithfulness to His eternal and unbreakable covenant: His chosen people would always survive.

 

The enemy’s whisper, “Where is your God?” is routed by blessings, guidance, and deliverances – proof of His promise that as He was with Esther, He is and will be with us.

 

  1. Responding to truth brings peace despite circumstances

 

Actions like Xerxes’ emotional banishment of Vashti, though created by the enemy and based on lies, create a platform where God will work. The Megilla tells how Esther became queen, and God worked His great purpose through her. In the middle of such an ego and power-driven situation, it would be easy to fear.

 

Just as America keeps her eyes on Washington, knowing its edicts can impact and change lives in an instant, so Xerxes’ kingdom must have watched the Persian palace with fear and trembling.

 

If we, like Esther, calmly and confidently look beyond the circumstances and the lawmakers, we confirm the truth of God’s sovereignty over all principalities and power. Relying on God’s Word provides rescue, peace, and hope.

 

  1. Be able to recognize the enemy, so you will know when you have been taken.

 

 

Mordecai had taken Esther…Esther was taken by Persian authorities to the king’s palace.

 

Mordecai’s taken translates: brought – nourished.

The palace authorities’ taken means to tie, bind, imprison.

 

Esther must have felt overwhelmed by the difference. She was captive of a hidden enemy.

 

With Esther we learn the enemy is identifiable after being in God’s presence on a daily basis. God’s mirror reveals Xerxes’ downfall – making decisions and living by emotion and ego. It also reveals God’s character and desire to take us to safety.

 

 

  1. In captivity? There are still choices.

 

Though captured bodily, Esther’s spirit was not overtaken. Mordecai ordered her to not reveal her nationality or lineage and Esther had the choice of response: to obey sullenly, rebelliously, willingly, and without murmuring or grumbling.

 

Taught unquestioning obedience for authoritative figures, Esther’s secret Jewishness did not color her responses to palace authority. Instead, lifetime training was so ingrained she retained it even when forcibly absent from Mordecai’s guidance.

 

We also find comfort in overwhelming circumstances, knowing our sovereign God is here: planning, protecting, and providing.

 

  1. The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom

 

Xerxes’ pitiful example illustrated how decisions made in haste, or anger usually ends in regret.

 

Realizing she had no ability or power of her own, Esther chose to trust God on behalf of her people, telling Mordecai to ask all to fast and pray with her for 3 days to seek God’s direction.

 

Too often, only when all our options are exhausted, do we run to God. From Esther and Xerxes stories, we learn to run to God first, trusting Him to work through me, or someone else.

 

The combination of prayer and fasting is mighty. Esther’s example, to step back, evaluate, and seek God’s wisdom instead of reacting, continues to serve us well in our life of constantly impending threats and crisis.

 

  1. Leave plenty of room for God to work

 

 

Whether calculated, or led moment-by-moment, Esther’s actions reveal that she moved ahead while listening for God’s direction – leaving room for God to work.

 

She fasted, and stood in faith, dressed with all authority accorded to her. She went in to the king prepared physically, mentally, and spiritually.

 

Xerxes’ court must have gasped when Queen Esther entered uninvited. I imagine everyone holding their breath, wondering for what concern she would risk her life.

 

Did Esther plan dinners for the King and Haman before fasting or while fasting? Whenever, it had to be done in faith, believing God for the details.

  1. Assimilating to the enemy is never an option

 

Although Esther had somehow entered the palace without outward identification as Jewish, God and His promises still lived within her heart. Mordecai was hated by Haman for his identity, and it had to be only a matter of time until Haman figured out Esther was also Jewish.

 

The situation was delicate, for though Haman had constructed the evil law, the king had signed it. Esther now had to expose Haman without accusing the king, while publicly revealing truth about herself that she had not shared with the King.

 

But once Esther saw the right thing she moved decisively.

 

  1. Remember what God has done

 

 

It had to be a miracle of God to the fasting Jews when Xerxes honored Mordecai. If the restless monarch hadn’t read the chronicles would he have believed Haman instead?

 

God reversed every negative. Haman’s edict brought mourning, fasting, weeping, and wailing; but later in 8:16, it was a time of light, gladness, joy, and honor.

 

God knew Haman would cast lots (Pur) until he got the date he wanted, allowing the intended destruction to be scheduled near Passover. While Esther’s story is a call to Purim…celebrating, feasting and rejoicing, Esther’s destiny reversal is even more about the Passover, commemorating their deliverance with purity (the blood of the Lamb).

 

Passover’s symbolism still proclaims that God is Elohim, reminding us: He who saved our firstborn continues to keep His covenant and His people

 

  1. If we know Messiah, God’s destiny is within us

 

God is sovereign, no matter our circumstance. We can trust Him to provide the only protection that will cause the enemy’s planned disaster to pass over us.

 

Only trusting in God’s truth can we cast aside foolish pride like Haman’s, and depending on God’s wisdom, make the right decisions, unlike Xerxes,

 

We can like Mordecai, be unafraid, despite personal risk, to identify the enemy. Admitting we can do nothing in our own strength, we can bow before God in prayer and fasting like Esther, then confidently move ahead, trusting our destiny ‘s resolution to Yeshua Messiah – King of Kings.

  1. Celebrate the Victory

 

Commandments establishing Purim remind us to regularly practice remembering what God has done for ‘His people’, celebrating Messiah’s victory over every principality and power.

 

Because of sin, we all will face death, revealing our destiny-choices before God. We need to prepare for our remaining days as seriously as Esther, and celebrate our freedom and victories as heartily as all of Xerxes Jewish kingdom.

I can hardly wait to celebrate Purim – together!

 

How To Do a Spiritual Lifeline

Purposes of a Spiritual Lifeline are to help you write out your spiritual story – before your relationship with God, how it happened, and life changes after. It also helps to see if you have questions/concerns not yet answered, helps some to name or acknowledge growth or direction for life and ministry, and to recognize those who helped you along the way.  My sisters Marlene and Marvel  constantly encourage me .

 

Have you had some tough life experiences? Some tender ones?

 

Have you learned from those experiences, and passed along your life-lesson to others?

 

Do you find yourself recognizing others’ similar situations and sympathizing with them?

 

All of those questions lead to revealing your training to Be the Miracle for someone else’s need.

 

Here’s step one of a 5-step way to flesh out your heart-trained skills:

 

  1. Jog your memory – Draw a line across a paper. Add a peak for every a decade and write out one tough and one tender life event for each.
  2. Write a few words by each life event to describe a lesson, a moral, a blessing, a person, an object, a scent, or anything that rekindles the recall of this event and how it affected your life – big moments you want to mark could be physically, emotionally, mentally but especially spiritually.
  3. Now write the person’s name or initials that most affected you in each event, whether negatively or positively. Add the N or the P next to their name in case you need to remember.
  4. Now you should have a list of major events, negative and positive that affected your life. Next to the event you should have the person’s name or initials that most touched you through that experience and an N for negative effect or P for positive effect.
  5. For all the positive highlights it’s time to say thanks! Even if you have done it before, send a brief note saying you were thinking of life highlights and they came to mind. It is always a joy to find a cheerful note among the bills!
  6. For all the negative – make a list on a separate paper and looking at Philippians 4:8 write next to each negative incident something you learned from the circumstance or something you were able to later know compassion about for someone else, or something about God and./or someone who helped you through it. Here is your list from the Amplified Bible – Amplified (Revised): Finally, believers,
  7. whatever is true
  8. whatever is honorable and worthy of respect
  9. whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word
  10. whatever is pure and wholesome
  11. whatever is lovely and brings peace
  12. whatever is admirable and of good repute
  13. if there is any excellence
  14. if there is anything worthy of praise,
  15. think continually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart].

Thinking on the good results, or the good support can help you redeem the bad situations. Hopefully from that day forward all your highlights on the spiritual lifeline will have positive results!

If you find this exercise helpful, you can later add to it with more specific dates and events, rather than time periods.

Who did you find important on your spiritual lifeline?

Is that you, God?

How far back can I remember? Memories without age or form…

Psa. 139:1      GOD, investigate my life;

get all the facts firsthand.

Psa. 139:2       I’m an open book to you;

even from a distance, you know what I’m thinking.

Psa. 139:3       You know when I leave and when I get back;

I’m never out of your sight.

Psa. 139:4       You know everything I’m going to say

before I start the first sentence.

Psa. 139:5       I look behind me and you’re there,

then up ahead and you’re there, too—

your reassuring presence, coming and going.

Psa. 139:6       This is too much, too wonderful—

I can’t take it all in!

 

Unwanted – a mistake – bad seed – all these hurts – yet a knowing – someone – something is here with me. God, is that you?

 

I AM

 

I’ve tried to run away, hiding in the dark, changing my name, wanting to understand if life is so hard why am I here. Dreamer, they call me yet, deep within I hear a voice telling me not to be afraid – God is that you?

 

 

Psa. 139:7 -12

Is there anyplace I can go to avoid your Spirit?

to be out of your sight?

If I climb to the sky, you’re there!

If I go underground, you’re there!

If I flew on morning’s wings

to the far western horizon,

You’d find me in a minute—

you’re already there waiting!

Then I said to myself, “Oh, he even sees me in the dark!

At night I’m immersed in the light!”

It’s a fact: darkness isn’t dark to you;

night and day, darkness and light, they’re all the same to you.

 

I don’t know how I know that my life began before birth, but I do. There’s a sense of the beyond when I look at your creation – the great Orion calls out and says I know you…is that right? Is that you, God?

 

Psa. 139:13-16

Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;

you formed me in my mother’s womb.

I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking!

Body and soul, I am marvelously made!

I worship in adoration—what a creation!

You know me inside and out,

you know every bone in my body;

You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,

how I was sculpted from nothing into something.

Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;

all the stages of my life were spread out before you,

The days of my life all prepared

before I’d even lived one day.

 

Psa. 139:17    Your thoughts—how rare, how beautiful!

God, I’ll never comprehend them!

Psa. 139:18     I couldn’t even begin to count them—

any more than I could count the sand of the sea.

Oh, let me rise in the morning and live always with you!

 

Thank you, God for making yourself known to me.

Politics and Religion Decisions

Thy Kingdom Come

Billy Sunday preached on prayer: “The man who truly prays ‘Thy kingdom come’ cannot pass a saloon and not ask himself the question, ‘What can I do to get rid of that thing that is blighting the lives of thousands of young men, that is wrecking homes, and that is dragging men and women down to hell?’ You cannot pray ‘Thy kingdom come,’ and then rush to the polls and vote for the thing that is preventing that kingdom from coming. You cannot pray ‘Thy kingdom come’ and then go and do the things that make the devil laugh. For the man who truly prays ‘Thy kingdom come’ it would be impossible to have one kind of religion on his knees and another when he behind the counter; it would be impossible to have one kind of religion in the pew and another in politics. When a man truly prays ‘Thy kingdom come’ he means it in everything or in nothing.”

 

 

Matt. 6:10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

Luke 11:2 And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.

Many things are going on in our country that are started, stopped and legalized via our political system.

 

I am challenged by these words from scripture and from Billy Sunday to make every day of my year the same. To make all my decisions – my yay’s and nay’s to answer the question – will this further the kingdom of God?

 

Three – or maybe four days of my year are spent at the polls and if I am a believer of living in activated faith, those days will be no different than choices I make at any store, what I watch or read, at someone’s sick bed, when and what I write, or how and with whom I spend my time.

 

Daily we are faced with choices, mockeries of the kingdom of God. Do we truly ask ourselves what can I do to get rid of or to stop that thing that is dragging, preventing, blocking, people from knowing and enjoying the presence of God?

 

The answer is never – nothing. We/one person can always do something
Our call is to pray first about what we can and should do, share our concern, love on and live godly lives in the midst of those in our circle who are being misled. Share what you have (including knowledge and faith not just materially).

 

And – when at the polls, or politically speaking, my life, my actions, my concerns are the same –not what is in it for me, or even what choice is the best of several poor choices. My decision must be based on one thing:

which choice will further the kingdom of God.

 

 

Be Intolerant

In-tolerant? That sounds opposite of a Biblical response to the angry-about-almost-everything theme of these strange days we live in and I write about activating our faith. So how can intolerance and activating our faith possibly go together?

 

Scripture does not negate our normal feelings and emotional reactions to injustice of all kinds be it social, personal, spiritual, material or otherwise.

 

**Last things first explanation/disclaimer – The writer is addressing a church problem with false believers (those who themselves claim the title of Christian brother or sister) but whose lives (words/actions/habits/patterns) reveal otherwise.

 

Truly, there are more other verses that encourage us to love as we were loved and to forgive as we were forgiven when you are dealing with a repentant person.

 

Many people misunderstand intolerance to mean that we are not to associate with those who are not Christians. That is not at all what is being talked about.Those referred to in the passages about being intolerant are claiming the name of Christ while practicing the evils listed – it is part of their life and the fruit of their thoughts and actions.

And so regarding those we are told

Be intolerant of immorality

1Cor. 5:9 I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people;

1Cor. 5:10 I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters; for then you would have to go out of the world.

1Cor. 5:11 But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he should be an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler — not even to eat with such a one.

Be intolerant of idolatry

1Cor. 10:14 Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. It is interesting that the topic of idolatry stems from words like abomination (to stink, to be disgusted, to abhor), harlotry (including adultery and incest) and pornography (to indulge unlawful lust, fornication or promiscuity.

Be intolerant of uncontrolled anger

2Th. 3:6 Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep aloof from every brother who leads an unruly life and not according to the tradition which you received from us.

Eph. 4:26 Be angry and do not sin.

Everyone who is human will feel anger, but as believers we need to be aware of the first stages of anger and sensitive to curbing and controlling it lest it get out of hand.

What is this volatile anger that erupts into sin? This anger is more than melancholy or disappointment. The meaning of this anger is enraged or infuriate – to act with deliberate and continual injustice and to provoke the same.

To clarify again, all of these passages are talking about discipline in the church. Believers everywhere will be tempted and fall into these areas of sin, but those who are sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit will grieve their behavior and will apologize, repent, and seek restoration in relationships and community. They are to be forgiven, embraced and restored into fellowship. The Intolerance and discipline spoken of here is for those who refuse to stop and continue in their ungodly life patterns.

And finally, while being INTOLERANT of these ATTITUDES and PATTERNS OF ACTION AND THOUGHT (first in ourselves) we also acknowledge, particularly if they begin to be a habit:

If we, as believers have fallen into any of these areas of which the church is to be intolerant, we have opportunity to choose Christ and responsibility to become equipped to wrestle against those powers – fully alive in Christ.

 

I really like the way the Message translates this portion

 

Eph. 4:14 no prolonged infancies among us, please. We’ll not tolerate babes in the woods, small children who are an easy mark for impostors.

 

Instead we are to activate our faith:

Eph. 4:15 God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and tell it in love—like Christ in everything. We take our lead from Christ, who is the source of everything we do.

Eph. 4:16 He keeps us in step with each other. His very breath and blood flow through us, nourishing us so that we will grow up healthy in God, robust in love.

Eph. 4:17  And so I insist—and God backs me up on this—that there be no going along with the crowd, the empty-headed, mindless crowd.

Eph. 4:18 They’ve refused for so long to deal with God that they’ve lost touch not only with God but with reality itself.

Eph. 4:19 They can’t think straight anymore. Feeling no pain, they let themselves go in sexual obsession, addicted to every sort of perversion.

Eph. 4:20 But that’s no life for you. You learned Christ!

Eph. 4:21 My assumption is that you have paid careful attention to him, been well instructed in the truth precisely as we have it in Jesus.

Eph. 4:22 Since, then, we do not have the excuse of ignorance, everything—and I do mean everything—connected with that old way of life has to go. It’s rotten through and through. Get rid of it! And then take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life,

Eph. 4:23 a life renewed from the inside

Eph. 4:24 and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you.

Eph. 4:25 What this adds up to, then, is this: no more lies, no more pretense. Tell your neighbor the truth. In Christ’s body we’re all connected to each other, after all. When you lie to others, you end up lying to yourself.

 

So, IF you have heard Christ and IF you have been taught in Him, then we are empowered to consistently, “with humility and discipline, pour yourselves out for each other in acts of love.”

 

If you are wondering how to be tolerant of each other while being intolerant of false believers…read on…

 

Eph. 4:26 Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry—but don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don’t stay angry. Don’t go to bed angry.

Eph. 4:27 Don’t give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life.

Eph. 4:28 Did you used to make ends meet by stealing? Well, no more! Get an honest job so that you can help others who can’t work.

Eph. 4:29 Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.

Eph. 4:30 Don’t grieve God. Don’t break his heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for himself. Don’t take such a gift for granted.

Eph. 4:31 Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk.

Eph. 4:32 Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.

 

—the lines of intolerance were drawn by God out of love and protection.

 

Yet His people are to be known by our love to one another.

Martha – An Open Door to Stress (A secret look at Martha’s selfie)

“Photography is an art of observation. It has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.” – Elliott Erwitt

Who’s got time for a selfie? Not poor Martha. She often got the bad rap because she was ‘worried about many things.’ I imagine her selfie looking a lot harried.

 

Jesus was coming to their house for lunch! What an emotional disaster I would be if I lived then and knew that the Messiah was coming to my house! If that wasn’t enough, I’d know that if He was coming, other important people would show up too! I would know that people would be talking for time to come about what they had seen, eaten, and heard. (notice I think a lot like the Martha most of us imagine – first concerned about what people will see or think). Sad, but true. I’d do a lot of what Martha did, working for days, getting things just right. I’d solicit help where I could, though, because I know that some skills of mine work better under pressure, but cooking and socializing are more spontaneous (like the time I forgot the sugar in the pumpkin pie). I would be so stressed. I would not want you to see my selfie at that moment. Have you ever felt that way?

 

Martha was obviously stressed. Perhaps Mary and Lazarus were not as excited (or as worried) about all the details as Martha was. We can see from the passage she was not happy with others’ response to her requests for help. Yet, Luke 10 gives us a clear picture showing it was Martha who invited Jesus, and consequently his followers, to their home. Now she is overwhelmed by the results of her own choices.

Martha, Marth

Luke 10:38-41 Now as they were traveling along, He entered a certain village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home.

But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him, and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.”

 

But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things;

Stress is defined as the feeling a person has when they perceive that demands exceed their personal resources. First of all the story does not reveal anyone demanding dinner or anything else from Martha – the demands she felt or created were her own.

 

Secondly, ‘their personal resources’ in Martha’s case, would include her brother Lazarus, and her sister Mary who lived with them, and possibly other neighbors or friends who would have felt honored to prepare for the Messiah’s visit.

 

Martha’s actions reveal that she must also have been listening to Jesus when he preached in their area because when Christ challenged her at Lazarus’ burial place she confirmed her faith in Christ as the Messiah, and she knew about the resurrection day. I wonder -did Martha invite Jesus in gratefulness for his ministry to her sister’s spiritual change? Had Mary been apologetic, helpful and extra-kind since her experience at the home of the Pharisee?

 

Scriptures do not tell us all the answers, but Martha’s spiritual selfies do not always look so self-centered as I’d first thought. Here was a woman who had listened and could clearly communicate Jesus’ teachings. Here was a woman of a generous and hospitable nature who invited Jesus and his followers to their home. Had she invited Jesus before or was this the first time? Martha’s whining request seems as familiar as a toddler, ‘tattling’ on her sister. Martha had to know she was inviting a stressful crowd for dinner, because as Jesus said, she was worried about so many things. So much to do, so little time. And somebody’s got to do it – right?

 

Like most of us, Martha (and Mary) were multi-faceted. Their selfies would each have revealed only one part of who they really were, unlike Spiritual Selfies.

It does make me wonder, when I put myself in the story, how does my spiritual selfie look – more like Martha or Mary?

But more importantly what does my picture look like to Jesus?

 

The Spiritual Selfie sees what you need rather than what makes you feel overwhelmed.

 

Change what you can (Getting enough rest, eating properly, not going into stores if I don’t have funds all lowered stress for me). What choices could Martha have made to reduce her stress?

 

Zoom In – Do I have too many things on my plate?

 

Determine the one thing that will drive all areas of your life – spiritual, physical, mental, etc. Then make a list of what you are trying to accomplish – just today will likely be enough. Then cross off or drop the commitments that don’t line up with that main goal. Like What difference will it make in a decade if you don’t finish your list or give the perfect party? Would you rather wonder your whole life what the Savior might have said to you if you were at His feet like Mary, instead of in the kitchen frosting the cake?

 

Do what Martha should have done. Move the boundaries. Free yourself from the unrealistic expectations you’ve set for yourself, those you’ve let others set for you, and feel free to release others from your unrealistic expectations of them.

 

Capture It – On your journal page write the focus (Peace) at the top of the page and ONE THING you want accomplished by the end of the day. Remember defeating ourselves is not productive. Usually my one thing of every day is supper. Other things often fall into place – or not.

 

 

If you make peace the focus of today – in your thoughts – you should feel calmer. If you allowed peace to be the focus of your reactions, it should show.   Whisper to yourself peace before answering any questions or challenges. Ask how can I do this to bring or show peace? Feeling peaceful and feeling overwhelmed cannot coexist. One will overrule the other. Choose peace.

 

LIKES: We often set the mood for our home. If you are peace-full, others will comment and react differently than when you feel tense and overwhelmed. Tomorrow morning come back and write your proof – the results of your day of peace. You just might want to try it again.

And your image of Martha – and yourself might just have changed 🙂

 

 

 

Gifts I Didn’t Know I Wanted

I heard a little clip of an interview on the radio. A little girl was asked, “Did you get everything you wanted for Christmas.” Her reply was amazing.

“No, I didn’t,” she said, pausing – “but it’s not MY birthday, is it?”

I didn’t get all I wanted for Christmas either. As a matter of fact, I was mystified that my husband (who’d been excited earlier in the month after announcing he knew the perfect gift for me) got me nothing from my list of wants. As a matter of fact when I opened his gift it was a what were you thinking moment.

 

It was a DVR player.

 

We’d just had a discussion about possibly changing our internet provider and they wanted us to sign up for TV too and we said no, we barely watch TV and don’t bring a DVR because we wouldn’t use it.

 

When I asked Ken why he had been so excited about this gift, his response shamed me. I’d whined for some time that our old DVD player would not play a lot of our movies. Apparently it was too old for some of the newer formats. Well this player would allow that! Once I realized what its potential was, I was thrilled (and apologetic for my less than enthusiastic response when opening it)

 

He gave me what I didn’t realize I wanted and needed.

 

The incident reminded me of other gifts I sometimes haven’t appreciated at first, or even understood their potential. I’m speaking of the spiritual gifts given to us by Jesus.

 

Remember Ephesians 4:8 “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.” As Jesus rose to Heaven, he gave gifts to us. He loves to give gifts. He loves it too when we gratefully receive His gifts and use them.

 

Some of His gifts were on my wish list. Others were surprises. All had several things in common:

 

They were very expensive gifts

They are practical gifts

They are each custom designed for me.

They all came gift-wrapped in love.

 

And like my husband’s gift – some are gifts I didn’t realize I wanted and needed.

 

What gifts have you received from Jesus? Are you using them?

Kick Out Doubt!

We are in the world and we suffer. After I came to know Christ as my personal Savior, I changed, but the world did not. Bad things still happened.

 

When we suffer two doubts are most often at the basis for weakening faith and depression

 

  • Wondering – is God sovereign? It is hard for us to comprehend if God is over all and controls all, why bad things still happen. We cannot see the ultimate outcome of our trials and difficulties. We often cannot immediately recognize any possible good that would come from them.
  • Wondering – does God care? If God is sovereign over all, we wonder does he really know what is going on down here – how I am hurting, wondering, feeling pain and loss?

 

 

In Verses 9-11 Isaiah portrays how the sovereign God cares for his children –The Message (MSG)

9-11 Climb a high mountain, Zion.
You’re the preacher of good news.
Raise your voice. Make it good and loud, Jerusalem.
You’re the preacher of good news.
Speak loud and clear. Don’t be timid!

 

Recognize God’s sovereignty and be unashamed to declare it.

Tell the cities of Judah,
“Look! Your God!”

 

Get your eyes off yourself or your circumstances he tells us:

Look at him! God, the Master, comes in power,
ready to go into action.
He is going to pay back his enemies
and reward those who have loved him.
Like a shepherd, he will care for his flock,
gathering the lambs in his arms,
Hugging them as he carries them,
leading the nursing ewes to good pasture.

 

In Verses 12-17 Isaiah pictures for us the sovereign creator God

The Creator of All You Can See or Imagine

12-17 Who has scooped up the ocean
in his two hands,
or measured the sky between his thumb and little finger,
Who has put all the earth’s dirt in one of his baskets,
weighed each mountain and hill?
Who could ever have told God what to do
or taught him his business?
What expert would he have gone to for advice,
what school would he attend to learn justice?
What god do you suppose might have taught him what he knows,
showed him how things work?
Why, the nations are but a drop in a bucket,
a mere smudge on a window.
Watch him sweep up the islands
like so much dust off the floor!
There aren’t enough trees in Lebanon
nor enough animals in those vast forests
to furnish adequate fuel and offerings for his worship.
All the nations add up to simply nothing before him—
less than nothing is more like it. A minus.

18-20 So who even comes close to being like God?
To whom or what can you compare him?
Some no-god idol? Ridiculous!
It’s made in a workshop, cast in bronze,
Given a thin veneer of gold,
and draped with silver filigree.
Or, perhaps someone will select a fine wood—
olive wood, say—that won’t rot,
Then hire a woodcarver to make a no-god,
giving special care to its base so it won’t tip over!

 

Pretty clear, isn’t it! Then in Verses 18-27 (what I call one of my DUH verses) He challenges our weak faith.

 

Flash of Lightning!2016 21-24 Have you not been paying attention?
Have you not been listening?
Haven’t you heard these stories all your life?
Don’t you understand the foundation of all things?
God sits high above the round ball of earth.
The people look like mere ants.
He stretches out the skies like a canvas—
yes, like a tent canvas to live under.
He ignores what all the princes say and do.
The rulers of the earth count for nothing.
Princes and rulers don’t amount to much.
Like seeds barely rooted, just sprouted,
They shrivel when God blows on them.
Like flecks of chaff, they’re gone with the wind.

25-26 “So—who is like me?
Who holds a candle to me?” says The Holy.
Look at the night skies:
Who do you think made all this?
Who marches this army of stars out each night,
counts them off, calls each by name
—so magnificent! so powerful!—
and never overlooks a single one?

 

27-31 Why would you ever complain, O Jacob,
    or, whine, Israel, saying,
“God has lost track of me.
    He doesn’t care what happens to me”?

 

And in closing he shares the promise of belief (even – or especially – in suffering:

 

Don’t you know anything? Haven’t you been listening?
God doesn’t come and go. God lasts.
    He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine.
He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch his breath.
And he knows everything, inside and out.
He energizes those who get tired,
    gives fresh strength to dropouts.
For even young people tire and drop out,
young folk in their prime stumble and fall.

 

But (don’t you love that word) – But he tells us, you have a choice. Surrender the circumstance. Surrender the doubt. Wait and LET God be God in your situation.

But those who wait upon God get fresh strength.
They spread their wings and soar like eagles,
They run and don’t get tired,
they walk and don’t lag behind.

 

And you will receive

 

Fresh strength

You will have fly spiritually like an eagle soaring over all the earth (above your circumstances)

You won’t just crawl – or walk – YOU WILL RUN ….AND WON’T GET TIRED.

You will not lag. (you will lead!)

 

Oh, Come, Let Us Adore Him….

Be a Catcher!

I will make you fishers of men, fishers of men, fishers of men

I will make you fishers of men, if you follow me…

 

Our toddlers learned that in Sunday School and years later, I finally understand what Jesus was telling them.   I will make you catchers of men….

 

What’s different between being a fisher and a catcher?

The fishers have to find the fish – they sometimes wait for hours to locate them, then they proceed to fish for them using varied tools, lures, or nets. Then their work begins, reeling or hauling them in.

 

The catcher?

They receive what is brought to them. The one who presents the ‘catch’ to them has chosen them, led them, gathered them, guided them, drawn them.

 

That work has been done for us.

 

Do you recall the story? Luke 5:2-11 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

and He saw two boats lying at the edge of the lake; but the fishermen had gotten out of them and were washing their nets. And He got into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little way from the land. And He sat down and began teaching the [a]people from the boat. When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” Simon answered and said, “Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, but [b]I will do as You say and let down the nets.” When they had done this, they enclosed a great quantity of fish, and their nets began to break; so they signaled to their partners in the other boat for them to come and help them. And they came and filled both of the boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw that, he fell down at Jesus’ [c]feet, saying, “Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man!” For amazement had seized him and all his companions because of the catch of fish which they had taken; 10 and so also were [d]James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not fear, from now on you will be catching men.11 When they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed Him.

 

John 6:44 (NASB) “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.

John 14:6 (NASB) Jesus said to him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.

 

Jesus does the drawing but allows each person to respond by believing two things::

 

Hebrews 11:6 (NASB) And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.

 

In Luke’s story Jesus drew the fish into the net that all day had found nothing. Bible scholars teach that this was a huge net – probably a half-mile square.

If we understand this illustration was showing that God would draw or call the men to whom the disciples would minister. So if God could do what the professional fishermen/soon to be disciples could not, who will do the transformation in their lives?

 

Have you become a catcher of men, and find God bringing people to you for your prayer, support and training?

 

This cute song by the Gaithers, uniquely explains that nothing eternal is accomplished by a temporal source. Only through God’s work can we be His catchers!

 

What or who has God drawn and brought to you this week? What have you done with that gift and calling?

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7hWkNyZ_UMY

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Mb6RH2ZIvo

 

Refusing Negative Permanent Thoughts

Shades of my past, I thought I was beyond this.

I felt depressed on hearing some news today. Admittedly it was cumulative on a bunch of smaller disappointments or failures and I started hearing this junk in my head – you know – permanent negative thoughts.  You always….you will never…

Thank God I have someone trusted to whom I can turn. His response – I don’t know how, but I know God will turn this to something good. Truth calms.

We’d been running on steam all day. Hadn’t had time to eat all day and it was about 4 pm. Not good. I recalled a missionary saying to watch for physical lows as that is when the enemy can ramp up the emotions and make a mountain out of a molehill.  I’d set the trap myself.

Got an urgent email to answer and took care of that when a Womans World sweepstakes email popped up – and I thought I’ll go get my mind out of this space and complete a few win money entries. For each entry you are required to watch a 15-30 second commercial and complete a word from the commercial. After 2-3 of these (always a silly word or phrase from the commercial) this phrase pops up:

abide with me

What?  Where did that come from.

I had to smile.

 

We just dropped someone off at the airport, and that is where we met. It took me back to our pre-engagement agreement – we could only use the words

Always

and

Never

in a positive way – as an exaggeration of affection – you always make me happy – you never forget my birthday – you always looks good …

And remind one another that any permanent use of those words are from the pit, and will reject them as such.

Have you ever had a day like mine – gotten news that made you feel depressed?

Join me in making a choice to not open any doors for the enemy to inject any permanent negative thoughts.

To get enough sleep

To remember to eat and hydrate every day

To avoid things that affect my equilibrium – like sugar on an empty stomach

 

 

To abide in Christ – not stew in my emotional reactions.

To practice the presence of Christ (Lord thank you for using this to turn my heart and mind toward you. Thank you for using the enemy to cause me instead to rejoice, knowing you will work all things to your glory – in your time).

Join me?

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