I hardly ever get into a conversation about politics. It is just not something I want to debate. Frankly, there are bad things about both sides that make us think about morals and principles, or the lack of them. On the contrary, if we look hard enough, and admit it, there are good things about each as well. I do not want to get in any heated discussions about or with either party, it is just not worth it. I am sick of all the advertisements going back and forth accusing each other of the same things. It makes me not want to vote for either party, (but I will vote!). Ultimately, I will try to choose who I think is the best person for the job (this involves a LOT of prayer), and even though I feel there are slim pickings, my decision and final vote is between me and God, and it’s the same for others as well.
We need to be alert. Satan is driving a wedge between us using politics as his weapon. I have seen some of the closest friends be divided and lose a lifetime of friendship. People are taking sides and allowing the enemy to have a foot hold, to pit brother against brother, Christian against Christian. We need to let Jesus and love be the overarching factor that unites us, not let politics divide us. That is exactly what the enemy wants. We are to love all no matter who they vote for, even if we do not agree. We should show others who Jesus is instead of showing ourselves by plastering our worst on social media.
Change begins with us. Who can you love today despite who they are going to vote for? Be kind. Be gentle. Be humble. Be still. Be who God created you to be.
The other day I needed to talk to the owner of my neighbor’s house, since it is a rental. I asked her for her landlord’s name and number, but she did not know it right of and scrambled to find it. As she was looking in her phone, she said, “I don’t call him unless I need something.”
This struck me a few days later, isn’t that what we tend to do with God? We do not always think to go to Him unless something is wrong. God delights in us coming to Him with everything. That can be in the form of praise, thankfulness, or just talking to Him about your day when things are going right. Spending time in reflection, of everything God has given us, should lead to gratefulness. He gives us the very breath we breathe.
Let us not forget that He is a good Father who wants to hear from us, in good and bad times. Even if He already knows, He wants us to talk to Him and share not only our upsets, and pleading prayers, but also our joy and uplifting gratefulness for everything He provides to us every, single, day. Let us not take that for granted. The textbook, “Illustrated Bible Survey,” describes our prayer as a dialogue with God. It refers to the book of Habakkuk where we see him questioning God. If we come to Him in the right attitude, we can ask the “why” questions, this kind of faith lends to boldness before God, but also humbly submits to His Sovereignty even when we do not fully understand. Our dialogue also involves waiting on God and listening for His answers.
It made me realize, this is how we are when we try to live life without Jesus- (our most vital tool for survival). We need Jesus to help us fight off the enemy, eat (bread of life), drink, (living water), and survive.
We basically cut off our nose to spite our face when we try to go this life alone. In order to bear spiritual fruit we need to be in communion with Jesus every day. What small steps can we take today to invite Jesus into every part of our lives? I am glad you asked…
Here are a few small things you can implement into your daily routine:
Spend 10 minutes in quiet space (thinking and listening)
Ask God what He wants for you
Start a Bible plan on your phone (I use the YouVersion)
Invest in a good study Bible (I use the NLT study Bible)
Pick up the Bible and open at random asking the Holy Spirit to guide you where to read
Journal anything that sticks out to you
Spend time in nature with God
It does not need to be all at once – you can start small and add things as you go so you do not get overwhelmed.
Listen to his instructions and store them in your heart. (Job 22:22 NLT)
If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. (James 1:5 NLT)
If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5 NLT)
This is another story through the eyes of the character…thank you for allowing me some liberties in the details of his feelings. The story is based on the biblical account of Moses’ brother Aaron.
Moses older brother, Aaron, was an imperfect leader. Even though he was chosen by God for an honorable position, in his disobedience, he died in the wilderness without seeing the Promised Land. As Moses mouthpiece, he spoke to Israelite leaders on behalf of the Israelites to convince Pharaoh to allow them to leave Egypt. He was also chosen to become Israel’s first high priest.
Taking second fiddle to Moses most of his life, Aaron dreamed of the day he himself could lead the people. At this point he only repeated messages God gave Moses. Aaron sat on a stump, carefully carving each letter of his name on a staff that would represent the tribe of Levi. His thoughts racing, he tried to imagine the staff budding and what that meant for him and his family. If he were chosen, everything would change. This would be a great responsibility. He could feel the palms of his hands begin to sweat, and the tension in his brow became apparent as did his intense grip on the staff. His jaw tightened and then in one extreme exhale of air, he began to relax a bit. He would just have to await until the appointed time.
He delivered the staff to Moses, who took it with the eleven others, representing each ancestral tribe, to the Ark containing the tablets of the Covenant, and placed them in the Lord’s presence. Then they waited. The next day, when they arrived at the Tabernacle, Moses found that Aaron’s staff not only had buds, but it had sprouted, budded, blossomed, and produced ripe almonds, (New Living Translation, 1996,2004,2007, Numbers 17:8). You could not ask for a clearer sign. God had shown the people who will oversee the Ark and the staff was placed there permanently as a reminder.
In amazement, Aaron picked up one of the almonds and touched it cautiously with the tip of his tongue for a brief second and then jerked back. It was real. He chuckled under his breath and popped it in his mouth, relieved and nervous at the same time. Although a bit of arrogance crept in at first, he knew this job could not be taken lightly. If Aaron allowed anyone near the sacred objects of the alter, both he and them would die. God also provided for Aaron and his family, by allowing them to receive a portion of the most holy offerings. He had special garments made just for Aaron and his sons that would distinguish him as a priest set apart for the Lord’s service.
Great skill and care went into making the chest piece that Aaron would wear when seeking a decision from God. He would always carry over his heart the objects used to determine the Lord’s will for his people whenever he goes in before the Lord. The breastplate held sacred jewels representing the sons of Israel with each name engraved on them like a seal, serving as a reminder that the priest represents the people of Israel.
The four rows of gemstones carefully placed were:
red carnelian, pale green peridot, emerald, blue lapis lazuli
turquoise, white moonstone, orange jacinth, agate
purple amethyst, blue-green beryl, onyx, green jasper
The weight of the breastplate rested on Aaron’s shoulders as a reminder of the great responsibility given to him by God. But God also provided everything Aaron needed to accomplish his feat and fulfil his purpose. God has always provided for us, even when we cannot see it. He generously bestows knowledge, wisdom, spiritual gifts, talents and fully equips us with everything we need to accomplish our God-given mission.
Aaron’s story leads him in the wilderness, his impatience with the Lord led him to make a golden calf for the people to worship; and his life was ended before seeing the Promised Land because he challenged God. This should stand as a reminder that even though we are chosen by God for a purpose and He equips us for the journey; we are not to worship His creation, but the Creator Himself. Our disobedience makes us miss out on blessings and joy in this life. Our gifts and talents are not to be made idols in our lives, but we are to always look to the One who generously gave us those gifts and give Him all the honor and glory He so richly deserves.
God’s timing is perfect. When we rush it or try to do it by our own efforts and take control, we are edging God out by letting our ego and impatience take first place. But when we surrender all to God, the Creator of all things, who knows all, sees all and has a plan for our lives, we are blessed beyond measure and everything will fall into place, as God designed. We can trust God with the outcome. He has proven to be faithful and saved us from our own destructive behaviors more times than we can count. His faithfulness endures forever. We when are struggling with something, we can ask God what He wants for us; but we must be willing to listen and make the necessary changes. That is not always easy, but it is worth it. Surrendering to God changes lives.
You are a chosen son/daughter of the King. That is not a heavy burden but an honorable mission that brings delight when we allow God to lead us one day at a time and trust Him with the outcome. It will put you out of your comfort zone into unknown territory, but it is a risk worth taking, every time.
The debate of the legitimacy of miracles is nothing new. The word itself is overly used, by many, in the wrong context and it is hard for us to grasp the occurrence of real miracles. In reality, no one completely understands God’s natural process either, we are not meant to fully understand. In explaining the verses in Amos 5:8-9, the NLT study Bible denotes that, “the Lord understands and controls natural processes that seem mysterious to humans.” If we do not understand natural processes how can we understand supernatural events?
If we understood everything perfectly, we would not need to rely on God. His intentions are for us to come to Him for understanding and wisdom. We will not know or understand perfectly until we are with Him in eternity. In all manner of speaking our very existence is a miracle. We weaken its stature when we throw it around in everyday conversation. For instance, we could remark what a miracle it was that we passed an exam. The God we want to portray, in all His glory and power, gives us reason to attest a true miracle comes from divine intervention, although unbelievers will argue otherwise. Some claim they are natural occurrences or hallucinations.
I agree that not all claims of miracles are miracles, but in contrast, the sentiment, “it’s a miracle” has echoed through time on the lips of those whose loved ones survived chronic illness or tragedy. To the ones who experience it firsthand it is nothing short of a miracle and serves as a reminder of God’s love and divine intervention in our lives.
Some find it hard to accept Jesus’ resurrection as reality or even take the Bible seriously and question the legitimacy of it. Let us explore another event in history for a moment. We learned about the Civil War throughout our childhood. We were not there, but we believe it because of the testimony and eyewitness facts from people who were. We may even have family members from previous generations that fought in it or lost loved ones to it, therefore we take the stories past down to us as factual. Not only that, be we know great care was taken in the preserving of these historical events and were written form eyewitness testimonies shortly after their occurrences.
Then why not compare the accounts in the Bible as a historical document that commemorates the life of Jesus, just as we do other historical accounts? In the same regard, there were eyewitnesses to the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. It is not likely the disciples made up the story because they were not expecting Him to die and be risen in the first place. We see in Luke 9:44-45 Jesus telling them once again about His forthcoming death, but they did not know what He meant. They could not understand it and were too afraid to ask. The gospels were consistently representing the disciples as misunderstanding Jesus.
There were also accounts after Jesus’ resurrection, such as improbable disciples who underwent a profound transformation after encountering the risen Jesus. Take Apostle Paul for instance, in Acts 9:1-28, we see the story unfold of a ruthless man with a personal agenda to kill Christians. Literally dragging them out of their homes until Jesus appeared to him. We can see the transformation he went through as he immediately began to preach the gospel. What causes a person to undergo such a transformation or lay his life on the line without a divine intervention?
There were hundreds of other accounts from people who were previously skeptics, who proclaimed to see the resurrected Jesus. The historical reliability of the biblical accounts of Jesus’ resurrection can also be supported by the fact there was an empty tomb. By opening a window to the possibilities that Jesus performed miracles and indeed was resurrected leads to the kind of faith God calls us to have and points to the power of the Kingdom. (Matthew 12:28)
The NLT study Bible also encourages us in Acts 8:5-8, that miracles remind us of the truth that, “nothing is impossible with God.” (Luke 1:37). Our faith leads us to believe these events happened which in turn aids us in believing in miracles. Hebrews 11, the hall of faith, if you will, serves as an overview and reminder of the many faithful servants of Christ, whose faith and obedience led to many miracles.
Like pieces of a puzzle we can’t see the whole picture of our lives while God is still working on it. He’s always working on us. He sees the bigger picture and knows what is best for us. We are to trust and believe. Some days that is hard.
It’s like me not wearing my glasses. The words are fuzzy and out of focus. I strain to see but only see in part. But when I put on my glasses, I can see all the words clearly and it makes more sense. When God brings us through whatever we are going through, and we can begin to see more clearly the bigger picture then it makes more sense to us.
We just need to do our part each day, one day at a time, knowing some day it will all come together. We are not alone during the waiting season. God hears our cries and is answering our prayers even when we think He isn’t. It may not look like what we think it should but that is where faith comes in. He is a trusted Father who loves us and wants the very best for us. Our pint size dreams and plans for ourselves are no comparison to what He is working on for us.
Our story is not over, it’s just beginning, and it’s a beautiful journey. We can’t be in every room of the house at the same time. Rest assured God is there waiting for us when His timing is right.
Do you feel like your life is in a holding pattern right now? Rest and wait for the next door to open. When all the pieces are in place God will reveal His plan and your path will become clear. We just need to show up and be willing to listen and obey through trust and obedience.
He has proven from our past experiences that He is the ultimate friend and trustworthy to follow. He has our best interest at heart now and forever.
Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophesy reveals only part of the whole picture! But when the time of perfection comes, these partial things will become useless. I Corinthians 13:9
(v12) Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All I know is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.
Can you imagine what it would have been like to encounter Jesus in the flesh and receive immediate forgiveness? Bear with me as I take you on a journey (with a few liberties) to share a new take on an old story through the eyes of Mary Magdalene and what might have been her perspective.
Mary had never experienced compassion before. Her life had been marked by ridicule and shame. She had no idea she could ever feel the kind of love Jesus offered. Unconditional, relentless, and not dependent on anything she could do for him.
Her life up to this point had been that of a shameful disgrace to her family. She lived out of fear and regrets but did not know how to make changes in her life. Giving herself away to disrespectful men was the only life she knew. Hateful men who made her feel like a piece of meat or a display they could discard after each use; until they yearned for her body and what it offered them.
Yes, the little money she made paid the rent and put food on the table, but at what cost? Her inner thoughts swirled around in her head, making her dizzy, as she stared at the night sky, making a wish on a fallen star, she threw out a question to the listening universe, “how could anybody love me after what I’ve done?” She could not escape these mindful traps or see herself in any way besides filthy in the sight of God.
She had heard of a man, named Jesus, who traveled and preformed miracles. She could not imagine in her wildest dreams that he would have anything to do with her. Albeit an impossible feat, she occasionally allowed herself to imagine a life without shame. These thoughts did not linger as she knew her fate. Then, on one the darkest nights, in the middle of one of the most despicable acts of perverted pleasure, she heard a whisper. “Mary, come with me. You don’t have to live like this.” A cold shiver creased her brow and moved downward through her body, causing a knee jerk reaction, the man on top of her did not see coming. In one lighting sweep, with power like she had never felt, she shoved him off onto the floor and grabbed a blanket to cover herself. She felt as though God himself was standing before her. Through squinting eyes, she tried to focus on the images in front of her. But the room too dark.
She told the man to leave as she handed back the money, knowing he would cause a scene if she kept it. The money was the last thing on her mind. She got dressed and wandered outside to get some air. The cool breeze felt light and airy on her dark skin. Whose voice had she heard? Could it be the man she had been hearing stories about? Her thoughts raced as she tried to sleep. But there was something about that voice; the words he spoke to be more specific, that she could not get out of her head. It was warm, kind, soft-spoken and gentle. She had not heard anyone speak to her in that tone since she was a little girl.
The next morning, as the sun rose above the mountain peaks, she heard birds chirping and a dog bark, before her thoughts caught up to her awakening body; she lay in a kind of dreamy state of mind, enjoying a few extra minutes in bed, before her mind leaped to attention as she was reminded of the voice. Her body followed suite as she felt the cold, damp floor beneath her feet. She got dressed in the most conservative outfit she could find, gathered her belongings, and went on the search for the stranger who spoke to her. She stood at the edge of town, with hot tears stream down her face, she was overwhelmed by a sense of unworthiness and shame. Her throat hurt and her knees felt like jelly as she lost her footing in the dusty street, crashing face first to the ground.
She could feel the creases in the palms of her hands as she covered her face, to hide the tears. A gentle hand reached out to help her to her feet and offered a kind word, in a familiar voice, “Mary, you are forgiven. I love you. Come follow me.” She immediately followed him and was welcomed in the home of one of Jesus’ disciples, where they broke bread together in a most remarkable way.
His words stuck in her mind as she tried to comprehend what all that encompassed. The welcome friendship he offered without conviction. The forgiveness she thought was not possible. She went to her bag and retrieved the most valuable treasure she owned. An alabaster jar, containing nard, an expensive and rare reddish colored perfume she could have sold for enough to pay for a year’s wages. She knelt beside Jesus, overwhelmed by the very thought of being in his presence, she could barely see through the tears as they flooded her eyes, and began to fall on his feet. She gently let her hair down and used it to dry the tears from his feet, then took the jar and broke it open, pouring the contents into the palms of her hands, she anointed his feet; revealing the fragrant, sweet smelling spice, that filled the room with a majestic wonder for the one person who could offer more than Mary could imagine possible. Scolded by the other men in the room for wasting such a valuable oil, she knew the persecution she would face, but chose the act of kindness in a moment of unmeasurable gratitude. (Matthew 26:7-9)
Little did she know, in a few short days, her act of gratefulness would be a symbolic reminder of what Jesus would do for us. His body would also be broken, like the pure white alabaster jar, and his blood, as the rare and precious nard spilled out as a saving grace to cover all our sins. To be forgiven through all our unworthiness, a broken sinner in need of a Savior- a precious gift not to be taken lightly.
Unless otherwise noted, all biblical passages referenced are in the New Living Translation, (1996,2004,2007) Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Carol Stream, IL:Tyndale House Foundation.
In II Timothy Paul wrote a letter to Timothy about God’s word. Paul, who was chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus was sent out to tell others about the life he has promised through faith in Christ Jesus. (II Timothy 1:1)
He writes in II Timothy 3:16-17; “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.”
With that in mind, we cannot only embrace the Scriptures we like and discard the ones that go against the grain of human nature because they do not agree with our worldly views. “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And My ways are far beyond anything you can imagine.” (Isaiah 55:9)
God sent disciples of Christ to share the Good News and save as many people as possible. The Lord is not really being slow about His promise, as some people think. No, He is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed but wants everyone to repent. II Peter 3:9
We can trust the reliability of these Scriptural Prophets because they were sent by God. (2 Peter 1:19-21) It is by Peter’s own eyewitness testimony. “Above all, you must realize that no prophesy in Scripture ever came from the prophet’s own understanding, or from human initiative. No, those prophets were moved by the Holy Spirit, and they spoke from God.” It does, however, warn us against false teachers who will drag us into sin because of their lies.
So, when we read hard truths and instructions on how we should live in the Bible we tend to think it does not apply to us now. We should ask for wisdom and discernment as we read the word. Ask God how to apply and live it in our daily lives.
As for the old testament, Malachi 1:2 notes in my study bible explains: The touchstone for God’s activity in all of history is the event of Christ- the birth, life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. These events in history form the Good News. I believe we do have to understand the time and place of the circumstances, but we can still take away some valuable lessons and learn more about God’s love for His people.
I am not going to lie, last week was one of the most challenging, energy depleting weeks that I’ve had in a long time. There are circumstances in my life right now that are the driving force behind it, so I know why, but at the end of the day I still felt defeated.
In my prayers I was reciting the scripture in my own words that tells us to put on the armor of God and hold up the shield of faith to deflect the enemy, but in my state of fatigue, I let my guard down and allowed the enemy to sneak in through a side door, the door of exhaustion.
He began to put doubt in my mind, make me question my calling and the path God has placed me on; the very things that provide the fulfillment in my life were put under attack and magnified to the extent of feeling overwhelmed and underequipped to handle what God has called me to do.
Of course, I can’t do it on my own. He is the one who equips me to do the things he asks of me. It is in that dependence on him that I am who I am. My very being and breath comes from him. But when we are mentally drained Satan has an in and if we aren’t careful, he will use it against us in an attempt to shut us down.
The armor of God are not just words to recite. They are something we need to take to heart and know the meaning and how to apply them in our lives. As Paul warns in Ephesians 6:10-18, “be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.”
As I was running the other morning, I received this message: “You wouldn’t wear galoshes to run, so why not put on all the right gear to get through the day?”
Here is list of each piece of armor and what it symbolizes:
Belt of truth
Breastplate of righteousness which is faith and love
Shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil
Helmet of salvation
Sword of the Spirit which is the word of God
Shoes are the peace that comes from the Good News, so we are fully prepared
Now that I know all of this was an attack, I am better equipped to handle it, not because I am stronger but because in my weakness, He is strong. It is not me that will handle it, but God. He fights my battles for me. It is by faith, that I follow even if I don’t know where I am going and the way before me seems steep. I also started a Bible plan based on the book, Don’t Give Up, Kyle Idlema references Abraham’s story. He put it like this, you are not too old or too broken for God to use you and Abraham could see that God was the one leading him and that was enough. Today I rejoice in where God is leading me and want to share that joy with you. If you are having a rough week, don’t give up. Press into what God is asking of you, not what the enemy is putting on you.
One particularly chilly morning after a rainy day, I stepped out on the pavement before taking off to run to check for ice. It seemed wet but not icy, so I ventured out. I saw a bridge covered in water ahead but forged on to cross it in an area of low water thinking I could squeeze by without getting my feet wet. As soon as I hit the bridge my foot slipped, and I immediately come to a screeching halt. I tiptoed over to the sidewalk and got past the danger zone before I continued.
This is so like the enemy. Just when we think it is all smooth roads ahead and we are happy, the enemy will try to trip us up. He lays in wait to attack us at any moment with traps of all kinds that appear to be good but aren’t at all. He makes bad things look good and tries to convince us to do that thing you’ve been thinking about. Truth is he is the one who put the temptation on your mind and makes it look good to us.
The best way to defeat the enemy and stay continually cautious of his tactics are to study the Word of God. The more we know God’s truth the easier it will be to recognize the enemies’ lies. Matthew 16:10 says, ‘Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees’. Have you ever wondered what that means? I was directed to this in my Bible reading while working on this message; so, I looked up the definitions. A Pharisee is a self-righteous person, a hypocrite. A Sadducee is someone who denied the afterlife and lived only by the law. In other words, these are false teachings from people who try to trip you up. Yeast is a symbol of sin and evil- deceptive teaching falls into that category.
My dad used to tell a story from the pulpit about a young banker who wanted to make sure he didn’t accept any counterfeit bills, so he began to study them. An older banker asked what he was doing and when he told him he was studying the fake money so he would recognize it, the older wiser banker told him that was unnecessary, if he studied the real thing he would easily recognize the fake. (the day after I wrote this message, I read almost the exact story in my “100 Ways to Brave” devo by Annie F. Downs-A powerful little book by the way!) What a great message. Study God’s truth for yourself and you will recognize the counterfeit (or false teaching) others try to pass on to you.
Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil., He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. I Peter 5:8
Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. Ephesians 6:14
Then Jesus was approached by some Sadducees- religious leaders who say there is no resurrection from the dead. Luke 20:27 (verse that led me to Matt. 16:10)