Offering classes on how to memorize Scripture using mnemonics.
Scripture is our most powerful weapon. It increases our faith and spiritual growth, gives us victory over sin, is our weapon against Satan's attacks, and it nourishes and heals our body.
There is no man-made weapon that is able to fight the demonic, evil, enemy we are up against. There is only one weapon for this task....the Word Of God.
Hebrews 4:12 says that the Word Of God, the Bible, is sharper than a two-edged sword. Ephesians 6 says it is our sword of the Spirit, that the enemy we are fighting is not of flesh and blood.
The Book of John says Jesus is the Word made flesh. We must know this Word. We must know Jesus. He is our weapon. Scripture memorization should be one of the greatest desires of those who follow Jesus.
Be Armed and Dangerous!
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We've all used these three words at some time or another, and in various circumstances. The definitions I could find are 'Even if there are obstacles or difficulties; Something that is always true; In any condition; In any event; Without regard to what happens; Makes no difference; Will not have an effect on; Same thing regardless of options; Under all and any circumstances; Not changed or affected by any situation.'
Now, looking at these definitions, let's take a look at our spiritual life. The most important thing we are to do in our spiritual life is give glory and praise to God....No Matter What! The Word says to give God glory when we eat and drink. To let our light shine before others in good deeds, so they will give glory to God. We are to give thanks to Him, with our whole heart, and glorify His name. The heavens declare the glory of God, the skies proclaim the work of His hands, and so should we. We are to ascribe glory to the Lord and worship the splendor of His holiness. Can we do this....No Matter What? NO! We can't!
It is virtually impossible for us to do this in our own weak and frail humanity. The only way we can give praise and glory to God...no matter what...is through the presence of Jesus in our life. He is the source of all the strength we will ever need...no matter what. Even if we experience obstacles or difficulties, Jesus is true in any condition, in any event. With Him in our life, it makes no difference what our circumstances are. He gives us the power to praise and glorify our Father in heaven....No Matter What!
So, are you able to give God the praise...no matter what?
Nice. The definition is 'polite, kind, pleasing, agreeable, appropriate, fitting; socially acceptable.' Are you 'nice?' Are you polite and kind to people? Are you pleasing and agreeable? Do you fit in? Are you socially acceptable? This could probably get really ugly, couldn't it? In today's culture, we as Christians, definitely no longer 'fit in.' So, can we still be 'nice?' Was Jesus 'nice?' Since we are to be like Him, let's take a look.
Jesus was kind to people. He pleased them in that He brought the good news of the kingdom of God, and He healed all their sicknesses. Who would not be pleased with this? But was He always nice? NO! In Matthew 15, a Canaanite woman came to Him asking for healing for her daughter. He ignored her. When she kept crying out to Him, He told her she was not one of those to whom He was sent. As she continued to beg, He called her a dog. Was this being nice? No! In John 4, Jesus talks with a Samaritan woman, calling her out for having several different husbands and currently living with a man who was not her husband. How dare He embarrass her like this! Was this nice? No! Why was Jesus not so nice to these two, and others in the Word? Because His main purpose was to save their souls. He loved them so much, He could not by any means be nice to them, sitting back and watching their soul go to hell. Did they recognize and accept His words as truth? Did they realize His love for them? Or did they take offense, becoming bitter and hateful?
Let's look at one more instance: In Matthew 23, He called those in charge hypocrites because they shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people's faces. He called them blind fools and said they were full of greed and self-indulgence. He called them whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but were full of dead bones and everything unclean on the inside. He called them snakes and a brood of vipers. Was He being nice? No! Why? Same reason as above. He loved them too much to sit back and allow them to destroy themselves. Did they recognize and accept the truth of His words? Did they realize His love for them? Or did they take offense, becoming bitter and hateful?
The Word says that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. In the instances above, Jesus was showing who He was by stating the truth. He is the Truth, therefore He must speak the truth. They crucified Him for it. Today, our culture is trying to crucify the truth once again. "You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." - John 8:32. How can people know the truth that will set them free if it is not spoken? We, the church, the body of Christ on earth, must stand for, and speak, Truth. Do we care about others this much? Are we concerned about their souls?
Has Jesus ever called you out on something? Did you recognize and accept the truth of His words, realizing His love for you? Or did you take offense? What about others, not only your friends, but also your enemies? Are you loving them the same way Jesus loves you? Are you concerned about their souls?
Are you being nice?
Do you like M&M's? The little chocolates with the candy coating that 'melt in your mouth and not in your hand.' I think pretty much everyone like these. Oh, yes! YUM!
Psalm 119 contains 176 verses. Verses 97 through 104 are under the letter 'M' of the Hebrew alphabet. Let's take a look....
"97=My how I love your Law, I meditate upon it all day long. 98=My wisdom is greater than that of my enemies, because of your commandments. 99=More understanding do I have than my teachers, because of your testimonies. 100=More than the ancients do I understand, because I keep your precepts. 101=My feet are refrained from every evil way, that I might obey your word. 102=My feet do not depart from your judgments, because you have taught me. 103=My mouth finds your words sweeter than honey (and M&M's). 104=Many are your precepts, because of them I hate every false way."
We are to love God's Law and think about it all day (Joshua 1:8). If we do this, we will be smarter than our enemies. If we do this, we will have a greater understanding than our teachers and those who came before us. If we do this, our feet will remain on the narrow, but clear path (Matthew 7:13-14) and will not swerve to the right or to the left (Proverbs 4:27). If we do this, His Words will become, to our mouth, sweeter than honey (Psalm 19:10) and M&M's. If we do this, we will hate and avoid sin.
I have spoken before about memorizing Scripture and how it will work down into your inner depths. How the words work in and through you, rooting out all the things that are hidden there. This is one of the mysteries of God. How His Words can completely turn your whole world around. Your whole world that contains, at times, unbearable circumstances.
Yep, pretty much everyone loves M&M's. So, grab yourself a handful, toss them in your mouth and taste and see that the Lord is good.
These are the ones that 'melt in your soul, not in your hand.'
The definition of 'loose ends' is, 'something left hanging loose; a fragment of unfinished business.' I read somewhere that this saying came from large sailing vessels when their rigging was loose. The lines had to be tight so as not to unravel during storms.
In the Book of Acts, Chapter 1, we read where Jesus was taken up to heaven as His disciples stood there and watched. As they continued looking up into the sky, I am sure they felt like they had just acquired a very serious 'loose end.' But an angel instantly reassured them that they had nothing to worry about, as Jesus would return the same way they had just seen Him go. The angel was able to tie up at least one of the disciples 'loose ends.'
Each and every one of us probably have some loose ends. Things that are left undone, for many different reasons. Sometimes we become complacent or just downright lazy. But there is one very important loose end that we cannot afford to leave hanging...our walk with Jesus. This walk includes reading and studying the Bible, and talking, and spending time, with other Christians. Learning how to live and making decisions the way Jesus would have us to do. Typing up this particular loose end takes time, dedication, and perseverance. While we are very good at finding some other frayed end to spend our time on, none will be more important or benefit every aspect of our life like our Jesus walk.
So, how's your rigging? Is it loose? Are the ends frayed? Will they hold tight when the storms of life come? Are you able to say, "Bring it on! Let's test the waters!"?
If not, you better get busy tying.
It's coming up on a year since I lost my Mom. At her funeral, I placed a fork in her hand. Many people asked me why. Here is the story of 'Keep Your Fork."
A lady who was dying, told her family that as she lay in her casket, to place a fork in her hand. They were confused and asked, "Why?" She told them that whenever she went to someone's house for a meal, as they removed the main course plates, they would tell her to 'keep your fork.' If they told her this, she knew there was something better coming. Her focus changed from what was very good to what she knew would be so much better.
The lady's fork, and her wanting to keep it, is symbolic of what we need to focus on and hold tightly to.... our faith in the Lord.
The Word of God tells us that our faith will heal us, and through it we have peace. That it fills us with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. That we must guard our faith, standing firm in it, while being courageous and strong. That we must live by faith and not by sight, as our faith is our confidence in what we hope for and assurance in what we can't see. That we are saved by the gift of God's grace given to us through our faith. That the shield of faith can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. That when faith is rejected, lives are shipwrecked, as there is no place to which we can escape if we choose to ignore so great a salvation. That without faith it is impossible for us to please God. that Jesus is the founder and perfecter of our faith, teaching us the joy that He received by holding onto what He knew was right. That our faith, when tested, produces perseverance, helping us to believe and not to doubt, as in doubting, we are tossed to and fro by whatever the present culture is looking to. So, as we work hard to keep our faith, what is the better that is coming?
Our righteousness comes by faith and in righteousness there is life and immortality. Whoever believes in Jesus shall not perish but shall have eternal life. They have crossed from death to life. Death now has no power over us. Our citizenship is not of this world, but of heaven. All of our tears, mourning, and pain will be wiped away.
So, while on this earth (the main course), I will hold tightly to my faith (fork) because I know there's something much better coming!!
"Faith sees the invisible, believes the unbelievable, and receives the impossible." - Corrie Ten Boom
The definition of 'influence' is 'the power or capacity of causing an effect in indirect or intangible ways; sway; an emanation of spiritual or moral force; to have an effect on the condition or development of.' Have you ever considered yourself as having influence over others? Do others have influence over you?
My Mom and I worked at the same facility. Years back, someone had prophesied the return of Christ on a certain day. Some of the girls that worked there went to Mom's department to make sure she showed up for work that day as they knew if she was there, then the prophecy was a hoax. Now, that's influence! "Let your light shine before others so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." - Matthew 5:16.
My Mom had 13 siblings. She was the only one of them that attended church on a regular basis, having a close relationship with Jesus Christ. I think, for this reason, she may not have been included in some of my family's get togethers. However, when she did walk into the room, they felt like they had to be on their best behavior. Now that's influence! "Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised." - Proverbs 31:30.
How about Jesus? Does He have any influence over you? Have you experienced His presence, power, guidance, and correction in your life? How about His self-sacrificing love? Does this influence your life in any way? Have you witnessed how His influence brings compassion and hope into people's lives, giving them reason to live? How faith in Him makes all things possible? What would any of us be without this hope and faith? The influence of Jesus reaches into every aspect of our life, not only church, but family, government, education, business, science, and arts. Try to imagine a part of your life without this influence. Now that's just downright ugly!
Let Jesus influence your life in such a way that you, in turn, may influence others the same way. Regardless of what is happening to us or around us, the flow of this influence and love must never stop.
So, how's your influence?
Does your presence have the power to cause a spiritual or moral effect in other lives?
The definition of 'in name only' is 'by description but not in reality; used to describe a person, thing, or action that does not have the qualities that its name suggests.' For example, in the corporate world you could have someone over you, but there is someone above them who makes all the decisions. The person over you is your 'boss' in name only. You could purchase a car for someone else, but it remains in your name. It is the other person's car in name only.
But what about our spiritual life? Are we claiming that we are a Christian? Could this be 'in name only?' Let's take a look....
The world's view of popularity is being liked by everyone and having many followers on Facebook. Maybe being invited to all the parties and social events going on in our circle. But the spiritual view of popularity is in Galatians 1:10 where it tells us that we are to please God, not people. When you follow Jesus, you will not always be able to please those around you. Under these circumstances, would we be able to retain the qualities of being a Christian?
How about the world's view of might and power? This would have to do with riches and possessions, or maybe a position held in society. It seems that in our culture, the more money and possessions you have, the more might and power. But the spiritual view of might and power is found in 2 Corinthians 12:10 where it tells us that we delight in weakness, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, and in difficulties, for when we are weak, then we are strong, reason being our might and power comes from the Lord. Would the qualities of being a Christian stay with us under these circumstances?
How about the world's view of being prosperous and successful? Again, this would be found in riches and possessions, being the result of having a high corporate position with a huge salary. But the spiritual view of prosperity and success is found in our faith and trust in what the Word tells us. In our knowing that no weapon forged against us will prevail. In knowing that if our minds are steadfast in Jesus, we will be kept in perfect peace. That His divine power has given us everything we need to live a godly life. That by His wounds we are healed. That He will provide all that we need in this life. That He has taken our perishable bodies and made them imperishable.
This is our popularity. This is our might and power. This is our prosperity and success. This is our description in reality.
So, how about it? Are you a Christian 'in name only?'
The definition of 'impossible' is 'incapable of being or of occurring; felt to be incapable of being done, attained, or fulfilled; insuperably difficult; hopeless; unsolvable; unrealizable.' So, I guess we can all agree that if something is impossible, then it is definitely not possible. Oh, but wait! Luke 1:37 (KJV) says, "With God nothing shall be impossible." So, let's take a look at.....
Jesus. His life was chock full of impossibles. Water into wine? Not possible! But He did it. Jesus can take the water of our spiritual life and turn it into sweet, sweet, wine. Heal people? That's only, maybe, possible through doctors. Jesus can take whatever ails us and give us a healing that goes way beyond all our physical ailments. What about when the disciples spent the whole night fishing and caught nothing on their own. But when Jesus showed up and told them to "Put out into deep water, and let down their nets for a catch," their catch was the greatest haul they had ever made. Jesus provides everything. All we have to do is enter the deep waters of His love and let down our nets. How about when He cast out the unclean spirit? He can renew our mind and clean out our heart. What about the storms of life? They sure seem impossible at times. But He can still those storms and leave us with a peace that transcends all understanding. What about what we see happening around us? Is it hard for us to believe that God is working in the midst of all the current chaos? Jesus can open our eyes and our understanding to the ways in which He works, just as He did the blind man. What about how we pray and how we love others? Is it impossible for us to pray for and love those who come against us? Those who don't understand how we can be a follower of Christ? Well, Jesus did it. Even while they were beating Him and nailing Him to the cross.
How was He able to do all these impossible things? He walked with the great I AM. The great I AM, who removed all of His i-m's out of the word 'impossible' and made everything 'possible.' It seems the word 'impossible' is not part of God's vocabulary!
So, how's all your 'im-possibles?' Has your water been turned to wine? Are you healed? Are you provided for? How's your vision? What about your prayers? Who do you love?
Has the great I AM removed any of your i-m's?
The definition of this tiny little word is 'condition; stipulation.' In spite of its size, the emphasis put on it throughout the Bible is quite clear. But do we heed what is said? Maybe we think that what is written in the Word does not pertain to us today. Well, let's have a look at a portion of the Book of Deuteronomy, Chapter 28, which I have taken out of the Message Bible. As you read it, please keep in mind that God is talking to the Jewish people as a nation. But also, as you read it, think about our nation today. I think you will find that, symbolically, it is describing us in great detail.
"If you listen obediently to the voice of God and obey all his commandments. If you live the way He has shown you, not swerving to the right or to the left, this is what He will do: God's blessing will be upon your city, country, children, land, animals, food, workplaces, and plans. Your enemies will run from you in many directions. God will lavish on you all good things. The sky will open with rain right on time. All other peoples of the earth will hold you in respectful awe. You will lend to them, but will not have to borrow. You will be the head, not the tail."
Then it goes on to say "If you don't follow the voice of God, He will do this: His curse will be upon your city, country, food, children, animals, and plans. You will experience confusion with everything you try to do. He will infect you with disease, consumption, fever, rash, seizures, dehydration, blight and jaundice. You will grope as a blind person in darkness. You will worship other gods of wood and stone. Your sons and daughters will be shipped to foreigners, while you wear yourselves out looking for them. Your enemies will hunt you down and you will run from them in many directions with no way of escape. All the kingdoms of the earth will see you as a horror."
It goes on, but I will stop here.
So, how about it? Do you think that Americans and American Christians have forsaken this tiny little word and the amount of importance God has placed on it? May those that are praying for a heeding of this little word be heard by our great God! May He answer in His love, mercy, and grace....not in His wrath.
So, have you been skipping over the IF's?
What is 'Honor?' The definition is, 'good name or public esteem; reputation; a showing of usually merited respect; recognition; one whose worth brings respect or fame; to give special recognition to; a person of superior standing, as a title or high office.'
Have you ever been honored for something? Given special recognition? I spent 36 years in the corporate world where 'honor' is highly regarded. In that world, people will fight tooth and nail for a title and the respect from others they think these titles should bring. It is of utmost importance to them to be seen and respected. Needless to say, I don't miss any of the time I spent there.
But this is exactly the way of the world. People will give everything they have, all while belittling others, to be recognized and receive honor. The downside is when they do this, they are only fighting to be recognized by, and given honor from, other people. This will usually prove to be futile.
When you become a Christian, you learn that the honor you receive doesn't come from other people, but from God. God will, in turn, use others to honor you, but your striving to be recognized and honored should be directed only towards Him. When doing good things for others, we don't blow our own horn, commending ourselves in our abilities, we let God do it. Whatever work we do is done as if working for Him and not for other people. He is the One that causes our light to shine in other's darkness. He guides, satisfies, and strengthens us. We strive for the 'well done' that we know He will speak over us. We learn to extend forgiveness in the light of His forgiveness to us. We learn to encourage and build others up. It becomes important to us that our words and thoughts are pleasing to Him.
Yes, we are God's handiwork, and it is through Jesus that we flourish, becoming like a well-watered garden, a spring whose waters never fail. We can do all things through Him from whom we get our strength.
Yes, we are made in the image of God. There is no greater honor on earth than this.
So, how are you being honored?
'Help' is 'to give assistance or support to; to make more pleasant or bearable; improve; relieve; rescue; save; benefit; to further the advancement of; promote; to change for the better; to keep from occurring; prevent; to restrain oneself from doing something.'
I think it's safe to say that each and every one of us have come to Jesus, at some time or another, and have asked for 'help.' But do we really, I mean really, want His help? Do we want His assistance and support? Do we want Him to keep something from occurring, so that we have to restrain ourselves from doing it again? Do we want Him to change us for the better? Do we want Him to improve, relieve, rescue, and save us? Let's take a look....
In John 5:1-9, the Bible talks about a pool called Bethesda where disabled people, blind, lame, and paralyzed, would come to be healed. It was believed that an angel would come down into the pool and 'stir up the water.' The first person into the pool after the water was stirred would be healed. The day Jesus was there, He saw a man that had been coming to the pool for 38 years. When Jesus asked the man if he wanted to be healed, he didn't say, "Oh yes.!" as you would expect him to say. He only said that others prevented him from going into the pool by going ahead of him. Jesus did heal the man and he walked away from the pool carrying his mat. But did this man really, I mean really, want to be healed? He had been coming there for 38 years. That's a very long time. Could it be that he had become accustomed to his life? Did he really want to be healed? Being healed meant he would have to completely change his life. To put it bluntly, he would no longer be able to just lie around the pool all day but would have to find a job and go to work. Jesus did see him later at the temple and warned him to stop sinning or something worse may happen to him (Verse 14). So, yes, this man definitely would now have to make changes to his life.
How about you? Have you come to Jesus for healing? Have you come to Jesus for help with a particular part of your life? Now for the Big question....Do you really want His help? Do you really want His healing? If He did for you what you want, would changes have to made to your life so this didn't happen again? Would the way you do things and the decisions that you make need to be different?
Living for Jesus is not easy. We can ask Him for help, but what about our part? Does He expect anything from us? Are there conditions, disciplines, and changes for us to make? What about our heart's desires? Do these need to change, becoming more for Him than for other things? Are we really asking for His help?
How do you think the man in the above story, after being healed by Jesus, handled the rest of his life? Do you think he went out and made the necessary changes that needed to be made....or not?
So, are you asking Jesus for healing or help?
There are many Scriptures that can speak into whatever our current circumstances may be. There are also Scriptures that speak into the subject of our health. If we would just learn these Scriptures, letting them work their way down into the depths of our soul, we would be so much healthier.
Proverbs 4:20-22 - "My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings, let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh." Oh man, this is a good one. We are to read the Word of God and make sure our ears hear what it is saying. We are to keep these words before our eyes and in our heart. When we do this, these words give us life and healing to ALL our flesh. This is powerful! This is true healing!
Here's another one: Proverbs 3:7-8 - "Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones." We can go about our lives not giving the Lord any of our time or any of our thanks. In doing this, we make ourselves out to be God, taking all the credit for what we have and what we can do. This is being wise in our own eyes, and it never turns out good. But, if we turn to the Lord in recognition of what we can do, giving Him thanks for what we have, our bodies will be healthier, and our bones will receive nourishment. You want this kind of nourishment? I know I do!
Side Note: In the King James Version of the Bible, Proverbs 3:8 reads, "It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones." A woman's navel is the lifeline to her children, so this health also includes our children. The marrow in our bones is what produces blood and blood is what gives us life. OH, MY GOODNESS!! You want healing?? This is it!!
Another great health Scripture is Philippians 4:6-7. You can look this one up for yourself, but let me tell you, the peace of God which transcends all understanding is the only thing that will give your body health....your whole, entire body.
Right now, you may be finding it very difficult to grasp any type of peace. If this is so, then saturate yourself with the Word of God. Feel the peace and healing that you will only find in His presence. I guarantee, there is no better place to be.
So, how's your health?
The definition of harm is 'physical or mental damage; injury; hurt; affliction.' I think I can safely say that none of us like to feel harm, injury, hurt, or affliction. However, these things are all a very big part of each of our lives. Since we know this to be a fact, then what about what Jesus says in Luke 10:19? "I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you." Yes, these critters can cause pain and fear, but in this verse they are an analogy for all the things that come into our lives to cause pain. So, what about the 'nothing will harm you' part? How can this be true?
This is one of the amazing things about being a follower of Jesus and learning from Him and His life, to model our lives after His. He faced snakes and scorpions when people tried to kill Him as an infant, when they tried to stone Him, when they chased Him out of their towns, when they called Him a liar, when they severely tortured and beat Him, and when they....well you know the rest. Was He able to overcome the power of His enemies? Yes! He kept His eyes, His focus, on His Father in Heaven, giving Him complete control of His life and all that was happening to Him. He knew He would be victorious in the end. "OK, but the Scripture says nothing will harm you. Jesus was harmed! He endured physical and mental damage, injury, hurt, and affliction!"
This is another thing about being a follower of Jesus. As we allow Him into our life and begin learning exactly who He is, then all things, including harm, injury, hurt, affliction, even sickness, aging, and death, become less important to us. Yes, they're all things we have to contend with, but they no longer have the power to bring us down, as our focus goes onto Him and the victory we will experience later. We are living in what is called the in-between. We find ourselves in the middle of 2 kingdoms, the kingdom of darkness and the kingdom of light. While we are here, Jesus takes the pain and fear and replaces it with His peace. A peace that transcends all understanding.
Now, let's read that Scripture again, "I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you."
Why would anyone want to live their life any other way?
So, are you experiencing any type of harm?
I don't think we really realize what power we have been given from God through our gratitude.
It's very easy for us to feel gratitude when all is well. But if we can feel and show gratitude while we are in the midst of a great trial, this brings God into that trial in a totally different way. We usually bring God into our trials by asking Him to alleviate them. But if we bring Him into them by thanking Him for them, with a heart of gratitude for that trial, whatever it may be, He then gives us a power beyond all our understanding to be able to deal with that trial and to overcome it. His power comes to us in our recognition of our own powerlessness. It is impossible for us, in our humanity, to give thanks to God in the midst of our trials. It is only through His strength that we are able to do this. Our humility will bare and put on display to Him the depth of our trust in Him and our need for Him, causing a major change to take place in that trial. This heart of gratitude will also punch Satan right in his gut, as all he wants is for us to be in pain and to spiritually fail.
The Word says we are to give thanks in ALL circumstances. That the peace of God should rule in our hearts. We are to sing to God with gratitude in our hearts. We are to devote ourselves to prayer, watchfulness, and thankfulness. We are to give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. That we have received a kingdom that cannot be shaken, so let us be thankful. To always give thanks to the Father for everything. We are to enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. That when we sacrifice thank offerings, we honor Him.
Luke 22:19 says, "He took bread, gave thanks, and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, 'This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.'" Jesus' body is the bread for which He gave thanks to God. Then He broke it. He broke it while giving thanks. When we are broken, we need to continue to give thanks. We need to have a heart of gratitude....all the time....in everything.
Are you broken? How's your gratitude?
One of the definitions of 'goodness' is, 'the nutritious, flavorful, or beneficial part of something.' So, let's take a look at the goodness of God as nutritious, flavorful, and beneficial.....because it is all of these things, and more.
God's goodness oozes out of Him to each of us every day of our lives. Of course there are many examples of this in the Bible, one of them being found in the Book of Ruth. If you are not sure who Ruth is, she left her people and the only culture she ever knew to go with her Mother-in-law, Naomi, when Naomi lost her husband and decided to return to her own people and culture. Upon their arrival, Ruth began following the workers in the fields, gathering what they missed, so her and Naomi would have something to eat. The owner of the field told the workers to intentionally leave more of the grain on the ground so she would have plenty to gather. Here are a few versions of the verses found in Chapter 2:
The ESV says, "Let her glean even among the sheaves, and do not reproach her. And also pull out some from the bundles for her and leave it for her to glean, and do not rebuke her." The NIV says, "Let her gather among the sheaves and don't reprimand her. Even pull out some stalks for her from the bundles and leave them for her to pick up, and don't rebuke her." The Message Bible says, "Let her glean where there's still plenty of grain on the ground - make it easy for her. Better yet, pull some of the good stuff out and leave it for her to glean. Give her special treatment." But my favorite version is KJV which says, "Let her glean even among the sheaves, and reproach her not; and let fall also some of the handfuls of purpose for her, and leave them, that she may glean them, and rebuke her not."
Oh, yes! Handfuls of purpose! Handfuls of the goodness of God! This is exactly what He gives to each one of us. Jesus had handfuls of purpose and so do we. What a blessing and honor to be able to open our hands to God and watch as He fills them up. Fills them up with the nutritious, flavorful, and beneficial part of Himself; love, mercy, and forgiveness. He caused Ruth's hands to overflow with His goodness. Do you not think for one minute that He will do the same for you?
Gather up handfuls of purpose by opening your hands to the goodness of God, then hang on for the ride of your life!
A divine crescendo? You are probably thinking, "OK, I know that a crescendo, usually a musical term, is a gradual increase in volume. But what is a divine crescendo?" Well, let's take a look....
When we go to God in prayer, it is usually to get something fixed that is broken or to take something from us that has caused some kind of pain. Also, when we give a testimony about what great things God has done in our life, it is usually about those broken things that He has fixed or about the pain He has eased. We have no problem at all allowing Him to take what hurts us and causes us pain. But, do we ever go to God in prayer asking Him to take away the good things in our life? Well, of course not! Do we ever give a testimony about how great it was when He took something good out of our life? No! So, what about this?
Life works both ways. The good things in our life will all come to an end. I have watched this happen in my Mother's life and I have experienced it in my own. Age sets in and our abilities start to fail. Good things must be given up! Ouch! But, given up....to God. This is a divine crescendo. The parts of our life where we decrease, but God, His presence and blessings, increase. Most of the time these things are not given up, but taken from us, through health deterioration. However it happens, it is something that we all have to face. Will we view these losses as part of a divine crescendo, an increase of God in our lives, or as a decrescendo, a decrease in the our happiness with nothing to fill the void but bitterness and pain?
We cannot forget that Jesus is with us to the end of the age. No matter what in our life comes to an end, He does not. These are the times in which, if we allow Him to, He will increase! This is His desire for our lives. As our abilities fade, our friends pass away, and our worldly honors cease, we find ourselves alone, like John who the Bible tells us was sent alone to the island of Patmos for testifying about Jesus. But what happened to him out there all by himself? He had the most glorious revelation of the Lord Jesus that anyone could ever have! Oh Yes! This is what I want. Glorious revelations! Bring them on! I have found that as my life decreases, He increases. He wants to, and will, replace all that we think we have lost in aging or in health. As this happens, the things of this earth grow smaller and smaller while He grows larger and larger. Oh! Hallelujah!!
The Word tells us to be happy in the good times, but to remember that God makes the bad as well as the good. To rejoice always, in all circumstances. To look to the Lord and His strength. To take delight in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. That our comfort abounds through Christ. That He is always with us, even to the very end of our age.
So, let your life be a divine crescendo, regardless of other changes that occur. Learn to praise God for the good things...and the bad. Allow Him to increase as you decrease. Embrace with abandon the changes that happen in your life....abandon them to Jesus.
So, has He taken anything good from you lately?
In the Message Bible, Genesis 1:27 states, "God created human beings; he created them godlike, reflecting God's nature." Genesis 5:1 states, "When God created the human race, he made it godlike, with a nature akin to God." The definition of Godlike is: 'resembling or having the qualities of God; divine; holy; supernatural.' Oh Yes! Supernatural! Let's break that one down! The definition of supernatural is; 'of or relating to an order of existence beyond the visible observable universe; departing from what is usual or normal especially so as to appear to transcend the laws of nature; attributed to an invisible agent; uncanny; unearthly.'
Jesus' life was Godlike and definitely supernatural. He was related to an order of existence beyond what everyone else could see. He departed from what everyone considered to be normal, transcending the laws of their nature. He attributed His life to an invisible agent. He was definitely uncanny and unearthly. We are all made with the ability to be just like Him. What? Me supernatural? Yes!
Just like a child learns by spending time with their parents, we learn by spending time with our Heavenly Father. The Word does say that we are to become like children (Matthew 18:3). We can become so close to Him that to others it looks as though we are, indeed, supernatural. "Though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes." - Proverbs 24:16. With the same power as Jesus, we are able to face circumstances that others would consider impossible. This 'supernatural' ability will be like a punch in the gut to those around us. They will look at us like we're crazy, while wondering how they could possibly have this power for themselves. We begin to view the adversities of our life as great opportunities in forwarding the kingdom of God while we reside on this earth. Oh, yes, this is supernatural power!
So, just how 'Godlike' have you become?
The definition of excommunication is 'exclusion from fellowship in a group or community.' I love reading different versions of the Bible and I know that every story in the Bible is there for us to learn from. The different versions will sometimes give me a new perspective from which to view a certain story. I have been reading the New Testament from J.B. Philips Modern English version. When I came to John, Chapter 9, the word 'excommunicated' was used. This caught my attention, as I have not seen this word used in any other version. Let's have a look:
John, Chapter 9, tells the story of Jesus healing a man who was born blind. Since He performed this healing on the Sabbath, the Pharisees tried to say He was not from God, that He was just a sinner who was not keeping the Sabbath. Also, they didn't believe the man was born blind, so they called in his parents, asking them how it was that he was now able to see? The man had already told them that Jesus was the one who healed him, calling Him a prophet. The parents refused to answer and told them to go and ask their son. As the parents, wouldn't you think they would be ecstatic, jumping up and down with joy because their son had received his sight?
The J.B. Philips version reads 'His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews who had already agreed that anybody who admitted that the man was Christ should be excommunicated. It was this which made his parents say, "Ask him, he is a grown-up man."' The word 'excommunicated' stood out to me, saying the parents were refusing to acknowledge Jesus as Christ because they were afraid of being excluded from the fellowship of the Pharisees. But, in not admitting that Jesus was Christ, they were actually excommunicating themselves from the fellowship of God!
How about you? Are there 'Pharisees' in your life? Are you afraid of being 'excommunicated' from their fellowship? Being a follower of Jesus, if you were told you could not acknowledge Him as being the Son of God and King of your life, what would you do?
Would you 'excommunicate' yourself?
A 'fool' is 'a person lacking in judgment or prudence; a harmlessly deranged person or one lacking in common powers of understanding.' My husband listens to 50's and 60's music in the car. The other day the song by Leslie Gore, called 'She's A Fool' came on. Here are some of the lyrics:
"She don't know that she's a lucky girl
Got the best thing in the whole wide world
Got a love that's hard to find
Got the boy I wish was mine, but
She's a fool
She's a fool
She has his love but treats him cruel
He don't know it but she cheats on him
With a boy like that it's such a sin
I would never be untrue
I would never make him blue."
The girl in this song was a fool in the way that she treated someone who loved her very much.
The Bible says quite a lot about someone who is a fool. Someone who lacks judgment. Someone who is harmlessly deranged or lacking in common understanding. These people take no pleasure in understanding. They despise wisdom and instruction. Their mouth pours out folly and brings ruin, while inviting a beating. Their lips are snares to their soul and bring them strife. They rage and laugh, having no quiet. That anger lodges in their bosom. In their presence you will not meet words of knowledge. They are a grief and ruin to their father and despise their mother, being a sorrow to her. When they close their lips, they are deemed intelligent. They mock at making amends for sin. They revile the name of the Lord. A fool says in his heart, "There is no God."
Do we know how blessed (lucky) we are? To have the best thing in the whole wide world? We have a love that's hard to find. We never have to say, "I wish He was mine." Are we fools? Do we have His love, but treat Him cruel? Do we cheat on Him, knowing that this is such a sin? Have we promised never to be untrue? Never to make Him blue?
Are we fools?
What a great oldies song!