SOME THOUGHTS ON THE GOOD SAMARITAN PARABLE

If you haven't read it in a while, this is a powerful lesson that could literally change the world. Ah but perhaps you are busy today. No matter ... spend a few moments reading Luke 10: 25-27. I promise it will be worth your while.

So these are some thoughts I had ...

Being a neighbor is a choice ... having nothing to do with the block we live on.

Religion can get in the way of goodness and mercy. Religion can make the hands and feet of Christ stumble to the other side of the road from folks who need us most. So ... go for relationship over religion.

The best thing to give a wounded person ...

                   the bandages of kindness

                    the oil of compassion

                     the refuge of love.

Your turn ... what are your thoughts on this parable?

 

KNOWLEDGE … UNDERSTANDING … GOD’S TAKE = WISDOM

Let’s take a look at reading God’s Word and attaining wisdom. We read the words and gain knowledge, we pray and God helps us understand, we look at situations in the Word and realize what God’s take on things is … and that is wisdom – applying God’s words and ways to our lives.

 

Lots of believers prefer to spend their time in the Word cruising through the New Testament. It seems easier to understand. It appears to be a plainer type of message. And let’s face it … the God in the New Testament sounds a little nicer. I get it. When new Christians ask where to start, I also send them to the gospels first. It is critical to understand what our Savior Jesus Christ has done for us … the gospels deliver that message that Paul declared as most important. Jesus Christ – born as the Son of God – suffered and crucified for our sins – risen as the firstborn of the dead – breaking the enemy’s power forever.

 

But that doesn’t complete our understanding. Let’s talk about that word a moment. If we have understanding, it means we comprehend the situation … we have insight or good judgment … an individual’s perception or judgment of a situation.

 

Today’s message is to declare that we cannot have comprehension of what Christ has done unless we take the totality of God’s Word into account. While the gospel starts us and the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom … let’s keep going. The proverbs make a great case for seeking wisdom and it is a journey, not a one-stop dispensation.

 

Knowledge … understanding … God’s take on things = wisdom.

 

Some things we are missing if we skip reading the Old Testament:

 

1.     God’s Holiness – Nothing unclean or sinful could touch the mountain of God. We can’t understand the sacrifice of Christ and how badly we need a Savior without knowing the Holiness of God.

2.     God’s wrath – Yes that’s right and another reason we skip to the New Testament. But the fact remains a Holy God has righteous wrath at a world that blasphemes Him, ignores Him, reduces Him to human standards, and blatantly indulges in sin without repentance. If you slap someone in the face they will become angry. And although they perhaps turn the other cheek, continued disrespect will earn you a lesser relationship and eventually perhaps no relationship at all.

3.     God’s love – Right … it all starts in the beginning and continues with real life relationships between God and those who worshipped and obeyed Him. It’s a big love, with remarkable things that happen and prayer life that is a two-way conversation. Imagine talking to God Almighty.

4.     God’s character – There is rich depth to the passages that reveal the heart and ways of God. And when life hands us trials and sorrows that we can’t understand … we can lean back on God’s character and trust.

5.     Themes – Reading through we can’t help but notice themes and they root in the Old Testament and take wings in the New. For example … OT shows all the times that God’s people get impatient waiting on His promises and what happens when they do. Jesus admonition in the Golden Rule is rooted in the OT laws. Faithfulness, mercy – God’s record is perfect … mankind’s is no where close.

6.     Passages relate to the “end times” in several places … not just Revelation

7.     Profound images of sin are found showing what sin looks like to God.

8.     Beautiful passages of what Jesus will be bringing when He comes and descriptions of the hope that we have because of Him.

 

I could go on forever.

 

God made sure the written word contained everything we need to become people glorifying Him and living with purpose and passion.  So take a moment and read … and consider diving deep…

 

            Old and New Testament … One glorious God.

 

Happy Reading!

 

 

UNTIL... and IF ONLY...

Have you ever found yourself caught up in the drift of thought:

         “I can’t wait until…”

                  I’m done with school

                  I get a good job

                  I get married

                  I have kids

                  The kids are grown

                  A promotion comes

                  I have some money in the bank

                  My mortgage is paid

                  Retirement

 

         Lots of other phrases fit the end of that sentence. So we give up the moments of life looking to a future, which we neither know nor control.

 

         Sometimes we look to the past:

                  “If only…”

                           I had gone to school

                           I had taken the other job

                           I hadn’t married that person

                           I had done better with my kids

                           I had used my money more wisely

                           I had sought a writing career earlier in life (okay so that one is mine)

 

         We have those moments of  “if only” …  a backward glance to a time that is gone. A time we can’t change, with events we can’t live over… even if we know how to do it better.

 

       It isn’t wrong to anticipate a possible future joy, if it is done in the spirit of “God willing”. And it isn’t wrong to review the past as the road God walked with us to bring us to now.

 

         But it is now that we live. It is this moment we decide what place God has in our lives. It is here in this place of today that we decide what we believe about Christ. Today we choose right this minute if we will build our house on rock or sand.

 

I have decided today that I can wait for all things “until…” - God says: “It’s time.”

 

I glanced back this morning… the “if only” was calling. But then I remembered God was weaving it together for good … the broken places, the sorrows. I could see the Lord pouring the oil of forgiveness and mercy on my past.

 

His hand then gently turned me to this moment of joy and contentment in His presence.

 

Please join me in this moment.

 

Love,

Bev

 

         

LIVING LIKE A SQUIRREL

In our Bible study group we sometimes get off track and our friend Curt will yell, “Squirrel.” Meaning of course our minds are operating on that track, darting from thought to thought. Now the whole group uses the term and we are usually quick to refocus when someone says, “Squirrel”.

 

Our puppy, Tuppence, likes to chase squirrels and is ready to go off on a mad dash any time one comes into view. Recently on a walk, I was watching her stalk two of them. I just stood perfectly still to see what would unfold.

 

One squirrel put its nose in the air and looked around. Like lightening he ran back to the safety of a huge tree close by. The other one - cut of a different personality - looked at Tuppence then at the safety of the tree.

 

But just a few feet ahead of the squirrel was an irresistible acorn, so after assessing the situation … danger vs. greed … you guessed it. The squirrel darted for the acorn and waved caution to the wind.

 

Just like in the parables of ordinary life that Jesus told with farmers and fields, I could feel the lesson forming. God is in everyday events and is everywhere, able to teach us in a moment if we remain in Him.

 

After getting my puppy under control (that squirrel was lucky for the leash and my quick reaction) I meandered along on the rest of our walk thinking … I live a little like those squirrels.

 

My strong protection stands ready in the Lord my God and sometimes I run to Him.

 

But I have to admit that I have my days where the enticements of the world catch my attention and like our random thoughts in Bible study that can pull us from a moment of revelation … I too allow something in the world to pull me from the place of God’s shelter.

 

For the squirrel – it was the lure of more food … a moment of greed where he ignored the instincts that keep him safe and decided that MORE was worth the risk.

 

For me … and you? We face that lure everyday. Keeping safe within a perimeter of obedience or just a few more steps toward what looks good.

 

Ahhh … its an old story … check out Genesis 3.

 

With love,

Bev

TOO BUSY? THERE IS SPIRITUAL WARFARE FOR THAT

If I had a nickel for every time I have reported to others on my busy schedule … I would be a millionaire.

If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard others say how busy they are … I would be a millionaire.

If being busy added to the true treasures of life … I would be rich indeed and so probably would you.

 

But I have decided if I keep going in this direction of “busy” … I will be without true riches and caught in a prison of poverty made of overscheduled days followed by sleepless nights. So although I’ve always tried to be a law-abiding citizen, this former probation officer has decided on a prison break.

 

Now before those of you who know me start thinking, “Well she can do that … she’s retired.” …

Let me assure you the enemy has seen fit to slither this “busy” battle into every lifestyle of people who are trying to do the “right thing”. This is particularly true as we approach Christmas.

 

Jesus taught about this tyrant of busy in the story of Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42). Martha was busy with preparations for dinner, which included Jesus – a good thing to do. But her sister Mary was sitting on the floor at Jesus feet, doing nothing but listening to him speak, an activity that Jesus named as a better choice.

 

Keep in mind Jesus deeply loved this family … both sisters. But when Martha came to him pointing out Mary wasn’t helping her -  here was His response:

         “Martha, Martha … you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken away from her.”

Being busy all the time is not a badge of honor if it means we don’t have time for sitting at the feet of Jesus.

 

So the spiritual warfare for this?

 

·      Be still and know that He is God. Stop what we are doing and pause during the day to think about our Heavenly Father.

·      Read the Christmas story. No Bible today at work? Click on the VERSES tab, I decided I had time today to type it out for you.

·      Choose to read God’s Word … there is always time for the blessing this will bring to our lives.

·      Pause and pray … the Lord waits for His people to ask for His guidance … it will be a path we have time to take and the treasures will be eternal.

 

Anybody else up for a prison break? The Lord stands ready with freedom from busy.

 

Love, Bev

GOD HAS THE POWER

2 CHRONICLES 25:1-10

 

The story of Amaziah, King of Judah, who while he amassed an army from the people of Judah to face a formidable enemy … did not quite think he had enough power to win.  And so as we have talked about so often … he decided what was needed by his own knowledge.  More soldiers right?

 

Amaziah went and paid a hundred talents of silver (about 3 ¾ tons) to men of Israel to accompany the army of Judah. Sounds like a plan.

 

PROVERBS 3: 5 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”

         What a human mind devises as a solution … no matter how good … is less than best.  Especially if we are walking off on our understanding and circling away from what God has said.

 

What happens next is interesting and evidence that the Lord intends to keep us on the right path … if we will simply pause and listen and then … wait for it … OBEY.

 

2nd Chronicles 25:7 & 8

“But a man of God came to him and said, - O king, these troops from Israel must not march with you, for the Lord is not with Israel … not with any of the people of Ephraim. Even if you go and fight courageously in battle, God will overthrow you before the enemy, for God has the power to help or to overthrow.”

 

Amaziah hesitated for a moment and then asked “But what about the hundred talents I paid …”

The man of God replied, “The Lord can give you much more than that.”

 

Amaziah dismissed the troops he had paid from Israel.

The Lord delivered the enemy into his hands.

 

The Lord is more powerful than our best efforts.

He is more knowledgeable than our brightest scholars.

The Lord is a better leader than any Democrat or Republican.

He has 100% track record on making the right call.

 

God has the power to guide us into the best life ever although the path sometimes looks a bit precarious – we are safe.

 

The Lord knows humans need saving – we sin, we stumble, we get confused.

 

So this season, let’s put aside the stuff we think will make for a great Christmas (3 ¾ tons of stuff)… let’s go with His idea … Jesus Christ, His own Son, our Savior.

 

 

WHAT'S ENOUGH?

Scripture Reference: Exodus 16

 

I love the account of God’s stumbling nation of Israel after He delivers them from slavery; they get together in the desert and grumble against their leaders. They wish for former days, they want the bounty of food they had in Egypt. The people have already forgotten the terrible conditions they lived in before God prepared their exodus from slavery.

 

Somehow stumbling and grumbling and wishing for something else rings a note of familiarity to me … I struggle. So every so often God shows me again the story of the manna … His own bread from heaven for His people, complete with specific instructions.

 

While the people were sure they were going to starve, God of course had a plan. His provision was perfect, bread from heaven. They were to gather exactly what they needed for each day except for the sixth day then they were to gather double. So that when the Sabbath arrived, the people could rest according to God’s plan. Bread in the morning and meat in the evening … stewardship was set up … a measure for each person.

 

The ones who gathered much and the ones who gathered little … everyone had what they needed in the end. Of course, true to humanity, some tried to gather extra to store it paying no attention to the instructions. The result … it was full of maggots and began to smell.

 

What about the day before the Sabbath when they gathered double? It was fine. Six days they were to gather, the seventh day was a Sabbath. Simple instructions. The perfect amount of food. The people rested.

 

So what’s enough? God’s provision. It is perfect in quantity and quality. Wherever we find ourselves today friends, we can be sure that God has not forgotten us and that we will have enough … of everything we need … for our lives each day.

 

So the cliff notes?

1.   God provides perfectly for His people.

2.   If you don’t want maggots – don’t be greedy.

3.   God’s instructions are not to be messed with

 

(sorry to my former English teachers for ending the sentence with a preposition … for everyone else thanks for tuning in today)

 

Love,

Bev

 

Lord ... grant me a rainbow

Like the first one you made … when the flood was over … when you blessed the people … a sign of Your promise.

 

I’m drifting in the ark of Your provision, but wondering when the raging waters will still. Was it like that for Noah? He trusted you completely, building and gathering, then waiting and seeking signs the flood was over.

 

Noah waited patiently in the process of God’s new beginnings for life. Even after he knew the dove had landed her feet on dry ground … he waited. Even when the cover of the ark was lifted and he could see with his own eyes the land was dry … he waited.

 

Until Noah heard the voice of God calling him forth, releasing Noah and his family to once again enjoy God’s creation and then …

 

Noah built an altar. He didn’t rage against God for the destruction of the earth; he didn’t chastise God for not being fair; he didn’t mourn the loss of his home and friends.

 

Noah built an altar. Worship. He sacrificed until there was a pleasing aroma lifted up to the heavens … and the Lord spoke in His heart … and once again blessed the earth and mankind.

 

The Lord gave food to eat, purpose for living and solemnly warned that we will be held accountable for the lives of others. For although our hearts are inclined to evil; we are made in the image of God.

And then the Lord set the first rainbow into the clouds above the earth as a sign of His promises and His presence in the lives of the people of earth.

 

Father, the storm has been long for many of Your people. Please help us to wait it out until we hear Your voice.

Help us remember in these troubled times, that You will demand an accounting for the lives of our fellow man.

 

Lord … Almighty God … grant us a rainbow.

 

 

He faithfully teaches us ...

God uses ordinary things in life to show His extraordinary character. A holy heavenly Father, too magnificent for our puny understanding, He reaches down to faithfully teach His beloved … that’s us!

Jesus, Savior of the world, spoke in stories of everyday life. He fed with a couple of fish, a few loaves of bread, and nourished the souls of thousands. He was faithful … all the way to death.

The Holy Spirit, our precious comforter and guide, nurtures us daily until His fruit blossoms in our lives. He is a faithful gardener in a world of weeds.

 

Faithfulness. I love that character of God. Although I have a tiny seedling growing, I love that fruit.

One of the ordinary things in my life that taught this extraordinary quality?

 

Ahhhhh … read the story… FAITHFULNESS

THE WALK

Many of you know we have a new puppy, Tuppence. One of her favorite things to do is to go for a walk. Nose to the ground sniffing what’s gone before her, lifted in the air for possibilities of what lies ahead … she makes a jerky progress down the road until she comes back home.

 

         Today as we walked, it was an unusually rough day. Those of you who have had puppies know what I mean. It was a day that Tuppence decided what was behind us was better than what was ahead.  She heard a rafter of turkeys (sorry just looked this up and that’s what they call a group of turkeys … I couldn’t resist) … and then she planted her feet and would go no farther.

 

         Yep … scared of that strange sound up ahead. I pulled … Tuppence pulled back.  I explained the situation to her … she doesn’t speak English. Finally she went forward.

 

         So I said (to no one in particular), “This walk would be so much better if she would just walk with me and stop pulling and being afraid”.

 

         And then I heard it in my heart.

 

                           “Sound familiar?”

 

         Asking Christ into our hearts means He sends the Holy Spirit to speak into our lives. That was Him.

 

         I’ve heard the Spirit speak great comfort and encouragement during times that were dark and bleak.

         I’ve heard and felt a gentle course correction when I was holding on to the past or straining toward the future.

         More often than I’d like to admit, I’ve heard the clear conviction of sin in my life and my heart has stilled in sorrow.

 

And so as I finished the not so straightforward walk with my crazy puppy – I received all three …

 

With love and prayers for our walk with God,

Bev

 

 

 

 

 

 

SPIRITUAL WARFARE by Lauren Lindsey

I know we talk a lot about spiritual warfare and arming yourself with scripture, but not everyone knows what that means. I didn’t. Until recently.

I’m going to explain the spiritual war I recently experienced, in hopes that it will help others understand what this means.

In order to understand spiritual warfare, there are five steps to the whole thing.

 

First, you have to be able to recognize God. You have to know His ways and know His voice when He talks to you. It is different for each person, but if it lines up with scripture and is holy, it is probably God. I also feel it in my heart, when He is talking to me. That is how I know when it is God.

Second, you have to recognize Satan. If you don’t know the difference between right and wrong, then you’ll never understand a war.

Third, you need to arm yourself. Clearly, you can not go into a spiritual war zone with physical swords and armor. But, as Bev always says, your Bible is your Sword. And God is your armor. By knowing the word of God and being readily equipped with it, you are ready for war.

Fourth, fight. You are ready now. You have recognized God, you have acknowledged the wrong, and you have trained and equipped yourself for war. Make sure as you fight through this battle, you are strong with God. Do not doubt the abilities of your God.

2 Chronicles 15:2

“...the Lord is with you when you are with Him…”

Fifth, recognize the victory. Think about the war. If God won, congratulations! This is a victory for you, too! If this battle went to the enemy, the war is not over. It is time to be still and reconnect with God.

 

Now that you know these steps, here is my experience.

 

I was talking with a friend of mine and I said that my faith is everything. Without my faith, I have nothing. (Without God, we have nothing.)

This is step one.

He countered my comment with that it is okay to have Faith, but that it doesn’t have to be my everything. There are still things aside from Faith.

This is step two.

After a few texts of going back and forth stating that my faith is number one and the most important thing I have, I felt a wave rush over me. I recognized it as God preparing me for war.

With my Bible as my sword, God equipped me with the verse Matthew 16:23.

“Jesus turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.’”

Very quickly after this I felt Satan’s argument diminish. As he fled from my friend, I realised God’s victory. My victory. And it was amazing.

 

“You are the only King forever. Almighty God we lift you higher. You are the only King forever. Forevermore, you are victorious.”

 

Synchronizing Life

A quiet heart

     A clear mind

           A body in service

                A soul at rest …

 

I walked around the blacktop track near my house wondering why I couldn’t achieve these, at least on any regular basis. So I asked God …

 

         Matthew 7:7 – “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”

 

I reminded God of my age and that I would need an answer right away. I don’t recommend telling the Lord about the timing and I normally don’t - however I was impatient and frankly a little on the cranky side.

 

He impressed two things on my heart.

 

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”

 

We proceeded in prayer … Holy God and sinful seeker … and here is the substance of my answer:

         While my heart is often on the Lord, my mind is wandering.

         While my soul longs for Him, my strength is on other things.

 

There is a reason the Lord gave the above as the top command. He knew our lives needed to be synchronized for us to live to the fullest. Heart, mind, soul, body … all working together in faith.

 

I prayed I could obey His answer and communicate that thought to others for encouragement.  I’m leaving that in His hands … and timing.

 

The second part …

 

         He told me to leave my age alone.

 

         I thought I was doing a practical thing … “adjusting to my age” …

My heavenly Father reminded me …

Because of Christ … I have eternal life. So I’m actually quite young.

 

I hope many folks reading today will consider synchronizing … and eternity.

 

Love,

 

Bev

 

TURNING AROUND

Hey … long time no blog.

Sorry.

No – not to people …

Don’t get me wrong, you are all important to me. But let’s face it; if I don’t write God’s word He will get it to you. Because you are all important to Him.

 

So my apology is really to God since He called me to write and I have been disobedient.

 

We have all walked down the path of disobedience. It’s important to turn around. So maybe my experience will help somebody out there who is struggling along that path where the enemy snatches the Word, the world chokes us and our roots don’t hold. (Matthew 13:1 -23)

Want to hear how He got me?

 

An eerie silence just washed over me as I was typing … yep that’s the problem.

What if nobody is reading this?

What if I’m wasting my time?

What if I have no talent?

What if no one is impacted?

    Like my blog comes up and everyone pushes “delete”.

 

 

In the midst of several weeks of doubt and failure to write, along comes my friend and guest blogger who says,

 

“I don’t think we are writing this for others. I think the Lord has us writing this for ourselves … and to be obedient.”

 

Say what???!!!

 

And then of course the Lord sends me to the book of Jeremiah.

Anytime conviction is coming, it’s off to the book of Jeremiah. I love God’s Word … all of it … but I have to confess when the Spirit calls me to Jeremiah, I begin to squirm.

 

And then today … Mark 4:40 – He said to His disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

 

That pretty much said it all.

 

I am afraid … of failure … of looking stupid … of wasting my time.

 

I have expressed these fears before and the words of my oldest son rang in my heart again …

     “Really mom … you think you might be wasting your time writing for God?”

 

So yeah I’m here again … imperfect. I’m sure I missed a comma somewhere. Pretty sure I haven’t gone viral. My books are still at the bottom of the Amazon rankings … but the most important One reading (who am I kidding -perhaps the only one reading) is pleased by obedience.

 

I Samuel 15: 22

“Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord?

To obey is better than sacrifice and to heed is better than the fat of rams.”

 

Okay … turned!

GOD'S CHARACTER - Justice with a side note of vengeance

A mere human, I will fall short on presenting God’s character so … please be sure to check out the “verses” tab and read His words.

 

Some ideas when we think of justice?

         Fairness – Equity – Impartiality – Objectivity

         Honesty – Righteousness – Morality

 

And vengeance defined as:

Punishment inflicted or retribution exacted for an injury or wrong that is done.

 

But God’s character of justice is a million times bigger and more perfect than ours will ever be and unlike us … He actually pulls it off … always.

 

God’s justice is nourished by wisdom as He stands outside the confines of time. He knows what has been and what is to be …  God holds our hearts and motives in His hand and examines them with care.

 

God doesn’t just talk about justice … He acts in justice … sending His own Son into the world … bringing us a justice wrapped in mercy and love.

 

Perfectly able to incorporate “an eye for an eye” with “turning the other cheek” …

 

We can wind up mired in sin when we take revenge into our own hands … but God knows how and when to bring justice with vengeance – He does not ignore the cries of the afflicted.

God will not turn His back on true repentance … but will bring a justice of forgiveness to those who seek Him.

 

 

A patient, perfect justice

     That cloaks a world of sin

Our God of mercy watches

      To see who will come in

 

To a kingdom with an entrance

         Narrow - but open to all

Designed before the world

         To answer a sinner’s call.

 

A patient, perfect justice

         That can’t be found on earth

Except as He walks among us

         And we receive new birth.

GOD'S CHARACTER - FORGIVING AND MERCIFUL by Lauren Lindsey

With the passing of Easter,

now is a great time to talk about God’s forgiveness.

 

It is first important to know the definition of forgiveness:

A term used to indicate pardon for a fault or offense;

an excuse from payment for a debt owed.

In the Bible, some synonyms for this are Nasa’, salach, or aphiemi.

 

1 John 1:19 and Mark 1:4 are both verses which state

that we are to confess our sins and ask for forgiveness.

But how do we know we will be forgiven?

Why should we be forgiven?

 

This is where the Crucifixion and Resurrection become important.

If you are unfamiliar with the story, check out Luke 23 & 24

Romans 5:8 explains it pretty clearly.

 

When Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit,

It cursed them and all their offspring.

 

God’s first attribute, as you may have read last week,

Is that he is Holy.

There is no place for sinfulness near God’s holiness.

So how are we ever supposed to gain eternal life?

 

I like to think about a song I know when addressing this:

 

“You didn’t was Heaven without us,

So Jesus you brought Heaven

My sin was great, your love was greater.

What could separate us now?”

-What A Beautiful Name by Hillsong Worship

 

While I realise that this is now combining God’s forgiveness and love,

I don’t think you can talk about one without the other.

John 3:16-17 is a good example of that.

 

Colossians 1:13-14 elaborates on the fact that through Christ,

We can be forgiven.

 

Matthew 26:28 is Jesus speaking to his disciples as they sat together

for his last meal with them on Earth.

Jesus’s blood was poured out to forgive us.

 

God didn’t want Heaven without us.

So he sent his only son down to save us.

Our SIN is great,

But His LOVE is still greater.

 

WE know we can be forgiven because Christ’s blood was shed to do so.

 

Now while saying all of this, it is very important to note the unforgivable sin

in Mark 3:29 and Luke 12:10

 

Psalms 32:5; 65:3; 78:38 are all statements of God forgiveness as well.

 

It is important to know God if we are going to serve him.

His first attribute is that he is Holy.

And he is such a forgiving God.

 

 

God's Character - # Holy

Many years ago, as a new Christian, I was blessed to have several more seasoned Christians around me. One of them, a mentor through many years, listened to me one day as I got on a soap box about: “God’s love should mean …”

 

Well …  fill in the blank. We’ve all had those moments when something in life seemed unfair or awful or cruel or meaningless. The question is how could a loving God allow … yes – again fill in the blank.

 

Pauline (my mentor) was quiet for a moment, then looked me in the eye and said:

“God’s first attribute is that He is holy.”

In taking a look at God’s character, that statement of fact came back to me full force. So I thought we would start here and learn the first thing first. After all holy would sort of cover the idea that He knows best.

 

God is holy.

 

There are scriptures listed under the “verses” tab, which I hope you will read, but of course the entire bible speaks to this characteristic of God. The first distinguishing trait or distinctive quality (the definition of character) about God is … He is holy.

 

The first four commandments are about God and this distinction and the response to this truth.

We have no other gods

We don’t make idols of other things

We don’t misuse God’s name

We set apart His day as a day of rest … He made it holy

 

 Holy means worthy of absolute devotion, sacred, set apart as divine. Nothing on earth and no person has that characteristic. Just God.

 

Holy … a spiritual allegory follows on Thursday. Hope you will join us then and stay with us as we talk about God’s character over the next several weeks.

 

Love,

Bev

RECOGNIZING JESUS

SCRIPTURE REFERENCE: MARK 6:30 – 56

 

The disciples watched as Jesus took five loaves of bread and two fish … and fed 5,000 men. Initially they had urged Him to send the hungry crowd away but that was never in the character of Jesus.

 

It still isn’t.

 

First He gathered what was at hand … 5 loaves, two fish.

 

Then looking up to heaven, He gave thanks and shared the food at hand.

 

Then everybody ate and all were satisfied.

 

That’s how it is when Jesus is around.

And He is always around.

We don’t lack anything, no matter how meager our resources look, not when Jesus is providing. Of course, it is pretty easy to recognize our Savior when we are well fed and satisfied.

 

But then … the disciples were alone in a boat in the middle of the lake with strong winds against them. Jesus walked to them … yes on the water.

 

For those who may read this and think it is a cute story … breathe deeply … the truth: walking out to us in the midst of a spot we feel alone and afraid in, is not too difficult for Jesus.

 

Ahhh but that is when the disciples and I have the most trouble recognizing Him. How about you?

Just when we think the situation is scary and without escape … that’s a cute story …

In truth – Jesus walks on water - and anything else the world throws our way. He climbs in the boat of our scary situation, our trial, our sinful life, and says:

        

         “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

 

 

He said it then and He says it now - because the character of Christ is steady, unchanging, dependable, merciful, forgiving, and anything else we may need in our boats today.

 

Take courage.

 

JAMES chapter 5 with guest blogger Lauren Lindsey and Chris

James 5 is the last chapter in this book.

To follow the rest of the theme of the book, James 5 continues to set many guidelines as to how to live our lives.

(This chapter is pretty self explanatory, as the rest of James is.)

It starts with a warning to rich oppressors.

“Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you… The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty.” (5:1,4)

Basically, be fair with your money.

The next part of the chapter refers to having patience with God,

Something I dont have.

Having patience with God is an important part of keeping our Faith.

“Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming… be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.” (5:7,8)

“Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged…”

Wait for it!!

“The Judge is standing at the door!” (5:9)

This part has the same emphasis as James 4:12.

If you haven’t gotten the idea that it is bad to judge your brothers or to do wrong against them, you should probably reread this book.

“Above all, my brothers and sisters, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. All you need to say is a simple “Yes” or “No.” Otherwise you will be condemned.”

In this sense, a “swear” would be a promise.

So are we not suppose to promise things?

Bev and I talked about this before. This is what we concluded:

Don’t say “I swear to… (insert noun here)”

Let your yes mean yes and no mean no.

Let all your words be meaningful and honest.

The next topic is prayer.

Prayer is one of the most important parts of having a relationship with God.

“Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” (5:13-14,16)

Bottom line? Prayer is powerful.

“...remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.” (5:20)

If this doesn't inspire you to share God’s word, I don't know what will.

Over all, we have:

-be fair with money

-patience with God

-judging our neighbors

-bring people back to God

It is important, as Christians, that we are following the Bible and things put in place by God

-LuLu and Chris

Thank you all for letting me do these James blogs! I hope to continue these with Bev

Love,

LuLu

 

 

IN EXILE ...

Complaining – protests - doomsday predictions - swirl throughout our land today. Marginalized, without a voice, in the grasp of powers that are frightening … what is a person to do?

Conversely for those who see “radical” elements refusing to allow the duly elected to govern … what is a person to do?

Both camps of people are exiled from their promised land of a secure and peaceful nation.

Quite frankly many of us have lived in exile for years … this nation has long been far from the justice and mercy God desires. As people struggle to have their own particular experiences given rights, the righteousness of a Holy God has been trampled like discarded trash.

 

This is the time we live in … exile from the Promised Land.

What is a person to do?

SCRIPTURE REFERENCE: Jeremiah 29: 5- 7

The Lord God Almighty gives His people guidance on how to live in exile … don’t let it defeat … rather live by building, planting, increasing, praying.

         “… seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile …”

The Lord designs exile for a purpose. Don’t listen to lies about the situation. Live through it by the grace of God … literally. And when the time is right … the Lord God Himself will carry us and deliver us from exile and into the Promised Land.

 

Live well. 

 

 

JAMES Chapter 4 - Guest Blog by Lauren Lindsey

Chapter four is the shortest chapter in James; however, that doesn't make it any less important.

 

Arguably, in today's society, this is one of the most important parts of James.

 

“When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with the wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasure.” (4:3)

 

I have heard this verse interpreted many different ways, but let’s take it as is.

 

We know that God doesn't always give us what we want. According to this, sometimes it’s because we ask for things to fulfill our own pleasures.

 

I feel like that's about as straightforward as it can get.

 

When we are asking for things that will simply benefit us, we will not necessarily receive it.

 

Does this mean that we should not pray to God for help or wisdom?

 

Of course not. God calls for us to come to him in troubling times.

 

“...Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” (4:4)

 

So. No friends?

 

No.

 

To be a friend of the world is to follow the sinful ways of man.

 

We cannot choose to pursue the wicked ways of man while trying to please a righteous God.

 

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the Devil and he will flee from you. Come near to God and He will come near to you.” (4:7-8)

 

I don’t have a comment on this verse. I just felt like I would be doing you a disservice if I did not include this part.

 

“Grieve, mourn, and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will lift you up.” (4:9-10)

 

The first time I read this, I was so incredibly lost. What does this mean?

 

My leader explained it to us as this: Be humble. Do not be obnoxiously prideful in yourself or your things.

 

So basically, be humble.

 

There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy…” (4:12)

 

Wait for it! My favorite part!

 

“But you- who are you to judge your neighbor?” (4:12)

 

That is such a powerful statement. And I want you to answer it.

 

But you- who are you to judge your neighbor?

 

Think about this the next time you go to judge someone.

 

“Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow… you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” (4:14-15)

 

Remember, God is in charge. You are not.

 

If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.” (4:17)

 

That was just another good verse to think about.


It is hard to be a Christian in today’s society. Luckily, God has given us the tools needed to still be able to follow Him and His ways- AKA, Bibles. Let’s make sure we use them.