A Servant’s Courage

“As the Lord of hosts lives,… I will surely show myself to him (King Ahab) today. 1Kings 18:1-19   After three years, upon Elijah’a return from Zarepath, he meets Obadiah. When asked to go back to the king with the message that Elijah has returned, Obadiah, wants nothing to do with it for fear of his own life. Elijah assures him that this day was not about Obadiah’s life, he would have to trust God and deliver the message. Fear hinders courage in the best of us. Yet, walking in Christ isn’t about walking in courage. In spite of our fears, it’s about walking in faith of the knowledge of a God that keeps promises. For the God that is at work in Elijah is the same God at work in us (Philippians 2:12-30).

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Discerning The Challenge

The good news about John’s message is that it prevails today and no testing, has overtaken us that is not common to everyone (1 Corinthians 10:13). However, our repentance during that test is the work of God’s grace and mercy manifesting in our lives. It also enables the process of discerning the physical from the spiritual. Herod could have acknowledged and repented to what he had done as wrong according to Jewish law, if in fact he was committed to it. Historically we know that he was not (Flavius Josephus: Antiquities of the Jews). By his actions, Herod was committed to himself. While there are times when we should be committed to our selves, for example our health, a Herod’s dilemma, isn’t one of those times. When we are committed only to ourselves we often have a tendency to believe that the laws or rules therein do not apply to us, we make our own rule for life and go our own way. John’s message is given that we may prepare our selves to be committed to the Spirit of God so that when the challenge of our commitment is tested, our response will honor God (from the heart) and not our selves (according to other peoples’ perceptions). History tells us that this is not always an easy thing to do and if we continue to look through the eyes of others we only see what other people see and respond the way other people respond. When we learn to look through the eyes of Christ we begin to see what God sees and learn to respond through Christ.

Ephesians 1:3,7 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places… In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses,

Here Am I

Lent: Day 29 – Christians, God has given us ears to hear his voice, eyes to see his face (in the image of each other) and a mouth to proclaim his Word, which reveals his faithfulness and his steadfast love for us. In doing so we give praise glory and honor to his name. Christ continues to be lifted up and is revealed so that those who have not heard, seen nor speak his truth will come to believe. This is all that is required of us, our bodies. When we think of the benefit of peace, strength and courage that we are enduring as we journey in this life lived through Christ we can and will be assured that it is the one sacrifice worth making. Don’t be fooled by what the world values (burnt offerings). To give up material and physical pleasures means nothing, if we are not also willing to live for Christ in our bodies to the glory of God’s name. Praise be to God!

Luke 1:26-38 ‘Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.’

Psalm 40:5-11

Sacrifice and offering you do not desire,
but you have given me an open ear.

Burnt-offering and sin-offering
you have not required.

I have told the glad news of deliverance
in the great congregation;
see, I have not restrained my lips,
as you know, O Lord.
I have not hidden your saving help within my heart,
I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation;
I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness
from the great congregation.

Hebrews 10:4-10 ‘Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body you have prepared for me’…

The Way Out

Lent: Day 22 – All storms, famines and turmoil in our lives serve (intentionally or unintentionally) for the purpose of separating us from God’s Love, that being Jesus Christ. Abundant blessings can have a tendency to allow us to forget that attacks on God’s Love within us do exist. If we find ourselves struggling to endure them, Paul reminds us that even our biblical ancestors were blessed abundantly and yet struggled with fear and doubt. He also assures us that the guide, who led them out, is also our guide who will lead us to the way out and onto the peaceful side of those storms. What exactly is the way out? Jesus Christ within us is the way, the truth, and our life. We must be careful not to let our response to these attacks change who we are and forget that Christ within has not left us and will forever be with us when the storm passes over.

Genesis 47:27-48:7 Thus Israel settled in the land of Egypt, in the region of Goshen; and they gained possessions in it, and were fruitful and multiplied exceedingly.

Mark 7:1-23 …‘there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile.’

1 Corinthians 10:1-13 No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.

Psalm 136

O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures for ever…

who alone does great wonders,
for his steadfast love endures for ever;…

It is he who remembered us in our low estate,
for his steadfast love endures for ever;…

O give thanks to the God of heaven,
for his steadfast love endures for ever.

Finish The Race, Receive The Victory

Lent: Day 21 – Who among us has not felt afraid? Our emotions, particularly fear overwhelms us. While trusting God is always an option it is usually the furthest thing from our irrational thinking. Even though God hears our cries, the reality is that there are storms, famines and turmoil we will just have to endure. But rest assured, take heart, when it feels as though Christ is not with us he is always waiting for us at the other side.

Mark 6:47-56 When evening came, the boat was out on the lake, and he was alone on the land. When he saw that they were straining at the oars against an adverse wind, he came towards them early in the morning, walking on the lake. He intended to pass them by. …they thought it was a ghost and cried out;…. But immediately he spoke to them and said, ‘Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.’

Yeast Of Malice vs. Bread Of Sincerity

Lent: Day 12 – I believe one of the greatest challenges we face is the unwillingness to understand that any malicious act has the capability of becoming an acceptable part of our culture when in fact, it goes against the relationship God intended us to have with one another. For example, bullying has reached this level of acceptability in some communities, to where it is often not seen as a problem until one person makes a tragic response that either hurts one’s self, others or both. Bullying has never been a healthy part of any person’s life nor will it ever be. The relationships we teach and have with one another should reflect the relationship we know that God has with us. Bullying in any form is a contradiction to that relationship and although it can be healed, old habits are hard to reverse. Let’s save our selves the trouble, aggravation and pain. Let us encourage our relationship through Christ in our children and our children’s children. Discourage any yeast of malice, then, see if the body of Christ does not grow, as the enemies’ realm diminishes! In this instance, for those who hold to God’s promise, Christ’s strength in numbers pays forward in real life dividends with the bread of sincerity that forever nourishes our souls.

Mark 3:19-35 ‘How can Satan cast out Satan? 

1 Corinthians 5:1-8 Do you not know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough?

Psalm 68:1,35 Let God rise up, let his enemies be scattered; …Awesome is God in his sanctuary, the God of Israel; he gives power and strength to his people. 

Choosing Denial

Is it possible that Peter’s denial of Christ was because he didn’t want to believe what was actually happening? This kind of denial is based in fear. We think denial protects us. We think denial will eventually make a situation go away. We even think that perhaps the situation is just an illusion or a keen diversion attempt by the enemy to keep us from believing in the true power of God. The fact is that if it were just an illusion there would be no need for the power of God. The works of the enemy such as fear are real, and we conquer fear by confronting it with our belief in the power of the Word of God. Even as newly transfigured followers of Christ, fear becomes a greater enemy. Previously, like Peter, when we journeyed this life with a veil, what was once used to protect us, now convicts us, because like Peter, it conflicts with what we now believe, as a result of being transformed by Christ. Peter’s multiple denials are not unfamiliar to our lives. More than once I myself have been there. Jesus knew that Peter would deny him (John 13:38). Jesus also knew that Peter would not always live in contrast with what he knew to be true within him self. He knows that about us too. We have only to be encouraged by his Word, and know that Christ is the faithful neighbor that we seek who always forgives and redeems us from all our troubles.

John 18:15-18, 25-27 …Peter again denied it, and at once a rooster crowed.

Philippians 2:1-13 ... work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

Proverbs 27:1-6, 10-12 …Faithful are the wounds of a friend…

Psalm 9 …And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.

Nothing Is Insignificant

Absolutely nothing we do or say today is insignificant. Everything we do and say will affect either our selves or someone else in both small and large ways. With five barley loaves and two fish, Jesus fed five thousand people. When a task seems insurmountable to us, God will (if we allow him by giving him the glory) take whatever we have to offer regardless of its size, and make it work in our favor. Walk everyday in confidence knowing that with God our life has both purpose and meaning!

Nothing Insignificant; Insurmountable Tasks; God’s Favor

Merry Christmas!

Sunday:

“Mortal! We Spirits of Christmas do not live only one day of our year. We live the whole three-hundred and sixty-five. So is it true of the Child born in Bethlehem. He does not live in men’s hearts one day of the year, but in all days of the year…” (Spirit of Christmas Present from A Christmas Carol, 1951)

Live Christmas everyday! No one is ever too old. No one is ever beyond hope. Change can happen and redemption is always at hand! Merry Christmas and God bless us, every one!

Keep Believing

Tuesday:

“Christmas isn’t just a day it’s a frame of mind, and that’s what’s been changing.” Miracle on 34th Street (1947) kind of reminds me of what it might be like if Jesus himself decided to physically pay earth a visit just before the rapture in an effort to save a few more people, and I found that one of those persons was me! As people get wind of his presence there is both excitement and fear. Immediately, the plot to discredit his existence is put into full motion. Where might Jesus find me in this story? Will I be the child who has been told there is no Christ? Will I be the mother who has been hurt by past relationships and now has difficulty accepting anything that is “intangible” without tangible proof? Perhaps Jesus may find me as a prosecutor or judge “just doing my job” in spite of the voices urging me not to participate and “wash my hands of the matter.” Or will I be the friend who is ready to defend simply on the basis of believing because “Faith is believing in things when common sense tells you not to.” I know where I strive to be. I also know that things don’t always work out the way we want but they do work out for good (Romans 8:28). Also, I for one, happen to believe in angels from God. They are the many people God places in our lives who love, encourage, and support us when we need it. They remind us of whom we are in Christ. They are also the people we don’t see, perhaps six degrees of separation, but because God’s Spirit realms over all the earth we reap in abundance because the laborers continually sow. Some call it luck and others call it miracles. I call it God.

There is so much more in this story such as when Santa Clause, out of frustration for a moment gives in, but the lawyer who believes, convinces him that he mattered to those who believe and those beginning to believe. The theme reminded me of God deciding to not go with the Israelites into the Promise Land, and Moses speaks with God on behalf of the people (Exodus 32). God does in fact honor Moses request, but that’s another blog for another day. View the movie for yourself. I am sure you will find some interesting themes as well.