Southside Church Of Christ Blog

Southside is a loving, vigorous, and growing congregation in Shelbyville, Tennessee. Our vision is toward the future: Our Children, Our Ministry, and Our Outreach. Our goal is to embrace all people in our hearts and fellowship as we strive together to support Christ’s mission on earth.

Miracle Mud

 
 

“After saying this, Jesus spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes” (John 9:6). Now there’s something you don’t expect to read in the Bible: Jesus spitting. A prayer would’ve seemed appropriate, perhaps a “hallelujah!” But who expected a heavenly spit into the dirt? The God who sent manna and fire dispatched a blob of saliva. And as calmly as a painter spackles a hole in the wall, Jesus streaked miracle mud on the man’s eyes.

Sometimes God uses the less-than-pleasant. He initiates the miracle through “mud moments”: layoffs, letdowns, and bouts of loneliness. Can you relate? If so, do not assume that Jesus is absent or oblivious to your struggle. Just the opposite. He is using it to reveal himself to you. He wants you to see him. Remember friend, you are never alone."

We all have had these events in our lives and you may be experiencing one now. Focus on what Max writes about never being alone. Jesus is there! Hang on to that thought! Find comfort in it!

 

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When We Disagree

First, I want to thank Kevin Collier for his lesson today on unity and give him and his lesson an Amen! I’ve been writing on this article for a while. His lesson helped me finish my thoughts. You can see and hear his lesson on our website.

Disagreements have probably existed since Adam and Eve. There was most likely a huge one after they were exiled from the garden. Abraham, Moses and Noah differed with people. Paul and Barnabas had a “sharp disagreement” over who they would take on a journey. Even the apostles asked for Christ to solve the disagreement about who was the greatest among them. People can disagree with God. They accuse Him of not answering prayers in the manner they requested.

Husband and wives, parents and children, especially teenagers, friends, bosses, colleagues, and just about any number of people can disagree.  We disagree on ball teams and the officials calls during a game. If you don’t believe me, go to a little league game sometime and watch the actions of some of the “adults”.

Disagreements are inevitable. I even disagree with myself sometimes after I reflect on something I did or said! It’s not the disagreeing that is a problem but our actions and attitudes that cause problems. Some  people have a real knack for raising the level from simply a disagreement to a harsh conflict.

I’m on Facebook but don’t participate on Twitter or any of the other social media outlets. Many of the writers on FB are really vicious in attacking those who differ with them on their political ideology and Biblical beliefs. It seems in today’s society that differing with others results in an attitude that you are a terrible and evil person. People write vicious things under the cover of social media they would not say to someone else face to face. Is social media to blame for these things? No, because the person is expressing what’s really in their heart!

I’ve unfollowed some relatives on FB who believe if you are not liberal like them then you are ignorant, an idiot or just pick a demeaning word of your choice to describe yourself. There is a man on FB who is so conservative that you are just an evil  person and are trying to ruin our country if you differ from him. It’s ok to feel strongly about your political philosophy but it’s not ok to be like the following description In Ephesians 4. Notice my emphasis of “all”.

Ephesians 4:31-5:2 ESV – “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

The same verse is also true about disagreements concerning your religious beliefs. People feel and express the following at times: “If you disagree with my Biblical beliefs then you are hell bound.” I’m aware of a man who spends time on an internet Bible discussion group of being told he is hell bound. He believes the water Jesus turned to wine was alcoholic and the other person told him he was going to hell for believing that. Read Romans 14:1 ESV – “Accept the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions.” The emphasis is mine.

Kay and I were members of a congregation in Memphis that totally dissolved over worship style after 50+ years of existence. The disagreements were over a worship team, raising hands during songs and clapping hands while singing. The elders tried two worship services but that created more disagreements. I will not write about all the different actions and reactions of the members but do believe that God was sad and very unhappy.

Some individuals  all to eagerly announce eternal judgement on others who disagree with them. Whether the wine was alcoholic are not is a matter of opinion to me. Why do people believe God gave them perfect interpretation of the scriptures? My intent is do as the Bible directs but I’m capable of being incorrect. To think you have perfect interpretation is arrogant. I do not intend to offend anyone but think about your treatment of and attitude towards others when you disagree on what the scriptures say. Loving others is important with your relationship with God. Some people spend very little time in Bible study relying on their parents, spouse, ministers and others to develop their beliefs. This is dangerous to your salvation! Read and pray about 2 Timothy 2:15 – ESV – “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.”

There are disagreements concerning our salvation which will clearly be a deciding factor on judgement day but remember the marque on a church: “Love everyone and let God separate them!”

              

Max Lucado writes: “We can be respectful. We do not have the right to be arrogant and to point a finger. Of all the people who should not be arrogant it is those of us who believe we are saved by grace.”  Quoted from an article: The Beauty of Disagreeing Agreeably from a Jen Hatmaker Podcast

“Conflict is inevitable, but combat is optional.”

 Max Lucado, When God Whispers Your Name - Published June 4, 1999 by W Publishing Group

We need to maintain our love for one another as we disagree. Jesus still loves us through all things! Pray for unity!

Thanks

Mike   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 

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Sins of The Heart

As a youngster I remember men leading public prays asking for God to forgive us of our sins both of commission and omission. At that time, my thinking was that commission meant an outward act. Sins of omission were services  we should have performed for God but neglected. As I matured, I begin to understand that all sins are developed in my heart and it did not take an outward act to commit sin.

Quotes from writers on the internet. Some are unknown:

“The heart, according to the Bible, is part of man's spiritual makeup. It is the place where emotions and desires begin; it is that which drives the will of man towards action.”

“The seed of every sin known to man is in my heart.” ― Robert Murray McCheyne

“In a religious context, sin is a transgression against divine law. Each culture has its own interpretation of what it means to commit a sin. While sins are generally actions, any thought, word, or act considered immoral, selfish, shameful, harmful, or alienating might be termed "sinful".”

“Thoughts become sin when we nurture them, dwell on them, allow them to lead us down a path of more thoughts that are wrong. They are sinful when we allow them to inspire sinful attitudes and they are especially sinful when they compel us to act in a sinful way.”

Scriptures tell us that the heart or our spiritual makeup is where sin first manifests itself. People blame God for their sins. “He made me this way so I’m not responsible for my sins.” God did not make us to sin but did give us a free will to act however we choose. 

A variety of people believe that it does take an outward action before we sin. Their thinking is that if they have an attitude or thought but do not act on them, then they have not sinned.  Read the following scriptures about actions, thoughts and attitudes fostered in our hearts:

Matthew 5:28 – “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

Matthew 15:19 - “For out of the heart come evil thoughts--murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.”

Proverbs 23:7 – “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, said he to you; but his heart is not with you.”

Genesis 6:5 – “The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled.”

Mark 7:21-23  “For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder,  adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.”

So if the sin begins in my heart, what action do I take to fight sin? Proverbs tells us to guard our hearts: Proverbs 4:23 “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” What does it mean to guard your heart? How do I guard my heart? The Hebrew word for guard or keep means to set a watchman over it. God and the Holy Spirit are the watchmen. Through our following His direction in the Bible and through much time in prayers our hearts will be guarded. When the sinful thoughts or attitudes enter your heart instead of nurturing them ask for help in resisting.

In addition we need to start by following Deuteronomy 6:5 – NIV “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” If you don’t love the Lord with every ounce of your being, don’t expect much help in your war with Satan.

Do not try to fool God: Galatians 6:7 ESV – “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.”

Psalm 119:9 NIV – “How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.”

Proverbs 4: 20-21 NIV – “My son, pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words.

Do not let them out of your sight keep them within your heart.”

Ezekiel 36:25-27 NIV – “I will also sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. I will cleanse you from all your impurities and all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes and to carefully observe My ordinances.”

We are all tempted and that is not a sin but when we cultivate the temptations in our heart they grow into sin. I read an article on the website Unlocking the Bible. Sophie McDonald’s, “How Do You Guard Your Heart”. The following is an excerpt from the article:

“What does this mean for us? Consider the following questions as we seek the Lord for his Spirit’s help in aligning our lives with his Word”:

“Are you actively setting the Word of God as a watchman over your soul by reading it and hearing it preached?”

“Are you filtering your circumstances, decisions, thoughts, and responses through what God’s Word says?”

“Do you prayerfully seek the Lord, trusting the One who gave you a new heart to protect it?”

“Are you trying to guard your heart in your own strength, or acknowledging your weakness and trusting the all-sufficient One to be your defender?”

There was a period of time in my life during college and for a while after that I did not guard my heart. I always knew God was there, but no cultivation of our relationship was happening. I did none of the things Ms. MacDonald suggested! Fortunately, I’m an example of God’s love and patience. He hung with me in times I moved away from Him. I believe he will do the same for anyone, but you have to make the move to come to Him with a totally new attitude.  There is a quote from the author Clausewitz about war in a novel I’m reading: ”you must prepare for the enemy’s capabilities, rather than his intentions.” We know Satan’s intentions so now we must recognize that he is capable of anything to separate us from God. Always be prepared for the devils onslaught. Ephesians 6:13 ESV – “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.”

“The Divine Artist isn’t finished. The earth is his studio. Every person on earth is one of his projects. Every event on earth is a part of his great mural. He is not finished. The scripture says in Philippians 1, “God began doing a good work in you, and I am sure he will continue it until it is finished when Jesus Christ comes again.” Remember, friends, you are never alone.” from Max Lucado’s Daily Devotional

He’s always there for us when our heart is ready for Him!

“God’s love never ceases. Never. Though we spurn Him. Ignore Him. Reject Him. Despise Him. Disobey Him. He will not change!”

“Our hearts seem so far from His. He is pure; we are greedy. He is peaceful; we are hassled. He is purposeful; we are distracted. He is pleasant; we are cranky. He is spiritual; we are earthbound. The distance between our hearts and His seems so immense. How could we ever hope to have the heart of Jesus?”

Max Lucado – From his article A Heart Like Jesus, March 19, 2014

Thanks

Mike   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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What’s in Your Basket?

 
 

"Do you face fifteen thousand problems?  Before you count yourself out, turn and look at the One standing next to you!  Christ can help you do the impossible.  You simply need to give him what you have and watch him work."

"John 6:11 says, “Jesus took the loaves…”  This is the story of the day Jesus fed the five thousand men, plus women and children.  He didn’t have to use the loaves.  He made manna fall for the Israelites.  Instead, he chose to use the single basket of a small boy."

"What’s in your basket?  All you have is a wimpy prayer?  Give it.  All you have is a meager skill?  Use it.  All you have is strength for one step?  Take it.  God used three nails and a crude cross to redeem humanity.  If God can turn a basket into a buffet, don’t you think he can do something with your five loaves and two fishes of faith?  Remember, you are never alone."

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Stand Up, Take Up, and Walk

 
 

"He certainly gave a bright future to the Bethesda beggar.  “And immediately the man was made well” (John 5:9).  Jesus did nothing but speak, and the miracle was accomplished. What will God do for you?  I cannot say.  God’s help, while ever present, is ever specific.  It is not ours to say what God will do.  Our job is to believe he will do something.  It simply falls to us to stand up, take up, and walk.  Remember, friends, You are never alone."

From Mike: When you are down for whatever reason, it is comforting to know that Jesus believes in you! It's encouraging to know that God has plans for you! We don't know what those plans are. We may be frustrated that we don't know and must wait on God. Be patient, trust in God and as Max says "You are never alone!"

 

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Not-Yet-Answered Prayers

 

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 "The Gospel of John tells a story about a man from Capernaum who approached Jesus in Cana. “Come heal my son?” the man asked. And Jesus said the boy would be healed, and the man set out for Capernaum. Do you find yourself somewhere between Cana and Capernaum? Like the official, you begged Jesus for help, and like the official, you didn’t receive the answer in the way you wanted. This is the issue of not-yet-answered prayer or the not-answered-in-the-way-I-asked prayer. How should we react?"

 "I’m sorry that the job did not materialize or the cancer chose to metastasize. Life has its share of dark, dank moments. Read the Bible from the table of contents in the front to the maps in the back, and you will not find any promise of a pain-free life on this side of heaven. But you will find this assurance: “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5 NIV). You are never alone"

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Capitalism  vs Socialism

What does the Bible Say?

I have been writing on this topic since last spring. It proved much more difficult than I imagined. The more I studied and read the more complicated it became. It’s by no means complete so I hope it encourages you to study the subject for yourself.

It would be very presumptuous of anyone to label God either a capitalist or a socialist although some do say God is in one camp or the other.  He’s neither! He is GOD! This article is not a politically based writing. I was raised to be against socialism and continue to maintain that belief but why?  We should reexamine our beliefs occasionally to confirm or change them.  A number of political leaders are in favor of socialism and are pushing our country towards that goal. In light of their effort, I felt the need to study the subject. I don’t want to be like the politician who came out with the position: “some of my friends are for it and some of my friends are against it, and well, I’m for my friends.” I want to be able to support the reasons I am against socialism. Let’s look what the Bible has to say. The Bible needs to be my guide in ALL matters. I cannot find either word in the Bible.

The New Deal was an amalgam of dozens of programs and agencies created by the Roosevelt Administration and the Congress.. These programs held many aspects of socialism in the U.S. FDR was elected president four times so his ideas and programs were popular. The New Deal was born as the result of the depression. The Social Security Act was signed in 1935. In the early 1970’s, I attended a financial seminar on investments. The speaker illustrated that investing the money you contributed to Social Security into a fund that earned a moderate interest rate  would give you a much better  benefit than Social Security. The problem with his idea is that too many people simply do not have the self-discipline to act responsibly. In other words they are not good stewards of God’s blessings. Many socialists do not believe individuals should not have to be self-disciplined.

The following are comments and descriptions of socialism and capitalism from the internet:

“Socialism is an economic and political system under which the means of production are publicly owned. Capitalism is an economic system under which the means of production are privately owned. Production and consumer prices are based on a free-market system of “supply and demand.”

“Capitalism and socialism are so different that they're often seen as diametrically opposed. Capitalism is based on individual initiative and favors market mechanisms over government intervention, while socialism is based on government planning and limitations on private control of resources assigned exclusively to either its “capitalist” or “socialist” components, or to the fact that the system is mixed rather than purely one thing or the other. The real debate, as Williamson* goes on to suggest, concerns the structure, balance, and integration of the elements that make up our political economy.” * Kevin Williamson, Deputy Managing Editor of National Review

“Socialism, strictly defined, is an economic theory which proposes the abolition of private capital and the substitution of collective ownership in carrying on the industrial work of the world. This collective ownership is to extend to all the material instruments of production; these are to be publicly operated, and the products to be equitably distributed. The government is to be wholly in the hands of the people, and it is to assign to each individual his task and to determine his wage. Every citizen is to be actually a government employee.”

“Many Christian socialists believe capitalism to be idolatrous and rooted in the sin of greed. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica Online, socialism is a "social and economic doctrine that calls for public rather than private ownership or control of property and natural resources.”

An opposing view is interesting reading: 5 Reasons Socialism Is Not Christian By Julie Roys, CP Op-Ed Contributor, The Christian Post

1. Socialism is Based on a Materialistic Worldview,

2. Socialism Punishes Virtue,

3. Socialism Endorses Stealing,

4. Socialism Encourages Envy and Class Warfare,

5. Socialism Seeks to Destroy Marriage & Family.

Read her explanation for each of these reasons.

Former Southern Baptist Convention President Jack Graham stated that the rise of the Democratic Party’s socialist left to a list of concerns like abortion and same-sex marriage on the line in “a battle for the soul of our nation.”

Graham continues: “Socialism is fundamentally at odds with the Christian worldview and seeks to suppress all peoples in support of the state,” Graham, pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas, said in a televised sermon on Sunday. “No one serious about their Christian faith can be serious about socialism.”

There is a “movement” known as Bruderhof which is a communal form of life. No one owns anything. They share everything for the good of the community. It’s not a government system based on elected leaders based but the self-appointed leaders of the commune make the decision for the whole.

I do not believe these descriptions are all inclusive. When people use the term socialism it’s difficult to know exactly what they mean because there are different degrees and types of socialism. In researching the topic, I discovered that it is much more complicated than I thought. Some want to pull issues like abortion and same-sex marriage into socialism which I do not believe belong there. People bring issues into or leave them out based on their need to prove their points. An article by William Wilkinson written August 16, 2018 maintains that is conceivable to have capitalism and socialism  both combined. I willing admit that I don’t fully understand everything he wrote. Read the article for yourself. “Socialism” vs. “capitalism”: what left and right get wrong about the debate – Vox.

In one form of socialism, the government takes control of everything. I’m opposed to this form because I do not trust the politicians nor the government administrators! My biggest concern is their lack of seeking God’s guidance. They are relying too much on their own ideas but then again capitalists are guilty of the same thing. Maybe I’m wrong but it does not seem many of the government leaders ask God to be a part of guiding them. Also, the more we rely on the government administration and politicians the more rights it seems we have to forfeit.

Some socialists believe in creating equality of income. Their belief is that there should not be a large gap in the  income of people. During the pandemic layoffs, I heard a gentleman comment that he was being called back to work and was not pleased. He was making as much by not working as he was when he worked. One lady related the story about how her daughter and son-in-law were both laid off, but they were spending a lot of money. Turns out they were making more money than when they were working. If the government controls income and guarantees all people a minimum income, then more people are incentivized to remain jobless. To me this what happens under socialism when the government guarantees incomes to everyone.

My daughter has a degree in social work. She started her degree at the University of Memphis. The instructors there taught students to focus on the number of government programs available to their “clients” and to instruct them on how avail themselves of as many government handouts as possible. After we moved to Bell Buckle, she continued to work on her degree at MTSU. The instructors at MTSU taught her how help “clients” to use as few government programs as possible and teach them how to become independent. A huge difference in the two philosophies. I believe MTSU”s teaching is much sounder and more Biblical.

What does the Bible say about the poor and needy?

Proverbs 31:9 ESV  “Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.”

Matthew 26:11. NIV “The poor you will always have with you.”

Proverbs 14:31 ESV “Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors him.”

Proverbs 28:27 ESV “Whoever gives to the poor will not want, but he who hides his eyes will get many a curse.”

Luke 14:12-14 ESV “He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”

Hebrews 13:16 ESV “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.”

1 Timothy 5:8 ESV “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”

1 John 3:17-18 ESV “But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but indeed and in truth.”

Luke 3:11 ESV  “And he answered them, “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.”

Proverbs 14:31 ESV “Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors him.”

Matthew 25:37-40 ESV “Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”

There are many more scriptures directing us to help the poor and needy. How can you read these scriptures and not understand God’s direction? Some believe that by giving to the church they have satisfied their duty. I disagree! These verses are written about MY duties. In Acts chapters four and six you find that the deacons did act as a way of distributing money for the needs of people. They did this so that the apostles could continue with preaching and teaching about Christ. That does not absolve us of our duties. None of the verses quoted directs us to solely use the deacons of the church to help the poor and needy.

The Bible does not teach us to take care of people through the government, but neither can I find where it specifically condemns it. Many who are in favor of a socialist government claim that Christians have not performed our duty by helping those in need. Those claims are not without basis. We tend to attach requirements to our assistance that I cannot find in the Bible. Church attendance has been one of those requirements. I understand the thinking about church attendance but none of the Bible verses requires church attendance. A hungry child needs to be fed and properly clothed whether his or her parents take him to church or not. The benevolence program at Southside does a great job in following the Bible.

Our judgement about the worthiness of those in need help sometimes enters into consideration. I must confess to judging at times. For the past 2-3 years Rafe Woodard and I have delivered meals for the Senior Citizens Meals on Wheels Program, a government sponsored program. At times I have doubts on whether some of the people are worthy based on their home, cars and what I see as their life styles. But I do not know the whole story on these people. I do not believe that these elderly people are capable of working.

What does the Bible say about those who will not work? The only qualification for providing assistance I find is in 2 Thessalonians 3:10  “For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.”

Other Bible verses describing the lazy:

1 Thessalonians 4:12 ESV “So that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.”

Proverbs 21:25 ESV “The desire of the sluggard kills him, for his hands refuse to labor.”

Proverbs 18:9 ESV “Whoever is slack in his work is a brother to him who destroys.”

Proverbs 19:15 MSG “Life collapses on loafers; lazybones go hungry.”

I do not believe these verses are about being judgmental or vindictive. The principle taught is practical, spiritual, and loving. Giving to those who want to live off of others or the government enables a spiritually harmful attitude.

The school system in Bedford County provides free breakfast and lunch to all children without qualification. The meals are subsidized by the USAD. Bedford County is considered a poor county. Is this program “socialism”? Some say ”yes” because it is sponsored by the government. If it is socialism, then I’m ok with it.

There is also a program called “Backpack” that provides canned food for children to take home over the weekend. Many children may go hungry if not for this program. For the most part “Backpack” depends on donations. Some money comes through United Way and some from individuals.  Many of the teachers help out of their pockets.

The form of “socialism” I believe in is what the Bible describes as our responsibilities to feed and clothe the poor and needy.  I will be interested in reading your thoughts and comments at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. If you write me, please include your approval for me to post your thoughts and comments.

Thanks!

Mike

 

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Finding Our Peace Through God

It seems like these times we are living in are the most difficult of my 70 years. We’ve dealt with national health crisis before but not like this one. COVID-19 has had not only a terrible toll in deaths but also on the economy. People are angry and upset over the dilemma of masks. Tension over racial relations has always been with us but has escalated to an all-time high. People are much less respectful of one another. There is the debate over capitalism versus socialism. Very few trust the news media to deliver the news as opposed to giving us their propaganda. The need for peace in our lives has increased exponentially. How and where do we find it?

One form of peace is a stress-free state of security and calmness that comes when there's no fighting or war, everything coexisting in perfect harmony and freedom. I can’t remember a time when there was not a war somewhere in the world we were not a part of in some form.

There is also a peace and calmness in your life when you are free from the stress of turmoil in your life. You are seldom totally free from problems in your life. Then what is peace through God? John 14:27 -“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” Romans 5:1 - “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

This peace through God is not the absence of troubles. I’ve come to believe for the most part it is acceptance of your situation whatever it maybe. It’s not a giving up or caving in to the situation but a form of recognition that God is with you. As I’ve written before, he’s got your back! Praying is an integral part of finding the peace of God. I want to use my family experiences as an example.

My sister, Dianne, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1998-99. The doctor recommended a radical mastectomy of both breast resulting in only a 5% chance of the cancer returning. She agreed to the treatment course. Two years later she was at the doctor’s office to see about a sinus infection. It was cancer in her brain, then they found it in her liver and everywhere. The medical recommendation was a series of three bone marrow transplants. They would either cure Dianne or kill her. She called a halt after the second transplant. She just could not take it anymore. We all knew what the prognosis was then. Dianne was at peace with her decision. She knew her destination because she believed in God’s promise.

My parents delivered Dianne’s hospice care in their third bedroom. I don’t remember if the insurance was a problem or just my mother’s desire to take care of her child. They cared for her for several weeks before she was admitted to the hospital for her final days. Dianne had seen both of her sons but kept hanging on, so her nurse told my parents she was waiting for permission to die. Within just a couple of hours of my mother whispering in her ear she was gone. Even though my parents were strong Christians, they struggled to find peace, especially my mother. How does a parent find peace after losing a child? After many prayers and time, they found their peace. There is true peace through God’s love.

If God granted me the blessing of making a few rules for life, in the top five would be that no parent watch their child die followed closely by no parent becoming the hospice care for their child. My parents aged and changed tremendously during this time. 

I’m not totally sure that I’ve reached a full peace. After the mastectomies and the doctor’s assurance that “all was well”, I stopped praying about Dianne’s health. What if I had kept praying? Would things have turned out different? If you are on my prayer list for a serious diagnosis or continuing medical problems, you’ll most likely remain in my prayers even if the doctor says, “all is well”. I’ve heard that “all is well” before. Is that a phobia or a lack of faith and trust in God? Is a strong faith and trust in God what peace really is? For me it is!

Our daughter, Meg, works as a consultant for a heath care provider in the delivery of hospice care. She works with the patient and the family. The degree of their acceptance and peace covers the whole spectrum. Some patients are in total denial as well as the family. Some-times the patient is at peace and the family is not. Then there are times the family is at peace and the patient is not. Most of the people at peace have a strong belief in God.

“God’s Love Never Leaves” from Max Lucado’s Daily Devotion:

“George Matheson was a teenager when doctors told him he was going blind. He graduated from the University of Glasgow in 1861. By the time he finished graduate seminary studies, he was sightless. His fiancée returned his engagement ring with a note: “I cannot see my way clear to go through life bound by the chains of marriage to a blind man.”

“Matheson adapted to his sightless world but never quite recovered from his broken heart. He became a powerful and poetic pastor, led a full and inspiring life, turning to the unending love of God for comfort. And he penned these words: “O love that will not let me go, I rest my weary soul in thee; and I give thee back the life I owe, that in thine ocean depths its flow may richer fuller be.” The love of people may come and go, but God’s love? It never leaves.”

Death is not the only challenge that we must face and find peace. Broken marriages, drug addiction, job loss, health difficulties and any turmoil must be faced and dealt with in our lives. If you can’t find your peace in and through God, life will be extremely difficult.

Allen Jackson on peace:

“God knows what we need, even better than we know it ourselves. Is that settled in your heart? Does your life reflect that reality?”    

“If Jesus said we don’t have to be afraid, we don’t have to be. If Jesus gives me His peace, that’s good enough for me.”     

Allen’s prayer for peace: “Heavenly Father, thank you that in this troubled world You provide peace, security and abundant life through the cross of Jesus Christ. May Your Holy Spirit counsel me daily in Your peace. When I am afraid, I will trust in You. In Jesus’ name, amen.    

 I would love for this blog to be interactive. If you have a story or any thoughts on finding peace, please share. We can help one another!

Thanks

Mike  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Max Lucado material sheared by permission

Standing Firm by Allen Jackson, Intend Publishing, 2018, Shared by permission

 

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Decide to Believe

Max Lucado writes: “Belief happens when we place our confidence in God. It is a decision to lean entirely upon the strength of a living and loving Savior. And to the extent that we do, we will have “life in His name.” This is the purpose of the miracles. John the Apostle recounted signs in this promise: that you and I are never, ever alone.”

“Was this not one of the final promises of Christ? Before he ascended to heaven, he assured his friends, “I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20 ESV). Those words must have meant everything to John. Can you picture the aged apostle as he tells about the day some six decades earlier and a thousand miles removed when Jesus invited him to lay down the fishing net and follow him. John did. You can too. Remember, friend, you are never alone.”

Take note that Max uses three words that call for action on our part. He uses “place” and “decision”. He uses the adverb “entirely”. God is not going to force us into a decision to place our lives in His hands. We have to decide! If we do decide to entirely lean on Him, Jesus will always be with us. We will still experience problems even heartache but knowing He is there gives us peace and comfort. God/Jesus will wrap their loving arms around us and never leave us alone!

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado. Max Lucado’s Daily Devotional.

Thanks

Mike   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

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Max Lucado Devotional

Risk Believing in God

 

When forced to stand at the crossroads of belief and unbelief, God’s people choose belief! God’s people risk believing!  Nowhere is this better exemplified than in Joshua’s story. You could argue that the central message of the book of Joshua is this headline:  “God keeps his promises.  Trust him.”

Three times Joshua declares God did what he said he would do!  1) “The LORD gave all He had sworn to give.”  2) “The LORD gave rest according to all He had sworn to their fathers.”  3) “Not a word failed of any good thing which the LORD had spoken.  All came to pass” (Joshua 21:43-45). Learn from Joshua.  Take a risk. Believe in God. He will do what he has said he will do.

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Results Oriented

I was “raised” in business to be results oriented. Effort was good and necessary but bringing positive results, meaning revenue, was required. If efforts did not bring in the best results, then figure out what needs to be done differently otherwise you should seek employment elsewhere.

That thought and practice has bled over into my spiritual life. In my work with CASA, I can often become frustrated because I cannot see results. Satan puts the thought in my head to give-up. The CASA leadership assures me that volunteers may never see positive results but one day that child may remember us for our efforts.

Trying to serve others for God requires faith and trust in Him. Max Lucado writes about prayer:  “Our prayers may be awkward. Our attempts may be feeble. But since the power of prayer is in the one who hears it and not in the one who says it, our prayers do make a difference.”  Replace the thought of “prayers” with “service” and the same meaning applies. Any service for others in God’s name requires that we rely on his power, not our own. Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV; “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

Keep on with whatever service you are rendering to God and DO NOT let Satan lay doubts on you!

Thanks

Mike   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

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Will You Be Someone for Another?

 
 

When disaster strikes, the human spirit responds by reaching out to help those afflicted.  People stand in line to give blood.  Rescue teams work for endless hours. But the most essential effort is accomplished by another valiant team.  Their task?  To gird the world with prayer. For the most part, we don’t even know their names.

Such is the case of someone who prayed on a day long ago. He went to Jesus on behalf of a friend who was sick. No one was more vital than the one who went to Jesus.  John writes, “So Mary and Martha sent someone to tell Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick” (John 11:3 NCV).  Someone went to Jesus on behalf of Lazarus. And because someone went, Jesus responded!  Would you be someone for someone else?

From Mike:  The problems from COVID 19 are causing death, sickness, unemployment and finanical hardship so pray for others. Even if you don't know anyone personally that's been affected, offer up prayers. The recent hurricane has caused death and so much destruction so please pray. The news shows people in long lines trying to get food and water. Imangine yourself in that line and then your home is completely gone. You must deal with the insurance company and find an honest contractor. Life is upside down. Please pray for these people.

Thanks

Mike   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Max Lucado Daily Devotional

Believe in Him

 

Some historians clump Christ with Moses, Muhammad, Confucius, and other spiritual leaders. But Jesus refuses to share the page. In John 14:6 Jesus declares, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.” He could have scored more points in political correctness had he said, “I know the way,” or “I show the way.” Yet he speaks not of what he does but of who he is: “I am the way!”

His disciple Peter announced, “There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Believe in yourself? No, believe in him. Believe in them? No, believe in him. And John 3:16 promises to those who believe in him “they shall not perish but have eternal life.” Believe in him. Believe in the One He sent!

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

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Daily Devotional by Max Lucado

Let Jesus Teach You

 

Jesus invites, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest…let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28).

Do yourself a favor. Underscore, underline, and accept this invitation. Jesus says,  Let me teach you how to handle long Mondays, and cranky in-laws. Let me teach you why people fight, death comes, and forgiveness counts.

We need answers and Jesus offers them. But can we trust him? There’s only one way to know and that is to seek him out. Lift up your eyes, set your sights on Jesus. No passing glances or occasional glimpses. Search the crowded streets and shadow-casting roofs until you spot his face, then set your sights on him. You’ll find the Only One and Only!

Read more 3:16: The Numbers of Hope
3:16: The Numbers of Hope

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

I was asked how to get these daily devotional thoughts. Click on the website above.

 
 
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Daily Devotion by Max Lucado

God Is Life Himself

 

Life at times appears to fall to pieces. It seems irreparable. But it’s going to be okay! How can you know? Because as John 3:16 says, “God so loved the world!” Those are God’s arms you feel. Trust him. Believe him. Allow the only decision maker in the universe to comfort you. Since he has no needs, you cannot tire him. Since he is without age, you cannot lose him. Since he has no sin, you cannot corrupt him.

Paul said in Romans 8:31, “If God is for us, who can be against us.” If God can make a billion galaxies, can’t he make good out of our bad and sense out of our faltering lives? Of course he can. He is not just alive, but He is life himself. John 5:26 confirms for us,  “The Father has life in himself.” He is God! And God loves you.

From Mike:

Think about what Max writes! Especially in today's world we are looking for peace and comfort. COVID 19 is troubling! People are dying! Folks are out of work! Race relations may be at the all time worst! You may be experiencing personal struggles so where do you turn? Family and friends may be helpful but there is no peace and comfort like God's. I Thessalonians 5:17 tells us to pray continually. If you are not in a prayerful mind, what a great time to start!

 

Read more 3:16: The Numbers of Hope
3:16: The Numbers of Hope

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

 
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Max Lucado Daily Devotional

The 08/05/2020 edition:

 

Unstoppable Love

 

The Bible says,  “The heavens declare the glory of God!”  Our universe is God’s preeminent missionary.  Doesn’t a painting suggest a painter?  Don’t stars suggest a star maker?   Doesn’t creation imply a creator?

Now look within you.  Look at your sense of right and wrong.  Who told you a moral compass exists?  What is this magnetic pole that pulls the needles on the compass of your conscience if not God?  God did this!  The wonders above and within you testify to his existence.  But God not only made the world, He loves the world.  John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world!”  Try that on for size!  The one who formed you pulls for you.  Untrumpable power stoked by unstoppable love!

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More Things I Think About and Wonder About - Edition 4

1. When the doctors tell you there is nothing medically they can do, what do you pray for? First, I believe God wants to be thanked for what He has done for us. He likes to be praised. Even though the doctors can’t heal, God can. Pray that somehow He will make healing happen. Pray for a breakthrough in medicine or a miracle even. Never doubt God’s power and ability! To not pray for complete healing in a time of bad health seems to discount God’s ability, a lack of faith. It’s almost like we have made His mind up for Him. Sometimes we have to accept the situation that death is near, or the patient is not going to make progress, for example an Alzheimer’s patient. Pray for their peace and comfort. Ask God to give them a good day! What does it mean to ask for them to have a good day? One lady takes care of her husband with dementia. He doesn’t or can’t  control his bowels and his bladder. She doesn’t know which it is. He can’t remember who she is at times. He asks why they are living in this place and asks to go to their real home. There is much more she deals with in their daily life. It seems a good day would be to lighten their load.  Romans 12:12, NIV: "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer."

2. When I pray, must I be specific, or can I be general? I like to be specific but sometimes you can’t be specific because of the circumstances. A local man was involved in a very bad car wreck where his friend was killed. From time to time the 82 Market will post requests for prayers for him and his family. I do not know his exact needs, but God does so I ask Him to supply those needs.

Sometimes you hear public prayers that say, “We pray for all those that it’s our duty to pray for”. That’s a catchall that does not work for me in my prayers. It doesn’t mean that using that phrase is wrong, but I believe being specific is a more fervent prayer.

Max Lucado’s Daily Devotional:

“God calls us to pray about everything!  We tell God exactly what we want.  We pray the particulars. When the wedding ran low on wine, Mary wasn’t content to say, “Help us, Jesus.”  She was specific:  “They  have no more wine” (John 2:3).  A specific prayer is a serious prayer.  If I say to you, “Do you mind if I come by your house sometime?” you may not take me seriously. But if I say, “Can I come over this Friday night? I really need your advice.”  Then you know my petition is sincere.  When we offer specific requests, God knows the same!”

“God loves the sound of your voice—always! God never places you on hold or tells you to call again later. He doesn’t hide when you call. He hears your prayers. For that reason “be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6). With this verse the apostle calls us to act against anxiety. We tell God exactly what we want. We pray the particulars of our problems.”

“What Jesus said to the blind man, he says to us. “What do you want me to do for you?” (Luke 18:41 NIV). One would think the answer would be obvious. When a sightless man requests Jesus’ help, isn’t it apparent what he needs? Yet Jesus wanted to hear the man articulate his specific requests. He wants the same from us. “Let your requests be made known to God!” 

3. The following are just a few of the Bible verses directing us to perform good works. Titus 3:1 – “To obey, to be ready for every good work.”.  Titus 3:8 - “That those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works.” Titus 3:14. “And let our people also learn to maintain good works, to meet urgent needs, that they may not be unfruitful.”

Galatians 6:10  “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” James 4:17 “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn't do it, it is sin for them.”

How many good works are enough to satisfy God? If God ranked us on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the highest score on our service, where would I rank? How about you? I do not believe God’s attitude towards our service is score keeping on the big board. “Well, he’s done three services for today so, he’s had a good day!” God knows the opportunities he has given us and measures our service by our responses to those opportunities. God does not NEED our service, but He wants and expects it.

Some might say, “I haven’t had opportunities.” WRONG! You are not looking for the opportunities. Some might say that they “just don’t know how or they do not have that talent”! WRONG! II Corinthians 9:8 “And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”  Philippians 2:13 “for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” God will not ask you to serve Him without equipping you! Still others say, “Well I’m so busy with ….. so I really don’t have time”. If that is your rationale, then think on Revelation 3:16 “So, because you are lukewarm--neither hot nor cold--I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” God expects to be our priority in life.

What does “lukewarm” mean?  These people in Laodicea knew who Jesus was but were indifferent and spiritually apathetic.  For the most part the commentators agree about what Christ meant about lukewarm.

The next question is what does “Spit you out of my mouth” mean? It seems that many preachers and teachers do not want to take on Revelation in sermon or class. The limited number of sermons and discussions I’ve heard define this phrase as a reference to judgement day. Jesus will deny us before God. The commentators are all across the board on this. Some ignore it. Others do not believe it refers to judgement day. They reference verse 19 where He talks about discipling those He loves. Some believe Christ used the phrase just to inspire the church. Others believe it is a direct statement to judgement day! Either way you choose to believe it’s not a comforting feeling to have our Savior spew us out of his mouth.

Thoughts on our service to God by Allen Jackson:

  • “There is no greater investment of a human life than serving God.”
  • “Our highest purpose, whether we are a butcher, a baker, or a candlestick maker, is to serve the Lord with our lives in the midst of these callings.”
  • “God has given every one of us strengths and gifts and abilities. It’s wonderful to see God’s people acknowledge and use what He has gifted us with, and it’s sad to see God’s people deny their gifts and abilities or to let them sit unused. Sometimes people even deny t their gifts out of fear they’ll be asked to use them! God has given us these things in order that we might have a place of service in His Kingdom. Using our gifts and abilities wisely is not only a great responsibility; it’s a great honor.”
  • “When God equips us to do what we feel unqualified for, it is an opportunity to show that He lives in us and works through us.”
  • “Don’t be a spectator. Show your gratitude to the Lord by serving His people.”

“Do you aspire to do great things?  Excel in the small things.  Don’t complain.  Let others grumble, not you.  When you’re given a task, take it.  When you see a hurt, address it.  Compassion matters to God.  This is the time for service, not self-centeredness.  Cancel the pity party.  Love the people God brings to you.  He will work in you what is pleasing to Him.  You will get through this.” Max Lucado Daily Devotional

Too many times we measure our work by expecting great outcomes! Sometimes, although the service we perform may seem small and insignificant to us or others, God loves it! That kind word you speak or kind action you take may have made someone’s day! I’ve been assured by others that shut-ins love cards and notes even an email. Tell someone who is going through a difficult time that you will pray for them. Think about it! The person can see Christ in you!

When you get up tomorrow morning, first thank God for being alive then ask him to lead you to some service for Him. Let Him have your heart!

4. I realize I’m referencing former bosses a lot, but I was fortunate to have a number of good ones along with the awful ones. One boss told me he could live with and forgive honest mistakes people made but he had no tolerance for bad attitudes! If you think about it, most of us feel the same way. Wonder if God feels the same way?

You realize you have sinned and begrudgingly confess asking for forgiveness. You really do so feeling like you had good reason for your attitude. He/she was so hateful to me that he/she needed to be told off. Here’s our rationalization and justification again. Not the attitude God wants. God wants to forgive us when we sincerely confess and ask for forgiveness.

Many years ago a coworker and I were discussing our childhoods. I made a comment about something I had done, and Nita responded that she bet my mother spanked my butt. The next day she was in my office to apologize. When asked what she was apologizing for, she was sorry for using the word butt. Even though I assured her no offense was taken, she believed God had convicted her for using that word. I’m not convinced she sinned, but that’s the right heart.

I’ve heard it from the pulpit and read it by authors that God does not need anything from us. I understand the meaning behind that statement but at the same time, God does not want attitude from us! He can get that from your teenager!

Thanks!

Mike    This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Standing Firm by Allen Jackson, Intend Publishing – 2018 – Used with permission

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Thoughts by Max Lucado

The Better Option

 

I spent too much of a high school summer working in the oil field.  We donned gas masks, waded into ankle deep, contaminated mire.  My mom burned my work clothes.  The stink stunk!  Yours can do the same.  Linger too long in the stench of your hurt, and you’ll smell like the toxin you despise.

The better option?  Join with David as he announces: “The Lord lives.  Blessed be my Rock.  It is God who avenges me.  He delivers me from my enemies.  Therefore I will give thanks to You, O God” (Psalm 18:46-49).  Wander through the gallery of God’s goodness.  Catalog His kindnesses.  Look at what you have.  Let Jesus be the friend you need.  Talk to Him.  Spare no details.  Disclose your fear.  Describe your dread.  You just found a friend for life in Jesus Christ.  What could be better than that?

Read more Facing Your Giants: God Still Does the Impossible

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Our War with Satan

No Evil Is Beyond God’s Reach

 

See the cross on the hill?  Can you hear the soldiers pound the nails?  Jesus’ enemies smirk.  “This time,” Satan whispers, “this time I will win.”  For a sad Friday and a silent Saturday it appeared he had.  What Satan intended as the ultimate evil God used for the ultimate good.  God rolled the rock away, and Jesus walked out on Sunday morning.  If you look closely, you can see Satan scampering from the cemetery with his forked tail between his legs. “Will I ever win? he grumbles.  No, he won’t.

Do you believe no evil is beyond God’s reach?  That He can redeem every pit, including one in which you find yourself?  Trust God.  He’ll get you through this.  Will it be easy or quick?  I hope so, but it seldom is.  Yet God will make good out of this mess.  That’s His job.

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More Things I Think About and Wonder About

Edition 3

The way my mind works is that I need to analyze to understand the how’s and why’s things are the way they are but not from a technical basis. I don’t care how a car runs just that it does. As a kid when my grandparents were visiting, my grandmother would tell my grandfather “Bob, we better go before it gets too dark.” Finally late one afternoon I asked,  “When exactly is “too dark”?  I got in trouble with my mother for asking the question. She thought I was being a smart mouth. I really wanted to understand what my grandmother meant. Never did find out.

The answers, “that’s just the way it is”, “that’s the way life works”, or “that’s the way we’ve always done it” frustrates me. Yes, I’ve given my children and grandchildren these answers mostly out of exasperation because I can’t really explain things. Early in my career I had a boss tell me to never give the answer “that’s the way our company has always done it”. My clients never heard that answer from me because it’s not a satisfactory answer.

My logic does not always seem to be on target with others. Whenever green beans were served, I was made to eat some. “Just try some!” I had already tried them hundreds of times. I just did not like them. But, according to Mom they were good for me and the starving children of Africa, China or take your pick of countries would love to have them. One night at dinner I had a revelation, “I do not like them, and the starving children wanted them so let’s ship them to those children.” My Mother was not happy with my logic and turned to my Father for help. He just shrugged his shoulders. I thought we solved the problem! Those kids are still looking for the green bean shipment.

By the way, when I was in the rehab hospital, the therapist said I was ready to graduate from soup three times per day to pureed food. I was really looking forward to the change. The first morning oatmeal was for breakfast, good start! Some kind of pureed meat, mashed potatoes and pureed green beans were for lunch. The hospital must have bought a train car of green beans because they were served each day at lunch or dinner. To honor my Mother I did try them, but pureed green beans are not any better. I figure Mother was not just smiling from heaven but laughing out loud.

I had a boss, Bill, who told me to never bring him a problem without also bringing him a potential solution. He also told me to view them as “opportunities” not problems. That’s what I am trying to accomplish in this article. These are not problems nor worries but just what I wonder and think about.  Included is what I believe the answer should be. Let me know what your answer is! PLEASE!

1.  While talking with a gentleman recently, he told me he was trying to digest something I had written on the blog. He wasn’t telling me my logic was absolutely wrong but was not sure he agreed with it. I had asked a question about why we think our doctrine must be pure, and perfect without fault, when we don’t live a pure and perfect life. We sin in a number of different ways and believe God will forgive us if we confess and tell him we are sorry. So, if I am in error concerning my beliefs about singing with or without instruments, orphans’ homes, Sunday school, drinking alcohol, etc. am I hell bound? I do not believe I am because my intent is to follow the Bible in all things. If my intent is to go through the Bible to dismiss parts because they don’t suit me or have not kept up with times or social correctness, then I believe I have a problem. My ego has gotten in the way of what the Bible says. Intent is important!

Revelation 22:18-19: “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.”

Example of my thoughts: Barnes seems to believe these verses are about the writing in Revelation only, but Johnson believes the verses are about the entire Bible. Which one is correct in his interpretation?

The elders have allowed me to write articles on the blog for approximately eighteen months. It’s a very serious responsibility so every morning I pray for God’s guidance. No God does not inspire me, but he will lend guidance and understanding if my intent is to use the Bible as a guide.

2.  Why does the scripture record that Jesus cried out in a loud voice asking God, His Father, why he had forsaken Him? Are the writers just reporting the “news of the event” or does it have some meaning? One interpretation is that Jesus’ crying out is taken by some as an abandonment of the Son by the Father. Another interpretation holds that at the moment when Jesus took upon himself the sins of humanity, the Father had to turn away from the Son because the Father is "of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong" (Habakkuk 1:13).

I believe this was recorded to help us have a deeper appreciation for Christ’s suffering. Not only did he suffer extreme physical pain but harsh mental anguish. I’ve never felt abandoned by anyone especially not a parent, but Jesus did feel abandon by God, His Father. We tend to focus on his physical suffering but don’t overlook his emotional suffering. I know people who suffer with anxiety and depression. It’s real and terrible.

3.  Jesus promises that God will provide our needs in Matthew 6:25-34. The promise includes food and clothes then why are people, especially children, going without? Is there a qualification we need to meet? Most commentators write that we must be a believer and “seek first His kingdom and His righteous” and then we will have these blessings. But what do children understand about seeking Him? Are these children going without because of their parent’s lack of seeking God? The only answer I have is Matthew 26:11 “The poor you will always have with you”. This doesn’t really satisfy me.

In Matthew 6:11, the “Lord’s prayer”, we are instructed to ask God to give us “our daily bread”. Why do we need to ask for something he promises us just a few verses later? Some commentators believe that God wants our prayers as a reminder that He is the giver and wants us to continually be reminded that all blessings come from Him.

Philippians 4:19 – “And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Jesus Christ.” When I was growing up, a need and a want were the same thing for me. My “need” was for good reliable transportation to and from school and work. My “want” was for a black Dodge Charger! My grandfather gave me his 1957 Chevy. Wished I still had that car! We should keep the difference between a true need and a want in mind as we pray for God’s blessings.

4.  How long will God hang in there with you? Does he ever just give up on us? Most of my effort with CASA has been with teenage boys. I admit to having the feeling of great frustration with them and their parents. Why am I bothering? Just give up! One young man has been in jail for over three years and another one is headed there on multiple charges and a third is back in jail. But God reminds me of his promise: Deuteronomy 31:8 ESV: “It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” If He’s not willing to give up on His children, why should I? I can’t walk away because I believe I would be giving on God!! He’s hanging in there on these young men.

There were times in my teens and young adulthood that my relationship with God was strained to the max because of the way I was living. I tell Him in my prayers everyday how grateful I am that He hung in there with me. One author wrote, “You will give up on yourself long before God will ever give up on you!” Sorry but I don’t remember the name of the author. If I were God, I would have gotten tired of me a long time ago and let go but praise Him because He hung in there with me! He’ll do the same for you!

5.  Do we believe or understand what we sing in worship and why? Is it possible that we are just going through the motions? Sometimes, I’m just calling words.

For me, How Great Thou Art, is a perfect praise song to God. Read the words. 

Read the following two verses:

Colossians 3:16 ESV “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”

Ephesians 5:19 ESV “Addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart,”.

It’s not just an opportunity to sing to God, it’s a responsibility to sing to one another!  Do You Know My Jesus? is a great song to sing to one another. Near to the Heart of God  is comforting to sing to one another and also a request for Jesus’ help.

Be with Me, Lord by L.O. Sanderson, a minister of the Church of Christ for many years is an excellent form of a prayer song. I cannot sing but by joining with others, hopefully others are encouraged.

We visited a congregation of about one hundred people in a Harding Academy school building one Sunday. The congregation was being criticized by other congregations for doing a number of things during worship. The only one they were guilty of was setting in two semi circles facing each other. They were trying to practice Colossians and Ephesians. When you are facing your brothers and sisters to encourage them, it’s very difficult to avoid singing. Yes, it was intimidating at first, but it brings you to the realization of the value of encouraging one another in song and hymns.

6.   Sometimes being a Christian is a tall task! The Bible tells us we are to love everybody, even our enemies without exception. I Corinthians 13 describes what love is and is not without exception. We are to pray for our enemies without exception. The only exceptions come from our great ability to rationalize and justify. One of my justifications is people with huge egos who think rules, laws, etc. are meant for you and me certainly NOT them. Many times their arrogance causes me not to love.

This is not a real scenario but very plausible. You are driving on 231 North and you see Filbert, who is an ego maniac, standing by his car looking at a flat tire. Do you stop to see if you can be of assistance or just drive on? You notice Filbert is on a cell phone probably calling for roadside assistance, so you turn your head and speed up hoping he doesn’t see you. Some of us might smile and wave as we drive by enjoying his problem! Did you demonstrate Christian love? Would you have stopped if it had been Mrs. Filbert? Just how far do we have to take “love”? As far as God does!

Will God not allow me just a few exceptions every once in a while? Seems like a reasonable request! I don’t believe he does. Remember the Bible records no exceptions nor justifications.

Thanks

Mike   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

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