Psalm 12:1 – Help, Lord, for no faithful one remains; the loyal have disappeared from the human race. (HSCB)
Psalm 12 reads as if it were written this morning! I look at the news reports and see sin not only accepted but encouraged. People are lying to one another, speaking with flattering lips. Parents are lying to their children, causing confusion and feelings of entitlement. Any lifestyle is acceptable as long as the person is happy. I recently saw an interview with a mother and her teenage son-now-daughter. The son-now-daughter was sad because all of her female friends wanted boyfriends but she liked hanging out in a group. Her mother arranged a date with another girl because possibly son-now-daughter was gay but definitely she was sad and she deserved to be happy. Young adults have been taught they can declare the elected leader of our country not their president because he is not their choice. Women are celebrating from platforms the legality of murdering a baby both in the womb and in the delivery room (v.8 – the wicked freely strut about when what is vile is honored among men) Is the phrase “we own our lips” (v.4) really different from “I own my body”? Society is buying into “my body, my choice”. Satan planted the seed of entitlement with Eve and has never stopped cultivating it. Churches are succumbing to the lies of the world. Have the faithful vanished and the loyal disappeared (v.1)? Living for God in a deceitful world can be difficult and lonely, but we are never alone. We may want to surrender to the lies spoken by the world, but God speaks truth and His words are flawless (v.6). The first two words of verse 1 should be our cry!
Proverbs 3:5 –Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; (HCSB)
My friend’s mother-in-law invited Friend and Husband to dinner every Monday night and would serve their favorite fried chicken meal. MiL’s plan: They could enjoy their favorite meal without spending the time to cook it all. Friend’s perception: She thinks her chicken is better than mine.
After eating, Friend and Husband were free to enjoy the evening but nothing was done in the kitchen while they were there. MiL’s plan: They can enjoy a relaxing evening with no responsibilities. Friend’s perception: She doesn’t want me in her kitchen.
Because they each had their own skewed view, what MiL saw as pleasing; Friend saw as pushy. As MiL became more involved, Friend became more irritated. Instead of bonded in MiL’s caring, Friend felt bondage in her control.
There have been times my perception of God was skewed.
God’s plan: I know more about the situation than you can see and have a better way for you (Jeremiah 29:11). My perception: God doesn’t love me enough to give me what I want.
God’s plan: Be still and wait patiently until the time is right (Psalm 37:7a). My perception: God isn’t answering my prayers.
God’s plan: I am closing this door because that is not a path you need to take (Proverbs 3:6) My perception: I am comfortable on this path. Why is God making my life difficult?
Dr. Wayne Dyer said,” If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” Maybe if my friend had changed the way she looked at things, her relationship with her mother-in-law would have been one of happiness rather than hostility. Maybe if I changed the way I look at things, my relationship with God will be one of praise rather than pouting. May I praise His name forever.
Matthew 10:31 – So don’t be afraid therefore; you are worth more than many sparrows. (HCSB)
As believers, we say we serve a big God. We sing songs about our powerful and mighty God. We quote scripture about moving mountains. We believe He can move the mountain, but do we believe He will move the bump? We believe He cares about the rockslides along our journey but don’t want to bother Him with the pebbles in our path. If we believe nothing is too big for Him, why do we have so much trouble believing nothing is too small? “Big” and “small” are our labels, not God’s. The same God who spoke the universe into existence (Genesis 1) knows the hairs on my head (Luke 12:7). I am God’s creation (Genesis 1:27). He cares about my worries, my hurts, my anxieties (1 Peter 5:7). When you love someone, the tiniest details become important, and God loves me so much He gave His Son to die for me (John 3:16). As the saying goes “don’t sweat the small stuff” because there’s nothing that my God can’t do!
Exodus 17:12 – When Moses’ hands grew heavy, they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat down on it. Then Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other so that his hands remained steady until the sun went down. (HCSB)
In Exodus 17:9 Moses tells Joshua to go fight against the Amalekites. Usually Moses was the leader in front of the people, but this time he tells Joshua to lead the army while he stands on a nearby hill with God’s staff in his hand. Moses was a man, chosen by God to do great miracles, but still a man. He probably began the day with great energy and joy at holding his arms in the air. Then time went on. His arms begin to go numb. His heart begins to pump harder. He begins to feel sick and dizzy. He needs relief so he lets his arms down. Immediately the army’s triumph becomes tragedy. For the next several hours it was arms up, arms down, arms up, arms down. Moses tries to raise the staff again but his fingers are on fire. Limp noodles have replaced his arms. His toes are in a frozen curl from foot cramps. His knees are beginning to buckle. So, God sends a bolt of lighting and instantly Moses is transformed into a super hero, cape floating in the breeze, and the Amalekites faint in terror. No, God did not send lighting to cause an alteration but friends to give assistance. God did not remove Moses from the hill but sent friends to stand by him, support him, and help him continue. They didn’t fight for the position or try to replace Moses. They struggled to position a rock so Moses could sit but still be seen. They stood and held his arms upright even after theirs began to tire. Doe Zantamata said, “Good friends help you find important things when you have lost them … your smile, your hope, your courage.” Lord, help me today to be a good friend to my spiritual leaders. May my kindness bring a smile, my encouragement give hope, and my prayers build courage.
Colossians 2:8 -Be careful that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit based on human tradition, based on the elemental forces of the world, and not based on Christ. (HCSB)
In Paul’s day a magician was called a philosopher, so in v.8, Paul is saying “don’t be fooled by smoke and mirrors and slight of hand.” I once heard someone say that cults prey on Christians because the average Christian only knows the scripture someone else has told him. As part of a Bible study, my husband once made a list of well known and often quoted “scripture” verses that aren’t scripture at all.
- “God works in mysterious ways” (from a 19th century hymn written by William Cooper)
- “Cleanliness is next to Godliness” (coined by John Wesley, founder of the Methodist Church)
- “Spare the rod, spoil the child” (possibly a paraphrase of Proverbs 13:24 – “the one who withholds the rod is one who hates his son”, but Samuel Butler, a 17th century British poet, actually coined the phrase)
- “Pride goes before a fall” (possibly a paraphrase of Proverbs 16:18 — “Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall”)
- “This too shall pass” (from an old English poem)
- “God helps those who help themselves” (credit is given to Ben Franklin but is also found in one of Aesop’s Fables)
- “the lion shall lay down with the lamb” (possibly from paintings done about scripture that includes animals, but Isaiah 11:6 says “The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together”
- “it is good that man show moderation in all things” (Aristotle’s Doctrine of the Mean)
- “The Lord works in mysterious ways” (possibly a link to Isaiah 55:8 – “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord”, but the first stanza of a poem by William Cowper reads, “God moves in a mysterious way”)
- “Money is the root of all evil” (very close to 1 Timothy 6:10 – “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and by craving it, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.’)
Satan will use our false knowledge to create smoke and mirrors and slight of hand. He rearranged words, mixed some lies with truth, and misquoted scripture with Jesus (Matthew 4), and we are easy prey to him when we “almost” know God’s Word. Instead of relying on “scripture” we heard from someone else, let us study our Bibles, talk to God in prayer, and be able to join the psalmist in declaring “I have thought much about your words and stored them in my heart so that they would hold me back from sin.” (Psalm 119:11 TLB)
Matthew 17:20 – “Because of your little faith,” He told them. “For I assure you: If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will tell this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you. (HCSB)
Have you ever had a Bible verse that you have probably read hundreds of times, heard read thousands of times, and heard explained too many times to count? That is Matthew 17:20 for me, but today I saw a word I had never really seen before, this. A very small word, a word easy to slide over while focusing on the “important” words, a somewhat insignificant word. Is it insignificant? Many Bible scholars and great Bible preachers have explained about moving the mountain, how it takes great faith, how it may take a shovel, how it may even involve moving one rock at a time. But, Jesus does not say move “a mountain”, and He does not say move “every mountain”; He says move “this mountain”. How many times have I prayed with a friend going into surgery and asked God to bless the medical staff, to calm my friend’s nerves, to make the surgery a success but failed to pray for miraculous healing simply because I didn’t believe it would happen? Because of your little faith. I believe God can do it, I’m just not convinced He will. If you have faith the size of a mustard seed. There have been times I prayed for miracles that didn’t happen. That was another mountain, not this mountain. The dictionary defines this as “a pronoun used to identify a specific person or thing close at hand or being indicated or experienced”. You will tell this mountain to move and it will move, not last year’s mountain, not a mountain from once before, not someone else’s mountain but this specific mountain that is close at hand being experienced right now. God tells us to call on Him and He will show us things we can’t even imagine (Jeremiah 33:3). Maybe that means telling this mountain to get out of my way!
1 Chronicles 16:11 – Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always (NIV)
I am a planner who thrives on making a list. I have an ongoing To Do list and sometimes a daily To Do list. I especially love those big check marks that signify the job is done and I have been known to add a completed chore to the list just so I can mark it off! I have a calendar with huge blocks filled with eye-catching multicolored commitments because I am not simply a planner, I am an organized planner. I shop with a list and the most efficient route mapped out for my errands, but I am not rigid in my plans should a friend surprise me with a “let’s go out” call! Sometimes surprises are like a warm hug – an unexpected gift, a dinner invitation after a long day, a spontaneous day out with friends. Sometimes surprises are more like a fall down the stairs. One Friday my mom was admitted to the hospital for a night of simple observation. I went to visit her, planning to possibly stay the week-end but as my mom’s prognosis changed, so did my plans. My possible one week-end became a definite two weeks. During those two weeks I felt more scattered than organized, more chaos than control, but also during those two weeks I understood the truth of the old hymn that says “where could I go but to the Lord?” or as 1 Chronicles 16:11 puts it “Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always”. Seek His face. Remember His wonders. Know that my lists and my plans, no matter how organized or how many checks, can never replace the peace that comes with knowing God is in control.
John 16:33 – I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.” (HCSB)
My friend and I were discussing the troubles in life, and basically surmised “no one ever thinks it will happen to them”. Jesus said there would be suffering in the world, but surely He didn’t mean in MY world. I quote the scripture and sing the songs but am dumbfounded when any unpleasantness happens to me. Somewhere in my subconscious I think Jesus meant other people would have problems, irritations, and illnesses, not me. I read about Job. I quote scripture from his book and share his story to hold him up as an example ……. for others, never for a moment believing God would allow me to suffer that way. I promote and proclaim that all things should bring glory to God and stand on a platform of praising God through the good and the bad ….. until something bad happens to me. When bad things happen to you, I can share with you the importance of using your pain to witness to others. When bad things happen to me, it’s all different. I cry out “why me?” and demand God explain Himself for allowing this to happen. Sometimes the pain isn’t about me but about bringing others into the presence of God. I may try to make it all about me, but it’s not. Sometimes my trials have a purpose I can’t see, a purpose I can’t understand. God does not take joy in seeing me suffer. He takes joy in seeing me praise Him in the good times and the bad times. He takes joy in seeing my faith and having my actions and attitude cause others to want to know Him. St. John Chrysostom says, “Do you seek any further reward beyond that of having pleased God? In truth, you know not how great a good it is to please Him.”
Romans 3:24 –“All need to be made right with God by his grace, which is a free gift. They need to be made free from sin through Jesus Christ” (NCV).
I am totally hooked on Bible journaling. I love the drawings in the open spaces, the swirls and curls, and all the fancy lettering to capture the scripture. I love combining the neon of gel pens and the softness of colored pencils to highlight God’s word. There is only one small problem, actually a BIG problem ….. I have the artistic skills of a one toed bullfrog. Actually, I should probably apologize to the bullfrog for the comparison. Imagine my delight to discover an online DIY site that offers page after page of “free” Bible journaling pictures. I can print these “free” pictures and trace them to make my Bible a colorful masterpiece of images and fancy lettering. I can use these “free” pictures to have my favorite verses jump out as I turn the pages. And its all “free” ….. for a starting price of $1.99. I recently upgraded my cell phone and was offered a “free” accessory …. for $10. A company specializing in storage containers offers a life time guarantee of free replacement. The container is free but there is a charge for placing the order, a handling charge, a shipping charge, and possibly even a replacement charge. There always seems to be a catch, something in the fine print, a loophole saying “I will give you this free gift but you will have to pay for it.” And we wonder why the world is skeptical about the free gift of salvation! Salvation is a gift to us with no hidden charges and no fine print. We don’t have to do anything to earn our salvation because it has already been done and is the greatest gift (free or costly) we’ll ever be offered. The words Elvina M. Hall wrote in 1865 are still true for us today – “Jesus paid it all.” When Christ spoke on the cross “It is finished” (John 19:30), He was using an accounting term meaning “paid in full”. Salvation is absolutely free, the true gift of God in Christ, and our only responsibility is to receive the gift by faith.