and the One who walks with me on it.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

To See, or Not To See, (that is the question)

       It’s and I’m already at work.  Of course, I work in the same place I live, for I am the butler of an important man.  My first duty is to prepare for when my employer wakes up.  I set out his clothing, open the newspaper on his table, begin cooking his breakfast, and squeeze the orange juice.  As I leave the house in the cool morning dawn to prepare for the day, I feel uncomfortable, but I’m not sure why.  Most days I walk the same path, but this time I gaze upward and what I see terrifies me.

       There is a vast army surrounding our town!  We weren’t at war yesterday when I went to bed!  What has happened?  There is equipment out there that is aimed to kill us.  What did we do?  I begin to panic and run into the house to tell my employer.  In my haste I stumble over the words to tell him and he finally understands the predicament we are in, but instead of being frightened or anxious, he is very calm.  I do not understand how he can be that way since he now sees what I am seeing.  “What do we do?” I cry.

         He reaches out his hand to squeeze my shoulder and says, “Don’t be afraid, it will be okay.  We have more men on our side than that.”  What does he mean?  There are no friendly soldiers here.  None of our troops are armed and ready to defend us in battle for they are all in other cities.  All I see is the vast number of enemy soldiers ready to kill.  My employer knows I am fearful, so he prays for me, not that I be protected, but that I would see!  See what, for I surely see the enemy waiting to destroy.  This time when I look up, I see another vast army around us, and they appear to be on fire but not consumed!  They are ready to fight for us.

       My employer prays for the enemy to be blinded (by delusion) and we lead them to the capital as PoW’s.  Once there, he prays for them to see, and they do...  I guess what I learned from today is that we see only natural things from our natural eyes, but there is another kingdom we do not see with our natural eyes but our ‘spiritual eyes’, and that sight is only given by Jehovah God, our Creator.  My employer Elisha knew this and that is why he was at peace when I was not.  Perhaps I can change so that I remain at peace. 
(*the real story)

                                                   *  *  *  *  *
       We are all guilty of looking out the window of life at trials and tribulations with our natural eyes because that is what we are used to.  We see large mountains looming ahead for us to traverse, vast enemies surrounding us, arrows aimed at our hearts, the world crashing down around us, etc.  But what is God seeing?  He sees a mountain path that He helps us up, an army of angels to defend us, His shield to protect us, and us, upheld and protected in the palm of His hand.  Perspective.  Just like Elisha’s servant, I think we need to start seeing more from God’s perspective than our own.  Just my opinion.

*Therefore sent he thither horses, and chariots, and a great host: and they came by night, and compassed the city about. And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do? And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. And Elisha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.
And when they came down to him, Elisha prayed unto the LORD, and said, Smite this people, I pray thee, with blindness. And he smote them with blindness according to the word of Elisha. And Elisha said unto them, This is not the way, neither is this the city: follow me, and I will bring you to the man whom ye seek. But he led them to Samaria. And it came to pass, when they were come into Samaria, that Elisha said, LORD, open the eyes of these men, that they may see. And the LORD opened their eyes, and they saw; and, behold, they were in the midst of Samaria.  2Kn. -20

Friday, May 25, 2012

Twenty Four Years

       I remember the day my fiancĂ© told everyone at church that I’d accepted his proposal.  All of a sudden fear came over me and I wanted to bolt.  Seriously, I thought, I’ve never even been with any person other than family for even 24 hours, how would I possibly survive a lifetime.  We were married in 1988 on a warm summer day outside in one of our favorite places- Point Pelee National Park.  It didn’t go exactly as planned, but none of that mattered because I was marrying the man I loved.

Hubby when I hadn't given him any grey hair yet!
       This August will be our 24th anniversary, and I didn’t know if we’d make it 24 hours!  But here we are.  My husband knows me ‘warts and all’ and he still loves me.  I know him ‘warts and all’, but what I didn’t expect on that day I said, “I do” is that I would love him more everyday because the love would continue to grow.  We’ve been through a lot together, good and bad, and I can’t imagine a man who could put up with me as well as he has! J J J

       It was the same with the Lord and me 29 years ago.  We were ‘married’ in a private ‘ceremony’ in the middle of a packed arena, and my life was never the same.  My love for Him grew everyday, for about the first six months, then times of backsliding came in.  Still, over the years it amazed me how the love could continue to grow as I got to know Him more.  The Lord’s love has been complete from the beginning, and what a comfort it is to know deep down inside that He loves me dearly- it makes life worth living.

       The Lord knows me better than my best friend, my husband and my family put together.  He also knows the thoughts (Ps. 94:11) I don’t share with anyone.  He sees all my ‘warts’ (Ps. 33:13) and still loves me.  Even in the times I was so angry at Him for not answering my prayers the way I wanted, He never abandoned me (Dt. 31:8).  In fact, every now and then I wonder why He ever put up with me, and then I recall His great love for me (Rom. ,39).  Who am I to deserve that kind of love?  “…What is man, that thou art mindful of him?...”  (Heb. 2:6)

       And the love keeps growing, daily as I sit in His presence and take the time to get to know (Jer. 31:34) Him better (Col. 1:10).  Who knew?  There is no way I would have understood this kind of relationship when I first knew Him.  My ideas on our relationship were still too immature back then, but now I realize what a precious gift it is to be in an amazing relationship with an awesome God.  There is no better life.

Precious Lord, thank You for being with me everyday, and for loving me.  Thank You for guiding my steps to a deeper understanding of Who You are to me.

I love You!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Trees that Would Not Be

        My grandparents who lived on the right side of us grew fruit trees, and we were able to enjoy the ‘fruits’ of their labour.  One year my mom decided to try and grow a couple of fruit trees.  (We’ll say they were nectarines because I can’t really remember.)  As a child I was excited that we’d be able to enjoy this awesome fruit, but very disappointed to find out the tree wouldn’t be mature enough to provide fruit the very first year.

       We watched the tree grow that first year, and the next year I was ready for that juicy fruit to arrive  but it didn’t.  By the next year, we knew something was wrong and we wouldn’t be getting any fruit, but my parents didn’t know why.  Were the trees bad to start with?  Had we done something wrong?  No one figured it out, and eventually, when the trees stopped growing well, so we cut them down.

       The Bible says a lot about fruit, likening it to characteristics such as “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” (Gal ).  In my opinion, the reason we prefer this verse on fruit is because most of us can say we already have many of these traits in some portion, so it doesn’t hold us as accountable as other verses do:

Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:  Mt. 3:8
Bring forth fruit that is consistent with repentance [let your lives prove your change of heart]  Mt. 3:8 Amp
 (believers)that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.  Acts 26:20

       My family learned that good trees produce good fruit.  If a fruit tree cannot bear fruit, it isn’t useful for its intended purpose.  So, in our lives, changed hearts should produce changed lives.  Fruit is the evidence/ result of what the tree is, it does not strain to produce, but it naturally occurs.  Works of repentance do not save, but they are the evidence of a change of heart/ inner change.  As believers, the fruit should be a natural outcome of our new status in Christ Jesus.  If it is a strain for us to produce fruit, perhaps we should question whether or not a real change has occurred.  In other words, our change should naturally produce holy lives/ living:

But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.  Rom.
(For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;)  Eph. 5:9
For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.  1Th. 4:7
Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.  2Cor. 7:1

       Holiness is not a topic we hear about so much anymore.  Is it because holiness convicts us of the lifestyles that we live?  Are we living good, righteous and honest lives?  Are we watching and listening only to things that are good, righteous and honest?  Are we speaking only things that ate good, righteous and honest?  If not, then how can we say we are bearing fruit?  God says, “…be ye holy; for I am holy(1Pt. ).  He didn’t say- only in the ways you wanna be!

       These days we replace holiness with serving: visiting nursing homes, missions trips to build homes in needy countries, and other charity work.  Holiness is also replaced by: retreats on how to be better Christians (are they working?), parents or spouses, activities in team building and co-operation, and our one hour and fifteen minute Sunday services.  We even practice our fruit of the Spirit at church baseball games, multi-denominational fellowships and such but still, no mention of holiness and the fruits of a truly repentant heart (one that turns away from a life of sin).  Jesus returns for His church soon.  Will we be ready?

That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.  
          Eph. 5:26,27

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Power Greater than our Methods

       I’ve never been great in crowds.  So it was one afternoon, I found myself in a large, excited crowd waiting to get in to an auditorium for an event.  There was only enough room to turn around a two by two foot square of ground for most of the time we waited outside, but then, when the doors opened, the crowds pressed in- in a race for the best seats.  My two by two spot quickly disappeared and I could feel strangers pushing at me from all sides.

       You couldn’t have given me a million dollars to point out a single individual who was touching me for those few minutes.  There was just too much going on, too much sensory input for me to notice a particular person, and my focus was on getting to a specific location but about 2000 years ago, Jesus knew He’d been touched by a woman in a similar crowd:

And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years, And had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse,
When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched (the border of) his garment.  For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole. And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague.  Mk. 5:25-29

       This woman was broke, sick, and tired of being sick.  She was finding no help with man and their methods.  One day, she hears about Jesus and the healing miracles at His hands.  Who knows how long she had to wait after that until He was close enough for her to reach, but she believed if she could only touch his clothing, she would be healed.  In her weakened condition, she would have had to struggle to press through the throng to even get close enough to touch him, but she was desperate, and that gave her the resolve she needed.

       One touch of Jesus and she was instantly healed- she could feel it!   Jesus didn’t lay a hand on her, He didn’t speak words to her, He didn’t realize she was there… right up until she touched Him and virtue (Gr. dunamis = miraculous power) went out from Him. 

And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes? And his disciples said unto him, Thou seest the multitude thronging thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me? And he looked round about to see her that had done this thing.
But the woman fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before him, and told him all the truth. And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.   Mk. 5:30-34  (also Mt. ; Lk. )

       His disciples must have thought Jesus was nuts when He asked who touched Him because the people were pressed up against Him (press- thronging) and there would be no natural way for them to figure out who specifically touched Him.  But Jesus knew, and He turned to look at her.  She must have been shocked to be ‘caught’ and perhaps worried that He would be angry, so she fell at His feet for mercy.  I’m sure His heart was aching for her with all she’d been through, so He simply told her to go in peace- whole (healthy).

       One thing stands out to me today.  There were plenty of people who were touching Jesus at the time, but scripture records healing virtue leaving only once… to the woman who had faith.  Where was the faith of the others in the crowd?  Did they feel their healing could only be had by Jesus’ touch or words?  How many of them missed out on healing because they simply could not understand that Jesus’ power was greater than purely words or touch, and could be displayed in whatever way God chose?  The woman chose not to box God in to a standard method of healing, and her faith was rewarded.  We have that same choice.

We can choose to be one of the crowd pressing in but not receiving anything, or we can allow God to move outside the box of our predetermined methods, and just see what great things He will do in our lives!!!

Monday, May 21, 2012

A Peculiar Request

       He stood up before the judge and the two men who had viciously taken the life of his son to read his victim impact statement before the sentencing:  Your Honor, I have suffered a great loss, that of my only child.  These men have taken his precious life from me and I will never have the privilege of watching him become the man he should have been, raise a family and bear grandchildren to my name.  I therefore humbly ask that you consider my request to present this proposal to the murderers of my son

       They may choose to pay for their crimes and live out the rest of their lives in prison, or they may become my sons (following in my footsteps) with all rights and privileges therein.  The judge agreed to the request, and the proposal was put forth to the two men guilty of murder.  One of the men laughed derisively at the father calling him a fool and was led off to prison, but the other guilty man accepted the proposal, and walked home with the father as his son.

       Does this seem like a crazy, far-fetched story?  Actually, it is the very real situation that you and I- the whole world really- are in today.  The Father deeply loved Jesus, “As the Father hath loved me…” (John 15:9)  We despised the Son; we murdered Him by rejecting what He did for us and instead of instant condemnation, the Father gave us a choice: follow Him and become His sons, or pay the penalty for our sin.

In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.  1John 4:9,10
He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?  Rom.
But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.  Gal. 4:4,5

       Why, oh why would the Father ever consider such a proposal?  It is for love of us, His lost ones on our path to the judgment we deserve.  His love is proven in the very fact He sent His only Son down in the weak and mortal body of a human to show us the way of life, though the Father knew what we would do to Jesus.  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son…” (John 3:16)  Crazy or not, the Father loves us and gives us a choice to follow Him and be His sons: 

-Disregard and walk away from His proposal for your life and face judgment… (Rom. 2:5,6)

-Or believe and accept His offer (though undeserved) and be adopted into His family. (Rom. ,15; Eph. 1:5)

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Rom. ,39

Sunday, May 20, 2012

What About Me? (A story)

       I had not slept very well.  My conscience was bothering me, so I went for an early morning walk in the city square.  Once there, I looked through the booths offering various wares, treasures and food.  I handed over a bit of money for some sweet bread, and continued walking in the cool of the morning.  Oh, what had I done?  It felt so good last night, but I knew it was so wrong.  Too late; what was done can not be undone…

       Perhaps I should go pray; perhaps Jehovah would not strike me dead if I went to speak to Him in His holy place.  Maybe I could find a way out of this mess I have gotten myself into.  As I get closer to the Temple, it feels like people are staring at me.  I think they know what I have done and they despise me for it.  I am wicked; I am not worthy to be here.  Oh, such a failure I am. 

       Shame and guilt for what I’ve done consume my mind.  I enter into the courtyard close to the wall to hide myself from the others whom I feel must know what I’ve become.  I watch as a young rabbi writes lessons in the dirt to teach those who have gathered about him, listening intently.

       Soon after I see the man teaching, a commotion begins outside the yard.  What has happened this early in the day?  As I watch, a young woman is pulled through the crowds by an angry mob.  She is a mess; tears mixed with dirt and grime streak her face.  Her hair is tangled and her clothing is filthy from being half dragged through the city.

Vasily Polenoy, 1888

       For a brief moment she looks straight at me and I see my shame and guilt mirrored in her face; she is so afraid.  I think, “What about me?”  My heart aches for her; the only difference between us is that she was caught, while I was not!  Some of the crowd that brought her spit near her feet, others call her terrible names, but they all look at her with loathing as a thing despised.  They tell the rabbi that she was caught in adultery and ask him what should be done.

       As she hides her face in shame, the yet unspoken words I expect to hear are already ringing in my ears… stone her.  That is what has been taught and followed since the days of Moses.  But instead of answering the angry mob, the rabbi ignores them and continues writing.  What is he doing?  As the woman stares down in shame and her hands tremble in fear, the mob continues to ask what should be done.  The teacher will surely condemn her making my guilt complete, and I will watch her die for what we both have done.

       Finally, the rabbi stands up and says an unexpected thing, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her” and stoops down to write again.  What does that mean, I’m so confused… she is just a woman, yet he condemns her not.  One by one the angry mob departs leaving the woman standing alone.  No one has condemned her because the teacher has used wisdom to show them their own sinfulness.  Who is this man?

       With compassion and love the rabbi stands to speak to the woman, tells her he does not condemn her and she should go and sin no more.  Tears of relief fall down her face, and she leaves quickly before anything else goes wrong.  As for me, I stay to listen to the rabbi’s teaching.  He has shown me that I do not have to continue in sin.  Forgiveness and a new start can be mine.  Perhaps one day I will ask him,
“What about me?”

       We can all ask, “What about me?” for we are all sinners (1).  We all fail time and again (2).  Our sin, shame and guilt weigh us down (3) so we are in bondage and slaves to our sin (4,8).  But there is One who does not condemn us (5).  In fact, He willingly gave up His life (6) to save us (7) and set us free of our bondage (8).  Despite our sin, Jesus looks at us with love and compassion, and reminds us we don’t have to continue in sin for He is the way of life (9).  "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1John 1:9)  We can find forgiveness in Him,

Lord God, thank You that despite all my sins and failures, You still love me, do not condemn me, but show me I can start anew once again.

Story based on John 8:1-11

1- Rom.                 4- Acts                        7- Luke
2- Pr. 24:16                  5- John                        8- John -36
3- Heb. 12:1                 6- John ,18                 9- John 14:6