Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Remember This Day in Which You Came Out of the House of Slavery

Then Moses said to the people, "Remember this day in which you came out from Egypt, out of the house of slavery, for by a strong hand the Lord brought you out from this place. No leavened bread shall be eaten.  (Exodus 13:3. ESV.)

I am guilty of forgetting all the Lord has done for me.  There are days I struggle with my sin of discontentment.  I am tempted and gaze upon what my neighbor has and covet it.  But despite where I fall short, my God is always faithful to me! 

The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people.  (Exodus 13:22. ESV.)

I, like the Hebrews, have called out and pleaded for something only to be ungrateful and dissatisfied.  I sit today and my thoughts are not captive.  They swirl around in a cyclone reeking havoc.  But I have nothing about which to worry or be anxious!  God directs my heart to continue to be still and have complete trust in Him as the sovereign God of my vapor of a life.  He will "fight" for me in my trials.  I "have only to be silent".  Am I capable of keeping my big mouth shut?! 

12 Is not this what we said to you in Egypt: ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.” 13 And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. 14 The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” (Exodus 14:12-14. ESV.)

He Rescued Me From My Strong Enemy And From Those Who Hated Me

He rescued me from my strong enemy and from those who hated me, for they were too mighty for me.  18 They confronted me in the day of my calamity, but the LORD was my support.  19 He brought me out into a broad place; he rescued me, because he delighted in me.  (Psalm 18:17-19. ESV.)

Praise the God of my salvation that He delights in me though I come before Him empty handed.  I stand at the throne of grace unable to ever pay anything back, rather only to receive.

I am my own enemy!  Like Sarah (with Abraham) who was promised a NATION, I try to rush things.  Impatiently, I (was tempted and) took what the flesh wanted 14 years ago and continue to reap the harvest to this day!  Similar to Sarah, I did not wait on the Lord.  Yet, though she messed up royally, God STILL blessed her!  And He will do the same for me! 

21 And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen. 22 And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” (Matthew 21:21-22. ESV.)

("Tweeting the Bible in a Year")

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Friday, May 27, 2011

If You Do Not Forgive Your Brother From Your Heart


23 “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. 24 When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. 25 And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27 And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. 

28 But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30 He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. 

31 When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. 32 Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ 34 And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. 35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”
 (Matthew 18:23-35. ESV.)

What a sobering parable when it comes to forgiveness!  As I read, a person popped into my mind.  Someone I have witnessed who does not forgive.  Years pass, and still bitterness is in on the lips of this particular individual.  I look to my own life and ask, "Do I properly forgive others as I wish to be forgiven?"

The two lines that provoke the most thought in me are:
33 And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?

And
 
35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.

FROM YOUR HEART!  Three important words!  I think of a man standing before His King and hearing Him say, "Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow man, as I did on you?". How humbling!  How distressing!  To be hauled off to jail because of stubborn pride!!!  To be punished, imprisoned, bound because of an unwillingness to do for others as one would want done for himself/herself!  How terribly sad!

Pride is such an ugly thing!  To think of and favor one's self above all others.  Lord, please strip me of my pride!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Friday Featured Writer: Kevin Weatherby


I am so excited to introduce you to today's "Featured Writer", the author of the book THE GREAT COW-MISSION! I met Mr. Kevin Weatherby on Twitter but when he did a guest post on Carl's "I'd Laugh...but All This Happened to Me!" blog I knew I absolutely had to highlight his fantastic writing here! Below is a post from Kevin's blog "Campfire Cowboy Ministries" however, I also HIGHLY recommend his "guest post" entitled "Encounters with God"!!!

The Greatest Cowboy Alive
by KEVIN on MAY 17, 2011

One day in a bar, a man was braggin’ about how tough he was. He boasted of his strength over man and beast and how he was a man’s man if there ever was one. A cowgirl who was standing close by said, “The toughest men I ever saw were cowboys and you couldn’t hold a candle to them.”

The man made a bet with the whole bar that he would become the greatest cowboy there ever was and prove once and for all that he was the greatest man alive.

He went to a cowboy he’d often seen having coffee at a local cafe every morning. He asked the cowboy what he must do in order to become the greatest cowboy.

The old cowboy was thoughtful for a moment and then said, “In order to become the greatest cowboy ever, I reckon you’ll have to learn the way of the rope, the way of the horse, and the way of life. If you can become the best at all three of these, you’ll be the greatest cowboy every.”

The man left and went straight to the feed store where he bought a rope. He signed up for roping lessons and devoted all of his time and energy to learning the way of the rope.

Years later, the man was winning rodeo after rodeo in the steer trippin’, calf ropin’, and team ropin’. He impressed old and young alike with his skills with a rope. Finally, after winning the world championship in all three events, he decided that he had learned the way of the rope.

He then set out on the next leg of his journey. He found a cowboy that trained horses and studied under him for years. He learned how to halter break, train the horse to ride, and even beyond that. His horses became known as the best horses around and people came to him with all their horses.

Finally, he had learned to break every type of horse there was and was world renowned. He had finally learned the way of the horse and become the best in the world.

On his last task, he took all the money from his ropin’ success and combined it with all the money from his training and bought the biggest ranch in the United States. He stocked it with the best cattle that money could buy and only had top quality horses. His ranch was featured in Western Horsemen, American Cowboy, and there was even a story about all his success in the Wall Street Journal. They called him “The Greatest Cowboy Alive”.

With this new title, he went back to the little cafe and found the same old cowboy sitting at the same old table in the same old chair. But to his surprise, there with the old cowboy, was the cowgirl that had first made the challenge to him in the bar all those years ago.

The man swaggered up to the table and threw down a copy of the paper in front of both of them and smiled at her as he said, “I told you that I was the toughest, greatest man alive. I have conquered everything that this cowboy said I had to do to become the greatest cowboy alive.”

The old cowboy sipped his coffee as he read the article. After a minute he looked up and asked, “What did the way of the rope teach you?”

“That there is nothing that walks on legs or crawls on a belly that I cannot rope!”

The cowboy nodded his head and asked again, “What did the way of the horse teach you?”

“That there is no horse alive that I cannot make do what I want them to!”

The cowboy looked thoughtfully and finally asked, “What did the way of the cowboy life teach you?”

“That I have the biggest, best ranch in the United States and on this ranch is the best cattle and best horses that you’ve ever seen!”

“Well,” the cowboy said, “I guess that settles it.”

“So you agree that I am the best cowboy that has ever lived?” sneered the man.

“No,” the cowboy said.

“What do you mean ‘No’? I have done everything you said I had to do!” the man said angrily.

“My granddaughter here is more cowboy than you are. Explain it to him honey.”

The girl stood up and said, “We rope things in order to catch them so that we can give the animal medicine or help it in some other way. We learn the way of the horse so that we can give the horse purpose and become a partner with him in order to do our jobs effectively. The cowboy way of life teaches that we are all servants. We tend the herds that feed us. We care for the animals that help us. We protect our land so that it will support us.”

When she sat down she said, “It’s the spirit and the truth that lives inside every true cowboy that determines what he is. Not the things he can or cannot do.”

“But the time is coming-indeed it’s here now-when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.” –Jesus of Nazareth (John 4:23-24 NLT)

Thank you SO much Mr. Kevin Weatherby for being today's "Featured Writer"!

(All (c) material was posted here with permission.)

He Who Walks Blamelessly and Speaks Truth in His Heart


"I believe the holier a man becomes, the more he mourns over the unholiness which remains in him." ~ Charles Spurgeon

Each time I read the Word of God, something new jumps out at me.  This time it seems to be "oppression".  The contradiction between what the bible says and what individuals paraphrasing the scriptures state, is very frustrating to me!  I have heard advice be given, "Cover it with love."  Forgiveness is one thing and foolishness is quite another.  (Please forgive me if my words come across as harsh.  That is not my intention.)

An Example of Oppression and God's Response

Therefore they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with heavy burdens.  (Exodus 1:11. ESV.)

Pharaoh was fearful God's people would become too great in number and rise up against him.  So, he began to abuse, control, and destroy them.  He made an order to the "midwives":

"When you serve as midwife to the Hebrew women and see them on the birthstool, if it is a son, you shall kill him, but if it is a daughter, she shall live."  (Exodus 1:16. ESV.)

But the "midwives" were fearful of God and did not do as Pharaoh ordered.

20 So God dealt well with the midwives. And the people multiplied and grew very strong. 21 And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families.  (Exodus 1:20-21. ESV.)

But Pharaoh would not be thwarted:

22 Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, “Every son that is born to the Hebrews you shall cast into the Nile, but you shall let every daughter live.”  (Exodus 1:22. ESV.)

God Heard His People

...the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God.  (Exodus 2:23. ESV.)

And God responded!  I firmly believe God still hears us today...and answers!  Just as He sent Moses to free His people from the tyranny of Pharaoh, God gives us obedient brothers and sisters in Christ to assist with that for which we call out to Him.  I do not place faith in coincidences or luck.  It is my opinion, God is sovereign (Romans 9)...which is why we pray to Him and ask for the desires of our heart, right?  I do not even put complete trust in men because we are all sinners and let each other down from time to time...whether we mean to or not.

He who does these things shall never be moved

O LORD, who shall sojourn in your tent?
   Who shall dwell on your holy hill?

2 He who walks blamelessly and does what is right
   and speaks truth in his heart;

3 who does not slander with his tongue
   and does no evil to his neighbor,
   nor takes up a reproach against his friend;

4 in whose eyes a vile person is despised,
   but who honors those who fear the LORD;
who swears to his own hurt and does not change;

5 who does not put out his money at interest
   and does not take a bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things shall never be moved.  (Psalm 15:1-5.ESV.)

"Tweeting the Bible in a Year"
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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

You Meant Evil Against Me, But God Meant It For Good

I wait for your salvation, O Lord.  (Genesis 49:18. ESV.)

How Long Must I Have Sorrow in My Heart

13:1 How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever?
   How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?

3 Consider and answer me, O LORD my God;
   light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
4 lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”
   lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.

5 But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
   my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
6 I will sing to the LORD,
   because he has dealt bountifully with me.
 (Psalm 13:1-6. ESV.)

Have They No Knowledge, All the Evildoers

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”
   They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds,
   there is none who does good.

2 The LORD looks down from heaven on the children of man,
   to see if there are any who understand,
   who seek after God.

3 They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt;
   there is none who does good,
   not even one.

4 Have they no knowledge, all the evildoers
   who eat up my people as they eat bread
   and do not call upon the LORD?

5 There they are in great terror,
for God is with the generation of the righteous.
6 You would shame the plans of the poor,
   but the LORD is his refuge.

7 Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion!
   When the LORD restores the fortunes of his people,
   let Jacob rejoice, let Israel be glad.
 (Psalm 14:1-7. ESV.)

("Tweeting the Bible in a Year")

Monday, May 23, 2011

What Does the Bible REALLY Say?

Sometimes, I feel, it is easy to get wrapped up in someone else's paraphrasing of what the bible ACTUALLY says. If you would like to read the scriptures for yourself word for word, day by day, I am currently "Tweeting the Bible in a Year" over at Twitter @Matt5verse6. Just a little at a time, in small yet verbatim chunks (kind of like a daily devotional but without my spin on it, ONLY WORDS STRAIGHT FROM THE English Standard Version BIBLE).

Today is day #24 and I'll be "Tweeting":
Genesis 47:1- 48:22
Psalm 13:1-6
Proverbs 4:18-19
Matthew 15:21-39

12For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12. ESV.)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Faithful Have Vanished

12:1 Save, O LORD, for the godly one is gone;
   for the faithful have vanished from among the children of man.
2Everyone utters lies to his neighbor;
   with flattering lips and a double heart they speak.

3May the LORD cut off all flattering lips,
   the tongue that makes great boasts,
4those who say, “With our tongue we will prevail,
   our lips are with us; who is master over us?”

5“Because the poor are plundered, because the needy groan,
   I will now arise,” says the LORD;
   “I will place him in the safety for which
he longs.”

6The words of the LORD are pure words,
   like silver refined in a furnace on the ground,
   purified seven times.
7You, O LORD, will keep them;
   you will guard us from this generation forever.

8On every side the wicked prowl,
   as vileness is exalted among the children of man.
 (Psalm 12:1-8. ESV.)

What Defiles A Person

10 And he called the people to him and said to them, “Hear and understand: 11 it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.”
 
12 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?”
 
13 He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. 14 Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.”
 
15 But Peter said to him, “Explain the parable to us.”
 
16 And he said, “Are you also still without understanding? 17 Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled? 18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. 20 These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.". (Matthew 15:1-20. ESV.)


(Tweeting the Bible in a Year: Day 23)

Friday, May 20, 2011

Walking with God

24 Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him. (Genesis 5:24. ESV)

Over the last five years I have been taught a little bit about what it is to "walk with God"... and thankfully so, though I have to admit the lessons (a.k.a pruning/refinement) have been very painful!  But, a pilgrimage is a labor of love!  It is my opinion John Bunyan's THE PILGRIM'S PROGRESS illustrates it beautifully!

Be Still

10 "Be still, and know that I am God.
 I will be exalted among the nations,
 I will be exalted in the earth!"
(Psalm 46:10. ESV.)

I have learned God, not man, is my provider.  No matter where I am or who I am with, God consistently provides for me and my children.  (And generally, it is NEVER how I think He will...nor is it EVER in my own strength!  Yes, I have to do my part---as God places instruction on my heart.  I do not just sit by (like the disciples on the boat) and watch as Jesus does all the work.  He calms the storms in my life but also reminds me to pick up my cross DAILY and follow Him.)

God's Timing is Perfect

11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.  (Jeremiah 29:11. ESV.)

I am an inpatient person when it comes to how I want things to work out.  I get an idea, pray, and expect immediate results!  Most of time though, God has something else in mind...waiting (which goes back to being still).  I find though, when I do wait on the Lord (and try not to rush and control things) His way is absolutely, positively, 100% perfection at its divine best!  Why would I want anything less?!

Depending on God Rather Than Man

8 It is better to take refuge in the LORD
than to trust in man.
(Psalm 118:8. ESV.)

There was a time (a season) when I became very dependent on man---professionals, friends, etc.  Each time I should have looked to the Lord, I discovered myself relying on flesh and bone instead.  Instinctively, I would reach for my phone rather than going before the throne of grace.  If I had a legal concern, I contacted an attorney, if I witnessed someone struggling with a matter of the heart and mind, I got advice from a counselor.  (I went above and beyond the average visit to the general practitioner for the yearly checkup.). But to what end?  It only caused me anxiety, stress, and hardship.  Peace comes from trusting completely in God alone!  

Keeping the Main Thing, the Main Thing

C.J. Mahaney once quoted, "The main thing, is to keep the main thing, the main thing!"  For me, the "Main Thing" is Christ Jesus, His Father, and the Holy Spirit!  When my focus and attention wander, it is NOT pretty!  My sins of frustration and discontentment kick into full gear.  I hear myself saying the word "hate" more times than I would like to admit as I admire the grass so seemingly green on the opposite side of the fence.  I imagine it is most difficult (if not impossible) to see Christ's radiant reflection in me during those times!

10,000 Hours

I heard recently it takes 10,000 hours to be good at something.  If I only spent one hour each Sunday studying the Word of God that would only be 52 hours per year.  Which, of course, means it would take roughly 193 years for me to be "good at" understanding the scriptures!  Given this is no longer Old Testament times, I have good reason to believe my years are numbered quite a bit less (on this earth) than 193.  I recon it would be wiser for me to spend as much time in bible study as possible.  (One hour each day equals 365 a year which would take 28 years to be "good at" it.  Now that is within reach!)

In Conclusion

Elijah and Enoch had it right.  Their relationship with God was so close and so involved it was like just another day at the office to transition/ be taken/ be carried into the very presence of God without death.

24 Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.  (Genesis 5:24. ESV)

11 And as they still went on and talked, behold, chariots of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.  (2 Kings 2:11. ESV.)

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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Hear, O Sons, a Father's Instruction

Hear, O sons, a father's instruction,
   and be attentive, that you may gain insight,
2 for I give you good precepts;
   do not forsake my teaching.

What a beautiful thing to have a father (/husband/ head of household) that fears the Lord and is pleasing to Him!  (The NKJV of verse 2 says, "For I give you good DOCTRINE: Do not forsake my law."  Regarding this passage, John MacArthur states, "There is no wisdom but that which is linked to good doctrine, which should be the focal point of all instruction (see 1 Tim. 1:10; 4:13, 16; 5:17; 2 Tim. 3:10, 16; 4:2; Titus 1:9; 2:1, 10).)

3 When I was a son with my father,
   tender, the only one in the sight of my mother,
4 he taught me and said to me,
“Let your heart hold fast my words;
   keep my commandments, and live.
5 Get wisdom; get insight;
   do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth.
6 Do not forsake her, and she will keep you;
   love her, and she will guard you.
7 The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom,
   and whatever you get, get insight.
8 Prize her highly, and she will exalt you;
   she will honor you if you embrace her.
9 She will place on your head a graceful garland;
   she will bestow on you a beautiful crown.”

10 Hear, my son, and accept my words,
   that the years of your life may be many.
11 I have taught you the way of wisdom;
   I have led you in the paths of uprightness.
12 When you walk, your step will not be hampered,
   and if you run, you will not stumble.
13 Keep hold of instruction; do not let go;
   guard her, for she is your life.
14 Do not enter the path of the wicked,
   and do not walk in the way of the evil.
15 Avoid it; do not go on it;
   turn away from it and pass on.
16 For they cannot sleep unless they have done wrong;
   they are robbed of sleep unless they have made someone stumble.
17 For they eat the bread of wickedness
   and drink the wine of violence.
18 But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn,
   which shines brighter and brighter until full day.

Regarding verse 18, John MacArthur states this, "The path of the believer is one of increasing light, just as a sunrise begins with the faint glow of dawn and proceeds to the splendor of noonday." Amen to that!

19 The way of the wicked is like deep darkness;
   they do not know over what they stumble.

20 My son, be attentive to my words;
   incline your ear to my sayings.
21 Let them not escape from your sight;
   keep them within your heart.
22 For they are life to those who find them,
and healing to all their flesh.
23 Keep your heart with all vigilance,
   for from it flow the springs of life.

24 Put away from you crooked speech,
   and put devious talk far from you.
25 Let your eyes look directly forward,
   and your gaze be straight before you.
26 Ponder the path of your feet;
   then all your ways will be sure.
27 Do not swerve to the right or to the left;
   turn your foot away from evil.
(Proverbs 4:1-27. ESV.)

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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Curse of the Lord Is On the House of the Wicked

The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, 
a stronghold in times of trouble.
And those who know your name put their trust in you, 
for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.
(Psalm 9:9-10. ESV.)

The Sin of Oppression

When I think of oppression --- tyrants, dictators, and those who abuse children, a spouse, or the elderly spring to my mind.  I'm sure those involved in such a situation desire a "savior" to rescue them.  But we (all of us) already have a Savior in Christ Jesus who, as the Word of God says, (among many other things) is "a stronghold for the oppressed"... a fortress (Proverbs 18:10).  If God is for us, who then can be against us? 

That is easy for me to say, right... in the land of the free, with a roof over my head, fresh water to drink, and food on my table?  But I do NOT say it lightly!!!  I might not be under oppressive political leadership (like Stalin, Hitler, etc.) however regardless of nationality, wickedness can be found on all continents, in every class.

Those Against God

Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. (Matthew 12:30. ESV.)

31 Do not envy a man of violence
   and do not choose any of his ways,
32 for the devious person is an abomination to the LORD,
   but the upright are in his confidence.
33 The LORD's curse is on the house of the wicked,
   but he blesses the dwelling of the righteous.
34 Toward the scorners he is scornful,
   but to the humble he gives favor.
35 The wise will inherit honor,
   but fools get disgrace.
(Proverbs 3:31-35. ESV.)

It is my opinion there is NOTHING under the sun that the Word of God does not address.  Brutality was not born from any man but rather satan.  "Violence", wrath, "oppression" is "FOOLISHNESS"!  God's word says as much!  Regardless of race, gender, faith, age, finances, or standing!

33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. (Luke 21:33. ESV.)

Abusiveness, autocracy, coercion, control, cruelty, domination, force, harshness, maltreatment, persecution, severity, subduing, torment, manipulation, etc. is WRONG!  "THE LORD's CURSE IS ON THE HOUSE OF THE WICKED"!

The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil.  I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.". (Matthew 12:35-37. ESV.)

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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Until He Brings Justice to Victory

a bruised reed he will not break, 
and a smoldering wick he will not quench, 
until he brings justice to victory;

(Matthew 12:20. ESV.)

I know, I quote this one quite a bit.  I guess I just need to keep preaching it to myself. But, yesterday, it was in the "Tweeting the Bible in a Year" reading.  So, why not mention it again...for good measure?

What Drives the Heart?

I find myself pondering this time and again.  For me, it is obviously the Word of God and Holy Spirit that direct my steps, capture my thoughts, and guide my heart.  What about when I was a slave to sin, though?  What does satan promise Jesus in the wilderness... food, riches, popularity, etc. (Matthew 4:1-11.)?  To be honest, those types of promises get my attention (but I know better...satan cannot be trusted in the least and I am a daughter of the King).

9 Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!
(Matthew 7:9-11. ESV.)

How Much More Will Your Father (who is in heaven) Give Good Things to Those Who Ask

My Heavenly Father, who loves me, will give me so much more (for my own good) than the great deceiver ever would (or even could)!  I think of my own heart when it comes to my children.  I want them to have the best I (and hubs) can possibly give.  When a family has moved from one region to another, many times their reason is because they want their kids to have "a better life".  So why would my Heavenly Father not?

It Will Be Healing to Your Flesh

And they struck with blindness the men who were at the entrance of the house, both small and great, so that they wore themselves out groping for the door. (Genesis 19:11. ESV.)

Man, in His Own Strength

God takes matters into His own hands.  He does not NEED us to intervene on His behalf (I.e. Jesus did not NEED Peter to stand in front of him swinging a sword around when Judas betrayed Him).  In Genesis 19, two servants of God (angels) came to Sodom to assess the city.  While there Lot took them to his home but men (of all ages) came to the door looking for the two visitors.  Lot tried to offer up his daughters to the citizens instead but the men relentlessly desired the two new comers.  Lot was faithful in trying to protect the servants of God, however to no avail.

Then they pressed hard against the man Lot, and drew near to break the door down. (Genesis 19:10. ESV.)

God Steps In

Lot did his part and he did his best.  Someone once told me, "God only asks us to be faithful.  He takes care of the rest."  But, what does it mean "to be faithful" to God?  It is my opinion it is to do what is pleasing in the sight of God and to trust completely in Him alone.  Are all of His acts and intercessions as dramatic as this in Genesis 19:11?  No.  However God does help His children regularly.  I am a witness to it.  Does a giant hand reach down from heaven and take action?  No, of course not.  Generally God has placed certain individuals in my life to assist me at the very moment I NEEDED it (like the angels with Lot in Genesis 19:11).

All Things for the Good of Those He Calls

28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28. ESV.)

Another example of this can be found in Genesis 21 regarding Hagar and Ishmael.  They had been sent away from Abraham and Sarah, left to wander in the wilderness alone:

15 When the water in the skin was gone, she put the child under one of the bushes. 16 Then she went and sat down opposite him a good way off, about the distance of a bowshot, for she said, “Let me not look on the death of the child.” And as she sat opposite him, she lifted up her voice and wept. 17 And God heard the voice of the boy, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is. 18 Up! Lift up the boy, and hold him fast with your hand, for I will make him into a great nation.” 19 Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. And she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink. (Genesis 21:15-19. ESV.)

Have you seen God's sovereignty in your life?  Have you ever felt a situation was hopeless until God paved the way?

5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
   and do not lean on your own understanding.
6 In all your ways acknowledge him,
   and he will make straight your paths.
7 Be not wise in your own eyes;
   fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.
8 It will be healing to your flesh
   and refreshment to your bones.
(Proverbs 3:5-8. ESV.)

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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Two Peoples from Within You Shall be Divided

And the Lord said to her,
"Two nations are in your womb, 
and two peoples from within you shall be divided; 
the one shall be stronger than the other, 
the older shall serve the younger."
(Genesis 25:23.ESV.)

As I was "Tweeting the Bible in a Year", this piece of scripture captured my attention.  What a bittersweet message from the Lord.  "Two nations are in your womb" but they shall "be divided".  As a mother I try to picture myself in Rebekah's shoes...bursting with joy to be expecting---twins, no less---and then to find each will become a "nation"!  I believe most parents want, dream, and aim for the best for their children.  What will he/she be when he/she grows up...a great leader, important teacher, celebrated athlete, etc?  But a "NATION"!  How mind blowing!

Then there is the dark cloud of strife that hovers over this blessed event.  "Peoples...divided".  I do not like it when my children fight with each other (or anyone else for that matter).  I desire them to keep the peace, support one another, and maintain healthy relationships.

Sharing God's Word

31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31. ESV)

Switching gears now.  I cannot remember a time in my life when I did not desire to share the Word of God.  My earliest memory of "broadcasting" His Word is when I was elementary school age.  I had a wireless microphone I could use with my AM/FM stereo/record player.  And my favorite thing to do was to "broadcast" a bible study (as if anyone could hear it...I'm certain the signal was only strong enough for my stereo to pick up).  But I distinctly remember choosing a piece of scripture and saying, "Now turn in your bibles to [scripture tag]."  And I would pause as if I had an audience and they were following along with me.  Silly, I know.  But am I doing that much different now?  Only instead of radio, I'm attempting to reach people via blogger and Twitter.

Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.". (Matthew 11:29-30.)

Friday, May 13, 2011

Friday Featured Writer: Heidi (Wonder Woman Wannabe)


When I first started hanging out over at the "The Secret's in the Sauce" (a.k.a. SITS or "The Secret to Success is Support") site (to which there is a link in the right sidebar of this blog), Heidi was welcoming and engaging. She is located in Minneapolis, MN which brought up a common subject for discussion: John Piper (who, as you well know, I REALLY like as a teacher). In addition to her blog, Heidi can also be found on Twitter.

It is to my great delight that I get to feature Heidi here today! Thank you so much, Heidi, for giving me permission to highlight your writing (and encouraging words)!

"Self-pity is sinful because
it shows that we love circumstances
over our relationship with God."

~Cory Wessman
from his post: Fighting Anger with Faith

Though Cory's current walk of life is so different from my own, the wisdom of this revelation that his personal circumstances brought him to really caused me to pause and consider how this truth relates to my own path.

How often do we relate our happiness, contentedness, and over-all attitudes to our circumstances?

Our contentedness and longings are only truly met when filled with the Father. How easy it is to be tempted away from our first love in our own selfish interests and desires.

Today, there are in things in my life that are not as I'd like them. I feel 'stuck' in a place I don't want to be. I try reassuring myself that 'it'll be better when______ or once that person does______ I'll feel better about_______ etc. etc.

Like a tantrum prone toddler,
I kick and scream wanting only wanting MY OWN way rather than focusing on THE WAY, the truth and the life. This temporary life is only about refining me. My circumstances do not exist to define me - but only serve to make me more like HIM.

How can I break out of this cell of SELF?

Continually reminding myself I BELONG TO HIM.

Rather than getting caught on the bumps in road right in front of me, I pray to consider more, the final destination.

Some more popular posts from Heidi are:
"A Sure Cure for the DIS-Content"
"Living Life Without a Radar"
"Take Time to Discipline"

(Profile picture and all material (c) by Heidi (Wonder Woman Wannabe) is published here with permission.)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

If Sinners Entice You, Do Not Consent

10 My son, if sinners entice you,
   do not consent.
 (Proverbs 1:10. ESV.)

This sounds easy enough to follow, right?  But what about peer pressure and a desire to fit into a group of people?  What about crafty master manipulators and those who use clever control tactics and/or intimidation to get what they want? 

11 If they say, “Come with us, let us lie in wait for blood;
   let us ambush the innocent without reason;
12 like Sheol let us swallow them alive,
   and whole, like those who go down to the pit;
13 we shall find all precious goods,
   we shall fill our houses with plunder;
14 throw in your lot among us;
   we will all have one purse”—
 (Proverbs 1:11-14. ESV.)

Have you ever come across someone like this?  Perhaps they appear as though they are going to protect the "little guy".  Or maybe he/she shamelessly preys on those they deem weaker than himself/herself. Or possibly it is pride that drives an individual like above.

15 my son, do not walk in the way with them;
   hold back your foot from their paths,
16 for their feet run to evil,
   and they make haste to shed blood.
(Proverbs 1:15-16. ESV.)

THEIR FEET RUN TO EVIL!  Yes, some hide their ways in the darkness.  Self love and self service are the idols they serve.  They avoid the light.  They hurt loved ones and strangers alike.  Their behavior is difficult to understand.  Why do they do what they do?  Can they help themselves?  Is there any sort of self control?  But, if they get what they want (and there are no consequences) while behaving badly, why would they change?  

17 For in vain is a net spread
   in the sight of any bird,
18 but these men lie in wait for their own blood;
   they set an ambush for their own lives.
19 Such are the ways of everyone who is greedy for unjust gain;
   it takes away the life of its possessors. (Proverbs 1:17-19. ESV.)

8Hear, my son, your father's instruction,
   and forsake not your mother's teaching.
(Proverbs 1:8. ESV.)

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Monday, May 09, 2011

You Alone, O Lord, Make Me Dwell in Safety

In peace I will both lie down and sleep; 
for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.
 (Psalm 4:8. ESV.)

The Complaint

2 O LORD, how long shall I cry for help,
   and you will not hear?
Or cry to you “Violence!”
   and you will not save?
3 Why do you make me see iniquity,
   and why do you idly look at wrong?
Destruction and violence are before me;
   strife and contention arise.
4 So the law is paralyzed,
   and justice never goes forth.
For the wicked surround the righteous;
   so justice goes forth perverted.
 (Habakkuk 1:2-4.ESV.)

God Answers

...but the righteous shall live by his faith.  (Habakkuk 2:4. ESV.)

14 For the earth will be filled
   with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD
   as the waters cover the sea.
 (Habakkuk 2:14. ESV.)

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Saturday, May 07, 2011

You Shall Not Put the Lord Your God to the Test

As I have mentioned in a previous post, I am attempting to "tweet" the bible in one year.  (If you are not already on Twitter, you can meet me there @Matt5verse6.  There is also a live Twitter stream in the left sidebar of this blog.)  Anyway, on day four of this project the following stuck out to me.

The Water Covered the Earth

19 And the waters prevailed so mightily on the earth that all the high mountains under the whole heaven were covered.  (Genesis 7:19. ESV.)

As I sit and think about such a thing, I am in awe.  Surely there must be evidence of this occurrence!  The fossils of sea creatures in high altitudes, perhaps! (Though I've never looked it up.)  I am reminded of the scripture in Habakkuk which says,

14 For the earth will be filled
   with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD
   as the waters cover the sea.
 (Habakkuk 4:14. ESV.)

One day all will know of God's glory!  It will reach every "corner" of the earth!  Every voice will cry out, "Jesus is Lord!  Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty.  Who was, and is, and is to come!"

4 and in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat.  (Genesis 8:4. ESV.)

What an amazing sight to have beheld!!!

Psalms

3 But you, O LORD, are a shield about me,
   my glory, and the lifter of my head.
 (Psalm 3:3. ESV.)

Temptation

Everyone feels the strains and burning of temptation.  An urging voice in the depths of the mind taunting, nagging, persuading.  I say "everyone" because even Jesus was tempted...and He alone was perfect.  Why would we, those who are imperfect, not go through the same as well?  But Jesus spoke wisdom in the face of temptation.  He said:

“‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
   but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
 (Matthew 4:4. ESV.)

And,

‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”  (Matthew 4:7. ESV.)

I admit I get tempted at times...to not keep a guard over my mouth when I should, to return evil for evil, to not take every thought captive, to worry, become frustrated, and/or doubt.  But the Holy Spirit within me guides me through.  Praise God.  For God's grace is sufficient and there is ALWAYS a means of escape.

8 In peace I will both lie down and sleep;
for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.
(Psalm 4:8. ESV.)

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Thursday, May 05, 2011

Friday Featured Writer: Jack's Mom, Marie

This week's "Featured Writer" has a special place in my heart and I really hope each reader will take a moment to visit her blog...and leave an encouraging comment! I met Marie not too long after I started this blog. She was one of my very first "followers" and has been so faithful to this site. But Marie's blog is not the average, run of mill, weblog. There is something VERY special about it...and his name is JACK!

About Jack
(Originally posted Friday, June 4, 2010)

Jack was born in May 2005 with a craniofacial syndrome called Apert syndrome. The main characteristics of Apert syndrome are craniosynostosis (early closure of the bones of the skull which can interfere with normal brain growth), retruded midface (middle part of the face--the nasal area--grows at 1/3 the rate of the rest of the face giving the appearance of bulging eyes and causing narrow nasal passages and breathing issues), and fusion of the fingers and toes at birth.

Jack has had complications and has not followed the "usual" path for a child born with this syndrome. Jack has had 13 separate surgeries which each involved multiple procedures. Two of the surgeries were to create separate fingers and toes. Most of the surgeries involved eliminating pressure on his brain to prevent brain damage. The end results are great.

Jack has 10 separated fingers and 10 separated toes. He does not use his hands like someone born with separated fingers and toes because his body did not develop in the same way but he is adapting as he goes. He has not yet mastered the activities that other 5 year olds can do with their hands but he will in his own way.

All the brain surgeries have prevented excess pressure on his brain but somewhere along the way Jack developed optic nerve atrophy and cortical visual impairment. His eyes themselves work fine but the nerves are damaged so the image does not get to the brain. He can only perceive the presence of light with his left eye and his right eye is estimated to have vision of 20/320 (Jack has to be 16 times closer to an object than most people in order to see it. What someone else sees at 320 feet, Jack will see at a distance of 20 feet.)

Jack has not yet had surgery to correct his retruded midface. That is a major surgery that he will be having sometime in the next few years. In the meantime, he has very small nasal passages that are very reactive so he has a near constant runny nose. Also, his eyes appear to bulge because of his shallow eye sockets.

Because of these birth differences, the surgeries, complications, and hospitalizations, Jack is delayed in speech, fine motor (small work with the hands), gross motor (things like jumping) abilities, and social skills. Although he does not always pay attention, he understands the things other 5 year old children understand.

Nearly since birth, we started Jack in therapy believing that he needed to be pushed early and hard to help him to develop to his best potential. His Dad and I were making the decisions we honestly believed were best for Jack. It was only last year when Jack was almost four years old that we realized that we were robbing Jack of his childhood. Everyday and every thing was work work work and Jack was withdrawing from people. He had learned that being with people meant being forced through things he did not want to do and constantly being asked for more more more with little time for what might interest him.

Last summer was the first time since he was about two or three months old that he did not have therapy. We relaxed and tried to learn to play like Jack with the things that interest him and his development truly took off! He really began to talk. He began to actually enjoy spending time with close family.

Jack continues to develop at his own pace and we are all learning as we go. What a journey!

To find out more information about Apert Syndrome or to keep up with Jack and Marie, please visit the "All Access Pass to Jack" site. Or, you can Tweet with Marie on Twitter.

Thank you so much, Marie (and Jack), for allowing me to feature you today!

(Picture and all other material (c) Marie and "All Access Pass to Jack" was published here with permission.)

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

The Call of Wisdom

20 Wisdom cries aloud in the street,
   in the markets she raises her voice;
21 at the head of the noisy streets she cries out;
   at the entrance of the city gates she speaks:
22 “How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple?
How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing
   and fools hate knowledge?
23 If you turn at my reproof,
behold, I will pour out my spirit to you;
   I will make my words known to you.
24 Because I have called and you refused to listen,
   have stretched out my hand and no one has heeded,
25 because you have ignored all my counsel
   and would have none of my reproof,
26 I also will laugh at your calamity;
   I will mock when terror strikes you,
27 when terror strikes you like a storm
   and your calamity comes like a whirlwind,
   when distress and anguish come upon you.
28 Then they will call upon me, but I will not answer;
   they will seek me diligently but will not find me.
29 Because they hated knowledge
   and did not choose the fear of the LORD,
30 would have none of my counsel
   and despised all my reproof,
31 therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way,
   and have their fill of their own devices.
32 For the simple are killed by their turning away,
   and the complacency of fools destroys them;
33 but whoever listens to me will dwell secure
   and will be at ease, without dread of disaster.”
 (Proverbs 1:20-33. ESV.)

Now that is what I would call "tough love".

Monday, May 02, 2011

Judging a Book by It's Cover

He entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 And there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. 3 And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small of stature. 4 So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. (Luke 19:1-4. ESV.)
 

Okay, let me stop there for a moment.  There is a man "small of stature" in a tree! How quick would (some) individuals be to judge Zacchaeus for such an action...especially if one did not have all of the information?

Have you ever been judged by others who only had a piece of the puzzle?  Let's say it's a massive one of 10,000 pieces and the assessor has one part...and maybe it's out of order so the picture does not make much sense.  Yet still, a judgement is made.

(Back to Zacchaeus.)  Perhaps a voice pipes up from the crowd and yells mocking and/or hurtful things....making uninformed accusations and/or calling names.  Has something along these lines ever happened to you?  Now, let's finish reading the passage.

5 And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” 6 So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully.  (Luke 19:5 & 6. ESV.)
 

Wow!  What an honor!  To have his teacher, Lord (and, one day, Savior) come stay at his place!  Yikes!  If I was around in those days and Jesus showed up at my door I would have felt grossly inadequate and most likely embarrassed at the status of my house (which is in desperate need of some home improvements)!  And what do you think those spewing negativity said or did?

7And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” (Luke 19:7. ESV.)
 

But Jesus had chosen Zacchaeus!  It did not matter what humans thought or said!  Their words and actions meant nothing!  Their pride held no weight!  Their foolishness was in vain.  Zacchaeus was right to take refuge in the Lord rather than to trust in (or listen to) man (Psalm 118:8).  

8 And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” 9 And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:8-10.)

Not Peace, but Division

But, Luke 12:49-53 reminds me of something sobering.  It says, 

49 “I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled! 50 I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished! 51 Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. 52 For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. 53 They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” (ESV.)

And I have witnessed this to be true!  Families divided.  But the Word of God also tells me, 

3 a bruised reed he will not break,
   and a faintly burning wick he will not quench;
   he will faithfully bring forth justice. (Isaiah 42:3.)

Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future. - Oscar Wilde

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Sunday, May 01, 2011

Everyone Who Falls on that Stone Will be Broken to Pieces

18 Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.  (Luke 20:18.ESV.)

The Parable of the Wicked Tenants

9 And he began to tell the people this parable: “A man planted a vineyard and let it out to tenants and went into another country for a long while. 10 When the time came, he sent a servant to the tenants, so that they would give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the tenants beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 11 And he sent another servant. But they also beat and treated him shamefully, and sent him away empty-handed. 12A nd he sent yet a third. This one also they wounded and cast out. 13 Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; perhaps they will respect him.’ 14 But when the tenants saw him, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Let us kill him, so that the inheritance may be ours.’ 15 And they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? 16 He will come and destroy those tenants and give the vineyard to others.” When they heard this they said, “Surely not!” 17 But he looked directly at them and said, “What then is this that is written:

“‘The stone that the builders rejected
   has become the cornerstone’?

18 Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.”
 (Luke 20:9-18. ESV.)

Love Your Enemies

27 “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. 29 To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. 30 Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. 31 And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.  (Luke 6:27-31. ESV.)

45 The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.
 (Luke 6:45. ESV.)

Increase Our Faith

5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” 6 And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.  (Luke 17:5 & 6. ESV.)

I desire to have such faith.  Like that of Enoch (who walked with God and then disappeared one day because God had taken Him up) and Elijah (who was carted up to the heavens by a chariot of fire).  Oh, to walk with the Lord in such humble obedience.  To take everything in stride and not doubt, stress, and/or become frustrated.

21 When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world.  (John 16:21. ESV.)

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