What Are You Chasing?

“Why do you spend money for what is not bread, And your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, And delight yourself in abundance.” Isaiah 55:2 NASB

I’ve spent my life chasing something, or someone. Lots of money and energy expended trying for the perfect partner, job, house, clothes; friends, family. The “perfect” church. Know what I’ve discovered?

They don’t exist.

What? Of course they do! Don’t try to tell me my searching, my life, is futile! ……. And yet, that’s the truth. Most of us spend our lives trying to have the perfect life as we imagine it, when the reality is that all of these things, and all of these people, won’t satisfy us. Sure, we can achieve momentary satisfaction, but it’s fleeting. I think that’s why our world is rife with ruthless people, in business and politics and in their personal lives. Business takeovers. Public lies and shaming. Affairs in the shadows, and affairs in the open, blatantly flaunting themselves. Desperate people everywhere, searching for nirvana.

It doesn’t exist.

We are a created race. Yes, one race, created by a Creator God, and we are created to worship Him. Nothing else can fill that hole. We can search and scrape and fight trying to find anything else to fill it, and that’s what we spend our lives doing. One thing fills that hole in your heart. One thing fulfills your search. ONE thing.

Jesus Christ.

Son of the FATHER GOD. Second, but equal, member of the Trinity, God, Son, Holy Spirit. Saviour of the world. The One; The Way.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” John 3:16‭-‬18 NASB

In 1670, Blaise Pascal published Pensées, in which he writes:

What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” John 10:10 NASB

Change your focus. Look for Jesus. He will fill your heart in a way you could never have imagined. Not only your heart, but He will fill your life, your mind, your soul, if you will just let Him. He will give you Life Abundant. Even if you struggle financially, even if you are on your own, without a partner, or out of work, Jesus can bring a contentment that is beyond this earth.

LORD, I pray today for that person who is searching, that he or she will open their heart to You and realize real peace and contentment today, right now. Amen.

ALL LIVES MATTER

For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:13‭-‬14 NASB

I’m so tired of seeing my nation, my world, being divided by color of skin. We are Americans. Not African or Irish or Chinese or Mexican or Italian or any other country. We can’t let politicians, who are really only interested in themselves, divide us! Seriously, people! If you hold dual citizenship with another country, then by all means identity with it! Any British-Americans? German-American? Guyana-Americans? See what I mean? I honestly don’t understand why someone wants to self identify as part of a country other than the one they were born in, unless they want to move to that country to live. African-American is very widely used and claimed by hundreds of thousands of Americans. Why? Are they or their parents from Africa? Besides which, Africa isn’t even a country. It’s a continent. I know, we Americans have appropriated the name of the continent we are on as the name of our country, but understand that the world also refers to citizens of the United States as Americans. Are people from Ethiopia considered African, or Ethiopian? Kenyan, or African? Ugandan, or African? See the question?

Racism is promoted and perpetuated by the insistence of some people to identify as anything other than as Americans. I really don’t understand. I was actually polled the other night (a first!) and when asked what race I was, I answered “American.” I know it’s not a race, but neither is African-American. I should have answered “human”, because there is only one race. Sure, we have thousands of cultures and as many colors, but there is only one race, human. It would behoove us all to grasp onto that fact.

I love my country and the melting pot that it is. I will continue to pray for my country and that somehow, people will see through all this “racial” divisiveness, and I will do everything in my power to defend my country from our enemies, both within and without. Celebrate the diversity of all of our beautiful skin colors and cultural differences, but, please, don’t fight over them!

Jesus is the answer. The only answer. Come to Him today. Jesus said:

“I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” John 14:6 NASB

LOVE IS / IS NOT:

1 Corinthians 13: What is Love?

Love is not jealousy; a burning desire to have what someone else has, or resentment. Those things are an absence of love. When I have to win, and the other person has to lose, is jealousy. Resentment shows in how we respond to other’s success, just as much as how we handle our own.

Love is not bragging, boasting, or publicizing our own success/accomplishments. When we are full of arrogance and puffed up with self importance, we aren’t able to love others because all of our focus is on ourselves. Have you ever known someone who is truly humble? When someone is humble, you cannot humiliate them.

Love is not acting unbecomingly, it is not rude, or discourteous. It is kind and considerate, it is polite. Love is tactful, saying Please, thank you, excuse me. Do the little things.

Love is not self-seeking; it is not selfish. It is self sacrificing. The root of all problems is selfishness, so love is to be empty of ourselves and to look out for others over ourselves. When we allow ourselves to be provoked (i.e. irritable, sharp, prickly, touchy, grumpy, and quick to take offense), these show our failure to love. They are triggers to anger and a temperamental “blast off”, as opposed to a righteous anger or irritability (remember Jesus running the money changers and those turning His Father’s House into a place of business out of the Temple?) We must be at peace with God to prevent this.

Love does not take into account a wrong suffered. Don’t keep track of grudges and resentments! Love lets the past die, it absorbs the wrong. Good friends are good forgivers. Let it go. Choose to forgive. “I distinctly remember forgetting it.” – Sarah Barton, founder of the American Red Cross Ultimate forgiveness is shown by Jesus and His sacrifice. Knowing we were yet sinners, He left Heaven to die on the cross for our sins. For your sins. For my sins!

Love is not happy with sins or lies. It doesn’t rejoice in unrighteousness. Love has boundaries. It is based in God’s Truth. Love doesn’t rejoice in it’s own sins. What of our entertainment choices? Our relationship choices? Are we leading other people into sin through those choices? Love supports the truth, and the TRUTH doesn’t change. It is the same today as it was yesterday or 2000 years ago, and it will be the same tomorrow, and it will still be the same in 20,000 years.

“When love is present, nothing else is needed.” Love is essential to anything I do. Without love, I’m just making noise. Remember this truth – No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care. There is no real sacrifice without real love, true love, which is Agape love. This Love is produced ONLY by the Holy Spirit, through Jesus Christ, Who the church is based on. LOVE personified, the Cornerstone of the church.

Love rejoices with the truth; Love bears/carries, protects, supports, covers or shelters all. Love is everything both for us AND for others. In Genesis 9, when Noah’s sons realized their father was naked and they covered his nakedness without looking at him, that is Love. Real Love offers shelter and protection for our shortcomings and our faults without focusing on them.

“Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2 NASB

Love believes – not in a gullible way, and not overly suspicious or cynical. Love is encouraging. It takes the best view of people and holds on to it, for as long as it is possible. Love believes in second chances. Love remembers that God isn’t finished with us yet!

Love hopes and doesn’t give up. It has desire with expectancy and it is realistic, but in the dark days it holds hands with Hope. When you get discouraged because life is overwhelming and everything seems to be falling apart, read the end of the Book. I love reading Revelations, because we win!

Love endures and will hold on until there is absolutely no hope left. It is patient and persevering in all circumstances. Love perseveres, it holds on, it endures.

Paul is saying to the Corinthians: “What LOVE is, you are not.” Will we be like the Corinthians, without Love, or will we search Scriptures and study to be more Christ-like and loving outside of ourselves and our own selfishness?

LORD, be with us, Your people during this unprecedented time. Help us all to not just hold on to Your promises, but give us the courage to live your Love and the Truth. Amen.

References: 1 Corinthians 1:26, 29; 4:7, 4:18-19, 8:1; Philippians 2:3, 5-8; Acts 17:16; Romans 4:8; 2 Corinthians 5:9; Hebrew 10:17; Matthew 18; Romans 5:8; 1 John 5:9; Proverbs 10:12; James 5:20; 1 Peter 7; 1 Peter 2:24; Romans 15:13; John 13:1

Do Not Fear

“Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your body And refreshment to your bones.” Proverbs 3:7‭-‬8 NASB

There’s a lot to cause fear and dismay going on. It makes me sick to my stomach, seeing the ugliness and the destruction going on just to satisfy someone’s inner demons. Destroying our heritage? Throwing down statues? What does that solve? In the Middle Ages, books and buildings were destroyed because they didn’t conform to someone’s vision of their world. In Nazi Germany, books and buildings and statues were burned and destroyed, because they did not fit someone’s vision of their world. In Cuba, in Italy, in Iraq, the same thing has happened.

Does destruction make your life better?

“The Lord is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:8 NASB

We need more dependence on GOD. Less dependence on people. People will always let us down, but the LORD will never stumble or fall with me – or you. Put your trust in the LORD. Read between the lines of whatever the “news” people and the politicians say. Look at their attitudes and their actions. Remember that they are all human and, therefore, imperfect.

Pray for our country. We don’t need to destroy it.

There’s a WHOLE LOT of Judging Going On.

“If you judge someone else, you have no excuse for it. When you judge another person, you are judging yourself. You do the same things you blame others for doing.” Romans 2:1 NIV

Did you read that? Let’s get it in a different translation.

“You may think you can condemn such people, but you are just as bad, and you have no excuse! When you say they are wicked and should be punished, you are condemning yourself, for you who judge others do these very same things.” Romans 2:1 NLT

This one might be my favorite:

“Those people are on a dark spiral downward. But if you think that leaves you on the high ground where you can point your finger at others, think again. Every time you criticize someone, you condemn yourself. It takes one to know one. Judgmental criticism of others is a well-known way of escaping detection in your own crimes and misdemeanors. But God isn’t so easily diverted. He sees right through all such smoke screens and holds you to what you’ve done.” Romans 2:1‭-‬2 MSG

As Christians, we should be setting the standard for the world in compassion and mercy, and instead we – as a group – are called judgmental by the world. It is up to me, and you, to change that perception. There’s a whole lot of judging going on today. Personally, I’m trying really hard not to judge the people who are rioting and destroying other people’s property and livelihoods. If I could, I’d be one of those defending the properties in danger.

However, I know this. GOD is the Judge of this world, not me. LORD, help me and guide me as I go through this day. Show me when I am being judgmental so I can repent of it and focus on loving people instead of judging them. Whether it is a family member, a coworker, or someone on the street, let them see You in me. Amen.

Love & Peace

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:9‭-‬21 ESV

I’m struggling this morning. Watching the protests last night right in my own city, seeing violence and looting happening, breaks my heart. It breaks my heart to see the damage that has been done to people’s property – people who had nothing to do with any of it, having their lives destroyed by others who decide to be both judge and jury and find everyone guilty.

I’ve been in protests. I believe that peaceful, non-violent protests can be effective. There’s no way, really, that I can understand a life lived in abject poverty, but that isn’t what these protests are about. I’m white, so, no, I’ll never understand what it is to be black (or brown or red or yellow). I’m a woman, and I do know discrimination. I’ve been discriminated against for being white, and for being an American. I have lived with prejudice against me. Respect is an attitude that doesn’t seem to be taught much anymore.

We are all guilty. Every single one of us. We are guilty of prejudice, we are guilty of judgment. We all do evil. We are guilty of discrimination. There are times when protesting injustice is necessary, and coming together in solidarity to protest an injustice goes back to the beginnings of these United States. There are no excuses for vandalism. Vandalism doesn’t solve anything, and it hurts those around us, our neighbors and families.

I’m struggling with the upheaval and chaos facing my country. I’m crying for the losses of so many innocent people. Join me in praying for the people who want to see change, that they will understand that violence is not the answer. Martin Luther King, Jr. said this:
“I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.”

Trust In GOD

“Who out there fears GOD, actually listens to the Voice of His servant? For anyone out there who doesn’t know where you’re going, anyone groping in the dark, Here’s what: Trust in God. Lean on your GOD! But if all you’re after is making trouble, playing with fire, Go ahead and see where it gets you. Set your fires, stir people up, blow on the flames, But don’t expect ME to just stand there and watch. I’ll hold your feet to those flames.” Isaiah 50:10‭-‬11 MSG

I wonder a lot about why we have to suffer so much; why people have to go through so many hardships. I’m reading a devotional by Elizabeth Elliot, called Suffering is Never for Nothing. If you are going through a period of suffering, it’s well worth your time to read. Even if you are in a good time of your life, it’s very insightful. She refers to this verse from Psalms 34:1, “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” Then she says this:

“Just start thanking God in advance because no matter what is about to happen, you already know that God is in charge. You are not adrift in a sea of chaos. So, what is there to be grateful for in the midst of suffering? Well, God is still love. Nothing has changed that. God is still God. He’s sovereign. He’s got the whole world in His hands.”

Just think on that for a minute. Is your world falling in on your head? I know how that feels, and how utterly helpless and hopeless it can feel to be in the midst of it. But think on that verse.

“I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.”