Witnesses

“Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:12‭-‬13 NASB

I’m tempted every day, and many times I think that I can handle it instead of looking for the way God wants me to deal with it. My biggest? Not talking about Jesus.

What is it that makes it so difficult to speak about my Saviour? I believe in Him. I know He is the Son of the Most High God, and that He is alive. When I say He is alive, I mean He is alive. He died, yes, a horrible death on a cross, one of the cruelest ways known to kill a person. His body was annointed with the normal spices for burial, and then wrapped in strips of cloth, as was the custom in His day. His body was in the tomb, with door sealed shut, for three days. After all that, Jesus walked out of that tomb and was with His friends, His disciples, and was seen by over 500 people. Eyewitness accounts.

And He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” Luke 24:38‭-‬39 NASB

Easter Sunday is approaching. Now is the perfect time to talk about Jesus. Let’s be part of the ”

“Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” 1 Timothy 6:12 NASB

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, ….” Hebrews 12:1 NASB

Courageous

I wrote this on March 26, 2014, and it popped up in my ‘memories’ on Facebook, and it is completely appropriate for the crisis we are facing today!

From Billy Graham:

Courage to Stand

“A great problem in America is that we have an anemic and watered-down Christianity that has produced an anemic, watered-down, and spineless Christian who is not willing to stand up and be counted on every issue. We must have a virile, dynamic, aggressive Christian who lives Christ seven days a week, who is ready to die, if necessary, for his faith. We need Christians who are ethical, honest, gracious, bold, strong, and devoted followers of the Lord Jesus Christ.
I realize how spineless and pampered my Christian walk is. Give me Your courage, Lord Jesus, to follow You more devotedly.”

“But suppose you suffer for being a Christian. Then don’t be ashamed. Instead, PRAISE GOD because you are known by that name!” 1 Peter 4:16

Vengeance…..

Today, as the nation bows in prayer, I think the following scriptures speak more than anything I could possibly say.

O LORD, God of Vengeance, God of Vengeance, shine forth! Rise up, O Judge of the earth, Render recompense to the proud. How long shall the wicked, O LORD, How long shall the wicked exult? They pour forth words, they speak arrogantly; All who do wickedness vaunt themselves. They crush Your people, O LORD, And afflict Your heritage. They slay the widow and the stranger And murder the orphans. …..Can a throne of destruction be allied with You, one which devises mischief by decree? They band themselves together against the life of the righteous And condemn the innocent to death. But the LORD has been my Stronghold, And my GOD the Rock of my Refuge. He has brought back their wickedness upon them And will destroy them in their evil; The LORD our GOD will destroy them.” Psalms 94:1‭-‬6‭, ‬20‭-‬23 NASB

Vengeance is Mine, and Retribution, In due time their foot will slip; For the day of their calamity is near, And the impending things are hastening upon them.’ For the LORD will vindicate His people, And will have Compassion on His servants, When He sees that their strength is gone, And there is none remaining, bond or free.” Deuteronomy 32:35‭-‬36 NASB

“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:14‭-‬16‭, ‬21 NASB

Finally, even with all the fear and chaos:

“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.” Romans 12:10‭-‬13 NASB

We are the Called.

Still Running

“Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and cry against it, for their wickedness has come up before Me.” But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord . So he went down to Joppa, found a ship which was going to Tarshish, paid the fare and went down into it to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.” Jonah 1:2‭-‬3 NASB

Try this again:

“Arise, go to [insert the name of your *city/town/place of business] and cry against it, for their wickedness has come up before Me.” But [insert your name] rose up to flee to [insert the name of the your happy place] from the presence of the LORD. So [your name] went down to [your *town], found a ship which was going to [insert your happy place], paid the fare and went down into it to go with them to [insert your happy place] from the presence of the Lord.”

I’m Jonah. I don’t want to go. With all this craziness, I’m perfectly content to hang out at home with my dogs. Who needs people, anyway? (I’m an introvert so I love it.) I have a part time job at a little local grocer, so I get to interact with one or two people when I’m there. We’re not doing any walk in business, just call in orders, so there’s very little customer interaction. It’s been busy, so that’s my excuse for not talking to my coworkers much. My excuse. That’s all it is. My late husband would say “Any excuse will do when you need one.” It’s not a reason. I know that several of my coworkers are really worried about this virus. I’m really not. If I should get sick (not that I want to!), and even if I should die from it, I’m not worried. God is in control, and I know what happens when my earthly body dies. My life will improve immeasurably without this earthly body. Don’t we Christians owe it to the nonbelievers around us to share that confidence?

Just asking.

Quarantines and Social Distancing

“When the supreme being formed the universe, and created matter out of nothing, he impressed certain principles upon that matter, from which it can never depart, and without which it would cease to be. For as God, when he created matter, and endued it with a principle of mobility, established certain rules for the perpetual direction of that motion; so, when he created man, and endued him with free will to conduct himself in all parts of life, he laid down certain immutable laws of human nature, whereby that free will is in some degree regulated and restrained, and gave him also the faculty of reason to discover the purport of those laws.” – William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England

In his letter to the Roman church, Paul said “Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.” Romans 13:1‭-‬2 NASB

Honestly, I struggle with this. As a young adult, two of my favorite quotes were “Resist Authority!” and “Why Be Normal?” My “normal” is still very different from people’s around me, and that’s okay with me. I confess that I still struggle with the whole authority situation, too. How many people do you know who can claim that they were introduced to the Commander of a military base that was involved with nuclear weapons, while wearing a shirt proclaiming “You Can’t Hug A Child With NUCLEAR ARMS” …..? (Yes, that actually happened, and I think I made an impression on him.)

While I think that this situation with the current health issue has gone to an extreme, I don’t wholly disagree with the amount of care being taken. Of course I don’t want people sick. For the already sick, and for those most susceptible to a virus, by all means they should be protecting themselves. I wouldn’t want my 93 year old Mom out in public right now, simply because her immune system probably wouldn’t be (isn’t) very efficient at fighting off infections. I don’t want my brand new baby great niece around people for the same reasons. I agree that taking precautions is a good thing for all of us. I mean, who hasn’t had a cold or other virus at some time?

We have to be watchful with the chaos around us of people who are fearful and apparently think the Zombie Apocalypse is on us. Hoarding supplies, fighting over toilet paper, afraid to touch anyone or anything; I believe these are from the enemy.

The saddest part of all this? The healthy among us, and those of us who are cautious and have already been diligent about hand washing and cleanliness, are caught in the same restrictions as the susceptible. I’m an introvert, so “having” to stay home isn’t a real imposition…… as long as it’s my choice. My rebellious self says “How dare you tell me I can’t go out and eat or shop or meet up with friends?” My Christian self says to listen to the LORD, and He says to do what is right and proper, and to obey the authorities. I don’t have to like it, I just have to do it. (However, know this: if the authorities overstep their own boundaries as laid out in the Constitution of the United States, I will not sit by and passively allow it. Just sayin’.)

And the LORD said to Joshua “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 NASB

40 Fails

The number 40 appears around 146 times in scripture, and is used to indicate a time of testing or trial. For 40 days and 40 nights it rained and the waters came up out of the ground to cover all of the earth, while Noah and his family took shelter in the ark. (Genesis 7:12)

Moses spent 40 years living in Egypt before moving to the land of Midian, where he spent another 40 years (Exodus 2) before he returned to Egypt and led the Israelites away from captivity. He spent another 40 years with them, wandering in the wilderness. During that time, Moses was on Mount Sinai for 40 days and nights, on two separate occasions (Exodus 24:18, 34:1 – 28), receiving God’s laws. He also sent spies, for forty days, to investigate the land God promised the Israelites as an inheritance. (Numbers 13:25, 14:34).

The prophet Jonah powerfully warned ancient Nineveh, for forty days, that its destruction would come because of its many sins. The prophet Ezekiel laid on His right side for 40 days to symbolize Judah’s sins (Ezekiel 4:6). 40 days in the wilderness. That’s how long Jesus was there.

For me, I wandered in and out of my own personal wilderness for 40 years. I walked away from a home of spiritual safety, into the sinful ways of the world. There is another story from the Bible that I want to share as an example that God can overcome if we allow it.

From the devotional “Epic Fails” by Brittany Rust: “Samson’s epic fail was a thirst for the things of this world, fulfilling lust, and not learning from his past mistakes. His story shows us that pursuing these things will only bring us down and hurt us. That refusing to learn from our past will be our fall. Take cues from your pitfalls and draw boundaries that will protect you from repeating the past. I’m thankful to see that Samson finished strong; he connected with God and went out victoriously. Even though he didn’t steward his gift well, God still graciously blessed him for His purposes and, in the end, used him greater than ever before.”

“Then Samson called to the LORD and said, “O LORD GOD, please remember me and please strengthen me just this time, O GOD, ……”
Judges 16:28a NASB

I failed as a follower of Jesus for 40 years. I still stumble and fall, and fail, constantly; I’m sure at least 40 times a day. My saving grace is that Jesus is my Saviour. His Mercy covers me. Have you received His Grace and His Mercy and Forgiveness? Ask Him today, right now. He’s waiting patiently.

The Rescue

“GOD rescued us from dead-end alleys and dark dungeons. He’s set us up in the Kingdom of the Son He Loves so much, the SON Who got us out of the pit we were in, got rid of the sins we were doomed to keep repeating.” Colossians 1:13‭-‬14 MSG

I don’t know about anyone else, but this verse resonates deeply with me. I’ve been in those dead-end alleys, the dark dungeons, the black pits. That’s what happens when we do what we decide is right.

No matter how deep you are in trouble, or how much you despair of ever seeing the light, I promise you this. Lift up your head and your hand, and Jesus will be there. It doesn’t take much, just make the effort. It’s all that He’s waiting for, and He will lift you out of the trouble, and carry you until you can walk again.

No worries. No doubts. He will never, ever leave you. Never. Ever. Always by your side. Forever and ever and a day. Just call out His Name and the devil will run!

Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind
Sight, riches, healing of the mind
Yea, all I need, in Thee to find
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!
Just as I am, Thou wilt receive
Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve
Because Thy promise I believe
O Lamb of God, I come, I come

AMEN!