Nancy Henry – I love sharing the HOPE of JESUS. "For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places." Ephesians 6:12 NLT
I’ve been texting with my “little” brother this morning. He’s sending pictures of their place. The garden and greenhouse he built for them. My attempts are so feeble compared to his. It’s not that I don’t want to do better and have better, I just can’t keep up. There was a time when I could. My body has betrayed me, and I hate it. I look at my yard, and I can see how I want it…. and that’s where it remains. In my mind.
Then I opened my devotional by Max Lucado to today’s selection. Tears came. God knew I would be upset, and He arranged this for me to read today. It’s in God is With You Every Day, for May 22, titled Your Best Days. He tells the story of a little boy trying to keep up with his family in an airport, until he plops himself down on his bag and shouts, “I can’t keep up!”
That’s how I feel. “GOD, I can’t keep up!”
Max Lucado goes on to say this: “Sometimes the challenge is just too much. You want to keep up. You try. It’s not that you don’t. Life has a way of taking the life out of us. When you run out of fight,remember that the promises of God are your to claim. God’s Word dares you to believe that your best days are ahead of you. God promises you a Promised Land.”
Thanks, Max. I needed that today. My Promised Land is coming. I know that, and I need to be reminded sometimes. It may not be on this earth, but someday, I’ll have a garden that defies anything I can imagine now. Remember that. Whatever your dream is. Your Promised Land may not be on this earth. Are you confident that you will reach it? Are you a Child of the King, to claim your inheritance?
“You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the LORD your GOD gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed.” Joshua 23:14 NIV
He is good! Give thanks for your life! Give thanks to the LORD.
For what, you ask?
Most of all, more than anything else, thank the LORD for His Son, Jesus Christ, and His life-saving Salvation!
Is your life good? Give thanks to the LORD!
Are you healthy? Give thanks to the LORD!
Are you alive? Give thanks to the LORD!
Is your life a mess? Give thanks to the LORD!
Is your body sick, ill, diseased? Give thanks to the LORD!
Are you alone, lonely, yearning? Give thanks to the LORD!
Easy to say; hard to do. Thank God today for what you have. Thank God for the hard life you have. Thank God that you can feel. Thank God for your doctors! Thank God for pharmacists and nurses and medicines; for hospitals and rehab! Thank God for the roof over your head, and for the clothing you wear. Thank Him for the good landlord and the bad one. Thank Him for the service members who protect us. Thank God for living in a free country, and thank Him for the good and the bad politicians…..
As Americans, we are especially blessed. Even with all of the ridiculous shenanigans (I’ve always liked that word) in Washington and around the country, we really are blessed. That said, I know there are many who are struggling and suffering, and my heart and prayers go out to them. I’ve never been particularly good at being thankful in the midst of suffering, or being cheerful in times of stress. Pretty much the opposite… and definitely not like James tells us:
“This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger;” James 1:19 NASB1995
That’s a verse I really have to work on applying in my life! Coming up on Thanksgiving, with Christmas following close behind, I find that this might be the thing I struggle most with. I think most families have that person that we struggle with liking….. or even tolerating. God knows, and He is very clear on this. After all, being fully aware of the plans the Pharisees had for Him, and knowing that Judas would betray Him, Jesus showed love to them. He showed love to the thief on the cross next to Him. I am to reflect the love of God by showing love to everyone around you whether they deserve it or not.
If you don’t have that “special” person in your life, I almost envy you. However, if we are honest with ourselves, I expect that we have that someone whom we don’t like. Whether their actions or their personality. You, or I, might even be that person to someone!
LORD, Father God, I bring this to You today, and pray that You will take the resentment and anger and frustration from me, and help me to show Your love to that person. It’s only through YOU that I am able to do this. Let me be a blessing to that person, so that they might see Jesus. Amen.
While reading my devotional this morning, it asked this question: “What is the most difficult trial you’ve gone through? How can you use your pain to impact someone else?” My first thought was that I’ve had so many, how could I choose a “most” difficult? If you’re familiar with my story, you’ll understand why I say that. I know I’m not unique in having had a difficult life, and for many of us choosing one “most difficult” is, well, difficult.
Reflecting back, though, it would be losing my husband, Ron. Our life together wasn’t easy, but we had much to be thankful for. We were in our “forever” home, we had a thriving business, we were active in the local church, and we were content. When he lost his health, and began losing the battle with addiction, our life together became difficult at best and untenable at worst. The day I left him was one of the worst days of my life. I was a failure as a wife, and a failure at marriage – I hurt, bone deep. He was in unimaginable physical, emotional, and spiritual pain, and I couldn’t fix it. His rage at life became all consuming, until nothing (especially me) was safe from him.
I was active in the church before it all fell apart, and I thought I had a strong faith. Friends from the church took me in and protected me until I could live the area. My family rescued me. All of these wonderful Christians came together for me, and they reached out to try to help him, too. How did I react? I got back on my feet, new job and apartment, new church, and new friends added to my life, I thought I was good. I was angry, though, and began to blame God for Ron’s behavior and the destruction of my good life with him. My behavior over the next few years was full of denial, and I was determined to “fix” the world. Needless to say, it didn’t end well, but it did get me back to church and connected with strong Christians who showed me the path back to God.
Through those people and the program, I worked through a lot of my issues, and was able to assist other women going through difficult trials. No one’s life is the same, and we cannot judge anyone by what they are going through. I know this: if we can help someone find the courage to open themselves to Jesus Christ, we are blessed right along side them. He is the Comforter, full of Grace and Mercy and Forgiveness like we can’t even imagine.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NASB1995
The sixth Commandment of the Ten says “No MURDER“, or “No MURDERING“. It was inaccurately translated in early translations from the Greek to say “no killing“. For centuries, there have been people who have used that to mean that any taking of a human life is wrong, but God was very clear on this if you study Scriptures.
There are things that the the sixth Commandment does not prohibit or forbid. One thing that is not prohibited is the killing of animals, because God gave them to use. In Genesis, God provides all animals for us to use, and in Leviticus, cruelty to animals is prohibited.
The LORD GOD made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them. Genesis 3:21 NASB1995
GOD blessed Noah and his sons: He said, “Prosper! Reproduce! Fill the Earth! Every living creature—birds, animals, fish—will fall under your spell and be afraid of you. You’re responsible for them. All living creatures are yours for food; just as I gave you the plants, now I give you everything else. Except for meat with its lifeblood still in it—don’t eat that.” Genesis 9:1-4 MSG
A just war is not prohibited, nor is defending our faith and families, self defense, or administering justice – such as in capital punishment. Remember, our God is a Warrior GOD. Individual vengeance is not allowed, but a legitimate government. In Romans 13, Jesus tells us to be subject to our government. We are to respect and love the lives of others; to seek out and cherish the “neighbors” in our lives, because they are the image of GOD.
The sixth Commandment prohibits killing an innocent person, i.e. homicide. All HUMAN life is sacred, but animal lives are not sacred. There are marred and mangled people who do abhorrent, ugly things, but they are still in God’s image. The first murder is documented in Genesis, when Cain became angry at his brother Abel, and killed him. (Read Genesis 4) Negligent homicide is included in this, such as an accident caused by drunk driving, or an avoidable situation where someone is fatally injured. You can imagine other instances as well. By this Commandment, suicide and abortion are prohibited. Life has been cheapened in our society. Suicide doesn’t “end it” for family or for the person whose life is ended. There is a judgment for every person, no matter how they die. However, it is important to note that suicide is not a mortal sin. It is a sin but it is not unforgivable.
If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. Romans 8:10 NASB1995
EVERY life is precious to God. I suggest reading Psalm 139:13-17. Also, follow the science. Life begins at conception; it has been established that a human being is in the process of being formed at that point. Genetics are established at fertilization; it is a human life. Beethoven’s mother had TB, and his father had syphilis. Of his four siblings, one was deaf, one blind, one had dead, and one had TB – if his had an abortion, Beethoven wouldn’t have been born and the world would have missed out on a genius. But today, his mother would most likely have been advised to abort him. Think on that.
Abortion and euthanasia are murder. They are all the same. Even so, they are forgivable. Jesus came to forgive. Euthanasia is the direct and intentional taking of life – it is just doctor assisted suicide. Please understand that this is not the same as allowing a terminally ill person to die. It doesn’t mean to withhold palliative treatment, or needed pain medications. In Matthew 5, Jesus is talking about Commandments, and makes clear it is the SPIRIT of the law that we need to obey. When we have unjust or unrighteous anger, that personal anger is incipient murder, or murder in our hearts and with our mouth. 1 John 3:15 says that when we hate, we murder in our heart. When we call or think of someone as empty headed, stupid, a fool, dull, a moron, undeserving to live, or contemptible, we murder them in our heart. Instead, when we find ourselves feeling these things about someone, respond in KINDNESS. Don’t let the sun set on your malice or anger. It only hurts you.
“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. John 3:16 NASB1995
Jesus was MURDERED for us, to save our lives, and for murderers. We did that. We murdered Him….. and GOD allowed us to murder Him. Jesus allowed us to murder Him. Without that, we wouldn’t have the Good News of the Gospel, which is that Jesus died to pardon murderers, which includes every single one of us, every human who ever or will ever live. That’s pretty amazing. I’m a murderer, but I am forgiven. Thank GOD. Can you say the same?
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress, My GOD, in whom I trust!” Psalms 91:1-2 NASB1995
“Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:15-19 NASB1995
Today we are celebrating the life of our Mom. Her children and niece, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and great great grandchildren, special friends, as many as can be here. It will be livestreaming, too, for you to see. Join us in celebration! http://www.faithbibleok.com at 11am CDT
Phyllis Henry lived a full, interesting life. She didn’t have an easy life, by any means, and she wasn’t perfect. Having a pastor for a husband and 6 children to deal with kept her running, but she found time to help in the nursery at church every Sunday, and to be involved with the WMU, church potlucks, hostessing get togethers and visiting missionaries and preachers, and keeping peace in the family. (You have to be a Southern Baptist to understand 🙂 ) Our house always had to present a put-together face for people to drop in, so that meant keeping kids and toys and the paraphernalia of life out of the living room, and ready to offer tea or coffee at a moments notice.
On top of all that, my Dad was diagnosed with a debilitating disease a few years into their marriage, and the medications prescribed caused serious side effects leading to angina (heart disease) and eventually type 2 diabetes. It didn’t stop him from pastoring full time, going to college at night for his doctorate, visiting the sick, and trying to be the husband and father he needed to be. Mom added nurse, dietitian, and driver to her resume.
Her kids didn’t make her life any easier. We did chores and helped cook and clean as we got older, but children can be pretty self centered and we weren’t that different. School, life, hobbies, church and school activities, music and art lessons, we all stayed busy, too. Add chauffeur and tutor to her list of duties.
There was a lot of rebellion from the middle 4 kids. One left home days before his 18th birthday. I dropped out of college after 2 years and rejected pretty much everything I had been taught. The next two had a lot of craziness in their lives, too. The thing is, no matter how far I went, where or how I got there, and knowing how hurt and disappointed Mom (and Dad) were, I knew they loved me. It wasn’t until years later, YEARS later, when I wrote to Mom to ask for forgiveness that I began to understand Agape love. Dad had been gone for several years, and she said this to me. “There were times when we didn’t like you” (I know it was probably most of the time) “but we never stopped loving you and praying for you.” It’s because of their examples that I have a relationship with my LORD. Their faithfulness, their forgiveness, their love and faith in the LORD Jesus Christ was the centerpiece of their lives.
That’s how God is, I think. As His children, His Creation, we hurt Him and disappoint Him, constantly. But know this. He never stops loving us. He loves you. Maybe your parents didn’t love you. Maybe they loved you enough to give you up for adoption (that’s a powerful love).
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 NASB1995
“We love, because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19 NASB1995
Mom loved us, and Mom loved the people around her, because she knew God loved her. She showed that love to hundreds, maybe thousands, of people. She is missed by so many. Her ready smile, her refusal to complain, her ability to listen. I know the angels rejoiced when she joined them.
“The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous And His ears are open to their cry. The face of the Lord is against evildoers, To cut off the memory of them from the earth. The righteous cry, and the Lord hears And delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted And saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalms 34:15-18 NASB1995
I’ve done a lot of that in my life. Crying, I mean. Not as a righteousness person, either. Although I grew up in the church, when I left home for college it only took a few months for the enemy to seduce me away from God. Boys (because they certainly weren’t mature enough to be called men), recreational drugs, alcohol, the thrill of being kissed and touched and told how beautiful I was…. I would go home, back to my parents house, for breaks and pretend nothing had changed with me. Reflecting on that time, I’m sure the only one I was fooling was myself. After just 2 years, I left school and married the man of my dreams. It quickly became more of a nightmare than a dream.
A miserable pregnancy, an unfaithful, abusive husband, and I was still pretending to the world and my parents that life was good. The facade was thin, and I think more people saw through it than believed it, but I wasn’t giving up. Pull yourself up, girl! Stand by your husband, submit to your man, and keep up appearances. I couldn’t allow my parents, let alone God, to know how badly I had fallen, so I stayed, the great pretender. As the abuse became more severe, I became more angry and belligerent, especially towards God. How could He allow this to happen? So I turned further away from Him. He didn’t reach down and fix my life, so I rejected Him. But I still pretended to my family.
After eight miserable years, I divorced him and gave up my daughter to a family member. Anything to keep him from having custody. It was like tearing out my heart, but I knew it was the best thing for her. My life didn’t get better. It seemed that I was destined to stay with abusers. The enemy led me to another one. I was mesmerised; in a trancelike state for months, subject to his ….. what? Desires, whims, abuses? I can’t describe what happened, because it was like a dream, or more like a nightmare, that I couldn’t escape from. Ironically, it was my abusive husband who rescued me from that situation.
Was life with him different than before? Not really, but it was better than the nightmare I had been in. For years, I moved from man to man, looking for my Knight in Shining Armor, my Saviour. I lived in a homeless, hopeless state. For a period of time, with my third husband, life improved greatly. Together, we became active in church, putting God in a prominent place in our lives. I’ll tell you now that it’s critical to put God in a prominent place, but unless He is FIRST, it won’t last. It was good, until the enemy got a toe hold into our lives, and pulled my husband away from God and from me.
After that, I spiraled. It wasn’t pretty. Outwardly I looked like I had it together, but inwardly I was angry at God and refused to let Him have my heart. That’s a dark spot. I allowed abusive men back into my life, and several years passed as I pretended to be a Christian but couldn’t allow God to have control. I was going to do it myself. God got my attention. Husband five was my breaking point; my “bottom”. I took him to a Christ-centered 12 step recovery program so that he could get his act together (because there was nothing wrong with me. Ha!).
God has a sense of humor. The husband left, rejecting the program, God, and me. I stayed in the program. Funny thing, my biggest lesson was that I wasn’t so perfect after all!
Life is full of the good, the bad, and plenty of the ugly for all of us. It isn’t easy for anyone, even our children. That’s just a fact. Rich, poor, any shade of color, every continent, every nation. Life is hard. So why bother with living?Because God gave us life through His Son Jesus! Because of Jesus, I can face all the ugly in my life. Because of Him, I can face today. Every. Single. Day. Living with Jesus, and putting Him first means that I am never alone, and it means that when I can’t take the next step, He will hold me and carry me through it.
“And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12 NASB1995
“And He began to teach and say to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a robbers’ den.” Mark 11:17 NASB1995 (read verses 11-20)
Holy Week. Why is this particular week more Holy than last week, or next week, or any random week? Should we be treating it any differently than the other 51 weeks of the year? Should we be actingany differently this week than any other week? I’ve heard the reasons, and it’s a good thing to focus on the life of Jesus and the events leading to His death and resurrection. Shouldn’t we be focused on His resurrection every week?
“Also concerning the foreigner who is not of Your people Israel, when he comes from a far country for Your name’s sake (for they will hear of Your great name and Your mighty hand, and of Your outstretched arm); when he comes and prays toward this house, hear in heaven Your dwelling place, and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to You, in order that all the peoples of the earth may know Your name, to fear You, as do Your people Israel, and that they may know that this house which I have built is called by Your name.” 1 Kings 8:41-43 NASB1995THIS. This verse is what this week, this season, is all about: “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.” John 3:16 NASB1995
As Christians, let’s concentrate on the strangers; the people we don’t know, who we see in our church and in our daily lives. Make them welcome. How many times have you been in a situation where you didn’t know the people around you? That man or woman or child who is there by themselves might not really be ignoring you. They might be too shy or insecure to reach out. Reach out. Welcome them – sincerely – into God’s house, and continue beyond a single service. Help them feel like they have come home.
If God loved us enough to send His Son Jesus to die for us, can’t we love enough to reach out a hand in friendship?
“I will give You thanks with all my heart; I will sing praises to You before the gods. I will bow down toward Your holy temple. And give thanks to Your name for Your Lovingkindness and Your Truth; For You have magnified Your Word according to all Your Name. On the day I called, You answered me; You made me bold with strength in my soul.”
“All the kings of the earth will give thanks to You, O LORD. When they have heard the words of Your Mouth. And they will sing of the ways of the LORD, For great is the Glory of the LORD. For though the LORD is exalted, Yet He regards the lowly, But the haughty He knows from afar. Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will stretch forth Your Hand against the wrath of my enemies, And Your Right Hand will save me. The LORD will accomplish what concerns me; Your Lovingkindness, O LORD, is everlasting; Do not forsake the works of Your Hands.” Psalms 138:1-8 NASB1995
Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. Everything is a gift. Be thankful for His Mercy, Pardon, Patience, Lovingkindness, Truth. “It is good to praise the Lord and make music to your name, O Most High, proclaiming your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night,….” Psalms 92:1-2 NIV
Pray. God delivers His promises in fulfillment of His Word. Don’t forget to say Thank You, Jesus! “….. to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,….” Ephesians 3:19-20 NIV
Remember God’s Pre-eminence. Eventually, EVERYONE will give thanks and praise the LORD. ALL of Creation will praise Him. He is our protection. Be thankful for all the troubles that have MISSED us. God’s Grace and Mercy will sustain us. He gives us Purpose. He will complete and accomplish His plans for me. God made me and He has a purpose for me!
“For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.” Psalms 139:13-14 NASB1995
“….. being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6 NIV
Thank God for His fulfillment!
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably morethan all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21 NIV