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
O LORD, GOD of my salvation, I cry out to you by day. I come to You at night. Now hear my prayer; listen to my cry. For my life is full of troubles, and death draws near. I am as good as dead, like a strong man with no strength left. They have left me among the dead, and I lie like a corpse in a grave. I am forgotten, cut off from Your care. You have thrown me into the lowest pit, into the darkest depths. Your anger weighs me down; with wave after wave You have engulfed me. You have driven my friends away by making me repulsive to them. I am in a trap with no way of escape. My eyes are blinded by my tears. Each day I beg for Your help, O LORD; I lift my hands to You for mercy. Are Your wonderful deeds of any use to the dead? Do the dead rise up and praise You? Can those in the grave declare Your unfailing love? Can they proclaim Your faithfulness in the place of destruction? Can the darkness speak of Your wonderful deeds? Can anyone in the land of forgetfulness talk about Your righteousness? O LORD, I cry out to You. I will keep on pleading day by day. O LORD, why do You reject me? Why do You turn Your face from me? I have been sick and close to death since my youth. I stand helpless and desperate before Your terrors. Your fierce anger has overwhelmed me. Your terrors have paralyzed me. They swirl around me like floodwaters all day long. They have engulfed me completely. You have taken away my companions and loved ones. Darkness is my closest friend. Psalms 88:1-18 NLT
If you stop reading here, you’ll probably be filled with hopelessness and despair. This Psalm was written by Heman the Ezrahite, a Temple musician, song leader, and a wise and worshipful man. This psalm shows that anyone can suffer from depression. Even the great scholar and preacher Charles Spurgeon suffered terribly from depression. No matter how strongly you believe in God and salvation, depression can be a serious issue. There are many possible causes: situational, systemic (chemical imbalance), physical issues, satanic, or spiritual, but there are things God can teach us in the darkness that we cannot learn in the light. Like in verse 7, it can feel as though God is pouring out His wrath on us, even though we know He doesn’t do that. This Psalm shows that God truly knows how we feel.
Did you know that depression is the leading cause of disability in the U.S.? Statistically, we are the saddest, most depressed nation in the world. There’s plenty to be depressed about. Man made viruses, abortion on demand, war and rumors of war, violence threatened against conservatism, out of control inflation, food shortages, the highest gas prices in decades (ever?), and the utter confusion our kids and young people are dealing with with multiple genders and the LGB+ agenda being crammed down their throats from every side. Christians are constantly being attacked, in print and in the news as being bigoted. Being white or light skin automatically labels you as racist. It isn’t okay to be patriotic for our own country or to want our own country safe from invaders ….. but you’d better support sending billions of dollars to other countries to defend their borders! (It’s kind of depressing to me to even write about it!)
What can we do? How do we deal with depression? Keep talking to GOD! Tell Him everything. Cry to Him and with Him. Even our hymns show that other Christians struggle with depression and understand our needs from being depressed: “I need You, Oh, I need You….” “I must tell Jesus”…. Be reverent, but also be honest with God. Be persistent in prayer, even if you are being repetitious. Let the Spirit speak when you can’t form the words. We deserve the darkness because of our sins, but because of JESUS, we don’t have to dwell in it! “No pit is so deep, that He is not deeper still” – Corrie Ten Boom. Don’t be ashamed or let anyone embarrass you for needing antidepressants to help you out of the pit of depression. God gave us doctors for a reason. Let the LORD set you free from the darkness!
I will sing of the Lord’s unfailing love forever! Young and old will hear of your faithfulness. Your unfailing love will last forever. Your faithfulness is as enduring as the heavens. Psalms 89:1-2 NLT
In 50 years (or probably less), no one outside of a few family members will remember my name, or any of my so-called achievements. I won’t be in any history books, and there won’t be any statues or streets named for me. No holidays to remember my life. My reputation and my relationships won’t be of any consequence. That’s okay. I’m not looking for fame.
Here’s what is important. GOD’S Name. His Name is eternal, and immortal. His Name is Holy. David is asking God to for his, David’s, wrongdoing for the sake of the Name above all names, the Name of God Himself. When we call ourselves Christians, everything we do reflects on God, reflects on the Name of God. Going forward, maybe we should be more concerned about the way people see GOD’S Name in us, rather than how they see our name.
Recently I was told that calling myself a native American was offensive. I was born in America; therefore, I am a “native”. I’m not Apache or Hualapai, or Choctaw or Sioux (although I do have some Cherokee and Delaware blood), so does that negate my native status? What am I, then, if not a native American? Am I “native” to another land?
When are we going to get over this obsession with labels? “Black” America…. why do you feel the need to identify by the color of your skin? If I call Navajo friends “Red” Americans or Indian Americans, would they be offended? Probably. How about calling my friends of Hispanic or Mexican descent my “Brown” American friends? Or my friends of European descent, my “White” friends? I think this would be considered wildly offensive by most people! I could say I’m a European American, but what is the point?
I’ve written about this before, but it is really going beyond any common sense. Congress is having laws introduced calling for segregation, and the Democratic “leadership” is actually considering it. What was the Civil War, that War between the States, fought for!? What did Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King die for? They died for freedom for all Americans of all colors, to end the disparity, and to uniteus. Now people want to go backwards!
You may have dark skin or light skin; kinky hair or curly or straight – blonde, brown, red, black, and all colors in between; a big bent nose or a flat nose or a pointed nose, big ears or small; blue, green, brown, hazel, or black pupils; or your ancestors may have come over on the Mayflower, or by foot across a land bridge into the North American continent thousands of years ago. Here’s the truth, straight from the Word of the LORD:
“So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Genesis 1:27-28 NASB2020
We all share the common ancestry of the original man and woman. We are all onetribe! I am human, descended from the original couple, and I am a native American. I don’t claim membership in any particular tribe, but I don’t begrudge anyone for being proud of their ancestry, or for claiming it. My ancestry is such that I could claim to be a European American, or German American or Irish American, but I prefer to known as an AMERICAN. Proudly proclaim that you are Chickasaw or Choctaw or Paiute or Hopi, claim your Hadzabe or Zulu heritage, Kirwan or Osraige, Aniza or Saluba, but don’t tell me I’m not native American! I wasn’t born in any other country but America, and I am 100% American. By definition, I am native.
Native: (adjective) being the place or environment in which a person was born or a thing came into being: one’s native land.
There’s a song by Imagine Dragons that goes like this:
It’s been a long time coming, coming Seeming like we all been running, running Feeling like the wild west, gunning, gunning Listen to our elders shunning, shunning
All we see is faces, color, color All the other races, other, other Why couldn’t you just be my brother, brother? We don’t have to kill one another, kill one another All around the world, we are one, we are one All around the world, we are one
So where did we all go wrong?
“…. He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation,” Acts 17:25-26 NASB2020
I’m reading a book set in 1860, before Abraham Lincoln was elected President, and the controversy of slavery. It wasn’t just slavery, but a way of life for the southern states. Harriet Beecher Stowe’s book, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, was popular in the North and loudly disputed as lies and falsehood in the South. Our nation was divided by state, but also within families. Parents were divided, children, brothers, sisters, cousins were adamant that their side was the right side. We know from our history that this led to the Civil War, a terrible, bloody war that destroyed families and lives. North v. South; the Republican antislavery party v. the Democratic proslavery party.
Think about that for a minute. How close are we to something very similar today? Once again, we have families divided over issues like abortion, the Black Lives Matter movement, mask and covid shot mandates, Critical Race Theory in schools, more government control/Socialism v. less government control/Freedom. Defund the Police. What’s right? What’s wrong? Is it a conspiracy theory if it’s true? All Christians should be united on all of these issues, shouldn’t they? Seems like we should be, yet I find myself at odds with Christian family members and friends over just these issues! I ask, how can a Christian support taking the life of an unborn baby? How is a person more valuable because of skin color? Should a government be able to tell me I must mask up or take a shot when the science doesn’t support it? Yes, we should “render into Caesar what is Caesar’s”, but at what point is it too much?
Many, many people are literally preparing for a civil uprising to protest against tyranny. Peaceful protests are already occurring in many cities across our nation. Personally, I’m afraid that in order to stop the tyranny occurring in our capital, it’s going to require more than these peaceful gatherings, but I continue to pray that our leadership will get the message and make the changes needed. Are Christians involved in this movement? Absolutely. Unfortunately, there are also many others involved in the violence that is happening throughout the nation.
What can we do? I believe in being as prepared as possible for this recession we are swiftly headed into. It is critical that Christians unite in prayer for our leaders, and for guidance from God on what to support, and how to support it. I try not to engage in debate with family on subjects that I know we feel strongly about, but I cannot completely back down when I know that my beliefs are biblically correct. The only answer I have to the question is to pray. What would God have me do? We each have to be patient and pray and wait for His guidance. If His answer is to resist tyranny, then that is what I will do, to the best of my ability. Remember, our fight is not against flesh and blood, but against the enemy.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Ephesians 6:10-13 NASB199
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…..
“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” Exodus 20:17 NASB1995
How much do you REALLY need? Covetousness is the violation of the first commandment – whether other gods, another’s goods, or restless dissatisfaction with our life. It hides in our hearts: “covet” is repeated for emphasis, and it is comprehensive – it covers everything. Instead of looking at others possessions, we should be thankful that our neighbor has what they have. It’s okay to have desires, but not when it becomes an obsession. “If only…” is one of the most destructive phrases in existence. In Joshua, chapter 7, covetousness cost Achor his life. Paul warns the Corinthians about covetousness:
“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.” 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 NASB1995
Cultivate contentment, not complacency. Be satisfied; subtract ungodly desires, add dependence on Christ. Contentment defined: The learned, divinely empowered ability to be satisfied with the providence of God in any and every circumstance of life. (1 Timothy 6, Hebrews 13:5 Philippians 4:13) Through the Strength of Christ, we can be content. SEE what you have and be thankful.
“Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’] For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” Matthew 6:9-15 NASB1995
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.