Be Still

“This is My commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you.” (John 15:12)

“God, who wills man’s unity in Christ, is a God of variety. So often we want everyone to be the same—to think and speak and believe as we do. Many Scripture passages could be called to witness that love is the real key to Christian unity. In the spirit of true humility, compassion, consideration, and unselfishness, we are to approach our problems, our work, and even our differences.
In a world needing Your love, let me not judge those who love You too. You have made us all so different, Father. Teach me, by Your loving Holy Spirit, compassion and true unity.” (Billy Graham)

The Peace of GOD

“Rejoice in the LORD always; again I will say, Rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The LORD is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to GOD. And the Peace of GOD, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:4‭-‬7 NASB

Shakespeare wrote in his play Macbeth: “Double, double toil and trouble….”

Sometimes that’s how the world feels to me, all caught up in a witches brew of trouble. Since the Garden and Adam and Eve’s fall into sin, that’s exactly what the world is. A cauldron of evil, orchestrated by the enemy of God. Even as I write, people are falling ill, succumbing to diseases, victims of accidents and of evil deeds and persons. People are dealing with financial issues. Think about the women trapped in abusive relationships, the children caught up in the slavery of the sex trade. It’s an ugly world. So what can I do? What are Christians supposed to do? Paul tells us.

“Rejoice in the LORD always; again I will say, Rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men.” Philippians 4:4‭

“What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice, …..” Philippians 1:18

Still worried? With this pandemic of COVID19 and worldwide social distancing and quarantining, it’s easy to worry. If you’ve been following me for long, you know I’ve struggled financially for some time now. It’s somewhat ironic that with so many thousands of people losing their jobs and having to drastically reduce their spending, that mine is somewhat level. I feel your pain! I know what it is to struggle, and how easy it is to fall into the enemy’s arms of worry and despair. It’s more importantly now that it has ever been that we lean on the LORD.

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” Philippians 4:6‭-‬8 NASB

Do I still worry? Yes, because I am human, and a sinful being. It’s hard to let go of things and allow God to do the work He intends to do. I want to direct His Hands. What a disaster that would be, if He allowed it! My absolute best decisions pale to nothing next to Him. Let the Peace of God enter your life by allowing Jesus into your heart, accepting Him as your Saviour. It may not change the circumstances, but it will definitely change your heart and mind and spirit!

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.” Revelation 3:20 NASB

Rest your heart and your mind. Allow JESUS the Victory over death He claimed over 2000 years ago! He is Risen; He is Risen, INDEED!

Anxious Thoughts

“When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul.” Psalms 94:19 NASB

In 1872, a young wife and mother named Annie Hawks penned these words:

I need thee every hour,
most gracious Lord;
no tender voice like thine
can peace afford.
I need thee, O I need thee;
every hour I need thee;
O bless me now, my Savior,
I come to thee.

In times like today, when so many people are frightened and worried, these words offer Christians the comfort that we are safe in the arms of Jesus. For those of you who want that comfort, it’s within your reach. I know how it feels to believe that you’ve done something that can’t be forgiven. I know what it means to be standing on the outside looking in, deep in sin and wondering how He could possibly reach me – and thinking that there was no way the LORD would even want to reach me.

Please, listen.

No matter what, God knows you and loves you.

He forgives, no matter what. Liars, cheaters, adulterers, thieves, even murderers. Don’t take my word for it! Read the Bible! The greatest people in it are sinners. Moses was a murderer. King David was greedy and an adulterer. Rahab and Mary Magdalene were prostitutes. Peter lied. Paul persecuted the early Christians! There are many, many more, too. Nothing can separate you from the Love of the LORD, once you have accepted Jesus as your Savior. He is our salvation. No one, and nothing, here on earth can save you. Not Buddha, not Mohammad, or Joseph Smith, or any of the other thousands of imposters.

“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.” John 3:16‭-‬17 NASB

Believe it. Believe HIM.

Yes, I Alone –

“ ‘But you are My witnesses, O Israel!’ says the LORD. ‘You are My servant. You have been chosen to know Me, believe in Me, and understand that I alone am GOD. There is no other GOD — there never has been, and there never will be. I, yes I, am the LORD, and there is no other Savior. First I predicted your rescue, then I saved you and proclaimed it to the world. No foreign god has ever done this. You are witnesses that I am the only God,’ says the Lord. ‘From eternity to eternity I am GOD. No one can snatch anyone out of My hand. No one can undo what I have done. I — yes, I alone — will blot out your sins for My own sake and will never think of them again.’ ” Isaiah 43:10‭-‬13‭, ‬25 NLT

Is there anything ambiguous about this passage? No! He is GOD. THE God; the only God. Why do we insist on elevating other things to His rightful place? He is in control. Whatever I am anxious about, whatever is causing me pain, whoever is trying to harm me, wherever I am, GOD, the LORD, has it all in His Hand. He knows. If I know this, how can I purposely cause anyone distress, including myself through my doubt?

“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:6‭-‬7 NASB

Lord, I cast all my cares to You. You know me so well. You know that even as I lay my burdens and cares down at your feet, I am reaching to pick them up again. Help me, LORD, to let go of those things that burden me; to trust You. I know You have my back. Why do I keep doubting?

Listen to Finding Favor sing their song Cast My Cares from the album Reborn.
When fear feels bigger than my faith
And struggles steals my breath away
When my back pressed up against the wall
With the weight of my worries stacked up tall
You’re strong enough to hold it all

I will cast my cares on You
You’re the anchor of my hope
The only One who’s in control
I will cast my cares on You
I’ll trade the troubles of this world
For Your peace inside my soul

Dealing With Being Single

God knows what we are going through.

Remember Jesus? He was a man, and He lived His life without a mate. I believe that He was probably tempted; after all, He was a man, and He must have been lonely at times…. and I’m sure the enemy made sure temptation was placed in front of Him, too. Mary Magdalene was probably a beautiful woman, and she was close to Him. It is debated whether Jesus was plain, or non-descript, or handsome, but I don’t think that is important (although I do believe He was probably amazing looking). His personality was magnetic; He was charismatic and commanding. I imagine Him as a man Who would draw both men and women to Him. How could He not be tempted? But we know He didn’t succumb to the temptations. He taught us – teaches us – that our Father cares for us enough to want the best for us. He also teaches us that we have to put the Father first, and that’s where it gets hard (for me).

“But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31 NLT

“I want you to show love, not offer sacrifices. I want you to know me more than I want burnt offerings.” Hosea 6:6 NLT

That’s a pretty big statement from Hosea. The God Who created everything wants us, me and you, to know Him more than anything. When we actually take the time to study and begin to know our Father, we begin to know what real love feels like. I don’t like being single. I want to be half of a couple. Meanwhile, I need to listen to the words of Jesus and keep them in my heart.

“And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, He will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” Matthew 6:30‭, ‬33‭-‬34 NLT

I don’t know if, or when, my Father will bring someone into my life to be a permanent part of it. I know that he must love the Lord and put Him first, and that he will want to treat me as his queen. Tall order, and one that only God can fill. Ruth Graham, a very wise woman, said “A happy marriage is a union of two good forgivers.” I don’t know that marriage is in my future, but I believe that her statement could also read “A happy relationship is a union of two good forgivers.” Whatever happens, I hold on to these words from the LORD:

“For I hold you by your right hand— I, the LORD your GOD. And I say to you, ‘Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you.’ ” Isaiah 41:13 NLT

“But now, O Jacob, listen to the LORD Who created you. O Israel, the One who formed you says, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are Mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.” Isaiah 43:1‭-‬2 NLT

I know that whatever happens, whether I am alone or in a relationship, I will never be alone. The LORD GOD ALMIGHTY has called me by name; I am HIS. Are you single? Praying for a relationship? Hold on to His Words.

Can You Pay The Taxes Due?

(24) “When they came to Capernaum, those who collected the two-drachma tax [the Temple tax; collected each year from every male over the age of 20**] came to Peter and said, “Does your teacher not pay the two-drachma tax?” (25) He said, “Yes.” And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth collect customs or poll-tax, from their sons or from strangers?” (26) When Peter said, “From strangers,” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are exempt.” – Matthew 17:24‭-‬26 NASB

** “When you take a census of the sons of Israel to number them, then each one of them shall give a ransom for himself to the LORD, when you number them, so that there will be no plague among them when you number them.” – Exodus 30:12 NASB **

These verses tell us some incredible truths.

Jesus knows everything; He is Omniscient. He is the silent listener to every conversation. He spoke, before Peter had a chance to tell Him of the encounter. He already knew about it! He not only knows all, but He is in control of all, and He cares down to the tiniest details. In verse 25, He asks Peter for his opinion, just as He is always listening to ours.

Jesus is the Son of God, Ruler, King, and Head of the Church. He owns everything. Malachi 3:1b says “And the Lord, Whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the Messenger of the Covenant, in Whom you delight, behold, He is coming,” says the LORD of hosts.” – Malachi 3:1 NASB

He already owns the Temple, so why should He pay this tax? He was exempt! Instead of arguing with the tax collectors, Jesus shows us His humility. He paid the tax to avoid offending the tax collectors. It is a wonderful example that He gives us, to forego His rights for the sake of others. The Jews paid ransom money (the Temple tax) as a substitute to going to Jerusalem and working in the Temple, and they paid the priests through their offerings to be sacrificed as the ransom for their sins. We’re exempt! Jesus pays the ransom for Peter here, just as He pays the ransom for us. We owe a ransom to God for our sin, but we are spiritually destitute. We can’t pay the taxes due – so Jesus paid it for us. JESUS pays all; He ransoms all, so we no longer need to!

“For there is ONE God, and ONE Mediator also between GOD and men, the man CHRIST JESUS, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time.” – 1 Timothy 2:5‭-‬6 NASB

That’s the BEST News ever!

Trust and Obey

I remember standing in church as a child and a youth, singing Trust and obey, for there’s no other way, than to Trust and Obey. I believed it; I knew, deep in my heart, the profound Truth in the words. I knew Solomon was right when he wrote this proverb:

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.” – Proverbs 3:5‭-‬6 NASB

Even then, knowing what I knew, I didn’t let myself completely trust God, especially once I hit the teen years. I began to believe the enemy’s lies. I viewed myself as unlovable – not pretty enough, or popular enough. My body didn’t look good enough. I wasn’t as smart as my older sister or good enough to be part of my brother’s life. My voice wasn’t as clear as I thought it should be, and my range was too limited. I wasn’t one of the ‘popular’ girls. I hated that I was so painfully, excruciatingly shy, and that I wasn’t strong enough to overcome it.

The enemy was winning that battle, and I gave up; surrendered to him for years. As in Ezekiel’s time, I became like the dry bones:

“The hand of the Lord was upon me, and He brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley; and it was full of bones. He caused me to pass among them round about, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley; and lo, they were very dry.” – Ezekiel 37:1-2 NASB

My God is stronger than our enemy!

“Thus says the Lord God to these bones, ‘Behold, I will cause breath to enter you that you may come to life. I will put sinews on you, make flesh grow back on you, cover you with skin and put breath in you that you may come alive; and you will know that I am the Lord .'” – Ezekiel 37:5‭-‬6 NASB

“And the LORD will continually guide you, And satisfy your desire in scorched places, And give strength to your bones; And you will be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.” – Isaiah 58:11 NASB

I learned over the years that Isaiah was right, too! The world we live in is like the velley Ezekiel was in, full of the dry bones of people who don’t know the goodness of the LORD; who haven’t received His Mercy and His Grace. Testify of the Goodness of the Lord! Expose the enemy for what he is: deceiver, manipulator, the Father of Lies. We may lose a skirmish, but the war has been won. The battle belongs to the LORD…… and the enemy knows it!

“….. for the battle is the Lord’s and He will give you into our hands.” – 1 Samuel 17:47 NASB

AMEN!