Hate What God Hates

This is an excellent article by Franklin Graham from the October 2017 issue of Decision Magazine.

I recently had the privilege to pray for our nation and its leaders at a gathering led by President Donald Trump.

I asked for God’s help and wisdom for our president and Vice President Mike Pence, along with our congressmen as they attempt to help steer our troubled country through some very turbulent times.

America has flaunted its sexual immorality to the world. We’ve neglected many of the poor and suffering and are guilty of much injustice, pride and self-indulgence. We are broken spiritually, adrift morally and divided politically and racially—following whichever direction the bankrupt culture seems to drive us.

Sadly, the voices of hate have grown increasingly loud and insulting, and it was my prayer then and now that God would silence these voices like he shut the mouths of the lions when Daniel was hurled into the den.

While those hateful voices have been raised on both sides of the political aisle, we must realize that ultimately what is transpiring in our nation is an increasing hatred of God, His Word and His ways.

In my lifetime, I have never seen such blatant and incessant animosity toward Christ and His followers. We should not be surprised, because the Scripture tells us that if they hated the Lord Jesus Christ, they surely would despise those who worship and serve Him.

I think of the recent ruling from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in the case of Bremerton, Wash., high school football coach Joe Kennedy. For eight years, Coach Kennedy took a knee and prayed silently after games. But in 2015, he was suspended by the school district when he refused to discontinue his prayers, and his contract was not renewed.

The federal appeals court said in their appalling ruling: “When Kennedy kneeled and prayed on the 50-yard line immediately after games, while in view of students and parents, he spoke as a public employee … and his speech therefore was constitutionally unprotected.”

Can you believe it?

Read the rest here.

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What Does It Really Mean to Be Blessed?

This is an excellent post by Sarah Walton from Set Apart.

What Does It Really Mean
to Be Blessed?

I often hear statements such as, “I am so blessed to have three healthy children!” or “I received the promotion that I’ve been waiting for…I feel so blessed!” or “We just bought the home of our dreams. We are incredibly blessed!” or “We are blessed to live in a country of such comfort, freedom, and opportunity, aren’t we?”

But what happens when you don’t feel so “blessed” in your current circumstances? For example, all of my children have Lyme Disease and one of them has several disorders that have often left us devastated, broken, and uncertain about the future. Are we no longer considered blessed?

My husband lost half of his salary, forcing us to lose our home and all we had worked for. A year later, he lost his job altogether when his position was eliminated, leaving us with the burden of paying for 5 people’s Lyme treatments with no income. Are we no longer considered blessed?

I have battled multiple health issues for most of my life and finally discovered I have been ravaged by Lyme Disease. Did I just happen to draw the short stick and miss out on the blessings that so many others seem to have been given?

Why do we most often associate being blessed with positive circumstances, wealth, comfort, and the absence of problems? I believe it’s because many of us have a very short term and shallow view of what it means to be blessed.

This begs the question – what does it mean to be blessed?

Read the rest here.

The Gift of Illness

This excellent article about a difficult subject is from the True Woman Blog at Revive Our Hearts.

The Gift of Illness

 

I’m not in a wheelchair. I’m not on chemo. I’ve ended up in the hospital only two times, for brief outpatient visits. To see me, you’d assume I’m the picture of perfect health. But underneath this strong exterior lies deep weakness.

I’ve been given the gift of chronic illness. And while I would love to reject such a gift, it has been my invitation into a thousand moments of grace—to feel where I was once numb, see where I was once blind, hear where I was once deaf. It’s been my merciful undoing and my gracious remaking.

You see, in my own strength, pain-free and healthy, I am Pride and Self-sufficiency and The Greatest People Pleaser. But here, in the throes of weakness, I am forced into postures of humility and dependency upon God. This brokenness has surfaced every cranky, weary, impatient, mean, insecure, fearful, shortsighted aspect of my character. So I cry out to Him.

And I find Him.

Read the rest here.

Crushed but not Broken

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Crushed but not Broken

By Patricia Knight

Crowds of people pose unique and sometimes bizarre dynamics. A peaceful gathering meets to discuss, to listen, or to resolve issues. A crowd often degenerates into a mob by assembling to complain or to demonstrate.  Over-zealous behavior at rallies may lead to violence and injury. Crowds at sports arenas or long lines at retail stores may initiate pushing and shoving.

Crushing frequently occurs due to the compactness of a group, heightened by difficulty of individual movement. Some people may be physically propelled by the energy and intent of a multitude. Anyone attempting to exit the gathering could be trapped from within and seriously injured.

Jesus was the unlikely victim of crowd manipulation. “As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him” (Luke 8:42b). Some of those gathered around Jesus were thirsty for knowledge or in need of healing; others yearned to witness Jesus’ miracles.  In the midst of the mass where Jesus was pushed and jostled, He possessed the compassion to focus on one individual, patiently discerning that person’s need, and providing the specific attention required.

When Jesus detected a tug on His robe, He demanded, “Who touched me?”  His disciple, Peter, informed his Master of the futility of locating one individual within a multitude of people.  Peter argued,  “‘The people are crowding and pressing against you’” (Luke 8:45). Not satisfied with Peter’s complacent attitude, Jesus persisted. He identified the person’s touch as light but deliberate. Someone had a motive of healing in mind! Dr. Luke writes that the moment the woman with a twelve-year history of a hemorrhagic disease touched Jesus’ robe, her bleeding ceased immediately (Luke 8:44).

http://www.freebibleimages.org/illustrations/jairus-daughter/

Jesus was on His way to heal another person, but suddenly He stopped, diverting His attention to the person in the crowd who tugged at His garment, transferring healing power from his body to hers. Jesus wouldn’t allow the woman to slink away from the crowd without commending her faith and assuring her of the permanence of her healing.  She learned that memorable day, “The Lord searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts. If you seek him, he will be found by you” (1 Chronicles 28:9).

Jesus’ reaction to a gentle outreach on His clothing or on His heart always initiates a tender, loving response. What prevents us from calling on Him for each one of our needs, whether minor or major? “Then you will call and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help and he will say, ’Here am I’” (Isaiah 58:9).

When we are squeezed by unfamiliar circumstances, we may regress into anxiety or panic. We feel so crowded, we find it hard to breathe deeply or to move in the right direction. Every day we are bombarded with challenges to our faith. Calamities occur that threaten our ability to function: financial devastation, serious health issues, frayed relationships, loss of employment. We feel crushed by the enormity of the situation. We doubt recovery. We grieve losses. We are discouraged and distressed. Where do we find solace?

Frequently, Jesus escaped His followers, favoring a place of solitude and prayer. He sought spiritual enrichment:  re-connecting with His Father to fill His heart with heavenly goals and His mind with sovereign wisdom. By seeking His Father’s will at all times, Jesus renewed His strength and clarity of mission. We aren’t aware of the specific content of Jesus’ prayers, but we have evidence of the result:  refreshment, renewal, and rejoicing. For the Son of God, it was an opportunity to evaluate His priorities and to problem-solve; to worship and to glorify the Father. Jesus sought seclusion in prayer, the example He taught us to follow.

Our Savior understands our responses of anger, sadness, and confusion because He experienced similar emotions as an incarnated man on earth. Jesus was the subject of disbelief by His own siblings. He was humiliated, disrespected, criticized, and falsely attacked by opponents. Church leaders detested Him and sought His annihilation. What was His response?  “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed” (Mark 1:45). Jesus possessed high energy levels to accomplish a demanding ministry by spending quality time in secluded, secret prayer with His heavenly Father.

God’s children aren’t exempt from troubles. However, God assures us that He will comfort, protect, and provide for those who cry out to Him for deliverance. Our Lord is faithful, the unfailing deliverer of the righteous, who also holds the wicked accountable for their hostility aimed at God’s followers. Jesus was crushed by crowds, but they were unable to adversely affect His ability to respond to individuals among  throngs of followers. Jesus hasn’t changed. He still listens intently to our prayers and intercedes with victory for those who believe.

During those experiences when we feel crushed or broken, remember, “God is close to the brokenhearted and saves those crushed in spirit. A righteous man may have many troubles but the Lord delivers him from them all” (Psalm 34: 18-19).

Call on Jesus, lavishing Him with praise and gratitude. Call on Him to communicate and maintain a consistent bond of fellowship. Jesus wants to supply you with the antidote of spiritual joy of heart and peace of mind. To acknowledge that our heavenly Father is within easy access provides tremendous comfort. We are invited to confide in Him anytime, anywhere. “How gracious he {God} will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you” (Isaiah 30:19).

We may be crowded by an energetic group of people, as Jesus was, or we could be crushed by circumstances beyond our control. Either has the potential to threaten our strength or security, but Jesus offers the solution. Rejoice, for He has the desire and the ability to rescue us from all adversity. We are motivated to worship our Lord in the splendor of His majesty, glorifying His name at every opportunity. Father and Son deserve our personal best, for they have sacrificed their ultimate for each of us!

Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise” (Psalm 48:1).

Rain Clouds

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If clouds are full of water, they pour rain upon the earth. —Ecclesiastes 11:3

If we believe the message of this verse, then why do we dread the clouds that darken our sky? It is true that for a while the dark clouds hide the sun, but it is not extinguished and it will soon shine again. Meanwhile those clouds are filled with rain, and the darker they are, the more likely they are to bring plentiful showers.

How can we have rain without clouds? Our troubles have always brought us blessings, and they always will, for they are the dark chariots of God’s bright and glorious grace. Before long the clouds will be emptied, and every tender plant will be happier due to the showers. Our God may drench us with grief, but He will refresh us with His mercy. Our Lord’s love letters often come to us in dark envelopes. His wagons may rumble noisily across the sky, but they are loaded with benefits. And His rod blossoms with sweet flowers and nourishing fruits. So let us not worry about the clouds. Instead, let us sing because May flowers are brought to us through April clouds and showers.

O Lord, “clouds are the dust of [your] feet”! (Nah. 1:3). Help us remember how near You are during the dark and cloudy days! Love beholds You and is glad. Faith sees the clouds emptying themselves and thereby making the hills on every side rejoice. —Charles H. Spurgeon

What seems so dark to thy dim sight
May be a shadow, seen aright
Making some brightness doubly bright.
The flash that struck thy tree–no more
To shelter thee–lets heaven’s blue floor
Shine where it never shone before.
The cry wrung from thy spirit’s pain
May echo on some far-off plain,
And guide a wanderer home again.

“The blue of heaven is larger than the clouds.”


© Copyright 1997. Streams in the Desert, by L. B. CowmanZondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530

Where Feet May Fail

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28 Peter said to Him, “Lord, if it is You,
command me to come to You on the water.”

29 
And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat,
and walked on the water and came toward Jesus.

30 
But seeing the wind, he became frightened,
and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!”

31 
Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand
and took hold of him, and said to him,
“You of little faith, why did you doubt?”

32 
When they got into the boat, the wind stopped.

33 
And those who were in the boat worshiped Him,
saying, “You are certainly God’s Son!”
—Matthew 14:28-33

It was a long and pain-filled summer that doesn’t seem to be ending because our monsoon-like weather is continuing. I am trying to rest as much as possible, and that means purposely spending less time on my computer and online. This is why I’ve been sharing posts from other blogs and keeping my writing to a minimum.

I am more than grateful for my sweet husband, Rick, who is always praying for me and is so protective of me and constantly keeps track of my activity level so I do not overdo. God has provided several people who have been praying for me, and He has also been using two special ladies in my life (you know who you are!) who help me keep my blog going by contributing their writing and giving me ideas/links for posts.

After much prayer, I believe I need to continue this pattern of blogging until at least the end of the year. Thank you, dear readers, for sticking with me through this time. You are all a huge blessing to me!

I love the song “Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)” by Hillsong United, and listen to it whenever I can. Portions of the lyrics echo my constant need to keep my eyes on the One whose Name I love above all: Jesus Christ. Here is my favorite part of this song:

And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine


Please excuse any ads that may appear before the video begins

If for whatever reason you are unable to view this video, you can read the lyrics here.


New American Standard Bible (NASB). Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation

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Sink Like a Rock, Float Like a Cork

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Sink Like a Rock, Float Like a Cork

by Patricia Knight

“The borrower is servant to the lender” (Proverbs 22:7).

Some of us have experienced the embarrassing situation of borrowing an item and witnessing it break before we return it. The damage must be explained and restitution made.  Though all sensible brain cells scream caution when contemplating borrowing an item, convenience usually nullifies any reservations we may have originally had.

Borrowing tools in not new to our generation. The Old Testament prophet, Elisha, was a popular teacher in a theological seminary where young prophets were educated. The students lived in a communal housing structure which was getting over-crowded, so the students invited Elisha to help them construct more classroom space. Each man planned to fell a tree by the Jordan River to use in the building project. 

“As one of them was cutting down a tree,
the iron ax head fell into the water.
‘Oh, my Lord,’ he cried, out, ‘it was borrowed’”
(2 Kings 6:5). 

Iron implements were extremely rare among the Israelites. Their long-time enemies, the Philistines, controlled iron production, so precious few iron weapons existed among the Israelites. On a particular day of battle “not a soldier with Saul and Jonathan had a sword or spear in his hand; only Saul and his son had them” (1 Samuel 13:22). The Israelites commonly fought only with a bow and arrow or a slingshot.

No blacksmiths could be found in the land of Israel, for the Philistines had decreed, “‘Otherwise the Hebrews will make swords or spears’ So all Israel went down to the Philistines to have their plowshares, mattocks, and  axes sharpened” (1 Samuel 13:19-20). The price was exorbitant for sharpening farm implements. Maintaining such control allowed Israel’s enemy to know the amount of equipment available and its general condition.

When the heavy iron ax head plunged into the river, the borrower responded in horror. He knew instinctively the value of the tool that he would be responsible for replacing or reimbursing. Since he was a student with little income, he could be facing the prospect of becoming a bondservant until he worked off his debt. Imagine the chilling fear and guilt swirling around the borrower’s mind.

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The prophet, Elisha, was also aware of the ramification of the lost tool. 

Elisha the man of God asked, ‘Where did it fall?’
When he showed him the place,
Elisha cut a stick and threw it there
and made the iron float.
‘Lift it out,’ he said.
Then the man reached out his hand and took it”
(2 Kings 6:6-7)

It was truly a miracle for a weighty iron ax head lying on the bottom of the muddy Jordan River, to float to the surface like a buoyant cork. What wonder and gratitude Elisha’s students learned outside of the classroom that day as God demonstrated His mercy for the welfare of His faithful ones.

The ax head anecdote preserved in God’s Word, assures us that our Lord is personally involved in our lives without reservations. It doesn’t matter how minor the problem, God always responds to our crisis. He hears our prayers instantly, already aware of our personal needs before we utter the words. Included in His instructions to His disciples about prayer, Jesus said, “’ Your heavenly Father knows what you need before you ask him’” (Matthew 6:8). What comfort!

Our heavenly Father desires that we remain in constant communication with Him, but He realizes when things occur quickly, our prayer tongue is often tied. It is then that the Holy Spirit is available to interpret our needs and to comfort us.

We may never panic in response to the loss of a broken ax head, but each of us can relate to similar traumatic times when we were “on the hook” to someone else, when our well-being or health depended on one decision, or when a situation occurred so quickly, there was no time for thought or action. During each of those scenarios, we need an advocate, a guide, or a miracle worker—perhaps all three. God is delighted to help. He is the one answer to our multiple problems.

Our Lord extends mercy and grace through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ, who paved the way for us to communicate with His holy Father. If we place out trust in Him, pledge to follow and serve Him, Jesus will enable us with His power, lavish us with His love and grace, and shower us with mercy, regardless of how underserving we may think we are.

Grace is one of the key attributes of God. Grace is His love in action as He passionately shares all of His goodness with believers. “’My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness’” (2 Corinthians 12:9), was God’s response to the Apostle Paul when he pleaded for healing of a particularly bothersome physical pain. Few of God’s servants have demonstrated the Lord’s strength as consistently as the Apostle Paul. Similarly, our weakness also provides the ideal opportunity for the display of the Almighty’s power.

The story of the loose, flying, sinking, floating ax head comprises a mere seven verses in the Old Testament, but the message of God’s miraculous intervention and His overwhelming kindness have inspired readers for centuries. Do not be lulled into thinking that any instance in life is too small to attract God’s attention and to activate His immediate action.

The prayers of God’s people invite and assure God’s response. “‘I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?’” (Jeremiah 32:27).

I think not.

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