Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise: be thankful unto Him, and bless His name.
Have you ever had a co-worker or classmate who comes in to start the class or day complaining? Maybe the only thing worse than that is a person who comes to you not complaining, but asking. Before hello (or right after). Before asking how you are doing. Before really connecting or acknowledging you, they are coming in whining or wanting! Ugh, I know that last sentence is spicy, but let the burn clear your sinuses and breath.
Would we be better off going into the presence of God with thanks or thoughts? The answer is both. In fact, He wants them both because He wants us!
[1 PETER 5:7 KJV] 7 Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you.
[PSALM 55:22 KJV] 22 Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and He shall sustain thee: He shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.
So let's rephrase. Would we be better off going into the presence of God with thanks before our thoughts? Now remember, come as you are means come as you are...
[MATTHEW 11:28 KJV] 28 Come unto Me, all [ye] that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
[JOHN 6:37 KJV] 37 All that the Father giveth Me shall come to me; and Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.
But I am learning that beginning my conversations with my Heavenly Father with thanks, literally shapes my thoughts throughout my conversation! Going into prayer with thanks is not a password to divinity. Thanksgiving is not an oil to loosen the bolts of Heaven to pour out a blessing. That's Jesus' job! Going to the Father in Jesus' name, per His instructions, is what authorizes us to step boldly into prayer...
[MATTHEW 6:9 KJV] 9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name.
[HEBREWS 4:16 KJV] 16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
That's the what of prayer, but how we come into prayer, that's on us. In whatever state we find ourselves, Heaven's door is always open because God's ear is always open! But what David is counseling and what I am discovering , is that the attitude or focus I have when I come into talking with God makes a big difference in our conversation. It does not change God, but it changes me. When I go in saying, "Father, thank you for...", it levels the conversation. It puts Him up, but it doesn't bring me down. Rather, it puts Him up and brings me in. If I am truly thankful, it draws me closer to Him. On the other hand, going in complaining or wanting puts Him up, but it brings me down. By starting the conversation focusing on what I want, it's like I am simply reminding myself of what I don't have or what I am not. So rather than praying, I am actually just projecting. And by projecting my circumstance, I actually bring God down (in my mind) to my level. As a result, I end up thinking He hears me, but what can He do? Or worse, I start thinking, He's listening, but He doesn't care.
At this point, if you have no idea what I'm talking about...carry on soldier. But if you do, might I suggest thanks, before thoughts. Our thanks muscles can get pretty flabby in the world we live in today. So here is a exercise that has really toned my thanks and is actually making it both stronger and natural. There is a movie series that our family watched many years ago and has become one of our favorites. In part 2 of the 3-part series, The Ultimate Life, there is a scene where the main character hops on a train car to get to Texas and find his fortune. A homeless hobo helps him get on as he is being chased by the railroad employees trying to stop him. When he wakes up in the morning, the hobo is standing at the door of the car writing in the air. He asks the hobo what he is doing and he tells him he is writing his Golden List. His mother raised him and told him that everyday, no matter what or where we find ourselves, there are at least ten things for which we should be thankful to God. The main character, who went on to become a...(well, I won't spoil it for you), was so impacted by that, he remembered that as one of the simple keys to living the ultimate life - giving thanks!
Now that's what I try to do. In my journal or on my phone, right after I say hello, I say hallelujah. Writing those ten things. Sometimes, searching for those ten things because my mind is so preoccupied. Whether it's places, people. purchases, prayers answered, or problems solved, when it's acknowledged as a gift from God, it changes how we see Him, and talk to Him because...
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with Whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
It's important to come to the distinction that worship is different from work; otherwise, you can't come to the conviction that worship is more important than work.
Whither shall I go from Thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from Thy presence? PSALM 139:7
It is clear from this verse that the Spirit of the LORD is the presence of the LORD! As such, there is nowhere we can go and He not be present. However, what we do in His presence is up to us. Whether we worship or we work. I remember going to college and being at an Adventist Christian university. And religion major or not, we all had Bible classes. I remember asking myself the question and debating it with others - can we study for a Bible test on Sabbath? The thought really goes beyond Sabbath-keeping but really to the heart of what one understands to be worship. In time I have come to realize that the seams of the fabric of worship are more defined when contrasted to the pattern of work. Without this contrast, not only can we not solve my freshman Bible class conundrum, but it is very easy to slip into the norm of putting work before worship. Trust me, I've been there.
So maybe we can get this by asking another question - can my work be worship? Absolutely...and it should be!
[1 CORINTHIANS 10:31 KJV] 31 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.
[COLOSSIANS 3:17 KJV] 17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, [do] all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by Him.
[COLOSSIANS 3:23 KJV] 23 And whatsoever ye do, do [it] heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;
Ok, gottit. But how about this, can my worship be my work? Yes...but it shouldn't be. As a minister in a self-supporting ministry, it's hard sometimes. For all of us reading, but particularly in ministry, work can be falsely sanctified by being self-sanctified as worship. In other words, because what I am doing is for the sake of the Gospel or for God, I decree that God should accept it as my act of worship. Writing a thought, running a soup kitchen, lesson planning for class, it's my work, but my worship to Him too.
[PSALM 86:9 KJV] 9 All nations Whom Thou hast made shall come and worship before Thee, O Lord; and shall glorify Thy name.
[DEUTERONOMY 26:10 KJV] 10 And now, behold, I have brought the firstfruits of the land, which Thou, O LORD, hast given me. And thou shalt set it before the LORD thy God, and worship before the LORD thy God:
Verses like these speak to not just location but intent, purpose, and focus While we can worship God in our work, we are not working in our worship to Him. It is an altogether separate and sacred experience for Him as He receives our acts of worship by our attention and intention. The act and experience of true worship transcends labor and resonates only on the frequency of love. Think of it this way. As a married man, can I love my wife, Tara, while I do my work? Absolutely and I do! But can I love my wife AND do my work? Nope. Try writing a blog post while having quiet time with your spouse! Try framing a door while spending cuddly, wuddly time with your sweetheart! I can think about her while I'm making that door or even make the door for her, but when it's her time, her moment, the only focus that will satisfy is first focus; total focus. It's why Jesus said...
[MATTHEW 6:33 KJV] 33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
True worshipers get this. They prioritize, and not settle to synchronize, their time with God. His Word has told me and my own wife has taught me, put God first by putting God alone. We will have to worry less about fitting God in when we commit to finding Him alone. If I failed to make it clear (and that's sincerely possible), let Mary and Martha help us out...
[LUKE 10:38-39 KJV] 38 Now it came to pass, as they went, that [Jesus] entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received Him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard His word.
Two women. Both in His presence...
40 But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to [Jesus], and said, Lord, dost Thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. [LUKE 10:40 KJV]
Two women. Both in His presence...but one working, and another worshiping.
[Luke 10:41-42 KJV] 41 And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: 42 But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.
Choose the good part, first. Let's worship before we work, so that while we work, we will worship!
EPHESIANS 6:11 KJV — Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
But God also tells us to put off some things in His Word...
EPHESIANS 4:22 KJV — That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;
COLOSSIANS 3:8 KJV — But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.
2 CORINTHIANS 10:4-5 KJV — (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
The experience of putting on God, abiding in Christ as His Spirit abides in us, is a simultaneous process of Him taking away. Which means, it's a constant situation of us letting go.
I encountered someone recently who is afraid. While there is some reluctance in their situation, that hesitancy to change is rooted in fear. But apparently I wasn't learning for myself so the LORD let me encounter one of my own fears - the dreaded check engine light! It came the night of December 25th, before visiting family, Tara's parents, were headed home. We are a one-car family and all our money is spoken for. The LORD impressed me to purchase a remote charger before our family left. Later, I went to get a code scan at our local O'reilly Auto Parts. They scanned and the result is what you see in the picture above. They reset the code upon request, and the check engine light came back on at home. But there was also an alert in our dashboard saying a "Break In Attempt Detected" while the car was starting with a very stalled start as an anti-theft response. After researching and discovering that even dealerships did not really know how to address this problem, it was time to talk to the one who is so easy for me to turn to....me.
Yep, me! I started "doing the knowledge" in my head of how to work this out. But in the commotion of the hall of my thoughts, it's like Jesus was sitting in a still chair, waiting. Looking at me, and waiting for me to put off thinking, and put on praying and talk to my Heavenly Father. So I did. I talked to Tara, and now we kept praying. And everytime the situation or potential costs or possible outcomes came into my head, I prayed and consciously gave it to God and let Him know I trust Him, I don't trust myself, and I will obey and not worry. Even when Tara and I were about to leave the house so I could take her to school, and the car would not start, I told God I trust Him, I'm not gonna worry, but I will obey and charge the battery to try again.
God started the car, my daughters and I took Tara to school, we went shopping for what we needed, and while talking to Tara to let her know we were on our way back to school, the check engine light turned OFF. Off!
ROMANS 13:12 KJV — The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.
Putting on faith includes means putting off fear. Putting on humility means putting off pride. Putting on prayer means putting off worry. It's all the simultaneous work of the Spirit of God - Casting off is putting on, & putting on is casting off!
This morning the LORD inspired me with a verse to share through the WORD Power for a few people. It's cold where I am this morning (28 degrees as of this typing) and I wanted to make sure it was cold where others were before I encouraged them to "stay warm". As I hit my weather app I saw the notable places I wanted to check, and sure enough they were cold. But then I saw a sunny aberration at the bottom that caught my eye. I had previously saved all of the cities on my list but not the last one...Y-e-k-a-t-e-r-i-n-b-u-r-g.
Never heard of it so I definitely didn't save it. Yekaterinburg, Sverdlovsk, Russia to be exact. Not just that, but the temp - 1 degree. Yes, ONE. Fahrenheit! Here I am thinking about my 28-degrees and the brothers and sisters in the "Y" are rolling with 1-degree in mid-December already?! God spoke. Complaining never makes sense. It feels good (to the flesh) but it's deceptive. It never does anything to actually solve the problem. Complaints are just like hitting the Bold button to highlight a word on a Word document, but it doesn't move a single pixel. Now mind you, complaints can be strong because they can actually be based on fact. The truth of the matter is often what makes complaining so hard to stop or to ignore. So we nod our head in agreement from our mind, but in our heart we know the LORD is not pleased with our misplaced faith (Notice how I didn't say lack of faith. We'll get to that in a moment).
As a recovering complainer, I ask you to consider Exhibit A...the "Y". I was checking the temperature in my neighborhood at 7:51am Central Standard Time. If you take another look, the 1-degree in Yekaterinburg, Russia at the time of the radar scan was 6:46PM their time! Their daylight was ending when mine was beginning. So when I was going to get warmer from 28, they were going to get colder than 1! We were only going to get positive while they could only go into the negative temps...FAHRENHEIT! Family, we should never complain! Somebody has always got it worse than us! No, it doesn't mean that we don't got it bad, but it could still be worse.
Complaint is a balloon lifted by the hot air of our anxiety. That anxiety is a symptom, so what ultimately is the disease? Unbelief; lack of faith. Or should I say, misplaced faith. We all have a measure of faith according to ROMANS 12:3 - For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.
So complaining is taking our measure or cup of faith and putting it on failure. Resting it on despair. Which in turn, is just like putting it against GOD. "No LORD, you can't do it." "Nah Jesus! You don't care because you can't see!" Now do we understand why complaining is actually a sin, or faith, against God?
It hurt the LORD when Israel complained in the desert, and it hurts Him even more today when we complain on the borders of eternity. So a way out of complaining? Compare. Get some context by actually comparing your situation to someone else's. Whether in your family, the Bible, a friend, or even an enemy. But what if everybody's all good and I am actually the one at 1-degree? Then compare your situation to God's. Because all of us have it good, or it will get better, because Jesus decided to take on our bad. Jesus put Himself at zero for our sakes. Our Heavenly Father decided to bankrupt Heaven and give us His Son just so we could even be alive to enjoy, not endure, the next breath. And even when death seems like the answer and the way out, Christ died so the answer is always love and only eternal life through Him is the way out.
God is not asking us to stop feeling, He is simply calling us to keep believing...in Him!
[[A Prayer of the afflicted, when he is overwhelmed, and poureth out his complaint before the LORD.]] Hear my prayer, O LORD, and let my cry come unto Thee.
There may be no better way to determine how "right" we are than by accessing how we feel when we are wronged. Most of the time the Christian life is measured in wins and losses. Like how many prayers answered and goals accomplished. But using that metric can be faulty because on that standard, even God can be judged a failure. The One Who seeks to save all only gathering a remnant (REVELATION 7:4). For the Son of God Who has all power in His hand to heal a whole city not doing many might works (MATTHEW 13:58). Fruitfulness and faithfulness are two different things and only one of them is our responsibility. In case you don't know, that one is faithfulness. But in being faithful, what we define as fruitful can be misleading. Being faithful can lead to some tough situations where we don't just come out getting the short end of the stick, but we get hit with the stick!
This morning I was dropped off our daughter, Faith, at school. It was two minutes to first bell and I jumped out of the car, handed her her raincoat, kissed her on the cheek, and told her I loved her. As she jogged to the front door of the building, she opened it and out of the left, a boy or a man in a white coat or jacket (couldn't tell which) ran into the door in front of her. He will henceforth be known as Flash Gordon. Immediately I was taken aback. That was rude, dangerous, and whatever else a father thinks when he sees a guy go into a door in front of his daughter. Sooo....How do you process being wronged? I'm not just asking how do you react or respond. I'm talking about how do you feel; what goes through your mind before you even say or do anything? I believe the answer lies in even before that before.
Go back to instant replay because something actually happened to me after Faith got out of the car but before Flash Gordon shot through the door in front of her. Everyday at 8am we get a verse-of-the-day from one of our Bible apps on our phone. It was in that gap of space that EZEKIEL 36:26-27 flashed first on my screen...
26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. 27 And I will put My spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes, and ye shall keep My judgments, and do [them].
The only part that I could see in my text preview was "26 A new heart also will I give you..." So to put the timeline all together, Faith is heading towards the door, the verse came on the phone, Flash Gordon flashes, and there I am having just prayed for this new heart and now I'm ready to flash on somebody! It was here that it was revealed that the Truth made it to my head and not to my heart. And it is in the new heart and only in the new heart that we can process wrong as God processes wrong.
Processing wrong as God does, does not ignore wrong. That's injustice. Processing wrong as God does, does not say it never happened. That's lying. Processing wrong as God does requires God in the form of the new heart. The new heart does not just come from God to us (verse 26 - "A new heart also will I give you..."), but the new heart is God in us (verse 27 - "And I will put My spirit within you..."). It is only by God in us that we can experience wrong and acknowledge wrong, yet not do wrong even when we know we've done right.
[MATHEW 27:14 KJV] 14 And [Jesus] answered him to never a word; insomuch that the governor marvelled greatly.
It is only by God in us that we can be wronged, but rather than feeling wronged, we feel bad for those who wronged us.
[LUKE 23:34 KJV] 34 Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted His raiment, and cast lots.
It is only by God in us that we can be wronged and respond by doing right.
ROMANS 12:21 KJV] 21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.
Mercy! We see how far we are from God by seeing how close we are to flashing. Note that because exactly how far we are from God is how far we are from forgiving others. And how far we are from forgiving others is actually how far we are from accepting God's forgiveness for ourselves (MATTHEW 6:12). The new heart is not about grinding it out, biting our tongue, smiling on the outside while burning on the inside. The new heart is no heartburn because there is no flame. Forgiveness becomes the impulse rather than fury!
Brothers and sisters, cry out to God for the new heart for it is literally Him in us! It is by His Spirit that He has promised to do these things and not by our own. It is by His Presence & Power in us personally, and not in group or body organizationally, that He has promised to cause each who believes to walk in His statutes. You can walk with me but you can't walk for me. God wants to walk in me! God wants to walk in you! By the blood of Jesus, claim now the gift of pardon AND God's presence in us which alone is our power...
even to process wrong.
ROMANS 5:6 KJV - 6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
Nobody wants to approach any interaction from a position of weakness or need. I know what it's like to stubbornly wait in the car while your wife goes in to apply for Food Stamps. What we call resilience is often just veiled pride that totally rejects the idea of being broken. But in the Gospel transaction of forgiveness, over fear; victory, over victim, it is the ONLY way for us to experience salvation. The timing of our redemption as noted in ROMANS 5:6 is not just a report or descriptive, but it is also prescriptive. It is a blueprint for the conditions necessary for the gift of God, Christ Himself, to take affect in our lives.
What is the best situation to identify where our will and resilience need to be, in order for God to get us where He wants us to be? There is none better than death...
Ephesians 2:4-7 KJV - 4 But God, Who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith he loved us, 5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6 And hath raised [us] up together, and made [us] sit together in heavenly [places] in Christ Jesus: 7 That in the ages to come He might shew the exceeding riches of His grace in [His] kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.
There is low power, then there is no power. Which does EPHESIANS 2 seem to compare sinners and our situation to? Putting it in phone terms, which is lower, 15% power or 0% power? If we were to look down at our phones and see we were at 15% power we would say,"Wow - my power is low! I need to charge my phone." And why would we want to charge it? Because we don't want it to... die. It's near death, but not dead. Some original power remains but not enough to sustain. But if we were to look down and see our phone is at 0%, there would not even be a readout, but instead, there would be a blank screen, no power, and the verdict,"My phone is dead." Like the picture above, your phone looks at you and says "Hey, we're out of options here. If you want anything out of me, you gotta plug me up and you gotta plug me up now!"
Once our phone is dead, our only hope and immediate response is connect it! This is where we are in our hearts when the work of Christ actually makes effect in our situations and we actively move to connect with God through Him. To show that this is even possible, God sent His Son and our Savior to do a work among the physically, literally dead. So by the time the apostles come along and speak of us being "dead in sins", we get a picture of what's possible when we are perfectly powerless.
2 Corinthians 12:9 KJV - 9 And [the Lord] said unto [Paul], My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
God's power only rests on the dead! Family, we are perfectly powerless against sin (singular) and we all got the sins (plural) to prove it. Until we admit it and confess it, we won't accept being forgiven for it, nor have faith to be delivered from it. That year when I sat in pride outside the Department of Human Services building waiting for Tara, she went inside by faith and in humility for her babies, and came out with documentation that allowed us to get four times more money than we ever budgeted to buy food! If billion-dollar companies take government assistance through tax-incentives and subsidies, why can't I? If Paul the persecutor, Jacob the deceiver, and Mary Magdaline the escort are going into Heaven, why can't I? Don't let your pride, and not your need, be the source of your spiritual starvation. Our need - God can fill it. Our pride - it won't let grace get to us. Our choice is the only way to keep us out of the kingdom of grace, and not our sins when "the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin." (1 JOHN 1:7)
Grace! His power to the perfectly powerless!
2 Corinthians 12:9 KJV - 9 And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
Naming the tallest land animal is probably not one of the more difficult nature questions. The undisputed answer is "the giraffe!" What most people may not know if why the giraffe was created so tall. If we could ask a giraffe what its favorite food is, these giant herbivores (plant-based creatures) would probably vote for acacia leaves. It turns out that acacia trees can grow at a rate as fast as 3 feet a year eventually reaching a mature height of 20-50 feet. For a giraffe, with an average height of 16-20 feet and a tongue up to 2 feet long, it would seem that our Creator reveals both His wisdom and care, in giving His tallest creature a food source that is in their reach, and height that enables them to reach it.
Psalm 147:8-9 KJV - 8 [The LORD] covereth the heaven with clouds, Who prepareth rain for the earth, Who maketh grass to grow upon the mountains. 9 He giveth to the beast his food, [and] to the young ravens which cry.
If God does this everyday for giraffes, ravens, and all of His creatures, what less should we expect Him to do for the ones He made in His image and for the ones He made the giraffes, ravens, and all creatures for? I am a living witness that God provides for us by enabling us to grow taller, lowering the branches to our reach, or both! Case in point, our family has been looking for a desk for our home. We actually need two so that we can work at the same time to study, write, record & edit videos, etc. But after pricing a few, two desks were in our hearts but not in our budget. In comes the LORD, the Creator.
While at Aldi for a grocery run, our girls stayed in the car and ate snacks while Tara was on the phone with a friend. So I, Chris, go inside and God provides all the food we needed from the store. But as I am walking out the exit door, I glance over to the other side of the entrance door and see a pallet full of desks for sale. They look good and now it's time to see if their "priced good". Abandoning my cart, I walk around to see that the desks are reasonably priced $99.99 to $74.99, but they are on clearance for $49.99. There it is! I think the name "Chris" might be Aramaic or Sumerian for "clearance" because this seemed like the answer to prayer. So I snap a few pictures of the desks and price tag to run the idea by Tara and the girls. They liked them so I go back inside with Jai'el so we can pull off this team lift to get the box into the car. Arriving at the checkout with a smile, I pull the cart around so the cashier can scan the box and she tells us the total...$26.43. $26.43? I asked her again and she just shook her head up and down. Next question, "Can I get two?" She shook her head up and down. I came to the counter with a smile but left in shock and awe!
Did our Creator just do what He does? And did He just do it without me even asking? He blessed us and made us tall enough to go after the $49.99, but to show how he could do both, He lowered the branch from $99.99 to $74.99 to $49.99 to $25.00+tax - without us even asking! Brother and sisters, thank God for the bless up! But as we walk and wait on the LORD, read the verses that follow Psalm 147:8-9. Psalm 147:9-10 says -
Psalm 147:10-11 KJV - 10 [The LORD] delighteth not in the strength of the horse: He taketh not pleasure in the legs of a man. 11 The LORD taketh pleasure in them that fear Him, in those that hope in His mercy.
God is pleased when we hope in Him! Whether we are blind Bartimaeus in Mark 10, the woman with the demon-possessed daughter in Matthew 15, or the dude looking for a desk in Aldi on a rainy Sunday night, when we obey God by trusting Jesus, and hope in His mercy to lower the branch or stand in His grace that makes us taller, He gets a chance to do what only He can do, create in us; and to do what He really wants to do - care for us!
What does it me~an to be born of God? Before we answer that, let's understand why both this question and answer are so important. To be born of God is so important because it is the ONLY way to overcome! More specifically, it's the only way to overcome this world. It is the one way to be in the world, but not of the world. What exactly does the Bible mean by "the world"?
1 John 2:16 KJV - 16 For all that [is] in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
Essentially, whatever is "not of the Father" is "of the world." That kind of cuts it straight doesn't it? So how can we escape the world while walking in it? Yes, we can escape -
2 Peter 1:4 KJV - 4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.''
But our escape is the realization of a promise; even, "exceeding great and precious promises" to be born again! The first time we came onto the scene we were born of flesh from our mother and father, and all that is in them is in us. But when we are born again, or born of the Spirit of God, all that is in Him is in us! Talk about a miracle of life! What happens everyday in delivery rooms throughout the world is a miracle. But what happens everyday in classrooms, churches, cars, break rooms, bedrooms, closets, or on the street when someone is born again, is miracle of eternity!
So how are we born again?
John 3:16 KJV - 16 For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
1 John 5:1 KJV - 1 Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth Him that begat loveth Him also that is begotten of Him.
To be born of God is to believe in Jesus. Born of God = Believe in Jesus. Born of the Father = Believe in His Son. By God, through Jesus - this simple pivot in our faith both re-routes and re-roots us. Trusting in God through His Son not only changes the trajectory or direction of our experience, but it re-roots our whole existence in the life, death, and resurrection of the Son of God, the sacrifice for sin and our sins. In that instant of surrender, we no longer operate by our own will, but live by the power and presence of God, the Spirit of God, by believing in His Son!
John 1:12-13 KJV - 12 But as many as received [Christ], to them gave He power to become the sons of God, [even] to them that believe on His name: 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
New birth is the result of new belief! Accepting what God has already offered, and what Jesus has made available by His offering. When we believe His promise fulfilled, we can walk in His promises fulfilling...
1 John 3:9 KJV - 9 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for His seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.
1 John 4:7 KJV - 7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.
1 John 5:4 KJV - 4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, [even] our faith.
1 John 5:18 KJV - 18 We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.
To keep is to be kept. To be born is to believe. Being loved, we love. We aren't the author, but the echo of what God has done; for by His Spirit is the only way we can continue to do. God doing continually in us, what through Jesus He has done for us. Born, again!
EZEKIEL 36:25 KJV - 25 Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.
Rainy Mondays can be rough. Well, I guess any rainy day can be rough - especially if you have to drive in it! Slow down, lights on, wipers up. The sound of the back and forth of the blades can be enough to make you whisper a prayer for sunshine. And true to form, the God Who sent the rain is the same one Who sends the sunshine. We need them both and He sends them both. In order and on time because it's in His time! But you know one of the blessings of the rain is the free car wash. Depending on where you live that might be a car wash, a mud wash, or even snow slush wash. But after the rain and thanks to your windshield wipers, for nearly all of us, the rain is a clear wash for our windshield.
In the midst of the anxiety or stress of the rain, and the monotony of the wiper blades, the windshield almost always comes out better after the storm than before. No matter how fast or slow you drive, or what kind of car you drive, if it rains hard enough that windshield comes out looking new because it comes out clear. The dirt, the bugs, and the bird turds - all gone. You know our hearts can get like that over time. The dirt of sin, the bugs of burdens, and the bird droppings of life can build up, but we get used to seeing around them rather than getting rid of them. Bitter dispositions, negative thoughts, and high blood pressure are often just symptoms of dirty mental and spiritual windshields that need more than a stray wishful wipe away, but a good rain.
Our Heavenly Father promised in Ezekiel 36 to wash us clean - from all our filthiness. And one of the benefits of being clean is clarity. Like looking through that clear windshield, we start to see things for what they really are and for what they are not. This clarity takes away the need to squint and we no longer have to stress like the blind guides of MATTHEW 23:24 "which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel." It's not so much that life changes, but our perception certainly does. Nothing on the other side of the windshield really changes, but the clarity to see it does; and that can be life changing. Seeing God for Who He truly is and sin for what it is (and isn't).
Yet another benefit of being clean...clarity. Let God do the wiping while we do the walking. Let the love of God by the blood of Jesus, wash you and make you clean! To find it, believe it and receive it...
Job 11:13-14 KJV - 13 If thou prepare thine heart, and stretch out thine hands toward Him; 14 If iniquity [be] in thine hand, put it far away, and let not wickedness dwell in thy tabernacles.
Isaiah 55:6-7 KJV - 6 Seek ye the LORD while He may be found, call ye upon Him while he is near: 7 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and He will have mercy upon Him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.
1 John 1:7 KJV - 7 But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin.
- Chris Bailey III
Mark 15:37-38 KJV - 37 And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost. 38 And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom.
Meditating on the life of Christ, I noted how He always teaches us to ask, but never to beg!
Matthew 7:7 KJV - 7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
Luke 11:9 KJV - 9 And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
James 1:5 KJV - 5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all [men] liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
While other Scriptures may encourage us to lean in or to persevere in prayer, we don't see the unction to beg because begging says as much about the beggar, as it does about the giver. If God called us to beg, it would speak to the nature of His giving. It makes it conditional, selective; which would make Him and every aspect of Him conditional, selective. Nonsense! Our Heavenly Father loves cheerful givers because they give like He gives!
Case in point...Mark 15. When Jesus died on the cross, He gave on the cross. The Scriptures record that He literally "gave up" His life. The Son of God's very last breath was in itself a gift! An offering to God and an offering for you. Now the Father, Who has given up His only begotten Son, keeps giving...
Mark 15:38 KJV - 38 And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom.
The curtain in the sanctuary in Jerusalem was completely torn from the top through to the bottom. This thick, blood-soaked, red veil was totally shredded to remove the separation between the Most Holy Place, where the presence of God once dwelt, and the Holy Place, where the High Priest ministered as a representative of the people. In symbol and in fact, there was no longer a barrier between us and God! Where once there was a curtain, now there was Christ as the Way to the throne of God!
So with this path, paved in Jesus' own blood, to this God, Who gave His only begotten Son, do we now think that the attitude we should have is that of a beggar? Hoping that maybe, just maybe, God might cut us a break if we ask right. That "the Man upstairs" (a phrase I despise and a nickname that insults God) might throw us a bone if we bark louder? Come on saints, we are beggars no more - we don't take a number! If we receive Christ by faith, we have the Father in full! Because of God's love and Christ's sacrifice, we don't beg, we believe! We don't bark, we behold! We don't guess, we get! We don't haggle, we hope! We ask, not beg. Whether God says yes, no, or wait is His business. But us coming as children and not chattel (slaves), is ours!
Matthew 8:13 KJV - 13 And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, [so] be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.
Jesus tells the Roman centurion to "go thy way', as if to say, "class dismissed!" There were many lessons to be learned in this singular encounter. But maybe the most important one was "and as thou hast believed." The centurion had a lot of strikes against him from our perspective for his prayer to be heard, much less answered. But the validity and the worth of his prayer were not started, or stopped, in him. In fact, it was in spite of him. Maybe it was by the import or the weight of his prayer that the Lord answered because it was a life-or-death situation? Well, if that was the case, then Jesus would have commended him for what he brought to him or the seriousness of his situation. But that is not what The Master applauds. Jesus says "as thou hast believed."
"As thou hast believed" since the centurion tells Jesus that He doesn't have to come to his house because 1) the soldier is not worthy to have Him enter and 2) Christ doesn't have to be there to do what he is asking him to do. The paradox of humility and holy boldness is staggering! It's like the soldier is saying "I know I don't deserve to even ask you, but if this is what you want to do, I already know you can't help yourself from doing what nobody else can do face-to-face; much less long distance, so..." The centurion got on a wavelength that moved The Master to say...
Matthew 8:10 KJV - 10 When Jesus heard [it], He marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.
This was a faith that 1) knew God's will and 2) believed God's will. Once the centurion got on that frequency, nothing could be withheld. The same applies to us! There was no restraint. Not even reality could prevent this from happening because the will of the Sovereign of the universe is sovereign. It will come to pass.
Matthew 8:8 KJV - 8 The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed.
"...but speak the word only..." Figuratively speaking, the centurion did not plop down, demand, and get in front of Jesus; rather, by his statements he is, by faith, standing humbly but firmly beside Jesus. He knows that if Jesus wants to heal his servant, nothing or nobody (Satan and every fallen angel included) was going to stop Him! He wasn't forcing the Lord to move, but he was saying that if this is what God wants to do, His will will be done! I
t's not in our capacity to twist the arm of God that He moves, but rather in our capacity to trust the arm of God that He moves. That's simple - trust versus twist, and we can go our way!
Mark 15:12-13 KJV
And Pilate answered and said again unto them, What will ye then that I shall do unto Him Whom ye call the King of the Jews?  And they cried out again, Crucify Him.
Rejection is awkward at best, and deeply painful at worst. For good reason we avoid it and in good conscious, we don't want to do it to others. But the Son of God was rejected. As the seed of David, the people in Jerusalem had lauded Jesus as King earlier that same week...
Mark 11:9-10 KJV
And they that went before, and they that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna; Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord:  Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest.
But by week's end, He was dead.
Remember another time when Israel wanted an upgrade in administration?
1 Samuel 8:5-6 KJV
And [Israel] said unto him, Behold, thou [Samuel] art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.  But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the Lord.
When Samuel prayed, the LORD opened his eyes to see what was really happening...
1 Samuel 8:7 KJV
And the Lord said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them.
God was rejected. Twice we see rejection, but twice is revealed a greater reality. When Jesus was falsely accused, how could He remain silent? When He was ultimately rejected and crucified, how could He let them have their way? While Christ was on Pilate's porch, we get a glimpse into where His mind was by reading His prayer in John 17...
John 17:25-26 KJV
25 O righteous Father, the world hath not known Thee: but I have known Thee, and these have known that Thou hast sent Me. 26 And I have declared unto them Thy name, and will declare [it]: that the love wherewith Thou hast loved Me may be in them, and I in them.
Jesus knew His Father knew the truth. He believed His Father loved Him. Jesus lived like He was accepted...even to the cross! And to be accepted by One meant more than being rejected by many!
Crazy math, right? But now new math. Remember 1 Samuel 8. When God was rejected by Israel, He felt it and it hurt Him just like it hurt Samuel. But what God said to Samuel proves exactly what Jesus believed. God Himself believed that to be accepted by one, Samuel, meant more than being rejected by many, Israel! It's not that God, or anyone, wants to be rejected, but it shows the supreme value of acceptance, even if it can just be found in one. If that one is a spouse, a child, a friend, a student, a sibling, that's good and it's enough. But even if they turn their back on you and that One is God, it's way more than enough!
Psalm 27:10 KJV - 10 When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up.
The only viable antidote to rejection is acceptance. Be sure to find yours in the surest place you get it...because in Christ, you already have it!
Consider these two verses together...
James 4:8 KJV - 8 Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you. Cleanse [your] hands, [ye] sinners; and purify [your] hearts, [ye] double minded.
Proverbs 15:29 KJV - 29 The LORD [is] far from the wicked: but He heareth the prayer of the righteous.
Think of them like a warm, close hug. One arm James 4:8, the other Proverbs 15:29. If we move closer to God, He gets closer to us. That doesn't necessarily happen because we are moving. That happens because He is always trying to get nearer to us. Therefore, when we stop running and start returning, it only expedites the embrace!
On the other hand, the LORD is far from the wicked. I know what that's like, but then I don't. I know what it is like to be on the run from God. Dodging His call or just dropping His will, but He never really dropped me. Like back in the day when we had phones on the wall and you had to go grab something in the other room. Leaving someone on the line and the receiver just hangs there. We walk away, but the other person, unseen and unheard, is still on the other end. Waiting. God's far from the wicked because we run far, but who can run from the Omnipresent, everywhere-present, God?
Yet, He hears the righteous. Not those who just do right, but are right. The only way to be right, is by faith in Him through receiving His Son, Jesus Christ! For those of us who come to God through Jesus, He hears us! He hears what we say. He even hears what we think! He cannot, not know us, because we are in Him. Just let your Heavenly Father hug you today!
Draw nigh...He is not far. Wash your hands in His grace...He hears you!
Thou wilt keep [him] in perfect peace, [whose] mind [is] stayed [on Thee]: because he trusteth in Thee. - Isaiah 26:3 KJV
Don't predetermine the post point of view by the title. Catch up with the thought by reading the verse first. What does it really mean to keep our minds on God? Is it a grit, clenched jaw, kind of push to stay on point? Or is it the natural, flow and extension of trust? We were made to trust; therefore, whatever we trust, that person or thing becomes the source of focus and reflection. It's what we find ourselves wondering to in moments of freedom or when we have no obligations. It becomes the default hobby which becomes the determined habit which becomes the defined character.
Now, bring in the apps. These are the tools, that more often turn into toys, that turn us into tools. This is not a debate on the good or bad of what we call "social" media. To be real, how can something be social that literally thrives on algorithms designed to stoke negative emotions and divisive outcomes for the sake of traffic? That said, where do these applications fit in the framework of perfect peace as outlined in Isaiah 26? The same question can be posed to any media as a conduit to the brain. But as I sit here waiting for my car's oil to be changed, I am 10 feet from one guy and about 50 from another doing the same thing - staring at their cell phone, the most dominant medium of information in history. A matter of fact, I've been waiting for my car so long maybe that's what the mechanic is doing! Either way, mobile media is how the majority of the world learns, communicates, and ultimately, meditates. Yes, what we call scrolling with our thumbs actually reads in the body and mind as a type of meditation.
On one level, it's what something is that defines it, but on another it's what you do with it. I plan on cooking tonight with a knife. Another person is planning on mugging somebody with a knife smaller than mine. When perfect peace is the goal, than it will shape the means. The purpose is actually the lord of the process. If perfect peace is the extension of total trust, that trust will mold the mind around what, or whom, it meditates. It's this incessant meditation that media, of any kind, good or bad, taps into. If anyone can get into our wheelhouse, we can take them along for a ride that goes way longer than they have paid for because of that independent, God-given desire to trust something or someone. Perhaps, that's why the verse uses the word "stayed", while the clause "on thee" was actually added by the translators. "Stayed" from the Hebrew verb meaning "to lean, lay, rest, support, put, uphold, lean upon." What we lean our minds on becomes what we trust. And we can know what, or who, we trust, by what we lay our minds on.
The endless scroll, as seen in the pic above, is fed by our endless search or endless need to trust. Technology just allowed us to create a hardware and software that can almost keep pace with that need. God invites Himself into our search. Remember, He is the One Who created the need. He is so confident in His capacity to satisfy our trust that He designed us to actually choose who to trust. God knows nothing and nobody can actually compare to Him, so the only grounds for competition would be to do so by deception.
But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. - 1 Thessalonians 5:8 KJV
Alone, we are defenseless to mechanisms designed to bypass discernment. But awake, or sober, as 1 Thessalonians 5:8 says, we will have a peace that endureth forever because the Source of trust endureth forever.
Isaiah 26:4 KJV — Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength:
Psalm 52:8 KJV — But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God: I trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever.
Also, [that] the soul [be] without knowledge, [it is] not good; and he that hasteth with [his] feet sinneth. - Proverbs 19:2 KJV
One of the best ways to know if you are in worry-mode is if you are in a hurry! On a subconscious level we worry way more than we could possibly imagine. But we don't recognize the worry because we may not have the knee-knocking, nail-biting, beads of sweat worry that is associated with anxiety. But after driving coast-to-coast many times and a few brake jobs, the LORD hit me with a powerful thought to consider. When you are driving down the road, and you see a decreasing speed limit sign, what is your very first reaction? If it's fear, hitting the brake, or scanning to look for police, you are probably in a hurry which means you have been in a subtle, but poisonous, state of worry.
Worry can be like the hum of a refrigerator in your kitchen. You know the fridge is on but over time, you just don't hear it. The sound becomes background noise to your brain and it's as if it is off, but it's not. While it's just humming away, it's ringing up a toll on your electric bill just like your 30-second microwave or 2-hour dishwasher. While the toll is more gradual, it's a toll nonetheless. Worry has this same "hum" that can go unnoticed until you are told you have hypertension. Gray hairs start to pop up. Or stray hairs start to fall out. The same fade or weakening happens to our faith. While many Christians may never outright deny God or His Christ, most do doubt. The worry about what He's doing or not doing. The worry about how long it's taking Him to move. The worry of if He is going to come through. Worry about the future we can't control and worry about the past we can't change. All these mind thoughts become heart patterns that usually lead to a constant state of hurry.
Therefore do my thoughts cause me to answer, and for [this] I make haste. - Job 20:2 KJV
We drive the way we are thinking! Everything we do is a result of our thoughts. So what is the ideal reaction to a decreasing speed limit sign? If you are driving the speed limit beforehand, the best move is to simply come off the gas. Slowing down through deceleration has a totally different impact on your car (and you) than braking. Brake lights don't turn on and your passengers don't get whiplash. If believers decelerate by trusting, rather than braking by trying. Decelerate by waiting, rather than braking by worrying. We will find ourselves still getting to where God wants us to be without the threat of a ticket or burned out brake pads!
To not hurry does not mean that we don't move. After all, how else can we follow the Good Shepherd? But that following that is constant is robbed of the need for speed because we don't fall behind. Like sheep, we find our selves having to hurry up when we realize we are in one place, but the Good Shepherd is in another. By driving the speed limit, walking in step with Christ by His Spirit, there is no hurry in us because there is no hurry in Him. The only time you see the Good Shepherd hurrying is to help us...
Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me: O LORD, make haste to help me. - Psalm 40:13 KJV
[[To the chief Musician, [A Psalm] of David, to bring to remembrance.]] [Make haste], O God, to deliver me; make haste to help me, O LORD. - Psalm 70:1 KJV
[[A Psalm of David.]] LORD, I cry unto thee: make haste unto me; give ear unto my voice, when I cry unto Thee. - Psalm 141:1 KJV
The worry-to-hurry connection is just another way for us to stay in touch with where our heart is. 10 minutes driving the speed limit on highway whatever or down name-that-street, can build as much patience and peace as a 10-day retreat in the mountains.
WE ALL CAN'T WEAR COLOGNE
Philippians 2:14-16 KJV
 Do all things without murmurings and disputings:  That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;  Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.
This morning, I got on the elevator at our hotel and someone was on there, but nobody was there. What I mean is that that the elevator was empty but it was full of smell. The scent was so strong that it took me five floors down to figure out if it was air freshener being pumped into the vent or someone's cologne. It was too masculine to be from housekeeping so I sided with cologne. By the time I got to the breakfast area, the mystery was solved. I saw a lady well dressed waiting by the door and a gentleman equally dapper by the biscuits. His face and name will remain unknown because I saw neither, but his cologne I will never forget. I don't know if it was frankincense or myrrh, but it was a very deep and rich sweet herbal scent. Honestly, it smelled good. But it was just so much of it that if I breathed too deeply, I could taste it!
As I grabbed some Cheerios and headed to the ventilator; check that, elevator, a thought occured to me - what if we ALL wore that much cologone? Not even the same perfume or cologne, but just that much of it? The competing odors, expensive and delightful as they might be in their bottles, would have us fainting all over the place gasping for air that was simply...clear. Clean.
Putting on a scent can easily go from well intended to overwhelming. There is that line that can be crossed from wanting to make a good impression, to wanting everyone on the ground floor floor to know I'm up in here! Purity to pride is not a bridge too far thanks to our selfish natures. Hence we live "...in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation..."
This is not an anti-cologne post! Did you know that you and I are like perfume when we accept God's grace through Christ?
2 CORINTHIANS 2:15 KJV
For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish:
Being good smells good! But when we take that gifted goodness and make it our own goodness or by calling attention to it, it changes. When we strive to put ourselves out there rather than lift others above ourselves, that excess creates an imbalance that actually makes others turn off. It's as if we all lathered up and hit the town like the gentleman today. This clashing of competing colognes creates an aromatic Babylon that eventually makes us all run away gasping rather than growing together!
So what can be just as meaningful as a pint of perfume? How about just smelling, clean. Not smelling bad, but just not smelling at all. Being that clear air or that fresh air we long for when we want to escape both the stench and the excess. That neutral smell is like being blameless. Doing "all things without murmurings and disputings..." Nothing great, but nothing bad either. No frills and no fault.
Paul encouraged the Phillipians this way to "Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke..." There is a beauty in being faithful that is more powerful than being first. Smelling "out there" for all versus just smelling clean - to the point of not smelling at all as far as the world is concerned. We all can't be chairman of the board or on the board, but we all can do our jobs well. We all can't shout on the bullhorn out front, but we can all do right when nobody is looking.
Of the simple blameless ones it is said that "...ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life..." I'd rather be blameless than bold. I'd rather be clean than beautiful. The only way to smell clean is to be clean. And all we have to do to be clean is to be in Christ! Accept Jesus today, and God will see and smell you as His sweetest scent.
ISAIAH 48:6 KJV
Thou hast heard, see all this; and will not ye declare it ? I have shewed thee new things from this time, even hidden things, and thou didst not know them.
Have you ever bought something, but didn't find out it had a hidden feature or could do something kinda cool until waaay after you bought it? Yesterday I was drinking from my all-time favorite water bottle. It's the right ounces, not too big or too small, and blue (my favorite color). But everytime I would tip the bottle up at a certain angle, the cap would come smacking me down on my lip or on my nose if I was going full Ben Hur in the desert mode gulping. I shrugged it off and just rolled with it because of all the other things it could do. But then yesterday.
Sitting by my bed and just waking up, I popped the cap to take a swig but in my half-wake/half-sleep state, I pushed the cap with thumb and it stayed! Turns out that the cap is designed to fit securely and snugly in the bottle top and not flap around in the wind when you're drinking. Who would of thunk? Well, I'll be honest - not me. But who did think? The ones who made the water bottle.
Sometimes we can miss out on the LORD's hidden features. Sometimes we can know that God is good, but not believe that He is great. Thinking He can do alot of things, but not anything. By wrong-sizing our Creator & Savior, we can put a cap on the extent of His power and redemption.
"He can forgive this, but not that."
"He can help her, but not me."
"He did that last time, but not this time."
"That was then, but this is now."
Ask yourself if there are any hidden features or cool design hacks that you might be missing out on God? You can actually answer that question by honestly acknowledging any areas of unbelief in your heart. OR even in the things we try to do on our own that we don't trust God to do. While unbelief is fatal to faith, it doesn't scare our Savior:
MARK 9:23-25 KJV
Jesus said unto him [the father of a demon-possessed son], If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.  And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help Thou mine unbelief.  When Jesus saw that the people came running together, He rebuked the foul spirit, saying unto him, Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him.
God is more than good, He is the Greatest! So He has so much greater in store for you if we just pop the top in faith (or even by accident)!
PSALM 145:6 KJV
And men shall speak of the might of Thy terrible acts: and I will declare Thy greatness.
PSALM 32:3 KJV
When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long.
Silence during worship in the morning? What a blessing. Silence in an elementary classroom? A miracle! Silence in a relationship? That's a killer. It's the mental/emotional equivalent of literally holding your breath until the smoke clears. It might bring relief for moment, but it could kill you quicker than what you're trying to avoid.
Just this past weekend, I tried to "hold my breath." There was a situation where my frustration was mounting and I wanted to sound off. One of the other parties was a beautiful woman by the name of "Fara" (names may be changed to protect the innocent). But that's necessary; it was my SweeT, my wife, Tara. In short, I got frustrated and got quiet to avoid an argument. Yes, silence may avoid the argument, but it doesn't avoid the conflict. My issue, my feelings, and my thoughts were as real as the big nose on my face. Being quiet when we are supposed to speak is like pushing mute on the TV instead of pause on the DVD. You can't hear the words but it doesn't stop the action.
I know some may want to wax philosophic and misquote some verses or proverbs on silence. But the balance to them all is leveraged in ECCLESIASTES 3:7:
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
Our Father In Heaven is so wise! He knew we would run off the deep end one way or the other, so He put up a sign that says "both ways", but the key is timing. More accurately, His timing. Plainly put, when you know you want to argue, it's time be quiet. But when you know you want to make peace, it's time to speak up. Talking is the exhale to make room for the fresh inhale. Speaking in season is as powerful as giving in season.
To the Brothers: This post is for all of us, but it's the hardest for us. Most men do not want to talk it out. We may hold it in as a virtue, but it becomes a vice. It matters because the effects of silence are indeed more damaging to women than they are to us. We have to come to a place where we perceive silence OUT of season as reprehensible as family abandonment because it is the denial of a vital necessity.
With this disclaimer in mind, spouses, parents, children, siblings, family, colleagues, classmates, saints...
...when we know we want to argue with someone, it's time to be quiet. And if we just can't help ourselves and we have to sound off, go argue with God. Yes, I said it because Moses, Job, Peter, and others did it. The LORD can handle it. Prayer is talking to God as a friend, and if He is your best friend, He wants your problems just as much as your praises.
...when we know we want to make peace with someone, it's time to talk. Not yell. Not vent. Not mumble. But talk, share, explain, confess (which may include listen, cry, laugh, forgive). Learning this is not easy, so remember -
PSALM 27:1 KJV
The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
Don't let fear make you grab the blanky of silence and run away. Instead, let faith empower you to grab the hands of those we love and say,"let's talk."
2 Peter 3:18 KJV
But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.
For a while now, I've been blessed to be able to walk with my parents almost everyday. They are both over 70 and just this past Sabbath, they BOTH scaled the summit at Natural Bridge in Slade, Kentucky! But on today's walk I noticed something: trees just grow! I don't mean jiust looking up, but looking down. All the way down to...the sidewalk.
If you stroll around most neighborhoods that have been around for a while, you will notice some interesting sidewalks. Not how they look, but how they lay. Some slabs are pushed downward while others are pushed way upward. For a septuagenarian (somone over 70) athlete, they can pose a risk...or for anybody too busy minding their cell phone. But for all of us, these jolted slabs are a testimony.
The slabs get pushed up and down because of the trees nearby that refuse to stop growing. Not just upward, but downward. The roots refuse to stop reaching for more earth. They knarl, stretch, and literally bench press the concrete with ease with one goal in mind - just grow! Just grow. Have you ever seen a tree get into an argument? You ever seen a tree at a conference or at a tree meeting?
Haggai 1:2-5 KJV
Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, This people say, The time is not come, the time that the Lord's house should be built.  Then came the word of the Lord by Haggai the prophet, saying,  Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your cieled houses, and this house lie waste?  Now therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts; Consider your ways.
Haggai is not one of those books we crack open often (Old Testament between Zephaniah & Zechariah), but he has a powerful ministry as one of God's prophets. The LORD called him to speak after the release of the people of Israel from Babylonian captivity. A group of God's people returned to settle their homeland and rebuild the temple. But 16 years later, the project was not finished. The people had homes but the Deliverer of the people didn't. In short, personal business took priority over prophetic business.
The hearts of the exiles who returned to rebuild were noble and courageous to obey the call of the LORD Jehovah to rebuild. They knew His will and were well versed in His intentions and what they should and should not be doing. While being careful to avoid "the devil in the decision" and not stay in Babylonian captivity, they fell prey to "the devil in the delay" by not following through on entering into complete restoration - which included a living connection with God as embodied in their completion of His temple. Their example teaches us that just because we are in a better situation, that does not make it the best situation. Complete restoration was not limited to just being out of our past. It means to be living fully in God's intended blessed present.
Remember when Jesus said the parable:
Matthew 25:21 KJV
His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
Notice how the lord in the parable didn't say you were faithful over a few, so I'll promote you a few. That would be fair. But with the Everlasting Father of Love Who emptied the treasury of His heart and gave us His only begotten Son, that's not enough! No, Jesus said the lord promoted the servant of a few, with MANY! Could it be that God is waiting to upgrade us with many if we would allow Him to lead us to finish a few things?
To forgive or to be forgiven. To quit, for the last time. To start, by the power of God this time. He's not asking us to go back to the old life and destroy our ceiled houses or houses with ceilings, He's just asking us to finish His temple and go forward into a fellowship reflected in complete followship.
God has something to say to us (more than we want to hear it)! That's why there is always a WORD!