Thursday, 30 December 2021

Errors To Correct

Proverbs 18:10 The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are protected.
     
      Whenever one of my books is published and I receive the first copy, I look forward to reading it from cover to cover. After all, it is my work in print. However, while reading and enjoying the book, I am also looking for errors that were missed throughout the editing process. I'm not looking to discredit the process of the editors or the work itself, but rather to improve the finished work. Just because there may be a few errors, does not mean the whole book is a write-off. The mistakes that I do find are eventually corrected and the next edition of the book is a better version of itself. If an error is found, I do not throw the whole book away. I correct the mistake and look to improve as a writer. I correct the errors and go on to the next project.
      Throughout life, we enact a similar editing work within our souls. With God's help, we amend what needs fixing within our lives. Through the Holy Spirit, God corrects our errors and helps us repent of our sins. Just because we miss an instruction or mess up God's directions does not mean He writes us off and damns us to hell. The Lord forgives and heals our souls, so He can present a better version of who we are in Christ. We are never going to be more righteous than the day we accepted Christ, but we will grow in the power of His righteousness. Jesus wants to present us faultless before our Heavenly Father, and this can only be done through Christ's righteousness. Jude 1:24 Now all glory to God, who is able to keep you from falling away and will bring you with great joy into his glorious presence without a single fault.
      The righteousness we acquired by faith in Christ does not stop us from messing up in life but guides and helps us get back on the Lord's standard of righteous living. Everything God does in our hearts is to help us become a better version of who He knows us to be. Our Heavenly Father loves us for who we are and who we will be throughout eternity. God's righteous love that He has for us is never in doubt. It protects us and keeps us from falling short of God's glory. Prov. 18:10 The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are protected.
      As we correct the errors of life and overcome the temptations of the enemy, we will be able to declare what the Lord says about our lives and speak faith into our future. We can express the wisdom of God because His righteous wisdom is at work within us. Prov. 16:13 Righteous lips are the delight of a king, and he loves him who speaks what is right. We should never forget that it is always the Lord's righteousness we are living through and not our own. This is why we do not have to panic in fright when we sin. We quickly repent and accept the forgiving grace the Lord works within us. What an amazing gift God has given us through His son Jesus.
      The bible has many accounts of people who had made mistakes, sinned, and had utterly fallen. However, God had a future for them just as He has for us. Jacob tried to force God's blessing to work within his life by using his own craftiness and strength. But God demonstrated to Jacob that the blessing of the Lord could only work in God's strength. Gideon thought he was a nobody, however, the Lord revealed to Gideon who he was with God on his side. Jonathan's son Mephibosheth thought he was only a disinherited, disabled, poverty-stricken castaway, but God brought him comfort and restoration through a covenant that had been made with King David. 2Sam. 9:7 “Don’t be afraid,” David said to him, “since I intend to show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all your grandfather Saul’s fields, and you will always eat meals at my table.”
      We have all sinned and fallen short of God's holy perfection. The Lord does not chuck us on the garbage heap because we messed up. He restores us and keeps leading us into better and forthright choices. There will always be mistakes, errors, and failures to overcome, but as in the example of my books, the mistakes can be corrected, fixed, and even rewritten if need be. Then, the whole rewrite can be resubmitted for publishing, thus creating a better version of what once was. Let God do the same for us. Let Him correct, guide, lead, and wash our lives through the blood of the Lord so that we come out the best version of who God says we are. Jer. 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you” — this is the LORD’s declaration — “plans for your well-being, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Amen and amen!

Thursday, 23 December 2021

The Sharp Edge Of Hurt

Proverbs 12:26 The righteous should choose his friends carefully, for the way of the wicked leads them astray.

      
      You don’t have to die to go to hell. Just ask long-term meth addicts how much misery, grief, and hurt they live with daily. Yes, a lot of their misery is self-inflicted, but still, their lives are a living hell and full of hurt. Ask a battered wife who is trying to escape ever-increasing brutality upon herself and her children if she thinks hell could be worse than what she is going through. There are hell holes on this earth where war is manufactured year after year, displacing families to suffer want and need. The provocateurs of these wars have no qualms sacrificing their children in the name of a just war, or as repulsive as this sounds, "A holy war." There are hurting people all over the world, and no one but God can bring relief to the sharp edge of pain these people live with daily.
      We do not have to look far to realize that many people were led astray by friends and family. We can look to our past and see how we were influenced by people who knew better but chose to hurt us anyway. Hurt people will hurt other people, so we have to create boundaries within relationships. There would not be so much pain in life if people chose their friends with care and discernment as the proverb says. Prov. 12:26 The righteous should choose his friends carefully, for the way of the wicked leads them astray. Many friendships are toxic, resulting in the blind leading the blind into addictions, self-harm, and mayhem, resulting in unnecessary hurts in people's lives.
      It would be nice if there was a vaccine to immunize ourselves against those who are perfidious in relations, angry with life, and outright foolish in choices causing so much hurt in this world. For me, the word of the Lord is the immunizing protection that shields me from those who hurt others because of the human condition. I can walk in peace and discern the times I am living in by the leading of God's Word. Hopefully, this will also give me insight into other people's pain who are hurting all around me. God says to choose our friends carefully so that we can take care of each other and not be led astray during crazy and unstable times.
      There are seven things God hates and they are listed in Proverbs 6:16-19. We who are in Christ, should not be causing strife, conflict, trouble, or discord among our brothers and sisters in the Lord. This is an abomination to our Heavenly Father because He hates this sin. Prov. 6:19 A false witness who declares lies, and one who spreads strife among brothers. The sharp edge of hurt is harder to get through and forgive those who caused it when the violation comes from someone in our Christian family, rather than the onslaught of hurts that come from those in the world. We expect the people of the world to react from a position of being lost, but not those we fellowship with. The Psalmist was wrestling with the same emotions and pain. Psalm 55:12 Now it is not an enemy who insults me — otherwise I could bear it; it is not a foe who rises up against me — otherwise I could hide from him. 12 But it is you, a man who is my peer, my companion and good friend! 
      Jephthah was rejected by his half-brothers because Jephthah's family lineage was not perfect. Jdg. 11:1 Jephthah the Gileadite was a valiant warrior, but he was the son of a prostitute, and Gilead was his father. 2 Gilead’s wife bore him sons, and when they grew up, they drove Jephthah out and said to him, “You will have no inheritance in our father’s family, because you are the son of another woman.” Years later, when Israel was skirmishing with the Ammonites, the sons of Gilead came looking for Jephthah's help. Even though time had passed, Jephthah was still hurt by the family's rejection. Jdg. 11:7 Jephthah replied to the elders of Gilead, “Didn’t you hate me and drive me out of my father’s family? Why then have you come to me now when you’re in trouble? ”
      There is enough hurt and pain in the world without those of us who walk in Christ causing the same problems that worldly people create through their ignorance. The unsaved population has an excuse for their actions and sinful nature, as they have not accepted the redemptive saving grace of the Lord. However, those of us who are under God's grace because we have accepted Christ as Lord should be circumspect when it comes to taking part in causing pain and suffering in a fallen world. Let us be the righteous friends that others have carefully chosen. Let us be the reason people find peace and safety in their lives. Prov. 18:24b But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. To lash out and hurt another person is easy, but to extend a hand of healing, is a divine gift from our God. Blessings.

Thursday, 16 December 2021

Protected From Ourselves

Proverbs 2:8 He guards the paths of the just and protects those who are faithful to him.

      How many times has God come through for you, by protecting you from something you were the reason protection was needed? We see God coming to the rescue continually to help and protect people from their own dumb and nonsensical decisions. The Lord promised a saviour for Adam and Eve after they had sinned, resulting in salvation for anyone who chose God's gift of salvation through Christ. At another time, God sent a whale to pick up Jonah while he was running away in disobedience of the instructions God had given him. God is continually on guard and looking out for us. Isa. 52:12 You will not leave in a hurry, running for your lives. For the LORD will go ahead of you; yes, the God of Israel will protect you from behind.
      I have recently been protected for two dumb things I did with my house and car keys. The other morning, I was looking for my keys and could not find them anywhere. I went out to the car to see if I had left them there. Then I noticed the keys in the outside door keyhole. The keys were cold from being there all night. Great burglar protection. Just leave the keys in the lock for anyone to use. Again, the other morning, while meeting friends at a restaurant, I left my keys in the car ignition with the doors unlocked. I only noticed the keys were missing as I was leaving the restaurant. Not a good car-theft deterrent. All I could say was, "Thank you, Lord, for protecting me from myself." Prov. 2:8 He guards the paths of the just and protects those who are faithful to him.
      We try to control everything that goes on around us. We think we can keep on top of every aspect of our lives, but time and time again, we see that we come up short of the perfection and security we are trying to create. We even try to protect ourselves from the inevitability of death which is in God's control and domain. Eccl. 8:8 None of us can hold back our spirit from departing. None of us has the power to prevent the day of our death. There is no escaping that obligation, that dark battle. And in the face of death, wickedness will certainly not rescue the wicked. We need God to protect us from our narcissistic belief that we have it all under control and that we are on top of it all. How deceived we can become, by not realizing that even our breath is lent to us by God. Isa. 2:22a Put no more trust in a mere human, who has only the breath in his nostrils.
      I often look around and wonder how we, as a human race, have made it this far. We only have to watch the nightly news to see how messed up the people of this earth have become. We keep putting ourselves in danger of annihilation. Across the continents, we have nuclear missiles pointed at each other and hopefully, no one accidentally sets one off. This would definitely throw a spanner into our Nuclear Détente arrangements that are negotiated worldwide. I mean, just one accidental nuclear explosion could ruin our day. We certainly need God to deliver us from ourselves.
      The Apostle Peter had made some bold statements about his love for Jesus. He boasted that he would die for the Lord, but as Jesus predicted, within hours, Peter had denied even knowing the Lord. Peter ran off in shame because of his cowardly behaviour. He needed protection from himself and only Jesus the forgiving Lord could restore the emotional and spiritual confidence Peter needed so he could repent and get back on the Lord's agenda. The Lord did warn Peter that he would be tested and when he came through it, to help his brothers in the Lord. Luke 22:31 Simon, Simon, look out. Satan has asked to sift you like wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And you, when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.
      Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father praying and interceding for each one of us. He prays that we fulfill what we have been created for and that the resurrection power of Christ keeps us walking in His righteousness. Rom. 8:34b Christ Jesus is the one who died, but even more, has been raised; he also is at the right hand of God and intercedes for us. Hopefully, we have the sense to not walk into the world's sludge and slurry that is off the path of the righteous. However, if we do miss the clear markings of the narrow road we are to travel on, we can count on the fact that God will protect us from ourselves and our foolish decisions. God has our eternal souls in His hands and will forgive us when we ask through faith in Christ.
      Praise the Lord for He is so good. May we all give thanks for all the times our God has come through for us. Amen!

Thursday, 9 December 2021

Nothing To Lose

Proverbs 25:28 A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls.

      When a person reaches the bell curve of their struggle, this is when that person has to dig the deepest within their soul to break through and overcome the unwanted addiction, bad-habit, or toxic codependent relationship that has to be broken. You may even hear someone say at this point, "You have nothing to lose but your chains, so keep fighting." Thank God the Lord is there to help us conquer the vice the enemy has tried to destroy us with. 1Chron. 14:11 So David and his troops went up to Baal-perazim and defeated the Philistines there. “God did it!” David exclaimed. “He used me to burst through my enemies like a raging flood!” So they named that place Baal-perazim (which means “the Lord who bursts through”).
      How did we get to a place in our life where we were left so vulnerable to the attack of the devil that even an addiction took over our will? In most cases, self-control was no longer being practiced in our everyday choices. Prov. 25:28 A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls. Our walls of defence were breached because we became careless with our words, choices, and attitudes. The Lord has placed a wall of protection around us but we have to maintain the integrity of that wall as we walk with our Lord and live in our salvation. Job 1:10a You have always put a wall of protection around him and his home and his property.
      If you find yourself in a place of utter desperation because of the mess you created within your own life, please be assured there is a way out. If you are at the bottom of an endless grave and the shadows of death are stalking your every move and thought, please know there is a mighty God who can deliver you. You have nothing to lose but the chains that have you bound at this time. Christ is well able to turn your life around and break every chain that has been wrapped around your life squeezing your very essence away. Psalm 107:14 He led them from the darkness and deepest gloom; He snapped their chains.
      The madman of Gadara had nothing to lose but the insanity the devil was destroying him with and the chains the villagers had bound him with. Mark 5:5 Day and night he wandered among the burial caves and in the hills, howling and cutting himself with sharp stones. 6 When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. It is amazing that this man did not start in with all the false humility like "How can Jesus love a demon-possessed guy like me? Or, how can God ever forgive a super sinner like I am?" and all the rest of that self-righteous rubbish people come up with in the middle of their despair.
      In the full-blown manifestation of blasphemous howling, self-harm, and demon-driven insanity, the possessed man saw Jesus and ran to Him and worshiped. The madman had nothing to lose but what he had become to this point in his life. No matter the mess you are in, Jesus our Lord came to save sinners and that includes you and me. We have nothing to lose but the filth and detritus we have created in our lives. If we hand our lives over to the Lord and let Him exchange our sin-stained souls for His salvation, we will be victorious in Christ. Isa. 61:3 And provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.
      There is nothing in this world that will be coming with us when we die. We really have nothing to lose but our souls. Since this is the reality, our life's efforts should be, to live fully with the gift God has given us through Christ. As we have so often heard from the scriptures, "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" This question has to be answered. We have nothing to lose on this side of eternity and so much to gain as we enter eternal life with all that God has for us. What an amazing gift salvation is for those who choose it. Blessings.

Thursday, 2 December 2021

All I Need

Proverbs 13:25 The righteous has enough to satisfy his appetite, but the stomach of the wicked is in need.

       "All I need is you," booms out from the majority of songs coming through the speakers at the gym while working out. Sometimes, I find myself responding to whom these songs were written for. I end up saying "Don't believe anything they say, it's all cheap infatuation." All I need is you, which is a common theme in so many songs, poems, and videos are available at any time and in all forms of artful communication. A constant declaration of - "All I need you, and if I get you, we will be happy forever."
      If we actually knew what we needed there would not be so much confusion in life. One thing we do need is each other. We need the love of our Heavenly Father and the fellowship of our brothers and sisters in the Lord. We need to lift each other up in prayer and honour one another in the sight of our Lord. Mark 12:30 And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. 31 The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.
      When we are at peace with who we are in Christ, our hearts will be able to believe in the will of God for our lives, and we will learn to be content throughout life. Phil. 4:11 I don’t say this out of need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I find myself. What we really need is what God has for us. Phil. 4:19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Yes, we have to make our requests known to God, and we have to trust that the Lord will guide us in our prayers that are according to His will. God's will toward us is favour and soul-fulfilling eternal life. God wants to help us become a blessing.
      There is an account in the Book of Second Kings that explains how God understands our needs in this troubled life. The Lord knows we need deliverance from our own unwise choices. One of Elisha's prophets died and left a widow in a desperate situation. She was broke and her son was about to go into an arrangement of forced labour because of the outstanding debts that could not be paid. This woman was alone, without resources, in debt, and spiritually crushed because of the weight she was under. This sounds no different than so many people's stories today. I'm sure she had said on a few occasions, "All I need is HELP!!"
      Help did come to her, but most likely not in the way she thought her needs would be met. We often have an agenda for God and instructions as to how He can help us. However, God knows how to meet our needs so that there is no doubt where the help came from. 2Kings 4:2 Elisha replied to her, “How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?” “Your servant has nothing there at all,” she said, “except a small jar of olive oil.” God may ask, what do you have in your house? You may feel that you have nothing because of the stress you are under. But if we take a moment and answer God by offering Him our heart, He will be able to use what we offer as a way out of our mess.
      Elisha's instructions were clear and precise. 2Kings 4:3 Elisha said, “Go around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few. 4 Then go into your house with your sons and shut the door behind you. Pour olive oil from your flask into the jars, setting each one aside when it is filled. The instruction to close the door was key. Could you imagine the neighbours from whom she had borrowed the jars looking in on her activity? If they could see into this private miracle taking place behind the closed door they would have had all kinds of suggestions of how to make the miracle even better than God had given her. The Lord was protecting her faith from being tainted by all the pseudo advice and religious opinions that would be proclaimed out loud.  
      God knows our needs and will bless us, not because we are in need, but rather because He is so good. Not only did God help the widow pay off her debts, but also made it possible for her to start an oil business that would take care of her and her children into the future. 2Kings 4:7 Then she came and told the man of God. And he said, Go, sell the oil, and pay thy debt, and live thou and thy children of the rest. The God of more than enough came through for her. She was able to live on the extra oil God had provided. Prov. 13:25a The righteous has enough to satisfy his appetite.
      All I need is God working in my life and all I need to do is submit to the work He is doing in my heart. The Lord will provide what we need to get through this life and well on our way into our eternal life. Praise the Lord for His goodness toward us all. Amen!

Thursday, 25 November 2021

Dangerous Fools

Proverbs 17:12 Better to meet a bear robbed of her cubs than a fool bent on folly.

      It is a long list, but these are a few synonyms for the word fool - idiot, halfwit, blockhead, buffoon and dunce to name a few. Well, saints, according to the above proverb, it is better, and in some translations, safer to meet a bear robbed of her cubs than to hang out, work with, or be married to a fool. I live in the province of British Columbia where bear encounters are common. The result can turn out very gruesome for anyone who has been chased, attacked, or mauled by a bear. 
      On one hot summer day, I had to pull over on the side of the highway at the top of the Kootenay Pass. It is common for car engines in hot weather to overheat as cars progress up the precipitous thirty-kilometre uphill grade to the summit. As I was waiting for the car engine to cool down a bit, two bear cubs came ambling out of the side forest crossing the road right in front of my car. The hair on the back of my neck started to point heavenward as I looked all around for the mother bear. It was not a secure or comfortable feeling to know that I might be in between a protective she-bear and her cubs. As far as I was concerned, the car engine had cooled down enough, it was time to go.
      It is unsettling to see the brute strength, agility, and speed that a bear can use to attack. The instinctive fierce clawing used to lash out can result in someone's permanent scarring and even death. Yet, God's word says that I am better off confronting a mother bear in her instinctive protectiveness than a fool who is bent on carrying out his foolishness. It seems that fools are more dangerous than a bear coming toward us with menacing intentions and territorial bravado. Prov. 17:12 Better to meet a bear robbed of her cubs than a fool bent on folly. It really makes one think about the hidden dangers that hanging around a fool can cause in one's life.
      On numerous occasions, I have counselled people to get rid of the fools, losers, and narcissists in their lives. For some reason, people think they can instruct a fool, and the fool will take the advice and change their life. The word clearly says that foolishness cannot be beaten, ground, or pulverized out of these people. Prov. 27:22 Though you pound the fool in a mortar with a pestle along with crushed grain, his foolishness still will not leave him. This is a heart issue, and only God can fix a heart. A fool bent on foolishness is dangerous because the foolish sins they get involved with have an eternal effect and can bring damage to everyone involved with them.
      In 1Samuel chapter twenty-five there is a story of a foolish man named Nabal who was bent on being irresponsible in his decisions, regardless of the fact that his decisions would bring death to him and possibly his family. His wife's name was Abigail, and she was an intelligent and forthright woman. Nabal's name actually means fool, or, folly is with him. It did not matter that Nabal was married to a wise, influential, and courageous woman, he still remained stupid and made choices accordingly. The situation begs the question, how did Abigail end up married to such an idiot. I'm guessing that it was most likely an arranged marriage as was common in that day. Nonetheless, her wise and fast actions saved her people and servants whom David was on his way to destroy because of the foolish way Nabal had treated David's men.
      In this case, it truly was better for Nabal's family and staff to meet a bear robbed of her cubs than the swords of destruction that were coming down upon all of them. Abigail's courage over folly saved the day. 1Sam. 25:32 David said to Abigail, “Praise be to the LORD, the God of Israel, who has sent you today to meet me. 33 Thank God for your good sense! Bless you for keeping me from murder and from carrying out vengeance with my own hands. Within ten days of this event, Nabal died of heart failure and remained a stupid man till the end. The account of his life is a demonstration of foolishness. Surely we can choose better.
      We live in a time when foolishness is praised and even rewarded. Sin is bragged about and flaunted on all forms of visual media platforms. Just because many people are living this way does not mean we have to be stupid too. God has given us the choice to choose His righteousness through Christ so that we are not counted among the dangerous fools who have chosen their own worldliness. To walk with God is to walk in wisdom. To walk with God is to receive understanding in our hearts. Prov. 9:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. Let us keep clear of dangerous bears and fools alike, and allow God to instruct our hearts in choosing His life-giving wisdom. Amen!

Thursday, 18 November 2021

What Motivates You?

Proverbs 25:2 It is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings is to search things out.
     
      I have been asked many times, "What motivates you?" Well, the fact that I died for a short moment in time while having a stroke, and was prayed back to conscious life by my wife, is a major factor in what motivates me. Stepping into eternity for what seemed a long time but apparently was only milliseconds motivates me. Knowing and feeling God's pure love and presence during that infinite moment motivates me. The Lord's assignment that He has sown in my heart motivates me.
      Not that I wish any harm upon anyone, but I think it would be a good experience for a lot of people to die for a moment in time and be resuscitated back to life so they can truly see how valuable their lives are. Plus, to clearly see what a gift of God life is. Deut. 30:19 Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! It is hard to understand the depth of life that God has given us. The Lord has literally put His eternity within us so we could be eternal beings. Eccl. 3:11 He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also put eternity in their hearts, but no one can discover the work God has done from beginning to end.
      You would think that God's eternal life, which is alive within us, would be enough to motivate people to want to live a full life. But, it is not that way. It seems that we have to choose life and engage with it to find its hidden secrets that keep motivating us forward throughout our time on earth. Prov. 25:2 It is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings is to search things out. We have to be involved in choosing life to have a meaningful purpose for our walk with God. Maybe this is why there are so many young people who are diagnosed as clinically depressed and have stopped reaching for life. They find themselves reaching for their prescriptions to give them relief from the numbness they live with all day long. They have stopped choosing life and are suffering the consequences. What motivates you to want to participate in this new day? It has to be something of eternal value and quality.
      Elijah had to deal with depression and had to overcome the desire to die because of the events in his life. He was being chased by Jezebel's forces because she had sworn to destroy him. Elijah had a lot on his mind, and the pressure was getting to him. It was manifesting as a depressive death wish. 1Kings 19:4 Then he went on alone into the wilderness, travelling all day. He sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, LORD,” he said. “Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died.” His defeated self-image was now blocking the truth of what God thought of him.
      Only after Elijah had a genuine encounter with God and spent some quality alone time with the Lord, did Elijah get his motivation back. He was given new instructions that were in line with his calling. Elijah was to pass on the ministry mantle to Elishah. Purpose, motivation, or inspiration has to come from within our hearts as the Lord brings life to our souls and leads us into ministering His will. The reward that Elijah received for recovering from deep depression, was to see the mantle of the Lord passed on to the next generation. We are all here for a short time and we would be wise to make our time count because life truly is short. James 4:14 Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. For you are just a vapour that appears for a little while, and then vanishes away.
      I have been fortunate to have survived a stroke and come back with good health that has allowed me to live life well. I’ve participated in a lot of blessed events since my recovery and have engaged in many projects God lined up for me. From writing blogs and having numerous books published to ministering and reaching people through social media platforms. These events have all been rewarding and encouraging to my spirit. However, the thing that blesses my heart the most for being here today because I responded to God's motivation, is the privilege to have seen my sons become fathers - and good fathers at that. To have seen them become great dads to their children has blessed my heart with abundant fatherly pride and joy. Prov. 17:6 Grandchildren are the crown of the elderly, and the pride of children is their fathers.
      What is the reward you might miss out on because you did not respond to the motivation God offered you? What motivates you? Find the answer to this question and live to its fullness. If there is nothing that comes to mind when asking this question, then ask God to reveal your purpose to you, so that you too can choose life and live. Don't wait until you are almost dead to start looking for life. Just think, if I had not been motivated to choose life. I would have missed out on that glorious moment in my life and my sons' lives. May we live long and prosper in what God has moved our hearts to do. Amen!

Thursday, 11 November 2021

Three Sharp Whistles

Proverbs 16:20 Those who listen to instruction will prosper; those who trust the LORD will be joyful.

      In the late 1950s when I was a kid playing out in the neighbourhood, all my friends, and I mean all of my friends, could hear my mother's loud and piercing whistles calling her kids home at day's end. As I rolled my eyes, everyone would look at me and say, "Hey Sawyer, looks like you got to go home, your mom is calling you." That was fine because it was a sign that they all had to go home too. 
      No saints, there were no long-lasting traumatic effects on my psyche. I know that today's sensitivities to every imaginable excuse and reason for therapy are out there. Called home by being whistled at may be detrimental and cause permanent scarring in today's child diagnosis handbook, but it was not that way back then. Being called home with the neighbourhood dogs who had also heard the high decibel whistles did not affect my charming nature or cool disposition. I may pant and howl when a fire truck goes by, but that is no reason to diagnose me as flawed or commit me to therapy. 
      Those three trilling high-frequency whistles that could clearly be heard, was a direct instruction that needed no words to accompany the sounding blast. It was distinctively my mother's whistle, and it was saying, "Time to come home, and do it now!" We are the Lord's children, or as such, His kids. We also have to keep the ears of our hearts open to hearing what the Spirit of the Lord is saying and to respond when He is calling us. Whether God has a type of whistle or gentle nudge that awakens our heart when He calls, we need to know that the instruction is clear and safe to follow. John 10:27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.
      To hear the voice of the Lord is a tremendous blessing. Why would God make it difficult to hear His voice if He instructed us to obey His voice? Deut. 28:2 And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the LORD your God. Responding to God's voice should not be confusing as so many make it out to be. God's leading is clear, but on the other hand, the enemy's deceptive directions always come with condemnation and confused dysfunction. God's voice and guidance bring peace. Prov. 16:20 Those who listen to instruction will prosper; those who trust the LORD will be joyful. 
      During one of Elijah's vulnerable times in his life, he needed to hear the voice of the Lord to know what to do next. Like many people who look for monstrous signs and wonders to be led, Elijah looked for God's voice in a cyclonic windstorm that scattered rocks on a mountainside and then in an earthquake, but it was not there. After the tremors, Elijah looks in a blazing fire but the Lord's voice was not there either. It was after all the noises had settled down did he finally hear God. 1Kings 19:12b And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. Elijah knew that he knew he was hearing from God and he was able to proceed with the mandate of his calling.
      The word of the Lord says that God speaks to us through His son Jesus. Heb. 1:2a Has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things.  Much confusion comes to people when they stop reading the word of God and stop inquiring of God through prayer. People forget that the word clearly says, "Jesus is the way the truth and the life, and it is through Jesus that we will have fellowship with our heavenly Father." Keeping our ears and hearts tuned to the still soft voice or whistle God uses to get our attention is an acquired skill we are to keep learning throughout our walk with the Lord as long as we are on this earth.
      As I had to learn to hear and obey the hair-raising whistle my mother used to get us home, I must keep learning and hearing the voice of the Lord that will make sure I make it to my heavenly home. Heavenly Father, your voice is a wonder to behold. Thank you, Lord, that you speak to your children clearly and precisely with love. Jude 1:24 Now all glory to God, who is able to keep you from falling away and will bring you with great joy into his glorious presence without a single fault. Amen and amen!

Thursday, 4 November 2021

Pandoomic

Proverbs 10:12 Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.

      The Australian bush poet Patrick Joseph Hartigan wrote a funny poem about a pessimistic character named Hanrahan. Everything Hanrahan talked about was a doomsday warning. "We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan, "Before the year is out" was his constant response to anything that was said with a positive outlook or hopefulness towards the future. As I listen to the dire predictions of the twenty-seventh or thereabouts wave of the worldwide pandoomic destroying our society as we know it, I cannot help but think of Hanrahan and his alarming warning of, "We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan, "Before the year is out."
       The fearful and alarming events happening these days should not come as a shock to those who read their bibles on a regular basis. The word of God clearly explains that there will be earth-shaking events that will paralyze the hearts of many because of the numerous world catastrophes that are taking place these days. Luke 21:26 Men's hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. One of the indicators revealing the end times is that the love of many would grow cold. Matt. 24:12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. The sad thing is that this coldness is also seeping into the church. I believe this is vexing the Holy Spirit. 
       It is difficult for people to be kind, or even optimistic because the fears within nations are being felt on a world scale. This catastrophic global epidemic is being felt by everyone and in a lot of cases is causing a reaction of numbing coldness in people's hearts. This frigidness of the heart is causing harsh decisions in government policies as well as individual tolerances toward one another. Matt. 25:7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in diverse places. 
      There seems to be a lot going wrong in this world. However, we do not have to be persuaded or affected by Hanrahan's way of seeing things, or walk around saying, "We'll all be rooned, before the year is out." No saints! We have the Lord of lords and the King of kings living within our hearts, and we can say what God says we are to say. "I am strong!" Joel 3:10b Let the weak say, I am strong. Why can we confidently say this? Because if God is for us, what can the world do to us? Rom. 8:31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
      The Lord said there would be trials and struggles, but to take heart because our Lord has overcome the world and all that the world can throw at us. John 16:33 I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world. I have to ask you as well as myself an important question. If we are having such a hard time loving and being kind to each other during this world pandemic crisis, what will we be like when the anti-Christ shows up with death threats? History shows us that what we are going through right now has happened many times before, and with the courage of heart, people got through it. We can also get through it.
      There is nothing new here. Wars and pandemics have affected societies throughout history. At no time did God get dethroned or killed off. The Lord is still in charge of our soul if we have given it to Him. Jesus is still the Lord of all. Those who are running around in fear and proclaiming, "We'll all be rooned, before the year is out," and are controlled by their fears and unbridled angry emotions are not to be followed. Prov.10:12a Hatred stirreth up strifes.
      We who are in Christ are to keep our hearts tuned to the Holy Spirit so that we can do the things needed to get through these times. Dan. 11:32b But the people who know their God will be strong and take action. We are the ones to set the precedents of what the love of God looks like during troubling events. The love of God is not cold but rather warms the hearts of man. 1Cor. 13:4a Love is patient, love is kind. Maybe there is a lot of Hanrahan type of people out there who continually say, "This pandoomic will be the end of us all," but we do not have to take part in their narrative. We belong to the Lord, and He has set our future in His eternal plan. Jer. 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. So be it, Lord, I'll take your plan for my life. Blessings be upon us all.

Thursday, 28 October 2021

Sore Losers

Proverbs 23:29 Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaints? Who has needless bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes?

      I cannot think of a worse sore loser than Satan. He continually tries to give his slithering character to the human race, so that mankind becomes as miserable as he is. However, we have to make a righteous effort not to pick up his traits and methods. Sore losers always accuse others of their problems. Anything that goes wrong in their lives is a result of someone else's actions. Their accusation of "The reason the country has gone to shreds is that - this or that political party is in power." This rehashed complaint is their constant excuse for blaming all that is gone wrong for their own choices they made in life. The reason they can't get ahead is because of them. Satan has been providing fodder for sore losers throughout history.
      In the garden of Eden, Satan surreptitiously accused God of holding back knowledge from Eve. Gen. 3:5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil. Adam and Eve had all the knowledge they needed at the time to live a wholesome life. Satan tricked Eve into mistrusting the integrity of God, and she was deceived. The devil did this because he was and still is a jealous sore loser who wants to be greater than God. Isa. 14:13a You said in your heart, “I will ascend to the heavens; I will raise my throne above the stars of God. Thank the Lord for throwing Satan out of heaven forever. Luke 10:18 He said to them, “I watched Satan fall from heaven like lightning."      
      One of the oddest conversations regarding Satan's accusatory nature is found in the book of Job. We read the account of the devil accusing God and Job at the same time. The accusation claims that God is being unfair in how He protects Job from Satan's attacks. Like all sore losers, Satan cannot succeed in being destructive because it is God's fault. Job 1:10 Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. The devil truly has a pathetic existence. To choose a rebellion against God and lose, plus try and break everything God makes, then have a tantrum in front of God accusing Him of His goodness, is absolute insanity.
      Maybe sore losers are, to a degree, insane. Was it sane for Cain to become a sore loser and lose all he had through an act of revenge because God looked favourably on Abel's offering? Gen. 4:5 But for Cain and his offering He had no regard. So Cain became very angry and his face was gloomy. How had Cain's poor choices in life become Abel's fault? Like all sore losers, Cain had to find someone other than himself to accuse of the lack of character within his own soul.
      In a slick way, the ten spies accused God of making them feel so small compared to the giants in the land of Canaan. They could not muster up the courage to go into the land God promised them. It was God's and the giant's fault the people of Israel could not fulfil their dreams. Num. 14:3a Why is the LORD taking us to this country only to have us die in battle? Even though God is for us, blaming all of our woes on Him is a way to deflect personal responsibility. The loser looks for excuses and says, "Why is God doing this to me? How can I ever get ahead if God is against me?" It sure sounds like something Satan would say.
      So, let us answer the Proverb's questions. Prov. 23:29 Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaints? Who has needless bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes? Who has all these problems? Those who do not take personal responsibility for their lives, and those who do not take the proper actions within life. God has said in His word, that He is for us and has asked us to choose life and not the things that lead to death. The devil, on the other hand, will help anyone choose every possible failure available to them so that they become a loser like Satan is. The devil is trying to reproduce after his own kind. Do we really want to help the enemy's agenda? The choice is ours. How do you want to live? Josh. 24:15b But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. Amen!

Thursday, 21 October 2021

Public Opinion

Proverbs 17:13 Whoever rewards evil for good, evil will not depart from his house.

      At the beginning of the pandemic, public opinion had our courageous nurses at the top of the popularity meter. However, within a short time, the same public opinion group was protesting and cursing these same overworked, vulnerable, and tired health servants. This obnoxious public voice was trying to make our nurses the new social outcasts that we are supposed to hate. If these same protesters had been born two thousand years earlier, they would have been the ones shouting, "Hosanna" as Jesus rode a donkey into the city of Jerusalem, only to turn around and scream, "Crucify Him" days later. Public opinion can be fickle and cruel.
     Since when have we, as a society, modelled our lives to the standards of public opinion? How did the gospel of public opinion become the go-to training manual for living in this scornful world? The cesspool of thought that public opinion contains is an offensive stench that has no value for establishing any integral standard of good living practices. The mercurial nature of public opinion is in itself unable to find any level of forthright behaviour because it sways with the voice of discontent and the confusion of dysfunction. Public opinion's foundations are nothing more than toxic slurry and quicksand, resulting in a dark mass of ugliness.
      Mark Twain said, “A lie can travel around the world and back again while the truth is lacing up its boots.” Online statistics (if they can be trusted) state that conspiracy theories and lies that public opinion is built upon will spread six times faster on social media platforms than the truth will. This would also explain why there is no way these online web giants are going to stop this type of online posting because it is such a large part of their revenue stream. Every level of government can drag all the CEOs of these mega-web platform companies before all kinds of congressional panels and grill the life out of them, and still, it will make no difference to the content posted. There is just too much money to be made with online falsities. Prov. 17:13 Whoever rewards evil for good, evil will not depart from his house.                  
      Why is it easier to believe the fabrications of public opinion than the truth? I believe, the truth often contains a moral substance that can be hard to follow, and since the character of mankind is weak and sinfully flawed, the lie is easier to digest, even though it tastes bad. Rom. 1:24a So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired. Therefore, we have to become the gatekeepers to what we allow into our hearts. We should be asking the Holy Spirit what the truth of the matter is so that we can proceed in confidence.
      If we are to overcome the storms and influences of public opinion, we are going to have to become secure in our souls by being established on the solid ground of God's word. The only solid foundation that does not buckle under pressure is the ground held by the Rock of Ages. Jesus said that we should build our house on a rock so we could weather the storms of life and every lie that the world throws at us. Matt. 7:24 Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 
      Wisdom is building our lives on what God says rather than unproven conspiracies. Eph. 4:14 Then we will no longer be little children, tossed by the waves and blown around by every wind of teaching, by human cunning with cleverness in the techniques of deceit. God has never lied to us and never will. It is not in His character nor His heart to do so. Jesus said that He is the truth, and truth acted upon will set us free. If you have aligned yourself with a false public belief that has bound your mind and heart, then it is time to seek the truth and be set free to become who God created you to be. John 8:32 And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. 
      We were not created to become a mouthpiece for the lies the enemy has promoted in this life. We are not to encourage the vitriol of public opinion. We are to be a voice of wisdom and calm in the turbulent storms that are taking place in this world. Let us bring the wisdom of the Holy Spirit into the harshness that surrounds us on all sides. God's truth and blessing be upon us all. Amen!

Thursday, 14 October 2021

Worse Than Dead

Proverbs 2:18 For her house sinks down to death and her ways to the land of the departed spirits.

     What can be worse than being dead? I think existing within an empty life, and not living the life God gave us could be as bad as being dead. Having no reason or purpose to get up, would be a terrible daily death. Always chasing the elusive - if I could have that, then I would feel alive, would be an empty existence, because the thing wished for is continually out of reach. I believe having to contend with the knowledge that we are wrapped within death's grasp and not able to do anything about it, could be frightening and weigh heavily on our soul. Being conscious of the fact that our bodies are in a state of dying, and heading to the end of life as we know it, can gnaw at our consciousness. 
      The reason we cannot phantom not existing is that there is a deep knowing in our soul that we will live forever. In most cases, this feeling cannot be explained, but, there is an intuitive knowledge concerning its reality. Eccl. 3:11b He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. We know that we know, we will live forever, but in what state of being, we do not know. To think about the idea of being eternally dead, yet living in that state is a hard concept to process. Therefore, these introspections are pushed to the side hoping the mental anxiety these thoughts cause go away.     
      Some people choose a dead life and are keen on causing others to do the same. Why? I have no idea, other than ignorance of their worth in God's eyes. Why would anyone choose the worst things in life as a good idea to live by? Jude warns us concerning these people. Jude 1:12 These are the ones who are hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, like shepherds caring only for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted; 13 wild waves of the sea, churning up their own shameful deeds like dirty foam; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of darkness has been reserved forever.
      Thank God there is good news. We have been delivered from all of this death and darkness. Our Lord Jesus has taken away the sting of the mental torture that death can bring to a mind. 1Cor. 15:55 O death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory? The blood sacrifice Jesus offered of Himself on our behalf is the soul-saving balm we can apply to our hearts and consciousness. This allows us to let go of the fear death tries to bring into our minds. We have been set free from the chains death once had bound mankind with. The good news is that death, our last enemy, will be destroyed with all manner of evil on that great and glorious day of the Lord. Rev. 20:14a Then death and the grave were thrown into the lake of fire. 
      We are blessed that Jesus said we who are in Christ would be the light of the world. We are not a dark reflection of the human condition that Satan wants us to believe. Matt. 5:16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. We have the choice to let the light of God's word lead us into the freedom Jesus came to give us through the finished work of the cross. Our Lord has given us His word, His armour, and His Holy Spirit to make sure we live a victorious life and are able to defeat the works of darkness. The truth does set us free from the dire judgment the world is under.
     The Lord has given us eternal life, and what we do with that life is paramount to our living in peace. With Christ in our hearts, we can do more than just exist. We can live a fulfiled life led by the Holy Spirit. We can count on the fact that God wants us to be a living testimony of God's goodness, so that those who live in darkness may see there is a better choice in this life. Psalm 23:5a You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. What is worse than being dead is not living fully with the life God has given us. Be blessed and live free.

Thursday, 7 October 2021

Tribalism

Proverbs 29:11 A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise person holds it in check.

      Tribalism according to the dictionary: The behavior and attitudes that stem from strong loyalty to one's own tribe, party, or social group.
      The religion of tribalism is flourishing. The world's population is merging into different camps of belief that are available to those who want to take part in something they can relate to. There does not have to be any logic, common sense, or even an altruistic purpose within the movements of these tribal structures. The fact is, that these tribal entities exist and are available to be joined by anyone. 
      At this time in North America, we have the tribes of the far left and distant right political parties fulminating on every sentence being spoken. We also have the vaccinated versus the not vaccinated pointing out each other's false claims. Plus, the no masks demonstraters versus those wearing masks have squared off in bitter arguments, separating friends and families. Our ability to control our emotions is becoming no better than the thugs who break everything and fight after the loss of an international soccer game. We are bringing this spirit into our homes, neighbourhoods, and churches. All because we want to give someone an angry piece of our mind. Prov. 29:11a A fool gives full vent to his anger. 
      Some tribal members are picking battles that are lost before they start, and yet, they put their whole souls into the fight. A few boisterous souls are fighting for their belief that the world is flat. To me, this seems to be a battle that will just go round in circles. Thank God that members of The Flat Earth Tribe do not work for NASA, at least I don't think they do. What is causing people to drop their guard and become advocates for nonsense and are expressing personal rage to fight for absolute foolishness? 2Tim. 4:3 For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, will multiply teachers for themselves because they have an itch to hear what they want to hear.
      There is nothing new here. The Apostle Paul had the same problems to deal with. The political parties of his day maintained a religious port-folio that was daily present to the people. The Herodians were members of Herod's government watchdogs making sure taxes were paid, and insurrections did not take place. Judaism was represented by the Scribes and Pharisees who hung out with the Herodians to find out what the ruling class was up to. Circumcision had become a sharp divisive argument among those who were doing church in a new way. Lost in all of it, was the love for God, and the eternal love that God has for mankind.
      Paul had to address the dangers of tribalism slipping into the church. There were those who felt their tribe was more significant because they had been led to the Lord by Paul, where others had only been led to the Lord by some of the other leaders. Thus creating a tribal instinct that had to be quashed within the hearts of the new Christians. 1Cor. 3:4 For whenever someone says, “I belong to Paul,” and another, “I belong to Apollos,” are you not acting like mere humans? 5 What then is Apollos? What is Paul? They are servants through whom you believed, and each has the role the Lord has given. 
     The enemy of our soul has been dividing people from the first day that man was created. We who are in Christ have to realize that people will have different persuasions that they will feel comfortable with throughout their life. However, we are not to make these sidebar ideologies our gods. The Apostle Paul had a solution for the differences he was coming up against. He remained in Christ while reaching out to the people and bringing Jesus into the belief that some were so passionately expressing. 1Cor. 9:20a When I was with the Jews, I lived like a Jew to bring the Jews to Christ. 22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. 
      Paul did not get overwhelmed by all the different trains of thought, but rather, he brought Christ into the person's belief, thereby allowing Jesus to deal will all the fears, uncertainties, political views, and even the nonsense of the day that the person was living in. When Jesus is the Lord of our life, stuff will get straightened out in our life. Jesus was and still is the answer for dealing with the wars and conflicts within people's hearts. If we would allow the Lord to straighten out our doctrines and beliefs, we would not get suckered into arguing about all the narratives going on around us that Satan continually promotes. Real peace would be our guide, and we would leave the bitterness caused by all the vitriol to the trolls who sow all manner of discourse.
      It might be time to leave the tribe you have been foolheartedly speaking for. If we have to identify as a tribe, then let us become full citizens within God's kingdom where there is no doubt who the King of kings and Lord of lords is. The light of our Lord, can stab any darkness and rip apart the gloom that has enveloped a heart or mind. Jesus makes us one by His Spirit. We can extend the hand of fellowship with patience toward those who are grappling with their maturity in Christ. We all need to be extra patient with each other because God is not finished with us. We are all an ongoing project in God's salvation plan. Jude 1:24 Now all glory to God, who is able to keep you from falling away and will bring you with great joy into His glorious presence without a single fault. Let us receive our peace through Christ for the day we are living in. Amen and amen!

Thursday, 30 September 2021

Noticed, But Not Seen

Proverbs 3:28 If you can help your neighbor now, don’t say, “Come back tomorrow, and then I’ll help you.”

      As I walked by the homeless man on the street, I notice him, but I do not see him for who he is, or who he was before he became homeless. I do not see the fact that he has a mother, maybe a sister or even children. I only see the shell of a person who is begging and starring out to nowhere with the thousand-yard stare. I'm sure he once had dreams and ambitions that somehow lost meaning along the way. Who's to say he still does not have goals or a dream of getting off of the street. Maybe I could find out for sure if I stopped and talked with him, but as I walk by him, I only notice his shabbiness and clearly, I do not see his heart. We tend to notice the homeless, but we do not see them or their plight.
      Lately, we are seeing the native Indigenous population in Canada because so many unmarked graves have been discovered. This atrocity is pointing out to the world what the First Nations people have always known - the barbarity of our historic and present legislative decisions had only caused this segment of society to be noticed but not seen as a people. However, after discovering numerous unmarked graves that the native population knew were always there, we are now seeing these people. Hopefully, we can honestly be reconciled in spirit and in truth and not just offer platitudes and clichés of "We have to try harder, blah blah blah." Prov. 3:28 If you can help your neighbor now, don’t say, “Come back tomorrow, and then I’ll help you.”
      If it was not for the pandemic, it would not have been revealed how terrible we have been treating our elderly by stuffing them away in poorly governed care homes. We would have continued to just notice the elderly and not see them the way the Lord sees them. Psalm 92:14 Even in old age they will still produce fruit; they will remain vital and green. Even though the word of the Lord says the elderly will bear fruit in old age, our solipsistic lifestyles have no room for those who are elderly and in need. Maybe now that we have seen them, we can improve on the way we take care of them.
      At some time in our life, we have all experienced being noticed but not seen for who we truly are. Some people feel like a non-person as they plod along in life. The people who feel they are living a nonexistent life will have to decide in their hearts to make an effort to see and acknowledge others who are feeling the same way they do. If we want friends, we have to extend a hand of friendship. We do reap what we sow. We will have to sow some honest effort into seeing others if we want to be seen. We will have to push through the haze of life and see others rather than just notice the crowds. If you are lonely then reach out to the lonely. If you are depressed then reach out to those who are suffering the same sadness. Luke 6:38a Give, and it shall be given unto you.    
      There is hope. Our God knows exactly where we are on the world map. James 1:1b To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings. He knows our address and our situation. The Lord sees us for who He made us to be in Him. Some people may feel like they are neither noticed nor seen, but rest assured, our heavenly Father is looking at us individually right now, and planning our future. The Lord knows us intimately. Jer. 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." God sees all our situations throughout our whole life. Psalm 121:8 The LORD keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever. To the Lord, we are never nonexistent nor a non-person. We are His chosen creation.
      As I get older in years, I hope that I can mature in my heart where I see my fellow man the way the Lord sees them rather than just notice them. It would be impossible to see everyone on earth, however, we can start by seeing our children and finding out what is one their hearts. We can begin to see our neighbours, cashiers at the stores we frequent, and those we come in contact with regularly. We can sincerely ask the people in the church assemblies we attend, "How their souls are holding up during these difficult days." Taking the time to see the other people God created will help us see ourselves for who we truly are. May we rise to the challenge that is set before us and begin to see. God have mercy on us.

Thursday, 23 September 2021

The Real Prisoners

Proverbs 4:14 Do not set foot on the path of the wicked or walk in the way of evildoers.

      Quote: Not all prisons have steel bars.
      In 1980, while I was attending bible college in Australia, I ministered with a group called Broken Chains Prison Ministry out of Sydney. On most weekends, we went into the different prisons throughout New South Wales and brought with us a variety of rock bands and musos who were Christians and keen on helping in prison ministry. The musicians expressed their faith in Christ through their music and personal testimonies of God's goodness in their lives. We also provided the prisoners with Christian material they had requested that declared, "Jesus Christ is Lord," and He was their eternal hope if they chose to accept Him as their Lord and Savior. We were blessed to have had such favour of the Lord as we ministered week after week.
      The interesting thing to me was that some of the prisoners who had become Christians while in prison and had a genuine relationship with the Lord were freer in their souls while in forced confinement, than a lot of the staff and guards who ran the security systems of the prisons. Even though the guards got to go home at night, a lot of them were bound in their souls because of the hatred they had for the criminals they oversaw. Who was really in prison? Who were the ones living in manacles? How was it possible to be able to go where and when you wanted on the outside of the prison walls, and yet, be more bound and chained than the Christian prisoners who were incarcerated?
      Some of the guards were angry with us for ministering to the prisoner’s spiritual needs. Their argument was that the prisoners were evil recidivists and they deserved to be locked up forever. In some cases, this may be true. However, God's word does say to visit the prisoner. Matt. 25:36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. What some of these guards did not realize, was that they were becoming what they hated. They had inadvertently stepped on the same path the criminals were walking. Their anger towards the inmates had caused them to voice their personal judgements of justice, revenge, and punishment. They were becoming as hardheaded as some of the hardcore inmates. Prov. 4:14 Do not set foot on the path of the wicked or walk in the way of evildoers. 
      A person can be surrounded by the oppressive walls of a penitentiary, and the truth of God's word can free that soul from being bound by the invisible chains that many freed people are shackled to. John 8:32 You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. People can become a prisoner of their own making by hanging on to hate, resentment, and unforgiveness. In some cases, they can also become more severe and harsher on themselves because they become their own jailers by not letting go of their hate. 
      Lately, we have heard of people who were once dependable and stable citizens falling into the deep holes of believing every conspiracy theory that comes their way. They become prisoners of all the secretive and dark information they have personally accumulated to prove every single event going on in life is an attack and scheme to destroy their way of life. The sad thing is, they end up destroying their own lives by their never-ending angry conversations that alienate everyone around them. Deeper and deeper they fall into a terrifying abyss until words like Illuminati, sanctioned killings, tracking devices, microchip-readers, and listening devices become the steel bars of their personal cage they now find themselves fighting from. Even if everything they said was a fact, how would they personally stop it all? How could they go around the world and expose and fix every conspiracy that is supposedly going on? This would be impossible to do.
       Who are the real prisoners in life? Are they not the ones who are caged within their own bondage? The Apostle Paul wrote a large part of the New Testament from prison. Phil. 1:13 So that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard, and to everyone else, that my imprisonment is because I am in Christ. Paul was a prisoner of the Roman Empire's system, but in his heart, Paul was the Lord's prisoner, and this knowledge allowed him inner freedom while in prison. He called himself a prisoner in the Lord, and this truth broke the chains of the world system Paul was ministering in. Eph.4:1a Therefore I, the prisoner in the Lord, urge you to walk worthy. 
      I'm not saying Paul had an easy time in prison. On the contrary, Roman prisons were brutal. What Paul had, was the confidence in his Lord who could deliver him from all of the real treacherous conspiracies that were against him. 2Tim. 3:11 Persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. There were real plots to kill and control Paul. However, Paul didn’t spend much time defending himself against all the accusations confronting him. He remained a free man by being a prisoner in Christ and letting God deal with his enemies. 
      We who are in Christ must be circumspect when it comes to all the trappings that could trick us into a jail of our own making. If we are going to be a prisoner of anything, then let it be a prisoner of gratefulness, kindness, generosity and love. Let us be prisoners in Christ so that we may remain free in our souls and heart. Amen and amen!a

Thursday, 16 September 2021

Small Strength

Proverbs 24:10 If you faint in the day of distress, how small is your strength!  

      The fatigue caused by the pandemic has sure demonstrated the lack of strength within some people's hearts. Many who thought themselves to be of strong character and would doubtlessly have thought themselves to be courageous in the face of adversity have found themselves unsure of their faith and quivering with fear in the corner of their minds. The tediousness of living under restrictions and everchanging rules is wearing down the resolve within people's hearts. Throwing in the towel is becoming an option for these tired souls, as they give up on life. Prov. 24:10 If you faint in the day of distress, how small is your strength! If these events caused by a world pandemic are causing such distress, what will happen when persecution for our faith becomes a real-life and death danger as it is in some countries today?
      A boxer looks for the weakness in his opponent and repeatedly keeps hitting the soft spot until an opening for a knock-out punch reveals itself. Suddenly the sound of a punch hitting home, and the thud of a boxer colliding with the floor, demonstrates the need for more training. In like fashion, Satan's goal is to keep hitting Christians in their weak spot until they cave. 1Pet. 5:8 Be sober-minded, be alert. Your adversary the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour. If we fall during the enemy's attack then this is an indication that more training in God's word of righteousness is needed.
      We who are in Christ must remain in constant training as we develop our skills in the use of our armour while proclaiming the living word of the Lord. We cannot allow the fears of the day to become part of our conversation when we have the weapons of God's arsenal at our disposal. 2Cor. 10:4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We are well able to fight the good fight of faith because Jesus lives within our hearts.
      Just because someone might be small in stature does not mean they have to be small in heart. The Lord wants us to proclaim the strength that He has given us for the day of distress. God says to say "I am strong." Joel 3:10b Let the weak say, I am strong. With Christ, in our hearts, we are strong in the might and power of God's strength. By faith,  we have to believe what God says concerning our righteous strength. While wearing the full armour of God, and with courage, we step forward believing in our hearts that we are more than conquerors through Christ. Rom. 8:37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
      We do not have to faint in the day of adversity. Our strength can be strong if we are walking with our Lord. God has a way of taking the average person and changing them into a voice of righteous excellence and an example of Godly endurance. Daniel was one of the captives Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had taken from Jerusalem to become a servant in Babylon. Over a period of time, Daniel rose up to be a leading governmental official in the country. Gideon was hiding and scrounging for food because Israel's oppressors were stealing everything that was not nailed down. In a short time, Gideon delivered Israel and became a judge in his time allowing Israel to become their own nation under their own rule.
      Many people come to God with frailties and weaknesses that seem insurmountable to overcome. If it were not for God, this might remain the case. However, the words, "But God," comes into play and major world events are changed. Matt 19:26 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible. Yes, but with God, all things are possible. Even the weak becoming strong in the Lord is truly possible.
      Rom. 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. We have to get it into our hearts that God loves us and will move heaven and earth to help us fulfill what He created us to do. No saints. We do not have a small strength. We have a mighty God who strengthens us to be strong in Him. What a wonderful Lord we serve. Blessings.