Wednesday, August 30, 2023

The Chicory Plant


 

On our way to church on Sunday, I admired  the lovely blue Chicory flowers blooming beside the road.  I have noticed that they seem to really like the sides of the roads -  i have not seen them growing elsewhere !  

And I thought ....   hmmmm.... there has to be a lesson here !  

I googled the Chicory plant to see if it was true that they preferred to bloom beside the road.  Apparently, they do !  For two reasons.  
One - not many plants/flowers grow beside the road, so they have chosen to bloom there because there is little competition for space!  
 Two -  they rather like rocky, dry, clay soil conditions, as provided roadside.
I did not make that up... you can google it for yourself. 

I realized the Chicory paralleled our life as believer's. 

Separated and set apart .  
When we chose the Lord, and are born-again, we are separated and set apart for His glory! 
We  chose to withdraw from the crowded places of the world,  so we can 'grow' beside the roads less traveled where we do not have to compete for space or position..   
The chicory could have chosen to bloom in lush fields or shaded forests, but it chose to sacrifice the world's best for its higher calling and purpose. 
So we, as believers, have rejected the lure of what the world offers - the glitz, the glory, the fame or fortune, the comfort.   Instead, we have chosen the higher calling and purpose we have in Jesus, even though it is a life of sacrifice and separation. ( John 17:15,16)

Set on a hill 
If the chicory had chosen to bloom in fields or forest glades, it would have only been noticed by those who sought out those places.  But growing beside the roadway, it is seen by every passerby.   
We too, like the chicory, are positioned so that we are seen by those who pass us by and notice we have something to offer .  We are the light to the world, we are the city set on a hill, we are  God's love extended to the world,  
(Matt. 5:14) 

Called to serve 
The Chicory is an edible and medicinal plant and the leaves, flowers and roots are all useful!   
Isn't that the purpose of every believer?   That we are 'food' for those who are hungry - physically and spiritually.  That we bring 'healing' to those who are sick or suffering, comfort and hope to those who are mourning or in despair.  And just like the Chicory offers its very life so that its roots can be ground into coffee -  so we too are called to lay down our lives for the brethren.  (I John 3:16)

Difficult or dry places
When all goes well,  when looks life we have it all together,  the passers-by look and think , well, sure .. why wouldn't they be happy?  everything goes their way!  
But when things go sideways, when difficulty and hardship and persecution comes our way, and we 'keep blooming' THEN  the world takes notice and wonders what we have that can make us keep our joy in the midst of a difficult situation or life.   
Just as the Chicory is noticed and admired because it can grow and thrive where other plants quickly die, so we too have a visible witness to those who pass us by.  (Acts 1:8, I Peter 4:19))

Look up! 
I love the colour  of the chicory, is it looking up to reflect the blue sky above?
Are we not called to 'look up' into the face of Jesus and reflect His image in our life?
(II Cor. 3:18)  

Called into His rest! 
There is one more thing the Chicory pictures for us.   Have you noticed it only blooms in the morning and 'rests' for most of the day?  
Isn't that what we are called to do as well?   Enjoy the 'rest' Jesus promised us?  He does not burden us with tasks that weary us, He does not ask more of us than what we can give.  He asks of us only what He has already enabled us to do. 

 "Come to Me, all you who are heavy labor and are heavy laden 
and I will give you REST .. 
Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me for I am
 gentle and lowly in heart 
and you will find REST for your souls.
 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."...
Matt. 11:28-30

"Thank you, Chicory, for your faithfulness in reminding us every time we look at you of who we are in Christ and how we should live in the world ! "  

Friday, July 7, 2023


 

"DID YOU FALL?"  

Monday morning I took my Bible to spend some quiet time with  the Lord. It was a beautiful morning and the patio was so inviting! 
My first question to Him was .. "What can I share in this week's devotional?"  Immediately the answer came ... "Go to the book of James."  I did and started reading the first chapter. My eyes and attention stopped at the word 'fall' and I knew here lay my lesson.  
In context this verse (James 1:2) is talking about trials of life.  Interesting that it uses the word 'fall' to describe how we meet the trials of our life.  I looked up the Greek word translated 'fall' and the meaning is ... " to fall into something that is all around, i.e. light among or upon, be surrounded with:--fall among (into)."
Have you fallen lately? 
In this short lesson,  I want to point out the parallels between a physical fall and how applicable the use of this word  'fall' is  in relation to our trials. 

We never fall 'on purpose', do we?   If we were told one morning we were going to fall,that day, I think we would seriously consider just staying in bed and avoiding the experience, wouldn't we?  
We don't want it, we don't plan it, we don't anticipate it,  it happens unexpectedly - suddenly we find ourselves on the ground.  
Could we not describe the trials of our life the same way?  A trial is not a welcome event in our life, it is not something we plan for.  It happens , often suddenly, and there is nothing we can do to stop it.  Whether our trials involve failing health, financial trouble, broken or troubled relationships, loss of loved ones, a missed appointment, stuck in traffic, a broken dish or burnt toast, we all have days that just go wrong!  We could each write our own list of things that  upset our life or cause us stress or worry. 

The James verse begins with the words .. "count it all joy!"  I have never seen someone fall, or tell of a fall  where joy was the expressed emotion!  When we physically fall, the closest to feeling  'joy'  is the feeling of relief if we are not seriously hurt !  Could it be that that is where the 'joy' lies in our trials, knowing we won't be seriously hurt when the trial is over?  

When we fall, being 'surrounded' with the fall is an apt description, isn't it?  Suddenly, in the blink of an eye you are totally 'encompassed' by the experience.  All else leaves your mind,   Nothing else is important. You are focused on one thing - you have fallen!!  
So also with the trials of life. When we 'fall' into them, we are encompassed by the trial.  Everything else in our life  slips down the list of our priorities. The trial captures  our thoughts, our emotions, our focus. We desperately look for an escape. .

When we fall, after we have determined that we are not dead, or seriously injured, our focus immediately shifts to how we are going to get up !  No one just stays down if  they are able to get up or have help in getting up !  
So also in a life-trial,   our mind races to find a solution or escape. But we can make the mistake of wallowing in our misery and giving in to the debilitating emotion. .  We are so overcome or discouraged we don't think of 'getting up' - it seems impossible, we are weighed down and blinded by our distress. 

"Count it all joy, my friend!"   No?  not there yet?  

My favorite Bible character is Joseph.  We all love his story.  We love him being given authority, the position of a ruler,  second only to Pharaoh himself.  We love how he provided food for so many, including his own family.  We love how he treated his brothers, tested them and forgave them.  It is such a great story !!  
BUT ...  do we read the 'before' and see how in  Joseph we see our James scripture played out as an example to follow? 
Didn't Joseph 'fall' into trials?   First, he 'fell' into his brothers' evil intentions.  He 'fell' into being sold.  He 'fell' into becoming a slave' ... He 'fell' into being falsely accused and 'fell'  into prison. He even 'fell' into being forgotten by someone who promised to help him.  
None of the trials he 'fell' into were anticipated nor could he have done anything to avoid them.  Did Joseph count them all joy?  I don't think so.  It must have been terrifying for a teen-ager to be 'sold' and dragged away from his father and his home.
We know he suffered - which is a given,  otherwise it wouldn't be a trial, right? 
 We read in Psalm 105:17,18 "He sent a man before them - Joseph - who was sold as a slave, they hurt his feet with fetters, He was laid in irons.."   The passage goes on to say "the Lord tested him" until the right time for the Lord's word to be fulfilled.  
Is that where Joseph found his 'joy' ? In remembering, knowing, believing  the dreams in which God had spoken to him about what was to come - what God's plan for his life was.    God's word to Joseph was never in jeopardy - it was never threatened. 
Joseph could have 'fallen'  into his trials and given up, staying down, giving up.  Who would have blamed him?  Yet he didn't. While his 'trials' surely encompassed him, and there was little joy in the midst of them, he didn't stay down.  In every trial, he got up and walked through it, knowing God was with him. In the end his declaration was that while his trials were 'meant for evil',  God used them for good !!  

That is joy, isn't it?  To never lose hope?  To never forget that our trials are for a good purpose leading to God's goodness poured out into our life and into eternity?  That our trials can work out for good in His kingdom?

We see the perfect example in Jesus Himself.  When He faced the trial of His life - a trial more horrific than any of can imagine - we are told where the 'joy' was.  
Hebrews 12:2 tells us that because of the 'joy set before Him",  He endured the cross. It was not the trial itself that was 'joy' , it was what it would produce.
Having the hope and assurance of what a trial will produce gives us the strength and perseverance to endure the trial.  We think of a woman facing the pain of childbirth which she endures for the 'joy set before her', the hope of the child soon to fill her arms and heart. 
So also our James passage 'sets the joy before us'.  If we endure the trials that come our way - be they big or small - then we will enjoy the 'fruit' of the trials. Patience, and Romans 5:3-4 adds character and hope.  And we read in verse 5,  hope never disappoints because God's love has been poured out in our hearts. 

If you find yourself 'encompassed' by a trial you would dearly have avoided, take comfort and be encouraged, there is a secure 'hope' anchored in the promises of God.  When the right time comes, God's word to you WILL come to pass. And then you will echo Joseph's words, "It was meant for evil but God meant it for good !!  
"Count it all joy...." my friend.    

Thursday, June 29, 2023

 Nothing For Naught !  

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If we could truly -- from our heart -- pray that prayer with child-like faith would we ever feel anxious and afraid?  Do our times of anxiety and fear not come when we have doubt that God is REALLY is in control of the details?   And if He really is, then what do we have to worry about??  
Our God is a God of details -- in His creation , in His plan, but also in His Word !  If there was one detail that escaped God's attention, He would no longer be perfect !  And perfect we know He is. 
We all acknowledge that God's word - our scripture -  is God-breathed and inspired but have we not all at times let our eyes skim over some obscure reference or some minor character or unpronounceable name and wondered why these details take up space in our Bible's pages?
Yet, we know in God's creation there is no unnecessary detail. Sometimes it is a very small detail by which some 'big' thing is held together !   Everything has a purpose!
Should we not expect God to be consistent in all of His work -  whether it be created acts or words?
I believe every word in the Bible is there for a purpose and reason, whether or not we see it.   But .. sometimes it just takes a little extra focused reflection and thought to see what the purpose is. 
 I want to look at a few of the 'obscure' characters in the Bible that I think have something to teach us. 

1. Two Thieves
Two characters that are familiar to us are the two thieves crucified with Jesus.   Interesting, isn't it that the crucifiers put Jesus in the middle.  Maybe so He could converse intimately with both.  Two thieves who had lived a life-style of crime serious enough to be condemned to the cruel death of crucifixtion.They obviously knew each other judging from their conversation with each other.  Yet, how different they were.  One held onto his hard heart and felt no remorse for his 'sinful' life.  The other, guilty of the same, looked at Jesus and his heart melted. He dared to ask !
 "Remember me ... !"  
Yes, Jesus remembered him!  He knew all the details of his life, and saw the honest acknowledgement of his sin. Without any hesitation Jesus simply welcomed him into the Kingdom  
Do you ... or someone you know...  feel that they are not worthy, that they dare not come to Jesus fearing He will justly turn them away? Point them to this thief on the cross.  For two thousand years he has been the witness to Jesus' freely  forgiving  ANYONE who asks.  No one will be turned away. (John 6:37)

2. Ehud - Used Because He was Different
Our second character centers in a rather gruesome story that is not pleasant to envision.  But it sits on our Bible page in Judges 3.  There is an insightful detail that is easily overlooked.  The character is Ehud.  You may not be familiar with him, so here is the back story.  Israel had been under enemy oppression for eight long years  - finally in their desperation they cried out to the Lord to rescue them.  And the Lord heard and answered by providing a deliverer, a man by the name of Ehud.  
Ehud was 'different' and maybe suffered ridicule because of it.  We so want to be the same as everyone else - we want to fit in , not stand out.   But the God of details gave us that characteristic that makes us different - because He has need of it, as we see in Ehud's life story..   
What was 'different' about him?  He was left-handed.  Different, awkward , when the world caters to 'right-handedness'. 
Ehud loved God - he was faithful, dependable and fearless!  
The enemy Israel feared was Eglon, king of Moab - the enemy God raised up against Israel because of their evil ways, , but he had served his purpose and now God needed to save his people from his cruel oppression of them.  

Ehud  had a plan. 
Fearlessly, he walked into the enemy's camp, accompanying those who were carrying the tribute demanded by Eglan.The tribute was delivered, but Ehud's plan required a private meeting with the king. so he shouted, "I need to see you alone, O King, I have a secret message from God for you."  The king, obviously curious what this message could be,  dismissed those with him.  Before they left, I'm sure they patted Ehud's left side to make sure he had no weapon.  
Because Ehud was left-handed, his weapon was not hung under his clothes on his left side but on his right !  The guards did not expect he would have a weapon on his right side ! That made it too difficult to access for a right-handed man.   
Therefore, because he was 'different', he had the advantage of surprise when his 'left-hand' reached over to his right side to pull out his dagger.  Before Eglon could react, it was too late. His life was over!  
Are you 'different' in some way?   Did the God of details not give it to you for a good purpose?  Have you asked Him how you can serve Him with the special gift He 'detailed' you with? 

3. Elishama who?
I'm sure you could not tell me who Elishama was if I asked.  
We know every little about him.  He is briefly mentioned in passing in Jeremiah 36:12. He lived in the time when Jehoiakim, King of Judah ruled and God sent Jeremiah with a warning  message to the king.  Elishama, we read, was a scribe, in whose chamber Jeremiah's scroll was hidden.   Jehudi by order of the king went to get it,  and he read it to the king, who seized it and threw it into the fire.  
Why was it important for God to record that Elishama was a scribe in the service of the king?  
Many, many years passed - millenia, in fact. Then, in 1986 in an excavation in Jerusalem a clay seal was uncovered.  What was important about it is what was written on it... "Elishama, servant of the king."  
The world is always eager to prove God doesn't exist, that the Bible is a collection of fables and full of errors.   But God is in the details -  Elishama's name was needful to be recorded so that he stands as 'proof' that God's word is true -- EVERY WORD !!!  

4. Ittai the Gittite
Another character whom you may not be familiar with is Ittai the Gittite. (II Samuel 15).The Gittites lived in Gath but you may be more familiar with Goliath than with Ittai -- both Gittites. (II Sam. 21:19 says .. Goliath, the Gittite)   Obviously, the Gittites were Philistines, hardly the friends of Israel, yet here we have in our Bible reference to Ittai.  He has a message for us. 
Background -- King David was being betrayed by his own son Absolum. Absolom had won over   to himself many fellow Iraelites. He beguiled them with lies about how King David was a thoughtless judge, not caring about the peoples' complaints. If only he - Absolom- were king  he would certainly care for them with more empathy and support!   
David had to flee for his life and his supporters went with him.  Ittai and all the Gittites also went with David and when Daved noticed them he encouraged Ittai to go back and stay with Absolom, even referring to him as king.  I believe he was 'testing' Ittai's loyalty since David did not know why Ittai and his men had joined him.  They had only been with him for a day.   
But look at the words of Ittai in response to David telling him to go back home.  His words echo Ruth's words to Naomi -- that where David goes he will go , in life or death!  
His sincerity was obviously proven because king David subsequently put Attai in charge of a third of his army. (II Sam. 18:2)  
What is Ittai's message?  Don't judge someone by their family or their history or their ancestry or ethnic background.  Though Ittai was from a godless nation that prided itself on its giants - Goliath being one of them -  he chose to live contrary to his upbringing.  
God leads and judges everyone on their own merits and does not judge anyone for the sins of their father's. (Ez. 18:20)  
King David reflected God's heart in his attitude and actions toward Ittai.  He believed him and rewarded his loyalty, putting him in a position of trust.  

5. Dear Shiphrah and Puah ! 
 Then we have Shiphrah and Puah whose names are recorded in Ex. 1:16.  We know that because of their 'lie' , God's plan for the deliverance of Israel through Moses  unfolded.   These two midwives boldly stood before Pharaoh who could have with one wave of his hand, order their death but they declared that the Israel women were different from the Egyptian women in that they gave birth very fast , before the midwives even got there !   The obvious should have struck Pharoah.  If the midwives statement was true why did they have midwives??    God was pleased with the midwives and rewarded them with families of their own.  Why was that unusual?  I read one article that stated that midwives were not generally allowed to marry.  If that is true or not, we know God blessed them in a way that was very meaningful to them !  
The lesson they teach?  That it is okay to lie to save our skin or life?  No, I don't think so, although I know we all take pleasure in the picture of these two women standing so brazenly before the king with their cover story!  
I think the lesson they teach is that when we are brave enough to do the right thing even though we are disobeying authorities and our life may be in danger because of it, God will protect us, cover us, and reward our faithfulness.   

I hope the above glimpses into some of the lesser known passages of our Bible encourage and enrich your own Bible study.  And may you be encouraged to know how important you are in God's thoughts.  You may see yourself as a small detail ... but God sees you as an important piece in His unfolding eternal plan !  You are necessary and needful and  BLESSED in God's love for YOU !  

Wednesday, June 7, 2023

"My Name Is Naomi" 



"Hello, my name is Naomi.  You have found me  in the pages of your Bible, though I am not the main character in the story - my daughter-in-law Ruth is. But I have some thoughts I so desire to share with you, if you have the heart and time to hear them. 
  
 Hindsight is very wise, but it comes a little late - we have already reaped the 'fruit' of our choices, actions and decisions.  They say the best way to learn is through others' mistakes, so you don't have to make them yourself !  So let me share what I learned and I pray that my experiences might be of help to you. 
 
I, like every other young woman, had my dreams and expectations..  I would marry and have children and live my life, happy and content to run my happy household.  My name , Naomi ,means 'pleasant' and that is how I expected my life to be. 
And that is how ,at first, it began to unfold.  I married and was excited to find I was soon pregnant with my first child.  It was a son - but he was not strong.  I feared for his well-being and afraid I was going to lose him so I named him "Mahlon"  (meaning sickly) maybe to remind myself that he might not live to adulthood.  Shortly after, I became pregnant again - another son, but to my sorrow he too was born sickly, so I named him Chilion (meaning pining or wasting away) 
But, I was so thankful that as I cared lovingly for my boys they did become stronger and to my relief and joy grew to be  men. 
But then a famine swept our land and it became difficult to get enough food.  Not that anyone was starving 'yet' , but we did not know for how long this famine would go on. We knew God had always cared for His people, and I believed that He would see us through this famine.  
Then one day, my husband, Elimelech came to me and said he had decided that we would move to Moab, where there was plenty of food .  I couldn't believe my ears!  Moab was cursed by God because the Moabites refused to give food to the Israelites, and these were the very people Elimelech was choosing to trust?   The very thought of leaving my home, my family, my friends - everything I had ever known was heart wrenching and filled me with anxiety.  But what could I do ?  My husband was determined and I had no choice but to obey him. 

Lesson  1 --  Sometimes life throws the unexpected in our life-path, upsetting our security, our comfort, wrecking havoc with the very things we thought were solid in our life. 
Or someone makes a major decision that affects us, yet we are not considered or given any voice or control.  Because we feel the rug is pulled out from under us,  we  cry out to God  but feel left adrift,  because surely He could have prevented this life-changing, devastating circumstance.  
  But God does not abandon us in the wilderness or when we are forced to go to Moab . He  quietly guides and watches over us, even when we do not see Him, and are unaware of His Presence!  He is never troubled or at a loss, He knows the way we will go, knows what we will encounter, and all He asks is that we trust Him to guide us through, because He knows the way! 
******
So we moved to Moab where everything was new and strange. Yes, we had food, but at what price ?   
And then, my husband died, leaving me grief-stricken!   Now, I was really alone, responsible for my two sons.  And I worried about them.  They were young enough that they embraced their new country and felt quite at home.  My heart plummeted when I realized that they were interested in the Moab girls, thinking of taking them as wives.  I had never considered that I would have pagan grandchildren !   I had already lost everything. Was I to lose my family line of descendants  as well?
 But when my sons brought the girls home  that they had chosen to marry, I had to admit that they had chosen well.  I grew to love both girls, Ruth especially bonded to me and was eager to hear about my God, so different from the gods of Moab.  Orpha clung to her own gods, but we did have a good relationship and loved each other. 
It was another sorrow and hardship when we realized that my sons could not father children .  Ten years went by but I have to credit my daughters-in-law for their faithfulness.  They could have left but they didn't, and I did not experience any blame or resentment from them. 

Lesson 2 -  Sometimes what seems to be a 'blessing withheld' is really God withholding what would hinder Him from giving us His best!  And in hindsight, I am grateful that my sons were not able to father children, because the beautiful story you all know would not have happened !  
*****
But again,  my life was shattered  - this time completely , when both of my sons died.  I was overcome  with grief and anxiety and also a very real fear!   Now what was I going to do?   My daughters-in-law were still young - they would surely remarry and join their husbands' families - leaving me completely alone with no one to care for me, and certainly no means of support.   
Where was God?  
How could He have dealt so harshly with me?  It was not my fault that we moved to Moab.  It was not my fault my husband died and it was not my fault that my sons were born sickly, never strong even as men, and it was not my fault they were unable to have children.  My bitterness overshadowed even my grief , and life became unbearable.  The pleasure in life was gone, 'Naomi' was no more - henceforth I would be called "Mara" , meaning bitter, and how bitter I was!  

Lesson 3 -  Nothing is so dark as when there is no light.  I could not see any possible way out of the deep pit I found myself in. There was nothing I could cling to, no possible way to rebuild my life.  But oh... how wrong I was.   God always has a way.  There is no night so dark that God cannot bring light in the morning.  Our despair comes when we no longer believe that 'light' will come and the night seems endless.  Ohh..  dear friend, the night will pass, because God is waiting in the morning light and will reveal what He could see all along, even when you felt only despair. 
*****
Then one day I heard the famine back home was over and I made a decision. I would return  to Bethlehem - at least then I would be with my own people, even though I dreaded facing them. How would they react when they heard my story? When they heard how harshly God had dwelt with me.  Would they blame me for having left to dwell in Moab?  Would they say, I deserved all of God's punishment? I wouldn't blame them, since I knew God so clearly had turned against me and punished me severely.  If they looked at me with scorn and disgust, it was nothing new. It was what I accused myself of every day. 
So, you know the story - how I encouraged Ruth and Orpha to return to their homes, their mothers, and their gods, and how Orpah reluctantly returned, but Ruth insisted on coming with me.  She had more faith than I had, the dear girl !  What a God-gift she was to me, but I didn't even realize that at the time !   All I could focus on was myself and the reasons for my bitterness. 

Lesson 4 - No matter how dark and hopeless a place we find ourselves in, no matter how alone we believe we are, if we are willing to open our eyes to see beyond our own pain, we will see the  hand of God reaching out to give us hope. Whether it is through another person, or some written word, or an unexpected blessing, God will find a way to encourage us, to stir up our  trust in Him and cling to the hope that we have in Him.  And even when there is no relief in sight, no answers, no way of escape,  God has a way. 
Why do we lose our trust in Him so quickly?  Why do we judge by what we see rather than in what we know God has promised?   There is nothing that can upset God's gentle and wise planning of our life -- ALL things working out for good  because He is Good! 
*****
On that long journey home, I indulged my bitterness,  falling deeper and deeper into despair.  My life was over , and now not only was I coming home with empty hands and a bitter heart, but I had with me, a heathen daughter-in-law. - a cursed Moabite.   I could not think of any way I was going to provide for myself, let alone a young woman who would surely not be accepted by my people!   
With each step I felt the pain of despair, of hopelessness, of fear and worry. The darkness of my soul made every breath an exercise in futility.  Why was I even alive? Just so God could watch me suffer? 
Ohhh ... if only I had known what God had planned !  I thought my life was over, full of dark despair, but God was planning the most beautiful story about to unfold. 
*****
Lesson 5 - Ohh.. my friends, NEVER despair, NEVER give up !  When it is darkest, God's light is about to shine on His unfolding story!  God will never take you along a lonely path or bring you into a desperate situation to leave you there !  No, no, He is planning to take you through because sometimes the only way to get to the 'joy' is to go through the 'sorrow'.  
I praised God for the rest of my life - how He so gloriously provided for me in ways beyond my comprehension. Even doing what I thought was impossible - laying a grandson into my arms.  A grandson that would be the grandfather of Israel's beloved King David.  Oh... my ...  my heart could hardly hold my joy  and my face wore a 24/7 smile!  
  If you are going through a dark season of life, please know that as God did for me, He will do for you !  The best is yet to come - wait for it !! " 
"Ascribe greatness to our God, He is the Rock, 
His work is perfect for all His ways are justice, 
A God of truth and without injustice, 
Righteous and upright is He !!":  
Deut. 32:3b,4

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

                                          Our God-Space 



Recently, I discovered something interesting  that  I did not know before. 
Did you know that you have a body part called  Reinke's Space?
My mother's maiden name is Reinke, which is not a common surname.  My grandfather once had a letter sent from Europe that was delivered to his door with no address on the envelope other than his name and British Columbia. 

 The Reinke's Space is close to the vocal cords.  There is a condition called Reinke's Edema, which mostly affects smokers.  When Reinke's Space is inflamed it presses on the vocal cords and causes a hoarseness in the voice.  
It was discovered by a man in Germany named Fredrich Reinke in 1895 and hence the body part was named after him.  My great great grandfather moved from Germany to the Ukraine so ... I'm thinking we could well be related !!  . My claim to fame!  😊
 
I find it strange that we have a body part that most people are unaware of. There is another 'space' in our bodies that people are not 'naturally' aware of, and that is the God-space that God placed in every human being. 
Just like he gave us 'hunger' so we would know that we need to eat, so also He gave us an urge to find Him. Even though people may not be aware of their God-space they are aware of an emptiness that needs to be filled. 
Just as only food will satisfy our 'stomachs', so also only God will satisfy the longing of our God's space. 

Wealth, love, success, status, possessions, fame,  - whatever people choose as their pursuit in life to fill their 'God-Space'   will not satisfy, and the longing drives them to strive even more after the things that promise to give them what they desire.  Or, they create a God-space  -  as in the photo above -  outside of themselves - a futile effort to create a 'space' that will please or satisfy God. 
It is interesting that the Reinke Space is close to the vocal cords and when it becomes inflamed it affects the vocal cords, changing the voice. 
When you listen to people talk, you soon find out what they have filled their God-space with. The 'voice' of people who have filled their God-space with the fruit of the Spirit, will speak words that are loving and encouraging.  If they have filled it with 'things' other than God , their words will be angry, accusing, complaining, or prideful and selfish. What we fill the God-space with will be revealed in our 'voice'. 
Even as Christians , if we don't guard what we put into our God-space,  we will be guilty of an angry word we wish we could take back, or that unloving response to someone who annoyed us, or that unforgiving thought. 
This last week I had a troubling conversation with a friend, who calls herself a Christian but her words were so accusing against  God, because He had not done what she wanted Him to do, and because He 'failed' her, she angerly declared that He did not exist.  That is a bit extreme , I know, but it made me think about how when I focus on something - even something small like being annoyed at something (like being stuck in traffic, or waiting for someone who is late) it does not take long for it to be revealed in my 'voice'.   

Pastor Matt encouraged us last Sunday,  to give out 'invitations' to people who do not yet know God and I think there are many ways we  do that, perhaps even BEFORE we invite them to church.  
Our 'voice' speaks our heart, and if our God-space is filled with the thoughts and words  of God,  then our 'voice' will 'invite' people to be willing to listen when we share our faith with them.

Colossians 1 is a wonderful chapter - read it today -   I will quote one verse .
Verse 10 - "that you may have a walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God."
God desires that we show good fruit in our life - and we can only do that if we fill our God-space with thoughts of Him. 

Friday, May 12, 2023

A Mother's Love

 I am wishing each of you a

VERY BLESSED HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!  
Many of us no longer have a mother, and for some I know, children live far away. And sadly for some, they have experienced the loss of a child or children and I express my sympathy for your pain.  
But there is still reason to celebrate you because there is someone to whom you have shown a 'mother's love' and changed, if not their life,  their day!  
Here is my prayer for you today, and days to come! 
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THE MOTHER'S HEART - A REFLECTION OF GOD'S HEART

I watched the coronation ceremonies on Saturday.  An amazing display of pomp and glory.  It reminded me to consider that if this is what man can do, then what is God's throne room like in majesty and wondrous glorious display?

One of the traditions that were part of the  crowning / anointing ceremony of the King was very significant and meaningful to me. 
King Charles had the crown on his head, the orb and sceptres in his hand, and then the Archbishop brought the beautiful Bible to present before him, with these words... “We present you with this Book, the most valuable thing that this world affords. Here is Wisdom; This is the royal Law; These are the lively Oracles of God.”
The crown, orb and scepters  King Charles held in his  hands are worth 1.3 BILLION dollars ...  and yet - for all the world to hear - it was truthfully declared  that God's Word exceeds the value of any earthly thing!  It is the Word of God - it is LIFE.
 
What would we do without the written word of God -- it is in His Word that God presents HIMSELF so that we can get to know Him.  He reveals who He is, what He thinks, and how He relates to us and how we are to relate to Him.

Sunday is Mother's Day, a day that is set aside to honor mothers. Why? because there is no love on this earth that outshines the love of a mother.  

Every woman has in her DNA a desire, yes, a NEED to mother... it is an instinctive drive given by God.  Why ?  Because everything we feel, everything that motivates us to do good comes from the heart of God - a reflection of who HE is.  He has put within us all we need to become in a very mini way His voice and hands and feet and heart in this dark world. 
We don't often think about God as 'mother', nor does He ever speak of Himself other than Father and we respect and honor Him as that. 
BUT .. He does show us that His love for us reflects that of a 'mother' as well as a Father. 

There is a heart wrenching passage in Ezekiel 16:4-14 where God speaks of us as an abandoned baby, uncared for, unloved', left to die....and He was filled with compassion for us, and  He gathered us into His loving care, doing for us what our 'mother' should have done ... he dressed and adorned us and fed us with royal food. He declared us beautiful and our status - royalty!  He covered us with His splendor so all who looked upon us were amazed!  

In Isaiah 49:15 God speaks of the love of a mother, and then declares His love is even higher!  He says.. "Can a woman forget her nursing child, and not have compassion on the child of her womb? Surely they may forget, yet I will not forget !!"  

Then we have Jesus reveal His heart in Luke 13:34 where He cries out .."Jerusalem, Jerusalem, ......  How often I wanted to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings... but you were not willing."   
If you have had a hen with chicks , you know how devoted she is to them and her insistent clucking sees the chicks dive for safety under her winds. There are reports  where, after a fire ,  a dead mother hen was found, with her little chicks alive and well under her wings.  

We may no longer physically have the love of our mother, but we have an even better love in God's love, that surpasses any love we could imagine!  And so we can celebrate Mother's Day -- remembering that the love God put in a mother's heart was taken from His very own heart. 

Thursday, April 27, 2023

 To day my thoughts focus on GENTLE 

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                                                            (source - Pinterest Karen Gritton)


On Sunday my husband and I went out for lunch.  A young couple and their baby were given a table very close to ours.  They put their baby in a high chair and it wasn't long before I was engaging with them in conversation. 
Their little girl was almost 10 months old, named Isla (eye-la). A very sweet little girl who sat calmly in the chair, her eyes brightly observing her surroundings. Her parents were so gentle in their interaction with her, their love for her so obvious.  
They spoke of her walking soon and the need for them to cushion off the fireplace so she would not stumble into it and hurt herself.  They also wanted the house to be safe so that she would not trip or get into things that could cause her harm.  
What a delight it was to me to watch this little loving family -- the child so clearly reflecting her confidence in  being secure and loved.  
Later in the day, I was reading in the Psalms and the following passage halted my attention. I saw in the words of this passage the 'picture' of the little family I met in the restaurant. 

Psalm 18:25,26  records David's words about how the Lord has loved him... It reads... 
"You have also given me the shield of Your salvation, your right hand has held me up, your gentleness has made me great and you enlarged my path under me so that my feet did not slip." 
The Hebrew word translated gentleness is the feminine form of the word translated 'humble' in Num. 12:3 where it says that Moses was the most 'humble' person who ever lived.  
Why is the feminine form used in our Psalm 18?  I think because it adds the depth only understood  when observing  the gentleness seen in a mother caring for her beloved child. 
In this we see the tender heart of God - His 'motherly' gentle care over His children.  

The salvation we have in Jesus is the shield He has given us --  a shield - a barrier between us and incoming danger.. He hovers like a watchful parent over a toddler just learning to walk, shielding them from danger and harm. . 

His right hand holds us up.  How quickly a child reaches out to grasp the hand of their parent.  In church, on Sunday, a young mom arrived late with 2 sweet little girls.  They slipped into the pew in front of us and immediately both girls wanted to hold their mother's hand.  She took both girls' hands as they exchanged gentle smiles!   There is strength and security in holding the hand of a parent - the comfort of knowing we are not alone. 
So God reaches out to hold our hand,  ensuring that we will feel neither vulnerable nor afraid. 

His gentleness has made us great!  What a delightful, encouraging environment 'gentleness' provides.  It gives room to grow, to ponder , to learn to understand.  There is no judgment or harsh criticism in gentleness -  only a  patient coming-alongside  that provides a safe  environment.   

"You enlarged my steps so my feet did not slip".   God doesn't make us walk our earthly journey on a tightrope.  Not even an adequate path.  No, He makes sure it is wide enough so that there is no way that we can slip off the edge..  He provides a 'paved highway' without uneven ridges or cracks and obstacles that could cause us to slip and fall. 

We too are encouraged to be 'gentle' in our relationships. 
Philippians 4:5 reminds us to be 'GENTLE' to all men .. because the Lord is watching!  
Colossians 3:12 encourages us to 'put on' tender mercies -- gentleness mixed with compassion toward each other .. and never forgetting that 'love' is the perfect bond! (vs.,14) 
Galatians 5:22,23 lists 'gentleness' as being part of the fruit of the Spirit.  God Himself, indwelling His children moves us to respond to others with His gentleness.  

I hope your heart is warmed by this reminder of how much and how tenderly God loves us - Too often we stumble because we fear we have caused Him to frown upon us when all the while His hand is outstretched to invite us to become 'great' in His tenderness and when we need it, His ready forgiveness! . And as we live 'in Him' we too learn to be gentle one to another living in the bond of love. 

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

 Dear friends ... I hope you all had a wonderful and meaningful Easter... the yearly celebrations may be over but the wonders of what Jesus accomplished for us remains for us to celebrate every day!  It is a lovely sunny day as I write this, reminding us that the Son always shines in His eternal Kingdom! 

Enjoying the beauty of God's Kingdom, let us love one another !  




Little  but Exceedingly Wise!  

God's Lists are important to study!   
There is only one kind of wisdom -- God's -  and whether we see that wisdom in His word or in His creation or in His creatures, it is all God's wisdom.  When He directs us to look at "little things that are exceedingly wise"  He is saying .. "Look, I have put my wisdom in these little weak things so that you can see how it looks -- and how very wise my wisdom is and how my wisdom when followed NEVER FAILS !"  
One of the 'little' things in God's list of exceedingly wise little things found in Proverbs 30:24 is a little creature called the rock badger or coney .  it is found only in the Middle East and in parts of Africa. 


 
So what does God want us to learn from the little rock badger?  Let me count the ways..
1. The rock badger knows where it is safe!  In the open the rock badger is very vulnerable to predators and easy prey.  But it wisely makes it home in the rocks, Hiding under the rocks and in the crevices,  it is safely protected from the reach of any predator. 
So also God calls us to hide in Him where we are safe and secure ... Proverbs 18:10 says "The name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous run to it and are safe."  Look how safe the badge is and consider how much safer we are if we hide in our Rock!  

2.  Finding food !  -- The badger does not leave the safety of the rocks except for about 1 hour a day and then only to find food. 
An interesting parallel to us is found in I Cor. 5:10, where Paul speaks about the company we are to keep and who to avoid  but he adds that he is not saying we need to completely come out of the world.  
"Yet I certainly did not mean with the [people]  of this world ... since then you would need to go out of the world."  Do we not need to go 'into the world'  for our food as well?  Of course, our physical needs are supplied 'in the world' and we go out to gather what we need recognizing that it is God who supplies both the righteous and the unrighteous from the abundance of supply.  

3.  They spend much of their time 'resting' in the sun, enjoying its warmth.  
How many times are we encouraged to 'rest' in the Lord .. Psalm 37:7 , "Rest in the Lord ...  " and Matt. 11:29 "Come to me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." 

3. The badger is a social creature -- lives in community with others.  He benefits from living in a  colony in several ways ... 
    a> Rock badgers do not have a very good internal thermostat and are easily cold ...  so they gather together and sleep one on top of another., being careful to face their heads away from each other so they do not suffocate .   
We as well are social creatures , and need the fellowship and comfort we offer one another..
 II Cor. 1:4  "... that we may be able to to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.. "
    b>  They stay in communication with each other in low- toned voices so not to attract predators.  And they sing to one another ..  
So also,  we fellowship with one another - protected from the enemy  -  and we sing ..."..speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs......"  Ephesians 5:19. 
    c> they watch out for one another. If the sentry on duty sees danger he emits a sharp alarm and instantly the rocks are cleared , every badger slipping into a crevice or rock shelter.  
We too are admonished to watch out for one another -  to warn of danger. In Col. 1:28 we read ..".... warning every man....."  Are we as quick as the badgers are, to take note of warnings, whether in God's word or from another believer?  
We too have 'predators' , enemies seeking to devour us and are told to be watchful. I Peter 5:8,  "Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour." 

4.  They are 'specially equipped' .. They have keen eyesight .  They can detect movement 1/2 mile away.  Even if an eagle is right against the sun they can see him because their eyes are equipped with a special membrane that filters the sun's rays.   
They also have special feet that sweat.  Because they sweat they create little suction cups that make it easy for them to run up smooth rocks.  
We also are equipped in every way needed.  We read in II Tim. 3:17 .. "that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly EQUIPPED for every good work."

5. They are very clean.  You will never find a flea or tick on a badger.  They have on a hind foot a handy little claw that is very effective for keeping them clean, combing through their hair keeping it clean and shiny.  
The badger also have a 'designated' toilet area that the whole colony uses to keep all other areas  clean. 
 
We too are admonished to 'stay clean'  "I John 1:9 "If we confess our sin He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."  and also in Ephesians 5:27 , "that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing but that it should be holy and without blemish." 

6. The badger is little and weak in himself, but God's wisdom makes him strong !!   So we too, are aware of our frailty - we are but dust -- yet in God our very weakness makes us strong.  God declares in II Cor. 12:9 "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness ..."  and our response should be .. "for when I am weak, then I am strong!!"(vs. 10)

If God's wisdom is so evident and admirable in the little badger, allowing him to live a fulfilled life, generation after generation, how much more will God's wisdom guide us, who are His children, created in His image. How much more can we be assured His promises will always be true in our lives. 
Let us learn from the badger and humbly accept God's wisdom for us,  for in so doing we too shall be as wise as the little badger! 

Thursday, February 2, 2023

Who were the Nephilim in Genesis 6:1-4?
We live in such a fast paced world where it is so easy to let someone else do our thinking for us and we just accept what we hear, taking for granted that it must be true if we trust the person saying it. But we know that the great deceiver, the father of lies is still prowling in our midst and seeking whom he may deceive.
 In Matthew 22:37 Jesus tells us to love God "with all our mind". I think one way to 'use our minds' is to discern truth from error 
 I am what people call 'black and white'. I don't allow a very wide grey area in my beliefs. If I hear or read something that presents a conflict of opinion or interpretation, I need to know which one is true and I can't rest until I have searched out the answers. 
 Yesterday I was listening to a Bible Teacher, David Pawson, whom I have admired and enjoyed and respected yet in the teaching video I listened to yesterday, he explained a passage in a way that really upset me and I was so disappointed in him. Pawson is not by any means the only one who believes as he does -- he is in the company of well-known Bible teachers such as John MacArthur, Chuck Swindol, J. Vernon McGee, David Jeremiah. I tried to find a well-known Bible teacher who took an alternate viewpoint but couldn't find any except for Lisa Laizure, a well known Bible study teacher with over 350 bible videos. She was the only familiar name I could find that held to an opposite viewpoint. although I found many others whose names I had never heard.
 Since the men I named are all very open with what they believe, I think it only fair to be able to point out why I disagree with them. I cannot understand why that list of well-known Bible teachers all hold to a view that makes absolutely no sense to me in light of what the Bible clearly says. 

 The passage in question is Genesis 6:1-4 Verse 2 reads... "that the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful and they took wives from themselves of all whom they chose." and then in verse 4 we read.. "when the sons of God came into the daughters of men and they bore children to them." 
The controversy is concerning who the 'sons of God' are. The above-named list of teachers all agree that these 'sons of God' were fallen angels who intermarried with human women and started a whole new race of people called Nephilim , who are still on earth today. .

 Here are the reasons that convince me they have to be wrong , Consider the following list and see what you think, 
 1. There are 9 other references where the phrase "sons of God" is found in our Bibles.and every one of the references refer to either 'good angels' or 'righteous people' .. .not one of the references refer to fallen angels.

 2. Angels cannot 'marry' - . Jesus in Mark 12:25 explains that when people rise from the dead they are like the angels - not marrying or giving in marriage. 

 3. Moses wrote Genesis (along with the other 4 books of Moses) Every time he wrote concerning an angel he referred to the being as an angel, never a 'son of God'. So why would he in this one instance call fallen angels "sons of God'. 

 4. Heb. 1:7 tells us that angels are 'spirits', they do not have physical bodies.. They can only 'appear' in human form when God sends them to minister to someone (or in any other form that God chooses them to appear) .- Hebrews 1:7 - For these 'evil spirits' to be able to take 'wives' from human women they would need real physical bodies. Where would they get them?? Only God can create, angels do not, cannot create so if evil spirits suddenly take on physical bodies God Himself would have to 'create' them for them so that they could carry out their evil desires... Really ? I don't think so, do you? And God never included the fallen angels in His plan of salvation so the Nephelim -- even though they were half human -- could not be saved. 

 5 . Everyone was destroyed in the flood except for Noah's family. So then how did these Nephilim survive the flood to still be here on earth today? God's judgment was to destroy the wicked people -- surely the Nephilim would not have survived. Some teach that the 'evil spirits' even today can take on physical bodies and impregnate women. 

 6 . When God gave account of His creation He decreed that everything would reproduce after its own kind. Nowhere do we see a crossover of two kinds of creatures or beings. So if angels crossed with humans and created a new species,, or a kind of hybrid-people, then God's decree failed. 

 7. If this passage is looked at with simple logical thought we must first look to see this passage in context. What came just before these verses.. We can ignore chapter 5 because it is an inserted genealogy. But chapter 4 describes two groups of 'people'. First we are shown that Cain, who was rejected by God for his wickedness went out and made his home in the land of Nod, built his own city, had wives and begat children. Then we see Seth, who was a righteous man, taking the place of Abel. Seth also married and had children ... and we are told in verse 26 that his descendants began to call on the name of the Lord. So we have two 'groups' of people -- one evil and one good. Then in the chapter 6 passage, the story continues.. and we see that the 'sons of God' - or the group that called on the name of the Lord -- looked at the women, who descended from Cain , saw they were beautiful , lusted and gave in to temptation, and took wives from them. No need to add fallen angels into the story!!! 

 Some may say.. "Okay, but this doesn't affect salvation". Maybe not, but it says something about God that isn't true and that offends me. To believe that God went against His own character to create physical bodies for fallen angels so they could 'enjoy' a physical relationship with human women and beget children who were half evil spirit and half human is an insult to His Holy righteousness and a direct contradiction to His plan of salvation offered to all mankind.

 This week I heard a theologian say that theologians were the most gullible of people - they were easily convinced to believe what they were told. . BUT the common people are not so easily fooled, as we see in the time of Jesus. It was the common people who heard Him gladly! Aren't you glad you are a 'common people' ??
 I am.

 P.S. So then who ARE the Nephilim? Since they cannot be some hybrid new race .. we know that they are 'human beings. 
 The simplest explanation is usually the closest to the truth, 
 Here are my thoughts. First, the word Nephilim is the Hebrew word for ‘giants’. The KJV and NKJV use the English word ‘giant’ instead of the untranslated Hebrew word. That demystifies it immediately, doesn’t it?
 We have eleven Bible references to giants – we all know Goliath and see also Deut. 2:10, 11, or Joshua 12:4.  Always the people were afraid of the ‘giants’. 
 We are not given an explanation of who the Nephilim were - probably because it says they were 'well-known' so no explanation was needed, Like if we wrote something and mentioned the Hell's Angels ... we would not bother to explain who and what they were, taking for granted everyone would know. 
So also the Nephelim -- but we have some hints that I think are clear enough.
 Nephilim simply being the word for ‘giant’ and thus suggesting tyrants or bullies. It isn't much of a stretch to explain them as a 'powerful' gang or organized group of men who were ‘big’!! They were maybe bandits or I think more likely, like the Bolsheviks who took political control and persecuted and oppressed the people of Russia in the early 1900’s - ruling over the people who feared them - recognizing no law but their own.. I lean toward the later because it says they were 'men of old' -- so they had the advantage of age and influence.