Sunday, May 05, 2013
Six days thou shalt do thy work, and on the seventh day thou shalt rest : that thine ox and thine ass may rest , and the son of thy handmaid, and the stranger, may be refreshed - Exodus 23: 12
Everyone, including the animals, had a time of rest. Later, God commanded that the land be allowed to rest.
And six years thou shalt sow thy land, and shalt gather in the fruits thereof: 11 But the seventh year thou shalt let it rest and lie still; that the poor of thy people may eat : and what they leave the beasts of the field shall eat . In like manner thou shalt deal with thy vineyard, and with thy oliveyard. - v 10 - 11.
When He walked the face of this earth, He often called away His disciples for a time of rest and relaxation.
And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going , and they had no leisure so much as to eat - Mark 6 : 31.
Jesus knew the benefits of rest to the human body. However, He also promised rest for the soul.
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden , and I will give you rest . Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. Matthew 11 : 28 - 30.
Hebrews 4 : 3 states, For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said , As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.
If you find yourself being tired and irritable all the time, examine your lifestyle. Are you taking on too much? Are you reluctant to ask those around you for help? Do you find it difficult to say 'no' sometimes? Could you find an easier or simpler way of doing things? Are you a perfectionist?
Some or all of the above can contribute to a perpetual state of physical tiredness if we are not careful. Mental or emotional tiredness is another matter. Sometimes we need a retreat from people and everyday situations. We need to get away from the crowds, as Jesus urged His disciples to do, so we can rest and refresh our souls.
As you meditate on the above scriptures, ask the Lord to show you how to deal with those areas of your life that are causing you tiredness, then do what He tells you to do.
Sunday, April 28, 2013
This week I had the good fortune to see the movie, The Life Of Pi. I had read the book a few months earlier and therefore felt okay with seeing the movie. With excellent cinematography, acting and animation, the movie didn't disappoint, however, it couldn't get into the character's viewpoint the way the book does. But what struck me more when I saw the movie was the ending where Pi is relating his story to the narrator. He talks about the time he spent shipwrecked on a lifeboat with a 450-pound Bengal tiger, named Richard Parker.
After taking care of the tiger for 227 days while at sea - the main reason being that keeping the tiger alive meant keeping himself alive - the tiger departs with not as much as a backward glance when they finally make it to land. Pi becomes teary as he tells this to the narrator. He says, "After all we'd been through, I never expected him to leave me like that."
I couldn't help contrasting this story with the book of Ruth in the Bible. Ruth, a young Moabitess, accompanies Naomi her mother-in-law to Bethlehem after Ruth's husband dies. This despite the fact that Naomi begs Ruth and her other daughter-in-law, Orpah, to return to their families and try to make a life for themselves. Orpah kisses her mother-in-law and takes her advice, but Ruth decides to stick with Naomi.
Listen to what she says: "Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest , I will go ; and where thou lodgest , I will lodge : thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God:" (Ruth 1 : 16)
Ruth is no Richard Parker. She is in it for the long haul. And as we see from the book, God rewards her for her faithfulness. Are you a Ruth, or a Richard Parker? Do you abandon those who have helped you through the storms when the weather improves? Do you turn your back on them without a backward glance?
Don't be that way. Be faithful. Be consistent. Be reliable. The Bible says, "Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful" (1 Corinthians 4 : 2). Faithfulness should extend beyond friendship or marriage; it should extend to God. Are you faithful to God? Do you want to hear the words, "Well done thou good and faithful servant"( Matthew 25 : 21) when you stand before God, or do you want to hear, "Thou wicked and slothful servant"( v 26) . Begin by being faithful now in little things, in the way you treat others, and God will reward you for your faithfulness.
Pick up a copy of my book Women For All Seasons in time for Mother's Day and learn more about Ruth.
Saturday, April 20, 2013
From the very beginning of the world there was evil.
And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. Genesis 6 : 5 - 6.
That, to me, is one of the saddest verses in the Bible. To think that God, after making man in His own image and likeness should repent that He had made man. We had become so evil that even our Maker was grieved at our depravity. Can you imagine what He must be saying today?
In every part of the world men take the time to carefully plot and carry out evil deeds. Here in the US it seems that evil is visiting us more and more frequently. Psychologists and researchers have found that the brain of psychopaths is different from the rest of the population. That there is a deformity in a part of the brain called the amygdala, which is the seat of emotion. Psychopaths lack emotion. Their actions are cold and calculated and they show little or no remorse for the things they do.
So where does that leave us? Should we just sit back and say oh, well, these people can't help their actions? Or, is the evil person doomed to stay that way? Psalm 34 : 14 says, "Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it." If God's word commands us to depart from evil, then it can be done. People who have committed themselves to carrying out evil deeds can have their lives turned around by the grace of God.
Even researchers agree that children born with a damaged amygdala do not have to grow up to become psychopaths. Criminologist Nathalie Fontaine of Indiana University states, "We can still help them. We can implement intervention to support and help children and their families, and we should." Another psychologist said, "Biology is not destiny." She said that children do not have to have brain surgery, they can be helped through "social" intervention.
The church is a part of society, isn't it? We can reach out to our youth who may be at risk and pray for them; we can speak to parents and teachers and use the power of the Holy Spirit to help these families.
Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted . Galatians 6 : 1.
Ye which are spiritual, that means us, Christians. We are to do our best to restore or help to bring about change in those people. Can we? Will we?
Saturday, April 13, 2013
This week I came across a cute little poem about a person who kept falling into a hole in the sidewalk. The first two times she fell in, she believed she was not to blame. It took her a long time to get out, but the third time she fell in, she realized it was her fault. So when she fell in a fourth time, she got out immediately. After that she walked down a different street.
As I pondered this little poem, I thought, how many times have I fallen into a hole in the sidewalk before I realized I was to blame; that I needed to take a different route. Too many times as Christians we keep repeating the same mistakes over and over, hurting ourselves and blaming others.
I don't know what your hole may be. It could be addictions, relationship problems, career failures, financial difficulties, whatever it might be, it's time you took a different route. God may be trying to show you that you are going down the wrong path and the only way to stop falling into that hole is to follow the path He has for your life.
Proverbs 3 : 5 - 6 says, "Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."
If your life seems to lack direction, or you are in a situation that you don't seem able to get out of, pray this prayer: Heavenly Father, I acknowledge that I need your help. I can't pull myself out of this hole by myself. Father God, I give You my weaknesses and my failures and surrender all to your will. From this day on, I will walk in your way and follow your direction for my life, in Jesus' Name. Amen.
Sunday, April 07, 2013
But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run , and not be weary ; and they shall walk , and not faint - Isaiah 40 : 31.
Do you find yourself impatient at times for God to answer your prayers? How anxious will you get when your loved one is ill and you send for someone you know can help, and that person doesn't show up? Worse yet, your loved one dies and the person you sent for still hasn't come. But then you tell yourself it doesn't matter now anyway. He's already dead. Such was the position of Mary and Martha when their brother Lazarus died. Jesus was their good friend. He often stayed at their house whenever He passed through Bethany. He partook of their hospitality, and He seemed to love them. He'd healed many others, surely He could heal their brother. But it wasn't until Lazarus had been dead four days that Jesus showed up.
Can you relate? Your situation may not be as bad as having a loved one die, but you may be praying and expecting God to answer your prayers and He doesn't seem to be listening. Has He forgotten you? No. In the same way He didn't forget His friends in Bethany, He has not forgotten you. He knows what He is doing.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. - Isaiah 55: 8 - 9.
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:- Ecclesiastes 3 : 1
But when the fulness of the time was come , God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law - Galatians 4 : 4
God does things according to His timing, not ours, and His timing is always best. Just wait on Him.
Sunday, March 31, 2013
The 23rd Psalm is one of the best known and most beloved in the Bible. The psalmist David was a shepherd before he became king and it was from his experiences in that humble position, he was able to pen this psalm. Even though most of you already know it by heart, I think it fitting to reproduce the words here:
The LORD is my shepherd ; I shall not want .
he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul:
he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies :
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever .
This Psalm speaks of all the things the shepherd does for his sheep. He provides, comforts, cares for and protects the sheep. It is the same with Jesus. He is our provider, our caregiver, our comforter and our protector. He is always by our side. Just as a shepherd never leaves His sheep, Jesus never leaves us. He says, "I am with you alway , even unto the end of the world" (Matthew 28 : 20).
Even though it is not mentioned here, Jesus referred to Himself many times as the Good Shepherd. In John 10: 11, he says, "I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep." On Good Friday we observed Jesus' sacrificial death on the cross. He willingly gave his life for us, His sheep. And on Easter Sunday we will celebrate His glorious resurrection and ascension into heaven.
As Christians we have a lot to rejoice over. He is risen! And when He returns for His sheep, He will take us to dwell in the house of the LORD for ever . Amen!
Sunday, March 24, 2013
The church I attended as a child had a Palm Sunday tradition where the congregation would leave the building just before the sermon and walk a short distance into the village waving palm branches. It was something I looked forward to. Why? I'm not sure. I knew the significance of what we were doing. My mother had read it to me, and I'd heard it in church. We were reenacting what took place when Our Lord rode into Jerusalem on a donkey on that first Palm Sunday, and I guessed I liked making believe that I was a part of that parade.
But even as a child, I knew that something awful happened after Palm Sunday. The same people who waved palm branches at Jesus Christ and spread their clothes for Him to ride on were the same people who cried out, "Crucify him! Crucify him!" days later. How could that be? Sadly, we have only to look at our own fickle selves. Today we sing and dance and clap our hands in fervent worship and praise, but tomorrow when temptation and hardship and pain come we quickly forget what He did for us
Oh, we do not cry out "Crucify Him!" as the Jews did, but every time we give in to sin and temptation, murmuring and complaining we crucify Him, because it was our sin that put Him on the cross.
But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed . All we like sheep have gone astray ; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all" (Isaiah 53 : 5 - 6).
Today, as we celebrate Palm Sunday, let us make it last. Let us continue to worship and praise Him even when Holy Week is over. Let us praise Him when the bills are not paid, or our children are acting crazy or a layoff appears imminent. Let us say like Job did, "Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him" (13 : 15).