Out of commission for a month. Plan to re-start What I Have Escaped in May, Lord willing.
Meanwhile, take a look at past posts.
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If you don't like the articles, you will love the art.
The greatest miracle: to belong to Jesus’ inner circle. Because of it, believers learn the secrets of the Father from the Son.
Thirty-five years ago, I asked the Lord if only He led to heaven. He poured out His life for me and I asked such a question?
No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.
But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.
Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing.
I pored over the Bible, but hadn’t finished it, and I asked from the heart. The world presents an image of the Lord zapping everyone with lightening bolts who upsets Him. If so, everybody is cinders. We fail God every day. But no bolt tore through me. Not even a hint of disapproval.
I left the morning’s prayer with no simple answer, but a few days afterward, while doing something unrelated, God touched me with the awareness that only Jesus leads to heaven. I knew it to my core, and I have not wavered in that belief. Moments like that cause me to feel divinely loved. The Lord bothered to answer a foolish question.
Later, I read (John 14:6) “None come to the Father but by Me.” It only reaffirmed what I knew.
Wisdom isn’t only knowing. We must live moral lives as James 3 instructs us. But if you want wisdom for selfish ends: fame, fortune, or revenge, you move outside the realm of God. He even calls it demonic. So expect demonic results.
Wisdom comes from many sources; the Bible, books, prayer, friends, counselors, the example by those we respect. And failure. Doing it wrong the first time gives you wisdom for the second time (or third or fourth). God wastes nothing.
Dear Lord, thank You because I am your friend. Please let me appreciate every path to wisdom.
Man is like a mere breath. His days are like a passing shadow.
The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.
Life takes place in two parts—the part we experience here and the part we will live in eternity.
Career military serve for twenty to thirty years. But their basic training takes two months. In that brief period, they must master the routine of the military.
I sat, crossed-legged, in the Latrine in the dark, lights out. A small flashlight lit the floor in front of me as I shined my shoes. The First Sergeant opened the door. She pretended she didn’t notice the glow. I don’t know why. She took advantage of most opportunities to shame me.
If I’m Methuselah, and I live nine-hundred-sixty-nine years, my life remains a drop in the ocean of eternity–a passing shadow.
We live in basic training for our authentic life in eternity. We will experience everything more fully than our best days here. God blesses us with sunlight, wonderful food, music, work, and untold blessings we take for granted. Squad leaders don’t reward those under them. They plan to wash out the unworthy. God wants to wash “in” the unworthy.
I suffered from an ovarian tumor for ten years. The doctor who found it died soon after he examined me and I stayed away from doctors. What if the next doctor told me the same thing? If I ignore it, it doesn't exist.
Though my stomach grew and pain increased, I refused to accept that I had a problem. I became the elephant in the room no one mentioned. Finally I lay thrashing on my bed, unable to get up.
Many women with ovarian tumors see it turn to cancer. A slip of the knife on this thing might have ended my life. It weighed in at just under twenty pounds. Thankfully, the Lord provided a careful doctor. And it wasn’t cancerous.
Why did I go through such a terrible experience? Other than my own bad decisions. But I thank God for it. That tumor played a part in my salvation. All of us know we will die—someday—but death no longer loomed in the distance. It stood at my hospital door.
Without God’s basic training, I faced being washed out, looking at heaven from the pit, separated from Him forever.
His ways are not my ways. I can't explain the evil that others suffer. It's not my job to explain it. But I do know that God rules. Why do we spend so much time second-guessing Him?
Dear Lord, please help me remember that my real life is still to come. Let me cling to You and glorify You in trouble.
A couple I knew, now deceased, attended the same church throughout their lives. Each Sunday, after church, they went to dinner at a local restaurant. Another group from the church visited the same restaurant. Several members spoke to the couple but never invited them to sit with the group. They were all of similar vintage, so why didn't they?
so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually parts of one another.
On the contrary, it is much truer that the parts of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; and those parts of the body which we consider less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor, and our less presentable parts become much more presentable, whereas our more presentable parts have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that part which lacked, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the parts may have the same care for one another. And if one part of the body suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if a part is honored, all the parts rejoice with it.
The woman (we’ll call her Hortense) wasn’t into fashion. She wore clean but not dressy clothes. She didn’t cut her hair because when she accepted the Lord; He told her to keep it long, and she didn’t know how to style it. Sometimes she (gasp) wore the same dress twice. Shy, small talk eluded her. Who knows how she might have opened up if given a chance? But the longer they neglected her, the more she couldn’t interact. Her awkwardness ran a wedge between her and the group.
Her husband helped at the church during the week and held office. No one else wanted the job.
Hortense suffered such loneliness it became a physical ache. She cried to her daughter because she longed for a friend—one friend. The friends of her youth had died.
The church performed any act of charity for the couple. Good, caring people went there. Among them, a young woman picked Hortense up each week to take her to Bible study. But others made it obvious they helped only to earn points with God. If the couple offered to give back, the benefactor refused. After all, the couple can't afford it.
It wasn’t the business of the giver to decide the reciever couldn’t afford it. Financially, they had what they needed, and more. And no one, especially the elderly, wants to be “beholden.”
And if one part of the body suffers, all the parts suffer with it;
Who in your church needs your friendship: not just your charity? It doesn't take much to add a chair or two to the Sunday table.
Dear Lord, I'm guilty. Please don't let me become so self concerned I can't see the pain of others.
The water crashes against the rocks. Over the years, the shapes of the rocks change. The boulders in our lives can thrash us to bits, but in the midst of it, the Lord’s hand steadies us. And as time passes, the rough edges of the stones smooth.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you.
A family in my church gave birth to a little girl with Down’s syndrome. She also had cancer. The family spent months in the hospital with her. At the same time, the young dad, in his thirties if that, had two strokes a month apart. His wife thought he couldn't survive. Or, if he did, she envisioned an overwhelming future of care for her daughter and her husband.
The Lord did miracles in these lives. The young man not only survived, but he went back to work months later. The only problem I know of: he had double-vision for a while. I listened, amazed, as he spoke to a young international couple in Spanish—not his native language. It seemed impossible that he even spoke English after his ordeal.
The little girl, free of cancer--though it might return--and a happy little person, high-fives and fist-bumps everyone.
They weathered this period by clinging to the Lord--their life raft. The rough waters continued for months. Surely that time hung over them endlessly. Life happens a minute at a time and those minutes pile up until you can't see over them.
But they end. Life moves on. And we appreciate the good God gives us more because we spent a period without it. When Winter ends, how beautiful are the Spring flowers.
Dear Lord, please let me trust you, knowing the raging waters in my life will smooth out my personality and character to make me more in Your image.
Painting by Charles Vickery (1913-1998), Gallery
Delight yourself in the Lord;
And He will give you the desires of your heart.
Delight: a high degree of gratification or pleasure : Joy: also: extreme satisfaction.
Jesus Gives us the Desires of our Heart:
The Lord gives us the desires of our hearts when we give Him our lives—and that means every part of our lives. He places the desires he wants us to have in our heart. Did you believe that yearning to preach, go to the mission field, take in foster kids, become lead janitor in the church, spread the word of the Lord in your workplace: on and on—started with you? If it’s a strong Godly wish, that won't leave you, the Lord placed it in your heart,
If you have a STRONG ache for a Mercedes-AMG, I’d question it.
Jesus Gives us the Desires of our Heart:
Sometimes we trip over the desire of our hearts. I mentioned the woman in my church in a prior post. Not yet forty and single, who fostered over a dozen children. Foster children come from troubled and abusive pasts and have the scars to prove it. The Lord walked her to the organization that sponsored the children, and she responded to their need. Did she hear rumors of the place or pass the doors by accident? S-u-u-u-r-e she did. Once the children left, they often came back to visit her.
Or maybe you ache to preach or go to the mission field, so you pray, educate yourself, and collect money. Doors swing open—maybe you wait—and the Lord gives you the desire of your heart.
Often, people hate the thought of retirement. They dread the day of the retirement ceremony. What will they do? Is it the end of usefullness? Rocking chairs and boring TV?
I enjoy retirement. I don’t enjoy sitting in a car or plane for hours. It gets on my nerves, so travel has no allure. The Lord has granted me freedom from pain (a little arthritis in cold weather). So I work at the daydream that hovered in my thoughts on every job.
I cut and pasted, created slides for the General Staff College. I didn’t hate it. Thank the Lord I didn’t type—though typing paid my bills on several other occasions. The work wasn’t awful. I think back in nostalgia of the green park and sparkling blue pond across the street from my window. But the daydream persisted.
The Lord taught me and cleaned me off before I began. And He put the brakes on if I tried to speed up too soon.
Don’t ask for patience. You’ll accomplish nothing while you wait. But prepare for patience. Have faith that the Lord will give you your dream. The day will come.
Dear Lord, Thank You.
The Promise, Morgan Weistling, Gallery
Recently, a well-known pastor fell from grace. He didn’t fall; he plummeted. I’m broken-hearted. I respected him and his work. His sin wasn’t a once-in-a lifetime stumble, but a long premeditated deception of Christians.
2 Corinthians 11:13-15
For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds.
1 Corinthians 1:12-13
Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, “I am with Paul,” or “I am with Apollos,” or “I am with Cephas,” or “I am with Christ.” Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
When a Christian stumble, all Christians get blamed.
A member of my family told me not to tell her about Christ. She didn’t want to hear it, even if true. But there was one instance where she dropped that rule—when a pastor made the headlines for sinning. Strangely, she didn’t say a word about the hundreds of thousands of pastors who serve God with all their hearts, souls, and minds each day of their lives.
Unbelievers expect every Christian to answer for all Christian failure. I might as well have committed the sin myself. So I sit there and don’t respond, allowing her to point out the hypocrisy of Christians, first turning one cheek and then the other. I have enough rough edges to offend non-Christians. I resent taking on the sins of all Christians. Though come to think of it, that’s what Jesus did. We are one body, warts and all.
Believers walk away from the faith.
According to an article, the pastor in question bullied the women by telling them, if they told, they must take the blame for people who leave the faith. Foolish. Believers make that decision for themselves. Many people came to the Lord through his ministry. Sadly, his story will turn away weak Christians. He let them down: therefore God let them down.
As Paul stated in 1 Corinthians 1 (above), It’s not about the pastors we follow, it’s about Jesus. We must be careful not to turn our pastors into idols. As Paul said, “it is not surprising if his (Satan’s) servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness.” Trust and respect your pastor unless he proves you wrong. Know the Bible to recognize wrong doctrine and no pastor will teach you error. Then grieve and pray for his return to Christ, but realize we don’t know hearts, and our God still rules.
Dear Lord, please give us strength to forgive those we honored, and only follow You.
Snarling Grey by Bob Semk, Gallery
Based on what we know about her, Martha worked hard, never resting. She modeled the ideal member every church wants. She leads the committee that delivers food to the sick. Every day finds her standing beside a hospital bed, comforting the patient. She directs the Christmas dinner and makes the turkey and dressing. And, in her spare time, she leads the children’s ministry. We see her scurrying around in every church.
. . . she came up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.” But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”
Martha therefore, when she heard that Jesus was coming, went to meet Him, but Mary [e]stayed at the house. Martha then said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.
Therefore, when Mary came where Jesus was, she saw Him, and fell at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.”
Then there was Mary. Was she a daydreamer? Wandering off distracted when she noticed a butterfly or a lovely flower? She meant well.
And now Martha slaved on dinner for her beloved Jesus. And that lazy girl sat at Jesus’ feet, just listening.
Martha had enough. She went to Jesus and complained. And instead of directing Mary to help Martha, He said Mary “chose the good way.” A comedy team from the 60s and 70s (Smothers Brothers) used the punch line: “Mom always liked you best.” Did Martha think “Jesus always liked Mary best?”
I don’t know if Jesus liked Mary best. But He liked her attention to the word so much this sibling rivalry holds an honored place in the Bible.
We can’t do without Martha, but even Martha needs to make time to sit at Jesus’ feet.
A young frazzled mother I met barely has time to shower. But she plays Bible tapes while she works. A bonus: Her children hear the word all day long. The Bible nourishes us. Prayer connects us with God. Work alone merely exhausts us.
Dear Lord, I’ll never be Martha, but lead me to imitate the examples of both these women.
Painting Mary and Martha, David Lindsley Gallery
The rich rules over the poor,
And the borrower becomes the lender’s slave.
For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
In my 40s, though past college years, I lived in a student apartment building. Times had changed. Getting credit wasn’t easy, especially since I never used it. But this nation considers no credit as atrocious as the consequences (bankruptcy, etc.) that credit causes. The government runs on debt and look at the hole that waits to bury it. China may own us. Businesses don’t hire people without credit, for example.
The companies pursue one segment of society—college students. Credit card offers poured in to my mailbox daily. The companies target students while young, and they own them for life. I ignored those enticing plastic rectangles for years, but eventually chose one that I vowed to pay off each month.
After the company sent that card, I paid it off for four or five months. Soon a legitimate need (or so I thought) lured me to borrow beyond my ability to pay in a month. Once again, I promised myself to pay more each month until I caught up. The total grew. I realized the pit I now inhabited when the itemized bill included one hundred dollars on the debt and six hundred dollars on compound interest.
I thought, “these people are thieves.” At that moment, I vowed to use whatever means necessary to divest myself of this card. I talked to lawyers and credit counselors and settled on the only choice open to me. The bill is a memory.
“For all sad words of tongue and pen, the saddest are these. ‘It might have been.’” John Greenleaf Whittier.
Young man or woman, save when it’s difficult. Start in college or on your first job. Use any means to lower your costs, even if unnecessary. Learn about coupons and sales. Buy used. And religiously avoid debt.
Surely a demon whispered, “get just one card.” Sometimes I hear him laughing.
Dear Lord, thank you for your lessons, though I don't like them. I believe I'll never use debt again.
I don’t remember the number, but it boggled my mind. She gave them a home because she saw a need. She took no bows and her kids loved her. I doubt she considered it a calling. But God’s true plans for her surpassed a lukewarm singing career.
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. ...
Lord, help us to embrace your calling for our lives with equal parts fervor, wisdom, and humility.
But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
To use our gifts, we must first discover them. 1 Peter 4:11 points to fervor, wisdom, and humility as indicators.
I watched Priscilla Shirer do a short sermon on revival. It lifted me off the ground. Click on her name to view the video. She spoke the very words of God. She illustrates her love of God with fervor.
Merriam-Webster: fervor: intensity of feeling or expression. If you have no excitement about what you believe God called you to do, God isn’t calling. Do you want to please family? Or earn respect?
Or you ache to serve God—do anything—for Him. Newly saved, I remember the frantic need to get started. But baby Christians don’t have the wisdom, or knowledge. I followed Word Faith at first. I thought I won the spiritual lottery. God “promised” to heal my disease and give me wealth. If I prayed for healing and the patient died (my brother-in-law died after my fervent prayer for his healing), I didn’t have enough faith. I failed.
Later I discovered the Lord gives us our measure of faith. We can’t conjure up a magical supply. God didn’t fill my bank account either. He blessed me with enough. I saw people leave the church because they believed God didn’t keep His promises (which He never made).
Now, thirty-five years later, after reading the Bible, I see the nonsense in that theology. The Bible tells us we will suffer. I waded through other misunderstood beliefs before being corrected.
That’s the short list of stepping out too soon. You won’t last. When the going gets tough, the tough get going—and the weak-willed disappears.
When the Lord gets ready to use us, He walks beside us. We ask, “Lord, what should I do in this case? How do I do it? Should I spend this money?” and we will receive an impression or certainty. We solve problems beyond our normal intellect. Necessary money materializes. Doors open.
He visits in dreams. In rare instances, He speaks to us. Paul heard His voice and went from persecutor to follower in a split second.
Christ gives us our worth. When we understand that, we lean on Jesus. Ministries start based on our abilities, and our pride causes us to fall.
Humiliated, we return to God and ask Him what we did wrong. His answer?
Dear Lord, help me wait on you, meanwhile doing my best every day..
Posted at 11:00 AM in Bible, Calling, Using Your Gifts with Fervor, Wisdom, and Humility | Permalink | Comments (0)
Devotions by Patricia Annalee Kirk
Wednesday, and Friday for a new devotion.
Because I came to the Lord after years of depression and bad decisions, I have a heart for souls.
My new birth in Christ--March 1985.
Your comments and discussion are not only welcome, but coveted
Disagree if you like. Be kind though. Correct or agree in love. Help me grow in the Lord through your feedback. Do you agree with my theology?
Love a good Bible discussion.
Would she follow?
Mary stood trembling at the door, afraid to knock—afraid to leave.
She tapped softly, nearly hoping for no response. But the shocked eyes of Lazarus cut through the dark night, taking her in.
Mary left home in a decision that shattered her family. She accepted her Messiah in a dramatic act of Love. But now she had nowhere to go.