Monthly Archives: April 2016

Job’s visit with friends! God’s court!

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Graphics by :  http://herchristianhome.com/

According to God’s own words, Job was a man who was blameless, righteous man, feared God and turned away from evil. God must have been pleased with Job because one day Satan visits heaven and has a conversation with God.  God asks Satan, “where have you been?” Satan tells God, “Oh roaming around” ( my interpretation). God asks have you seen my servant Job lately?  He is a blameless and upright man. Satan answers, I guess so you have a hedge of protection around him.  This is not good for Job!!  

Satan is allowed to take everything from Job except his life…and his wife.

“In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong.” Job 1:22.(ESV)   Instead he “arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshipped.” Job 1:20.(ESV)

Satan goes back to visit a second time and God allows him to take Job’s health but not his life.

Again Job does not curse God although his wife does suggest that he should. Job’s reply, “Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this Job did not sin with his lips.”Job 2:9 (ESV)

Now the question from the book of Job.  Can God be trusted?  Is He worthy of our trust even if we are not blessed by His hand?  Is there any spiritual justification of the goodness of God in the midst of suffering that He has allowed in our lives?

The rest of the story is the visitation of three friends and their explanation of God’s reasons for Job’s suffering.  First, we have Eliphaz who declares that Job is being punished for some evil he took part in.  So, if you will confess Job, it will be over and all will be well. To which Job says, “I am innocent.” Bildad is next. His comforting words are, you must deserve this.  God is always right.  “If you will seek God and plead with the Almighty for mercy, if you are pure and upright, surely then he will rouse himself for you.” (Job 7:5-7 ESV)  Job’s reply to Bildad is there is no mediator.  I cannot contend with the Almighty.   “There is no arbiter (mediator) between us. (Job 9:33 ESV)  Job then pleads for answers.  Why God did you bring me forth from my mother’s womb?  

Next there is Zophar.  Zophar’s consoling words, “ your holier than thou attitude” is what got you into this mess. “For you say, ‘My doctrine is pure, and I am clean in God’s eyes.’” (Job 11:4 ESV).  Job again tells his friends, “Behold, I have prepared my case; I know that I shall be in the right.” (Job 13:18 ESV)   After all the discussion of his plight, Job tells his friends, “miserable comforters are you all.” (Job 16:2 ESV) Job’s three friends cease to answer Job because he is righteous in his own eyes. (Job 32:1 ESV)

But there is a fourth friend in the story. One who is not condemned by God for his message to Job. Elihu, a younger man who has been listening.  He has waited out of respect for his elders for his time to speak. Elihu is angry at Job because “he justified himself rather than God.” (Job 32:2 ESV) He is angry also at Job’s friends because they did not have an answer. Elihu respectfully addresses the older men.  He says, “ I am full of words; the spirit within me constrains me.  Behold my belly is like wine that has no vent.” (Job 32:18-19 ESV)  In other words, I am about to burst if I can’t speak what the spirit has shown me. Elihu speaks for 5 chapters. He is courteous and sensitive to Job’s predicament but Elihu speaks from revelation and not experience.  In Elihu, we find the deeper truths of the story.

  1. We do not have all the answers because WE ARE NOT GOD!   God is greater than man.  We can’t reason like God.  In essence, we think God ought to think and act as we do.  We make ourselves to be “like God” when we believe our thoughts are as good as His.  This is the very thing that tripped Satan up and got him kicked out of heaven.  
  2. We think God should give us an answer to all of our questions.  The silence of God is unnerving.  Do we not always “deserve” to know why things happen to cause suffering?
  3. All suffering is for our discipline.  Not PUNISHMENT but training in righteousness.

We are never closer to God than when we have to depend upon him in our suffering.

Submission is  a great lesson we learn from suffering. Learning to submit to God’s hand working ALL things to bring us to the image of Himself.   Compassion and mercy for others is a product of suffering. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)  Humility is a testimony of the work that God does in our lives.

Suffering is a display to the world that God’s strength is magnified in our weakness.  Finally, suffering prepares us for heaven by loosening the bonds of our temporal world.  Charles Spurgeon said, “Through our trials God is slowly weaning us from this earth for the world beyond.”

 Phil 3:10 says it this way. “ that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.”

Elihu tells of the greatness of God. He declares His majestic ways.   Elihu says God does speak to man in his suffering.  He speaks through revelation, through nature his voice roars. God speaks the loudest in our pain.   It is at the end of the story that God speaks to Job and his friends.  Job and his friends are humbled by the message of God.  It is then that they begin to see their lives from the eternal perspective given by a holy God.  A God who is before all things, created all things and holds all things by His power. 

 (Romans 8:28-29)  “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son.”  We may never understand the purpose of suffering here but we can hold on to the promises of God.  His ways are higher than ours and we will trust Him.
Being refined,
Freda

 

Matthew 10:26 Fear Not the Maze

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How are you at puzzles, optical illusions, hidden pictures, mazes?  I HATE THEM!  If you were to put me in one of those hedge mazes and leave me there alone, I would have a melt down then come up fighting mad, and IF I ever found my way out (which is highly unlikely) your life would be in danger!!!!  I don’t scuba dive in caves, I don’t explore caves, I don’t go into new places without a map with LANDMARKS.  Yep, directionally challenged.  I want a GUIDE!  I want a clear field of vision.  I want daylight.

Matthew 10:26  “Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid that shall not be shown.”  (KJV)

Life is full of experiences we do not understand.  Much is hidden from our view.  Much of what we see, hear, and experience is not real, true, or honest.  We live on planet Earth and this is satan’s domain (John 12:31).  He is the “father of lies” — this includes deceit, conceit, lies, false accusations, counterfeits, slander, libel, pointing fingers, cover-ups, put-downs, illusions, ponzi schemes, embezzlement, shaming and the list goes on. (John 8:44, II Corinthians 11:14)

God promises truth will triumph. (Proverbs 12:19)  In the preceding verses, Matthew, the former tax collector (known to be a thief), writes of all the disciples will face (they will be hated, imprisoned, condemned, executed) as Jesus sends them out to begin ministry.  Then, he writes Jesus’ words, “fear not,” because all that is covered will be revealed.  All that is hidden from view will be seen, and one day sooner or later, all will be put right!

This is a comfort.  Just remember, our stuff will be revealed as well!   One thought brings great satisfaction, and the other, ummmm, not so much.  This is why forgiveness is vital.  God the Father in Heaven sees it ALL!  Holds all accountable.  Thank you Jesus for your grace.

Jesus told His followers to go out and preach in His name and to be wise as serpents (the enemy is known as a serpent) and as harmless a dove.  We are to live this life with courage and kindness.

Did you see anything in the face?  (Matthew 13:15)  Open your eyes to truth.

Greater Is He by Blanca

Yvonne

Timothy’s Godly Heritage

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We read in the Bible of Paul’s beloved son in the Lord, Timothy. He was under the care and protection of Paul, walking alongside him, being taught so many important things for his future ministry to the Lord. It was like having the job of an apprentice with on the job training, watching and learning all that he could. Paul became his spiritual father, his mentor, one that spoke into his life such vital truths, helping him mature into the vessel of honor that the Lord could effectively use in the lives of so many people.

But, who had any influence in his life before Paul?  Paul gives us a clear view of who this was in his writings.

“When I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which first dwelt in your grandmother, Lois, and your mother, Eunice; and I am persuaded that is in thee, also.” (2 Timothy 1:5)

Paul, then begins to give us a look at what genuine faith is all about. This real faith dwelt in Lois, his grandmother (which is to inhabit and to make one’s home in this place).  The above word says that she was the first to believe on Jesus.

“For with the heart man/woman believes (in Jesus) unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Romans 10:10)

But, it didn’t stop there, Lois was faithful to pass down her faith to her daughter, Eunice. She genuinely received Jesus and in like manner faithfully passed it down to her son, Timothy.

When you and I believe in Jesus Christ as our own personal Lord and experience firsthand His mercy, grace, and forgiveness, we cannot be silent. We must let others know; we must pass it on to those around us, especially our own loved ones. Paul gives us another view of Timothy’s steadfast upbringing by his grandmother and mother.

“But, continue thou in the things which you have learned and have been assured of, knowing of whom you have learned them; And that from a child you have known the holy scriptures, which are able to make you wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”  (2 Tim.3:14-15)

Lois and Eunice led Timothy to faith in Jesus Christ by living it before him. Their walk before the Lord was sincere, faithful, and genuine. By loving and praying for him and teaching God’s precious Word to him, he came to saving faith.

Slowly, God shaped Timothy through his Godly family’s influence to become the young man that faithfully followed the Lord’s plan for his life. Many, many people were eternally changed because of Jesus living greatly in this young man.

Into whose life are you and I having an impact for eternity?

Our children – our grandchildren – our extended families – our coworkers – our neighbors – our enemies – the lonely and forsaken???

(Mel McDaniel – Mama’s Bible)

May He find us faithful,

Tricia

Matthew 6:34 Fear Not Tomorrow

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Matthew 6:34  “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”  (KJV)

Worry, anxiety, thoughts racing, turmoil, insomnia, doubt, uncertainty ………………all words synonymous with FEAR!  As we delve into the New Testament and all that Jesus and the early church writers teach about this overwhelming problem in the Christian life, I wonder if we’ll glean any new information?  I believe the answer is yes; or, our Father would not have had it written down.  (Whether there are 365, 88 or 190 scriptures on “fear not” we can be thankful the Lord led us to this study instead of the study of money which has 2300 scriptures to ponder!)

In the musical Annie, the song “Tomorrow” is a favorite.  It is optimistic and hopeful.  This scripture tells the truth of our daily lives.  We WORRY about tomorrow.  WE fear tomorrow.  Jesus however, wants us to be like a little orphaned girl with curly red locks singing her way through a life less than ideal.  Do you realize our tomorrows are endless?  We are created for eternity.  Our yesterdays–gone.  Our tomorrows–endless (I know some would say not promised, but this is not what scripture teaches).  Today is the here and now.  We live like Stretch Armstrong being pulled in two different direction to the point of disfigurement only to rebound to the same state.  We rise in the morning with a to-do list we cannot complete and go to bed rehearsing all we will need to accomplish tomorrow.  This is in direct opposition to what Jesus told the disciples.  In the gospels, we never see Jesus in a hurry, stressed, worried, having trouble sleeping, frustrated (except with the religious leaders) or bouncing like a ball in a pinball machine knowing He has only three years to get His work done!  Where does this peace, tranquility, leisurely lifestyle originate?  It originates in one relationship–time spent with His Father.  He follows His guidance, speaks His words, goes where He is sent, and does only what He sees the Father doing.  

Dorothy Thompson writes, “Only when we are no longer afraid do we begin to live.”

Annie lived above her circumstances by living in the moment and choosing not to worry about tomorrow!  She embraced her tomorrow knowing that today has enough trouble for itself.  Her life was a blessing to all–even Ms. Hannigan.

I leave you with this thought:  Jesus never had fear, worry, anxiety, stress, or turmoil.  He only felt oppression as He faced taking on my sin knowing it would separate Him from His Father.  Are you suffering from mental anguish?  Draw near to the Lord.  He promises if you do, your worries will disappear.  Maybe, just maybe, if I focused on the Father and being close to Him, I would reflect the life of Christ a whole lot better.

“Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love ya tomorrow; you’re only a day away!”  In Christ, our tomorrows are a sure thing!  Living with Jesus, mansions, streets of gold, feasting, peace, family, eternal sunny skies, the list of good is endless.

Father, for the promise of a bright, “the sun will come out,”  tomorrow and for the assurance of your Presence with us today we thank you in the name of Jesus.

Overcomer by Mandisa

Yvonne

Are you chasing donkeys? God will lead you to himself and his plan for your life.

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Saul’s story is in I Samuel Chapters 9-31

Saul’s story begins with three lost donkeys.  His family was most likely a wealthy family but not a royal one. They probably never thought their family would have a king.  They were from the tribe of Benjamin. They were least of all the tribes and Saul’s clan was the humblest (least prominent of clan) according to Saul (I Samuel  9:21 Saul’s father Kish, tells him to take a servant and go find the the donkeys that were missing. Donkeys were prized possession owned by the wealthy. The donkey was a symbol of industry, wealth and peace.   Saul and the servant were gone three days without finding them.  Saul tells the servant that they needed to return to his father because he would be worried about them more than being concerned about the donkeys.  The servant tells him there is a “seer” that might be able tell them where to find the animals.  He had a silver coin to pay the “seer” whose name was Samuel.  They go to find Samuel.  While on the way, they run into Samuel.

Samuel recognizes that this was the man that the LORD had chosen to anoint as king. The people wanted a king to replace the judges. When Samuel separates out the tribes and the clan, Saul’s family is chosen and they find Saul hiding behind the baggage!!! Hiding when God wants to announce him as their king.

Saul is accepted by the Israelites because he looked the part.  He was taller than most. He was handsome.  Was he humble or was he cowardly?  When all the people cheered and cried out, “Long live the King” they were really saying we do not want God to be King of Israel.  

Saul had everything going for him. He was strong, given a new heart which the bible indicates by saying he was a changed man.  He had spiritual power given to him.  He had loyal friends who went home with him after the ceremony. He also had friends that called him worthless which he showed grace and forgiveness to later. One of the few things Saul did that showed his newly changed heart.  Remember the parable of the sower?  The was a seed planted but when troubles came it was chocked out.  Then he had Samuel’s guidance and prayers.  

For two years he was a great king!!! Two years… He reigned forty or forty-two years depending on which theologian you read.  2 out of 42 years!!! Not good!

Starting well is great! But how you finish tells more about character and integrity.  It will be how you end that means more.  Remember Lifelong Daily Process!  Everyday is the day we need to seek him.  

Are you hiding in the baggage?  When opportunities to serve arise, are you slinking down and trying to get out of them?   Is it fear that keeps you hiding?  (See Von’s post on fear! It can change your life)  Stop running chicken little! Cast out the fear. Is it insecurity?  Is there any unforgiveness in your life? Is there unconfessed sin?  Or does complacency hold you back?  Maybe is it plain self absorption? Ouch!  Are my toes turning blue?  

Moses thought he was unqualified! David was too young to fight the giant! Adam was to afraid to tell his wife “No”.  

We can all find reasons to hide from what God calls us to do.  Now is not the time for hiding!  People need the LORD.  Our country is in dire need of people to step up and be counted for the LORD.  It will cost you something.  BUT with GOD, He can accomplish whatever he asks.

Don’t be a Saul!  Don’t run and hide. Don’t make curses or oaths. You may find they  will come back on you. Don’t leave the LORD out of decisions.  If you know it is something God has forbidden then don’t even think about getting ahead of God’s plan.   Don’t let jealousy take you over.  Finally, don’t let anger rule your life. Don’t let unforgiveness seal you in such a way that you are rendered useless.

Saul had many lessons for me this week.  Mostly the DON’Ts.  Let me end with some DO’s.

Do seek the LORD while he may be found!

Do put others first. As Jonathan always did.

Do recognize that obedience is better than sacrifice.

Rest in Jesus not in what you can gain in this world.  “Seek ye first the kingdom of God”

Jesus I am Resting, Resting by Tricia Brock w/Lyrics

Freda

Fear Not Tough Stuff of Life (#60/61)

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Zechariah 8:13  “And it shall come to pass, that as ye were a curse among the heathen, O house of Judah, and house of Israel; so will I save you, and ye shall be a blessing:  fear not, but let your hands be strong.”

Zechariah 8:15  “So again have I thought in these days to do well unto Jerusalem and to the house of Judah:  fear ye not.”  (KJV)

Do you ever wonder why Christians have such a hard time in this world?  Have we believed the lie that “if I trust Christ as Savior my life will be easy?”  This is not what we find in Scripture!  All of the disciples and the apostle Paul died a martyr’s death except for John who was boiled in oil and then exiled on an island alone as an old man.   Today, in the twentieth century, more people have died for their faith than the previous 2000 years combined.  We are a curse among the heathen (unbelievers).  Persecution.  But why?  And if this is the case then pray tell why should I not be afraid?  These are reasonable questions.  This is a cost we need to count.  As believers, “repenters” as my Romanian friends say, are we willing to die for the cause of Christ?  If not, His Word says we are not worthy of the kingdom.  (Luke 9:62)

I think the thing we fail to account for is the enemy.  Satan is not some cartoon character that teases and tempts with mischief.  He is a deceiver.  His native language is lies.  He divides.  He brings discord.  He causes dissension.  He loves to hear us moan, groan, gripe, and complain.  He comes seeking to steal, kill, and destroy.  He is not nice!  He does not play fair.  He loves the fact many believe he is harmless.  He blinds.  He counterfeits.  Think about this; when he rebelled in heaven, he fooled a whopping one-third of the angels into following him!  Can you even fathom this fact?  Angels get to make choices too, and they decided heaven was not enough??????  Scripture has much to say about our enemy.  He has deceived us into thinking we don’t need to know his tactics!  No general would lead his army into battle without first knowing the enemy and making that knowledge available to his troops.  This is how you win the war.  Our Commander in Chief has given us all we need to know about our enemy!  Given us a NAME with authority and instructed us to USE it.  That name is JESUS!!!

Here is our GREAT NEWS!  We may be a curse now, but God will save us and make us a blessing!

As I write this, Sherri Burgess, wife of Rick Burgess of Rick and Bubba fame, has written and released a book born out of their family’s deep sorrow.  Eight years ago the enemy came and took what was not his to take – the two year old son of Rick and Sherri Burgess.  Rick and Bubba are often maligned for their faith which is “in your face” Peter and Paul kind of faith.  They are cursed by the enemy.  But God has taken their tragedy, a radio show, and a book to speak to thousands experiencing a similar loss so they too may find comfort, healing, and may even come to know who God really is: God Is Good even in the midst of great struggle.  Sherri says “we were so happy” before her precious Bronner died (and Sherri never says “died,” because he just changed locations – he is with Jesus).  Sherri now says, “if even one person finds comfort and faith in Christ, Bronner’s death will not have been for naught” and this will give her great comfort.  God is blessing her faithfulness.  He is in these days doing well unto her house.   Their story illustrates we have no reason to fear.  God wins every time.  We may not be able to see it but God is in perfect control, even of the enemy.  Do I understand all the implications of this?  Heavens NO, but I do believe God can work all things together for GOOD, even the most horrendous events (just read the story of Job).  Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”  Who do you know whose life exemplifies this?  They live in faith and everyone marvels at the strength, the courage, the grace, the compassion, the love, and the joy seen in their lives.  They are a visible and vocal testimony to the faithfulness of our Great God.  

What has the enemy stolen from you and your family?  Do you feel persecuted because of your faith?  The word says in the last days, hostility will increase toward believers.  (II Timothy 3; Matthew 24:9)  Can we hang on to this promise: He will save us, He will do well to us, and we will be a blessing?  The Old Testament was written for the Jewish nation and Christ made us  (the church) His bride.  The Jewish nation becomes our family and therefore, this is our assurance too!  Please do not miss this fact.

Another fear not to comfort our souls when dark days come and they surely will.  He is faithful!  This I know.   We shall be a blessing!

Treading is easier when you know the Rescuer is on the way,

Yvonne

Days of Elijah

Articles for your personal review:

The Greatest Story Never Told: Modern Christian Martyrdom, by Susan Brinkmann, 2008, The Catholic Standard and Times.

Counting the Cost Accurately, by Sarah Zylstra, 2013, Christianity Today.

For those who may not know The Burgess’ family story, it is easy to find.  Google Bronner Burgess funeral on youtube, go to Amazon and look up Bronner: A Journey to Understand, or go to rickandbubba.com and read Sherri’s blog.  The power and grace of God are on display for all who will see.   You may not agree with or understand all that is written but you will admire one mother’s courage and vulnerability as she shares her very personal journey through the valley of the shadow of death in life’s most difficult loss.   I bet you know a Rick and Sherri in your community.

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Dedicated to Malley Jane and her family.  She and her family are still winning hearts and inspiring lives in our community.

Add your dedications of those families you know who have inspired you to live in faith in God through their loss.  We would love to hear their special story!

A Godly Heritage

For the past several months I have been looking at the “Godly Heritage” that has been passed down to our family. Heritage is something you can inherit from another; it can be land, property, money, stocks, bonds, etc. usually passed down through one’s ancestors as an inheritance or birthright. But, there is also a spiritual inheritance that passes down through your bloodline into several generations.

“You have given me the heritage of those who fear Your Name.” (Psalm 61:5)

Some of my earliest memories are of my Grandpa Jim Thomas. He was a short, stout Irishman with bushy eyebrows that grew all the way across his forehead. Today, that is referred to as a unibrow. His Grandfather had traveled from Ireland to America during the crisis of the potato famine that hit that country. Many, many people died during it; but, the Lord provided a way for him to come to the new land and for our family to grow and multiply here in Alabama..

Farming was also his occupation; our family would go up to his house and help out in the fields when they needed plowing, planting, hoeing, or picking. As I watched my Grandpa and how hard he worked, I realized Daddy had gotten his work ethic from him. Yes, he planted cotton also. Many farmers did in that day. It was one of the main crops planted down south.

Grandpa always sat on the front pew on the right side of the church. I can still hear his deep bass voice as he lifted it in praise to his Lord. He loved the Lord and God’s Holy Word and was not ashamed of Him at all. I loved to hear him say the prayer in church and at dinnertime; you could just feel God all over the place. He was loved and respected by the people who knew him. And, yes, he was a man of integrity!!!

“The righteous who walk in his integrity; blessed are his children after him.” (Proverbs 20:7)

As a little girl, I would watch him with such pride in my heart that he was my Grandpa. A desire to love God in that way was placed deep in me by the Lord.

There have been so many role models from my family that chose Jesus Christ as their Saviour and Lord. I am so grateful they took seriously their walk with the Lord.  They have faithfully led by example in challenging us to follow after Jesus as they did. From a young child I have felt the responsibility to walk faithfully before the Lord and my family and anyone else who is watching. I genuinely pray that my life is a stepping stone in helping others find Christ.

“The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places, yes, I have a goodly heritage.” (Psalm 16:6)

I want to share with you a beautiful song called Like Father, Like Son.” This song is by Jeff Easter and his Dad, James Easter. It was filmed in a church that his Father and Grandfather started in 1963. I have listened to it several times and am always touched as I watch “Their Godly Heritage“ in action.

May God richly bless you with a “Godly Heritage” for you and your family.

Love forever,

Tricia Cook