Got My Back?

walking-with-friends-2

GOT MY BACK?

Galatians 6:1-2

When I was a child, we used to play a game called, “Got Your Back.”  Two players, one wearing a blindfold, would stand back to back. The other team would try to attack the blindfolded player with a squirt gun. The person with the open eyes was to watch out for the enemy and whirl the blindfolded person around, keeping them out of the line of fire.

The same “got your back” principle should also apply in spiritual things. Thanks to the devil and one of his favorite tools, the blindfold; it can be easy to be caught “blind-sided” by sin.

We are to be concerned for each other in our daily walk. James 5:16 says to confess our sins to each other and pray one for another. Praying for each other is an important part of fellowship ministry.

The Bible doesn’t say that we are to ignore sin. It says we are to deal with our OWN sin first (Matthew 7:4-5).  There is no scripture found that tells us to ignore sin, in our own lives or the life of others.

In Matthew 18:15-17 Jesus personally gives instructions on how to approach a believer who is in sin. 1 Corinthians 5:9-13 goes so far as to say we should “judge” each other within the church.

Galatians 6: 1-2 instructs me to be alert and reach out when I see a brother/sister stumbling and restore them lovingly. Galatians even warns that I should use caution because I could fall prey to the very same sin I see somebody else doing.

I Corinthians 10:13 says that we are ALL tempted, temptation is common. It is important to hold behavior up to the light of the Word; letting the Spirit bring conviction. Whether in my own life or the life of others, it is God’s Word that “judges”, not my personal “take” on sin.

Maybe, we should re-think our approach?  Stop worrying about the perception of “judging” and start actively helping to keep each other away from the enemy. We can watch each other’s back through prayer, loving counsel and the revealing light of God’s Word.

Perhaps all the hoopla over “not judging” has been satan’s way of numbing us to the awareness of our responsibility to each other? I hope you “Got My Back.”

Galatians 6:1-2 Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin; you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

Prayer: Father, God, help me to always be aware of satan’s tricks. Help me to first examine my own life and attitudes and then keep a discerning eye open for satan’s attempts to trap my friends and loved ones. Give me wisdom and make me sensitive to the Holy Spirit so that I know how to speak to those who are being deceived without making offense or hurt. Remind me to cover my friends in prayer, knowing that they face the same temptations that I do. Amen.

Scriptural References:

James 5:16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

Matthew 7:4-5 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

Matthew 18:15-17 “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over.  But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector. 

Corinthians 5:9-13 I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world.  But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.  What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked man from among you.”[

I Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

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Sometimes, I Just Feel—Beat

feel-beat

Sometimes, I Just Feel—Beat

II Corinthians 4:16-18

Baking a cake is brutal.  The first thing you do is to take a wire whisk and beat the sugar into the eggs.  From the inexperienced view point, that seems a bit overdone. If the sugar is not beaten into the eggs till the grainy feel is gone and the batter is smooth and light, the texture of the cake can be coarse. The experienced baker knows that every step is a necessary part of the process no matter how tedious it seems.  

Of course, that is just an analogy, but, sometimes, we look at the circumstances of our own life, or the life of somebody we love and we think that they (or we) are being brutalized. Feeling battered and bruised, we cry out to God, “Whyyyyyy?” In the Old Testament, we see the patriarchs rising above hardship, tragedy and, sometimes, even their own shortcomings, to emerge as mighty people of God.   

In the book of Job, we see a righteous man taken from prosperity to the depths of suffering and back to prosperity; illustrating God’s sovereignty through circumstance. The New Testament saints were beaten, persecuted and lived in poverty so that the knowledge of Christ could be spread.  

When we study the scriptures; there are far more references to overcoming, conquering, standing strong, working hard and being responsible than there are about comfort and abundance. Sadly, today’s Christian is often more focused on the sweet rewards of serving God than the hard truth about everyday life.

Satan’s goal is to separate me from my Lord. Whether the devil chooses the tools of temptation, sickness, circumstances or bitterness; his ultimate goal is to lessen my relationship with Jesus.  

Make note that satan’s success relies on my participation in his plans! When life is difficult; I choose whether I turn to my Lord or turn away. Satan can try to influence me but he can not control me. Serving God with all of my heart is a moment by moment decision.  

We serve God faithfully, even through hard times, because we know satan’s schemes and we choose to walk strong in Jesus. The events in our lives that hurt can come from various directions. Sometimes, I do things that cause my own pain, other times; somebody hurts me.

Now and then, circumstances just work against me and cause me discomfort. Walking strong means forgiving those who have hurt us (II Corinthians 2:9-11) and growing through those things that satan has meant to defeat us.

When bad things happen, God has a plan to turn even the worst circumstances to our favor. (Genesis 50: 18-20) God’s plan is to use everything that happens in our life to work to our good.  Romans 8:28 doesn’t say everything that happens in our life will feel good at the moment. But, rather that all things work FOR our good.  

More importantly, life isn’t just about “here, now.” Life is a preparation for eternity, where we will rule and reign with Christ— so, stand strong even when you feel like you have been beaten. Always remember, God, like the master baker, knows what it takes to make His creation—-beautiful.

II Corinthians 4:16-18 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Prayer: Lord Jesus help me to keep my eyes on the goal of eternity with you. Give me grace, wisdom and mercy to handle every situation and circumstance that comes against me so that in all my attitudes and ways, I honor you with my life. Amen.

Scriptural References:

II Corinthians 2:9-11  Another reason I wrote you was to see if you would stand the test and be obedient in everything. Anyone you forgive, I also forgive. And what I have forgiven—if there was anything to forgive—I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake,  in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.

Genesis 50: 18-20 His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him “We are your slaves,” they said.

But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.

Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

 

 

 

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Making Healthy Choices

healthy-food-meat

Making Healthy choices

II Peter 1: 4-9

I love going to the big warehouse stores like Sam’s Club and Costco!  My favorite time to go is on the days when they have vendors set up with little cooking stations. One reason this is a favorite time to shop is because they have new and creative ways to prepare old favorites alongside samples of food I’ve never eaten.

As I pass by, the vendors offer me tasty morsels to sample. I love learning new methods and experiencing new tastes. However, there is also a “down side” to shopping on this “sample it” day.

The whole idea of this presentation is once I have a taste, I discover that it’s so good I want to have more. Since I shop here often, I’m aware of the temptations and make sure I’m satisfied with healthy food before I get there so that the samples are eaten sparingly.  

Food is one of my weaknesses, I dearly love yummy food. An important part of being a mature adult is that I have the wisdom to know I should turn and walk away when I’m tempted. When I discipline myself to make healthy life style choices, I reap the physical benefits.

Now and then, I blow my plan totally, but I know how important it is to pick up and keep on going. Stumbling is not failure; the only time I fail is when I don’t get back up and continue on. The Bible says that the fruit of the Spirit is SELF control. (Galatians 5:22-23) And Proverbs 24:16 says though I stumble, I will get up. Even though the verse refers to spiritual stumbles, I reference it for my physical fallings as well. God cares about EVERY area of my life.

In the same manner, when I discipline myself to make healthy spiritual choices, I reap the benefits of being spiritually stronger, healthier and more alert. I need to plan for Bible study and prayer the same way I plan how I will turn aside and walk away from temptation.

Life is about discipline, anything worthwhile requires discipline and planning to make it a routine part of my life. Just like physical exercise makes my body muscles strong, Bible study and conversation with my Lord exercises my faith and makes my spiritual muscles strong. (Romans 10:17)

The discipline of choosing healthy food choices makes a healthy body.  The discipline of spiritual choices makes a strong, effective witness and a successful life.  Make a plan, stick to the plan, reap the benefits; it’s ALL good, “gotta get me some more of THAT!” 

II Peter 1: 4-9 

Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.

For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, help me to discipline my life so that I make healthy choices both spiritually and physically. Open my eyes so I’m aware of temptation and can respond quickly with the fruit of the Spirit, self control. Help me to be strong and healthy in every area of my life. I love you. Amen

Scriptural References:

Galatians 5:22-23

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Proverbs 24:16

Though a righteous man falls seven times, he will get up,but the wicked will stumble into ruin.

Romans 10:17

Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.

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Like I Ache for Cake

german-chocolate-cake

Like I Ache For Cake

Psalms 63:5

The other day, I baked an extraordinary German Chocolate Cake. I’d toasted the pecans and the coconut before I put them in the special icing. It was, beyond any doubt, the most delicious German Chocolate Cake I’d ever made, bar none.

Later that night, I was lying in bed, when I remembered those layers of chocolaty sweetness; enrobed in a blanket of sweet coconut and toasty pecans. Once my mind started thinking about that cake, it’s ALL that I could think of. I wanted a piece of that cake so bad; it was like an ache in the back of my throat!  Mercy!

The Psalmist, David, wrote in Psalm 63:5 that his longing for God was satisfied like his body is satisfied with fine food. What an illustration! Thankfully, unlike aching for a piece of cake, the desire for intimacy with God is a good thing that has no down side to be regretted later.

In Psalm 34:8, David said, “Taste and see that the LORD is good.” To be so intimate with the presence of God that you recommend that others “taste” it; what an incredible place to be.  I love it when the Word uses everyday experiences to illustrate spiritual truth.

God longs for intimacy with us so much that He sent His only son to die so we could know Him. (John 3:16) But, wait, there’s more! God sent His Holy Spirit so we could have not just a relationship but intimacy with Him.  We were created not to just “know” who God is but for personal relationship.

There is no other god who wants a relationship with us!  Out of that personal intimacy comes an awareness of who He is. We can’t help but to worship in acknowledgement of the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, the Great and Almighty God.

The more time I spend with the Lord through prayer and Bible study, the more I long for more of Him.  Like when my throat aches for cake; when I think of my Lord, my throat aches to praise Him!

 Psalms 63:5 My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you.

 Prayer: My Lord, you are a great and mighty God. I can’t even imagine how you love me so much that you want to spend time with me, to talk with me. Help me to never forget what an honor it is to be in your presence, to read your Word and to be loved so completely. I love you and thank you. Amen.

 Scripture References:

 Psalm 34:8 Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.

John 3:16  For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

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The Stranger in the Mirror

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The Stranger in the Mirror

Luke 18: 9-12

One day, while cleaning, I put my full length mirror in the hall way so it wouldn’t get broken. Maddy, our Basset hound, came running down the hallway, floppy ears dragging the floor, tongue hanging out, eager to be wherever I was.

As Maddy rounded the corner she saw herself in the mirror and came to a galloping halt.  Not recognizing herself, she barked at the “stranger” in the mirror until her doggie voice was hoarse. I laughed till I could laugh no more.

The scripture in Luke 18 (the Pharisee on the corner, beating his chest and proclaiming how good it was to not be like everybody else,) is in every preacher’s book of sermons. We always focus on the poor sinner who stood and humbly prayed; confessing his own frailties and sinful nature.  In our hearts, we know—we hope– we are like him and not the holier than thou Pharisee.

But, let’s look at the prideful Pharisee for a moment. He obviously thought himself to be a good example or he wouldn’t have been standing on the corner reciting his virtues.  Comparing himself to others, he figured he looked pretty good, all things considered.  He thought himself to be a righteous man, doing all God required.

Since he was so certain of Godly virtues, he must have been faithful in attending synagogue (church) or he would have had no awareness of a standard. He was a man who attended church, did good works, even paid his tithes—yet he knew nothing of the heart of a servant.  He had no concept of the need for a savior, even though he was, himself, religious.

My own heart needs to be examined. Do I have a servant’s heart, daily seeking how to lift up, encourage, help out and do the inconvenient, UNnoticed tasks?  I must ask myself, if I rounded a corner and suddenly saw “me” in God’s spiritual mirror—would I recognize myself?

Luke 18: 9-12 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable, ‘two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: “God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.” “

Prayer: Father, help me to fully understand that there is nothing that I can do that would make me worthy to be your child. All that I have, all that I am, is because of your great love and forgiveness that took place at Calvary. Thank you for loving me, for saving me and for sending your Holy Spirit to direct me. Amen.

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Life Comes at You Fast

moo-resz

LIFE COMES AT YOU FAST.

John 16:33

One morning, my daughter looped the leash of their full grown Great Dane, Toby, around the table leg so he’d be out from under foot while she did household chores. She headed upstairs; certain that he’d not be able to follow her.

When Toby saw her start upstairs, he decided he’d go with her. When he took off running, the table followed as far as space permitted then slammed into the kitchen counter flying into pieces.

Hearing the crash, she looked up to see BIG Toby sliiiiiiiding wildly across the kitchen floor ON HIS BACK, feet waving wildly. She dropped the laundry she was carrying and ran to see what had happened. The kitchen looked like a bomb had gone off!

The kitchen table was in a heap, broken in pieces. The laundry was everywhere. The trash can had been knocked over and there was trash all over the floor. She listened; silence. Toby was nowhere to be found.

She called for him, no answer. Fearing he had been seriously injured, she started going through the house softly saying his name. She found him in his sleeping crate, with his front paws over his snout, eyes big as saucers–trembling. Toby, having NO idea what happened, figured he had been a very BAD dog and had run to his sleeping crate to hide.

Sometimes, these unexpected events are humorous, at least in retrospect. Other times, life’s unplanned interruptions are much more painful. The unexpected serious illness of a loved one, a tragic accident, a sudden financial reversal; the list of possible crisis is endless. Satan often tries to use these hard life experiences to destroy our faith.

So often, like Toby, when disaster strikes, we run and hide, figuring we have somehow caused the tragedy. When “stuff” happens, it doesn’t necessarily mean that we have been bad.  God isn’t punishing us; He isn’t angry at us for some sin we have committed unawares.

The scripture says that bad stuff will happen. The important thing to remember is that God loves us and no matter what happens, the Holy Spirit will direct us and comfort us. Where we have a problem is when we run away from God instead of toward God. Even when we hurt and are confused, God has answers for our every need.

John 16:33 I have told you these things so that in me, you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart. I have overcome the world.

Prayer: Father, help me to realize that you are sovereign and that you work all things for my good. Encourage, direct and comfort me by your Holy Spirit. Help me to keep my eyes on you, even in difficult times. I love you. Amen.

 

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Book List for purchase

All my books are available for sale on Amazon.  Most are published in both paperback AND Kindle format.  Here is a list of Amazon links for your ease in locating them. Remember, books are always a great gift for ANY holiday!  Please enjoy, and share!

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The Grandma Chronicles (fictional,humorous yet thoughtful; illustrated)

An often humorous look at “Grandma life.” Always young at heart, her story is filled with discovery, laughter and humorous personal insight on the aging process. Grandma’s chronicles explores everything from the joy of grandchildren, to adventure, and personal loss. Through it all, she tries to live a life outlined with God’s mercy and filled with His grace. You will laugh, you will cry, and you will love Grandma.

https://www.amazon.com/Grandma-Chronicles-adventures-Grandmother-gracefully/dp/151955673X/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1472158129&sr=1-1

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whatcha got coverWhatcha Got? God Has Answers! (devotional)

A practical devotion book for anybody who has ever wondered “OH, wow, how do I deal with THIS?” Or if you ever wanted to know what you’ve “Got” to have to live a clean life in a dirty world. Written with humor and based on sound Biblical principles, there are 42 devotions. Why? Because–well–sometimes, we have so much STUFF we have to deal with that we just need more than 30 devos to get us through the month! No matter WHAT You Got, GOD has answers.

https://www.amazon.com/Whatcha-Got-GOD-Has-Answers/dp/148396325X/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1472158280&sr=1-1

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Buffalo Breath COVERLife Is Like Buffalo Breath (devotional ; illustrated)

A delightful collection of Christian devotions that uses humorous and poignant stories about animals to illustrate Biblical truth. Thoughtfully llustrated with photographs of pets and nature, this unique devotional will make your heart smile as you grow in faith and knowledge of God’s Word.

https://www.amazon.com/Life-Like-Buffalo-Breath-illustrations/dp/149230459X/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1472158280&sr=1-3

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Diabetes cover 001Sick Is An Attitude, Living WELL With Diabetes (self help)

Living “well” is so much better than merely living “with” Diabetes. Annie was diagnosed as a Type I Diabetic when she was10 years old. Now, after living well for 50 years as an insulin dependent, this author gives personal insight into how to live a fulfilling and active life as a Diabetic. Annie is NOT a doctor, NOT a health care professional; she is simply a person who tells about how to live well from her personal experience. Her writing has humorous life antidotes and includes personal insight, LOTS of practical information and encouragement. If you are, or know of, a person with Diabetes, this book will be a great read.https://www.amazon.com/Sick-Attitude-Living-WELL-Diabetes/dp/1484055381/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1472158280&sr=1-4

38 recipe cover for rubberFood for Body and Soul (devotional COOKbook—devos with recipes NOT available on Kindle)

Cookbook has all 38 Devotions from the popular devotional book, “Food for the Soul” PLUS 70 of the author’s favorite recipes, cooking tips and interesting food facts. Jesus often used food as illustrations of Biblical truth; probably because EVERYBODY eats. In this unique devotional, favorite recipes are matched with each devotion. A thoughtful gift for cooks who love the Lord and a great addition to your own cookbook collection!

https://www.amazon.com/Food-Body-Soul-Annie-Keys/dp/1500741892/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1472158788&sr=1-3&keywords=Food+for+Body+and+Soul

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kindle cover ready 1563 pixels x 2500Food for the Soul (devotional –devos only, no recipes)

In scripture Jesus often used food as illustrations; probably because food is something that we all understand. “Food for the Soul,” is 38 daily Christian devotions using food and humorous cooking experiences to illustrate Christ’s love and direction. Also to be available as a cookbook with devotions included, “Food for Body AND Soul.”

https://www.amazon.com/Food-Soul-Devotions-illustrate-Biblical/dp/1499782128/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1472158975&sr=1-1

 

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GOT A REMINDER Rock?

big rock reminder

Joshua 24:24

I love the Word of God; it’s about people, real people. The children of Israel were just like us! They were people with every day issues and faults that are familiar to us.

Every time the people were confronted with their sin, they repented and promised to serve the one true God with all of their heart. Then, just like us, they went right back to “life as usual.”

God knew this and kept reminding them of the rewards and victories that accompany acknowledgement of who He is. At the same time, He told them there would be hard consequences if they turned away. (the whole books of Deuteronomy and I & II Kings)

God knew the hardness of the people’s hearts (Deuteronomy 31:16-18) and repeatedly cautioned the Israelites of the outcome if they chose to turn away from Him. God even had Moses write a song and sing it for the people as a lasting reminder to them that He knew what they would do and that their actions would have consequences. (Deuteronomy 31:15-20 and the song is written in its entirety in Deuteronomy 32)

As a reminder to the people of God’s mercy, Joshua set a stone before the people. The stone would be a reminder, a “witness” of their own decision to NOT serve God. A reminder of how patient their God was.

It was not a declaration of punishment but a reminder of what would happen when they turned away—again. It was a symbol of covenant and a reminder of God’s mercy to forgive them. (Joshua 24:25-27)

Jesus, God’s son, died to set us free from the bondage of repeated sin. It is important that we realize that the Word says when we turn away; we nail the Son of God to the cross, again. (Hebrews 6:4-6) The only difference between us and the Israelites is that it isn’t a rock that is witness to our rebellion today; it’s a cross.

Joshua 24:24 And the people said to Joshua, “We will serve the LORD our God and obey him.”

Prayer: Please, forgive me for the times that I have rebelled against your will for my life, Father. Help me to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit so that I know the path you want me to take and the attitudes that will glorify you in my words, plans and actions. Thank you for the price you paid at Calvary so my rebellions are forgiven. Amen.

Scripture references:

Deuteronomy 31:15-20 Then the Lord appeared at the tent in a pillar of cloud, and the cloud stood over the entrance to the tent. And the Lord said to Moses: “You are going to rest with your ancestors, and these people will soon prostitute themselves to the foreign gods of the land they are entering. They will forsake me and break the covenant I made with them. And in that day I will become angry with them and forsake them; I will hide my face from them, and they will be destroyed. Many disasters and calamities will come on them, and in that day they will ask, ‘Have not these disasters come on us because our God is not with us?’ And I will certainly hide my face in that day because of all their wickedness in turning to other gods.

“Now write down this song and teach it to the Israelites and have them sing it, so that it may be a witness for me against them. When I have brought them into the land flowing with milk and honey, the land I promised on oath to their ancestors, and when they eat their fill and thrive, they will turn to other gods and worship them, rejecting me and breaking my covenant.

Joshua 24:25-27 On that day Joshua made a covenant for the people, and there at Shechem he reaffirmed for them decrees and laws. And Joshua recorded these things in the Book of the Law of God. Then he took a large stone and set it up there under the oak near the holy place of the Lord.

“See!” he said to all the people. “This stone will be a witness against us. It has heard all the words the Lord has said to us. It will be a witness against you if you are untrue to your God.”

Hebrews 6:4-6 It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit) who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.

Note: The entire book of Deuteronomy and the Books of I&II Kings show God’s repeated efforts to bring His people close to Him. Again and again, they turned aside. God’s patience and his anger at their disobedience are told of in these books. A good read for those who love the Lord and want to serve Him.

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Got To Be Less of Me

weight

 

Galatians 5: 16-18

Since I struggle with my weight, I’m constantly searching for ways to make dieting easier. Experience has taught me that no matter how much I pay for diets and gym memberships, there is only one absolute method for success: the self discipline to eat less, exercise more.  It works every time.

One of the diet “clubs” that I’ve joined through the years was called, “Less of Me.” The group provided the encouragement of fellowship with others who struggled just like I did. There is great strength in fellowship with people who know exactly what I’m going through.

John the Baptist spoke of Jesus saying, “He must increase and I must decrease” (John 3:30). The difference between the spiritual “less of me” concept and the weight loss version is; with Jesus, there’s something to fill the void.

Jesus loved us so much that He gave His life that we could know HIM intimately. More than just the surface relationship of supportive friends at a weight loss group; an intimate emotional relationship like a husband loves his wife.

Like eating less and staying physically fit, spiritual fitness requires self discipline. We should challenge ourselves; make a conscious effort to make “more of Jesus” one of our daily goals. Just like a plan for physical fitness, it will require both discipline and action.

As difficult as it is to set a time for daily exercise; setting a time for daily Bible study and prayer can be even more of a challenge. The first step is to make a plan; but the most important step is to DO it.

Nothing I do that benefits my physical self or my spiritual self is easy to accomplish.  The old adage, “no pain no gain” holds true in many areas of life, including doing the things that make me both physically AND spiritually healthy.

However, the “less of me more of Jesus” concept has not only a benefit for today but for eternity as well. The inner self wants to be physically and spiritually healthy, but without hands on discipline, both will fail.  More of Jesus, less of —me; like a successful diet and exercise plan, requires not only motivation but also planning and participation.

Galatians 5: 16-18 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to do the things that will make your presence in my life grow. Help me to set up a time of Bible study and prayer daily and to discipline myself to fellowship with believers at church. I really do want my life to have more of you and less of me. Amen.

Scriptural Reference:

 John 3:30 He must become greater; I must become less.

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The Forgotten Shrimp

shrimp

Matthew 5:23-24

One afternoon, I went to get shrimp from the freezer to prepare for dinner that night.  No shrimp. Thinking perhaps I’d not bought the shrimp after all; I fixed something else for our meal.   

Days later, I was horrified to find the bag of thawed; now bubbling with bacteria—shrimp beside the washer in the laundry room!  EWWW!  Now, I know what happened to the shrimp.  

The day I’d bought the seafood, I’d taken advantage of a great sale on fluffy bath towels. Once home, I put the sack of towels beside the laundry basket to wash before use. It never crossed my mind that the sales clerk would put a bag of frozen shrimp in with a pile of bath towels.

I wonder how long it would have been before the ‘gases’ from the shrimp built up in that sealed bag and it exploded. Can you IMAGINE what that would be like? BANG!  Smelly rotting shrimp spewing everywhere; nasty

Sometimes, we stuff hurtful things that people have said or done to us down inside our heart, out of sight. Instead of taking our pain to Jesus for resolution, we hide it. We make a point to not think about the pain and anger or the broken relationship; keeping ourselves busy so we don’t remember. 

Scripture shows that our relationships with each other do affect our relationship with God; whether the rift exists because of our own apathy or the carelessness of somebody else. Mark 12:28-31 says the two most important life laws are, love God and love each other.  The Bible also reveals that anger with your spouse can hinder your prayers. (I Peter 3:7) 

If left unattended to, stuffed in the bottom of our heart, unresolved anger will eventually explode; spewing ugly bitter words and hurt feelings everywhere. Stuffing anger and hurt feelings inside our heart and ignoring them never ends well.  

The only cure for wounded relationships is to turn them over to the Holy Spirit for handling. The Spirit knows God’s perfect will and can direct our heart on how to heal and rebuild broken relationships.  

Satan loves it when we have bitterness and anger hiding in the bottom of our heart. Deal with the hurt feelings now, before they explode and make a big mess; take them to Jesus.  

Matthew 5:23-24 If therefore you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar, and go your way; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.

Prayer: Father God, help me to realize that anytime I have a “people” problem, I compromise my relationship with you. Show me how to keep my friendships clear of conflict and help me to forgive others when they have done me wrong. Remind me that there is no issue too big OR too small to lay at the foot of the cross. Amen.

Scripture References

Mark 12:28-31 One of the teachers of religious law was standing there listening to the debate. He realized that Jesus had answered well, so he asked, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”

 I Peter 3:7 Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.

 

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