TURN IF OFF

One of my fave passages of Scripture is Mark 12:30, 31, which says to love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength–and I do. I enjoy reading the Gospels because several people depict Jesus through different aspects of our Lord. Matthew tells us that Christ is King, Mark tells us about Jesus as servant, Luke tells us about Christ as the Son of man, and John tells us of Christ’s deity.

I was engrossed in the book of Mark when I came across a Scripture that I’d read many times, but today became rhema to me.

And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while. . .[Mark 6:31a KJV].

In this day and age, technology abounds and knowledge is increasing at an alarming rate. Information communicates through many venues, such as TV, computer, radio, satellite, and others. Then there is Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, Yahoo, Gmail, Instagram, Snapshot, and others, too many to list. Someone living in Oregon, USA can communicate with someone in India in a matter of seconds.

Thousands of years ago, the prophet Daniel prophesied that in that day, people would run to and fro and that knowledge would increase. Is it any wonder that the church attendance is dramatically down and man has become increasingly fallen and corrupt? Why? Because we seem to have no time for God, let alone have a relationship with Him. We are all too busy and cumbered with the many distractions of today’s world. If I were Satan, I’d keep everyone so busy with daily stuff that they’d have no time for God.

Satan has used distractions for thousands of years and it still works. It reminded me of the story of Mary and Martha. Martha was running around distracted in many details and preparing a meal for Christ, while Mary sat at the feet of Jesus. Now there is nothing wrong with works but works should come from the overflow of receiving from Jesus.

I hear the voice of Christ crying out to the body, “Turn off the devices and choose the good part as did Mary. Rest in me,” says the Lord. “Be still and know that I am God. Do not be cumbered in details or in Satan’s distractions. . .and see what I will do.” The Lord says, “When is the last time you sat at my feet and received anything from me? Come away with me for a season and rest at my feet and in my love for you and I will give you rest. My grace is sufficient for you.

The $20 bill

Our God is a God of restoration and of reconciliation. All we have to do is receive it. A spouse is not getting in the way of our victory. Neither is our circumstances getting in the way of our victory. Not even Satan is getting in the way of our victory. The only thing getting in the way of our victory is us. We have to personally all make a conscious decision with our will by faith, which is the Word of God, who we will serve. Contrary to popular belief, people do not fall out of love, they fall out of respect.

In my own story, because of our attitudes toward each other, there was nothing there to respect. We had manipulated each other out of our roles as man and woman. This left nothing about each other that we could like let alone respect. I will not go into specifics because we all have our own specifics. I will leave it up to you to fill in the blanks. A very wise brother/pastor once shared an analogy with me while at counseling about love and a twenty-dollar bill.

This brother removed a twenty-dollar bill from his wallet and laid it out on the table in front of me. It was in plain sight. He then started placing papers on top of that twenty-dollar bill, one piece at a time, naming each piece of paper; anger, jealousy, resentment, neglect, disrespect, argumentative, bitterness, hate, manipulation, and etc. After he had placed and named many pieces of paper on top of the twenty, he asked me if I could still see the twenty-dollar bill. To this question I had to say no because the papers had totally covered it up.

After he had covered up the bill he asked me, “Is the twenty-dollar bill still there then on the table?” Since I did not see him remove the twenty from the table, I had to assume that it was still there. “Yes, it is still there,” I guessed. He assured me that the bill was, proved the fact by lifting the edge of the papers, revealing the twenty-dollar bill.

What he shared next I felt to be very profound. He said, “Just for a moment, imagine that this twenty-dollar bill represents the love that a husband and wife have for each other.” He continued, “Suppose further that this stack of papers depicts the differences, the arguments, and all the garbage that you have gone through in your married life.” He said, “No matter how tall the stack of papers is, the twenty-dollar bill is still there. Conversely, no matter how much garbage you have, the love is still there. The trick is to keep your love visible while talking through the garbage.” This was a very wise brother.

How many of us evict God from our relationships or marriages and then wonder why the break-up or divorce? We had evicted Jesus from our hearts and marriage because of all the bitterness, hate, jealousy, anger, manipulation, and garbage that we had in our spirits for each other. Christ allowed our self-destruction to make room in our hearts for Him. He knew that the purpose of our illness (divorce) was not death, but was for the glory of God. I, the Son of God, will receive glory from this situation.

v41 Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me.
v42 And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.
v43 And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth [John 11:41-43 KJV].

Like Lazarus, Jesus Christ stood at the tomb of our divorce and He cried out with a loud voice,

“JIM! EDNA!”
“COME FORTH!”

There is no question as to who got us to gravitate back together — again. It was our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and we give Him all the glory. We give Him our undying love and gratitude for caring enough about us to reach down into the pit and to pull us both up by the nap of our necks and put us back on the road to recovery.

Our grave clothes might be pretty stinky yet, but maybe, over time, the three us can unwrap ourselves from this bondage. Like that twenty-dollar bill, our love is still there and with the Lord’s help we can remove all the papers that cover us, one piece at a time. (Prayers are welcome.)

Take an interest

Everyday, soldiers risk their own lives to protect us from the onslaught of evil men. Everyday somewhere, a Good Samaritan risks his own safety to intervene in somebody’s behalf. This is exactly what Paul exhorted the Philippians, and each of us, to do for one another.

v4 Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others to [Philippians 2:4 NLT].

Two days ago a 17 year old man interjected himself between a mugger and a woman. She was no doubt in distress and danger in need of some quick assistance. The young man was able to help the woman and got the cops involved who summarily arrested the attacker.

Paul continues with the crux of his teaching to the Philippians.

v5 You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.
v6 Though He was God, He did not think of equality with God as something to cling to;
v7 Instead, He gave up His divine privileges; He took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When He appeared in human form
v8 He humbled Himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a Cross [Philippians 2:5-8 NLT].

Christ interjected Himself into history on the Cross and died for us.

What have we done for someone else today?

Above every name

About 20 years ago, I worked at a steel service center in Portland, Oregon as a CAD/CAM Plasma operator. It was lunch time and I was talking with a fellow worker. The lunch room was fairly crowded, with maybe 15 other coworkers. I don’t exactly remember what I was telling him (its been 20 years LOL), but I was just sharing the Lord.

What happened next, I DO remember, however. I said, “Watch this.” I shouted the name “Jesus” just barely above the clamoring conversation in the room. The room immediately came to a hush. It was like the noisy conversation had been piped in via the radio and someone had turned the volume knob to the “Off” position. It was that quick and quiet. It surprised even me. I won’t ever forget that day in the lunch room.

Christ can not only calm the sea and the wind, but He can calm a room into complete silence.

v38 And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish?
v39 And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.
v40 And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith? [Mark 4:38-40 KJV]

Is there a storm in your life that needs calming? Just call on the name of Jesus. He will never leave or forsake you. He will always be there for you. Just be still and know that He is God and call on His name. All who call on the name of the Lord He will save them.

Make a difference

We have all, no doubt, heard of the story of the starfish, where a young man sees an old man throwing back starfish after thousands of them washed up on the beach and the tide is going out in the bright morning sun. The old man’s mission seems futile as he throws starfish after starfish back into the ocean. The young man asks him, “You can’t possibly save them all. Even if you worked all day, you might be able to save only 10% of them. Your efforts will not make a difference at all. . .” to which the old man picks up another starfish and throws it back into the ocean and says, “It made a difference to that one.”

How many times are we given the opportunity to make a difference in somebody’s life and don’t even try. God puts these people in our paths for a couple of reasons. God’s purpose is for us to help our fellow man, but the second reason is a test for us to see what we will do when He presents us with just such an opportunity to help or to tell them of Jesus Christ.

v35 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me [Matthew 25:35 KJV (31-46)].

We can’t possibly help every person that we see on the streets begging or the poor soul who obviously needs Christ because of their actions or words. God gave each of us a sphere of influence and He expects us to help those that He has given us, even if it is only one person. God may have created you just to share the Gospel to that one person. Again, can we help every person we see and make a difference in all of their lives? Heavens no, but we can make a difference to that one.

Keeping focus

Jesus had just fed the 5000 and constrained His disciples to get into the boat and meet Him on the other side while He dispersed the crowd and went to the mountain to pray. The disciples were unwilling to leave Him without any apparent means of rejoining them. Reluctantly the disciples left but got only half way across and the sea tossed them about.

Once Jesus had sent the multitudes away and prayed to the Father He went to the disciples walking on the water. When they saw Him coming they were frightened and cried out in fear. They thought that Jesus was a spirit.

v27 But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.
v28 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.
v29 And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
v30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
v31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?
v32 And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased [Matthew 14:27-32 KJV].

With the weekend coming up and everyone is leaving home to go to the beach, mountains, or to some family barbeque, it is easy to take our eyes off of Jesus. Why not take Jesus with you. Include Him in everything. It pleases Him when we long for His presence and rest in His sufficiency. He blesses us when we look to Him and walk with Him through the day.

Lord thank you that you always answer the prayer “Save me,” as you did for Peter when He walked on the water with you that day. I long for your presence Lord and it comforts me. I trust in you implicitly Lord and I rest in your sufficiency. I enjoy walking and talking with you daily Lord. I long for tomorrow when I can once again walk with you. I ask that my day not be boisterous and toss us about. But I will not be afraid and will be of good cheer because in your presence is peace and safety. I pray this in your precious name, Amen.

NOTE: Today’s Scripture reference taken from Matthew 14:22-33
________________________________

Lord, Help Me

My morning devotional started out with these words, “When things seem to be going all wrong, stop and affirm your trust in me.” It continued, “Calmly bring these matters to me, and leave them in my capable hands. Then simply do the next thing.” It was only a couple hours later that I had to put that to the test.

I needed just a couple things at a store or two so I headed out the door. I first ended up at Costco and got what I needed there. However, I didn’t have a shirt on and my “T” shirt didn’t have a pocket. I laid my $750 Samsung down to sign a charge slip and (how did you know), I left my phone at the register.

I didn’t notice that my phone was missing until I finished shopping at Fred Meyers and I reached for it to make a call. I checked everywhere but couldn’t find my phone. I thought for sure that I didn’t leave it at Costco. Scare time. By this time, prayers were flying out of my mouth, “Lord, please guide me to my phone. Protect my phone from harm and thieving hands. Protect the information that I have loaded.” Five minutes later, I hopped in my car and headed back to Costco.

The person at the register had turned it into the office. Thank you Jesus. You saved my bacon again. It took the Lord only minutes to communicate to me and put me at rest that it was all OK and for taking me to Costco.

v6 Don’t worry about anything, instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done [Philippians 4:6 NLT].

If we are faithful in the little things God will provide when we are faithful in the big things [Luke 16:10]. I had only needed to involve the Lord and show Him that I had faith in His ability and that I trusted in Him to help me out when things were going all wrong. All I did was to trust Jesus and send up a simple prayer to Him and thank Him afterward (many times), for showing me His sovereign control.

So. . .when things seem to be going all wrong in your life, trust in Jesus. Stay in touch with Him and have faith enough to trust in Him that He will do likewise for you. (And He will. He is no respecter of persons [Acts 10:34; Romans 2:11].)

Children of God

Quite a few years ago when I was just barely a teenager, I had this friend that I paled around with all the time. I’d go to his house and he’d come to my house. We did everything together. Our families got along great. We’d even gone hunting and fishing with one another. I’d go with him and his family and he’d go hunting with me and my dad. It was awesome times.

Then something happened in their family. I was spending the night when they got the news. They explained what had happened but then I had to go home. They were going to have a closed family meeting and I was not a blood relative. Looking back on this now, it sort of reminds me of John 1:11, 12, when Jesus came to His own and they rejected Him.

v11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.
v12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name [John 1:11-12 KJV].

Everyone who believes in and accepts Christ becomes a child of the living God through adoption. Christ receives everyone who the Father adopts and we become part of His family. Hallelujah! Thank you Jesus.

Thank you Lord that you receive us into your family through our faith in you. Thank you, Father God for adopting me into your family and for loving me unconditionally. Thank you that you will not send me home. I am yours and you are mine and I give you honor, praise, and glory, in Jesus name, amen.

Serving God’s purposes

I’d always wanted to learn how to play Backgammon. Years ago my oldest son taught me how. His superior skills at the game guaranteed that I would not win many games. As hard as I tried, I just couldn’t beat him. I rebelled at every advance I could, but he used my move against me. Even when I came close it seemed as though my efforts played into his hand.

Maybe there’s a spiritual picture here. God allows us freedom to rebel against His plan and even when we do, our efforts seem to play into His hand and original game plan anyway.

v21 Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand [Proverbs 19:21 ESV].

Our wonderful and gracious heavenly Father, I thank you that you accomplish your plan in me even in spite of me sometimes. I praise you Lord that your plan still stands and that your will is done. I trust in you Lord and am thankful that you carry out your will in my life as long as I try and as long as I keep focus on you. Praise your holy name. Amen

On the Edge

Have you ever stood on an older bridge that overlooked a gorge? I have. It was deep, at least 800 to a 1000 feet down. The railing was not that high and it seemed like it would be easy to go over the edge. I wondered what it would look like to look straight down into the river that ran below. Just to stand ten feet from the railing made me a little apprehensive. However, the curiosity got the best of me. The view was stupendous.

Now I’m not afraid of heights but I respect certain situations and am not dumb. I was tempted beyond what I could resist. I leaned on the railing and peered over the edge. The view was gorgeous. I’m glad that I do not suffer from vertigo.

Sin is exactly like this. Curiosity gets the best of us and/or we are tempted beyond what we can resist. Many people have stepped to close to the edge and lost their balance and fallen into the darkness. It’s practically impossible to flirt with temptation, step to close to sin’s edge and believe that we will come out unscathed.

v13 Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous (deliberate) sins; Let them not have dominion over me. Then shall I be upright, and I shall be clear from great transgression [Psalms 19:13 NIV].

Christ will always answer that prayer, when we cry out for help or need Him to save us.

Thank you, Lord, for always hearing our cries for help in our time of trouble. Lord thank you that you will not allow us to be tempted above what we can endure. Thank you for always being there for us and pick us up when we fall. In your name, amen.