What’s Hanging Around Your Neck?

What’s Hanging Around Your Neck?

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction. Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.They are a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck. Proverbs 1:7-9 NIV

In teaching the role of words in a sentence and in understanding word usage, it is important to note that a pronoun can never be used without an antecedent (the noun it is replacing). Looking at verse 9 in this passage–“They” is referencing instructions and teaching. If obey the instructions and teaching received from parents becomes grace on our heads and adornments around our necks, how on earth did we get to the place in which so much sin abides in the world?

By deductive reasoning we can conclude that since there is so much sin in the world that one of two things have happened: either parents are not instructing and teaching children how to do what’s right or the children have deliberately disobeyed and ignored the instruction and teaching of the parents. On a natural level–the interaction between a parent and child most people can relate to this. However, on a spiritual level, most have apparently missed the intent–God is our Father and we are His children–therefore, we should obey His instruction and honor His teaching.

When we ignore and disobey His instruction and teaching our heads explode with delusional thinking–we can get away with it and even entice others to ignore and disobey, not realizing what we have set ourselves up for with the consequences. “We should never be a stumbling block to others.”When we’re exposed our heads hang in shame and guilt, while our necks strain from the weight of our hanging heads. The foolish can never hold their heads high–unashamed of their deeds because there is no pride in being foolish.

Given this thought–about instructions and teaching–what’s hanging around your neck? Is it pride in honoring God’s Word or shame and guilt from ignoring it?

Lord, help us to develop and maintain reverential fear of You in obedience to Your Word so all might see wisdom enacted in our lives as we honor Your instruction and teachings.

 

What Can Be Accomplished in Three Hours!

Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land. Matthew 27:45 NKJV

From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. Matthew 27:45 NIV

Whenever we think of darkness–we presume the event to be ominous. Storm clouds which darken the sky during daylight hours are ominous. Darkness looming over a person’s countenance is ominous and most–who are observant–become fearful of the person. But what happened during that three hour period of ominous darkness on that day?

Having an active imagination has its advantages some days and today, I’m going to take advantage of my imagination.

From noon to three–in the midst of the darkness and in the midst of all the insults hurled at Jesus from those who had witnessed the miracles He performed, those who hated that He spoke with more authority and authenticity than they had, and those who mocked Him out of ignorance–God was working in the mind of His Son–cheering Him on and reminding Him of what the world would be like once this task was finished.

While some stood fearful–mindful of the darkness and not able to see around them–God appears and holds His Son, embracing Him with all the Love He could to empower Him to stay the course. He whispered to Him to keep Him focused on all the sin that would no longer be laid at the feet of men who would choose to accept Jesus as their Savior and Lord. He showed Him all the illnesses that would be covered under the blood that He willingly shed so we would not have to suffer. He caressed Him with a soothing voice saying, “Not much longer now and it will be finished, just remember, all of mankind will be saved because of You.”

And about three o’clock, God returned to His throne, leaving His Son alone for those final moments, unable to bear seeing Him being so burdened with the sins and diseases of the world. When Jesus realized–in the midst of His agony–that the Spirit of God had left Him, He cried out–asking why He had been left alone.

Those hearing Him, thought He was calling up Elijah, but the moment had come, when victory would be ours. Jesus’ spirit returned to The Father and the earth opened in shame and regret–shaking the foundation of all those who were entrenched in the teachings of the those who dishonored God and the building were they dishonored worshipping Him there. The bodies of all the holy people who had died rose from the dead and walked among the people, amazed at what they saw–how far the people had fallen from worshipping the One True God. Those who witnessed all that happened in that moment–were finally convinced that Jesus was indeed the Son of God.

God the Father encouraged His Son within those three hours to stay the course and know victory and no one saw God minister to His Son because of the darkness. What can God for us in three hours–when no one is looking and cannot see how He speaks to us? Will they see–in the final moments–before the light is shone upon us what God was doing because of the determination we show to finish our course? Or will they see us defeated, discouraged, and done?

There are times in our lives that we should pray for darkness (a time no one can see what God is doing for us) and then when the light comes–we proudly proclaim all He has said and done for all to see–the victory He’s given and the determination to keep moving forward to accomplish all He has put in our hearts to do.

What can you accomplish in three hours that will cause others to see victory in your lives–on your own? If we’re honest with ourselves, we can do absolutely nothing without Him.

“Here I am Lord! Cloak me with darkness and embrace me love, empowering me with determination to keep going–accomplishing all You have given me to do in the light of day.”

On The Journey–Yod!

On The Journey–Yod!

Your hands have made me and fashioned me;
Give me understanding, that I may learn Your commandments.

Those who fear You will be glad when they see me,
Because I have hoped in Your word.

I know, O LORD, that Your judgments are right,
And that in faithfulness You have afflicted me.

Let, I pray, Your merciful kindness be for my comfort,
According to Your word to Your servant.

Let Your tender mercies come to me, that I may live;
For Your law is my delight.

Let the proud be ashamed,
For they treated me wrongfully with falsehood;
But I will meditate on Your precepts.

Let those who fear You turn to me,
Those who know Your testimonies.

Let my heart be blameless regarding Your statutes,
That I may not be ashamed. Psalm 119:73-80 NKJV

The tenth letter (Jod in KJV and YUD in HNV and Yodh in the NIV) and the tenth stanza and for the tenth time–we see the writer vow to keep and obey God’s Word.

Even though the writer acknowledges God’s place in His life–“you made me” he still wavers with his own shortcomings and it sounds like he’s on a roller coaster of emotional turmoil.

He wants people to rejoice when they see him, but he doesn’t to be put to shame before those same people. And in this stanza, as well as with others, we see a bit of arrogance in the writer, even though he talks about what should happen to the arrogant. Hmm!

Is he better than everyone else because he promises to obey God’s Word and meditate on His precepts? Does he think he’s fooling God who knows at every turn what he’ll do? Do we have these same attitudes–thinking we’re better than everyone else because we know some of the Word? Are we expecting others to turn to us because we have demonstrated understanding of God’s Word instead of them turning to God?

What I see in this passage (and may have missed in others) is a person more concerned about being shamed in front of others than in obeying God. If he truly understood God–as his maker–wouldn’t he know that God is not fooled by the words of our lips, but knows our heart and what we’ll do before we do it?

This is not to say we should ever turn from God’s Word. I know that every time I read The Word–even if I’ve read something twenty times or more–God is yet revealing Himself clearly. And perhaps, just perhaps, the writer of this Psalm realizes that no matter how much he meditates on God’s Word, he has yet much to learn and so we see redundancies in his expression throughout this Psalm.

Sometimes, we are our own worst enemy when we think we “have arrived” at a level of understanding we really don’t have. What happens with us in that mindset is that we become arrogant in our thinking that no one–not even God–can tell us anything and it is in that mindset that we can be brought to shame. Hallelujah! “Getting wisdom is the foundation for learning and with all of our getting, we need to get understanding.”

Lord, help us to keep seeking You as we meditate on Your Word daily, open to new revelation every time we read it. Help us to not be so full of ourselves that we have no room for You in our lives. Encourage our hearts in doing what You would have us to do and to turn others to you, and not us. It is to You we give the glory, the honor, and the praise for You alone are worthy!

No Shame In Our Game!

“Therefore since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character, and character hope. And hope does put us to shame, because Gods’ love has been poured out into our hearts through Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:1-5 NIV)

How are we justified and don’t have to be ashamed? Our faith in the work on cross brings us into a place of redemption and relationship with Christ when we believe and accept His death was for our benefit. Since He hung on the cross, after being beaten for the sins of the world, we are forgiven and have no need to be ashamed of our past lives–before knowing Him–and have every reason to have hope in our present lives and for our future–as long as we don’t turn back to those things that kept us out of relationship with God.

Whenever I get a chance to witness to people–wherever that might be–I make a distinction in my life’s timeline–my time earth on earth. I had my BC time–before knowing Christ and how He expects me to live and my AC time–after knowing and understanding the work on the cross and receiving His love. I know without a doubt in my heart that if I had been the only person on the planet, He would have died for me and understanding that kind of love, fills me with desire to please Him, not people. Receiving His love and repenting from all that I had done, puts me in a position to live as if I had never sinned. How do I know? Because He tosses our sins into the sea of forgetfulness. If He’s not going to remind us of where we were, we shouldn’t allow anyone else to bring up past mistakes, either.

Now, in my AC time–I am yet being perfected–I have not arrived at perfection, but I’m allowing Holy Spirit to correct me daily. And this is the difference between those who know God and are in relationship with Him and those who know about God and keep doing the same “irreverent things” day after day. I know in my heart that if people really know God and have developed a relationship with Him, there are things they would no longer desire to do, since God’s love–filled to overflowing ignites desires in us to love and please Him.

When we know who we are in Him and know what we have in Him–eternal life–we have no need to be ashamed and we can walk with our heads held high, not concerned with those who want to put our lives under a microscope to see what ugliness they can discover. They may discover our ugliness–that ugliness that existed in our BC time, but in our AC time–it means absolutely nothing. However, if they have never accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, their ugliness–no matter how perfect they think they are–remains for all to see because it has never been tossed into the sea of forgetfulness.

We cannot allow people–especially those who have never known our Savior–to keep us bondage to our pasts. They have no right to do so and we have no reason to be ashamed of who we have become in Christ Jesus. So, whenever anyone tries to make us ashamed of our pasts–we can look them straight in the face, holding their eyes fastened with faith in Him and declare–“There’s no shame in my game since I am still under construction!”

A question arises for them to consider: “What’s your excuse?”

No Reason For Shame With Hope in God!

“And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:5 NIV)

Though there are many who attempt to belittle those who not only believe God, but also live to please God, we who know God, understand,  and we are not ashamed of our hope in Him.

Why hope in God when it appears that all is lost–when spouses kill each other, when man overrides God’s intent for marriage and family, when politicians are corrupt, and violence erupts all around us and the weather is taking its toll on people everywhere? Why hope in God?

I have had some to question my faith by asking why would I believe in a God who allows such terrible things to happen, especially to children. The question they should have asked is, why do “people choose” to do such dastardly things to children and to others?

Terminal illnesses are not caused by God, they are a result of man’s greed and inability to make good choices. Most illnesses are the result of what we ingest–voluntarily–or involuntarily and what we breathe in the air. Every time someone comes up with a new idea that is primarily seen as a convenience, we learn–sometimes years later–just how much that convenience costs us in human lives. From the preservatives in foods to sustain shelf-life to the use of cell phones and other oil by-products. It is not God who does these things. We choose to participate because it is convenient to do so and for the most part, most of us have little opportunity to change how we eat or have access to alternative products.

Personal hygiene products, medications, and clothing using recycled materials as well as air pollutants and water pollutants–big industry–lost lives–all because of greed and convenience. This is what happens when we have hope in man and what they do.

Hope in God–sustains the Believer–in spite of all the stuff going on around us–even to the hope of healing and finding means to overcome all the ills we have brought upon ourselves. Hope in God keeps the Believer focused on the things of God and in constant communication with Him through the auspices of prayer. Hope in God–does not make us ashamed of our belief in Him; it strengthens us so we might continue to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For we know that no matter what we suffer here on earth, we have a great reward waiting for us for all eternity.

No–our hope in God is not something we should be ever be ashamed about and as long as we have men who are greedy and proceed with the production of “things” without seeking God’s Wisdom before they make them, we will pray and expect God to keep us safe from harm of all the “conveniences” we use that could lead to an early earthly death.

While we enjoy the products of man’s invention, let us not have so much hope in them that we forget to have real hope in God, who has yet to abandon us to our own self-destruction. Hope in God–gives us reason to keep moving forward–in spite of all the attempts by man to override God’s intent for man–in so much of what they do.

Hope in God–trumps hope in man–every time–and the real shame is on man who refuses to live according to God’s plan for mankind.

God’s People Are Never Ashamed of Their Faith in Him!

“You will have plenty to eat, until you are full, and you will praise the name of the LORD your God, who has worked wonders for you; never again will my people be shamed.” (Joel 2:26 NIV)

“Let the weak say I am strong and the poor say I am rich because of what The Lord has done.”

God’s promises through all the prophets are just as true today as they were when they were first uttered. They are still speaking to us when we hear and obey The Word of God! The hungry will have plenty to eat and praise The Lord for His filling them and all of God’s people (those from then until now) will never be ashamed for acknowledging Him as their source of plenty. No where in the Word does God say, the “rich” will inherit anything other than trouble. Not that He has a problem with people being rich–monetarily, but He would prefer we all be rich in mercy, love, and forgiveness–as He is, so should we be.

Through our obedience to God’s Word,we put ourselves in position to not just be blessed, but to stay blessed so we can bless others. Though the wicked may “appear” to prosper, their prosperity will not last and they will be exposed in the light of day for all of their wickedness. We see this in the media when the corporate moguls are exposed for wrong doing and then end up in prison. We see this when politicians who side with wickedness end up exposed for all their wrong doing. But none of this should surprise us since we know that “wickedness in high places” exist and we are in a war–that cannot be fought in the natural, but in the Spirit.

We can expect–to be blessed–beyond our imagination when we hear and obey God in all things. It does not matter what people say or think; it does not matter what godless judges think or say, or how they attempt to change God’s intent for mankind–our job is to obey God, rather than man. For man has not heaven or hell for us and we should not allow them to influence us in living in opposition to God’s Word.

If we truly studied history, we would discover that man’s ills have all been a result of disobedience to God. When we exclude God in the things we do, He lets us and then–like those who came before us–some recognize our error and plead with God to step in and make things better. We could save ourselves a lot of time and grief if we simply chose to obey Him in the first place. But then–some would never call upon Him, acknowledging His existence.

Since we who believe know to do better, we should be doing better–in promoting the Gospel, sharing our faith and God’s love, and in convincing by example that our God is an Awesome God–who will not allow His people to suffer when they obey Him!

Let’s get “this party” started–share His love with all you meet and greet and encourage them to develop a right relationship with Him, receiving all His many benefits. Glory Hallelujah!

Ashamed No More!

“For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ:  for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jews (the chosen nation) first and then to the Greeks (those who chose to believe by faith)” (Romans 1:16 paraphrased).

This declaration made by Paul lets us know that even though he had been a persecutor of those who believed in Jesus and those who promoted the good news, once Jesus revealed himself to him, he became a believer and a promoter of the good news, openly.  Paul understood the law and knew that God had chosen the nation of Israel for His own, but when they chose to reject Him, He opened the door to any who chose to believe Him and abide by His commandments.  First God chose, then we chose–He has always given us the power of choice.

God revealed Himself to the nation of Israel in mighty works so they would know how much He loved them.  He reveals Himself to us, still by doing mighty works in our lives when we allow Him to do so.

I remember a time when I persecuted anyone who tried to get me to believe in the Bible.  I challenged them to explain how they “knew” whether or not the words were interpreted accurately, who was the witness that could confirm it, and on and on.  When I reached a place in my life where I had nothing else to read in my house, but the Bible, I read it.  I have always been an avid reader of almost anything, but at the time I read my bible, I was in financial straits and could not purchase books the way I once had.  I worked hours that curtailed my ability to get to a library and so here I was–wanting something to read and the Bible was there.  It took me two months to read (starting with the Gospel of John) through the New Testament and then I worked my way back through the Old Testament to get a better understanding of what was said in the New.  God’s plan worked!  I now understood why things had happened the way they did.  When I received the gift of salvation and speaking in tongues, I knew I had been wrong and was so ashamed, I wished I could go back and find those people I had taunted.  But God in His infinite wisdom (and sense of humor) used me to promote the Gospel by encouraging people to read the bible for themselves and then open themselves to hear Him, revealing understanding of His Word.

Though I never had anyone tortured for their beliefs, I can certainly relate to Paul’s words.  I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ because it is the power to renew life, retain joy in the midst of trials, the avenue to having a personal relationship with God and ability to have communication on a brand new level.  I am ashamed of my behavior and conduct to those I once taunted for their beliefs, but I am not ashamed of who I am or whose I am and I will tell it–from the valley to the mountain-tops–and if people do not receive it; that is not my responsibility.  My job is to tell it, their job is make a choice to receive what I say or not, the end result is on God!  Hallelujah!