Tag Archives: faith

On the Surface

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1 Samuel 16:7
English Standard Version (ESV)
7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

I love that God finds my beauty on the inside and not on the surface. Sometimes it’s not a pleasant experience to look in the mirror because time is not forgiving and gravity takes it’s toll. Some people are blessed to have a good genes and they retain their figure and youthful look but for most of us, it’s a daily struggle to be one of ‘the beautiful people’.

Often, a thought builds in my mind and I feel led to share what ends up becoming a full article. Sometimes, I am fueled by outrage at a current event and have to address it immediately. There are times though, where a subtle conversation or comment shared in passing is repeated over the course of time. When this happens, I know I have received a prompting from God to share what He is revealing to me.

I spend some time, not by choice, at the dermatologist several times a year reversing sun damage in the hopes to prevent skin cancer from surfacing. As a teen, I spent hours soaking in the sun as I tried to obtain a golden tan. Unsuccessful in most attempts, I would end up suffering from burns and the resulting peels that revealed only freckles and no tan. Unfortunately, I never learned and repeated this process so much over the years that now I have to reverse the damage that took years to build. Frequently, the damage to cells in your body take place years before the evidence of the resulting skin cancer can be seen. I’ve been told that typically, the length of time from initial damage to visible results can span ten years. I think there’s a lesson to learn here….(besides the obvious of avoiding sun damage). How long does it take for damage to reach the surface?

In casual conversation, I mentioned to a friend that she has flawless skin and she looked really great. After thanking me for the comment, which was genuine admiration, she clouded for a second before she said that my compliment made up for years of feeling ugly because she couldn’t tan. She was always more pale than her friends and didn’t feel like one of the “beautiful people.” I can relate because I’m so pale that I can literally blind people from the sun’s reflection off my skin. I felt immediately humbled to receive a glimpse into what had been years of suffering that my friend had experienced. In her case, she has emerged as the recipient of flawless and youthful skin because she avoided the sun. The feeling of beauty is only skin deep though because the feeling of inadequacy runs deeper than the surface.

Later, the same week, I was talking to another friend and somehow the conversation turned to her years of feeling invisible. In her youth, she had been heavier and always felt as if she was completely invisible to the world. As she matured, she lost weight and became more comfortable with herself so that people started noticing her. The attention she received could have easily gone to her head but she knew that regardless of what she looked like, the real person could only be known from the inside out. She said it was eye opening to see that people want to associate with those they perceive to be beautiful, so much so, that sometimes it’s hard to know who your real friends might be.

How many other people feel like this? How many neighbors, co-workers or relatives are suffering from what lies below the surface? If it takes ten years for some skin cancers to surface, how long does it take for emotional scars or feelings of inadequacy to become apparent? How many people do you know who are suffering in silence? Are you someone who has a hidden hurt? It’s such a comfort to know that there is One who looks past the surface and not only knows the real you but who can also hold and heal those secret scars. God knows you and He loves you! Psalm 139:13 New International Version (NIV) says, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” How awesome is that! Not only does God see you and know you, He is the one who created the inner most you. He formed your soul and knows your secret thoughts and painful past. Turn those hurts that you have held on to for years over to Him and let Him free you from long held feelings of inadequacy.

“For man looks on the outside but God looks on the heart!”

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Redemption for Good Deeds?

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ImageHmmm, let me think about that….um… NO!  That suggestion is the oldest and most used lie of the devil.  It sounds like it should be true though, right?  I mean, the foundation of our lives are based upon the proven truth that hard work and right living produce a good life and rewards.  We all learn this concept almost from birth.  If we obey our parents, we earn candy or praise.  When we start school, we learn that if we do what the teacher says then we receive good grades and good report cards and then that leads to more candy or praise.  The older we get and the harder we work, the greater the reward becomes.  If we do the opposite and don’t work hard, we create a life of limited possibilities and little to show for our actions.  If we don’t obey the law, we earn a ticket or even a trip to jail.  We live in a society where our actions dictate the outcome of our lives.  This is the standard that people across the universe expect.

http://www.examiner.com/article/pope-francis-promises-redemption-for-good-atheists?cid=rss

IF you believe this article and listen to the pope, then you continue past this earthly life and into eternity following the same standard for which you have patterned the actions of your life.  Doesn’t that sound great?  Live good, die better.  Sadly, there will be many, many people who find this belief to be the polar opposite of reality.  This is a concept that is almost impossible to explain because it goes against everything that we have been conditioned to believe.  Take a moment though and review your life – not the little details, just the large ones.  Can you remember the good things you have done?  Those shining events of greatness where you were really one of the good guys.  But, are all of our lives made up of these great shining moments?  No, so we actually do have to focus on the little details.  Those times when no one saw our actions and we were very happy to see that no one was watching.  Maybe there was time when we were mean to a co-worker.  We’ve all told little white lies to get out of doing something we really didn’t want to do.  Have you ever daydreamed about someone who wasn’t your spouse?  You should also remember those times when you had the opportunity to do something good but turned a blind eye to someone in need.  But, hey, our good actions offset our bad actions, right?  During your 70-80 years on earth, that answer is, generally, yes.  The very second that we draw our last breath, however, that dynamic changes.  2 Cor. 5:8 says , “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.”  In other words, when we pass from this life in an instant we will be present with God in heaven. What will He say at that moment?  Will He welcome you with open arms or will He say, “my child, I never knew you?”  This is the perfect time to think about this because you are still alive and have a choice.  It would be a terrible waste of your life to move to eternity and never  have taken the time to make a decision about your eternal destination.  You see, on earth our rewards are a result of our actions, in eternity our reward is a result of our choice.  The reward of eternity with Jesus Christ is only given to us if we choose to accept that we cannot be good enough to enter into the presence of a perfect God.  By definition atheists do not believe in God, so how can they be redeemed to be with God?  It is futile for anyone to think they can be good enough to enter heaven, let alone someone who doesn’t believe in a Higher being.  Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”

It’s impossible to be perfect.  If you think you are perfect, or even a really good, person then you are lying to yourself.  Even on our very best day, our very best deed cannot even come close to God’s perfection.  We would have to be perfect every second of every day and that is not even a remote possibility for anyone.  God says that even the best things that we do are like filthy rags in his sight.  But, for argument’s sake, even if we could be perfect it still would not be enough to allow us access to God’s perfect heaven and presence.  As the Bible states above in Ephesians 2:8-9, faith is what saves us because it is a gift.  God paid the price for our imperfection and tells us it is free IF only we will believe that He died for us so that we would not have a chance to boast.  How much nonsense would it be for us to boast about our good deeds compared to what Christ did for us?

For the pope to stand in public and proclaim that if we are only good and try to be good then we will be redeemed is the worst disservice that anyone could do to another.  That is a deceitful action crafter by the master deceiver.  Not only if a person is good will he be redeemed, but according to pope, an atheist as the same opportunity.  This statement boggles my mind but even more than that, it infuriates me.  I have not met an atheist yet who is not vocal to the point of rudeness in their defense of how the notion that there is a God is false and that heaven is a fairy tale.  Atheists are, in my opinion, reprehensible for they mock the One who loves me more than anyone else.  They defame the One who created me and knew me in my mother’s womb.  They defile the One who suffered and died, not for His own actions but for mine.  They despise the One who rose from the grave because He is Almighty God.

Not only will atheists never be redeemed unless they repent of their false beliefs, good people who don’t put their trust and faith in Jesus Christ will not be redeemed either.  “Choose you this day Whom you will serve,” Joshua 24:15.  Make you choice, but choose wisely.  Eternity is just a breath away.

 

The Muslim War on Christianity

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http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2013/05/the-muslim-war-on-christianity.php

I shared earlier from my blog that Christians are disappearing from countries where once Christianity was prevalent. Israel, Iran, Syria, Egypt…. Still think Muslims are peaceful people? The core message of Islam is to eradicate all other beliefs and especially belief in the One true God. There is nothing peaceful, normal or decent about this false religion.

For Such A Time As This

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Esther 4:14

“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”
I love the story of Esther.  If you are not familiar with this book of the Bible, it’s the 2nd Book in the Bible that is devoted to a female main character and is only 10 chapters in length.  There is so much action in this small Book, however that it rivals any modern soap opera.  The story is set in Persia during the reign of King Ahasuerus (you may know him as King Xerxes).  Esther was orphaned at a young age when both of her parents died, so she went to live with her cousin Mordecai who raised her.  As is evident during the unfolding of the story, Mordecai fostered a love of God, Country and family in Esther.  We are also told that Esther is beautiful beyond words and finds favor wherever she goes.
So, what happens is that basically the King got mad at the Queen because she would not perform for him at a banquet in front of his friends so he banished her.  This created a dilemma though, because everyone knows that a King needs a Queen.  His advisors,  johnny on the spot, came up with a brilliant way to solve this problem and they suggested that the King hold a contest of sorts amongst the fair maidens of the land.  So, the King has the most beautiful and talented young women of the land audition for the role of Queen.  (Picture a scene from Cinderella where the mom’s all dress their daughters up to take them to the ball to meet the Prince.)  Mordecai, having heard of the King’s request, knows that there is no one more suited for the role of Queen than Esther.  So he sends Esther to the palace and, as you might have guessed, Esther pleased the King and was named Queen.
Some time goes by and Mordecai happened to hear of a plot against all of the Jews who lived in Persia.  The King’s right hand man, Haaman, did not like Mordecai (not knowing he was related to Esther) and plotted to get rid of him by exterminating all the Jews in Persia, which was Mordecai’s heritage.  Mordecai promptly takes the plot to Esther and tells her she must let the King know.  Now there’s something you need to know.  During the reign of King Ahasuerus, the Queen could not enter the presence of the King except by invitation from him under penalty of death.  Well, that presents a dilemma.  Esther knows she cannot be silent but also knows she faces death if she approaches the King.  So what now?  Esther does the first thing that every Christian should do in every circumstance.  She tells Mordecai that they must pray.  Not only that, they must fast and pray.  Long story, short….Esther approaches the King after having spent much time in prayer.  The King loves Esther and allows her to visit.  Esther exposes Haaman’s plot and the King is outraged.  The Jewish people are saved while Haaman is put death.  Everyone lives happily and Esther, because of her obedience to God and her family, receives a place in Biblical history.  The Jews still celebrate the climax of the story where their race was saved by commemorating it annually with the Feast of Purim.  Image
You really have to read this Book.  It is a powerful story on so many levels!
I give this background to relate it to the opening verse and title of this piece…”For such a time as this”.  I firmly believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God.  It contains everything that God wants us to know about Him and His relationship with man at this point in time.  Every story and every word have a reason to be written and they have an application to our lives today.  Sometimes you have to read a passage of Scripture many times to understand the application, but it is always made evident at exactly the time you need it.  I think the application of what can be gleaned from the Book of Esther is obvious.  What if we are like Esther?  Our country is in rising turmoil and much like the plot against the entire Jewish race in the Persian kingdom at that time, Christians are facing the beginning of a similar plot today.  Christianity is almost extinct in some countries and has been replaced by Islam in many cases and in others the religion of “self” has taken over.  America no longer follows the faith of our fathers and we see daily how the government is trying to remove God from the courthouse, schools, television, internet, and even our currency.  Can you think of any better time to speak up in defense of your faith?  Can you hear God, much like Mordecai, telling you to not be silent?  I will continue to provide current events that show the continued moral decay of our country.  Take action as you see these stories and speak up to your Senators, Congressmen, co-workers, neighbors, family and friends.
Who knows, maybe you are here, at this point in history ….. for such a time as this.

Mean Girls

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“Mean Girls”…. if you haven’t watched the movie, more than likely you’ve heard of it or at least have a good idea what the plot might reference.  For the most part, human behavior follows a predictable pattern.  As a child, a person is typically loving and trusting.  As a teenager, that same person becomes self-centered and critical of others, almost certainly to the point of mean.  Then, usually during college years, a responsible and consistent adult outlook and actions develop.  There are those few, however, who are and will remain – MEAN. In the movie, a group of teenage girls band together to form an elite (at least in their eyes) group.  They proceed to mock and torture anyone else who does not meet their lofty standards.  Predictably, they turn on each other, disband and the process of maturity begins after feelings have been hurt and consequences have been suffered.  In real life, the same plot plays out in every middle school and high school across America.  Basically, it’s a right of passage that every person participates in, whether they want to or not.  Most people outgrow this stage, but there are those few “mean” girls and boys who never manage to grow up.  It’s always disheartening when you have to interact with these people.  Unfortunately, they live and work among us.  It is an unavoidable, unpleasant experience of life.

Recently, I had the disappointing misfortune to cross paths with a few of these malcontents.  Human nature takes over during moments like this and propels me to levels of great revenge plotting.  Fantasies of lightning bolts flashing from my eyes to zap and torture these “mean” girls run rampant through my mind.  Alternately, deep and gaping holes in my heart weigh me down and crush my spirit.  At some point, in every person’s life, an experience like this will take you by surprise and will come from someone who should have grown up and from whom you least expect this action.  Catty, infantile, mean, hurtful and juvenile are all words that aptly describe these individuals.  In the last couple of years, a person who becomes prey to a ‘mean’ girl or boy is actually labeled a victim of bullying.  The media has ensured public awareness for this growing problem.  Despite this knowledge and labeling, meanness still exists.  We live in an imperfect world with imperfect people, so the only thing we can do is to choose to respond with love and kindness.  This is completely contrary to my first instinct to plot revenge.  In order to repay hatefulness with love, I have to actively choose to die to myself and let Jesus love through me.  If I react in anger, which is that first human instinct, then I not only do not reflect Jesus and His love, I also become a victim, because anger is a self-consuming emotion.  Anger is an active pursuit.  It is not passive, but rather is a driving force of reaction to something perceived as insulting or damaging.  As a Christian, I am called to a higher standard.  Romans 12:2 says that we are “not to conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of our minds.”  It’s not natural, nor is it easy to react to a negative situation with love.  The only way this becomes possible is to have a mind that is focused on Christ.

Think for a moment about Jesus’ three years of ministry on earth.  We have only been given a small glimpse into the activity that took place during these 1095 days.  Over 60% of our known history of Jesus’ actions is based on His healing of other’s hearts and bodies.  The last verse of John says that if all that Jesus did was to be written down, he supposed that there would not be enough books in the world to hold all His activity. This tells me that Jesus loved and He loved a lot.  It’s one thing to say you love someone, but actions are the proof.  Angry people don’t usually help those to whom their anger is directed.  Conversely, someone filled with love is guaranteed to help all.  In the same way that anger is an active emotion, so is love.  If we are to be like Jesus, then we are to love with our mouths and our actions.

Matthew 5:43-44 ~ 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbors and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,”

Mark 12:33 ~ “To love Him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

These are the verses that I am focusing on to ingrain the spirit of love in my heart (the renewing of my mind) in hopes that my first reaction to meanness will become love.  I am not quite there, and I am not sure that I will ever get to that level of Christianity, but I strive towards that goal.  I can hear the Apostle Paul cheering me as I run the race, pressing toward that mark.  The finish line is still in the distance where Jesus sits with crowns and trophies and is ready to say, “Well done, My good and faithful servant.”.  I want to be found faithful on that day.  Lord, please help me to love as You have loved me!

Putting Words in My Mouth

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I love May in the South!!  The warm Southern breeze usually sails in sometime in the early afternoon hours, just in time to cool the day off from the noon heat.  As luck would have it, I had a moment of free time to enjoy this airy sensation while going back to work from a late lunch.  As I paused to fully take in the moment, I overheard a woman talking on her cell phone.  I did not have to try too hard to hear what she was saying, and I would not really work hard to eavesdrop – unless it involved a birthday present for me….lol!  It was clearly evident to me, judging by the volume of her retort to whoever was on the receiving end of her conversation, that she was irritated to the point of exasperation.  In one final, breathless gasp, before disconnecting her call, she bellowed, “I wish you would just stop putting words in my mouth!”  Wow!  This sentence pushed my thoughts in a completely different direction than I’m sure she intended.  What if God could put His words into my mouth?  I could certainly save myself a lot of grief and trouble.  I might be more encouraging and less likely to tear down others.  What would it take for this to happen?

How delightful that God has put his words in my mouth.” ~ Psalm 119:3

How blessed we are that God always provides for us long before we ever think or need to ask Him for help.  He has always had a plan for our lives!  These plans for our success have been in place since before the beginning of time.  Not only did He start compiling His words of truth and guidance in written form, in the very language that we speak every day so that we could understand and relate to them, He also gave us His Spirit to direct our thoughts and actions.

I am free to do anything I want to do.  I can listen to anything that I want to hear as well as watch anything that I want to watch.  Although I have the Holy Spirit inside to guide my actions, words and thoughts, I do not have to listen to Him if I choose not to pay attention to what He says.  God gives all people free reign to make their own choices.  If I choose to watch Barney or Sesame Street all day, it won’t take long before I might be caught singing nursery rhymes or skipping.  If I choose to watch karate or kung-foo action shows, I might easily start kicking and chopping.  We are products of our environment.  It does not take much reasoning to follow this line of thinking and connect it to training for successful living.  If I choose to fill my mind with God’s words then I will be more likely to speak and act in the way He wants.

Over 2000 years ago, David wrote in Psalm 119:11, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against You.   This is the secret to success, written for my eyes many centuries ago!  If I want God to put His words in my mouth then I might want to know His words.  In the same way that I would practice any other hobby or vocation, I must practice being a Christian in order to become the best that I can be.  In my efforts to make every moment count and to really know Christ, I am going to challenge myself (and you!) to “HIDE GOD’S WORD IN MY HEART”!  Feel free to post ways that you are actively trying to do this.  (I write verses on index cards to keep in my car and pull out while waiting in a parking lot or on errands – repetitive reading helps me remember).

I have put My words in your mouth and hidden you safely in My hand.” ~ Isaiah 51:16

You Can’t Outrun the Long Arm of the Lord

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The phrase “Long Arm of the Law” dredges up Marshall Matt Dillon from the ‘Gunsmoke’, Cowboys and Indians and gun fights in the streets of the Wild West.  Wherever the bad guys were (always dressed in black), you were sure to see Marshall Dillon show up to save the day.  The good guys always win, right?  Hi Ho Silver, awaaaay!  Even the Lone Ranger rode in on a white horse to make sure that good prevailed and bad was punished.  The cries of the poor, needy and down-trodden were heard three states away and drew the masked man to come save the day.  Unfortunately, all of this only took place on a Hollywood set for the entertainment of television viewers.  Real life is not fair.  The good don’t always prevail.  The cries of the poor and needy are not heard….or are they?

Psalm 33:18 “But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love” ~NIV

God never sleeps and never tires of reaching out to help those who cry out to Him.  Just like a parent who rushes when they hear their child crying, He is there to help – if only we call on Him.  When my children where little, they sometimes worried that I might not hear them if they cried in the night.  I reassured them that I could sleep through an earthquake, but should they need me, I was awake and alert.  God is better than that because he doesn’t even rest from searching for those who might need Him.

Psalm 139:1-18

1 You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise; 
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways. 
Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely. 
You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, 
    too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me, 
    your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.

13 For you created my inmost being; 
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful, 
    I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. 
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, God! 
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them, 
    they would outnumber the grains of sand —
    when I awake, I am still with you.

This is one of my favorite passages from the Bible!  Where can I possibly go that God can’t find me?  According to these words written by David, there is no where on heaven or earth that He is not already there.  Sometimes I may not want Him to see me because I am ashamed of my actions or I have traveled away from Him, but He will not let me go!  His love for me is so strong that no matter how far I try to run or the dark places that I may try to hide myself in from Him, His eyes are watching.  I am sure you are familiar with the game of Hide and Seek.  Who as a child has not played this favorite game?  I used to have the best hiding places.  One of my favorite things to do was to sneak into the dining room and squeeze myself into one of the side doors in the serving buffet.  I have no idea how I was able to fit into such a small place, but nevertheless I did.  No one could find me in that spot.  I would sit there in silence waiting, but no one would come.  Even in that dark hiding place, I was not alone, for God was there with me.  It is impossible to hide from Him.  In good or bad, He is there.  He rejoices in our happiness and triumphs but he is there to hold us and heal us in our hurts and sorrow.  His presence is not dependent upon our good behavior, thankfully, but is a gift to us because He loves and cares for us.

“Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully.” 1 Peter 5:7  ~AMP

Are you lonely, tired or hurt?  Are you excited with good news?  Look to your Heavenly Father, for he waits anxiously for you to call Him.  He is always there!

 

Full Access

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I have a key card or an “access card” that allows me to enter my office building, parking lot and restricted areas.  Without this card I am unable to access these sites.  I become  a person non-grata without my access card.  I can knock as long and and as loud as I want and I will not be able to enter.  I can sit at the gate to the parking lot but never gain access without my access card.  If I forget to bring it with me at any point, I am out of luck.

Aren’t you glad that we have Open Access to our Heavenly Father any time and all the time!  We are privileged to be able to go into His presence for any reason and He encourages us to do so.  We do not need a special key card that we have to carry and present in order to gain His attention.  We have only to believe that His son, Jesus, paid the price required as the penalty for sins by taking our place and dying on the cross.  This gift did not end there or Jesus would have been just like any other person on earth who died and was buried.  Three days after His death, He rose from the grave forever canceling the death penalty required for our sin.  This gave us Open Access as well.

Ephesians 3:12 “In Him and through faith in Him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.” ~NIV

In the beginning of the Israelite history, as documented both in the Old and New Testament, only the High Priest would be allowed to speak with God directly in His presence.  The priest could enter into the Holy of Holies inside the Temple in Jerusalem where God resided inside the Ark of the Covenant.  He could do this only once a year.  The Holy of Holies area was separated from the rest of the temple by a veil (curtain) that hung from a very high ceiling. At the exact moment of Jesus’ death on the cross that very veil was ripped in half from the top to the bottom (no human hand could reach that high) thereby exposing God’s presence to all mankind.

Hebrews 10:19-23  “And so, dear brothers and sisters,we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. “

 God gave us this Open Access card to allow us full access to Him.  I want to take every opportunity to use this access and communicate with Him.  Make every moment count in your life for eternity’s sake and get to know the God who made you, who loves you, and whom you will see the minute you awake from death into life and see Him face to face.
Psalms 27:4 “One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in His temple.” ~ KJV
Aside

Did you ever play the game ‘telephone’ when you were younger?  That was a favorite of mine.  The game worked best with a large group and the results were usually very comical!  Everyone sat in a circle.  One person started the game by whispering a phrase or story to the person next to them who would repeat what they heard (or what they thought they heard) to the person next to them.  This process would continue until the story got back to the person who originally started the game.  The original story would be revealed as well as the story that had made it’s way around the circle and through many ears and translations.  The two stories never matched and really took on a life of it’s own.  One of the reasons that the story did not remain intact is that people hear what they want to hear.  Perhaps one of the translators was distracted and only heard half of the story and then made up the part they missed.  Perhaps, and this is the reason I tend to place most weight on, people anticipate what the story might be and as their focus is on their own anticipated outcome, they miss the actual information being passed to them.  This game taught many lessons to my group of friends and I:  Don’t believe everything you hear; Gossip can be painful and untrue; Lies spread like wildfire and never end the way you intend…..the lessons that can be drawn from this game are innumerable.

I was thinking about this game today as I heard about a young lady whose feelings were crushed as a result of a conversation that she didn’t hear.  She saw people whispering and immediately imagined that they could only be talking about her.  This propelled her to criticize herself as she pinpointed the root of the imagined conversation.  ‘Her outfit must be out of style, although she had recently purchased it and thought it looked alright when she got dressed this morning.’  ‘She must look ugly today.  She was definitely having a bad hair day so that must be the topic.’  ‘Her work production was down and she is probably about to be called into her bosses’ office for discipline.”  On an on these thoughts ran through her mind until she had worked herself into a migraine and overwhelming sadness.  In reality, her co-workers were talking about a picnic they were planning for the following weekend.  The conversation had absolutely nothing to do with her and yet, she had made herself sick as a result of her runaway imagination.  Has this ever happened to you?  I can raise my hand to admit that I am guilty of presuming myself the topic of secret conversations.  Why do we do this to ourselves?  How silly!  We have enough trouble to deal with that we know about without creating trouble where there is none.  If we would only keep our eyes on Him, we could avoid so much hurt and suffering!

“You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, all whose thoughts are fixed on You!  Trust in the Lord always, for the Lord God is the eternal Rock.”  Isaiah 26:3-4 (New Living Translation)

I love this verse!  I am making a concerted effort to keep my focus on Jesus, where my thoughts and focus should be rather than down in the weeds of imagination.  Please join me in this effort.  Leave comments of encouragement or suggestions to help myself and others as we endeavor to keep our eyes on Jesus!

Telephone

Opportunity

Standard

How many opportunities come your way that you miss out on either because you don’t recognize them until it’s too late or because you are too scared to seize the moment?  I was thinking about this very question today.  There have been many times that I have prayed, and prayed for God to show me what He wanted me to do only to hear silence – or so I thought.  Maybe there were answers that I missed because I wasn’t “in tune” with the quiet voice of God.  (I Kings 19:12, “After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.” (NIV))  I was waiting for the earthquake and fire to announce my direction and guidance.  I would have settled for a personal suggestion in an audible voice.  I did not receive any of these revelations or occurences, and so I wallowed in indecision and uncertainty.

I have recently been made aware that the more time I spend in quiet reflection and devotion with God, the clearer His answers become.  There is no mysterious secret to hearing His voice because He speaks to you in the quiet of your heart.  All of the good plans He has for you become like neon signs to your soul as you become close to Him.

Tune in to His voice today!