Lucia's Blog: 2013
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Isaiah 55:8-9

Isaiah 55:8-9

Monday, December 30, 2013


"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be STEADFAST , IMMOVABLE, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not IN VAIN in the Lord."    
I Corinthians 15:58

There are times in life when we find ourselves in a season of frustration and challenge.  Everything seems confusing and we find ourselves frustrated because nothing seems to serve the goals we had planned.  It is exhausting to move on or move forward.  It is too much!  We are discouraged.  It may be a job, a relationship, a task, a commitment, a goal or anything that is set before us in our life.  We seem to be searching for something different, something else.  We start thinking, "this cannot be it!"

What if the circumstance that we are facing is God's will for us?  God demands that we be steadfast right where He wants us to be until He decides to move us on.  Let's remember that we must do God's will even if it means to be immovable right where we are.  Can we tell God that He is wrong for demanding that we be steadfast and immovable?  Can we dare to question the depth of His wisdom?  What if it is God's purpose that we stay right where we are in order to grow?  Perhaps He is purposefully molding, shaping and making us grow, even if we are unhappy, right where He wants us to be?  We might run the danger of being unable to accomplish God's purpose if we move on before His appointed time.  His work and purpose for us may not be completed.  When we are not steadfast but rather move on before God's appointed time, we run the risk of not growing in God and cutting  His work short. 

God tells us,  "For I am CONFIDENT of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will PERFECT it until the day of Christ Jesus."  Phillipians 1:6.  Remember, God has begun a good work in us and expects us to bring it to fruition!  He will make sure through His Grace that we finish the work He has purposed for us in spite of the circumstances.  He will lead us toward confidence.  He will reassure us.  He wants us to not lose our confidence in spite of our circumstances.  Momentary unhappiness is not a reason to lose our confidence.  God tells us not to.  He demands that we be steadfast and immovable in order to do His will.

Notice, that the word STEADFASTNESS means to be firmly fixed in place, not subject to change, firm in belief, determination or adherence.  The Hebrew word for STEADFASTNESS is "chessed" (steadfast kindness, love, reliability).  It is in our steadfastness that we can show the right attitude toward God.  It is then, in our steadfastness, that we can definitely show our love and loyalty to God.  The same way He shows His love and loyalty to us. 

God has promised us that He will "carry it on to completion..."  Then, my question is, should we not stay immovable right where we are until God has completed His work through us?  Let's be wise then and let us not become blind.  Let us not build walls of blindness that would prevent us from seeing the possibilities of what God can do through us.  We must trust God as our long term eyes.  He is able to see the long term goals for us and others.  God wants us to stay where we are  perhaps because we are the only shinning lights He has there.  Maybe, He wants to refine us; grow us in wisdom; grow us in our relationships with others that are difficult to deal with in a godly way.  It is in all this that He is growing us into His image and less like the world.  His only desire for us is that we be steadfast in reflecting Him to others in our times of difficulty.  If His purpose is for us to remain steadfast and immovable where we are in dealing with difficult people and trying circumstances, yet we behave in a way that is just like the world, then we are not allowing God to grow us in our steadfastness.  We are not allowing Him to shine through us.  What if you are the one He has chosen to show Him to others right where you are, in your steadfastness?

There is absolutely nothing to fear or worry about God's plans for us. There is nothing to be miserable about,  "For l know the plans that I  have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope."  Jeremiah 29:11

Let us trust God with all of our soul, heart and mind in our trials,  frustrations, difficulties, fears, and whatever it is that we want to move away from.  Let us remain unmovable and steadfast.  Don't forget that God's plans for us are to bless us and give us a future.  Let's not cut God's work short.  And let us finish the work God has planned for us to bring to completion.  Being steadfast!  Showing His love and care until it is brought to completion according to His will and He wants us to move on.  This is the only way we can move on confidently knowing that we have finished what He has purposed for us to do.   It is in the difficulties and circumstances that God has placed us that allow us to learn more of God's character and grow in our walk with Him.  He is leading us all the way!  He is revealing Himself to us and others.  However, we must remain steadfast and unmovable in order to learn this.  We can be confident when the work He purposed for us is finished, "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be STEADFAST , IMMOVABLE, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not IN VAIN in the Lord."   I Corinthians 15:58

Consider that nothing is ever wasted when it is done with steadfastness for the Lord.  God's eyes see the quiet things, our thoughts, and the unseen.  He demands that we be steadfast.  He is steadfast for us and has always been.  Remember, Christ was steadfast when He went to die on the cross for us.  He was not afraid nor did He cut His work short.  HE FINISHED IT.  And what did we get as a gift from God?  Salvation and the hope of eternal life.  This is where being steadfast LEADS.  It leads to our growth in Christ and eternal life, peace and the good plans God has purposed for us and promised to us. 

Learning to be steadfast is vital for our growth and our daily walk with God.  Below are some encouraging verses about being steadfast.

"Jotham grew powerful because he walked steadfastly before the LORD his God."   
2 Chronicles 27:6

"Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me."  
Psalm 51:10

"My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast ; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises !"  
Psalm 57:7

"He will not fear evil tidings ; His heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD."  
Psalm 112:7

"The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in You." 
Isaiah 26:3

"And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast."  
I Peter 5:10

"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord." 
I Corinthians 15:58

May our Father in heaven give us the STRENGTH to complete what He has purposed for us to FINISH.  May He give us STEADFASTNESS in our faith and our daily walk with Him, trusting His plans for us with CONFIDENCE and JOY.  To Him be the glory.  AMEN


Thursday, December 26, 2013


"Know well the condition of your flocks, and pay attention to your herds."  Proverbs 27:23

Many people today including Christians seem to live healthy, fine and normal lives to all appearances.  From an outward point of view, they seem to have achieved success, praise, happiness, and fun.   In other words, the American dream.  They don't seem to be suffering from want or neglect.  Their children seem to be doing fine; they're well cared for; they're  well dressed; attending the best schools.  They are definitely enjoying the fruits of their labor.  Sadly, they are spiritually bankrupt.   Their inner heart and soul are malnourished, neglected, lonely, empty and unfulfilled.  Obviously, their souls are crying out and declaring a form of bankruptcy.

"As I live, declares the Lord GOD, surely because My flock has become a prey, My flock has even become food for all the beasts of the field for lack of a shepherd, and My shepherds did not search for My flock, but rather the shepherds fed themselves and did not feed My flock."  Ezekiel 34:8

Unfortunately, beneath all that outward success there is the inner man who is unsuccessfully fulfilled and satisfied.  His inner life with His Creator is a total failure leading to a devastating bankruptcy of the soul.  Let's never forget that God sees and weighs the hearts of men.  The way He measures growth and success is very different than how we measure it.  He does not count or consider our possessions, material achievements and success as His sole norm of achievement for us. 

"For the shepherds have become stupid and have not sought the LORD; therefore they have not prospered, and all their flock is scattered."  Jeremiah 10:21

God wants us, his children, to place Him above all else.  He wants first place in our heart, mind and soul.  He is a jealous God who hates to be replaced by anything else.  We must be careful not to let our lives and hearts become bankrupt before God.  He knows when we lay up treasures inside ourselves.  He sees when we are storing away riches in our soul for His kingdom's sake.

"In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields, and keeping watch over their flock by night."  Luke 2:8

Again, as I mentioned before, we can be very successful and be puffed up in our ego or self esteem and become very proud of our outward success, but be completely bankrupt in our souls.  Do we know the state of our flocks, that is our children, our spouses, our brethren and other special people God has placed in our lives to watch over?   Do we care if they know God and His plan to save men?  Do they know us for being the salt and light of this world?  Are we reflecting Christ in our lives, letting our light shine before men?  Are we using the riches God has provided for us such as our children and families?  Did you know that teen depression along with loneliness are at an all time high among those that seem to have it all?  More often than not it is the affluent children that are the most neglected and lonely.  These children long for something more: a satisfied and fulfilled soul.  There are no gadgets, nice cars or perfect image that will take the place of the riches of our souls.  Parents, we must be aware and pay attention to the state of our flock, our children.  We must not go astray; we need to make sure that our flock, our children, remain together.  It is our duty to be truly shepherds who watch over our flock by night.

"WOE to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of My pasture! declares the LORD."  Jeremiah 23:1

Pursuing only our goals of achievement and success, wrongly thinking that it is for the welfare of our families, even though it might be well intended, is bankruptcy of the soul.  It is total failure!

"I shall also raise up shepherds over them and they will tend them; and they will not be afraid any longer, nor be terrified, nor will any be missing, declares the LORD."  Jeremiah 23:4

True happiness is not the pursuit of outward success only.  Our main priority should be that of the needs of our souls as well as the souls of families and neighbors.   Let's be wise and not be fools and not pursue the wrong things, goals and interests and neglect our flocks.  Let's make it our main goal before our Father in heaven to pursue our flocks' success; to be with them and spend time with them; to watch over our God given riches, our flocks, more than our earthly success.  What godly legacy are we leaving behind for generations to come?

"I am the good Shepherd; the good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep."  John 10:11

May we always remember to store up riches in the bank account of our souls in heaven; the only one we truly are going to be able to take with us.  May we and our children never have to suffer from bankruptcy of the soul and lose our souls for eternity.


Wednesday, December 18, 2013


"And as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive...." Genesis 50:20-21

Joseph had to endure many injustices at the hands of his brothers who were jealous of him because he was his father's favorite.  His father gave him a special coat of many colors which provoked anger among the other siblings.  As a result of this jealousy, Joseph had to endure betrayal and suffering.  Worse yet, Joseph's dreams made them hate him even more.

As a consequence of this jealousy, Joseph was sold to the Ishmaelite traders as a slave.  These slavers sold him to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh's officials.  In spite of the circumstances, Joseph served as a faithful servant, winning trust and esteem for 7 years. Then everything fell apart for him again.  Potiphar's wife tried to seduce him.  When Joseph refused her, she accused him of taking advantage of her.  Potiphar ended up throwing Joseph into his prison where he had to endure injustice for another seven years.

It is amazing to me that all these injustices were the result of the envy and hatred caused by his brothers.  Do you think that's fair?  In my opinion, if anyone had reason to be bitter, Joseph did.  Finally, after two more years of bondage, he was called before Pharaoh to interpret a dream that he had about a great famine that was going to happen throughout the land.  The extraordinary thing is that Joseph did not mention a word about his injustices, but pointed the Pharaoh to God alone.  It would seem to me that that was his great chance for revenge.  Because of God's favor in his life and his love for God, he was exalted and made second in command in all of Egypt.  He was to be the one in charge of all the food supply and storage for the coming famine.

After 21 years, his brothers heard of the supply of food down in Egypt in the midst of such famine.  Then, Jacob sent the brothers down to Egypt to bring back food.  Eventually, they stood before Joseph not recognizing who he was, because he was dressed like a king.  A lot had changed here.  This was Joseph's big chance to "set things right" and take full revenge.  What would you have done?  Would you, had you been Joseph, have thrown them into prison to let them have a taste of what you had to suffer at their hands?  So often, I hear of  Christians, who have been wronged saying, "I will forgive you, but I will NEVER forget!"

How moving to me are Joseph's words to his brothers when he finally decided to reveal his identity to them.  His words showed the deep and precious work our God had done in his heart through all the years of suffering.  When his brothers finally realized who he was, they panicked.  But to their surprise and relief, Joseph's touching and precious words reassured them of his love for them, "And as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good...." Genesis 50:20-21.  What wonderful, moving and precious words these are!   These are words that proceeded from a broken heart, which suggest that all of life's injustices, struggles and sufferings work toward some greater good, for those who love the LORD and are called according to His divine purpose, "And we know that God causes all things to work together for GOOD to those who love God, to THOSE who are called according to His purpose."  Romans 8:28.  Can it be that even the greatest sorrows in our lives can bring goodness or be messengers of GOOD?  As difficult as it might seem, this was a great lesson that Joseph had  to learn through his many, many wounds.  So, let's always keep in our minds and hearts that though men might intend to do evil to us, God means it for good.  He is using all of these wounds, sufferings, injustices and evil to bring us into the perfection of His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, "For those whom the LORD loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives."  Hebrews 12:6

So with this in mind, let us always remember that until we see God's hands in our sufferings, we are going to be fleshly, pointing at and blaming our persecutors and offenders, for the wrongs they have done to us.  For those who are not walking according to the likeness of God, there can be no room for pain, discipline and value in wounds.  For them, pain is met with resentment and wounding with retaliation.  This is sad, since there can be no healing until we stop assigning blame and allow God to heal our wounds.  Until we come to realize that "God meant it for good."  We are just never going to be able to forgive our brethren and neighbors UNTIL we come and taste of the goodness of God and His wounds at the cross, Hosea 6:1-3.  Without the wounds of restoration, healing and a renewed heart, there would be no desire to follow God and His marvelous light.  UNTIL we see and come face to face with a realization that the wounds that others have inflicted upon us are not the wounds of our enemies, but of a loving Father, we can never be free of bitterness and resentment.  Not, UNTIL we can honestly say from a sincere heart, "God meant it for good....Faithful are the wounds of a friend,"  we will resist God's love for us through His blows and stripes.  God's wounds are for our healing!  They are for good!  "Blows that hurt cleanse away evil, as do the stripes of the inner depths of the heart."  Proverb 20:30.  There is a parallel here with Isaiah 53:5 "by His stripes we are healed."  It is the Father who controls the scourge. 

Another who had to suffer and was deeply wounded was Paul.  He suffered enormously at the hands of his brethren.  He had every right to be bitter.  However like Joseph, Paul decided to see beyond his wounds and those who afflicted him with suffering.  He understood very well, that the real reasons for his scars, "On my own body are scars that prove  I belong to Christ."  Galatians 6:17.  He saw the stripes that were inflicted upon him, not as evil but as GOOD.  A proof of Christ's ownership, II Corinthians 11:24.  Do you doubt that Paul was bitter about the unfairness and injustice he was treated with?  NOT AT ALL!  "For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my BRETHREN, my kinsmen according to the flesh.  Romans 9:3  Let's make it our ambition to have the heart of Paul and Joseph who sacrificed in order to let those who persecuted them be blessed.  Let us all first search our hearts and be at peace with all men as we go forth proclaiming the Good News of salvation to all men!  

May our Lord help us to have the heart of Paul and Joseph who died to themselves in order to bless those who have wronged them.  May we always remember that no matter how much others have hurt us, wounded us, hated and caused deep pain in us, GOD MEANS IT FOR OUR GOOD.  May we always have a sincere heart that is willing to taste of His goodness and His wounds at the cross  in order to forgive those who have wronged us and be able to be free from bitterness and resentment.


Friday, December 13, 2013



Ancient Babylon is about 55 miles south of today's Baghdad in Iraq.  King Hammurabi inherited Babylon from his father in 1792 B.C.  This king began to expand his kingdom by taking the city of Kish along with other small neighboring cities.  He built up his army, expanded his kingdom and was able to take control of a vast area stretching from Mari to Ur in southern Mesopotamia.

The Code of Hammurabi managed his vast kingdom by controlling trade routes along the rivers and into the Persian Gulf.  He developed a well-known book of laws called the Code of Hammurabi to maintain order.  This code contained 282 laws and was written in Akkadian, the common language of his people.  This was written on 12 tablets and was carved into an eight foot high black stele, a large stone monument.  The Code was then displayed in public for everyone to see.  At the top of this stele was a carving that depicted Hammurabi justice.  Did you know that the early founders of our country chose to include a depiction of Hammurabi along with twenty-three other lawgivers on several U.S. government buildings, including a marble base and the frieze on the Supreme Court Building?  This was done because of Hammurabi's well known focus on law.  This stele had been taken from Babylon in a battle against the Elamites and was therefore lost centuries.  It was rediscovered in Iran in 1901, and is now in the Louvre Museum in Paris.

Hammurabi's laws were sorted into groups:  laws to govern business, labor, personal property, real estate, and family life.  These laws were strict and harsh.  They placed responsibility for crimes not only on the criminals, but also on anyone who might possibly have prevented a crime.  The code was very specific, especially in the areas of punishment.  The death sentence required a trial before a group of judges.

The code of Hammurabi divided the population into three classes:  the awilum(the king and his court, landowners, high officials, craftsmen and professionals), the muskingum(those who owned no property, the beggars) and the wardum(slaves).  Penalties for offenses were less severe for the awilum class.

The following are some of Hammurabi's Laws:

1.    If any one steals the property of a temple or of the court, he shall be put to death as well as the one who receives the stolen thing.  They were both supposed to be put to death.
2.    If any one receives into his house a runaway male or female slave of the court, or a freedman, and does not bring it at the public proclamation of the major domus, the master of the house shall be put to death.
3.    If fire breaks out in a house, and some one who comes to put it out casts his eye upon the property of the owner of the house, and takes the property of the master of the house, he shall be thrown into that self-same fire.
4.    If any one be too lazy to keep his dam in proper condition, and does not so keep it; if then the dam break and all the fields be flooded, then shall he in whose dam the break occurred be sold for money, and the money shall replace the corn which he has caused to be ruined.
5.   If any one fails to meet a claim for debt, and sells himself, his wife, his son, and daughter for money or gives them away to forced labor:  they shall work for three years in the house of the man who bought them, or the proprietor and in the fourth year they shall be set free.

Apparently, after the Babylonian captivity, the Jews began using the Babylonian names for the months of their calendar, sometime after 600 BC.  The Babylonian calendar was based on 12 lunar months, each named for a different god.  The year began in the Spring and was divided into three sections:  beginning, middle and end.  As with the Jews, the Babylonians began their day at sunset rather than midnight.

A consideration of Babylonian history shows us the impact of Babylonian influence in the lives of the ancient Israelites.



 "Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.  But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, 'Abraham, Abraham!' And he said, 'Here I am.' He said, 'Do not stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothing to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.'''' 
Genesis 22:10-12


When Abraham was 100 years old, Sarah bore him a son whom they named Isaac, meaning laughter.  On the day that Isaac was weaned, possibly at the age of three to eight years old, Abraham threw a party, Genesis 21:1-21.  "Weaning" is of course the end of a child's nursing stage, but in the Ancient Near East, this was more than just that; it was a milestone in a child's life.  It was a cause for joy in those days since many children died in infancy.  Weaning feasts were very common in those days.  At the party, Sarah saw Ishmael mocking Isaac, "Now Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, mocking.  Therefore she said to Abraham, 'Drive out this maid and her son, for the son of this maid shall not be an heir with my son Isaac.'"  Genesis 21:9-10.  She asked Abraham to get rid of the boy and his mother.  What exactly caused Sarah's anger is unclear.  But, the fact is that Sarah wanted it to be clear that Isaac was the favored son who would receive the inheritance.  We read from Galatians 4:29 that Ishmael persecuted Isaac.  Sadly, Abraham had to send Ishmael and his mother away.

After some time had passed, The LORD appeared to Abraham telling him to take Isaac to the region of Moriah to sacrifice Isaac as a burnt offering (the location is unknown, but the name means "ordained by God,").  "And He said, 'Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah; and offered him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you.'"  Genesis 22:2.  The burnt offering consisted of cutting up the entire animal into pieces allowing it to be consumed by fire.  God's request might have seemed shocking to some; even outrageous!   Abraham seemed to be familiar with the idea of human sacrifice from his time in Ur.  Again, we see an Abraham used to facing difficult tasks which demanded a great FAITH.  Remember, he obeyed God when He asked him to leave his family to go into an unknown country.  He sent away his first-born son Ishmael--but this task was far from the hardest and most dreadful of all.

Abraham's GREAT FAITH is remarkable and we can see it emphasized in the story.  His FAITH is so GREAT that he offers no OBJECTION or remark, but simply sets out to OBEY.  This is beyond words.  In genuine OBEDIENCE he and Isaac set off the next morning with a donkey and two servants.  He offers no explanation to his servants or to Isaac.  After three days of traveling, they finally approach the mountain that God had designated for the sacrifice.  Here is what Abraham tells his servants, "Stay here with the donkey. and I and the lad will go yonder; and we will worship and return to you."  Genesis 22:5.  He is implying that he and Isaac will return when Isaac won't.  He says nothing about a sacrifice, despite having gathered wood for the burnt offering.  When Abraham and Isaac are alone, Isaac asks his father the obvious question:   "My father!"  And he said, "Here I am, my son."  And he said, "Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?"   And Abraham said, "God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son."  

When they finally reached the site, Abraham builds the altar arranging the wood for fire.  Then he binds his son Isaac and lays him on the altar.  Notice, no words are exchanged and there is no evidence of any struggle at all.  What an emotional moment this is!   Here we see an Isaac who is TRUSTING his father and an Abraham who is TRUSTING his God.  As Abraham was raising his knife and preparing to kill Isaac, and angel of the LORD cries out from heaven saying:  "Abraham!  Abraham!"  And he said,  "Here I am.'"And he said, 'Do not  stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothing to him; for now I KNOW that you FEAR God, since you have not withheld your SON, your only SON, from me."' Genesis 22:10-12.

Then Abraham raised his eyes, probably weeping for joy, and sees a ram behind him, caught in the thicket by his horns.  He offers it up as a burnt offering to the LORD in place of Isaac.  He names that mountain "The LORD Will Provide" because God did indeed provide the sacrifice, just as Abraham had told Isaac.  Abraham's GREAT FAITH is AMAZING.  His FAITH has survived God's testing, and God is immensely PLEASED with Abraham.  Then the angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time from heaven, saying "By Myself I have sworn, declares the LORD, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son, indeed I will GREATLY bless you and I will GREATLY multiply your SEED as the stars of the heavens, and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your SEED shall possess the gate of their enemies."  Genesis 22:15-18.  Abraham's OBEDIENCE to God is our best example and motivator!  We need to be like Abraham who placed his life in God's hands, trusting God's judgment more than his own.  Abraham placed his utmost FAITH in God believing with all his heart that God is Master of life and death, and that God is ALMIGHTY able to do the impossible.  Did you know there are similarities between Abraham's near sacrifice of Isaac and God's REAL SACRIFICE of His own Son, Jesus Christ?

After Abraham's FAITH is tested, Sarah dies at the age of one hundred twenty-seven and he buries her in a cave he had bought from the Hittites, Genesis 23.  It is then that Abraham realizes that his life is coming to an end and doesn't want his son Isaac to marry a Canaanite.  So, he sends his servant on a quest for a match for Isaac.  Abraham's servant was trusted to find an acceptable match for Isaac in another country where he knew no one.  What a tremendous responsibility this servant was given!  Apparently, this servant had full knowledge of Abraham's affairs.  He showed loyalty to Abraham as if he were his own brother.  He certainly shared Abraham's FAITH in God.  This is demonstrated in his prayers and deeds throughout the story.

The servant promised to find a suitable wife for Isaac from Abraham's own family back in Mesopotamia.  Abraham made him seal his promise in a very personal way; he, the servant had to place his hand above his thigh.  By placing his hand on this area and by swearing in the name of God, the servant was binding himself to Abraham's God.  Notice, that the lands where his servant was traveling were filled with the gods of those lands.  Abraham wanted to be assured that his servant was not going to turn aside from the true God.  The servant promised that he would not let Isaac marry a Canaanite, but that he would find a suitable wife from Abraham's family.  Also, Abraham wanted to be assured that his son Isaac and his seed were not going to be corrupted.  Abraham set a standard that was going to be upheld years later when Joshua led the Israelites into the promise land.  This is what we read:  "Lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land and they play the harlet with their gods, and sacrifice to their gods, and someone invite you to eat up his sacrifice; and you take some of his daughters for your sons, and his daughters play the harlet with their gods and cause your sons also to play the harlet with their gods."  Exodus 34:15-16.

The servant sets out with 10 camels and great quantities of supplies and gifts.  When he reaches Northern Mesopotamia he stops near a well.  Both he and his camels are in need of water from the well.  It was common in those days for young unmarried women to draw water in the evening.  He is hoping to meet Isaac's match.  He prays to the LORD to show him which girl he should choose for Isaac according to what he asked for.  He will ask an unmarried girl at the well to give him a drink from her jar.  The chosen girl must not only give him a drink, but his camels also.  In this way, he would know the Lord's choice for Isaac.  It was not customary for young unmarried girls to speak to men outside of their home, much less a foreigner. Nevertheless, Rebekah fulfills all of the prayer's requirements.  She draws water for the servant and offers water to the camels until they are full.  She is also part of Abraham's family.  Another requirement she fulfills. She is unmarried and beautiful.  God goes beyond the servant's request in such a bountiful way that the servant has to bow down and worship.  What an amazing God we have!  When he realizes that Rebekah is the one, he gives her gold bracelets for her arms and a ring for her nose.  This is a sign of a marriage arrangement.  The servant gets invited by Laban her brother to dinner.  He tells Abraham's story to Laban and her father, Bethuel.  After hearing the story, both Laban and her father agreed that Rebekah would be a good match for Isaac.  Rebekah is not consulted about her own marriage, which was normal for a patriarchal culture.  When the deal is made, the servant then takes Rebekah and returns to Abraham, but Laban and her mother ask him to delay, "But her brother and her mother said, 'Let the girl stay with us a few days, say ten; afterward she may go.'"  Gen. 24:55.  The family consults Rebekah and she agrees to go with the servant immediately.

When Rebekah and the servant arrived in the Negev,  Isaac sees them from afar.  When she sees Isaac approaching, she finds out he is her intended husband, she veils her face.  Isaac and Rebekah are married in Sarah's tent.  What a  beautiful "fairy tale" love story!

The following are some parallels between the Genesis stories of Ishmael and Isaac:

Gen. 21:12
God orders Ishmael to leave
Gen. 22:2
God orders Isaac's sacrifice
Gen. 21:14
Leave in the morning with supplies
Gen. 22:3
Leave in the morning with supplies
Gen. 21:16
Ishmael is about to die
Gen. 22:10
Isaac is about to be sacrificed
Gen. 21:17
Angel calls to Hagar
Gen. 22:11
Angel calls to Abraham
Gen. 21:18
Ishmael will be a great nation
Gen. 22:17
Isaac's descendants will be innumerable
Gen. 21:19
God provides a well
Gen. 22:13
God provides a ram

May our Lord help us to have Abraham's OBEDIENCE.  His obedience to God is our best example and motivator!   May we be like Abraham, who placed his life in God's hands, trusting God's judgment more than his own.  


Tuesday, December 10, 2013


 "For we walk by FAITH, NOT by sight."  
II Corinthians 5:8

Our God is glorified in our weaknesses and His joy is our strength.   There are days, moments and seasons in our lives where God takes us by surprise.  This surprise may feel like a big blow to our dreams, hopes and expectations.  We may not even be conscious of it at that moment; but often those big surprises require us to lay down ourselves and surrender to Him and the unknown.  At times, I just have to smile and shake my head.  Of course, this is God's plan and purpose for my days. It is then that I become aware that I must remove my thoughts of FEAR and TRUST Him, knowing in my heart without any hesitation, that this is His plan and the path that He is laying down before me.  I have concluded that God has different plans for us as the years unfold.  This demands a lot of FAITH!  Faith not in ourselves and our abilities, but a FAITH in our Jesus who loves and walks with us the path of life in GRACE.  

At times, Christians make a life changing commitment to love and follow Christ, but fail to live in the fullness that God has purposed for them.  On such occasions, we must recommit our FAITH.  We must never forget that the only thing that is worth holding on to in our lives is our FAITH.  We must choose to put our FAITH in Christ throughout our lives,  TRUSTING that He is the AUTHOR of good things and the GIVER of life even when our lives are not going the way we have planned.

In Hebrews 11:1 we read, "Now FAITH is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things NOT seen."  There are times in our lives when things don't look encouraging, when life is full and chaotic. We feel inadequate!  But it is at this moment that we know and must be CONSCIOUS that our FAITH is being put to the test even though we cannot SEE the purpose.  It is hard to be CONFIDENT in God while our path unfolds before us and the circumstance or perhaps our mental state is bigger than we can imagine.  

When the storms of life hit us, they almost always appear to be stronger to us than God's Word.  We cannot afford for a moment to allow our perceptions to CONTROL us.  This can be very deceptive and damaging! So, my question is, what are we going to do when circumstances strike us putting FEAR in our hearts?   Where is our FAITH?  God wants us to trust Him with all of our mind, soul and heart without hesitation.  It is here that we must be of good COURAGE, knowing that we must walk by FAITH and not by sight. (II Corinthians 5:8).  This pleases our Father in heaven.  

I find myself often asking our God for that FAITH  it will take to trust Him in my life.  And I realize I must live in a state of humility in the midst of my humanity.  This is powerful!  God intends for us to live in fellowship with Him.  He wants me to trust His Grace because His Grace is sufficient for all I am lacking.  "And He has said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.'  Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me."  (2 Corinthians 12:9).  Walking by FAITH is not the EASIEST road to take.  It may not seem to be a road that makes any sense from the OUTSIDE, but there are so many blessings filled with God's presence and FAITHFULNESS; building our faith stronger and stronger as we draw nearer and walk closer to Him, the AUTHOR of all good things.  

As we walk this path of life, we must turn our hearts and fix our eyes on Him and toward the UNSEEN, walking by FAITH alone.  If we walk NOT BY SIGHT, our vision becomes much more focused.  "And without FAITH it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a REWARDER of those who SEEK Him."  Hebrews 11:6.  Is God asking you to trust Him perhaps today,  with the assurance of things unseen?  Remember, God gave His only begotten Son so that we may boldly live our lives TRUSTING Him, instead of what is right IN FRONT of us.

May our Lord helps us to WALK our path of life by FAITH, TRUSTING in His goodness and His Grace with that assurance of things unseen, believing that He is and that He is a REWARDER to those who diligently seek Him.


Friday, December 6, 2013


"Make me walk in the path of Thy commandments, for I delight in it."  
Psalm 119:35

Which PATH are we walking on?  God's path or the world's?  Maybe, we are not aware of which PATH we are on.  Maybe, we don't know a better way, a much better PATH.  The choice is ours to make!

Unfortunately, there are many seasoned Christians who don't realize the path they are walking.  Many are not aware that they are walking the PATH of this world, the wrong PATH.  The world's path that leads to DESTRUCTION offers many fancy, tempting and pleasant things.   The WORLD offers us the best dining, expensive cars, bigger homes and more luxuries.  It might even be the allure of an Ivy League education. This path can often lead to the destruction of our souls.  If we seek WHOLENESS in such things, this indicates that we are not WHOLE in Christ.  It is amazing how we  become SLAVES to our culture, desires, things, hobbies, sports, money and media.  We desire the "latest and greatest" of everything.  The world really claims us with our fleshly desires and ambitions.  This is sad!  Should we live for ourselves and not for Christ?

Why not walk and follow the PATH of God?  Why is it then, that we refuse to walk the path of RIGHTEOUSNESS becoming slaves to SIN?  God's PATH offers freedom, peace and restoration for our souls.  But, walking God's PATH is a daily commitment we must make.  It is a  conscious choice we must make.  This doesn't just happen.  It takes effort, courage, determination and a commitment to walk on God's path each day of our lives.  We need prayer in our daily walk with God to help us walk His path and to keep us on His path without STRAYING.  We need His Grace to help us with each step we take.  Let's not forget, our enemy Satan wants to lead us ASTRAY and distract us at any cost.  Satan wants us to walk the path of SIN which is the most popular and familiar path traveled.  Don't you think that it is about time that we be wise with God's help and start waking the right path?    "Enter by the NARROW gate; for the gate is WIDE , and they way is BROAD that leads to destruction and many are those who enter by it.  For the gate is SMALL, and the way is NARROW that leads to LIFE, and FEW are those who find it."  Matthew 7:13-14

"He restores my soul; He guides me in the PATHS of RIGHTEOUSNESS for His name's sake."  Psalm 23:3.  Oh, how I love this verse!   Please note,  "He restores my soul, He GUIDES me in the paths of righteousness."  It doesn't say "maybe" He will guide me.  Our God is not capricious!  It says clearly, HE GUIDES ME.  He will guide me if I am abiding in His TRUTH, being faithful and determined to DO HIS WILL.  I guarantee you He is not going to let you down!

It must be very DIFFICULT to start or restart walking the RIGHT PATH when we have been used to waking the WRONG one, the unrighteous one.  It is hard to make life changes when they have been corrupted.  But, there is so much blessing when we walk the path of God, the path of RIGHTEOUSNESS. We start acting and looking differently than the WORLD.  We start shining our light before others and they NOTICE IT.  I promise they will notice it!  We must look different from the world, the world's path that doesn't lead to ETERNAL life.  God's path DOES!   Maybe, the key to our problem is to start slowing down.  Spend more time with our God in studying Scripture, in prayer, more time with our families and those whom we say we love.  Maybe, we need to be more motivated by spiritual, heavenly things than earthly things.  Maybe, we need to start using our time more wisely and redeem it for God's sake.  Maybe, we need to start thinking differently about the way we entertain ourselves.  A little less TV, hobbies, gaming, sports, media, etc.  In other words, we need to start dying to ourselves and live for Christ.  He gives LIFE to us abundantly to bear good fruit for His glory.  It is about time we go back to the ANCIENT PATHWAYS of God!

God has never promised that His PATH will be a bed roses, an easy one, but neither is the world's path! But let's not forget,  there is a BIG difference.  "Thou wilt make known to ME the path of life, in Thy presence is FULLNESS of joy; in Thy RIGHT hand there are pleasures forever."  Psalm 16:11.  The world's path can never offer FULLNESS of joy, or pleasures forever.

Walking the Christian path, the RIGHTEOUS one, is not a matter of just being baptized, the forgiveness of our past sins and a FAITH that does not act.  It is a matter of walking in NEWNESS of life, walking Christ's path.  We must allow Christ to guide ALL of our steps in every area of our lives.  He COMMANDS that we WALK in His PATHS so that "you will walk in the way of GOOD men, and KEEP to the PATHS of the RIGHTEOUS."  Proverbs 2:20.

The following are some proverbs to help us walk in the PATHS of God:

  • "In all your WAYS acknowledge Him, and He will make your PATHS  straight."  Proverbs 3:6
  • " I have directed you in the WAY of wisdom; I have led you in upright PATHS."  Proverbs 4:11
  • "Do not enter the PATH of the wicked, and do not proceed in the WAY of evil men."  Proverbs 4:14
  • "But the PATH of the righteous is like the light of dawn, that shines brighter and brighter until the full day."  Proverbs 4:18
  • "Watch the PATH of your feet, and all your WAYS will be established."  Proverbs 4:26
  • "In the WAY of righteousness is life, and in its PATHWAY there is NO death."  Proverbs 12:28

May our Lord LEAD our footsteps each day, leading and guiding our minds, hearts and souls with wisdom so that we can walk His PATH of righteousness shining our light before a world of darkness and death.


Wednesday, December 4, 2013


After 10 years of God's promise to Abram about a son, Sarai's desperation reached a peak.  She offered her Egyptian maid Hagar to Abram hoping that she would bear him a child in her place.  This was a common practice in those days.  It is found in the Sumerian law code from around 1800 B.C. and an Old Assyrian Marriage contract from around the same time.  According to their customs, the child born this way would belong to Abram and Sarai and not the servant.  Hagar became pregnant. She began to look with contempt, Genesis 16:4.   It was then that Abram gave Sarai permission to do with Hagar as she wished, "But Abram said to Sarai, behold, your maid is in your power; do to her what is good in your sight.  So Sarai treated her harshly, and she fled from her presence."  Genesis 16:6.  Sarai dealt harshly with Hagar, and she fled from her.  An angel of the LORD appeared to Hagar as she was resting beside a spring in the desert.  Did you know this is the first appearance of an angel in Scripture?  Here, we see a loving God who cares for the weak and helpless.  The angel told Hagar to return to Sarai and SUBMIT to her, but at the same time comforted her with the promise that she would bear a son named Ishmael and his descendants would be too numerous to count.  Hagar gave birth to Abram's first son.  His name was Ishmael, chosen by the Lord, meaning "God hears."  Abram was  86 years old when he was born.

Thirteen years passed and Sarai was still childless.   Abram was 99 yrs. old when an angel of the LORD appeared to him a sixth time.  He commanded Abram to "walk before me and be blameless"  Genesis 17:1 and reaffirmed his covenant with Abram.  He also changes Abram's name to Abraham, which means "father of a multitude of nations."  Sarai's name was changed to Sarah, meaning "princess".  She also received God's blessing.  As a sign of the covenant God commanded Abraham and all the males of his household to be circumcised. Abraham as always obeyed God.  And from that time forward Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac and all Jewish males bore the mark of "circumcision."

In a seventh encounter with God, Abraham and Sarah were visited by three men, Genesis 18. These men were angels who told Abraham that Sarah would have a child.  When Sarah heard this, she laughed, perhaps in both joy and disbelief.  Abraham was 100 years old when Sarah had a son whom they named Isaac, meaning "laughter." Genesis 21:1-7.

Ishmael was 13 years old when Sarah bore Isaac, the true son of God's promise. Although Sarah had born a son to Abraham, he always retained a special place for his first born son, Ishmael. Here jealousy begins to resurface.  Sarah demanded that Abraham send Hagar away so that Ishmael could never share Isaac's inheritance.  Although, Abraham was upset, since he cared for his son Ishmael, God promised that He would take care of Ishmael.  So, he sent both Hagar and Ishmael away with a small supply of food.  When the food supply ran out, Hagar laid Ishmael beside a bush to die. Ishmael cried out, and God heard his cry.  An angel of the LORD spoke words of comfort to Hagar, repeating the promise that a great nation would rise from Ishmael.  What an amazing God we have! God cared for Hagar and Ishmael.  Ishmael grew into manhood becoming an expert archer .

What an awesome God we have!  God's ability to fulfill His promise to Abraham is a great testimony of His power over human life.  He proved that He can do the impossible.



The following is a summary of what my children and I learned on Ancient History about Abraham:

Abraham's father Terah was from the line of Noah's son Shem.  The name "Terah" was associated with the moon, "yareah" and thus the moon god.  Terah did not have any children until he was 70 years old.  He had 3 sons,  Abram, Nahor and Haran.  Terah's son Haran died early leaving behind his own son, Lot, who was Abram's cousin.  Sarai was the daughter of one of Terah's many wives.  Abram later married Sarai who was his half-sister.  Intermarriage between family members was very common in those days.  Extended families were closer-knit than they are today; husbands often had many wives which meant that half-brothers and half-sisters often grew together;  language barrier was common with people outside the family group.  There were cultural and religious differences outside the circle of family members.  Abram's father, Terah was an idol worshiper and an idol merchant.  We read of this in Joshua 24:2, "And Joshua said to all the people, thus says the LORD , the God of Israel, from ancient times your fathers lived beyond the River, namely, Terah, the father of Abraham and the father of Nahor, and they served other gods."  Abram did not learn about the One True God from his father.  The Sumerian of Ur believed that their purpose on earth was to serve their gods.  They considered their kings to be gods. They made human sacrifices when a king died.  This was their final worship service to their god-king.  This system made the death of a king a terribly sad occasion.

Abram received a call from God about leaving his hometown Ur and set out to Haran, "Now the LORD said to Abram,  go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father's house, to the land which I will show you; and I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and so shall you be a blessing; and and I will bless those who bless you and the one who curses you I will curse.  And in you ALL the families of the earth shall be blessed."  Genesis 12:1-4; Acts 7:2-4.  It must have been difficult for Abram to leave behind everything that he owned and knew to build a new home in an unknown and unsettled country.  When God called Abram to leave his country, his people and his father, He didn't tell Abram where he was going.  The following are 7 elements of God's call to Abram:

1.  "I will make you into a great nation."  From Abram's seed would come a great nation.
2.  "and I will bless you."  Abram was going to enjoy material prosperity.
3.  "I will make your name great."  Abraham's name would be renowned beyond his lifetime.
4.  "and you will be a blessing."  God was going to bless Abraham and his seed.
5.  "I will bless those who bless you."  God was going to bless those who blessed Abraham and his seed.
6.  "and whoever curses you I will curse."  God was going to punish those who cursed Abraham and his seed.
7.  "and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you."  It was through Abraham's seed that God was going to provide a future blessing to all, the Messiah.

Abram's amazing faith is a great example to us.  He obeyed God by taking his family and his brother's son Lot and set off to an unknown land.  It was at Shechem that God suddenly appeared to him promising him all of the land around him.  There he built an altar for the Lord as worship.  It took a lot of faith for Abram to do what God told him to do.  He did so believing God's promises, "Then he believed in the LORD, and He reckoned it to him as righteousness." Genesis 15:6; Hebrews 11:8-12.


Monday, December 2, 2013


"Have I not commanded you?  Be STRONG and COURAGEOUS!  Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go."  
Joshua 1:9

God commands and expects us to be STRONG and COURAGEOUS.  We have no other option because it is a COMMAND!  There is no room here for COWARDICE.   The apostle Paul prayed for COURAGE. Nevertheless, it is something that we must do with God's help. 

COURAGE doesn't necessarily involve fighting a battle, climbing the highest mountain peak or defying the strongest storm, but rather walking the path that God wants us to walk without straying.

Jesus is our perfect example of walking the path of COURAGE.  He modeled it.  He walked the path opposed to the culture of that time when He healed the cast-offs of society.  He touched the lepers, Matthew 8:1-4.  He exposed the Pharisees' adultery, hypocrisy and their neglect of justice, mercy, and faithfulness.   He cried out against their habit of lying and retaliation against their neighbors.  He said, "For I say to you, that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven."  Matthew 5:20.  

Jesus spoke against their greed for earthly treasures.  This must have taken a lot of  COURAGE!  He told them that what they valued was of no value at all.

"Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and cast insults at you, and spurn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man.  Be glad in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven... " 
 Luke 6:22-23 

Jesus is our best example of dying to self.  It takes a great deal of  COURAGE to die to self every day.  Selfishness is one of those sins that Jesus nailed to the cross.  There was no selfishness in Him. Otherwise, we wouldn't have a Savior.  Jesus simply lived a life of sacrifice dying to himself for us.   He died to what might have been His own ambitions and earthly desires. Although He was God and was richer than any of us,  He did not use that for His own benefit.  Let us never forget that our Lord Jesus became poor for us, "Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but EMPTIED Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men."  Phil. 2:5-7.   "For you know the Grace of POVERTY our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was RICH , yet for your sake He became POOR, that you through His POVERTY might become RICH."  II Cor. 8:9. He always thought about His flock.  He lived for everyone else, but Himself.  He died to Himself!   It must have taken lots of COURAGE to die a cruel death on a cross and not run away.  "And He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed."  I Peter 2:24.

"Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have CRUCIFIED the flesh with its passions and desires." Gal. 5:24.  Our selfishness should be crucified with Him when we are baptized into His death.  Let's take a moment and meditate on this.  It is through Jesus' blood that we can crucify all of our selfish desires, ambitions, lusts, greed and so on. Yet, we seem to keep living for SELF.  This, of course, does not produce in us the good fruit of peace, but rather strife and hypocrisy.  "For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing.  But the WISDOM from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy."  James 3:16-17.

Dying to ourselves demands a lot of COURAGE.  But it is in dying to ourselves that we can bear the pure, sincere and merciful fruits.  Life-giving fruits!  My question is then, how can we live only to ourselves pleasing the desires of our flesh knowing that this produces only strife and hypocrisy? How much better it is to live for God and the ambitions that He has set for us which reap a bountiful harvest of peace!  The choice is ours.

Lest we forget, Jesus has already walked the path of  COURAGE for us when He died that cruel death on the cross.  It is through His death that we can have peace and life-giving things, rather than strife, hypocrisy, and evil things.  Remember that we must live in that same COURAGE and SACRIFICE all the days of our lives.  Let us not take for granted Jesus' blood that was shed that we may live in the fullness of life every day.  "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone; but if it dies, it BEARS much fruit."   John 12:24. 

"I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the LIFE which I now live in the flesh I live by FAITH in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me."  
Gal. 2:20

Let us ARM ourselves with the mind and purpose of Christ, "Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, ARM yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh NO LONGER for the lust of men, but for the WILL OF GOD... but they shall give account to Him who is ready to JUDGE the living and the dead.  For the Gospel has for this purpose been preached even to those who are dead,... they may live in Spirit according to the WILL OF GOD."  I Peter 4:1-6.

May our Lord give us the COURAGE to die to ourselves, so that we may live a rich and abundant life to His glory.  The following poem expresses well the courageous voyage of dying to self, being crucified with Christ in our daily walk,


"Crucified With Christ"

As I look back 
On what I thought was living
I'm amazed at the price 
I choose to pay
And to think I ignored 
What really mattered
'Cause I thought the sacrifice 
Would be too great

But when I finally reached 
The point of giving in
I found the cross 
Was calling even then
And even though 
It took dying to survive
I've never felt so much alive

For I am crucified with Christ 
And yet I live
Not I but Christ 
That lives within me

His Cross will never ask for more 
Than I can give
For it's not my strength but His
There's no greater sacrifice
For I am crucified with Christ
And yet I live

As I hear the Savior
Call for daily dying
I will bow beneath 
The weight of Calvary
Let my hands surrender
To His piercing purpose
That holds me to the cross
Yet sets me free

I will glory in 
The power of the cross
The things I thought were gain 
I count as loss
And with His suffering 
I identify
And by His resurrection power 
I am alive

For I am crucified with Christ 
And yet I live
Not I but Christ 
That lives within me

His Cross will never ask for more 
Than I can give
For it's not my strength but His
There's no greater sacrifice
For I am crucified with Christ
And yet I live

And I will offer all I have
So that His cross is not in vain
For I found to live is Christ
And to die is truly gain

For I am crucified with Christ 
And yet I live
Not I but Christ 
That lives within me

His Cross will never ask for more 
Than I can give
For it's not my strength but His
There's no greater sacrifice
For I am crucified with Christ
And yet I live

For I am crucified with Christ
And yet I live

Monday, November 25, 2013


"In everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."  
I Thessalonians 5:18

Thanksgiving can be careless or a deeply rewarding event. It all depends on what we make of it. Tables across the country will be set for the celebration of Thanksgiving.  Words and prayers of thanksgiving will be offered.  We are grateful for our abundant food, good health, our homes and our children.  It is so easy to give thanks when life is smooth, and everything is going our way.  In fact, in such times we find it easy to thank God for all He has done for us.

We, His children, have an abundance of blessings bestowed on us for which we must be thankful. Consider some of the many blessings:

  • Family.
  • Good health.
  • The freedom to worship God.
  • The Gospel of Christ.
  • Our redemption.
  • The hope of eternal life.
  • The freedom to home educate our children.
  • Air to breathe.
  • Water to drink.
  • Food to eat.
  • The everlasting Word of God.
  • And most of all our Lord and Savior:
    • Who redeemed us.
    • Who cares for us.
    • Who sympathizes with our weaknesses.
    • And who has sworn never to forsake us.  
If you have any of these many blessings, then you are more than rich.

“The blessing of Jehovah, it maketh rich; And he addeth no sorrow therewith.”  
Proverbs 10:22.

We must also be thankful for His Son, who gives us victory.

“Who can separate us from the love of Christ?  Can affliction or anguish or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? … No, in all these things we are more than victorious through Him who loved us.  ”Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or anguish, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  Even as it is written, for thy sake we are killed all the day long; we were accounted as sheep for the slaughter.  Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.”  
Romans 8:35-37

Being grateful is the key to spiritual victory.  Joy is the result of a grateful heart. A thankful heart is the product of a person who chooses always to give thanks no matter what the circumstances.  It is the person who never compares himself to other people but always to Christ.  It is the heart that realizes he is rich beyond measure because he is a child of God and that in Him he finds His portion. It is the heart that is always looking for reasons to be content and give thanks.

Therefore, we must learn to appreciate and be thankful for God's loving kindness.  Notice what David once said:
"Blessed be the Lord, For He has made marvelous His loving kindness to me in a besieged city."  Psalm 31:21

There is nothing more critical than finding oneself in a besieged city.  It is as bad as one's circumstances can get.  Yet David acknowledges God's loving kindness toward him.  God heard his crying prayer for deliverance.  He made David aware of His love and kindness for him.

  • Are we aware or do we acknowledge God's loving kindness toward us?  
  • Can we fathom the depth of His love for us?  
  • Have we forgotten Romans 8:38-39?  
"For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Sadly, many become anxious when things are tough, and life is difficult.  They lose heart and become discouraged.  In those dark moments, they find it hard to understand the purpose of our trials. They become anxious about the unknown.  They are overwhelmed!  Despair is the opposite of true THANKSGIVING.  When our affections are on earthly things and not on God, we are in danger.  We tend to cling to our immediate circumstances rather than to God.  Only God can fill our hearts with His peace.   It makes us not only anxious but also insecure.
"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!  Let your forbearing spirit be known to all men.  The Lord is near."  Philippians 4:5-6

We must always remember that God is in control.  God is already in the future because He stands outside of time.  Let's never forget His beautiful and faithful promises we find in Matthew 6:28-34:  
"And why are you anxious....Do not be anxious then, saying, what shall we eat? or what shall we drink? or with what shall we clothe our selves?  For all these things the Gentiles eagerly seek; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you..."

Our God wants us to live in His peace.

"And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."  Philippians 4:7.  
He doesn't want us to become weary and anxious.  He wants us to let go of the bondage of anxiety. It doesn't mean that we will escape feeling sorrow or stress, but we will find a satisfying deep calm in our hearts.   Such tranquility can only come from trusting God with all of our hearts.  We must always have the disposition to give thanks to God no matter what our circumstances are.  YES, we must have a heart of thanksgiving even in death, in life, in sickness, in health, in abundance and poverty.  This is what God wants and expects of us. He wants grateful hearts!

Let's consider what Paul tells us:  

"The things you have learned and received  and heard and seen in me, practice these things; and the God of peace shall be with you."  Philippians 4:9.  

Paul makes us aware that it takes practice to accomplish and achieve this peace.   We must dwell in His Truth and guard it in our hearts to have this peace.  A muscle is strengthened with a lot of exercise.  In the same way, our spiritual strength is developed by a lot of practice enabling us to defeat anxiety.  We cannot let Satan lie to our minds and emotions.  This surely will drive us crazy!  We can't afford to walk his pathway of lies and anxiety.   Anxiety is just that—a great, big lie.
"For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened."  Romans 1:21.

Let's remember that our God is not a God of chaos and anxiety.

"For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline."  2 Timothy 1:7.  
Anxiety is not of God but rather the work of Satan. He, Satan, uses this as a weapon against us; to distract us from the PEACE of God. The only way to defeat him is by dwelling in God's Truth, fixing our eyes on Him.  Dwelling in lies, trusting that we are in control and not God, is of Satan.  We must always know that God holds us in His hands; and that He is the author of time; that we are here temporarily; and that He has control over everything.  So, my question is, What is there to become anxious about?

What did Jesus do before He went to the cross?  Let's read I Corinthians 11:24.  

"And when He had given thanks, He broke it, and said, this is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me."  

It was just hours away from His painful death on the cross.  Jesus gave thanks!   We have so much to give thanks for:  not so much for material riches, but mainly for God's love for us in sending His only begotten Son to die for our sins so that through Him we could be redeemed and have access to eternal life.  Let's never take for granted God's immeasurable grace.   So, when you find yourself discouraged, remember always that we have all we need in Christ.  He is the fullness that fills all in all.  Why not take a moment to give thanks?

"Saying, Amen, blessings and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever, Amen."  Revelation 7:12.

May our Lord help us to give thanks always no matter what our circumstances are.  May we live in His peace trusting in Him with all of our hearts, minds, and souls.  May we keep calm and know that He cares for us.  May we never forget that He is near.  To Him be the glory.


Monday, November 18, 2013


There is a tremendous temptation on the part of both children and adults to shift blame. This can be damaging and overwhelming at times. This rotten behavior of shifting blame has been around since the beginning in the Garden of Eden.  Our first father, Adam, modeled this behavior. Of course, it is so much easier to focus on blaming others than to take full responsibility of our own personal actions. But, this blame shifting is only a sign of living an unrepented life, cowardice, fear, immaturity and why not a combination of all. We must learn to first see the beam in our own eye before focusing on our brother's mote, Matthew 7:1-6. This is vital to restore peace in our homes and the church. We must be willing to take responsibility for our own actions in order to live a life that pleases God and lead others to Him. The only way to victory! Consider the following poem.

Blame Yourself !

There’s a nasty green temptation that afflicts most everyone
To skirt responsibility when we’ve done something that’s wrong.
Instead of ‘fessing up like men to the blackness of our heart,
We focus on the other guy’s fault and emphasize his part.

Here’s a hardy, healthy maxim given long ago by Dad,
With a world of wealthy wisdom which will triumph over fad:
God has given you great mercy; You’ve been spared the very worst.
Be gen’rous to others — Blame yourself first!

The poor response by Adam on the day he broke God’s Law
Was to shift the blame to Eve using an argument of straw,
Thus establishing for Mankind this most unattractive flaw.
Learn from his mistake — Stop and blame yourself!

When you’re feeling kinda fickle ‘bout the pickle that you’re in,
Teary puddles you’re producing, as your noodle cooks the sin,
But complaining while explaining never leads to a win-win.
Take a breath, think again — And blame yourself!

When befuddled and besmirched, without a horse before the cart,
It’s ever so convenient to forget Your own wretched part,
And recount with gory details His worst mistakes from the start.
Bite your tongue, take the hit — Just blame yourself!

There’s a way to say “I’m sorry” that’s clearly not repentance,
Taking some responsibility to minimize your sentence,
While giving him the lion’s share with most self-righteous vengeance.
This is not true contrition — Blame yourself!

When you’re backed against the wall, because you’re in a rotten mess,
Next you feel the pressure mounting, and you’re needing to confess,
But by shifting blame to others, you won’t mitigate the stress,
De-escalate the crisis — Blame yourself!

There’s another type of shifting reminiscent of a snake.
It happens when you twist and turn the other’s words and then take
Advantage of their absence through your sad one-sided remake.
But that’ll really bite you — Just blame yourself!

If you break the Ninth Commandment, just to save your precious skin,
Using just a little half-truth, so it doesn’t seem like sin,
But a half truth is a whole lie, and another form of spin.
Better focus on your part — Blame yourself!

By sustaining all your blaming, as you prosecute and try,
Your convincing is evincing such a self-deceptive high,
Your evasion becomes persuasion: You believe your own lie!
But that doesn’t change the truth — Blame yourself!

If you blame others less, and blame yourself more,
It may rub against the grain, and feel an awful chore,
But by doing you’re subduing pride and opening a door!
For future hope and peace — So blame yourself!

A gentle word assuages wrath, and less fire kills the flame.
Speak to your brother privately, or he may put you to shame.
Don’t accuse him before others, lest your tempted to defame.
And while we’re on the subject — Blame yourself!

When life is looking mighty grave, and your heart hungers for health,
Take a queue from the Word, quickly take the Bible off the shelf.
Stop and ask the living God to help you learn to die to self.
Be a truly humble man and blame yourself!