Love and acceptance

I wrote a blog a few days ago and my attention has been drawn to the fact that I have misinterpreted the intentions of the gentleman who I reported as having said that God does not communicate with people anymore. I have apologized to him and I want to use this opportunity to apologize publicly. It just shows how easily misunderstanding occur and how careful we have to be when we listen to people.

Misunderstandings can easily lead to severed relationships. Often Christians don’t agree about things and then part ways which is really sad. In Acts 15:36 – 41 Paul and Barnabas couldn’t agree about taking John Mark with them on a trip and their argument became so heated that they decided to part ways.

Acts 15:39 The contention became so sharp that they parted from one another. And so Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus;

We know that they eventually got together again.

Colossians 4:10 Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you, with Mark the cousin of Barnabas (about whom you received instructions, if he comes to you, welcome him).

Hebrews 12:14-15 Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled.

We should always put peace first between Christians, whether they have exactly the same doctrines as us or not. The Word of God should be our final authority. If the issue is doctrine we can still be brothers and sisters because at the end of the day we are children of the living God and Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior.

Hebrews 12:28 – 29 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and Godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire.

I have been offended by Christians and by the church, and I am sure that most Christians can say the same. It happens all the time and I don’t think that while the enemy prowl like a hungry lion that will change. I made the decision to return to the church which I had left and ask for forgiveness. We cannot afford to be at war with our fellow Christians. We have to make every attempt to be at peace with believers.

James 1:12-   Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Let not one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. Do not be deceived my beloved brethren.

We have to be so careful not to be enticed by the enemy to believe that we are right in taking offense. God does not want us to be offended. Offence is not one of the fruit of the Spirit. Offence is from the devil and we should be really aware of our feelings and our motives at all times.

Romans 14:13 Therefore do not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way.

1 Peter 2:11-12 Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.

If believers are busy pulling each other’s beliefs apart, what kind of an example is that to the unbelievers? We should at least be able to show brotherly love to each other without criticising and putting each other down. I am sincerely sorry about the misunderstanding and that I said something about it without first checking my facts. I can only aspire to listen better in future and also to show more love and acceptance to my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

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Consequences

My husband and I were speaking to a young lady this morning about the consequences of drinking and gambling. Her opinion was that people are way too judgemental and that she should be left alone to do as she pleases. I have been thinking about events in the Bible and how everything that God told people to do had consequences. Every act is part of a bigger picture, but we don’t always see that picture. Everything has repercussions and does not only touch the person who makes the decision.
Just imagine if Moses had ignored God when He told him to go back to Egypt and lead the Israelites to the Promised Land. Moses really didn’t want to do it and tried very hard to get out of it.
Exodus 3:11 But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?”
Verse 13 Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you, and they ask me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?”
Exodus 4:1 Then Moses answered, “But behold, they will not believe me or listen to my voice, for they will say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you.’”
Verse 10 But Moses said to the Lord, “Oh my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since You have spoken to Your servant, but I am slow of speech and tongue.”
And when none of those arguments phased God, Moses says in verse 13, “Oh my Lord, please send someone else.”
The consequences of Moses not going would have been far reaching. I’m sure God had a plan B if Moses did refuse, but just think of the consequences for Moses. If he saw someone else leading his people out of Egypt, can you think how he would have felt? And even though Moses had a very tough time in the desert, he was so close to God. He had the kind of relationship with the Lord that every Christian should desire. He spoke to God face to face, he even argued his people’s case so effectively that God changed His mind and didn’t destroy them all.
God called Jeremiah as a prophet and in chapter 1:6 he says, “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.”
God answers him, Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’ for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the Lord.”
We have all done things without thinking about the consequences. Sometimes we are desperate and we believe we don’t have a choice in what we do. Other times we simply don’t think. What would you say if God told you to leave your family and friends, your job, your country, your comfort zone and go to a primitive country that you’ve only vaguely heard the name of? You don’t even know where it is on the map. Would God do something like that? Surely not, because you’ve prayed and asked Him to provide you with a stable income and a caring spouse and all the things the world holds dear. That’s what God told Abraham to do. Or what if God told you to do something totally ridiculous that doesn’t make sense at all and you know that everyone is going to ridicule you. Well, God told Noah to build and ark. He wasn’t anywhere near water and it had never rained, thus nobody knew what a flood was. What about Hosea? God told him to marry a prostitute. And look at Isaiah 20:3 Then the Lord said, “As my servant Isaiah has walked naked and barefoot for three years as a sign and a portent against Egypt and Cush…”
Ezekiel 4:4 “Then lie on your left side, and place the punishment on the house of Israel upon it. For the number of the days that you shall lie on it, you shall bear their punishment. For I assign to you a number of days, 390 days, equal to the number of the years of their punishment. So long shall you bear the punishment of the house of Israel. And when you have completed these, you shall lie down a second time, but on your right side, and bear the punishment of the house of Judah. Forty days I assign you, a day for each year.”
Does God tell us to do ridiculous things? Yes, I think so. But everything He tells us is for a purpose. Just like every action we take has consequences, we should learn to think about those consequences before we act.

God in a box

I met someone who claims to know when Jesus is coming back, or rather he claims to know when judgement day will be. He tried to convince me that what he was saying was the truth according to the Word, but I couldn’t really follow his train of conviction. It seemed that his main thought was that God doesn’t speak to people anymore and that everything that God did in the New Testament was everything that God did. According to him people must not claim to have heard from God in a dream because that’s nonsense and God has already said everything that He wanted to say. He says that if anyone wants to know anything at all it is in the Bible. I do agree that the Bible has all our answers but I cannot agree that God doesn’t communicate directly with us. Firstly because I have specifically had dreams which I truly believe to be from God, and secondly, why would Jesus be alive and why would He have left us with the Holy Spirit if the only communication that was going to take place would be through Scripture?

Why would Jesus say that we would know His voice?

John 10:4 And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.

John 18:37 Pilate therefore said to Him, “Are You a king then?” Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice.”

Revelation 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with me.

Just look at the piece in Acts 9: 10 -15 where God speaks to him in a vision and tells him to go to a specific address so that he can pray for Paul. In Acts 16:9 – 15 Paul has a dream of a Macedonian standing of the far shore of the sea telling him to come over the sea to help them.

Ephesians 4:11-12  And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,

1 Corinthians 12:7 – 10 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given to each for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.

There is no cut-off date in the Bible where God says, at this time dreams, visions and communications are going to stop and from this time on you have to find all communications in scripture.

Now don’t get me wrong. I am never going to say that God speaking directly to people in whatever form can replace the Word. And anything that anyone hears from God, in whatever form, should be tested against scripture. If we don’t do that there is the danger of making up our own doctrines and that would not be good, not good at all. We also cannot add anything to the Bible. Say, for instance, God tells you to go outside at midnight and He shows you how beautiful the stars are to illustrate His majesty to you. That is personal and you can share it with people, but you cannot make a rule out of it saying that now everyone has to go outside at midnight and look at the stars in order to realize how great God is.

Isaiah 43:19 Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.

Luke 1:37 For nothing will be impossible with God.

We should hold on to what we believe and what we read in the Word and we should never, never ever try to put God in a box or limit Him.

Things above

I heard someone say today when asked how he was, “I am fine, but my business isn’t really doing well,” and when I heard those words something stirred in my spirit. I suddenly knew in my heart what I had known in my mind for a long time. It was one of those moments that I would like to frame, or build an altar, or have a heap of stones somewhere so that I can remember it for ever. I think I should find a way in which to commemorate times like these so that I bring them to mind when my faith is weak. To be able to separate our wellness, our spiritual wellness, from whatever else is going on in our lives is really what we should be able to do.

Matthew 6:31 – 34 Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For all these things the Gentiles seek, For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

I realized in that instant that everything we own can be taken away from us at any time in the blink of an eye. If I see how many countries have natural disasters like tornadoes, earthquakes and volcanoes, and the devastation caused by them, it’s easy to imagine how possessions can be destroyed. Obviously that’s not the only way that we can lose things, but the fact of the matter is that the things we have, the physical things, are only things and they are temporary. Our spiritual property is eternal, nobody can take that away from us.

Matthew 6:19 – 21 Do not lay up for yourselves treasure on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will also be.

Colossians 3:2 – 4 Set your mind of things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.

We have to put spiritual matters ahead of physical, or worldly matters. It sounds easy if you say it fast. Obviously, with the world clamoring for our attention all the time, it isn’t easy. When we open our eyes in the morning, messages and emails are already waiting on our cell phones. Where are the good old days when you could only check your emails once you booted up your computer? I find that I really have to discipline myself to spend time in prayer because it’s so easy to get distracted by things that really aren’t all that important.

If we put God first, in other words, read the Word, spend time speaking to the Lord and memorizing scriptures daily, we are going to get into a habit of doing it.

We must apply biblical principles to everything we do. All the time, every day. We have to get so well versed in the Word that we know what to do in all situations.

Psalm 119:11 Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against you.
Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

We need to get so close to God that the things of the world, the disappointments, the losses, the cruelty of people don’t overwhelm us. We should be able to take everything that the world dishes up for us and give it to God to handle for us.

Psalm 119:28 My soul melts from heaviness; Strengthen me according to Your word.

This is such a good metaphor, how often don’t we feel exactly like this. Here it gives us the answer – we should be strengthened by the Word. When we feel despondent and depressed, we should ask God to show us which part of the Word will strengthen us.

I am so excited by this revelation, by the fact that God can take head knowledge and, as it were, write it on the tables of my heart. I wonder how it would be when everything in the Word is written on my heart, when everything is not just knowledge in my head, but knowing in my heart? How special it is to serve the living God!!

Words destroy

Yesterday as I was chatting with a friend in the supermarket a resident of our little town approached us and started telling us how corrupt the owner of the supermarket was. I just turned my back and walked away, but my friend came up for the business owner and kept it up until the man stopped speaking and left. I was so disgusted that someone could have so little respect that he could pull someone apart in his own shop. I wondered why he actually shopped there is that was his opinion. I guess I’ll really never understand people and their motives. And by the way his argument actually meant nothing. There’s really nothing shady going on.

Proverbs has a lot of wisdom and here are a few verses I found that I can apply to this situation:

Proverbs 10:8 The wise in heart will receive commands, but a prating fool will fall.

Verse 9 He who walks integrity walks securely, but he who perverts his ways will become known.

Verse 10 He who winks with the eye causes trouble, but a prating fool will fall.

Verse 12 Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all sins.

It’s easy to gossip and it’s easy to stir up people’s emotions. It costs nothing to make up lies about people. Or so it seems. But there are always consequences. Unfortunately spreading rumours about people and about businesses, especially in a small place can cause repercussions that aren’t always pleasant.

I have heard so many times that when teenagers and even children spread malicious rumours about their peers that the one whom they gossip about feels so bad and is so ostracized that they commit suicide. There is so much sadness and grief in the world is it really worth using your words to break down people?

James 3:8 But no man can bridle the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.

Proverbs 18:21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.

They say talk is cheap, but idle talk can be so destructive. One word in the wrong context, or in the wrong place can lead to endless trouble. That is why we need the armour of God at all times. We have to be so careful to guard our minds with the helmet of salvation. Guard what goes into our minds and guard what we allow our minds to ponder on. We have to have the belt of truth firmly buckled around our waists so that we don’t speak anything that isn’t absolutely true. We can so easily react to the accusing words if we don’t keep the shield of faith in it’s place. Of course without the breastplate of righteousness the rest of the armour doesn’t work at all. We need to have the shoes and the sword ready at all times so that when we speak it will be truth according to the word and not just whatever comes into our heads. It is important to remember that as children of a loving and holy God we cannot react out of anger or indignation. We cannot answer someone who is accusing or gossiping in the same tone or manner that he speaks.

If we are known to be believers, and If we are believers, we shouldn’t be hiding the fact, then we must remember that the world is watching us and if we slip up we will be judged. That might not sound nice but it’s true. Jesus bought us at a great price, the price was His blood, we cannot let Him down by sounding like an unbeliever.

Proverbs 20:27 The spirit of a man is the lamp of the Lord, searching all the inner depths of his heart.

God sees us all the time. He knows our thoughts and our motives and every little thing about us. We need to be aware of this and we really need to watch what we say. I got upset by what the man in the supermarket said, and I chose to remain silent. My friend chose to defend the shop owner and she did it is a good way. Neither of us was wrong. I think we need to consciously consult God at that moment as so what our reaction should be so that we can always keep the name of Jesus high.

Are you good enough for God’s Kingdom?

Are you good enough? Do you measure up? Measure up to your family’s expectations, to the media’s propoganda,to the worlds standards? No, you don’t and you never will. You never will because the criteria keeps changing. As soon as you’ve got something perfected something new of different appears. You will always be too short, too tall, too thin or too fat. You will have too little compassion or too much. You will be under qualified and the next moment overqualified. You are not going to win, not ever, if you are trying to be part of the world’s system. You can’t, and you aren’t supposed to.
Rather try being part of God’s system. The rules are a lot different. Obviously you will fit into the world system even less then, but the rewards are far greater than anything the world has to offer.
In my study Bible it gives the conditions of entrance into the Kingdom of God:
Humility, Sympathetic Service, Perseverance, New Birth, Endurance, and Faith and Love. Now these are definitely not character traits that the world puts much store by. These are often interpreted as signs of weakness and aren’t supposed to take you far in any business pursuits. Humility will be seen as allowing people to walk all over you and you are supposed to be able to look after yourself and fight your own battles. Sympathetic service is also just not putting yourself first. After all you have to make provision for the future and you have to look after your own interests above all else. If you don’t who is? Perseverance isn’t something you have to do. Sell out to the highest bidder. Don’t be loyal, don’t stay with any job, product or idea that doesn’t put you first. New Birth? Well that’s just listening to the mumbo jumbo that gets preached in some churches and that stuff is so old fashioned. Endurance is called striving and once again looking after your own interests. Not persevering in hardship, but continually striving to get to the top. Faith and love definitely don’t fit in unless it’s faith in your own abilities, your intellect, your money. And love has to be carnal love.
So why does the Kingdom of God look so different to the world? Because the devil is in charge of the world.
2 Corinthians 4:4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
Ephesians 2:1 – 2 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience.
So in what way is it going to profit you to follow the Kingdom of God instead of the world?
Daniel 2:44 And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever.
Daniel 7:14 And to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.
1 Corinthians 4:20 For the kingdom of God consist in talk but in power.
Luke 1:32 – 33 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to Him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.
2 Peter 1:11 For in this way there will be richly provided for you and entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
You will never be good enough for the world but you will always be and have always been good enough for the Kingdom of God. Jesus died so that you could get your citizenship of the Kingdom. All you have to do is confess Him as Savior. No waiting period, no entrance exam, no screening. Just give him your heart.
And if you are already serving Him and you are a part of the kingdom you are going to be able to testify of its goodness. The world is going to be able to see that you look different, speak different, and live differently to the rest of the world because you have made the better choice.

Too late?

I received a video on my phone depicting beds that had been discarded at a state hospital. Then at our cell meeting we spoke about credibility and one lady had looked up the word in the Hebrew and she said it said wrong speaking makes you lose your credibility. On the surface there’s nothing wrong with a hospital throwing out old beds and getting new ones. Why were they just standing around? Who knows? Maybe someone had tendered to buy them or maybe they were going to be recycled. What worried me about the video was what the man who made the video was saying. And he’s not alone in what he is doing. He seems to be following a tendency. He was telling whoever would be watching over and over that this is what the government is doing with taxpayers money, and that there are other hospitals which don’t have beds. He ended up saying that he is going to share this video as much as he could. Now I’m going to ask, how is sharing this video going to change anything? I do know that it is going to upset a whole lot of people on all sides of the political and economic spectrum. It is going to cause more talk about ‘us’ and ‘them’. It is going to use up a whole lot of data. It is not going to solve the problem of hospitals which don’t have beds! That’s the absolute last thing that’s going to happen. What if he took a video and went to his ward councillor, or the management of the hospital, or even the office of the premier of the province? People seem to think that social media can solve problems. I’m sorry to say that it can’t, never has been able to, never will be able to. The phrase, “share the hell out of this post,” is just nonsense.
Is it okay to share things like this video with the negative comments with the world? No it is not okay because it causes people to think negative thoughts.
Philippians 4:6-8 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
This video does not bring peace to anyone and even though it is being shared by people who are Christians, I am quite sure they are not praying about it.
Verse 8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
Nothing about this video gives me cause to think or meditate on any of the good things mentioned in this verse.
Proverbs 25:11 A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.
Ecclesiastes 10:12 The words of a wise man’s mouth win him favor, but the lips of the fool consume him.
Have we become a nation of people who think that sharing negative things of social media is taking action? Have we forgotten how to pray and have we forgotten the One to whom we pray? Do we think that by spreading this kind of gossip we are going to cause change in our country? This is nothing but gossip, just like a million other videos and stories just like it. They have no substance, no background and no facts. The message that they convey is negative and will only cause people who aren’t discerning to react even more negatively to the government, or to whoever the post is aimed at. What has happened to the nation who used to call on God and receive answers? What happened to people of integrity who could make a real difference by asking God what the best way is to handle a situation?
We have to get back to serving the living God before it’s too late. Too late for our country and too late for our souls.

What if God…

I got involved in this ‘what if’ discussion. Or rather, I tried my best to listen without interrupting too often to say I don’t do ‘what if’. To make things worse it was a political ‘what if’. And it was with my husband, so I really couldn’t be disrespectful and walk away. What if the politicians who are threatening to take land without compensation, really do? What if these same politicians who say they are going to arm themselves and go over to violence, really do? I listened. I know that these are emotional subjects especially for the men who fought in the border wars. I know.

But what if we do what Ezra did in Ezra 8: 21-22 Then I proclaimed a fast there at the river of Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from Him the right way for us and our little ones and all our possessions. For I was ashamed to request of the king an escort of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy on the road, because we had spoken to the king, saying, “The hand of our God is upon all those for good who seek Him, but His power and His wrath are against all those who forsake Him.” 

And what if God does for us what He did for Ezra, Verse 23 So we fasted and entreated our God for this, and He answered our prayer.

What is we do what Nehemiah did in Nehemiah 1:4 So it was, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned for many days; I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven.

And what if God does for us what he did for Nehemiah? Nehemiah 12:27 Now at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem they sought out the Levites in all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem to celebrate the dedication with gladness, both with thanksgivings and singing, with cymbals and stringed instruments and harps. 

What if we do what Daniel did? Daniel 9:3 Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes. And I prayed to the Lord my God, and made confession, and said, “O Lord, great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him, and with those who keep His commandments,

And what if God does for us what He did for Daniel? Daniel 9:21  And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes.

And what if God does for us what He did for Daniel? Daniel9:21 yes, while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, reached me about the time of the evening offering.

Look what happened when the Christians prayed for Peter who had been thrown into prison:

Acts 12:5 – 10 Peter was therefore kept in prison, but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church. And when Herod was about to bring him out, that night Peter was sleeping, bound with two chains between two soldiers; and the guards before the door were keeping the prison. Now behold, an angel of the Lord stood by him, and a light shone in the prison; and he struck Peter on the side and raised him up, saying, “Arise quickly!” And his chains fell off his hands. Then the angel said to him, “Gird yourself and tie on your sandals”; and so he did. And he said to him, “Put on your garment and follow me.” So he went out and followed him, and did not know that what was done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. When they were past the first and the second guard posts, they came to the iron gate that leads to the city, which opened to them of its own accord; and they went out and went down one street, and immediately the angel departed from him.

In Verse 11 Peter says “Now I know for certain that the Lord has sent His angel, and has delivered me from the hand of Herod and from all the expectation of the Jewish people.”

Let us change our ‘what if’ questions to, “What if the Lord does for us what He did for all those people of faith?” and our attitude and our outlook will swiftly change from negative to positive.

You anoint my head with oil

I woke up at 3am and my eye was scratchy and irritated. I tried rubbing my eyes, which only made it worse. I got up, put my glasses on and tried to see in the mirror if there was something in my eye, but to no avail. I didn’t want to wake my husband up because he has to wake up at 5 to open the shop. Do you know how hard it is trying not to move your eyes? I decided to recite Psalm 23 (whispering under the covers so as not to disturb my husband). I eventually drifted off to sleep and my eye is feeling better.

Psalm 23 is very interesting and I don’t know at what stage of his life David wrote this psalm. I can only guess that he wasn’t very young anymore. He seems to have gone through quite a bit of trouble to have come to the conclusions he did. Firstly he says, The Lord is my shepherd. He is very sure of this and leaves no doubt.

I shall not want

God will provide and undertake. Whatever the problem is, whether it is a spiritual or material need, God is in control of it.

He makes me to lie down in green pastures.

This is interesting. He says God makes him lie down. I think if someone makes me do something them it’s as if I’m being forced to do it. Why would God make him take a rest? Because he needed to rest. Just like all of us. I don’t know about you, but for me resting is a bit of an issue. There’s always so much to do. Resting and relaxing are things that always feel like a luxury and I have often felt guilty about not working, even when I’m tired. I have been quite ill a few times in my life and been forced to rest. It really isn’t that bad, but once I recovered I very quickly got back into my routine of being hurried again. I believe we have to rest and we have to take time for it because running on empty and becoming burned out is no good for your health. You are also not going to mean anything to anyone in an exhausted state. Our bodies weren’t built for non-stop work. In the 10 Commandments we are commanded to rest on the seventh day. Even God rested. Jesus often took a rest when the crowds were threatening to overwhelm Him.

He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.

More resting and restoring. I don’t think I could appreciate the still waters and be restored in my soul if I was in a state of exhaustion. It’s hard to be objective when you’re tired. The still waters put a picture of tranquillity in my mind. It makes me think of a happy place. A place where I can hear the birds singing and feel the coolness of the water. And restoring my soul sounds so enticing. It sounds like something I really want to happen. Like being renewed from the inside out. What an amazing experience. And why does God do it? For his name’s sake. Not for me! He needs my soul to be restored so that I can serve Him better and be a better representative. Wow!

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. For you are with me; Your rod and Your staff they comfort me.

David went through that valley many times. His life was in danger often. He knew that valley intimately. But he knew that he did not have to fear being there. He knew for a fact that even when his life was in danger God was there with him. How often don’t people ask the question, “Where was God?” when bad things happen. David answers that question without hesitation. For You are with me.  Most of us haven’t had to go through a fraction of the hardships David had to endure. He could well have shouted at God and asked how He could let His anointed suffer like he did, but he didn’t. He accepted what he went though and wasn’t rebellious about it. David had quite a few faults, but rebelliousness wasn’t one of them. Then he says that God’s rod and staff comfort him. The shepherd uses these tools to goad guide the sheep. I think he’s referring to God’s laws here. We don’t normally see laws as comforting, but they give us boundaries and boundaries are comforting.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.

This is what God does for us. He provides magnificently in spite of the fact that our enemies are watching, and not only watching, but right there. God doesn’t work the way we work and He doesn’t think the way we think. In the blackest, darkest of times He can suddenly present us with a feast. He can bless us beyond what we thought possible in a time you didn’t expect it. He does not do things the way we do things. We would never think of preparing a banquet while our enemies are watching us. We would rather wish we could disappear, but God will do something like that. He can show us His love and His power in the most meagre circumstances. I remember being awake one night and not feeling very sure of God’s love or his presence. I asked Him to show me His love and he did. I physically felt waves of His love go through my body. To properly describe the feeling is not possible. It was something I had never experienced before and it gave me so much peace. I knew then for sure that God was real and that He cares for me and would always care for me. He didn’t mind that there wasn’t an audience or that it wasn’t during a church service. He just showed me His love because that was what I needed.

You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over.

David had been anointed by Samuel as king. Many years and many trials and tribulations passed by before David became king. In the time before he became king, he never used the fact that he had been anointed to gain himself favour. He never used it against Saul. He always respected Saul as being God’s anointed, not even when Saul was being totally wicked. David had two perfect opportunities to kill Saul while he was being hunted down, but he decided to respect him instead. Can we say the same of ourselves when we get irritated or upset at people who treat us unfairly? David’s cup ran over with God’s love. He knew that God would be there for him. David didn’t always do everything right, but he always realized and recognized his own sins and repented. Often weeping bitterly before the Lord. Are we willing to repent before God or do we try to justify our actions? God knows what we are going to do before we do it, why are we so hard headed and hard hearted? It takes so little to be honest with God. We should also be able to live with our cups continually running over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.

If I was David I might not have thought that goodness and mercy were following me. He went through tough times. Saul threw spears at him and pursued him his army for a long time. He had to live in the open and hide in caves. He pretended to be allied with the Philistines which was not a very safe place to be. The Amalekites invaded Ziklag, took all the women, including his two wives, and children captive. His friends were murdered, and his own son, Absalom wanted to overthrow him and take the throne for himself. Not exactly goodness and mercy in the traditional sense of the word. But David knew that God’s ways aren’t our ways and God’s thoughts aren’t our thoughts.

And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

David was assured of his salvation. He knew that he would go to God when he died.

Hebrews 11:32-34  And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. 

We are inspired to have the kind of faith that David had. To know that in spite of hard times, God is always there and that no matter what He will never ever abandon us.

 

Cast your vote

The votes have been cast and are still being counted. Different people have different expectations. Some people didn’t vote and still hope that their future will be better. A lot of Christians fasted and prayed for a righteous outcome. I believe God is ultimately in control and even if the result isn’t what we expect, He already knows and has planned accordingly.

More than two thousand years ago there was a very important vote that went out.

Luke 23:13 – 25 Then Pilate, when he had called together the chief priests, the rulers, and the people, said to them. “You have brought this Man to me, as one who misleads the people. And indeed, having examined Him in your presence, I have found no fault in this Man concerning those things of which you accuse Him; no, neither did Herod, for I sent you back to him; and indeed nothing deserving of death has been done by Him. I will therefore chastise Him and release Him.” (for it was necessary for him to release one to them at the feast). And they all cried out at once, saying, “Away with this Man, and release to us Barabbas” – who had been thrown into prison for a certain rebellion made in the city, and for murder. Pilate, therefore, wishing to release Jesus, again called out to them. Bu they shouted, saying, “Crucify Him, Crucify Him!” Then he said to them the third time, “Why, what evil has He done? I have found no reason for death in Him. I will therefore chastise Him and let Him go.” But they were insistent, demanding with loud voices that He be crucified. And the voices of these men and of the chief priests prevailed. So Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they requested. And he released to them the one they requested, who for rebellion and murder had been thrown into prison; but he delivered Jesus to their will.

We are able to look back at this and subjectively say that it was the right thing to do. We know all the prophecy of the Old Testament and we know the resulting victory. We know that because Jesus was crucified, we can have eternal life by believing in Him. We know, because we can look back. But the people who were there at that time did not have the benefit of hindsight. They were living in real time and it must have been the most devastating atrocity ever. The family and disciples of Jesus were heartbroken and their spirits were defeated. This was the end.

Life works like that. We get into a situation where we cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel. Sometimes we cannot even see the tunnel because of the complete darkness that exists. We believe that we have been totally abandoned and that everything we have is lost. Body, soul and spirit we are in a place of absolute and utter defeat.

But look what God did. The vote was cast for the wrong party! Barabbas, who was a murderer, was set free yet Jesus, who had no sin, was crucified. How unfair is that? But God. God turned the wrong around and made it bright and beautiful, and He shone His Glory into the black tunnel. Suddenly hope sprouted, new life became evident. The stone was rolled away and the grave was empty. The finality which that vote had caused, was annulled. The devil had planned that evil would rule the world. He thought that he would be able to carry out his agenda without interference. He thought that he had the victory. But God. God had other plans. God knew exactly what He was allowing. He was in charge.

Revelation 20:10 The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

God was in charge two thousand years ago and God is in charge today. He knows why things happen the way they happen. He has plans that we can’t always discern and He loves His children with an everlasting love. Whatever happens in this election, and in your life, however things may look, remember that two thousand years ago a vote was cast so that you might have life, and have it in abundance.