Tuesday, April 30, 2013


So the whole reason I started studying Matthew 14 was because I was feeling overwhelmed by what God had called me to do, and He placed it on my heart to study Peter and Jesus walking on the water. In order to understand the whole picture of this story, I studied the whole chapter of Matthew 14. And now we are finally here! WOOHOO!

So Jesus has been trying to get time alone to be with Father, to grieve the death of John the Baptist, and to get restored. Who doesn’t need that from time to time?

After feeding the 5000 men plus women and children, Jesus sends the disciples away. He gets them on a boat and sends them to the other side, and then he dismisses the crowd. Jesus climbs a mountain so he could be by himself and pray. We may not have a mountain to climb to escape; we may not have a country cabin to run to; we may not have a beach house to vacation in; but we can all find some place in our home, even in our neighborhood to go and have time alone with God. It needs to be a priority. It is a must.

I don’t know about you but when I’ve had that time alone, I come back refreshed. I am so much more pleasant, or at least I think I am. LOL

So Jesus needs to meet up with the disciples. He knows he put them on a boat. He knows the weather conditions. He knew the weather situation before he sent them out in the boat. Now that Jesus has been with God, it’s time to reconnect to those he loves, to those he serves, to those he minister and instead of walking around the lake or getting into another boat, he takes a stroll across the water. I wonder how many times he had done this little trick before. Don’t you? Because how fun would that be just to walk across the water? Have you ever thought about that? A casual stroll—across the lake not worrying if you’ll be bit by an alligator or snapped at by a turtle. It’s rather whimsical don’t you think? To see this side of Jesus. I like it.

Jesus is walking by the boat, and the disciples start wigging out, losing their minds thinking they are seeing a ghost. Remember John the Baptist had recently been beheaded. It could be John, or someone could have killed Jesus, and the ghost was Jesus’ ghost. I wonder if he glowed. There is no darkness in him. He had been in the presence of his Father and after Moses was in God’s presence he glowed. Just sayin’. I might be pretty freaked out too. They just didn’t know enough yet. But as soon as Jesus saw their distress, he was just as quick to comfort them. Are you like that with those you love? You don’t want to cause them any stress or fear. If you see them stressed or in fear, you immediately want to calm those fear. Reminds me of my children who have at some point in time in their short lives have been afraid of the dark. Calming their fears – that’s just what a parent does.

There comes a time when you give and give and give of yourself and you are empty. You have nothing left to give even if someone you love were to come to you in fear needing you, and yet you have nothing to give. That is a hopeless feeling for me. I try never to be in that condition.

Here’s one of the things I gleaned about this part of the story, Jesus sent them into some rough waters. The waters weren’t capsizing the boat. The wind wasn’t ripping the sails, but Jesus knew he was sending “his children” into a difficult situation. Was it to see how they would handle it? Was it to give them an opportunity to grow in their faith? Was it to give Peter the chance to make a step of faith? Regardless of Jesus’ reason, Jesus was present providing his peace and his wisdom never losing patience. I am so incredibly thankful that he doesn’t lose his patience with me. He knows ahead of time what is going to happen in your life and mine, and sometimes he pushes us toward the difficulty or challenge. It’s up to us to look for him in the storm, know who he is, trust in his heart, and claim him.

We aren’t done with this passage by any means, but this was important for me to know today. I am not alone in the journey he sets us out on and neither are you.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Why Can't I Just Go to the Bathroom Alone?

I don’t know about you, but there are times when I just need to be able to go to the bathroom by myself without interruption. Can I get a witness? Sometimes that is the only place where I can sit and think. Sometimes that’s the only place that I can be alone. Sometimes that’s the only place where I can cry. A sweet friend of mine says she hears from God best when she’s soaking in the tub. Part of the reason is because her little darlins are in the bed at that time, and she won’t be interrupted. You know, sometimes a good cry is all I need to get it out – whatever “it” may be. “It” may be stress, grief, sadness, exhaustion. “It” can be any number of things. Sometimes I just need to be alone, and be alone with God to tell my Daddy what’s hurting, what’s on my mind, what’s burdening my heart. Tell my heavenly Father what it is that has me toxic, cranky, stressed, moody, sensitive, etc. You get the picture. There’s an old hymn that says A little talk with Jesus makes it right. Sometimes we all need that, and IT IS OKAY! Ladies, if Jesus took time for himself, what makes you think that you don’t need time for yourself, by yourself, and with your heavenly Father? It’s not selfish. It’s healthy. There are days that it is for the health and welfare of my children that I go have time with Jesus to lay it all down.

I’ve been reading Matthew 14 heading toward the time when Jesus will walk on the water, but on the way there, we discover that John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin, was decapitated by Herod. The disciples of John the Baptist secure his body and run to tell Jesus what happened. Verse 13 says, “When Jesus heard about it, He withdrew from there by boat to a remote place to be alone.” Just think of that lake as a big bathtub. The whole time he’s headed over to the remote place he may have been talking to his Father. The people heard that Jesus was headed to this remote place (in our case the bathroom), and they run ahead to meet him. Have you ever been on the brink of falling apart and you’re trying to get to a place to unload and cry, and just before you get there, the little people or people in general prevent you or block you from getting that time you need? I have to confess there have been times I haven’t handled it too well. But Jesus being our example shows compassion. Verse 14 says “When he saw them coming, he was overcome with pity and healed their sick.”

He needed time to grieve. He wanted time with his Father. He was looking to retreat, but when he saw them, instead of being upset or angry, exhausted and frustrated, he had compassion. Yep, that one walked on my toes a few times and kicked me in the shins. Not only did he have pity on them, but he healed them. And if he wasn’t exhausted enough, he fed 5000 men plus women and children. How many times have you survived a difficult situation and endured everything that followed, but when you look back you wonder how you had the energy? As Jesus blessed the food he looked up and prayed over the five loaves and two fish – notice how those equal seven (the number of completion or perfection? It’s not a coincidence. It was God winking).

And after the meal was over and everyone was fed until they were full, they took up the extra totaling 12 baskets. You ever wonder why they took up the extra? Was it to show everyone how generous God was? Was it to show that God can meet your needs exceedingly more than we ask? Was it because they didn’t believe in wasting food that could be given to the poor and the hungry that were not among this group of folks? Maybe they made a casserole with it and took it to the shut-ins. What are you doing with the left-over in your life? Are you taking them up and giving them away? Or do you hoard them and squirrel them away for a rainy day? When was the last time you cleaned out your closet of clothes you haven’t worn in a year’s time and gave them away? Just like the crowd that day received an unexpected blessing, you received the blessing of having clothes in your closet or too many toys in the playroom, but like the crowd that day, are you willing to give your blessings away?

After Jesus fed the 5000 men plus women and children, he sent the disciples away and he dispersed the crowd, and Jesus was finally able to have his time alone to pray.

Sometimes we get distracted from meeting our own needs for something just as important, someone else’s. Jesus was headed to some quiet time when the crowds approached him. He got side-tracked, but after loving on the people and meeting their needs, Jesus made sure he got his time alone. There are no excuses that will work for your not having time with God. If Jesus needed it, so do you.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

A Woman of Influence

The power of a woman.

A woman has a lot of power over a man, and if she isn’t a godly woman, she can use that power to manipulate and control the man. This will backfire though given time because people don’t like to be manipulated.

I’m studying Matthew 14 leading up to the story of Jesus walking on the water, and Herodias is committing adultery with her brother-in-law Herod. John the Baptist has called them on it, and she hates it. How do you feel when someone points out your sin? Have you ever had anyone confront you about a sin in your life that you would prefer that stay out of? Did it make you mad? It did Herodias. It crawled all over her. Herodias had influence. She had worked her way into her brother-n-law’s bed and continued living in this sin. Ladies, whether you are single, married, divorced, widow, God intends you to be pure. He intended you to be with your husband alone. Being in another man’s bed is NOT acceptable. Yep, I’m calling you out. If you know me at all, I don’t typically sugar coat.

Herodias was a woman of influence. She knew Herod’s birthday party was coming up. Don’t you know that she planned to have her daughter dance this exotic dance in order to win favor with the Herod? We know this because according to Matthew, her daughter had been instructed prior to her dance to get an oath from Herod, and when he asks what the daughter would like, Herodias instructed her daughter to ask for John the Baptist’s head on a platter.

A woman of influence was Herodias. I didn’t say it was a good influence, did I? She manipulated not only men but her daughter as well. She was training her daughter in how to treat men, how to work men. What are you teaching your children by your influence whether it is by word or deed they are watching and listening?

Herod being the spineless, little man that he was bowed to Herodias. Who do you think wore the pants in that relationship? He may have worn them, but she obviously told him which ones to wear. Some may say that Herodias was John the Baptist’s nemesis, but the Bible says in Ephesians 6:12, For we battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. Herodias was Satan’s handmaiden. She allowed him to use her and manipulate her, just like she used and manipulated Herod.

Look at how you’re living. Are you a woman scorned? Has anyone had to call you on the rug for anything? How did you respond? Hebrews 12:10-11 says, Our fathers disciplines us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

When you are confronted by someone about your sin, consider your actions. God will discipline you one way or another. Just sayin’.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Hanging on for Dear Life

Have you ever charged through a door that God opened only to find out that you are in over your head? Sometimes it feels like I wait on God and his timing more than I actually get to move forward, but this time, I’m hanging on for dear life. I set up a page on Facebook called Train Up a Child, and I set up a blog WWW.TrainUpaChild--Encouragementformoms.blogspot.com. Within the first 24 hours, I had moms asking me about parenting strong-willed children and if there was going to be daily devotional for moms. UMMM? God? What have I stepped into? I’m already behind! Anyone else hate running behind? Within 48 hours there was over 80 likes on the FB page. The first blog written by a guest writer had 70 hits. The second blog written by a guest had over 145 hits. It was obvious that God was working. My prayer is that he will bless it and continue to grow it, so that moms can be encouraged in their first ministry – their families. Women were asking questions, and even better than that women who had experience were stepping up and encouraging those moms. Yes! Yes! Yes! Titus 2 women is what I’ve craved for in my life. But God, what now? He led me to Jesus walking on the water, so I asked my Bible study girlfriends if any were interested in studying this passage and discussing it on our FB page. I needed the accountability, and they agreed, so that’s where I’m headed –Matthew 14.

The thing about the story about Jesus walking on the water cannot be taken in and of itself. There’s a whole back story to Jesus walking on the water. The prior stories give context to what’s happening, so I’d highly recommend reading all of Matthew 14 and not just Jesus walking on the water part.

First of all, Herod the tetrarch is ruler over this province. It was Herod’s daddy that tried to have all the babies killed in Bethlehem when Jesus was young. So now you know what Herod is made of. Herod starts hearing reports about Jesus – I’d like to know what those reports are and how did he get his intel, but we aren’t given this little tidbit. When Herod hears about Jesus he immediately tries to reason about Jesus’ power saying it is actually John the Baptist that he beheaded previously. Herod was trying to explain the impossible, but faith needs no explanation. That’s why it’s called FAITH.

Do you know why John the Baptist was in jail in the first place, how he came to be in Herod’s possession? Herod had taken his brother’s wife, and John had the nerve to call a sin, a sin. He didn’t sugar-coat it like people do today. He didn’t call it an “affair” to make it more palatable. John said in verse 4, “It is not lawful for you to have her!” In Mark’s version in chapter 6 John just flat out calls it adultery. How many times have we sugar-coated a sin to make it more palatable? We are more worried about hurting someone’s feeling that being worried for their souls. While Herod wanted John dead, it was a tricky situation. The people thought of John as a prophet, and if Herod killed him, there would be most certainly some type of riot or defiance. But in the end, Herod got his desire. He gave the excuse that he had given an oath. He had given an oath to Herodias’ daughter that he would give her whatever she wanted since she did such a wonderful dance for his birthday guests. Herodias was the woman with whom he was committing adultery. He blamed the oath and his guests to be able to put John to death. He was a weak, weak, little man.

Let’s face it, if you cover a piece of dog poop in chocolate, it’s still poop. The same goes for sin. You can sugar-coat it all you like but it’s still that nasty thing called sin.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

If God Can Use a Talking Donkey, He Can Surely Use You

From time to time, we have to miss church on Sunday morning, and when we do, we have church at home or wherever we are. The kids choose a song they want to sing and their favorite verse. They read their favorite verse and tell why it means so much to them, and then I choose a Bible story. I try not to choose the stories that my children hear over and over again at church and school because I want them to be intrigued and curious about everything in the Word. So on this particular Sunday morning in March, I chose a story that my daddy loves. It’s found in Numbers 22.

Let me set the story up for you.

Moses and the Israelites have been traveling in the desert. As they come to a town, they conquer it and move on. Word gets around, and when the Israelites stop outside of this one kingdom, the king gets nervous…with good reason. So King Balak sends for Balaam, a sorcerer. He wants Balaam to put a curse on the Israelites. King Balak sends some low ranking princes to fetch Balaam. Balaam asks the princes to spend the night while he checks to see if God will speak with him. Balaam is not a follower but is obviously aware of who God is, and God shows up. If you think God can only speak and use Christians or people from a certain denomination, you are sadly mistaken. God tells Balaam not to go with the princes because the Israelites are a blessed people. Balaam sends the princes packing. King Balaak is desperate and sends a second group of high ranking princes along with a promise of a reward. Well, this really peaks Balaam’s interest. He asks the princes to stay the night and goes back before God. God tells him go but only speak what he is told. God hasn’t changed his mind, but sometimes he allows us to learn lessons the hard way, especially for those of us who are hard headed.

Here is where my kids really got into the story. Picture in your mind the these upper level princes in their chariots and horses, very regal. Balaam is riding his donkey and his servants are following. They are traveling down the road, and all of the sudden the donkey make a bead line off the road into the middle of the field. This sorcerer gets off his donkey and whoops the tar out of it. Gets back on his donkey and continues further when they enter a narrow passage and the donkey leans so close to one of the walls, it hurts Balaam’s foot. Balaam gets off and whoops his donkey again. Remember, he has an audience who believes he’s a sorcerer. Shouldn’t a sorcerer be able to control his own donkey with some sort of spell or something? And then the road gets more narrow and the donkey just lays down. Embarrassed Balaam gets off his donkey (the Old KJV uses a different version of this word which makes it a little more funny) and beats it again.

Now here’s the thing. The donkey kept acting peculiar because he could see something Balaam and the others could not. Every time the donkey did something out of line it was because the donkey was seeing an angel holding a sword drawn in their direction. The angel of the Lord was seen by a donkey who responded appropriately. Makes you think doesn’t it?

Anyway, God opens the mouth of the donkey, and the donkey begins speaking to Balaam. Keep in mind the princes and his servants are behind him, and this donkey has just lain down. All these people see is this man talking to the donkey. We don’t know if they could hear the donkey speaking a language or braying. My guess is he was braying because I think it would be funnier that way, and I know that God has a sense of humor. Of course, that is just speculation on my part. At any rate, Balaam and the donkey have an argument. I wonder, did he not find it peculiar that his donkey was talking to him? Or did he think at the end of the conversation, “Dude, that donkey just talked!?” At that point the angel of the Lord is seen by Balaam who tells him that the donkey saved him because had he continued on, the angel would have slain Balaam and let the donkey live.

Have you ever been saved by a donkey? Have you ever been saved by someone you consider a donkey? Does the fact that God used a nonbeliever and an animal to protect his children surprise you? And if God can use a donkey (one of the most stubborn animals on earth) and a sorcerer, who can He use in your life to get you where he wants you to be?

The whole point of this story was the angel wanted to make sure that Balaam understood he was not going to say or do anything without God permitting it, and that he would not be putting a curse on the children of Israel and that he would not be getting the reward. Balaam had an attitude adjustment.

What does God have to do to get your attention? To get you to listen? To get you where you need to be?

And if God can use a donkey, don’t you think he can use you too?

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Last of the Temptations -- I'm Not Talking about the Singing Group Either

I have been studying the temptation of Jesus, and I hope that you have been doing it along with me. Feel free to post your thoughts and what you are learning by digging deeper in the Word as well.

This is my last blog on the temptation. Each gospel has a different flavor because each of the men who penned the books are different, and the purpose of their books was different as well. But at the end of these there are some interesting statements, I want to cover.

Matthew 4:11, “Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.

Mark 1:13, “and he was in the desert forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.”

Luke 4:13, “When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m glad the devil leaves. However, you can rest assured he will come again to tempt you at an opportune time. When is your opportune time? When are you the most vulnerable to temptation? What are the areas of your weaknesses? Take a look at your desires and wants to see if they leave you open to temptation.

Then there’s this whole wild animal thing going on in Mark. So, Jesus was dealing with the fleshly side of himself (his hunger) while fighting off tigers and bears, oh my! Just kidding. We don’t know what kind of wild animals. But suffice it to say, there were obviously other things to distract Jesus’ attention in addition to the temptation. It’s never just one thing at a time, is it? Life doesn’t work like that and neither does temptation. You take your eyes off of God because there’s some wild donkey braying in the bushes and then Satan pops up to avert your attention to another area, and before long we are stressed out, maxed out, pushed to the limit and SNAP! If you don’t keep your focus on God, if you don’t know the Scripture by heart, the devil is a roaming lion seeking those he can devour(1Peter 5:8), and friend, let me tell you, you’re just the appetizer.

Think you’re above temptation? Think again. Jesus was tempted. You will be tempted. It’s how you will respond that matters.

Sin has a high cost, but God’s grace is free. PTL!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Devil Goes to Church -- Church Is Full of Hypocrites

I don’t know about you, but I know the devil is alive and well in my house most dominantly on Sunday mornings. There are some mornings that getting to church is a small miracle…no, a HUGE miracle. Pearce wants to wear clothes that I don’t find appropriate. Erin is doing drama for one reason or another. The dogs get after each other. Out walks Pearce in his cowboy boots and hat, but neither his teeth nor his hair, for that matter, have seen a brush. Erin can’t find anything to eat for breakfast. My nerves are shot and frayed. One can’t find their Bible when it’s time to walk out the door. There are some Sunday mornings that I force us to go to church because my children NEED to be in church, and I NEED to repent for almost sending them to my sweet Jesus face to face. (You know I'm kidding) But can I get an amen or something from a sister out there? I can’t remember when we were all dressed and ready for church and in pleasant moods and haven’t had a free-for-all in the bathroom or kitchen on a Sunday morning.

And don’t you just love it when people use the excuse that the reason they don’t go to church is, “There’s too many hypocrites in the church.” HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! You bet there are hypocrites in the church, as well as, adulterers, drunks, addicts, sinners, losers, and the list goes on. The church is supposed to be a hospital for the sick, and a hypocrite is sick, and if you are more distracted by the sick who are in the church, then you are just as sick as they are. Get your butt in church and focus on the real reason for being there…CHRIST. Worship him. Praise him. Repent, you judgmental person. Truth is Satan goes to church as well. I’ve been studying the temptation of Jesus, and it hit me this morning that the devil took Jesus to church and tempted him. SAY WHAT!? The devil took Jesus and had him stand on the highest point of the temple (Mt 4:5). Yep, the devil was at church with Jesus. James 4:7 says, “resist the devil and he will flee from you.” And after Jesus resisted three times, the devil left.

Don’t think for one minute that Satan can’t make it into the sanctuary of a church. The lost bring him in. The sinners bring him in. I pray our greeters are praying at the door binding Satan from coming into the house of God. I pray that our small group leaders are praying in Jesus name that God will bind the devil from entering. Churches don’t die without a cause. You’re not going to see Satan at work in a dead church because he already made his presence known. I pray that our deacons are praying at the doors of the sanctuary in the name of Jesus binding Satan from entering.

When I led women’s ministry, we had women pray over the chairs and at the doors before every event. They prayed at the podium and everywhere that people would be serving.

Just something about which to ponder.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

I Wish Pearce Had a Fear of Heights

Fear of heights…I wish Pearce had a touch of that fear, just a little. Once when he was a toddler he was outside with his daddy. His daddy took a phone call and was distracted for just a moment, and when I came out at that time I couldn’t find Pearce until I looked up. There was a ten foot ladder leaning against our fence, and Pearce and his chubby little baby self was at the top of said ladder. Yes, I freak, but fortunately, nothing disastrous happened. Erin was not one to explore her environment, but Pearce obviously is and was. He has on occasion gotten on the roof without our permission, obviously. Being up high off of the ground is quite a precarious place to be, don’t you think? My philosophy is Scriptural really…”and LO I am with you always” (MT 28:20).

So we have been studying the time when Jesus was tempted. Last time we discovered that the Spirit had led Jesus into the desert, but it was the devil who led Jesus to places to tempt. Just a point for pondering, I really doubt the devil and Jesus walked to these different locations. Ever find yourself in a place in life and wonder, “How did I get to this point?”

The third temptation shows the devil leading Jesus to another location…the highest point on the temple in Jerusalem. The devil keeps chiseling away at, “IF you are the Son of God.” Did you notice that? It didn’t work the first time, but he just keeps trying in the hopes of wearing Jesus down. Jesus NEVER addressed the IF aspect of the temptation. What is the point in arguing with the devil? Has the devil kept whispering something into your ear, your mind or your heart in the hopes of wearing you down? You aren’t worthy. You are _________. You messed up because you ____________. You aren’t alone.

In this third temptation, the devil wants Jesus to prove that he is the Son of God by throwing himself down off this highest point, and the devil quotes a verse from Psalm 91. Did you catch that? The devil probably knows more Scripture than you do, my friend.

Did Jesus think or trying to reason out the request? NO. He went straight to Scripture. “Do not put the Lord your God to the test” (Deut 6:16). See what you need to know about Psalm 91 is that it’s poetry. The author is painting a picture of God, who He is and what He does. He isn’t speaking literally, but the devil twists it around to make it literal, didn’t he?

This is why it is so important that you know how to dig in the Word, how to study the Word for yourself. Don’t rely on what a teacher, preacher or book is telling you. Do the work yourself. Your relationship with God is personal. It’s personalized. What He speaks to an author, preacher or teacher may not be what he wants to speak into your life.

Another quote from my daddy’s “Nugget for the Noggin” on Facebook: “The Bible is not a newspaper to be skimmed but rather a mine to be quarried.” Get diggin’!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Blind Spots, Weaknesses and Wal-Mart

Has your kid ever sneaked something into your grocery cart, or are mine the only ones who try that stunt? My children know that I’m easily distracted, and one time I took Erin with me to purgatory (AKA Wal-Mart) for the big monthly shopping event. I was teaching her to comparison shop, how to buy quality items and buy the things that are needed to keep our home running. Apparently I wasn’t paying attention when she sneaked something into our buggy, and since she was the one unloading the buggy onto the belt to be scanned, I didn’t catch it then. Nope. I didn’t catch it until we were unloading the bags at home and came across it. What she didn’t expect was that I would make her pay for it. We all have blind spots and weaknesses and if our children know where they are, don’t you know that Satan does too?

So Jesus was led by the Spirit to the desert. The Spirit did not lead Jesus to sin. Jesus had a choice, and so do you. In my last blog I covered the first way the devil tempted Jesus. Today, I want you to read Luke 4:5, the first four or five words and contrast them to verse 1. My daddy says, “Sin will take your further than you intended to go, keep you longer than you planned to stay, and cost you far more than you ever wanted to pay.” The devil led Jesus to the temptation. Keep in mind Jesus is deity and was full of the Spirit when he was tempted by the devil. He was equipped to battle temptation. Are you equipped? Are you full of the Spirit? Is the Word hidden in your heart? Satan’s not going to tempt you to go to a bar if that’s not your thing, but if your thing is over-spending, guess where you are going to find yourself? E-bay, Amazon, Etsy, or an outlet mall. If it’s over-eating, guess where you will find yourself? The grocery store, watching the food network, diners, stashing secret food. (I hide my chocolate in the cleaning supplies. It’s the safest place in my house.) If your weakness is gossiping, guess where you will find yourself? In the middle of a hen party, in the middle of someone else’s drama. (CUT THAT OUT!) Do you get the picture? Satan will lead you to the place where you are the most vulnerable. Snap out of it. Wake up. Get out!

In Luke’s version of the temptation, the devil led Jesus to a high place and showed Jesus all of the kingdoms. We don’t know that the devil didn’t show Jesus all the kingdoms to come or if it was just the current ones he could see. The devil tells Jesus he can give these kingdoms to anyone, and he’ll give them to Jesus if he will just bow down and worship him. I believe that the devil knew that Jesus was there to save those who were lost. I believe that the devil knew that Jesus was willing to die for them, but how far was Jesus willing to go?

  • First off, when has the devil ever been a being of his word? You know just as well as I do that the devil had no great design on giving Jesus those kingdoms. You know that right?

  • Once again, Jesus didn’t think. He quoted Scripture. This is a situation that many would try to reason this temptation out, but there is no reasoning with sin. Sin is sin. Get your head out of the sand.

  • I wonder what the ramifications would be if Jesus were to bow. Obviously he couldn’t because it goes against everything of who he is as Lord and Savior. But I just wonder…there’d be no victory over sin. No victory over death. No final victory in the end. How dark this world would be without the hope of victory.

For Jesus the bottom line was this, “Worship the Lord your God and serve him only” (Deut 6:13). Are you teaching your children these things? Are you or have you learned these things?

When you are tempted, always remember there are strings attached. IF…THEN. There’s always a THEN.

“You never receive only what you sow as a seed of sin. You will receive from your sinful deed a negative consequence, with compounding interest.”

“Sin’s price is not cheap. God’s mercy is priceless.”

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Will Power and ADHD

Will power. I don’t know that anyone in my family has will power when it comes to food, especially junk food. My kids ask for a snack, and I ask what they are wanting. They answer, “chips.”  “I don’t think so. Try some fruit or yogurt or pickles.” And if Patrick is up at night, he’s been known to sneak stuff that he doesn’t need. I personally have my own stash of chocolate. Let’s face it, we all need a bit of chocolate from time to time. My downfalls are chocolate, sweets, and bread. When I put on weight, it’s because those sugars have made a nice deposit in my pooch. Darn pooch. What is your weakness? When do you eat in excess? Sometimes I can just walk through the kitchen going to do laundry and get distracted…oh chocolate cake! Before I know it, I’ve eaten half a slab in the closet so my kids can’t see. Don’t act like you haven’t ever eaten in secret!

My girlfriends and I were studying Psalm 91, and there was a verse that I had heard somewhere else. Well, of course, I had to chase that rabbit because that’s what ADHD people do best…chase rabbits, squirrels, etc. Then my Bible study girlfriends and I studied Jesus being tempted by the devil. Don’t you just love how one Scripture is integrated into another and how they all are connected to make such a rich texture in the tapestry of our faith?! I do. I just love it.

This story is found in three of the gospels. In one book, I want to ask the author, “Seriously? This is the best you could do?” But even it has a purpose for being in the Bible.

So let’s do a little backdrop. John the Baptist has just baptized Jesus. Talk about a humbling yet ministry high for John! And then in Luke, he gives the lineage of Jesus. So Jesus has just been baptized, and the NIV says, Luke 4:1, “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit,”… “was led by the Spirit in the desert.”

  • Have you ever experienced a spiritual mountaintop, and then be led into the desert?
    • If you’ve read my prior blogs, this same thing happened to Philip. He was experiencing awesome things, when the Spirit led him into the desert. That is where he met the eunuch, and when the Spirit said go to the eunuch, Philip ran! After Philip baptized the eunuch, he simply vanished and turned up in another city. Check it out. It’s in your Bible.
  • Another key point is that Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit.
    •  Jesus was God in the skin of man, and his Communicator with his Father was the Holy Spirit. If Jesus used the Spirit, don’t you think you need to as well?
Jesus was in the desert for forty days fasting. In Matthew’s version it says in 4:2 that after fasting 40 days, he was hungry. My thought is, “Who wouldn’t be?” I’ve fasted completely for 24 hours. I’ve done the Daniel’s fast for 21 days and not once have I tried for 40 days. The first time I did the Daniel’s fast I thought I was going to die from hunger.

So what is the devil’s first point of attack? He doesn’t play coy with this temptation. He goes straight to the point of any man who has been fasting for 40 days…his belly, his stomach.

In Luke 4:3, “The devil said to him, “IF you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.”

  • First of all, this isn’t Jesus’s first rodeo with the devil. Jesus was present when God kicked the devil’s sorry behind out of heaven. Jesus knows that the devil knows that Jesus is God’s Son. That’s probably part of the rub for the devil, don’t ya think? Jesus has nothing to prove on this fact, but when you are hungry, and you smell those bread sticks from Olive Garden, doesn’t your mouth water? YES MA’AM!
Jesus quotes Scripture. Luke 4:4, “…Man does not live on bread alone (Deut 8:3)

  • Here’s the thing about temptation. Jesus didn’t think about it. The first place his mind went was the Scripture. How well do you know the Word of God? Do you have it hidden in your heart? Do you have it memorized? When you are tempted, you shouldn’t think about it. You need to go to the Word!
I don’t know about you, but when I am first tempted, I start pondering it. Sometimes I try to justify the temptation. Sometimes I try to fit Scripture around it, so I don’t feel guilty about doing it. Anyone else play this little game? If you do, you’re setting yourself up for failure.

Jesus was full of the Spirit when he was tempted. How often are we full of the Spirit when we are tempted? Maybe not so much. Maybe the Spirit has led us into the desert, but at the first sign of difficulty, we go to the fleshly side of us saying things, doing things we have no business doing. Been there, done that, hated it.

My daddy’s posts on Facebook what he calls, “Nugget for the Noggin.” And I want to leave you with one that he posted, “Sin’s consequences are not always immediate, but its results are always sure.” Think about it.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

A Slave of Jesus Christ -- Paul Wasn't Worried about Being PC

My Mammaw adored her father. Her mother died when she was about 8 years old at the age of 51 from an aneurysm, and Mammaw was the youngest of the girls. There was one son younger than she, and he has his own story. Mammaw was spoiled. After her mother died, the older girls became mommas. One of her sister mommas drove a school bus that took her to school, and the other sister momma would take things to her or take her places as the need arose. Mammaw’s father was a quiet man much like my Pappaw (Mammaw’s husband). Her father and some of his siblings moved to Shreveport from Missouri. This is the Cook side of my family. My great grandfather’s family was abolitionists and participated in the Underground Railroad helping to free slaves from the South. One time I asked Mammaw about this information, and she said she thought they were crazy because they could’ve been killed. I guess it was a risk they felt was needed.

I know that slavery still exists. I’m not so naive as to think it doesn’t. Today the most dominant source of slavery is in the human trafficking aspect.

I finished reading Acts, and now I’ve become engrossed by Paul that I want to know more about his character in the Bible. Do you ever get like that when you read a book? Do you get so attached to the characters that when the book ends you’re grieve or are sad that they’re gone? I do. It’s probably silly, but it’s the reason I read, and the Bible is no exception. So, now I’ve moved onto Romans, and right off the bat someone new about Paul’s character is brought to light.

Paul calls himself a slave. The Greek word doulos is mistranslated in most Bibles as "servant" or "bond servant." A slave was owned, was bought for a price, received no wages, and could not quit. A servant could quit, got paid, and was a free person. Jesus Himself took the form of a slave (Php 2:7), and Paul reminded Christians that "you are not your own, for you were bought at a price" (1Co 6:19b-20). Holman Christian Standard Bible Study Notes

It may not be PC (politically correct) to think of yourself as a slave, but if we changed our thought process to reflect that concept that we are a slave of Jesus Christ, what would that look like? What would that sound like? The Bible refers to Jesus as Master from time to time, but fortunately we are blessed to have a gracious Master. I don’t know that I have any ancestors who were slaves. I know I have Native American and most likely some Jewish roots along with English. I don’t know if any of my ancestors owned slaves. I can’t account for what my ancestors did or did not do. In the Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, the definition of a slave is, Person totally responsible to and dependent upon another person. Further down the paragraph it’s written, Legally, a slave had no rights.” Are you living as if you are totally dependent on Jesus Christ? Are you submitting what you think are your rights to an almighty God? Being a slave means being submissive.

The thing about having Jesus as a Master is that he sets the captives free. In Luke 4:18, Jesus quotes Isaiah 61:1-2, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Unlike Satan who roams seeking who can destroy, Jesus says in Matthew 11:28-30, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. He wants to replace the things that bind us, snare us, enslave us, keeps us in knots with something that is light. He wants to exchange our turmoil for rest. What kind of Master does that? He doesn’t treat us as his slave but as his child, and there are days that I just want him to take the burden off my heart and off my shoulders, so I never have to feel them again. 1 Peter says, “Casting all your care upon him; for he cares for you.” That’s the kind of Master I serve.

This whole slavery thing is quite the enigma when we put ourselves in the place of the slave at the Master’s feet. He purchased us with his life. He bought us out of a life we could not escape, a sentence we could not have reduced, and a life without hope. Unlike slaves in our history’s past, we can choose whether or not we are going to take him for our Master or whether or not we will choose to be forever bound to another. Matthew 6:24, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”

So when Paul says he is, a slave of Jesus Christ in Romans 1, what is he really saying? For me, Paul is saying that he is bound to Christ and all the freedom and gifts that come in that relationship along with the hardships that come but not at the hands of Jesus Christ. Paul knows he owes his life, his eternity, his hope to the One who paid his debt. And you know what? Paul wasn’t the only one who called himself a slave of Jesus Christ. James, Peter and Jude claimed that position. The position of submissiveness.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Beating My Head against a Brick Wall

Close your mouth. Clean your room. Stop fighting. Use your manners. Articulate. Put your dishes in the washer. Fold your clothes. Put them away. Brush your teeth. Yes, you have to take a bath. Flush the potty. Does anyone else find themselves sounding like a broken record with your kids? I keep thinking I’m going to get a digital recorder, record all of those phrases plus a handful more and hand it to my kids. I’d tell them, If I don’t respond to you, hit play until you hear what you know I’d say. It’s exhausting! And yet, every day I get up and I say: Close your mouth. Clean your room. Stop fighting. Use your manners. Articulate. Put your dishes in the washer. Fold your clothes. Put them away. Brush your teeth. Yes, you have to take a bath. Flush the potty. It’s like banging my head against a brick wall. Surely, one of these days, a light will click in one of my little darlins’ heads, and they will start doing these things. Surely.

I’ve been studying Acts, and I know that Paul had to have felt the same way from time to time. Bless his heart, the Bible says, As was his custom, Paul would go to the synagogue to talk to the Jews, to teach the Jews, and to debate the Jews. Now he’s in prison in Jerusalem having just told the Pharisees and Sadducees about his hope being in the One who was raised from the dead, and another riot has broken out. And this ain’t his first riot either! (Normally, I’d say this isn’t his first rodeo.) The commander has to remove Paul again for fear the mob would kill him.

Do you have someone in your life that you keep telling them the truth over and over and yet they refuse to believe? Has God relieved you from telling them the truth? Has God led you to stop talking to that person about the Truth? If He hasn't, then persevere. There will be times when God leads you to back off, and when he does, sister, you need to step off! Just sayin', "If it ain't yo' baby to rock, then don't rock it."

In Acts 23:11 while Paul was in prison that night the Lord stood near Paul and said, Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome. God told Paul his work wasn’t done. Paul knew he was going to live to see Rome, and that he was going to have another opportunity to have the floor to testify. There’s comfort in that, and that can be terrifying as well. There’s comfort because he knew that no matter what happened in the days to come, Paul knew his life would be spared. He may be tortured and imprisoned, but he would still be alive. That’s the terrifying part as well. Paul’s perspective through this whole thing was found in Philippians 1:21, For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. While he lived, he would live for Christ, but when he died, he would find gain.

So long as you have breath in your body, God has a purpose for your life. There is someone he wants you to influence. There is someone who is watching you. There is someone who needs to hear from you. Your life will impact another. It ain’t over until God says it’s over, and he told Paul, it’s not over.

Take whatever opportunity God presents you to tell others and to love on others. Don’t get discouraged. Don’t give up. Galatians 6:9, Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. I’m not giving up on God’s calling on my life to minister to women. You don’t give up on yours.