Tuesday, November 21, 2023

And the Chase Is On

 Years ago, I set my iPad on the treadmill, started up a movie and pressed 2 for a warmup. I had just begun to punch the button to speed up when I hear a scuffle at the front door and my son calling me. Sighing, I paused my movie, turned the treadmill off and walked to the door.

Tears of frustration streamed down my son's face, and he flagged his hand toward the other side of the street. "Jasmine got away." He turned inside rubbing his leg and a little blue color spread across his cheek.

Didn't take much for me to figure out what happened. Jasmine, our two year old German shepherd had been looking for an opportunity to break out for the last couple of days. Even after a training session with my husband the day before, you could see that her 'down' was more of a 'ready-to-pounce' than a 'down'.

My exercise plan had been switched. Ensuring that my son and daughter (who also tried her hand at stopping the dog) were okay, I grabbed the leash, a baggie of chopped up wieners, and left on a walk to follow my dog through the streets of the town we lived in at the time.

I'd learned after a great deal of experience not to chase, just follow, and if at all possible, try to herd her away from the busy streets. And to pray. Pray that someone would help me catch her, because I won't be able to get near her. Pray that she didn't run in front of a vehicle and all the endless hassles that would create.

For Jasmine, it was all a game. She'd dart from yard to yard, say hello to all her doggy friends along the way, and chase a cat or two. She'd say hello to everyone she met, but if they reached down for her collar, she'd take flight. She would not be caught until she was good and ready.

After about a half hour of following and praying, I thought how much we are like her.

Sometimes, we become bored with our lives. We become antsy for adventure, fun, excitement...even the forbidden kind. While those who have authority over us might be able to illicit some obedience from us, we look for the opportunity to slip passed their legs and out into what we think is freedom and fun.

We do this even to God. He warns us. He trains us, but we're in 'pounce' mode, eyes forever wandering to that door just past where He stands. Then, when we think we have opportunity, we dart through the door, and the chase begins.

But God follows. He waits for us to come back to Him. Yes, He sees us. He watches as we dash away from Him, thinking to ourselves that we'll have the time of our lives. He sees the car of trouble that just misses us. He knows the kind people who attempt to turn us from our wander-lust.

And we are fully aware that He is waiting for us to return to Him.

I never left Jasmine. I couldn't. Many people have told me, just let her go, she'll return on her own. But I couldn't do it. I worried about the harm that might come both to her and to anyone whose path she crossed. 

I've seen it happen. A man, trying to help, leaps at her. She escapes, leaving him with an injured shoulder. Cars breaking hard, swerving to avoid, and me cringing for fear an accident will happen. Then of course there is those obtuse characters who choose to swear at me for not having my dog under control. I suppose I deserved it.

When we run away from God, we do more than bring hurt to ourselves. We can hurt those who love us. Even as Jasmine hurt my son. We can hurt innocent bystanders, and we hurt God.

But God is so ever faithful and patient. He watches us and knows, and calls, and waits.

Toward the end of Jasmine's fun, she turned toward home. I began to simply walk, calling occasionally, but for the most part, just walking. At one point, she came to my heel but after a few steps bolted away, not quite ready to be caught.

I kept walking, whistling on occasion, but not chasing. Eventually a neighbor caught her, someone who grumbles and all but swears at me every time she gets out. I mumbled my thanks, hooked the leash onto Jasmine's collar and headed home.

Jasmine never got hurt on her adventures, but I feared she would. There is good reason why we didn't allow her to roam freely like she desired. For her safety, as well as others, we kept her in the house, the yard, or on the leash.

There is good reason why God gives us instructions on how to live wisely in His Word. He knows the trouble we can get into if we do whatever we desire. Maybe we can get out from under His care and have a good time and not get hurt, but the risk is there. Wisdom tells us it is better to obey His Word.
"When wisdom entereth into thine heart, and knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul; discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee: to deliver thee from the way of the evil man,..." Proverbs 2:10-12a

Friday, August 11, 2023

Recent History: Is It Ushering in the Coming Age?

“Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have not I told thee from that time, and have declared it? ye are even my witnesses. Is there a God beside me? yea there is no God; I know not any.” Isaiah 44:8

When going through some old writing I did over a decade ago, I discovered the upsets and insecurities about the future we face today, we also faced back then. The details may be different, but the theme and the characters are the same.

Almost every year, I read through the Bible. In general, the reading at the beginning of the year starts at the beginning of time, in Genesis. Like a farmer sows in anticipation of a great harvest, so I dove into God's Word and the new year expecting great outcomes. Come the fall, I'm usually reading the prophets. Amazing to me is how those prophets reflect a harvest of the works of Israel. A harvest that is a disaster. It causes me to reflect on the year and consider my fruitfulness. Am I having a great harvest?

These last couple of years have been shocking, to say the least. Our world, as we know it, has been turned upside down. Rarely does a morning pass these last few weeks when I didn't close my Bible after reading and studying, and marvel at how applicable the words of the prophets are to our current world events. And I sit in awe at the God Who is in control.

The course of the world has already been laid out. However, we do not know or understand the details of that course. We guess, make assumptions, and try to predict, but the bottom line is we do not know the details. 

There are some facts we do know. We know that whatever happens, the Middle East will be the center of action. We know that the world as we know it will come to an end. We know that there will be a great war and the Son of God will prevail against the forces of evil. We also know that only those who are counted as the children of God, those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God, and have accepted Him as their personal Savior, will one day rule with Him. We know at the end of time, there will be a Great White Throne Judgment where the unsaved is judged, and those who rejected Christ as their Lord and Savior will suffer in a place designated for Satan and his angels. 

When President Bush declared war on the terrorists that attacked our country on September 11, 2001, did he know he was engaging a spiritual enemy? I'm pretty certain our current president doesn't comprehend the spiritual warfare going on right now. If he did, I would hope that he wouldn't have left in Afghanistan American citizens who will be martyred for their faith. If our current president was aware of eternity and Who created this universe, surely he’d not support the Woke community and some of the policies that are clearly reflecting a nation in rebellion to the Creator of all, the Lord of Lords, the Great I AM.

But our president doesn't understand that, and I believe most if not all of his advisors don't understand that either.

Unfortunately, our perception of reality is only what we can physically see, and we choose not to look at the spiritual world. This present world, what we see, hear, feel, touch with our physical bodies, will come to an end. What lasts forever is the spiritual. I put to you, therefore, that the spiritual realm, and what goes on there, is of greater import, than the physical, and thus has a greater effect on 'reality'. 

We tend to look at world events and our lives from a limited 'here and now' perspective. I'm not sure that is the wisest outlook. 

You cannot look at history and not see God's influence. I know, I have a very western perspective, but I think if you look closely, with a mind to see God's hand, you'd see that God even influenced the east as well. He positioned leaders and sent missionaries who influenced the outcome of nations. 

Because of these facts, I did not envy President Bush's position. He had locked horns with those who are directly opposed the true God, the true Messiah, and had presented themselves as the enemy of the people who will one day reign with Christ. Because he had done so, he had also aroused other enemies of Christ who do not wear the title of Muslim or Islam; Palestinian or Arab. He had inadvertently stirred the hearts of those who are unwilling to embrace the One True God, His holiness, His design, and His righteous judgments. Some claim to be Christians but fail the test of a true Christian; some blatantly oppose Christianity, and some are just down right confused. 

What Bush had led the United States into was a Spiritual War, being fought on the physical level. Unfortunately, many fail to understand this, and most fail to consider how important it may or may not be for the future of this world. Now, more than ever before, the born-again believers of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, must pray, must study, and must take a stand for Truth and for the Gospel.

I hear a lot of doom and gloom prophets today. I doubt most of them are looking at what they ‘foresee’ from the lens of Scripture. However, time will tell whether what ahead of us is just a repeat of history or whether God is issuing in a new era known as the Great Tribulation. 

While speculating can be an interesting exercise, the result should lead to an urgency to tell others that they need Christ, to stand up for what is right no matter the cost, to realize that we do not need to fear what man will do to us because we know what the end will be.

“But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:” I Peter 3:14-15

Job: An Evil Presence or Just My Flesh?

 "Fear came upon me, and trembling, which made all my bones to shake. Then a spirit passed before my face; the hair of my flesh stood up:" Job 4:14-15

Many people can feel an evil presence. Here Eliphaz, one of Job's friends, confesses to feeling such a

I've often wondered what presence he actually felt. Did Satan send a demon to him to whisper things in his ear to convince him of Job's sin? He did seem to think that Job was suffering because of his sinful life.

Have you ever wondered why some people make horrible accusations that either are completely untrue or hold just enough truth to cause you to speculate that maybe there was something to it? 

I do think human nature causes us to see the worst in others. Afterall, if that other person did the horrible thing we think, then maybe we won't look bad? Silly reasoning, isn't it? But how often have I chosen to believe a lie simply because doing so might make me look not quite so bad?

I wonder if Eliphaz felt in competition with Job. I wonder if, when the friends all got together, they'd slap Job on the back and tell him what a goody-two shoes he was, sacrificing to God for his whole family. How he worried too much about being good. And secretly, Eliphaz wanted that backhanded praise. I wonder if Satan knew that was the very thing he could convince Eliphaz so that he would accuse Job of being a terrible sinner.

I wonder if Eliphaz felt that men held Job in too high esteem, secretly wanting that esteem himself. He was trying to be the wiser one. Afterall, the Temanites were known for their wisdom (Jeremiah 49:7; Obediah 1:8). Eliphaz had to live up to that reputation.

Whether Satan whispered in his ear or Eliphaz came up with the accusation himself, we don't know. But I think we can safely say that each of us has been willing to listen to gossip against someone of whom we are jealous. Something about learning of the failings of someone we think everyone else holds up on a pedestal makes us feel a little elated. And we can so often hide that by feigning true concern with catch phrases like "telling the truth in love, sister" or, as those in the south say, "Bless you're heart" (when they really mean don't mean anything like that).

Some wise person once said that he always thought the best of everyone so that he wouldn't think the worst. I wonder if the judgment Eliphaz would experience in the last chapter of Job would not have happened if he didn't give in to the whispering accusations or the temptation to see Job in a bad light.

"Where no wood is there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth.
As coals are to burning coals, and wood to fire; so is a contentious man to kindle strife.
The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.
Burning lips and a wicked heart are like a potsherd covered with silver dross.
He that hateth dissembleth with his lips and layeth up deceipt within him;" Proverbs 26:20-24

The God of Comfort

“Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” II Corinthians 1:3-4

When you suffer, how do you react? What are your thoughts toward God and toward those around you? What questions do you ask?

In the first letter to the Corinthians, Paul defended his worth as an apostle. In the church at Corinth, divisions were happening and there seemed to be a great lack in understanding how a church should operate. Paul contended with them in love, desiring for them to live a life worthy of Christ. The members were not unaware of what Paul had endured through his life as a missionary. They knew the price he paid to give them the Gospel message, to disciple them so that they would know the depths of God’s love. 

Paul knew what persecution felt like, unfortunately from both Christian and unbeliever alike. But as we read in this chapter, we see that he viewed his suffering as beneficial. The more he suffered, the more he was comforted and was able to comfort others. And Paul wanted the Corinthians to do the same. 

Paul relates how he and his associates were pressed and sentenced to death in Asia, and how did he respond? I believe he saw what was happening to him as an opportunity for God to be glorified, and that faith proved to be well placed since God delivered them. In relating what happened, he pointed out the Corinthians’ part by how they prayed for Paul and his associates. 

What an example to us.

I am, by nature, an adventure seeker. Over the years, I’ve been thrilled to see God’s hand protect me, provide for me, and work through me. I confess to be someone who is willing to jump off the cliff if I believed God said, “Jump!” simply because I have seen time and time again that the ‘adventure’ of the fall gives great opportunity to see God at work. But I can also account for many times when my faith was weak and, shamefully, I missed out on what God had for me.

I want to have that faith and that courage Paul demonstrated. I want to be able to face the trials and tribulations of life with a song of praise and a battle cry that leads to the shouts of victory. For I’m merely passing through this world, and while I pass through, wouldn’t it be wonderful to draw some others along with me? I’d love to be a part of a company of believers whose faith made them face the lions in Ephesus and sing in the jail at Philippi. 

Okay, maybe I’m not so excited about the beatings, but I want to know the comfort of the Holy Spirit and His healing touch…and if that means hurting a bit to get it, well I think it would be worth it.

“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18

The Lord's Chosen Servant

 "Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles." Isaiah 42:1

The Lord God Almighty, Creator of the universe, has no equal. 

No one directs God, or gives Him counsel, or teaches Him.

To God, all the nations are nothing. Isaiah 40:17 states that all the nations before Him are counted less than nothing, and vanity.


No president of the United States has power God hasn't given him. No organization (even the United Nations) can take God out of the governing of the world. 

But did you know in the era between 930-586 BC, that Israel showed to all the world that God would with draw His hand when a nation chose something or someone over Him? 

King Solomon ruled before the nation split into two kingdoms (the Northern Kingdom and Judah). Though he was the wisest of men, he did something very foolish. He married women from other nations, who worshiped other gods, for political reasons. Solomon allowed these wives to worship their gods, and as a result, he began to worship them as well. A direct act or disobedience to the law God gave the nation of Israel:

"For thou shalt worship no other god:...And thou take of their daughters unto thy sons, and their daughters go a whoring after their gods, and make thy sons go a whoring after their gods." Exodus 34:14-16

Most of the kings to follow Solomon, both in the Northern Kingdom and in Judah, did just that--worshipped other gods.

When the people went away from God, God did not go with them, and they lost God's protection and provision.

By the time Isaiah wrote this chapter, the Northern Kingdom had gone into exile and Judah's fate had been determined. Isaiah warned of their coming exile to Babylon.

But that's not the end of the story. That's not the plan God had for them. Isaiah, led by the Holy Spirit, wrote of hope for Israel and for all of world. Yes, judgment was coming--and is coming--but they were not to despair. God would send a Savior. And such a Savior! A man of compassion, of victory and of great power.

"A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth. He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law." Isaiah 42:3-4

That Chosen Servant is our Lord Jesus Christ.

Today, our nation is a mess...the world is a mess. We have wandered far from God and have done despicable things by creating laws in direct rebellion against God. Yet our God still has compassion.

God will not move from His position of righteousness. He is unchanging and what is good and right come from Him. He's shown us in the Bible what is good and right and what we should do. And He will hold us accountable.

But praise God, in His great compassion for us, He has provided a way of escape. He has paid for our redemption. He took the judgment we deserved and put it on His Son (the Chosen Servant) at the cross.

"But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed." Isaiah 53:5

There is still hope. Will we pray? Will we turn to Him with all our hearts? Will we determine to not allow our nations to reject God, His righteousness, and all that is good? Will we tell others about God, His righteousness, our sin, and His redeeming love?

"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end." Jeremiah 29:11


The Worship of God

"Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice."
Psalm 55:17


Read: Exodus 19-20.

Did you know that the Jewish day starts in the evening? How wonderful to go to bed with thoughts of God and wake up with His kindness and His leading.

When God brought Israel out of Egypt, He took the time to teach them how to worship Him. The tabernacle and the method of worship all pointed to Him and to the deliverance He provided not only from Egypt, but to the deliverance from sin and death Christ would provide when He died on the cross, was buried, and rose again.

The Israelites were to burn incense, which represented their prayers. God provided them with manna and meat when they were in the wilderness, and we receive the spiritual food from God as well when we meet with Him, reading His Word and praying. God met with Moses on Mount Sinai to give the Israelites the law (the Ten Commandments) and God's plan.

Imagine God, thrilled to bring His people out of the bondage of Egypt, looking forward with great expectation the life He would have with them in the Promised Land. He wanted a relationship with them: a close, intimate, passionate relationship. And He wanted them to know how to have that relationship, through faith and through the right worship of Him.

But they needed to give God their hearts. And they didn't.

For about 1500 years God dealt with them, sending them messengers (prophets) and calling for them to make a complete surrender to Him. Sometimes they did become faithful, but more often than not, they turned from Him to worship other gods. And sometimes, even when they followed the 'rituals' of worship set out in the ceremonial law, their hearts were not in it. 

God sent the prophet Amos (and others) to warn them and tell them that their sacrifices (worship) did not please Him, because they were not walking in obedience to Him. Amos exposed their complacency, idolatry, and oppression of the poor. 

Their morning sacrifices did not honor God, and for that, the LORD mocked them and judged them. hmm. 

We may well do our devotions in the morning, but if our time is done in ritual and insincerity, we are no better than the Israelites at that time.

We may go to church and sing the songs, but if our minds are on things other than God, we're not better than the Israelites.

We may routinely pray and go to our prayer groups, but if we are not honest with God, if we do not fully open our hearts to Him, our words are meaningless chatter.

But all praise and glory be to God for He knows our weakness. He patiently draws us to Him. He'll put things in our path, He'll speak to us through His Word (whether spoken from the pulpit or read from your Bible) and cause us to focus on Him again: in the evening, morning, and at noon.

Do you correct your wayward thoughts when you are reading God's Word? Do you refocus your mind when it wanders during worship service? How well do you communicate with God when you're praying with others?

For further study read: Luke 22:39-46; Acts 12:1-16.

"Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered." Romans 8:26


A Reason to Live

 I have nothing to give. I am worthless. I have no one to love. No one loves me. The world would be better off without me. My family shouldn't suffer because of me.

A modern epidemic, even within the Christian community, is depression. At some point in a person's life she may decide she does not want to go on with life. Sometimes this is chemically induced, and sometimes this is situationally induced.

Life can become grueling. It may seem at times, hopeless. There may even arise in one's mind the lie that others would be better off without you. Don't listen to it.

I know of those who have lain in wait for death. The doctors say their illness is terminal. They are shuffled off to hospice to die as painlessly as possible. There is no hope. Their family begins to mourn and suffer the long trial of life lost. Tears are shed; anger is felt; sorrow is deepened.

I also know of those who long to live, even though they are told they would die. They hold on to the hope of life like a bulldog holds on to a bone. Letting go is not an option. They cling to life even though death holds for them a place where there is no more sorrow or pain or fear. Why?

David, of the Old Testament, was one of these people.

Return, O Lord, deliver my soul: oh save me for thy mercies' sake. For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks? Psalm 6:4-5 (KJV)

David had plenty of reasons to give up: the king turned on him; he lost his wife and his best friend; he had to live among the rejected and in the wilds. Nonetheless, he knew if he died, he could not give thanks to God as he could in this world.

The Apostle Paul suffered great persecution and hardship. If ever a person should long for his heavenly home, he had that right. However, he saw that if he died then God could no longer use him.

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. . . . For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you. Philippians 1:21-24

Paul's work was not yet done and he determined to complete it. There came a time when he knew he would die, and he was ready for it, but until that time, he set his mind on finishing the course God had given him.

The bottom line: our lives are not about ourselves, they are about God. When we turn our focus inward, into our desires and wants, even to what we see as our needs, we turn our focus off of God. We lose the faith (not meaning faith unto salvation, but faith unto perseverance).

When we throw our hands up in the air and say all is lost, we've lost focus on God and the wonderful, hope-giving anticipation of what He might do. We have forgotten that those who endure will be saved.

Suicide and euthanasia are selfish escapes. These deaths show a lack of faith, a lack of desire to see God at work. They reveal a heart fixated on the "me-god" our society has created. They are not the answer.

I know this seems harsh. Nasty even. Especially when one is not willing to humble herself to the God who created her. But until we realize that life is not about us, it's about God, we'll live in the dark and seek a dark death.

There is a hope. You never know how or when God will chose to heal you or to save you from your situation. You never know how God might use you.

Today I know of someone who lies in a hospital desiring to live but is told he will die. The doctors fight with the family, complaining that medicines that might help this person are too expensive. Yet this man has communicated that he wants to live, because he wants to serve God. Even now, when he can't get out of bed without help, he is serving God because of his tremendous faith. Yes, he believes God can heal him, but more than that, he is determined that should he live he would serve God; such commitment is testimony of true faith and an undying love for his Saviour.

Such a person is an inspiration to me, and in that, he acts out his reason for living. Indeed, life is not about me, it's about God. And well I do to remember this.

And the Chase Is On

  Years ago, I set my iPad on the treadmill, started up a movie   and pressed 2 for a warmup. I had just begun to punch the button to speed ...