Ah Ha!

Ah Ha!

Have you ever watched the videos on YouTube where people who are color blind receive a gift of special glasses that helps them to see colors properly?  Their reactions are heartwarming and often tear jerking.  Many of them are experiencing for the very first time just how beautiful and vibrant colors truly are.  All their lives, they have viewed colors incorrectly and in very rare cases they’ve only seen  the world  in black and white.  And in an instant, the world of colors is revealed to them! The Lord dropped into my spirit that this is how revelation comes. We may have viewed the Word of God over and over for years – sometimes reading the same scriptures many times over.  But, all of a sudden, one day, in reading a verse you’ve read  dozens of times before, God reveals to you something that you’ve never seen before. This often happens during times of prayer as well.  God opens up your understanding to see properly – He makes known to you a previously unknown thing.  The next time you pray or read the Word of God, ask God to make known to you what He wants you to see.  Ask Him to open the eyes of your understanding to His Word.  When you see something from His Word for the first time, it leaves you wondering just how much you may have been missing out on!   

18 Open my eyes to see the wonderful truths in your instructions. Psalm 119:18 (NLT)

45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. Luke 24:45 (NLT)

18 I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance. Ephesians 1:18 (NLT)

18 to open their eyes, so they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God. Then they will receive forgiveness for their sins and be given a place among God’s people, who are set apart by faith in me.’ Acts 26:18 (NLT)

Stay or Stray

Stay or Stray

In the animal kingdom, there is nothing more fierce than a mother protecting her young.  She will place herself between a predator and her young and defend them with her life.   And the young ones usually do not stray too far from momma.  Momma can best protect them if they stay close.  But her span of protection is limited, so if baby strays too far away, putting too much distance between himself and his protector, then he is opening himself up to predators.  Most predators lie in wait, scoping out their potential prey, waiting for that one lone youngster who wanders off unprotected. We’ve all cringed at that National Geographic show where the young gazelle wanders off too far and hidden in the tall grasses is a lioness just waiting to pounce.  This life we live is not too different.  There is a predator out there called the devil who is seeking whom he may devour.  Scripture tells us that our refuge, our safe place, is in the shadow of the Almighty.  Shadows extend only so far.  To remain under a shadow, you must stay close.   But if you wander out from under the shadow, you become exposed. The biggest mistake most people make is straying too far from under God’s protection thus opening themselves up to an attack. That scripture goes on to say God will shelter you with his wings of protection.  But again, in order for that to happen, you must stay close.  So the question is “stay or stray?”  The choice is ours!                 

8 Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8 (NLT)

1 Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. 2 This I declare about the LORD: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him. 3 For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease. 4 He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. Psalm 91:1-4 (NLT) 4

He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. Psalm 91:4 (NLT)

37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me. Matthew 23:37 (NLT)

Not Just A Fish Story!

Not Just A Fish Story!

The story of Jonah is one of the more well known stories from the Bible and it is often retold as a children’s story because it has all the elements of an adventurous fairy tale.  You have a man who was given a mission but chose not to accept it.  So, he flees from his mission in a ship where he is fiercely targeting by a raging tempest at sea. The only way to save the ship is to toss him overboard where, upon doing so, the raging storm magically ceases.  The man plunges into the depths of the blue and is swallowed by a large sea creature where he remains for three days and nights to ponder his life after which he is abruptly vomited to the shore. Neither Walt Disney nor Steven Spielberg could match this plot. But there are two important things to remember:  First, it’s not a fairy tale.  This story is 100% true and second, it’s not just a story for kids. Because of the imaginative nature of the story, the main truths are often lost – the greatest truth being that no matter how bad or evil you have been in your life, God is always desiring to restore and forgive. Jonah’s mission was to go to the people of Nineveh and tell them that God was aware of their wickedness and He would soon tolerate it no longer unless they repented.  Jonah thought they deserved every bit of God’s judgment and wrath but he also knew that God would relent if they repented.  So Jonah ran.  He ran as far away as he could.  But here, we find another truth. There is no place you can go where God can’t find you. God will order the wind, the sea, the fish, the plants and even little worms to get your attention, especially if someone’s life is in the balance. And a third important truth – repentance is God’s gift to us to restore us back into His good graces.  It can even cause God to change His mind!

10 When God saw what they had done and how they had put a stop to their evil ways, he changed his mind and did not carry out the destruction he had threatened. Jonah 3:10 (NLT)

2 So he complained to the LORD about it: “Didn’t I say before I left home that you would do this, LORD? That is why I ran away to Tarshish! I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. You are eager to turn back from destroying people. Jonah 4:2 (NLT)

Go Ahead – Make Someone’s Day!

Go Ahead – Make Someone’s Day!

How many of you remember your mother telling you this – “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”?  You’ve most certainly heard it from someone.  And, in theory, it is good advice.  Actually, it is pretty scriptural.  Ephesians puts it this way “Let everything you say be good and helpful, so your words will be an encouragement..”.  But for some reason, sometimes we feel compelled to give our two cents even if it isn’t nice and encouraging. Now we are not talking about situations that need to be addressed or corrected.  But situations like this – “I wonder if she looked in the mirror before she left the house this morning”. Thoughts like this unfortunately make their way out of our mouths.  These situations call for something the Bible refers to as “taming the tongue”.  In fact, in James we read that no one can do it completely.  It is something that we have to be deliberate in doing – holding back our every thought from becoming words. We can make someone’s day with just a few encouraging words, or adversely, we can  ruin it. The Bible refers to this as bringing life or death.  Be deliberate in your words. Your words reflect what is in your heart and once they come out of your mouth, they are there for the world to see and hear.  You be that one today who will make someone’s day!  

8 but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. James 3:8 (NLT)

29 Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. Ephesians 4:29 (NLT)

20
There is more hope for a fool than for someone who speaks without thinking. Proverbs 29:20 (NLT)

21
The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences. Proverbs 18:21 (NLT)

26
If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless. James 1:26 (NLT)

34
You brood of snakes! How could evil men like you speak what is good and right? For whatever is in your heart determines what you say. Matthew 12:34 (NLT)

Nature’s Spectacle – God’s Creation!

Nature’s Spectacle – God’s Creation!

Have you ever witnessed the amazing phenomenon called murmuration?   You most likely have and you don’t even know it!  If you have ever seen huge flocks of birds (most likely starlings) that fly in large swooping coordinated patterns through the sky, then you have witnessed murmuration.  And you’ve probably wondered how they manage to do it without crashing into one another.  It is a remarkable sight as hundreds, even thousands, of birds maintain such precision and cohesion in flight.  Well, the trick to this amazing feat is each bird concentrates on only 7 of his/her immediate neighbors.  They don’t concern themselves with the thousands, but focus on the social cues from their smaller group of 7.  By doing this, they combines their individual groups to form a very impressive whole.  (This was concluded by analyzing still shots from videos and then applying some fancy mathematical theories.)  The body of Christ works in much the same way.  Or it should.  The Bible speaks of the body of Christ as individual parts. It is one body but many members.  And each member has its own function.  If a particular member doesn’t concentrate of its own function, then there is a gaping void left and the entire body cannot flow with precision.  Your individual part in the body of Christ is crucial for proper flow and function of the entire body. And when each member does his/her part, the combined results are spectacular! 

12 The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. 14 Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. 15 If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything? 18 But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. 19 How strange a body would be if it had only one part! 20 Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. 1 Corinthians 12:12; 14-20 (NLT)

4 Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, 5 so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.  Romans 12:4-5 (NLT)

30 And we are members of his body.  Ephesians 5:30 (NLT)

(If you want to enjoy this spectacular performance of nature, here are two videos that will impress!  It’s another example of God’s absolute greatness! )

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eakKfY5aHmY    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V4f_1_r80RY

What’s In Your Heart

What’s In Your Heart

In these days we are living in, there seems to be unrest, division and rebellion everywhere you look.  A sad example of this is the refusal by some to stand for our nation’s flag and our nation’s anthem. A more recent example is the crazy act of throwing water on our law enforcement officers.  There have even been calls by some elected officials to not enforce our laws. Rebellion is the open or violent resistance to an established government or ruler. So, in other words, it is defiance of authority.  Children learn from a very early age to rebel against the commands of their parents.  The first time you hear “NO!” come from sweet little Johnny’s mouth, you wonder “where did that come from?”  Well, you can thank Adam and Eve for the first recorded act of rebellion in the Bible where, unfortunately, the sinful nature of rebellion passed down to all mankind. Yes, even to sweet little Johnny and adorable little Suzie! When we mention the heart, most people think that must mean good things.  But the truth is, both good and evil come from the heart. Rebellion originates in the heart. So the only way to stop it is to change the condition of the heart. Unfortunately, there are those in government who believe that you can remedy the ills of society by passing laws.  The passing of 1,000 new laws will never change the condition of one heart.  Only God can do that. He can take a cold, stubborn, rebellious heart and make it tender and new. If rebellion is rearing its ugly head in your life, beware because it could change the course of your life.     

10 Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Psalm 51:10 (NLT)

26 And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. Ezekiel 36:26 (NLT)

23 Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. Proverbs 4:23 (NLT)

45 A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart. Luke 6:45

(NLT) 19 For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander. Matthew 15:19 (NLT)

A Secret Place!

A Secret Place!

Did you ever have a favorite hiding place when you were a child?  A place that you went to get away from younger annoying siblings, or possibly angry older siblings.  Or maybe you slipped away to that hiding place just because you felt safe there knowing you could keep the world away at least for a while.  Well it’s encouraging to know that God provides such a place for us today.  And it’s not only a place that we can slip away to for a while, but it’s a place where we can dwell!  We can live there all the time if we choose to. Psalm 91 tells us all about this wonderful place.  No matter what is happening in your personal world or the world at large, in this place God will protect you from the arrows buzzing around you all day and from the terror that tries to haunt you at night.  You can take refuge in this secret place at all times and no matter who falls on your right or your left, you will remain standing strong.  So if your world is rocked with turmoil, stress or fear, maybe it’s time you pack up and move!

Psalm 91:1-16 (NLT)1 Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. 2 This I declare about the LORD: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him. 3 For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease. 4 He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. 5 Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day. 6 Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday. 7 Though a thousand fall at your side, though ten thousand are dying around you, these evils will not touch you. 8 Just open your eyes, and see how the wicked are punished. 9 If you make the LORD your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter, 10 no evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your home. 11 For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go. 12 They will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone. 13 You will trample upon lions and cobras; you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet! 14 The LORD says, “I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. 15 When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them. 16 I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation.”

Don’t Let Creeping Charlie Invade Your Space!

Don’t Let Creeping Charlie Invade Your Space!

When owning a home, you take on a lot of responsibility. Maintenance of a home and yard can be time consuming and expensive.  And if you live in an area where you have neighbors in close proximity, it sometimes becomes a challenge.  In my case, the culprit is “Creeping Charlie”.  We take time to spray our yard a few times a year for weeds.  I like my grass to be green – not spotted with yellow, white or purple flowers.  This year, I have had a war with Creeping Charlie invading my space from beyond the fence.  I found out that living next to a homeowner that doesn’t share the same standards and values for their lawn really affects me.  I can either fight against it by almost daily weeding out the invaders or I could just give in and let it slowly take over my yard.  Now, we are talking about literal weeds here but living too close to the world can bring invaders into your life as well.  We’d like to think that close associations with people who have different life standards and values won’t affect us – that we can keep it at bay and not let it creep into our own lives.  But it will be a daily struggle and if we slack off, the invasion takes more ground on our side of the fence. Be careful to not allow yourself to be adversely affected by relationships that don’t align with your values and standards for life.  Just like Creeping Charlie, they will want to creep their way into your space and take over!

1 Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; Psalm 1:1 (NKJV)

33 Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.” 1 Corinthians 15:33 (NKJV)

20 He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the companion of fools will be destroyed.  Proverbs 13:20 (NKJV) 27

Can a man take fire to his bosom, And his clothes not be burned? Proverbs 6:27 (NKJV)

Be Extraordinary!

Be Extraordinary!

When Jesus began His ministry on the earth, he chose 12 men to join with Him.  Their names are Simon Peter, Andrew, James (the son of Zebedee), John, Philip, Bartholomew (or Nathanael), Thomas, Matthew, James (the son of Alphaeus), Thaddaeus (also known as Judas or Jude), Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot (replaced by Matthias). (See Matthew 10:1-4 and Luke 6:12-16.) Some of these men were well known from scripture but some we really don’t know much about. But no matter whether their names are very familiar or not, Jesus saw something in all of them that He knew could be cultivated and nurtured into something great.  That same potential that Jesus saw in these 12 men can be found in each of us!  These were ordinary men who were transformed into extraordinary men by two things:  the fact that they were discipled by Jesus Himself and because they were empowered by the Holy Spirit.  You cannot help but be changed in the presence of Jesus.  These men were fortunate enough to be with him physically.  We have the opportunity to be with  the “Word made flesh” through scripture and prayer.  We can take encouragement from their failings and faults because we know how spending time with Jesus and the baptism of the Holy Spirit transformed them. Now we do know that Judas Iscariot eventually chose to turn away from Jesus to the point of betrayal, which was his free will choice. Don’t be lured away by greed, jealousy, pride or even fear.  Peter may have denied knowing Jesus three times.  But He went on to lead 3,000 people to Jesus in just one day! Don’t concentrate on your shortcomings, faults or even your past sins.  Be encouraged by what your potential can be if you just spend time with Jesus and submit to the Holy Spirit.

13 The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures. They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus. Acts 4:13 (NLT)

1 IN THE beginning [before all time] was the Word (Christ), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God Himself. John 1:1 (AMP)

7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. John 16:7 (NKJV)

9 But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. 1 John 1:9 (NLT)

Don’t Be Shark Bait!

Don’t Be Shark Bait!

Shark Week!  If you are a Discovery Channel fan, then you know what this means.  The channel is concluding its annual Shark Week, where all the programs are shark focused.  If you are like me and are old enough to remember, your mind may venture back to the movie Jaws in which a large white shark terrorized a tourist town in the north east.  The opening scene of the movie was pretty horrifying where Chrissie makes the fatal mistake of taking a late night swim in the Atlantic Ocean. If you haven’t seen it, you can image what happens. Well, just how is this going to segue into Food For Thought you might be asking? Most of us would never think of going swimming in the ocean at night. This would seem like asking for trouble, and while you might feel bad for poor Chrissie, you probably think she was pretty stupid.  The shark, much like the roaring lion of scripture, was on the prowl seeking who he might devour. Chrissie made it pretty easy for him.  If you find yourself being devoured in life, or it just seems like you’re fighting off one attack after the other, stop and examine if perhaps you are making it easy for your adversary. And let’s be clear, your adversary is the devil. He’s the only opponent you really have and he will take advantage of any little mistake or misstep you make.  More times than not, the biggest mistake we make is not first praying about things. We follow after our own thoughts and logic which, to us, seems clearly to be the right thing. But God may not agree and, all of a sudden, we are out of His will swimming off into the deep on our own.  Don’t leave God out of the process.  Consult Him in your decision making.  Don’t be like Chrissie and give the devourer an easy late night snack!    

8 Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8 (NLT)

19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness to God. As the Scriptures say, “He traps the wise in the snare of their own cleverness.” 1 Corinthians 3:19 (NLT)

12 There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death. Proverbs 14:12 (NLT)6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Philippians 4:6 (NLT)