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Posts Tagged ‘peace’

It’s Spring in Texas and farmers are plowing ground, getting ready to sow seeds. Seeds that will produce whatever they plan to harvest in the Fall. If it’s a good year and we get a balance of enough rain and sunshine the farmer can reasonably expect a bumper crop. But once that seed is planted, the crop can’t change. Whatever seed germinates will produce after its kind.

Plowed Ground 2

We lived in Florida for a number of years and I promise, I’ve never seen cucumbers or tomatoes hanging from the limbs of that orange tree. Have you? Of course not, that’s against the law of reproduction commanded by God “In the beginning— “

 “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed and fruit trees bearing fruit after their kind, with seed in them on the earth; and it was so. And the earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed after their kind, and trees bearing fruit, with seed in them, after their kind; and God saw that it was good” (Genesis 1:11-12 NAS).

But the old saying, “You get more than you sow and later than you sow,” is true. It’s a cyclical law of nature. And these same laws apply to our lives.

Anacortes Farm land

You and I are planting seeds today that will yield a greater harvest at some point in our future. So I ask, what kind of seeds you sowed last week? Or yesterday? Or today? Seeds of kindness or seeds of chaos? Seeds of hope or seeds of despair? In the process of life, we continually sow and reap. Every day. Are you satisfied with your harvest? If not, why not?

Do you know you can sow different seeds? Regardless of age, creed, or color, God stands ready to implement those seed changing attitudes and actions in your life and mine into a new and better crop. But perhaps you’re having trouble understanding and identifying what kinds of nasty seeds should be eradicated.

Reaping and Sowing

Seeds of anger, left to flourish, will choke out every other helpful and hopeful seeds your heart may attempt to cultivate. These stinky seeds must be yanked out by their roots. No tolerance. Because every day these boogers are left unattended, the second generation of anger seeds grow stronger and more resistant to extinction. And unfortunately, if left to reproduce, this generational crop will morph into bitterness.

God is very clear about this toxic crop.

“See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled” (Hebrews 12:15 NAS).

Oh, but you say, you don’t know what (you fill in the blank) did to me. Maybe not, but I know what our Lord Jesus Christ did for you. And how fitting we should talk about this today, Good Friday, the day when Jesus, a little over 2,000 years ago, took every sin you ever committed against Him into His sinless body. He chose to take God’s judgment and punishment for you. He was crucified so God could forgive you.

Now tell me again why you can’t forgive everyone for anything they’ve done to you in light of what Christ forgave you for?

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice” (Ephesians 4:31 NAS).

Forgiveness isn’t a warm fuzzy. Nor is it a command to be best friends with the offender. Your anger and bitterness does no harm to the person who has wronged you. No, but it sure is a fatal disease for you.

I can tell you from firsthand experience forgiveness is a choice. A choice to obey God. A choice to release the subject of your vendetta and give it over to God. A choice to plant new seeds in your heart that will produce an abundant crop of joy and love and hope—for yourself and for the Lord Jesus Christ.

Plowed ground

Choosing to hold onto your anger renders what Christ did for you null and void. Is this the crop you willingly choose to produce? The crop you will one day give an answer for? The crop that prevents you from being all God intended for you to be?

“There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God; all have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one. There throat is an open grave, with their tongues they keep deceiving, the poison of asps is under their lips; whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness; their feet are swift to shed blood, destruction and misery are in their paths; and the path of peace have they not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Romans 3:10-18 NAS).

This is the description of a man/woman, boy/girl, without Jesus. Will this be the final harvest you bring to the Lord in light of His sacrifice for you? You can lay it down today, this moment, by choosing to forgive.

There is great news and bad news about this choice. The great news? The moment you purpose in your heart to forgive—it’s a done deal. The bad news? It’s a life sentence. Yes, because you’ve already given Satan a heads-up on how to sabotage you. So every time that enemy of old tries to punch replay on your old tape of whatever that so-and-so did to me, you immediately punch the off button instead and forgive them again and again and again—seventy times seven. Until Satan sees you mean business and leaves you alone for a season.

Will you choose to let the Word of God plow the hard ground of your heart, and allow the Spirit of God to plant new seeds, for a new harvest? What greater gift could you give our Lord this Resurrection Sunday than to accept His forgiveness and then forgive one (name them) who has wronged you? The Holy Spirit will be faithful to nourish those new seeds of Christ’s love, mercy, and hope in your life that will, if you continue to weed and feed the pasture of your heart, produce a bumper crop!

A Matter of the Heart

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I glanced at my watch, fifteen minutes to spare. Super. I whipped off I30 and pulled into the local McDonalds to quiet the gnawing of my stomach on my backbone. The line was long, but I had a margin of fifteen minutes. No problem—

When the cars finally moved enough for me to place my order I was committed. “I’d like a ham and egg McMuffin with no cheese, please.” She repeated the order and I confirmed, “That’s right. No cheese.” I pulled forward and waited. And waited.

The car in front of me must have been ordering food for a multitude. No joke, ten minutes passed. And I waited some more. When the car pulled away, the McDonald’s lady handed me my sack and a giant coke.

“No cheese, right?”

She smiled and nodded.

My fifteen-minute margin had been gobbled as I pulled back onto the freeway. I unwrapped my McMuffin, anticipating the deliciousness, but noticing the wrappings seemed thinner than usual—there was no egg!

Just a slice of ham and warm muffin slathered in melted, yellow, gooey stuff. So ooey-gooey I couldn’t separate the ingredients from each other.
Now any other time, I would have looped around the restaurant, gone back through the drive-through, and demanded they fix the problem. But I was already headed west on I30, and running late. I took a bite or too, but the greasy processed yuck impersonating cheese coated the roof of my mouth. I stuffed the remains of a breakfast-gone-bad back in the bag and pouted. Gonna be a long time ‘til lunch.

No Cheese photo

With every spin of the tires I grumbled about the kitchen staff’s inability to fill a simple order. What’s so hard about leaving off a piece-a-cheese?

And God let me grumble for a mile or so—until He pointed to the comparison between the cheesy sins I served Him each day. with my lack of regard or remorse for not giving Him what He asks.

“But these are incompetent people,” I argued. “… not paying attention or caring what they’re doing.” Silence filled the car and the space in my mind.

“…not paying attention or caring…” circulated in my mind while I recalled my harsh words to my husband the evening before when he hadn’t done something I thought should be done. And the Lord punched the play button on the tape of my incompetent and rebellious moments where He specifically asked me to discard distasteful habits in my life. Habits I had drug home and allowed them to take up residence—worse yet, habits—no let’s call them what they are—sins I paid no attention to as they grew new roots, attaching and renewing themselves to my heart and mind like weeds.

No Cheese photo 1

I won’t even bother to record my list. I’m sure you have your own.

Sins, like melty cheese on my deformed McMuffin, that stick to hearts and minds. Sins we all are either too lazy, too unobservant, or too ignorant or rebellious to scrape off and throw in the trash. But we need to identify and own up to our sins, seek God’s forgiveness and healing, through the blood of Jesus Christ.

Paul tells us in Colossians 3:8-11 we are to put aside:

“anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created Him—a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all.”

But Paul doesn’t leave us standing naked and exposed. In Chapter 3:12 of Colossians he tells us what to put on.

“So as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.”

It’s impossible for me to be thankful when I’m gripping. And as if to test what I learned last Saturday, when I pulled through another McDonalds yesterday, one where they never mix up my order, guess what? Yep, I got everything, including cheese. So what was I supposed to do—suck it up and eat it anyway? Oh no. We are to instruct, rebuke, and teach—in a kind manner. I looped around the building and asked them to give me the order I requested—a McMuffin with no cheese.

No Cheese photo 2

And likewise, God requires you and I to take another loop around His Word, so He can instruct, rebuke, and teach us to put to death the unrighteous, cheesy sins that separate us from fellowship with Him and each other.

“Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father” (Colossians 3:16-17 NAS).

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I buckled the seat belt and glanced around the cabin of the plane. Full flight—not an empty seat. And I shifted closer to my husband for take-off. While my son is a fighter pilot who loves his airplane and delights in zooming through the skies at mach speed, no way does that strand of flight genes flow in these veins. Now I just had endure this three plus hours to get home.

Ranier from the lodge
Vacation in Seattle had been wonderful, and I kinda looked forward to the interrupted time to edit my WIP (work in progress) Twisted. Kinda.

About fifteen minutes into the flight the captain instructed the flight attendants to immediately take their seats and buckle up. The voice instructed passengers not to move about the cabin for the next little bit, and those seat-command-lights flashed on.

Dick patted my arm and smiled. Every muscle in my body tensed. I didn’t return his smile.
The bumping began—then worsened. I closed my notebook, stuffed it back inside the bag and grabbed his hand in a death-lock. We dipped and the plane jarred from side to side.
I pushed his hand away and clutched the gray, drop-down tray in front of me, and hung on. But the bumps and rolls continued. Seconds? Minutes? Hours? My hands hurt from holding that plastic so tight. And all that raced through my mind, over and over, “Lord, help us! Please help us.”
“You’re holding onto the wrong thing.” The clear, concise words, sounded in my head and heart.
“What?” I quipped.
“You are holding onto the wrong thing.” The calm voice of the Spirit of God repeated as loud and real as if He were sitting in Dick’s seat.
I stared at my fists clinging to a gray plastic and the stupid absurdity of my actions crystallized. If the plane went down so would I—clinging to that insignificant tray.
The bumping continued, but I loosened my grip and tore my hands away from that false hope of stability and confessed what God already knew. I was wrong. And anxious. And was indeed holding onto the wrong thing.

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Though the bumping didn’t stop, I felt God’s presence and peace wrap me, body, soul and spirit, in His sovereign arms—after I put away foolish substitutes and trusted Him to care for me.
During this Christmas Season, that question has played through my mind many times since that high-flite-testing.

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Amid the hustle and bustle, what insignificant, useless things are you holding onto?
Are you clenching your fists at God because He took your loved one home this year? Are you determined to keep all things as they were before their death—accusing God of taking someone you can’t live without? Are you holding onto anger, anxiousness, and agitation?
Or are you so spun up over the world events crumbling around us you can’t enter into the truth of the Christmas celebration? Are you holding onto the hope of salvation through the right candidate, right political party, or right Congress to set this nation back on it’s godly foundation?

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What shape and color plastic are you holding onto?
What deception have you allowed to creep in and cloud your ability to see the Light of Christ?
What turbulent situation is robbing you of faith, peace, and confidence in the Lord Jesus Christ to give you help, hope, and healing?

Anacortes barn 3
Dick leaned over and whispered, “It’ll be over soon. We’re just flying over the Cascades.”
I had no idea flying over mountains in the atmosphere of the afternoon would cause turbulence. Did you? We had flown over them in the early morning and it had been smooth. I was ignorant of the facts.
And many of us, even those who believe in Christ Jesus, and have been washed in His blood, don’t know the facts of the truth of His Word. And, like my ignorance of the cause of the bumps and rolls, they are ignorant of what God tells us about who He is, who we are in Him, and what is to come.
And how we are to behave in the process.

Hot in the Kitchen 4
But He has preserved His love letters. His instructions on how to make it through these harsh and barren times. And it’s not too late to educate yourself.
Will you search His Truth?
Will you choose to release your grip on your understanding in order to embrace the truths and peace of His Word?
Will you make a daily practice of focusing on the only One who can deliver you through the storms and tragedies of life? Jesus—born to die so you might live in the joy of His presence—right now and forever.

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“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this” (Isaiah 9:5-7 NAS).

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; and this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world” (1 John 4:1-3 NAS).

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Which do you choose?
And where do these words come from?
And where do these conversations take place?
From you. Just you. In your mind and in your heart.
Yep, the person you converse with the most is you. And what you tell yourself is the prime suspect or super star of your day—your life.
Trust me, I’m not crazy nor did this statement originate with me. Think about what’s going on in your mind right this moment. From the moment your eyelids pop open in the morning. Every day. All day. For better. For worse. In sickness and in health. As long as you live.

DSCF1479What’s the tone of your internal conversations? Hammering, yammering words or comforting conversation? Probably words that run the gambit of emotions and topics and knowledge. And some of the stuff we tell ourselves is just plain wrong. Even stupid and pointless. Maybe even cruel. Right?

Is it any wonder God told us:

“…casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ…” (2 Corinthians 10:5 NKJV).

Ever argue with yourself? Sure you have. So have I. So has everyone else on the planet. Where do these thoughts, sometimes absurd thoughts, come from? Ah-ha, I’m glad you asked.

Only two sources—Either from the Lord God Almighty, through the power of His Spirit, or from the enemy of your soul, The devil himself. Lucifer. I heard Bill Gilham say: “Satan speaks to you in first person singular, with a southern accent.” Cute and catchy phrase, right? But, oh so true.

There is a battle raging inside, outside, upside down in this world and our hearts and souls are the prize.

Have you ever stood in front of the mirror and watched the internal script crawling across your neck line? “I’m so ugly. Inside and out. My nose is a pointed catastrophe. And my hair is stringy. Why would anybody want anything to do with me? How could God love me? I’m so hateful. That’s why I feel so bad—He doesn’t. Look at my life. If He loved me I’d be______________”  You fill in the blank.

Would those thoughts come from The Lord God who created you and said you were very good? He made you in His image and fitted you together in your mother’s womb. Numbered your hairs and your days before you were born—and you think He’d put those thoughts in your mind? Of course not. He loves you and promises He will never leave you.

But God’s enemy is set on destroying everything God loves and you, beloved, are in the center of God’s love (whether you believe it or not) and consequently, in the middle of Satan’s bulls-eye. And those words are the first person singular, with a southern accent arsenal of fiery darts the serpent of old flings in a constant barrage against you and against me.

Our Father in heaven didn’t leave us defenseless, he instructed us to freeze-frame our every thought. Dissect those suckers. Determine their origin. Decide if they’re truth or lies. Then accept God’s truth and toss Satan’s lies on the garbage heap.

Of course, our mirror haranguing is a simple illustration, while other disturbing and dangerous thoughts march like assault soldiers through our minds each day. Some thoughts we pay no attention to ’til the path of their tracks is so embedded in our thought processes that depression or worse cloud our thinking.

But it’s never too late to chase ’em down and hogtie ’em. And that’s exactly what Jesus tells us to do isn’t it? Hogtie ’em! Disable them. Refuse to accept enemy lies. Kick ’em to the curb. Repair the deceived and desecrated terrain in your heart and mind with God’s truth. Then—guard your heart.

“My son, give attention to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your sight; keep them in the midst of your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and health to all their whole body. Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life” (Proverbs 4:20-23 NAS).

What yammering thoughts march machete style through your mind today? Advancing with steel blades drawn, stabbing pain in your heart, while other mind- marching-soldiers slice and dicefile1691345353992 those in your path. While a myriad of troublesome thoughts lodge and fester in those dark crevices, preventing you from experiencing the peace and comfort of our Lord Jesus.
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds…” (2 Corinthians 10:3-4 NKJV).

Satan has no new tricks. Why should he bother? We keep falling for his old ones.
But Jesus promises His peace. However, we are housekeeping servants, responsible for keeping our minds from becoming garbage heaps, whether we’re suffering or smiling. And that means whatever our circumstances, we are to pull down the stinky stuff hanging in the closets of our life, toss out rotten leftovers, and refuse to live in a dumpster-diving mentality.
Jesus gives us the step-by-step remedy.
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say rejoice! Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

IMG_0013Finally brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worth of praise, let your mind dwell on these things” (Philippians 4:4-8 NAS).

What’s your mind dwelling on right this moment? Does it meet the Philippians 4:8 sniff test? If not, the Sword of the Spirit can change that you know—yammering words or continual comforting conversation with your Lord—your choice!

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This past weekend a group of people watched horrified as a speeding vehicle crashed through barriers and flipped upside down, submerged in the Utah River, with three teenagers inside.

With one spirit, in one accord, this group of people jumped into the turmoil, turned the vehicle right-side-up in the water, and rescued the teens who are reported to be in stable condition.

The event made national news and we celebrate this unified selfless act of saving lives. But isn’t that what Christ called the Church to do—rescue rebellious people from their wrong doings and introduce them to Jesus!DSCF2480

Before the foundation of the world God put in place everything we would need to work in the power of His Holy Spirit to do the work He preordained for each one of us to accomplish. And what better picture could we have than the courageous group from Salt Lake last weekend.

I can’t pick up a car, can you? Of course not, but working together with a single goal and one spirit, these folks saved three disobedient teens from drowning. And that’s our calling—rescuing DSCF3049people from the power of the evil one, wrenching them from the claws of sin, and telling them how Jesus died to save them. Forever.

Ephesians 3:16 tells us every believer, according to the riches of God’s glory, will be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man. So Church, let me ask, where’s our power? Has the Spirit changed? Or are we the rebellious ones, speeding through life, giving no thought to how far we’ve catapulted into the enemy’s camp?

Paul implores us to “…walk in a manner worth of the Historic Churches 0018calling with which we have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1-3 NIIV).

Well now, that certainly explains our problem, doesn’t it? The Church is called to unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace—Uh oh. Peace in Baptists ranks? Or humble, patient Presbyterians? How about tolerance for one another in love by the Church of God folks? Do I need to continue? Does anyone think there’s going to be a special Southern Baptist section in heaven? Or are Bible Churches going to be given top billing? Of course not. We are all being built-up into one body, in Christ. His body. His bride.

And we wonder why we’re impotent? We’re so full of ourselves and our own agenda. Proud. Arrogant. Selfish. Self-willed. We’ve got it covered. We’re upside-down in the flood waters of life, deprived of the breath of the Spirit destined for death, ‘til the doctor DSCF2348delivers a tragic diagnosis. ‘Til a husband, wife, or child dies. ‘Til another 9/11 and we come face to face with our mortality and insignificant, hopeless state without God.

We skip across the pages of The Word, grabbing a morsel here, a snack there, yet never pausing to let the wonder and glory of the LORD God Almighty fill our soul. That’s not belief. That’s not faith. That’s pride. No wonder we’re in the mess we’re in. Confused, weak, tossed about with name it and claim it philosophies and countless other deceptions which have captured the minds of the Body and carried our hearts to a pagan land. We are prattling children. Unaware. Fiddling while our family, our neighborhood, our nation burns. Just like in the days of Noah.

Hell is the apparent destination for many I know. Many you know. They don’t know Jesus. But we refuse to grasp the urgency of their DSCF2344peril, to open our eyes to the finality and horror of separation from God forever. We refuse to tell them about what Jesus has done in our lives. Or is there nothing to tell? Do we really care about lost folks? Are we complacent, thinking whew, I’m safe. Too bad about them? Good thing the Salt Lake City folks recognized the teens would die if they didn’t act right then and in one accord.

Jesus gave us one assignment. “Go make disciples.” Like those folks jumped into the river with no thought for their comfort, their safety, their appearance. With a unified voice we must break down those embassies of hell entrenched in every city and town in our nation. And yank those held in the fierce jaws of Satan into the Ark of the Lord Jesus Christ. We can’t save them, God does, but we are responsible for the yanking, telling, loving, and nurturing them to hope and healing in the unity of the Spirit in Christ Jesus.

If we come to our senses, see their danger and ours, and come together in the only Holy Spirit of the Lord, the same power that Historic Churches 0007_edited-1fell at Pentecost will sweep across this nation with purifying wind and fire, saving multitudes, and the Holy Spirit will revive, rejuvenate, and transform the Church.

It’s our choice. Yours and mine—one saved sinner at a time–To repent and walk in a manner worthy of our calling or continue grieving the Spirit of God.

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe” (Ephesians 1:18-19 NIIV).

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Have you ever been in the presence of an over-stimulated, exhausted little urchin? They’re like wind-up toys with no off DSCF4887switch. And the longer they’re allowed to crank, the faster they spin, ‘til terror, tantrums, and tears erupt.

And I’m like that too. How about you?

The moment my feet hit the floor in the morning I cruise at DSCF4890ninety to ninety-five MPH, ‘til I surrender to exhaustion around midnight. Multiple days of over-booked running and I’m likely to end up in tears or over-reacting to everything that ruffles my expectations, just like that irritable, tuckered-out child.

A few weeks ago, during Bible study in Nehemiah and Malachi, the words leaped off the page, bold-printed on my brain, and convicted my heart.

Nehemiah threw a wall-eyed fit at the nobles of Judah, saying: “What is this evil thing you are doing, by profaning the Sabbath day? Did not your fathers do the same, so that our God brought on us and on this city all this trouble? Yet, you are adding to the wrath on Israel by profaning the Sabbath” (Nehemiah 12:17-18 NAS). He even grabbed some of the men by their beards and yanked out strands of their hair.

And God tells the people through Malachi: “Oh that there were one among you who would shut the gates, that you might not uselessly kindle fire on My altar. I am not pleased with you, says the Lord of hosts, nor will I accept an offering from you” (Malachi 1:10 NAS).
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Yikes! What had these folks done to upset God so much He wanted to shut the gates and stop the sacrifices?

The year was somewhere around 436 B.C. The people of Judah had completed their seventy year exile in Babylon, returned to Israel, built a new temple, and rebuilt the wall around Jerusalem under the direction of Nehemiah. They pledged obedience to God and signed a contract. The city was on the way to restoration, but Nehemiah had to leave for a time and guess what? Yep, the folks reverted to their old ways, just like their fathers had done.

In Judah the Sabbath had become like any other day—shopping, trading, and selling inside the gates—everything but rest and worship.

God is dealing with me about my failure to maintain a Sabbath DSCF4892rest. What about you? Could we be guilty of doing the same thing ancient Israel did?

From the beginning chapters of Genesis, God rested on the Sabbath day. The seasons were created to give the earth rest in the DSCF4700winter and resurrection in the Spring. Every seven years they were also to allow the land to lay fallow, giving the land a Sabbath rest. And He instructed His people to keep this eternal statute forever.

Now that wasn’t the only statute the people refused to obey, but let’s stay focused on this commandment today.

I’m old enough to remember when stores closed on Sunday so we all could worship God. America stopped to thank God for His blessingsDSCF4795 and enjoyed a day of rest. Sunday afternoon was given to naps and reflection. A time for God. A special day. And a time for family.

In my early adult years there were Sunday blue laws still in affect in many Southern towns. But as Americans grew more prosperous and spent more money, merchants realized they could have the blue laws overturned, keep the stores open, and make more money. And the folks agreed—‘cause they made money too.

The more prosperous Americans became, the less we needed God. DSCF4891‘Til today, in most neighborhoods across this land God has blessed, few of our neighbors even think about, much less attend church to honor God with thanksgiving and offerings.

But what about Christians? You and me? Do we honor God on the Sabbath? Or are we kindling useless fire on God’s altars? Do we meditate on God’s Word during the week so we can enter His rest on Sunday?

Or is Sunday catch-up day? Another day to worry? Often busier than the rest of the week. Or are we just grateful to have an air-conditioned place with soft pews to collapse and plan next week or shift our minds into neutral for an hour?

What kind of sacrifice are we bringing to God’s altar? Pure or blemished?

Do we honor God in the Sanctuary? Or do we profane His house and His name?

Is Sunday a day of restoration for you, or another day crammed full of activities that leave you burned-out and used up like those cranky children we talked about?

Are Malachi’s words pertinent to the Church in 2014?
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We are called to worship the Lord, folks. Not be entertained. We are called to make disciples. Not serve as a social club. We are called to worship and praise God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. Not the pastor, nor a building, and certainly not the music minister or ourselves.

“Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth” (Psalm 46:10 NAS).
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The phone call instructed I must come quick. Daddy’s hours on earth were coming to an end. I pressed the accelerator to the floor and headed for the convalescent center. “Lord, please give me a word, a sign, something to know my dad belongs to You and we’ll be together again in heaven.”

Daddy came to live with us after Mama died, bringing his impatience and ill temper as roommates. I was desperate for assurance that he was heaven bound.

Daddy had long since quit going to church. I never saw him open his Bible or pray, other than grace over a meal. Yet, “Amazing Grace” had been his life’s song. He taught the lyrics to his first grandchild. And to Daddy’s delight this toddler ran up and down in his crib at dawn each morning  singing “’mazing grace, sweet da sound, ‘mazing grace, sweet da sound.”

A few days before his death I found the courage to ask, “Daddy, are you afraid to die?”

He retorted with his usual impatience. “Of course not.”

I pressed the issue. “Daddy, when God calls a believer home, He sends His angels to bring them to the other side.”

“Well, I’m just standin’ here waitin’ and a wavin’,” he said,  then refused to listen to another word on the subject.

Two days later that dreaded call came and I sped toward the nursing facility.

“Not yet, Lord please—not yet.”

I crept into his room and sat rigid and motionless in that universal plastic covered hospital chair. My eyes shifted from his frail form to those troublesome monitors beeping irreverent sounds.

Daddy lapsed into unconsciousness before I arrived so there were no goodbyes. My mind swirled from loneliness to fear as I sat helpless—watching him slip from this life—nothing to do but wait in that place where time becomes meaningless and death is a breath away.

A slight rustling brought me back to reality. Daddy rolled from his side to his back. His arm shot from beneath the covers.  With eyes still closed, an ear-to-ear grin enveloped his face. He waved and waved—then he was gone.

Numbness shrouded my heart and mind.  Nurses and medical personnel rushed in and out of the room, asking questions, giving instructions.  It was over. And it took every ounce of strength to finally walk out of that room, to my car, and drive out of the parking lot. God had given me no answer. Dark waves of anguish and grief swelled then crashed over my conflicted soul.

A traffic light ahead changed to red and I slammed on brakes with Daddy’s words echoing in my ears, “I’m just standin’ here, waitin’ and a wavin’.”

God had answered my prayerI hadn’t been listening! Sweet peace and joy flooded my soul. Tears of relief and release washed away the anguish and God’s understanding comforted my grieving heart. His angels came. At their appointed time. Daddy’s waitin’ over, they carried him smilin’ and wavin’ into the presence of  his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

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