Only God Can Order These Events

In Bethlehem, the only bed and breakfast was full. There wasn’t another Inn in town.


What was this couple to do? The inn’s host said, “There’s a barn outback.”

With no place to go, they needed shelter for the night. It was a short walk to the barn. The young couple found an empty stall and cleaned it as best they could. 

Mary was with child, and her due date was near. Very near! Joseph and Mary had traveled from Nazareth. It was a 70-mile journey if they went through the forbidden Samaria to Bethlehem. They could have traveled over 100 miles if they took the familiar Jewish route of crossing the Jordan to travel on its East side. Whether Mary walked or rode, the journey was a difficult one.


No sooner had they settled down; her labor pains came. All alone in a distant town without a mention of help, Mary brought forth her first born son, Jesus. The One the angel, Gabriel, spoke of. Bible prophecy was being fulfilled right before their very eyes. 

The only bed for God’s Son was a nearby feeding trough, a manger. They wrapped their first born child in cloth strips (swaddling clothes) for warmth. There was no baby shower, then. No new outfits or diapers to wear. Only used cloth for wrapping the Son of God. 


Jesus, Mary, and Joseph were not alone for long. God was at work in a nearby pasture. Shepherds were keeping watch over their flocks that historic night. An Angel appeared to them and announced the Good News. The Savior, the Messiah, is born. You will find him in a manger in nearby Bethlehem. You know that it is Him because you will find him wrapped in swaddling clothes in the only stable in town.


The shepherds left their sheep to see the Great Shepherd, the baby Jesus. Can you imagine their eyes when they saw the Lord? The wonderment of such a holy site. The Messiah, the promised One, laying before them. Oh, what a Holy Night. Upon leaving this humble surrounding, they shared the good news wherever they went. 


One more thought. Mary kept the following memories in her heart. The announcement about her upcoming pregnancy. The visit to her elderly cousin, Elizabeth, who was with child. Her future son grew up to become John the Baptist, the forerunner to Christ. Joseph marrying her when she was pregnant. The birth of Jesus in a barn and how the shepherds knew the Messiah was born.

Truly, everything was miraculous. Only God could arrange such events.

We have a wonderful Savior to serve. 

Age Does Not Make A Difference

AGE IS A DISCOVERY IN PROGRESS! It’s never too late to serve God. Age may set limits on what you can do physically, but when serving God, age has no limitations. You may be young or old, but God can still use you in His service. The only boundary is your faith. So, how big is your faith? Is it small or extra-large? Faith comes in all sizes.

Age or gender do not limit one’s faith. The following examples may explain some preconceived ideas about faith. God will use whomever is available and willing to trust him. Age doesn’t make any difference, but the heart does.

Prior knowledge is unnecessary. Sometimes it is a hindrance. Trusting God is the only requirement for Him to use you.

Joseph was 17 when God spoke to him in a dream, Genesis 37, about his brothers serving him. Joseph was the baby of the family and was his father’s favorite son. His brothers hated Joseph and sold him to be a slave. The adverse conditions eventually led to Joseph’s promotion to be the second in command of all of Egypt. His brothers meant it for evil, but God turned it out for good.


Moses was a murderer at age 40. He ran from Egypt and served as a shepherd for another 40 years. At age 80, God spoke to him out of a burning bush. The Lord told Moses to lead the children of Israel out of bondage which he did for another 40 years. It is noteworthy for us to see that Moses’s spiritual service started at age 80.

Job lost his entire family while faithfully serving God. During this period of grief, Satan attacked his health with boils from head to toe. God, at the end of Job’s trial, gave him another family and restored his wealth. Job was faithful regardless of health.


David was the youngest of his family. God sent Samuel to Bethlehem to anoint the next King of Israel. Jesse, David’s father, was told to bring his sons to Samuel. God intervened and told Samuel to ask if there were any other sons. Jesse sent for David who was attending the nearby flock. When David arrived, the Prophet anointed him to be the next King of Israel. David’s kingship would take place years later.

Hannah was childless. After praying for years, she promised the Lord she would give the child back to Him when her request was granted. God answered her prayer for a child, Samuel. When he was weaned, Hannah kept her word to God. She brought Samuel to Eli, a Priest of the Lord. Samuel served the Lord faithfully all his life.

John, one of the 12 disciples, served God faithfully for years. His service even brought his banishment to the island of Patmos. In exile, John wrote Revelation, the last book of the Bible. Scholars say this writing took place about 95 A.D. That would make John’s age in the late 70s at the time of this writing.


These examples reinforce our God is no respecter of persons, including age. The above servants were faithful in carrying out God’s commands. Age is not a reason for refusing to follow God’s leadership. Obedience is the only requirement. Age is just a number to God. Regardless of age, God desires your attitude to be one of submissiveness.

Hard Lessons To Learn

Somewhere in your past, someone has said, “I told you so.” How did those words resonate in your ears? Be honest with yourself. Probably you didn’t like them. The verifiable truth usually stings for a while. In a few minutes, you may realize they were correct.


King Saul heard those harsh words from the Prophet Samuel in I Samuel 13. The Philistines assembled to attack Saul. Their forces outnumbered the Israeli troops.

Saul was to wait for the Prophet Samuel to come and give him direction. He was to wait seven days for his arrival. Impatient, Saul took matters into his own hands on the seventh day. He tired of waiting. On the seventh day, Saul violated his office as king and offered a priestly sacrifice to the Lord. 


As soon as the sacrifice was complete, Samuel reached his destination. He probably smelled the remains of the burnt offering. Samuel immediately asked, “What have you done?” (I Samuel 13:11) 

Saul explained himself. When I saw the vast number of Philistines, I panicked and made the sacrifice without you here. There is no mention of prayer, and he did not wait until the end of the seventh day. Saul’s impatience cost him greatly.

Notice Saul’s words. “Therefore I felt compelled, and offered a burnt sacrifice.” (v.12). Often, feelings can get you in trouble. Bible principles always outweigh feelings. Quick decisions can be disastrous and have long-term ramifications. 


Some scriptural advice. Naomi told her daughter-in-law Ruth, “Sit still, my daughter, until you know how the matter will turn out.” (Ruth 3:18) David said in Psalms 37:7a, “Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him.” Also, in v.34 of the same Psalm, “Wait on the Lord, and keep His way.” Abraham received God’s promise of a son, “After he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.” (Hebrews 6:15)

The lesson for me, wait until the Lord answers before you act. 

Verses are from the NKJV. 

The Sky Is Still Blue


“The leaves are brown, and the sky is gray,” so goes yesterday’s song by the Mamas and the Papas. That is not true as I look out my window. The leaves have fallen. The ground is brown, but the sky is blue. Clear blue.

We live in a changing world. Things are never the same. Kids grow up, and adults muddle through life. When we get old, we worry about things, often wondering if we have changed our world for the better. 


What are the priorities for our lives? Our time is limited. Twenty-four hours in a day. Three hundred sixty-five days in a year. No one knows the number of years we may live. As believers, we know only the things accomplished for Him will last. We have a head knowledge of that. Often our lives do not reflect what we thought.

What we know and what we practice sometimes are different. Ten years after we die, who will know we ever lived? In most cases, only family, a handful of friends, and maybe a few coworkers will remember.


If you are rich, you can leave a legacy of some sort. Building, scholarships, or plaques may bear your name. The readers only know your name, but not the real you. What makes a person stand out in memory? Usually, it is actions—ones of kindness or thoughtfulness. The Good Samaritan’s name is not in the Bible. His act of mercy has been written for generations to emulate. Peter and John said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give to you.” (Acts 3:6 NKJV)

Generosity makes lasting memories, which goes beyond monetary gifts. Eternal memories are here for the making. A cup of cold water given in the Lord’s name has eternal rewards (Mark 9:41).


Kind words and actions can reproduce in others for generations to come. You will never know this side of heaven what an encouraging word will do in another’s heart. 

The bare trees have a long wait before being green again. The sky is still blue for all the world to see, so keep doing those kind things to help others have a great day.

Compassion

Compassion for others is disappearing. Is this an isolated observation, or is it true everywhere? Is it a sign of the times, the callousness of today’s society, or a generational thing? It seems the older I get, the less I see of this godly trait. 

Compassion is usually expressed by showing concern, support, or aid to one who is suffering. A good illustration would be the Good Samaritan in Luke 10. Not only did he give immediate assistance, but he was willing to pay for extended aid. His compassion was not for a friend or a relative, but a total stranger. Was this incident a once in a lifetime practice? One would think this man was a regular in expressing compassion.

The Psalmist relates the Lord’s feeling for Israel in Psalm 78. The list of wanderings away from God are listed. It does not matter what the Lord does for us. We seem to forget and wander away from Him again. God’s kindness for His children is vital for our well-being. The Lord remembers that we are flesh with all its weaknesses. Yet even in this, His compassion does not fail for his children. 

King David, in his writings, reflected upon the Lord’s heart. David said God was full of compassion (Psalm 86:15). The Lord showed it by His graciousness, patience, mercy, and in His slowness of anger toward us. God has a great love for His people. The Lord’s faithful servants realize the Lord’s caring spirit. Our God is willing to go the extra mile for those who love Him. 

By realizing God’s compassion for us as believers, can we express the same kindness to others? Actions do speak louder than words. It may not be a sum of money you give, but the time you are willing to share. It could be changing a tire, fixing a meal for someone, caring for a sick neighbor. Your thoughtful deed demonstrates compassion. Whether friend, foe, or stranger, a kind deed works wonders in the heart of any man. Because people have been kind to you, you can pay it forward by being kind to others. One thing is for sure, compassion shows the heart. The recipient never forgets the expression of your heart.

So, is empathy disappearing? I hope not because we should be demonstrating compassion every day.

Appreciate

We take so much for granted, life, health, our residence, food, etc. It seems natural to have these. Yet each one is a gift from God. There are billions of people who wish they had what you do. Somehow, we take life and health for granted until they disappear. I Thessalonians 5:18 NKJV says, “In everything give thanks,” but do we? 


Jesus healed ten lepers in Luke 17:15, but only one returned to give thanks. What happened to the other nine? 

When individuals experience Salvation, how do they express their appreciation? It is varied. Just take a good look at their lifestyle. Does it show gratitude, or do they want only the benefits of their redeemed life? 


The Psalmist wrote in 107:1, “Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!” This Psalm’s sentiment is echoed again in 92:1 and 106:1. Its author was greatly appreciative of the Lord’s goodness to him.


Paul wrote in II Thessalonians 1:3, “To thank God always,” for those who are faithful. Somehow many Christians fail to do so. We should be thankful for those who feed us spiritually and serve the Lord behind the scenes. We need to thank all servants to their faces. It is a reminder to them in their dark hours of service to keep serving God regardless. 

So, what makes you appreciative? Whatever it is, please do not take it for granted. Thank God for watching out for you, even in the little things. I thank God every time I take my daily walk. God has given me the ability to walk and to spend time with Him. Walking is an ability many people do not have, but it is a gift to me. I am incredibly appreciative of it. That may seem insignificant to many, but it is a gift that is appreciated. I can see where to walk; many cannot see the road’s potholes. Sight is a God-given gift. 


All that we have is our gifts, including our frailties, and heartaches. Can we recognize God is with us even in our weaknesses and be thankful for His presence? 

Even writing blogs is a gift. God has allowed me to minister to people who I will never see this side of heaven. Little things are big things when they are appreciated.

Secret Prayer

Secrecy has its twists and turns, some good and some not so good. It all depends on the motives behind the secret. 

Jesus encouraged and practiced prayer by His example. Many were in seclusion, no one else around; the location could be on a mountain or in a garden. There His mind and heart were totally before God. 

In privacy, you can confess the sins you do not want anyone else to know but God. You can express your doubts, fears, hurts, even your anger. All of these are expressions of our human nature, and God knows all about them. 

Our Lord does not expect us to be perfect; life is a continual learning experience. We will never know it all. Maturity means we are still learning about our self and life. Our growing spirituality is one of constant improvement in thought and living. One’s spirituality develops better by spending time alone with the Creator, revealing our innermost heart.


Also, it is a time to be quiet and listen to God speaking to your heart. Those incoming Spirit-led thoughts demonstrate God is talking to you. They can appear when you are in your prayer closet; that is when I receive many of the subjects of my blog’s posts. 

One of the things I have learned over the years is my memory does not work like it did in the past. Because of this human trait, I learned something different. I keep a pencil and writing pad within reach of my prayer place. When God gives me an errand or thought about what I need to do, I stop praying and write it down. Then, when the time is right, I can do whatever the Lord has spoken of to me. That may seem trivial to some, but it works for me. 

Those who think this is petty, go ahead and assume that. I would dare say much of the Bible was a result of prayer, and all of it was God-directed (II Peter 1:21). An example would be the book of Revelation. John says, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day…I am the Alpha and the Omega…write in a book…” (1:10,11).


My encouragement to all is to spend time in your secret place. The place where you know you can talk to God about anything. Jesus did! The next time you read the Gospels, make a note of the number of times Jesus prayed in secret. It was usually at night and some distance from everybody else. It was Jesus and His Father. Just the two of them.

Jesus gave us an example of secret prayer. It worked for Jesus, and it will work for us. We need to meet God in a private place to know the things He wants us to do.  John said it best in 15:5 “Without Me you can do nothing.”

Sharing

Sharing and competition are opposite ends of the spectrum. Between those two words, there is another characteristic that creeps in. It would be labeled selfishness, which is opposed to sharing. 

As we read the Bible, we find models of sharing—sharing food, finances, faith. Several examples come rushing to my mind.

The first was in the town, Zarephath, located north of Israel in present-day Lebanon (I Kings 17:8-16). A widow was down to her last meal. She gathered some sticks to bake the last bit of flour into cakes for her son and herself. The Prophet Elijah asked her not to fear, but first bake him a small cake. Elijah went on to say if you do this, your bin of flour will not be empty, and your cooking oil will not run out. By faith, this widow honored the Lord. She obeyed the Prophet’s instructions. God rewarded her; she didn’t run out of food. 


There was in Israel, another poor widow worshipping the Lord (Mark 12:41-44). When it came time to give, this poor lady placed two mites (the equivalent of a few pennies today) in the offering. The insignificant amount of this money was notable only to the Lord. He made a special effort to mention her to his disciples. She placed her entire monetary wealth in the Lord’s hands. It was her livelihood; all she had. 

Fast forward to the period after the resurrection of Jesus. Peter and John were going to pray (Acts 3:1-10). Approaching the Temple, a lame beggar asked for money from those who entered. It was Peter who started the conversation by saying, “Look at us.” The cripple man turned his attention to Peter, expecting some financial help. Then Peter explained he had no money, but I’ll give you what I have. “Rise up and walk,” Peter then extended his helping hand. The man stood and entered the Temple joyfully as he walked. He was praising God of heaven. 

The above three examples have a common theme, and that is sharing. It’s not about wealth, but is about heart and obedience. It’s about honoring the Lord with what you have. It’s not the number of possessions, but following the leadership of the Lord. Wherever God leads you, He always provides. Even in desperate times, especially in the valleys of want. He brings to fruition the prayers of faith for His glory. Regardless of the circumstances, God always notices when you put Him first. He will never forget your effort to make Him prominent in your life. No, never.

The Ingredients In Loyalty

Loyalty is another word implying honesty. Every society stands or falls on honesty and loyalty. These two words are married. No mate can be loyal to the other without honesty, hitched to one another. Forever. Cooperation is essential for advancement and unity.

Loyalty does not mean material success or financial riches. The word loyalty is foundational to relationships. Without it, families suffer, even God’s family. With all this said, how is our commitment to God? Is it based on feelings or desires? Hopefully not. 

Loyalty has its roots in Bible knowledge and its practice. We all stumble in Bible application somewhere in our Christian walk. No one is without faults. All we can do is apply what we understand, and we have difficulty with that. To be loyal to what we know, we should use God’s principles in our daily living. 

God never told us we would be perfect. God knew we would have imperfections. He knew we were going to fail—trip on our own spiritual feet. But when we fall, we do not have to stay there.

The Bible records numerous people who failed somewhere. They got up and tried again, which set them apart. 

So, what do we do when we fall short of our expectations of spirituality? Stop serving God? Hopefully not. We could confess our shortcomings and keep on serving the Lord. 

Maybe we should all remind ourselves we are dirt. Dirt is a harsh, dirty word. Adam, the first human, was made of it. He passed on his messy nature to you and me thousands of years later. 

When anyone becomes a Christian, we received a new nature (II Corinthians 5:17). From the moment of salvation, we became a new work in progress. 

What we do in our new journey demonstrates our loyalty. The genuineness of our new walk of life says a whole lot about us. Our continual walk or lack thereof speaks volumes also. 

One of the good things about being reformed dirt is it is moldable. All it needs is a dose of living water applied to it. Jesus, who lives forever, is willing, and ready to remake us over and over again. 

His character never changes (Hebrews 13:8). His willingness to help us never stops. Only we determine our loyalty to Him. May we forever be loyal to the Son of God.

Being Purposeful

I can go there only for a while. Stay there until my project is complete. Hopefully, completely complete. In order for me to accomplish my purpose, I usually need quietness (aloneness, no one around to interrupt). My brain works better without interruption (conversations, music, etc.). “This one thing I do,” was Paul’s ultimate focus in Philippians 3:13. This verse reminds us to forget the past because it diverts our attention from the present. The task at hand is of immediate purpose. 

David asked a specific favor of the Lord. It was simple, thoughtful, and intentional. He wanted to dwell in the Lord’s house. He desired the companionship of the Lord (Psalms 27:4,5). The servant of God sought the Lord in prayer (v-7). He was willing to wait on the Lord to answer his requests (v-14). David gave us a great example—wait for God to answer our prayers.


Patience is a trait many Christians need to develop. Especially when waiting on God to intervene in the affairs of man.

The rich, young ruler in Mark 10 had all the worldly possessions any human could ever need. Yet, he was not at total peace with God. He needed an eternal purpose. What we do here on earth for Jesus will always have a lasting effect and heavenly rewards. It is one thing to have everlasting life, but having eternal rewards requires drive. What we do here and now is our basis for those heavenly rewards. 

A great example of divine purpose is in the episode of Martha and Mary. Martha was busy preparing to serve Jesus and his disciples. Mary sat before the Lord, absorbing his every word. Martha asked Jesus to tell Mary to help her. Jesus, in his gentle way, said Mary chose to learn the spiritual rather than prepare the meal. The spiritual always outweighs the temporary needs of man (Mark 10:41,42). 


Our Lord, through Peter, related time as viewed through the Lord’s eyes. Jesus is patient with this human race. He does not want anyone to die without repentance (II Peter 3:9). He is willing to wait for a man to repent. But our time is limited to life. What we do for Christ, or do not do, will last for eternity.

So, it is purposeful for God’s children to focus on being obedient to him. Paul conveyed his focus. “This one thing I do.” He wanted his purpose to be all about God. 

May each of us have the same.