Doing What Is Right

Most children were taught from an early age to do what is right. The parental guiding hand wanted to instill integrity into the child. Part of the process involved was to honor their parents. That learning endeavor began by doing what was said. Soon started a struggle between the child and authority. Children have always wanted their way, and insightful parents wanted the best for their children.

God has always blessed the person who is not deceitful. The Lord honors truth. He always has and He always will. Jesus said to him, “I am . . .the truth” (John 14:6). When a person comes to the Lord and experiences salvation, they will change. II Corinthians 5:17 calls the redeemed “new creatures.” What does that mean? It means the character of the new believer now can become more like Christ. The new man can now put the old ways behind him and start a fresh, clean life.

The original helpers for the church in Jerusalem were men of respected reputation and wisdom (Acts 6:3). These men were used by the Holy Spirit to advance the work of the Lord. This mature spiritual journey develops slowly for most individuals. The lifelong development of a Christian is a process, slow at times, and rapid at others, depending upon our receptivity.

There are times we stumble. Other times we fall flat on our face. How one moves forward is up to him. Integrity is the guide. Trusting in Jesus and depending on the Holy Spirit’s guidance, will make the journey sweeter.

John Mark, an apprentice of Paul and Silas, offended Paul by quitting on a missionary adventure (Acts 15:37,38). Later, Mark, as he is better known, had re-established his testimony as being dependable. Paul recognized that and then requested Mark’s presence in II Timothy 4:11. Mark somehow became useful for the ministry. God used John Mark to write part of the New Testament, the book of Mark. God would not have used Mark if he was still a quitter.

Why the above example? Let me explain. Regardless of your past faithfulness or lack thereof, there is still hope for you. God can encourage you, use you, and bless you for His glory.

God always desires what is best for each of His children, regardless of the past. Do not let a haunting memory continue to discourage you. If Mark can re-establish his usefulness for God, so can any other sincere believer, including you, to do what is right in His sight.

That’s My Story

The book of Ecclesiastes declares there is a time for almost everything. “To everything there is a season, a season for every purpose under heaven: A time to be born; A time to die…” The scripture goes on to describe most every event in life. Every happening in your life has a season. Seasons are a term for different periods in a year. The seasons of life have their cycles also.

It doesn’t make any difference what season you are in. It too shall pass, eventually. It may take a while for the transition, but it will happen. Life has a way of continuing regardless.

So, what matters to you? What is important to you today may not be so tomorrow or next year. This startling occasion has your focus—why? Why is it a concern to you? Can you change the event or the results? In most cases, the only thing that we can do is comfort somebody going through a rough situation.

What time is it? Is it time for you to reevaluate your own life? A time to change? For years, before I would type something on this computer, I would handwrite it on paper. Then, I make some corrections before the keyboard and my fingers connected. My fingers, two or three, typed slow. Real slow.

The next adventure for me was voice dictation. That was a remarkable improvement for me, but still, I had to make corrections because of my articulation. Even that wasn’t the finished product.

The next step in the course of events was to run the article through the review section in Word. Then, on to Grammarly for the final product. Well, that isn’t true. The next step was to pass the article on to a friend for her expertise in proofreading. Sometimes she bled all over it. When I finished correcting all her recommendations, the last step was for my wife to post it on WordPress. No, she had to make her recommendations before posting it, too.

A blog isn’t a blog for me unless it is original, then rehashed, and rehashed one more time for good measure.

I have told you my story. There is a season for everything. Only what is in print will last more than a lifetime of memories.

One last thing, a new beginning has happened. This article NEVER went through the handwriting or dictation process. It came about without any of my old methods. I opened the computer and started typing. “IF” I can start a new adventure this new year, so can you!

That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

Steps of a Man

Sometimes we are overwhelmed with things to do. The list is longer than there is time in a day. Where do we begin? What are the priorities? You may be so bogged down and confused you do not know where to start.

As the New Year approaches, the list of needed actions is lengthy.

So, where does one begin? Some people check off the easy ones first. That will shorten the list. This will also give you a sense of achievement. It can encourage you to approach the next item on your list (the checklist may be in written form or mental notes of the task). A visual list works better for me. It helps to relieve my anxiety and to see the completion of some of the issues. It also allows a better focus on the more time-consuming problems.

Now, you have a good start on the issues of life. Where does God fit in with your lifestyle? Some block Him out until THEY solve their issues. The problem with that line of thinking is you assume that you can take care of each difficulty by yourself. The underlying issue is we have allowed situations to control our lives. God’s list of priorities for you should have Him on top of the list. God first, other things after. Those two thoughts prioritize the real itemized list. When God is first, the other things somehow fall into place. They are accomplished because He is guiding you and assisting you. He is giving you wisdom and energy to tackle each situation. These are, in fact, opportunities for you to depend on and trust His guidance?

Some of you may be thinking, “that will not work in my life.” Let me say again, “It will”. My family has experienced it. God somehow intervened all along the way because we put Him first. Yes, the times were tough. Extremely tough. Yet God got us through them.

He will do the same for you. Trust him. Don’t quit on Him. He is faithful. He will never desert you.

Scriptures of Christmas

But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah from you shall come forth to me one who is to be ruler in Israel.1

Therefore, the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.2

For a child will be born for us, a son will be given to us, and the government will be on his shoulders. He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.3

But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.4 

And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.5

Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.6

The Word became flesh and took up residence among us.7

He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel.8

The Son of Man came to find lost people and save them.9

All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.10

I kept them in Your name,11 

May the God of peace be with you all. Amen.12

1 Micah 5:2 ESV; 2 Isaiah 7:14 ESV; 3 Isaiah 9:6 CSB; 4 Galatians 4:4,5 NASB;
5 Matthew 1:21 NKJV; 6 Luke 2:10,11 KJV; 7 John 1:14 HCSB; 8 Luke 2:32 NLT; 9Luke 19:10 NCV; 10 Matthew 28:18 KJV; 11John 17:12 NKJV; 12 Romans 15:33 ESV.

Events About Christmas

In this final month of the year, we usually find ourselves giving and receiving gifts. After all, it is Christmas and many people say I want this or that. If possible, they get it all wrapped up with a bow on top. Desire and fulfillment may arrive at the same time and place.

More than two thousand years ago, God gave some people choices to make around the events of our Lord’s earthly birth. It’s interesting to look at a few. Some made the right decision, and some did not. What could have been good for some wasn’t because of their choices. Others decided to trust God, and God recorded their names or occupations in the Bible. 

Joseph was just a man wanting to do the right thing when he found out that his fiancé was with child. He was willing to pray and ask God what to do. God showed him in a dream that it was right to wed Mary. How would scripture be written if Joseph had said no to God?

Mary, a teenager, was told by an angel that she was going to have a child—the Savior of the world. She asked how? The reply was the Holy Spirit will overshadow you. That’s all she needed to know, and she said yes to God. What if she said no? Her name would never appear in God’s Word.

Another individual, the innkeeper, said he had no room for the young couple. Mary was about to give birth to the Son of God, and he said no to them. What would the Bible say if the innkeeper made accommodations for this travel weary couple? Praise would be part of the accolades about him. Maybe his name would be recorded in the Bible. Today his name would be a familiar name among men.

When you think of the shepherds, what do you think? It’s a respectable occupation that may be lonely but not looked upon with low esteem.

How about Herod, the local ruler, who felt threatened by a young man, Jesus? Because of jealousy and his insecure personality, his name was not respected by the societies of the world. Scriptures would have recorded compliments if Herod rejoiced over the King of Kings being born in his territory. But no, this man wanted to stand in the way of our glorious King. 

The wise men traveled from afar to worship our Lord.  They even brought gifts in appreciation as they worshipped our Savior. The gold was used by Joseph and his family to go to Egypt which prevented Herod from killing the Messiah, our Savior. These wise men are portrayed as true worshippers today in every Christmas play. What if they said, “It’s winter and it’s cold, the trip is too far?” The Bible probably would have never mentioned them. 

When God brings an opportunity to you for helping others, what will you do? What will be your choice? Eternity will record your answers. May we, by the grace of God, be willing to say yes. Yes, to God, and no, to everything else. It may be our only chance to make a difference for some for all eternity.

It’s Just an Ordinary Day

Have you ever noticed how God seems to work? Most days are just another day. Yet somehow some days seem to be more special than others. Breakfast may be the normal. The morning routine may be ordinary. Lunch is typical. Yet somehow, out of nowhere…there is this voice. The kind that speaks to your heart. That whisper that gets your undivided attention. It may even direct your steps differently that day. Somehow, someway, God speaks to you. No one else hears His voice. The people around you have no idea what is taking place in your heart. But it’s a life-changing event.

That’s what happened to David in the Bible. David was keeping the sheep just like he did every other day. This day was different. It was the day that Samuel, the Prophet, anointed him King of Israel (I Samuel 16:13).

A young Jewish girl named Esther (Esther 2:17) won a beauty contest and was chosen by King Ahasuerus to be the new Queen of Persia.

Some of the disciples were busy about their fathers’ business, fishing. The Lord just happened by and called them to be His disciples. There are no accidents in the way the Lord chooses people for His service. Somehow, He picks ordinary people in ordinary places doing everyday things, and he speaks to them in such a way there is no mistake. It is the Lord who is doing the speaking.

Nehemiah was going about his daily duties when his brother Hanani arrived from Jerusalem to tell him the condition of the city. The report broke his heart. The news made Nehemiah weep. It was sad that the city, the capital of Israel, laid in ruins, and there were no plans to correct it. But what could Nehemiah do? He was over 500 miles away. There was only one thing he could do. Pray. So, Nehemiah prayed and fasted. He prayed for months.

It was an ordinary day. Nehemiah was at work doing the cupbearer’s job, a  responsibility that required him to taste the King’s wine. It was Nehemiah’s responsibility to taste the wine to make sure that it didn’t have poison in it. If someone wanted to kill the King, it was the cupbearer’s responsibility to die before the King drank the poisoned wine. But when the King saw that Nehemiah was sad, he was in big trouble. It was against the law for anyone to be unhappy around the King. Yet the King allowed Nehemiah to explain. Explain he did. Nehemiah had the nerve to ask the King for permission to go back to Jerusalem and rebuild its walls. He even had the boldness to ask for the resources from the King to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem. It was just an ordinary day, the King said,  go to Jerusalem and rebuild the wall.

God somehow answers prayer. It may take months to get an answer. Sometimes in an extraordinary way on an ordinary day, our God will answer. It’s just a reminder to pray on ordinary days. You never know when God will answer your prayer or redirect your life. But it will be on an ordinary day.

God Doesn’t Keep Office Hours

The Lord does not have voice mail or a message service. They were not invented in eternity past. Even if they were, there is no electricity in heaven. God is the source of light there, and there is no night in heaven. God is all-powerful. He is all the power we will ever need.

Whenever there is any need for anything, God is always available. His prayer line is always open. We never get a busy signal or a recording. He listens to every request. It is His decision on how to proceed. He always knows what to do. 

Many times, He answers immediately like Peter walking on water and then sinking. It was the Lord’s outstretched hand that kept Peter from sinking. Think about this —how did Peter get back into the boat? He walked on water with the Lord. Probably holding the Lord’s hand.

There are other times when God doesn’t answer our prayers that fast. This is when God is working out the circumstances to keep us safe. While He is arranging things to answer our prayers. 

Paul was a prisoner in the midst of a storm. It was there that Paul warned all those aboard that God was going to keep the entire list of occupants safe. Yes, the ship came apart and sank but everyone arrived onshore alive (Acts 27).

The tough times in our lives are when God doesn’t answer our prayers in the way that we want. When this happens, we may even get upset with God because He doesn’t answer our prayer as we wish. When we analyze our prayers, we should ask ourselves, are our prayers selfish? Are we asking for the right reason? Our problem is we cannot see into the future, to know what is best. When we decide to trust God, we realize all things do work together for good even though we do not understand. We humans must remind ourselves God is God. We are not and we do not tell God what to do. We are to ask Him for His will.

When you were a child, could you order your parents around? Did they jump when you, as a seven-year-old, told them to do what you wished? Of course not. They knew what was best. As God’s children, we must rely on God to do what is best for us and trust Him to do what is right. Even if we do not understand or like His decision. He is still God, and we still are not.  

I’m so glad that God knows best. I’m thankful He hears every prayer because He doesn’t keep office hours. He’s accessible anytime, all the time. Our heavenly Father is wonderful, even if we do not get our way. We serve a great God. 

Home Runs Are Free

Home runs are few and far between. The best major league players do not hit a home run every time that they are at bat. Actually, many of them strike out more often than they hit home runs. But the fans pay big bucks to see home runs.

So how does this translate into the Christian world?

Christians do not live on spiritual mountaintops. Most of our days are in the valleys with everyone else, doing our daily routines and responsibilities. The daily grind if you will. That’s our life. Many people live for the weekends to enjoy a break from everyday commitments — time with family and friends. The Christian will make time to worship God for a short time, generally Sunday morning. Then it’s back to our regular life. We finish up the time off by getting ready for the week ahead, another week of the daily routine. This description depicts the life of most people, including most Christians.

But for some, the spiritual message must include a home run on the part of the pastor. He is expected to stand and deliver a home run sermon to every person attending the house of God. Sermon home runs do not come every Sunday for several reasons. The spiritual meal served at church is good for some and excellent for others. Most spiritual meals are everyday food for nourishment. Not every meal is steak and potatoes; sometimes, it’s meatloaf or hot dogs. Some people enjoy hot dogs, and they are thankful that they have a meal. Hamburgers may be on the menu some nights. Whatever the church meal is, it is for nourishment for some and just humdrum for others.

The underlying problem for some believers is that it is the only spiritual food received for the week.

Everybody eats more than one meal per week. It should be the same for the churchgoer. What does this mean? It means get your Bible out and read it! If you are serious about God, you will take the time to have a spiritual meal every day. Read the New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs first. Get a grasp of the hundreds of spiritual meals in the Bible contents and apply them to your everyday life.

You will find that daily spiritual meals are the fuel to keep you energized for the Lord during the week.

Occasionally there is a home run in the game of life. But the game of life is won by the singles of everyday life. Those singles mount up to a winning life for God.

The Lord Is Able

God is able to make him stand Romans 14:4 NKJV

Have you ever heard a Christian tell another Christian how to live their life? Preachers do it all the time, but hopefully, they do it with scripture. Just in regular conversations, one may tell someone how or what to do, say, or act. Many times, an energized Christian will try to dictate Christian behavior. Let’s look at several areas where this can happen.

One area where this may take place is when a “mature” saint is unchangeable in their ways. They take it upon themselves to make others live to their standards. To fit a specific mold, as if a new Christian can be poured into a ridged shape and come out to be just like the one giving the instructions. Spiritual maturity comes in all shapes and sizes, and it takes years to become that size and shape. It takes a lot of trials and circumstances to develop a mature believer. A new believer doesn’t mature by taking a maturity pill. The pharmacy doesn’t have them. Spiritual maturity requires time to grow, and then there is still room for further development.

Far too many self-appointed believers try to control another’s spiritual development. We all must remember that spiritual growth takes time. God chooses the right time and opportunity to reshape his children when they are ready to handle the reshaping. Being forceful with a young Christian will temporarily make them conform. The conformity is not permanent without spiritual growth. No one can make another love Jesus or His work, that duty belongs to the individual. Forceful behavior only makes spiritual dropouts. They end up resenting Christianity and anything that has to do with the church. We Christians have caused this regrettable retreat. Believers need to think long and hard about being pushy about their spiritual maturity.

A mature saint of God will let people develop spiritual maturity and integrity in God’s timeframe. Let the Holy Spirit do what He does best, show the saint of God areas that need improvement. Let Him do the changing on His schedule. The Spirit knows when a person is ready to take another step of maturity. If God is guiding us and we should let Him, then we will know when to speak. In our zeal, we need to be sure it is God leading us and not our flesh. Prayer reveals the secret of knowing when to speak up and when not to speak. If you are unsure about God’s leading, don’t say anything. If it is of God, He will reassure you. Wait on God, pray, and everything will work out for His glory, not yours.   

Come And Sit On His Lap

Looking good in public begins with looking good in private. That sounds vain, but it can be spiritual. Very spiritual. 

How’s your private life, the one that is obvious only to God? Bible reading and Bible study will enhance it. That’s a Christian’s foundation. It is what you’re standing on and walking on spiritually. It is the footing that holds you upright. It’s the stability under your feet. 

If your feet are spiritual, then your walk may be spiritual. You can only walk where your feet will take you. Your spiritual feet and journey are connected. You can’t go anywhere spiritually without your spiritual feet. The Bible encourages us to walk worthy of our calling (Ephesians 4:1). As Saints of God, we should no longer walk like others. The believer is unique from others because of his relationship with God. 

Would you stop what you’re doing for a moment? Look at your feet. Examine the direction that you’re going. Are you going in the direction that God has intended for you? If so, great. If not, you need to make a concession. Take off in the God-given direction of His choice. Don’t get sidetracked or lost on your way. We do that sometimes. 

The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. The easiest way, the least cumbersome way to stay on track, is to bathe yourself in prayer. Prayer is a neglected tool for Christians. If it was a physical tool in one’s toolbox, look for the instrument with rust all over it. That would be the prayer tool.

Prayer unlocks the doors of privilege, responsibility, and opportunity for all of God’s people. Real prayer is not something we do when we get in trouble, although that’s when most Christians get serious about it.

Sweet prayers should be an everyday occurrence: good days and bad days. But to neglect prayer makes a miserable day. Make prayer a wonderful time in the presence of God, with the world locked out. It’s just God and you in communion with each other. 

If you add to this prayer time, praise and thankfulness, the day can become heavenly. The reason  is because you are in the presence of God.

God longs for that abiding presence with each one of His children. He does, really. We miss out if we neglect that time with him. 

Have you ever thought about prayer in that way? If you haven’t, you have missed something very precious.  God desires that all His children come and sit in His lap and snuggle up to Him. You can do that in prayer; it’s a place of warmth, comfort, and love. There’s no other place like it. Would you take the time to get close to God? It’s a joy that words cannot describe. It can only be experienced. 

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