Monday, October 24, 2016

`Marsha's Musings: The Lord Knows How To Deliver The Godly (II Peter2:4-11 NKJV)


For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment; and did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly; and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly; and delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds)— then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment, and especially those who walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despise authority. They are presumptuous, self-willed. They are not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries, whereas angels, who are greater in power and might, do not bring a reviling accusation against them before the Lord. (II Peter 2:4-11 NKJV)

We see terrible wickedness every day in the news. Each day new revelations come out from Wikileaks and The Vertas Project about how certain ones in our elections are conspiring to rig the elections and do other devious deeds.

These verses today tell us that God will not spare these wicked, evil doers on judgement day.  When He decides to rain his wrath down on them there will be no escape for their souls.  

However, God has delivered the godly from destruction in the past as detailed in these verses.  If He can do this for them He knows how to deliver His godly ones today if He so chooses.  This is not to say that God's people will not have to endure suffering and even death for their faith as some of the New Testament saints did.  God may not deliver us in this world, but make no mistake, He will deliver us on judgement day if we are in Christ.  The salvation of our souls is much more important than the saving of our earthly bodies.

The last part of this passage is sobering.  Peter mentions two categories of people that are especially subject to God's punishment; those who walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and those who despise authority.  He goes on to describe them as presumptuous and self-willed, not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries.  Peter says even angels do not bring reviling accusation against dignitaries before the Lord.

These categories aren't surprising to me, but the part about speaking evil of dignitaries was.  I have been guilty of this as have many of my Christian friends.  We get national leaders in Washington D.C. that  we are not happy with and the nasty accusations fly.  I'm not saying that we should turn a blind eye and go along with everything that comes out of our White House/Congress/Senate.  But I have a hard time keeping my remarks and comments limited to what I think about the decisions that come down.  I often find myself engaged in character assassination.  It is difficult to not assign bad motives to some decisions as it looks blatant at times.  

We need to refrain from speaking evil of our dignitaries. We need to limit our comments and remarks to our  dissatisfaction with decisions that are handed down.  Rather than complaining and not doing something to change it, we need to sit down and take the time to write or call our law makers and respectfully tell them why we are dissatisfied and ask them to try to change it or block whatever is coming down the pipe. This is a better way to channel our frustrations than assassinating the character of those in office.  My goodness!  If the angels won't even bring accusation against them, why on earth are we doing it?  Yikes!

God knows I am so guilty of this!  It is so easy to just hit the retweet button or the share button on posts that say terrible ugly things about the character of our leaders.  But what if it's true?  Perhaps we can point out what their deeds are if it's a case where people need to know in order to make an informed decision such as in voting or letter writing to fight it, but refrain from descending into name calling and ridicule.  

So here I sit talking about all of this!  Will I remember it later?  Apparently I did not the last time I posted this devotional back in 2014.  Shame on me!  I hope I will do better this time around. 

So  two lessons here:

1. God knows how to deliver the godly from evil.  Whether He decides to do it in this earthly life  or at judgement day is His choice.  We  know He will deliver His godly ones on judgement day regardless.

2. If the angels will not bring reviling accusation against dignitaries, why on earth should we be doing it?

Monday, October 17, 2016

Devotional: A Purpose for Suffering #7

James 5:14 Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:

Suffering allows others the privilege of ministering to our needs. James says the sick should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over him, attending to their spiritual needs.

There are those who would pray over a sick person and if the person does not get well, they say that the sick person did not have enough faith. This is so wrong. This does nothing for the faith of the sick person. In fact, it causes untold damage to their spiritual well-being as it lays blame for their illness on themselves and their supposed lack of faith.

God does not always give physical healing as a result of our prayers and faith. We see an example of this in the Apostle Paul. He prayed three times for God to remove his "thorn in the flesh". But God chose not to. Rather, prayer for the sick should be in humble submission to His will. It should be an act of yielding to God's will and prayer that the sick will respond in a godly fashion to their circumstances. It should be a request for healing if that is God's will for this person and if not, that God would reveal the purpose for the illness.

James says for the elders of the church to anoint the sick with oil. In the Jewish culture of the early church, pure olive oil was used as a healing agent. It was always carried when one traveled. It was applied to recent wounds and bruises with great results. (Albert Barnes Commentary) Anointing one with oil was not intended to be some sort of magical or miraculous incantation. Rather, it was the act of attending to the sick person's physical ailment. We see an example of this in the story of the Good Samaritan:

Luke 10:33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, 34 And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.

When one is suffering or sick, we as Christians should seek to minister to that person's spiritual and physical well-being. In this day of modern medicine, anointing a person with oil is not a typical thing that is done anymore. However, we should seek to do something to help make them more comfortable and let them know in a practical way that we care about their physical well-being. Having the elders come and anoint the sick with oil and pray over them would be appropriate in that the touch of another can have a healing affect emotionally if not physically.

Are you suffering? Be willing to allow others to minister to your needs. This may be humbling for you to do. Think of it as an act of humility towards God in allowing Him to minister to you through them. So often when we are suffering, we say nothing because we don't want to be a bother, so no one knows we need anything. We are so self-sufficient and proud of our independence in our society, that we isolate ourselves from God-given help and encouragement from our friends and we deprive them of the privilege of ministering to others.

We need to all be alert to the needs of others and be willing to lend encouragement and practical help where needed. God planned it that we should bear one-another's burdens in this way.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Devotional: A Purpose for Suffering #6

James 5:11 Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy. (KJV)

I struggled with this verse a bit. I wondered how is it that those who endure great hardship are counted as happy? Hardships and trials are not fun. I've got my share of them. Can I be counted happy that I have these things to deal with? What about you?

As I was doing the study on this verse, I came upon a bit of interesting information in Albert Barnes' New Testament Commentary. He says that the Greek word rendered "we count them happy" occurs only twice in the Bible. Here and in Luke 1:48 where it is rendered "shall call me blessed". The other Greek word that is rendered "blessed or happy", however, occurs often. See Matthew 5:3-11 for an example.
"The sense here is, we speak of their patience with commendation. They have
done what they ought to do, and their name is honoured and blessed."

This makes a lot more sense now. Those who suffer through trials and endure it with patience are to be commended, honored, and blessed by others for how they have endured. This makes me ask myself this question: How do I endure my trials? Do I endure them with patience? Do I grumble and complain? Do I take it with grace and lean on my Savior's strength to help me through them? What kind of example do I give to those who watch?

Albert Barnes says,
"The book of Job was written, among other reasons, to show that true religion
would bear any form of trial to which it could be subjected. See Job 1:9-11; Job
2:5-6. "

The phrase, "have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy" talks about what God's intended purpose is. His intended purpose is to be compassionate and merciful toward us in the end. As we trust His purposes in our lives, we will experience His compassion and mercy. Now with Job, He restored everything he had and more. God may not choose to do that with us here on earth like he did with Job, but we can be assured that one day when we reach heaven, He will restore everything and more to us.

In the mean time, we often do experience His compassion and mercy in our trials. It may be a kindness done for us by a friend, or a medical bill that we thought would be very large that turned out to be a lot less. It could be the sunshine coming through the window to warm sore neck and shoulders. If we look for it, we can find His compassion and mercy daily in our trials and we have much to be thankful for.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Devotional: A Purpose for Suffering #5

James 1:12 Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. (KJV)

James 1:12 Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. (NIV)

I can't help but think of Job when I read the verses above. Here is a man who is an example of persevering under trial. Look at what he says below:

Job 23:10 But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.(KJV)

Those who love God will persevere under trial. This is not to say they won't get discouraged or they won't stumble, but God will give them the strength to get back up and keep going. God knows the trials we are going to face and He has control over them. He is waiting to award us the crown of life when we persevere through them. His strength is perfect in our weakness. We must trust in Him, not ourselves, to persevere through our trials. We must keep our eye on the prize.
Philippians 3:14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.(KJV)
What are your trials today? What are you facing? Don't look around at your circumstances. Look up and embrace the strength that God will give you to persevere. Look up and keep your eye on the prize...the crown of life! God is faithful...
Philippians 1:6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:

Monday, September 19, 2016

Devotion: A Purpose for Suffering #4

James 1:2-4 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

I used to say, "Don't ask God to give you patience because you will get a lot of trials instead!" But you know what? Patience can't be developed in any other way but through those things that cause us frustration and grief. If everything in our lives went along just like we planned it and nothing ever went wrong in our lives we would have no opportunity to learn patience.

In the verses above, when it says "...that ye may be perfect..." in the Greek it actually carries the meaning of being mature. So when our faith is tried, it is exercising our patience. We are to be joyful because God is giving us the chance to develop patience in our lives. If we don't fight against it, not only will patience be developed but we will grow into maturity.

I don't know what your particular trials are, whether it be pain, a wayward child, death or illness or financial difficulties, Scripture isn't saying for you to be happy go lucky in the face of difficulty, but it is saying that you can count it joy knowing that you have the opportunity to develop patience and maturity in godly character.

There is a difference between happiness and joy. Happiness is fleeting and depends on the circumstances, but joy is deep and abiding in the soul even in the face of difficulty because we know God is working all things together for our spiritual good and the spiritual good of others around us. Do you have this joy?

Monday, September 12, 2016

Devotional: A Purpose for Suffering #3

2 Corinthians 1:9 But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead:

Just prior to this verse above, the Apostle Paul said, "For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life: "

Have you ever been to the point of despairing even of life? Have you ever felt like you could not endure any more? Have you been to the place where you realize you have no control over how long you will live? This is where the Apostle Paul had been. This is why he said that he and his comrades had the sentence of death in themselves.

I think what is really neat though is that he didn't leave it there. He goes on to tell us what the result should be when we feel this way. When we feel like we can't take any more, we should let that feeling drive us to God. When we come to the end of ourselves, this is where we learn that we can not trust in ourselves. We can not pull ourselves up by our own boot straps. We have to trust in God, and what a God He is! He raises the dead. If we are trusting in ourselves then we will be miserable people indeed. We must trust in God for our salvation. We must trust in God for our strength in weakness. We must trust in God for our joy in spite of our circumstances. He is faithful, trust Him alone.

Monday, September 05, 2016

Devotion: A Purpose for Suffering #2

1 Peter 5:10 But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.

I used to pencil in a small "T.P." by verses in the Bible that I had tried and proven. This is one of those "T.P." verses. God has used and is using trials in my life to bring about the results listed at the end of the verse. I don't claim to have perfected these things by any means and perhaps that is why God continues to take me through the refining fire.

The word perfect means mature. Looking back at my life, I can see where the trials I've been through have had the effect of helping me to mature spiritually. I have a long ways to go, but I do see where this is one of the purposes of suffering.

"Stablish you" means to set fast or firm. Trials have made me dig into the Word of God and send my roots down deep to take firm hold of the Rock. What a blessing this has been in my life!

"Strengthen you" means to make you strong. I can say that my trials have made me stronger in my faith and trust in God.

"Settle you" means getting you to the place where you come to rest in Him. This one has been a little more difficult, but with each trial that comes my way, I am finding that it is getting easier to let go of my worries and simply trust and rest in His plan and purpose for the trial.

The pain of trials is not fun, but when we bow in humble submission to our loving Heavenly Father, He will bring us forth from the furnace as gold in His hands. Do you see yourself making progress through your trials in these areas? Don't give up! God will finish what He has started in you.

Thursday, September 01, 2016

Getting Through the Day On Not Enough Sleep

Oh my goodness!  I am so tired I can hardly see straight!  When I don't get enough sleep I feel actually sick at times.  

So how is a body supposed to accomplish the daily tasks when she is so tired and feels more like collapsing?

Well there are a few things one might do.

1. Remove some tasks off the to-do list, so you don't feel quite so pressured to accomplish things when you don't feel good.  Another day is coming when you will feel like doing a lot.

2. Drink extra Green or Black Tea in the morning and take a good dose of B Vitamins, especially B-12 liquid if you have it available.  Don't drink the tea after lunch if you are sensitive to caffeine. Caffeine affects me for up to 12 hours after I drink it and it might sabotage your sleep too.

3. Plan on taking an afternoon power nap of maybe 30 minutes or less.  You don't want to sleep too long or it will mess up your sleep at night.

4. Change up your menu plan if needed to make something easy and quick to conserve what little energy you have.

5. Use the 15 minute timer method.  If you have tasks you want to do on this day, set your timer for 15 minutes and work on the task, then rest for 5 or 15.  

Hope these few tips help you get through the day when your night of sleep was not the best.  Hang in there!  A new day is coming and maybe better sleep.

Monday, August 29, 2016

A Mother's Worry and a Lifeline

Okay, I will admit it.  I worry about my kids.  Yes, my kids are adults, but I still worry about their safety.  They are going camping tomorrow afternoon in a remote place where there is no cell service and I worry about their safety.  So many possible scenarios have played through my head and kept me awake at night thinking about this camping trip.

They have camped before, but always with other friends who are well versed in camping safety.  This is their first time with just the two of them together.  So, naturally, I worry.

So, I've done almost everything within my power to ensure they have the means to be safe.  Now, I need to sit back and trust God to take care of them if He so wills.  Ultimately, it is all in His control and keeping.  But don't you ever worry sometimes that maybe His will might be different then your will?  I know I do.  Which brings me to this:

So what if His will is different than my will?  What if?  God has a perfect plan and sometimes His perfect plan doesn't fit with what I want and herein lies the difficulty.  This is where I realize that I don't have control over our lives.  God does.  This is where I have to come to the realization that I am lacking trust in Him and what He deems best in my life and the lives of my children.  This is where I have to get on my knees and just hand them over to Him and know that He will do what He sees best for them and if He sees fit to give them the best time of their lives together and bring them home safely, then I am bellyaching for no good reason.  And if He sees fit for some unforeseen problems to come up, well, He has that under His control too and will use it to teach us all some valuable life lessons.  So it's all good either way.  I just need to re-frame my perspective.

Casting all your worry on Him for He cares for you.  It's not just a cute saying to put on a plaque on the wall.  It's a life line when my mind wants to play out all the worst scenarios. Now I need to hang on to that life line!  

Devotion: A Purpose for Suffering #1

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

As a child, I got called names like, Buckie Beaver and Bugs Bunny. You can probably guess why. Kids are cruel and will point out the faults of others. Mine was buck teeth. In my diary when I was about 13 years old, I wrote a prayer asking God to make it possible so I could get braces on my teeth. I even wrote that if it required surgery to fix my overbite I would be willing to go through it. Being the object of ridicule is a painful place to be as a teenager who wants to fit in with others.

God answered that prayer five years later. The orthodontists and oral surgeon determined the only way to really fix the overbite was major surgery to remove 7 mm of bone from the upper jaw, and break and move the lower jaw forward. They accomplished the first but not the latter because I swelled too much during the first part for them to adequately see what they were doing for the second part. I was happy with the results of the first part and wasn't interested in more surgery, hospital time and having my mouth wired shut for another ten weeks, so I opted out of having the lower jaw done.

I never dreamed that five years after that I would be working as a dental x-ray tech for the surgeon and orthodontists that did my mouth as well as seven other dentists. Patients who were scheduled for the same type of surgery I had would come in for x-rays and God used me to empathize and encourage them by my own experience.

Now, many years later, I deal with other health issues. But God has helped me to be able to comfort others who also suffer because I am in that place and understand what they deal with. I am able to comfort them with the same comfort God has given me. 1 Corinthians 1:1-3 tells us that He comforts us in our trouble so that we can in turn comfort others with the same comfort He has given us.

We may wonder why we must suffer. It is just part of the fallen human experience, but one of God's purposes in allowing His people to suffer is so that we can be comforters of others in their pain. When we do this, it will prevent us from falling into depression because we will be looking outward toward others instead of inward toward ourselves. God has designed it so it benefits both ourselves and those who we comfort. All praise be to our all-wise God.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Devotional:Strengthened in the Inner Man

“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father,...
that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man,”
Ephesians 3:14, 16 NASB

How often have you found yourself discouraged because of circumstances beyond your control?  There are many things that can cause us to lose hope. The nightly news, physical illness, relationships, death of loved ones, church problems, marriage problems, and so much more can cause much angst.  

But wait!  We don't have to allow these things to get us down.  God can and will strengthen our inner man by His power according to the riches of His gory.  We have riches untold waiting for us in heaven. We also have the Holy Spirit now to strengthen us as we keep our eyes on the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Are things getting you down?  Get into God's word and be encouraged and strengthened.  Ephesians is the perfect book to read for this. It's a treasure trove of encouragement.  Begin by thanking God for His provisions and your outlook will begin to change.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Devotional: Showing Our Dependence on God

“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name,”
Ephesians 3:14-15 NASB

I like this.  The entire church of God, all believers whether in heaven or on earth are dependent on God.  We depend on God our Father.  The Jewish religion claimed Abraham as their father.  Islam claims Allah.  The Buddist claims Buddah and on it goes.

But the God of the Bible is the only true God Who hears our prayers and can sustain us. He is the One Who names us as His children when He saves us.

Only He is worthy of bowing our knees before.

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Monday, August 08, 2016

Devotional: Current News and Hope

“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,”
Ephesians 1:18 NASB

So the verse above is part of Paul's prayer for his readers.  What a wonderful prayer to pray for our family and friends!  

The news is so hopeless these days!  I've gotten so disgusted with the news lately that I have  unfollowed everything on my newsfeed that has to do with politics and I deleted a news app I had on my iPod because it's always bad news, every single day.  Even the Christian podcasts and live news wires are full of bad news!  

But then I see this prayer of Paul's.  What does he pray for us? 

1. That the eyes of our heart may be enlightened
2. That we would know the HOPE of His calling
3. That we would know what are the RICHES of the glory of His INHERITANCE 

This is a breath of fresh air in the smoke of all the bad news that comes across our news sources!  We need HOPE these days.  Our only true hope is in Jesus Christ.  We have a wonderful inheritance waiting for us in heaven.  Sometimes I get so caught up in all the politics and bad news, I forget that I have hope in Jesus Christ.  I get too focused on the bad stuff and before long it's all I can think about.

I need the eyes of my heart enlightened to know the hope I have and the inheritance waiting for me.  This is what I need to spend more of my time on.  How about you?


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Monday, July 25, 2016

Devotional: Re-framing Our Perspective on Chronic Illness

Galatians 4:13
 ...but you know that it was because of a bodily illness that I preached the gospel to you the first time;

Do you know someone who has a chronic illness and feels discouraged, thinking maybe God doesn't have a place of usefulness for them anymore?  Or maybe you are that person?  I know it's easy to feel like our usefulness for God's kingdom is limited or non-existent when we are dealing with chronic health issues.

Paul, in his letter to the Galatians is writing because they have slipped back into the legalism of the Jewish religion, instead of maintaining their liberty in Christ.  He is reminding them of how it was that he first preached the Gospel to them.  He says it was because of a bodily illness that he first had the opportunity to preach the gospel to them.

We don't know all the circumstances surrounding this occasion, or do we know for sure what Paul's bodily illness was.  We do know he had problems with his eyes.  He says in verse 15 of this chapter,
..."I bear you witness that, if possible, you would have plucked out your eyes and given them to me". 

The illness he suffered with and the circumstances surrounding the first time he preached the gospel to these people is not important.  What is important is the fact that God used the Apostle Paul mightily, and He used Paul for His glory BECAUSE of the physical illness he suffered from.

Sometimes we need to re-frame our perspective. Have you ever thought of re-framing your physical illness or disability as the platform that God has given you to be able to share the gospel with others?  You are useful to the kingdom of God!  

Monday, July 18, 2016

Devotional: In Christ, All Lives Matter

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.
Galatians 3:28-29
Lately, we have been hearing a lot about the Black Lives Matter movement. Sadly, it has been filled with violence,  hate, and people and officers have been killed as a result of this movement.  

But that is not the point of this devotional.  Our verse above basically says that for those who are in Christ, it doesn't matter who you are, Jew, Greek, slave, free, black, white, brown, yellow or red, if you are a Christian, you are all one in Jesus Christ and heirs of the good things God has promised to those who are His!  

In Christ Jesus, all lives matter!  It's plain and simple.  Therefore, "while we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith." (Gal. 6:10)  "And let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary." (Gal. 6:9)

Let us remember as Christians that all lives need to be treated with dignity.  Remember to do good to all men while we have opportunity.  If all people could take these words to heart and do them, there would not be a reason for movements like Black Lives Matter.  But we see movements like this that spawn violence because we are a fallen people and don't practice what the Bible teaches us about getting along with others.  May we seek to live our Christianity out in a way that is pleasing to God and brings glory to His name.