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The never-ending sausage

Matthew 14:15-20 – “And when it was evening, his disciples came to him, saying, This is a desert place, and the time is now past; send the multitude away, that they may go into the villages, and buy themselves victuals. But Jesus said unto them, They need not depart; give ye them to eat. And they say unto him, We have here but five loaves, and two fishes. He said, Bring them hither to me. And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass, and took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude. And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full.”

My niece (1st grade) and two nephews ( 3rd & 4th grade) were visiting us yesterday. And as we sat at the table having lunch, somehow the discussion turned to a never ending piece of sausage. Yes, I promise, we were talking about a never-ending sausage link. 

And that opened the door for me to say something about Jesus feeding the 5000 people with 5 loaves and 2 fishes. My one nephew said, “I always thought He just gave them a tiny little bite,” as he held his fingers super close together. And I reminded him, “Nope. The Bible tells us that they were all filled up AND had 12 baskets of food leftover!” He had never really stopped to think about that before. 

These are Bible stories that we have heard all of our life and sometimes we fail to appreciate the magnificence in them. Jesus showed Himself as God that day. Nothing could contain His power. Nothing could stop His provision in these people’s life. 

And the cool thing is, He is still wanting to do that very thing in our life – He wants to provide and love and care for us. We just have to let Him. 

So the next time the discussion at the dinner table turns to a never-ending piece of sausage, remember – there’s a Bible story for that too! Always look for any and all opportunities to teach someone about Who He is!

Words

James 5:12 – “But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.”

Why do we feel that we need to use God’s name in vain? Are we trying to verify the intent of our words? Are we trying to confirm our words? Are we trying to sound important? What is it? Why do people think they sound intelligent when using it?

James is reminding us that we need to have honesty and integrity and truthfulness in our words. We shouldn’t have to verify or solidify what we are saying by invoking God’s holy name. No, our words should stand alone. 

But they don’t. Too often we tell that little white lie or stretch the truth just a bit or leave out a few of the details. In other words, we hide the truth and smother our honesty in hopes to make ourself look just a bit better. 

I think we all are guilty of this from time to time. And shame on us for that being the case.

I don’t have any profound advice or words of wisdom. Just this bit of info to offer you -watch your words. They mean something- to everyone, including, and especially, God. 

Matthew 12:36,37 – “But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.”

No

Matthew 7:11 – “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?”

It’s the most dreaded word I know – “No.” And what makes it even more unbearable is when there is no explanation. When my kids get told “no”, what is the next word that follows – “why?”  My, oh, my. How many times has that scenario played out in my life!

Sometimes we ask God for things. We ask with the right heart, with the right motive and even with the right attitude. And God still says “no”. The problem is, we don’t always audibly hear Him say “no”. We may not even hear it in our heart. It just feels like God is ignoring us, that He doesn’t care. 

Well, let me reassure you this – if you are a child of God, He NEVER ignores you. You may walk away and do your own thing and chose to ignore Him, but He will never ignore you when you make the choice to repent and turn back to Him. 

You see, some people treat Christ like a genie in a bottle. We rub that “magic lamp” with the bright hopes that we have played the game right to win His favor. People, it doesn’t work that way. You can’t just run to God when you have drama in your life. Relationships are not built on drama alone. 

I think that when I treat Christ like that (and face it, we all do sometimes) He is hurt. It hurts Him for us to mistreat Him. But God is not out to get us when we mistreat Him. He only desires repentance. 

But until we do repent, He may say “no” to some things in our life. And He does this for our good. He wants us back on track and sometimes that means saying “no”. 

I have teenagers. I love them to pieces. But sometimes I have to say “no” and sometimes the only explanation I have is “no”. My kids laugh at and respect what I call my mommy alarms. When those mommy alarms go off, the answer is definitely “no”. Mommy alarms mean that no explanation is needed or will be given because mommy has no idea why I’m saying “no” but the answer is definitely “no”.  

God knows far better than us what we need and when we need it. Sometimes the answer to our request is “no” with no further explanation given. And that’s that. 

We dislike very strongly (hate is such an ugly word) the word “no”. It means we don’t get our way. And we dislike very strongly the fact that we may not get an explanation for the “no”. But here is where trusting comes in – God loves you enough to not give you everything you want and give you only what you need. He did that with Jesus. He does that every moment of every day. 

So the next time “no” comes on your radar, don’t get all bent out of shape. Look at why God might say “no”. See it from different angles and then go with it. Remember this – Father always knows best. 

Bugs and honey

Matthew 3:1-4 – “In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. And the same John had his raiment of camel’s hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey.”

O, John the Baptist. Can you imagine for one minute what he looked like? I mean, I see someone with long hair, long beard that isn’t kept, skins draped around him and more than likely, a stickiness in his long beard. Not the most welcoming sight. 

We have this perception in our mind of what a proclaimer of the Word should look like. We see nice/clean clothes, kept hair and probably recently bathed. 

But is that what God wants? 

John the Baptist was available. He had a specific purpose in life and he chose to embrace it. I guess he could have walked away. I guess he could have chosen to be eating lamb and bread instead of locust and honey. But he probably would have ended up with something akin to the belly of a great fish (O, Jonah). 

The point is Jesus doesn’t necessarily want you to quit bathing and start eating bugs and honey in order to serve Him. But neither does He expect you to have nice clothes and kept hair. He wants you to be available. He wants me to be available. 

We need to be listening for His voice. We need to be ready to act when we do. We need to be prepared to share whatever the need requires. Just be available. 

Under the cloud

Matthew 28:20b – “and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.”

I have been reading a fictional account of a Biblical truth regarding Caleb. It tells of his life and story as it relates to the children of Israel and their exodus from Egypt. While reading it the other day, I couldn’t help but stop and ponder for a moment about how it must have felt the day that the cloud was no longer over the children of Israel. 

Think about it, from the time they left Egypt until they crossed the Jordan river, they had a cloud to provide protection from the hot sun in the day and warmth from the fire within at night. There was an entire generation that grew up under that cloud. They were a generation that knew only of the cloud and its’ movement. They were a generation that had only eaten manna from Heaven. 

Can you imagine what it would have felt like to wake up one morning with none of that there? I tried to find when the cloud left and the manna stopped but didn’t find a specific time. It just seemed to no longer be available. 

Sometimes when we choose to walk away from God, it feels like He is just no longer available. In actuality, it is us that is unavailable. We are the ones who have left Him, not the other way around. 

God never left the children of Israel even when they left Him. He never forgets His promises. He never forgets your name. He always remembers your burdens and successes and faults and highlights. 

So if for some reason or another you feel like you have gotten up and God is…gone, He’s not. You have moved, not Him. 

Search your heart. Identify the sin that has built up the wall that is keeping you from His loving protection and guidance. Tear it down and rest under His cloud. 

Candles

Proverbs 18:28 – “For thou wilt light my candle: the LORD my God will enlighten my darkness.”

I love candles. I have one in my kitchen that smells good enough to eat! They chase away darkness. They chase away odors. They bring comfort. They give light. Candles are so fun to have around. 

Candles were mentioned many times in the Bible, probably because they were the main source of light aside from the sun. Yes, I know, this is all very basic.  

But let’s think for a moment how to enjoy a candle. In order for a candle to be effective, you first have to trim the wick. You have to cut it. The wicks go crazy if they are too long when they are lit. And then there is the process of lighting the flame. You have to rub two things together that cause a spark. You have to create friction and fire to make a candle effective. Candles are no good if the wick is never lit. It will never fully serve its purpose if we just leave it up for decoration. 

We are the same way, if you know Jesus as your Savior. In order for you to serve your purpose, sometimes you need to be trimmed. And that is no fun. You also have to be lit. Friction has to happen and a flame has to be started. Something has to light your fire, so to speak. 

Who better than Jesus to trim you up and light your fire?!

We are instructed by Jesus to be a light of the world. Matthew 5:14-16 – ” Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”  A light, by deduction, is a candle at night. Therefore, we need to be a candle in the world. And we need Jesus to be the One trimming us up to shine for Him after He has lit our flame in our heart by salvation.  I love candles. 

So let me encourage you today, first, to accept Jesus as your Savior if you have not already done so. And then, let Him keep the wick trimmed so that you can live brightly for Him. It’s easy to let the world try and blow out your candle, but stand firm. Guard that flame in your heart. Let the wind fan the flames instead of blowing them out. Happy Wednesday!

Something we all need

Matthew 6:14,15 – “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

So let me give you the brief rundown of my day yesterday. I went back to work after being gone 4 days for a long weekend at a really tough soccer tournament- tough emotionally, not necessarily physically. I had a Christmas party at my house last night for the youth group (which, by the way, was so much fun!!). Needless to say, I was a bit frazzled. 

I went to the wrong client’s house – I was an hour early. Oh. My. Goodness. And to top it all off, it was the same client who had called me the day before and wanted to know why I wasn’t there – she had me scheduled for a day I had taken off, yet, it was my fault. I didn’t argue. No need. But to make another mistake on top of one hurt already there? I felt like a “cotton headed ninny-muggen” (Elf, one of my favorite Christmas movies). 

I apologized. And then apologized again. I owned my mistake. I admitted she was right. And apologized again. I felt terrible. It still bugs me. I know I’m forgiven by her and my Heavenly Father because I asked. 

But I hate making mistakes like that. Your plugging along through your day thinking that you have this thing all together and BOOM! Reality check. You are just playing like you have it together. It stinks 

However, I am so grateful for forgiveness. But the thing about forgiveness is when it is asked for, you should give it. And when you ask for it, you have to accept it. You can’t keep beating yourself over the head with your mistake. Neither can you keep beating someone else with their mistake when they have asked you for forgiveness. You gotta walk away and don’t go there again. 

Forgiveness can be a beautiful healer for both parties involved. It is tough to ask for and tough to give. Yet, we need to follow the example of Jesus who forgave…always and sometimes without them asking. 

People are going to wound us. We are going to wound others. Forgiveness needs to be a part of who we are because sometimes we all need forgiveness.