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New name

Revelation 2:17 – “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.”

Twinkle Pointy-Toes. That’s my elf name. It’s getting close to Christmas and out comes the meme to identify your elf name. It’s not too bad, really. I kinda like the idea that I twinkle – not always annoyingly bright, but rather changing and creating interest to those who take the time to look. As for the pointy toes, well, I guess that a good swift kick in the pants might not be such a good idea as punishment. 

Any way…

A new name. God has promised that those who overcome will get a new name. I wonder what mine will be. How does He choose it? I’m sure that He doesn’t take the first letter of your first name and make it one thing and the last name from the month you were born in. No, it has to be way more interesting than that. Maybe He will give me a name that best fits my service to Him or maybe it’s related to what He loves best about me or maybe it’s my most shining characteristic. Who knows. But what I do know, is I want one – a new name. 

Overcoming. Overcoming what? Sin. The church that was being addressed in this verse had some serious problems – they had chased after false doctrine.  They had wondered from The Path. John, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, was encouraging these people to overcome the temptation to follow after beliefs that were not of God. 

There are so many opportunities for false doctrine out there. So many people claiming they are right and everyone else is wrong. I believe the Bible. I read the Bible. I believe the Bible is the Word of God. I believe it has the answer to every question I could ever come up with. True, questions about the content of the internet isn’t specifically in there, but guarding your heart and keeping away from the appearance of evil is. 

If the content of a person’s message cannot be directly found in the Word of God, I don’t believe it. Opinions are not what is important. What God says is important. And that, is how I will overcome and get a new name – I choose to believe God and His Word. 

It is fun to learn your elf name and wondering about your new Heavenly name is interesting. But for now, I think we all need to focus on overcoming. I don’t know about you, but I want to be found faithful. I want to be found waiting for Him. I want to be found being a good steward of the gifts He has given me. 

Why?

Deuteronomy 8:2 – “And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no.”

Why? 

It’s a hard question. 

Why did my dad have to die before he met all his grandchildren? Why do people choose to not go to church? Why does it feel like the book of Jonah ends abruptly? Why do teenagers have more cups in their bathroom than washcloths? 

Deep, deep questions. 

The children of Israel had to be asking themselves this same question after spending forty years wondering around in the wilderness -why? God tells them why right here – to humble you, to prove you, to know your heart and to see if y’all would do what I tell you to. 

We often wonder why difficult things come into our life. We wonder why people die so young. We wonder why people make the choices they do. We wonder why people act like they do. 

Yesterday, we remembered a tragic and terrible time in our nation’s history. And many will ask why? Why did it happen? And I don’t know the answer. But when I look at what God told the children of Israel all those years ago about the reason behind their trials and tribulations, I wonder. I wonder if our trials are to prove us and humble us and see what’s really in our heart. But most importantly, I wonder if He wants to see if we will follow Him through it all. Will we choose Him? 

I’m not sure that this post has any real direction but rather more of a pondering. 

We need to remember. We need to consider. I think the time has passed from asking “why” but rather  we should be asking”what are we doing now?” Do we still need to be humbled? Do we still need to be proved? Do we know where our heart is? And are we doing what God is telling us to do?

About her…

Proverbs 31:30 – “Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.”

If I didn’t think you would go into panic mode, I would have put Proverbs 31:10-31 here. But that’s a lot of verses and some would stop reading. 

This was my reading this morning. I have always been fascinated and frustrated with the iconic “Proverbs 31 Woman”. Fascinated for obvious reasons and frustrated because I feel that I could never live up to her. And there have been times when I convinced myself that she wasn’t a real woman. Those are the times when I really stop and look at my life and realize that it is possible to do all of those things listed. 

So, here I find myself in the year 2016 trying to live, do and be it all just like the “Proverbs 31 woman”…and I’m tired. I’m  tired just like she was probably tired. I think in our quest to be that woman, we neglect one very important detail – balance. 

That is what stuck out at me in the devotional I read this morning. Balance is what happens when we listen to God – when we hear Him directing and instructing our heart. Balance is what happens when the fear of failure leaves. Balance is what happens when we take time for others in the midst of all that we feel we need to accomplish. Balance is what happens when we allow ourself the time to relax. 

So, to anyone who reads this portion of God’s word, don’t be overwhelmed and frustrated and find yourself walking away feeling inadequate. Instead choose to see balance and love and ingenuity and determination. Because when you allow God to balance your life, you allow Him to create in you “the Proverbs 31 woman”. 

Fools

Psalm 14:1 – “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.”

It’s April 1, April Fools Day. There will be many jokes played on people today, so beware. For the most part, it’s all just fun and games. 

But God takes fools very seriously. 

In the Bible being called a fool was a serious offense. The word “fool” was a HUGE thing, very near a curse word in our lingo. 

This verse gives us the essence of a fool – one who says in his heart that there is no God. I don’t get it. How can someone even bring that thought to mind? 

We have a whole group of people these days running around trying to tell us God doesn’t exist. In fact, last night, my daughter was reading in her science book (from her Christian school, I might add) about evolution. The book was attempting to teach my child that fish decided to come out of the water and grow legs and walk on dry ground. Of course, my daughter, being the hoot she is, says to me, “Listen to how dumb this is mom.” Love that girl. I said to her, “Why is that in your science book?” She says, “Because they are dumb.” Looking in the front of the book, I found a stamp put there by the school to inform the reader that the school does not agree with everything published in the book but adheres to a strict following of Biblical standards. They utilize a variety of books to give the student a broad understanding of what science and the world teaches, AKA – you have to know your enemy. Not that evolutionist are our enemy, but the devil who promotes those ideas is. 

Any way…

My point is this – there are tons and tons of people out there that don’t believe in God, let alone the One, True God of Heaven. And they are fools. 

Proverbs 9:6 – “Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding.”

Life is too short for foolishness. God is too amazing to neglect Him. Heaven is too close to reject it. I think the verse from Proverbs pretty much sums it all up – live away from foolishness and go in understanding. 

Just Do It

Matthew 1:18-25 – “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.”

During this time of year, we mostly focus on Mary and Baby Jesus. We talk about Joseph, but do we really think about all that he went through during this time?

In my heart, I believe that Joseph truly loved Mary. My reason for that – he could have had her stoned because she was pregnant before they were married. He had every right to do that under the Law. But he had in mind to put her away privately and just not be associated with her any longer – kinda like a premarital divorce. We don’t really get that in our society because that’s not how things work. But back then, when the couple got engaged, they were essentially married but could not come together until they had the ceremony. Different, but that’s the way I understand that they did things.

So Joseph had planned to take care of things the best way that he knew how. But God had other plans. And what I love about the way God did things is that He didn’t conform to society’s expectations and rules. He wasn’t concerned about what people thought. And Joseph followed His leading. He dealt with all these things by the grace of God. He faced ridicule and bad mouthing and gossip and mean stares and questioning and all the other vices that we, as a society, interject on someone acting outside the norm.

It’s hard to think about and/or imagine how I would have reacted to this scenario. People probably thought they were crazy when Joseph and Mary both told them they had been visited by an angel separately. Remember, it had been about 500 years since anyone had heard from God and now He was speaking to this young woman and a carpenter for lands sake?! Not a likely story in most people’s eyes.

Yet, this did not deter Joseph. He did what God told him to do when He told him to do it. He was obedient.

My challenge for you today is to just do it. If God is asking you to do something crazy, just do it. If He is telling you to jump off the limb, just do it. If He is telling you to reach beyond your grasp, just do it. If He is leading you into uncharted waters, just do it. He cared for this carpenter and this young woman in the harshest environment I can imagine for these two. He walked with them to Bethlehem. He was beside them when people scorned the young couple. He was encouraging to them both when things seemed more than they could bear. He provided for them in the most dire of circumstances. And now here we are, 2000 years later analyzing their choices, their heart and their courage and seeing His hand at work in their life. All they were trying to do was be obedient. You never know how or what God is going to do and who it may effect. But if you never put yourself out there and trust Him, you will never find out. Just do it.

Where are the wise men?

Matthew 2:10-11 – “When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.”

Do you have a manger scene set up for Christmas? If so, where are the wise men?

You know, it’s funny at my house. When we out up our nativity scene, my daughter always wants to put the wise men far away from baby Jesus. So many people put the wise men at the manger scene. In reality, there is no way that they could have been there.

In the beginning of Matthew 2, we are told that a star appeared in the east when Jesus was born and that the wise men followed this star all the way to Jerusalem. They were from “the east”. I’m not sure exactly where these fellas had come from, but I know that it would have had to have taken them a really long time to get there. It’s not like they had cars or planes or something along those lines. They rode donkeys and camels – not known for their speed.

But they kept following. They trudged and traveled all night long for many months, perhaps. Can you imagine? Just traveling to who knows where following a star? But God had a purpose – He always does.

Meanwhile, in our verses today, we are told that Jesus was a “young child” when they finally got there AND He was in a house. He had been in a stable that night – probably more like a cave. When the Bible describes when Jesus was born, the writers use the term “babe” or “baby”, not “young child”. This term is usually reserved for toddler aged little people.

Yes, I know, to some this is nit-picky. But to me, it is important. And the reason it is important is this – by putting the wise men far from the nativity scene, I am reminded of the diligence the wise men showed at seeking out Jesus. They could have given up after a week or a month. But they kept following this star that they could not explain. They had no idea where it was going, but they knew when they got there that they would meet the King of kings and the Lord of lords.

If you had been with the wise men, would you have kept going? Would you have continued night after night to follow a moving star in the night sky?

We have the written Word of God easily available at our fingertips. We know the beginning of the story, the middle of the story and the end of the story. We can see His miracles, His deeds, His caring heart, His will and so much more any time we want. Yet, would we be considered wise men who seek after Him with no more than a star to guide us?

That little paper

Deuteronomy 18:9-13 – “When thou art come into the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee. Thou shalt be perfect with the LORD thy God.”

image

This was put on my windshield this weekend while we were shopping. It has been bothering me every since.

However, it did make me stop and think for a moment. Are the things that the children of Israel were taught still important today? Do they still apply or are they old lessons that are out of date? I believe they are absolutely relevant and applicable to today.

There is a reason that God warned His chosen people to stay away from these kind of people. 1. By listening to them, one is showing that they don’t trust God to hold their future. They think that if they could find out what is going to happen, that they would be better prepared to handle the situation and thus make a different outcome. That is way too much stress for me! I would rather let my all-knowing, all-caring, forever-trusting Savior hold onto things. He can deal with things much better than me! 2. It gives the appearance of evil. These people that are looking at cards and tea leaves and any other unusual thing for information are doing so not of their own power. They are seeking out things that are only found in the dark. I choose Light. I choose to let Light guide me instead of darkness. 3. They tell one only what one wants to hear. They don’t have my greater good in mind. Their words have no power to guide, only to deceive.

But I think the thing that disturbed me the most about this little paper was the fact that this person claims to be “Godly gifted”. God does not give gifts to people that inhibit His will or fail to give Him honor and glory. I will just go ahead and say it – Based on the Word of God, this person is wrong.

Ok, now that my little rant is over, how does this apply to today? Well, we have everything we need to solve any problem we have or any challenge we face right at our fingertips – the Bible. We don’t need a psychic or any such person to show us the way or guide us through our problems. You see, we have the One who holds tomorrow holding our hand today. Trust Him and Him alone to show you the way.