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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!

Revisit – Good Monday MorningĀ 

This was posted July 27, 2015. It made me chuckle because it is as true today as it was then. Enjoy. 

Psalm 23:4 – “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”
Good Monday morning. 
I just returned home from visiting family this last week. We had a long drive yesterday and I really didn’t get much sleep while traveling. So, this morning I was stumbling around my kitchen trying to remember how to make coffee and put away a few things, when I dropped a can of root beer. It goes to spewing all over their floor. I tried to put my finger over the hole enough to get it to the sink. This worked somewhat but not enough to save me from having to spot mop the floor. 
Good Monday morning. 
What does this have to do with walking through the shadow of death you might ask? Perspective and attitude. Surprisingly, I handled the situation quite well. No harsh words uttered. No bad thoughts passing through my brain. Just “well, I have to clean this up.” Maybe it’s because I’m so tired that I can’t muster up the energy to get mad. Maybe though, God used this moment to remind me that it really doesn’t matter. What does matter is how I choose to respond to it. And I feel like I chose well. “Very good, young patawon!” (I told you I’m not quite all here this morning!)
Good Monday morning. 
Let me encourage you today to let it roll. Let perspective and attitude be what keeps you afloat today. Don’t let Satan drag you down with mishaps and upsets. Show him that God is on your side by choosing to walk through the valley of the shadow of death with no fear. 

The Power of a Gift

Ephesians 2:8 – “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God”

Gifts. We all love them. We love do-dads and widgets and practical things and things to eat – it doesn’t matter; we love gifts!

But as I was reading in my Bible yesterday, God laid it on my heart to further explore the word “gift”. 

Here in Ephesians, the word for “gift” means a sacrificial present. In other words, the gift cost something extreme. We all know that that cost for salvation was – God’s One and Only Son, Jesus Christ. 

Romans 6:23 – “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Here, the word for “gift” means a spiritual endowment. An endowment is something given without expectation of return in payment but does come with the expectation that the receiver will utilize and work with what is given for a determined end. You receive wages for the work that you do. You receive an endowment with the expectation that work will follow to accomplish some goal. Death is the wages for working at a sinful life without Christ. Eternal life is the expected outcome from the free gift of salvation. 

The free gift of salvation is not something to put on a shelf and look at from time to time. No, the free gift of salvation should be seen more in the light of receiving a major appliance as a gift. When someone you know gives you a stove as a gift, you don’t put it in your kitchen and look at it. You use it. You feed your family with it. You make food for others on it. You provide comfort and assurity with it. Looking at it gets nothing done. Looking at our salvation does nothing to advance the will of God that all men should come to Him for salvation and thus eternal life. We need to use it. We need to share its’ blessings. We need to tell other people how to receive such a magnificent gift. 

So today, get out there and share your gift. It wasn’t given to you to make you look pretty. It wasn’t given to you to beat someone over the head with it. It was given to you to multiple and grow. It was given to you to bring others to Him. Be nice – share. 

New Year, New Mantra

Proverbs 3:5,6 – “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”

Let Him be seen in 2017. 

So yesterday at church, we were talking about a mantra for the year – a phrase to sum up what we, as a local New Testament church, want to achieve this year. Well, a couple of us came up with this phrase – Let Him be seen in 2017. 

Why did God lay this upon our hearts?

We need to let Him be seen in our life. We need to stop hindering Him. We need to take the spotlight off our own selfish desires and allow Christ to shine in and through us. 

We also need to pray for His immenit return. It is coming soon. We need to be asking that He hasten it. That’s kind of a scary thing to pray for – it means I need to be ready. That’s a blog post for another day. 

So what do these concepts have to do with the verses above?

We won’t let Him be seen in our life if we don’t trust Him completely. We have to reject our own thoughts and ideas for our future and fully rely upon Him. That’s tough as well. That means giving up what you think is right and believing that Someone you can’t see is fully in control. We are a tactile society. We like to see and touch things in order to make them real. I can touch and feel my Bible. But I have to believe in my heart that it truly is His Word to me. And I do. That is how I touch Jesus, for now. But I trust Him. And as much as I trust Him, I want to trust Him more. I want to give over more control. I want to see Him do more in my life. But that means I have to get out of the way. 

That means that I have to acknowledge Him more. As John said in John 3:30 – “He must increase, but I must decrease.”  I need to acknowledge Him more and me less. 

Let Him be seen in 2017. 

So here is the challenge for the year – choose to show others Him instead of you. Because when they see more of you, they see more of what makes You unrighteous in His eyes. But when they see Him, they see the potential for love and grace and mercy that He extends to every man, woman, boy and girl. 

The Encourager

Deuteronomy 3:28 – “But charge Joshua, and encourage him, and strengthen him: for he shall go over before this people, and he shall cause them to inherit the land which thou shalt see.”

Encouragement. We all need a good, hefty dose now and then. We need someone to come alongside of us, wrap their arm around our shoulder and hear those words, “It’s okay. You got this.”

Too often, however, sometimes I find myself looking at that encourager and laughing at them. I want to say, “Seriously? Do you SEE what I’m up against?”  I don’t allow the one trying to lift me up to do so. Whatever good they are trying to build up within me, I’m tearing down just as fast as they build. 

Why? Why is that? Why do we reject emotional and spiritual and, sometimes, physical encouragement? 

Pride. “I don’t need no body’s help!” (Yes, I know it’s horrible grammar but it paints a more realistic picture. Work with me here!)

Pride is a horrible, ugly monster that creeps out of us at the most yucky of times. Here we are, wallowing in the mud and someone offers a hand to help and we push it away by trying to convince them it’s a spa treatment and we like it. When in truth, we are bawling our eyes out on the inside. We want their help but pride keeps us from accepting it. 

In these verses, God is telling Moses to go and have a few words with Joshua to build him up. He needs to be encouraged. He’s about to take over as leader of the children of Israel. I underlined “children” because that’s how they acted most of the time. You know, kinda like us…..

Joshua needed all the encouragement he could get. And know what? He took it. He gobbled it up like a Thanksgiving turkey! He knew he needed all the wisdom and encouragement Moses was willing to offer. 

We can learn a lot for Joshua. When someone tries to encourage you, take it. Gobble it up! Don’t be stubborn about it. Don’t try to be all cool about it. Take it in! God knows something you don’t know and He is using that encourager to get to you and build you up. 

Listen. Listen well. God is speaking. He wants you to hear. 

Make some noise, cheerleader

Acts 18:9-10 – “Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city.”

I find comfort in knowing that Bible “greats”, such as Paul, got a little scared sometimes about spreading the Gospel. I don’t think that we truly appreciate the danger these guys would sometimes find themselves in. There are missionaries around the world that put their life on the line each and every day to tell someone about Jesus Christ. And I get nervous talking to someone at the gas pump. Not my best moment. 

Yet, here we find Jesus speaking to Paul in a vision saying, “Be not afraid”. Paul was afraid. He was afraid of rejection. But this rejection from the ones he was telling could very well lead to the end of his life. My fear of rejection is just that – rejection. Chances are that no one is going to kill me because I tell them about Jesus at the grocery store. I don’t like to think that people are mad at me, even if I don’t know them. I like to be liked. But I don’t like to be afraid. 

Moses wanted us to learn to number our days (Psalm 90:12). In that learning, we understand that we really don’t have that much time. And for someone like me who is a stickler for time management, I do a pretty crummy job when it comes to managing my spiritual time for the Lord and telling others about Him. I am the BIGGEST procrastinator EVER in regards to that! And I hate that. And it’s due mostly to fear. I need to “Be not afraid”.

I’m not a shy person. I can talk to pretty much anyone about anything when it comes to my work. For lands sake, I go in on a first meeting and ask that person about their ability to go to the bathroom by themself. And yet I can’t talk to someone about Jesus. 

I have this Light inside of me that needs to be let out. I need to plug in and let it go! 

My daughter is a cheerleader. It is her job at football games to encourage the crowd to encourage the team. She is the one down by the field shouting and waving and jumping around trying to get the crowd’s attention and the football players motivated to score a touchdown. She can’t do it for them, but she can encourage everyone else, and them, to make some noise and get the job done. 

That’s what we need to do. That’s what God was telling Paul to do here. We need to make some noise. We can’t save the people. But we can encourage them to seek out the One who can. And we need to encourage the crowd. We need to reach out to those around us and encourage them to share with others. We need to make some noise. We have to get over being afraid. 

Being a cheerleader requires a lack of fear. You can’t be afraid of what others think about your cheering. You can’t be afraid to complete some of the stunts they do to get everyone’s attention. You can’t be afraid to do the cheer wrong. You can’t be afraid to make some noise. 

Now, I’m not saying we should all grab some pompoms and go down the nearest corner and cheer for Jesus. No, that might  be a bit weird, but we can apply the same principles to our life. 

Don’t be afraid of what others may think. Chances are your life isn’t in danger. Don’t be afraid to do what God asks you to do. He will give you what you need. Don’t be afraid about doing it wrong. God’s word never returns void. Don’t be afraid to make some noise. God is ready to stir things up – He just needs us to be the spoon.