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Making Assumptions

Matthew 1:1-6a – “The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas (Judah) and his brethren; And Judas (Judah) begat Phares (Pharez) and Zara of Thamar (Tamar); and Phares (Pharez) begat Esrom; and Esrom begat Aram; And Aram begat Aminadab; and Aminadab begat Naasson; and Naasson begat Salmon; And Salmon begat Booz (Boaz) of Rachab (Rahab); and Booz (Boaz) begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse; And Jesse begat David the king…”

(Note: The names that are in parenthesis are the names found elsewhere in the Bible spelled differently. I didn’t want any confusion.)

I was reading in Genesis 38 today about Judah and Tamar. Judah had lost his two sons and his wife. He was sad. He had no grandchildren because two of his sons had died before having children. He had promised his daughter-in-law, Tamar, that she could marry his other son when he came of age. However, for whatever reason, that hadn’t happened yet when he saw Tamar on the side of the road and thought she was a harlot. 

Now, Tamar was dressed like a harlot when she is supposed to be waiting for the son to grow up. But you need to remember, dressing like a harlot in this time meant she had her head covered. Judah didn’t know it was his daughter-in-law. That doesn’t excuse the fact that Judah slept with someone who wasn’t his wife. 

Yet, God used this situation and onto the scene comes Pharez.

What I want to emphasize here is judging others. When you look at the shortened version of the lineage of Christ that I have posted here, you see Tamar and Rahab and Ruth. These three women each displayed different character traits but they all had this in common – they were outsiders. They were different. They each married a man from the tribe of Judah. But Tamar was a Canaanite woman. Rahab was a harlot living in Jericho. Ruth was a Moabite woman. None of these women were in a favorable situation. Tamar got pregnant by her father-in-law. Rahab, well, we don’t know how or why she became a harlot but that is how the Bible describes her. Ruth was childless and seemingly doomed to widowhood and living with her mother-in-law in a foreign country. Yet God used each woman in each situation to bring about His will.

We see people all the time at the stoplight, in the store and even at church. And we automatically make an assumption about them. We judge their clothing, their manorism, their speech and many other details about them. I know that I do it without even thinking about it. But that is wrong. I should not judge. 

I know that in my own life and situation, I don’t want people to look at me and judge me by what they see on the outside. I want people to know me. I want them to see God’s hand at work in my life. And you can’t necessarily see that from the outside all the time. 

I want to encourage you, and myself, not to make assumptions about people. I want us to be more open to what God can and will do in someone’s life. No one in Jericho would have ever guessed that Rahab would one day bear a child that would be found in the lineage of the Savior of the world. Tamar never would have thought that this child she was bearing through this circumstance would be in the lineage of the King. And Ruth probably never dreamed that her great-grandson would be the king of Israel. You see, we never know how God is going to work in our life or in the lives of the people around us. 

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Be an Angel

Luke 2:9-14 – “And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, 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. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

I was listening to Christmas music again the other day and I heard a song proclaiming that we should be more like the angels. Hmm, be more like the angels. Be good? Be singing all the time? Be observing and stepping in to help others? Be dressed in bright clothes? 

How should I be more like an angel?

Praising and proclaiming. That’s what I need to do more of – praising and proclaiming. These Heavenly beings have the tremendous duty to praise God, all the time, no matter the circumstances, regardless of the weather or time of day.  I can look all through the Bible and find instances of angels making an appearance and helping someone see God more clearly. Isn’t that what I am supposed to do? Isn’t it my responsibility to help people see God more clearly? Be an angel.

Sometimes I see angels protecting people from bad decisions. Remember Balaam and the talking donkey? There was an angel ready to destroy Balaam before allowing him to make a bad decision. The angel meant business. Sometimes I have to be the one stepping in and calling someone out. That’s a tough place to be but it’s a necessary place to be. We all need that person in our life that isn’t afraid to call us out. Be an angel.

In these verses of Scripture, I see the angels praising God. Here was the event they had been waiting for – the birth of the Savior. It was finally time! God took on flesh and was ready to dwell among men. What a glorious time this would be! Everyone needed to hear about it! Break out the chorus and bring on the praises! I have so much to be grateful for in my life. I have blessings upon blessings that I could name for days and days. Yet, how often do I break out the chorus and bring on the praises? Oh, in my heart I may be praising God, but I need to let my heart overflow. I need to proclaim His praises more often and more boldly. Be an angel.

Being an angel isn’t about the clothes you wear or how good you are or anything like that. Being an angel is really just fulfilling the instructions of Ecclesiastes 12:13 – “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.”  That’s it. That is what it means to be an angel – fear God and keep His commandments. Fear is obedience. Keeping His commandments includes telling others about Him, praising Him, glorifying Him and being kind and compassionate to others. Now, this isn’t an exclusive list – no, it’s more like the tip of the iceberg. 

So this weekend as you wrap gifts, bake cookies, attend Christmas parties and do whatever else you have to do this weekend, be an angel. Happy Friday.

Praise the Lord

Isaiah 9:6 -“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”

I was listening to one of my favorite artist yesterday, Crowder. His music is very raw and really hits home to me. He has a song called, “Praise the Lord.” When you first hear the lyrics, they sound almost disrespectful, but if you keep listening, you hear the real message. Here is the gist of it.

How do you see Jesus? Do you see Him as a magic 8-ball that you occasionally ask a question to? Do you use Jesus as a gun, shooting down thoughts and feelings that are different from your own? Do you swing Him like a hammer, forcing your ideas and beliefs upon someone else? Do you keep Him under the steeple or in the Book? Or do you use Him as a prescription – only when something is wrong?

That is not Who Jesus is. That is not His purpose or His plan for you. Praise the Lord.

Sometimes we think that His love is more of a river rather than an ocean. Narrow and wide, deep and shallow, we fear that it will run away. But His love is more of an ocean that is vast and deep and constant. Others might think of His love as a song, wrapped up with a neat beginning and ending. But His love is more like a symphony that is filled with all kinds of notes and instruments that is woven together to create the most beautiful melody.

We try to make God’s love so difficult, so challenging. But Jesus is way more than we can ever imagine if we just let Him love us and be Who He is supposed to be in our life.

When we consider Jesus and who He should be in our life, we need to remember that He is endless – He always has been. I don’t think we can ever truly grasp it. It is a mystery that will one day be revealed when we are with Him. But the decision to be with Him needs to be a joyful choice, not a fearful leap. 

I think that too often we try to put Jesus in our neat little box or use Him as a weapon to drive fear and coercion into people. That’s not Who He is. Jesus isn’t a genie in a lamp or a lightening bolt throwing being or a fair weather friend. No, Jesus is so much more than that – Praise the Lord.

Jesus is The Leader. Jesus is Wonderful. Jesus is The caring Counselor. Jesus is The Mighty God. Jesus is My Everlasting Father. Jesus is The Prince of Peace. Praise the Lord.

Hiding His Word

Psalm 119:10-12 – “With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments. Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. Blessed art thou, O LORD: teach me thy statutes.”

I’m terrible at hiding God’s word in my heart. Oh, I know story after story and content and reasonings but memorization- nope. Not my forte. And here’s my reasoning behind it…or maybe it’s just my excuse. 

I learn concepts. I learn reasons. I learn the how and why behind things. It is how my brain works. Now, that’s not to say that some Scripture doesn’t stick in there from time to time. But it is more when I can apply it to something or have had some form of close interaction with the verse that I remember it. 

But despite not being able to spout off chapters or verses, God still hides His word in me. His word should be seen in my choice of speech – how and when I say things. His word should be seen in my actions – how and when I respond to things. His word should be seen in my thought process – thinking of others before myself. 

Hiding his word should be more like planting His word. I need to establish God’s word so deep in my heart that when things grow within me, they should shine with the Light of God’s love. Every step I take should be a seed planted further into the ground. Every word I utter should be seasoned with God’s grace and mercy. Every thought I think should be filtered through His word. 

His word needs to be applied and utilized. Anyone can memorize Scripture with enough practice and dedication. At the same time, anyone can apply and live God’s word with practice and dedication. 

So let me encourage you today to plant God’s words. Don’t just hide them on the surface of your heart. Hide them deep within you so that your actions, your words and your thoughts are affected by the power of His word. 

Extra Icing

John 10:27,28 – “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.”

I had an amazing experience yesterday.

I was seeing a client and this client told me, out of the blue, that they thought their death was close. This client has multiple medical issues but seems to be functioning fairly well. I probed a bit and found out more information but nothing that would necessarily substantiate the fears that were expressed. 

Yet, I felt the Holy Spirit impress upon my heart that I needed to confirm and/or present the plan of salvation to this person. And I did. It was amazing. I told my client very bluntly and candidly about what it takes to KNOW that death is not the end. And my client confirmed that they had the free gift of salvation in their heart. 

I’m a nobody. I love what I do. I love being in contact with people and helping them and walking through all sorts of situations and problems with them. But when I get the opportunity to speak to someone I have grown close to about Jesus and His free gift of salvation- well, that’s just extra icing on the cupcake. I don’t push it but I don’t hide it. And when God was speaking to my heart yesterday, for once, I listened. And it was beautiful!

So I want to encourage you to live it out. We never know how long we have or how long the person across from us has. Yesterday, I heard His voice and I followed and it was truly a blessing in my life. I encourage you to do the same. Happy Wednesday. 

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.”

Two sides of a coin

Judges 4:4-9 – “And Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she judged Israel at that time. And she dwelt under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in mount Ephraim: and the children of Israel came up to her for judgment. And she sent and called Barak the son of Abinoam out of Kedeshnaphtali, and said unto him, Hath not the LORD God of Israel commanded, saying, Go and draw toward mount Tabor, and take with thee ten thousand men of the children of Naphtali and of the children of Zebulun? And I will draw unto thee to the river Kishon Sisera, the captain of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his multitude; and I will deliver him into thine hand. And Barak said unto her, If thou wilt go with me, then I will go: but if thou wilt not go with me, then I will not go. And she said, I will surely go with thee: notwithstanding the journey that thou takest shall not be for thine honour; for the LORD shall sell Sisera into the hand of a woman. And Deborah arose, and went with Barak to Kedesh.”

Sorry there are so many verses – one or two just wouldn’t do!

Let’s think about Deborah for a few minutes today. I was having a lively discussion with my little spitfire daughter last night. I love her tenacity and grit. She isn’t afraid to lay it out – even to a teacher, respectfully of course. 

She reminds me a lot of Deborah. Deborah is the only female judge that I know of in the time of the judges. Can you imagine? Women were usually considered second class citizens in those days. Yet, here she was telling it like it is to an army commander. 

Deborah was a judge. But she was also a wife – and more likely than not, a mother. No children are specifically mentioned but they usually come along with the territory of a wife. 

I know that Deborah was prophesying when she said that the victory would be given to a woman, but can’t you hear just a bit of sass in that response? I can almost see the eyes rolling and the arms flopping to pick up her things to leave. Maybe there was some mumbling under her breath. I’m sure many prayers were lifted for this man who needed a woman to come along to assure Israel’s victory. 

I guess the point that I want to make is this – there are two sides to every coin. Every woman has two sides – the “get out of my way or I’ll run you over” side and the “here, let me take care of that” side. The side that says “well, I’ll do it because it needs to be done” and the “come on, you can do it” side. We all have two sides. In my perspective, a woman’s two sides are just more pronounced. It depends on the day. 

I was thinking about what I’m teaching my daughter. Am I doing it right? Will she have that meek and quiet spirit that is sometimes needed in a relationship? I know she already has developed the “get it done” gene. And the sass gene seems to be working quite well too. 

I want her to be like Deborah- capable of being wife and leader all at the same time. A wife is a helpmate – someone to come alongside and help out, not a dictator or wet washcloth to be swished around. But rather, a beautiful combination of sass and grit, gentleness and compassion. 

We need more “Deborah”s in this world. We need more women listening to God’s word and living his statutes and commands in their life. We need more gentleness and compassion in our marriages. We need more grit and sass for Godly truths in our society. We need more lively conversations between a parent and their child. We need more students respectfully stumping their educators.

 We need more pronounced sides to our coins. It’s okay to have two sides – God gave them to us for specific times in our life. We need to develop them both equally and efficiently. 

If you have children, pray for them. They need it. We, as parents who hold ourself accountable to God and God alone, need to develop within our children the characteristics they need to be the Godly men and women He is calling them to be. Pray for both sides of the coin.