Monday, September 2, 2013


Recently I've begun to read through the stories of the Old Testament. A recurring theme keeps popping up - fear. I've now come to the story of Jeroboam. Here again we see the terrible results of fear, when it is allowed to take hold in someone's heart. Fear of future revolt (i.e. lack of faith in God to protect him) led Jeroboam to erect "high places" of false worship, with idols and common priests (non-Levites), and establish his own day of worship for the people. Really, Jeroboam? You saw nothing wrong with this??!? And in all this he supposed he was worshipping God. You'd think he would have taken a clue when the Levites refused to be priests over these "high places" he had built. But no. Fear had blinded him until he had no more discernment. How frightful! And not only that, but his continued journey on this path led him eventually to despise the messenger of the Lord sent to rebuke him. And not only did Jeroboam despise this messenger, he also intended probably to have him killed!!! ("Lay hold on him" was Jeroboam's command.) Perhaps he was thinking, "How dare you find fault with my way of worshiping God?!" So caught up in his own self-righteousness, he could not perceive or discern the voice of God or the signs of His displeasure. How terribly frightful indeed... Who would think that such a "little" thing as fear could lead to such appalling results and consequences? Who would conceive of its power to blind a person so thoroughly? O Lord, deliver me from my own fears!!!!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

There are Higher Joys

This morning I was thinking about all the exciting little things that have happened recently, and it made me grin from ear to ear. Then suddenly, it was as if the Lord spoke directly to my heart: "But there are higher joys." :) Of course it's not wrong to take joy in the little things, like a note from a friend, or a small thoughtful gift, or a few relaxing days to yourself. But what about the eternal joys, the ones that will last forever? Seeing God face to face, seeing a dear friend accept Christ, experiencing God's forgiveness... Aren't those things so much more deserving of our contemplation and joy? What if I mulled those things over and over in my head throughout the day, the way I do with other things? Wouldn't I feel so much closer to heaven? I want these "higher joys" to fill my thoughts throughout the day, every day. I want to feel close to heaven.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Corpse in My Closet

"But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?" ~James 2:20

     I used to think this was talking about those people who believe you can go to Heaven without keeping the commandments - that the commandments were done away with at the cross. And it is... But there's a deeper meaning, a more personal meaning, which just dawned on me this morning as I added this verse to my memory bank.
     When I pray for various things, I generally believe (at least intellectually) that God will answer my prayers. But this verse made me think, Do I demonstrate that faith by my works, or do I have a "dead faith"? Do I do my best to help God answer my prayers, or do I sit back and do nothing? Do I move forward, making choices which reflect my faith that God will answer my prayers? I had to ruefully admit that my faith was nothing more than a corpse in the closet of my heart.
     But I thank God that He is a God who can make dry bones live! (See Ezekiel 37.)
     So my next question was, "What can I do to show God (and myself) that I believe His promise to answer my prayers?" One of my prayers lately has been that I will find a Thai friend to help me get around town, and to help me learn Thai. However, I'm a little ashamed to say that I haven't really done much to "help God out" in that realm. Perhaps an appropriate response on my part would be to make more effort to associate with people in my community, and make myself available. It's inconvenient sometimes, it's not always what I feel like doing, and it's embarrassing when people try to talk to me and I have no clue what they're saying. But do I really want God to answer my prayer? If so, I need to act accordingly. After all, isn't that what I came here for - to reach out to people and show them Jesus' love? Jesus wasn't a hermit; I can't be one either.
     That's just one example of faith that needs to be acted out in my life. There are many more. Perhaps there are corpses in your closet, too. Let's work together to "prophesy" to those "dead bones", that Christ might breathe His life into us and give us a living, active faith.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Mercy Rejoices

“And mercy rejoiceth against judgment.” James 2:13

This verse puzzled me, so I took my devotional time this morning to figure it out. brought me to Barne's Notes on the Bible, where I found some helpful insights.

The context of James 2 is about not having respect to persons - impartiality. I noticed that James' emphasis is on the do not rather than the do. So I wondered, what would it it look like if I were to turn it around and emphasize the do? Instead of saying, "Don't have respect of persons," perhaps it might read, "Treat the poor just as you would the rich. Treat the undeserving as if they were deserving." A light bulb turns on. This is mercy! Justice (or judgment) dictates that people should be treated no better than they deserve. This is why mercy appears to triumph over (or "rejoice against") judgment. This is a foundational principle of the plan of salvation - "Christ was treated as we deserve, that we might be treated as He deserves." (DA 25.2) At the final judgment, Satan will argue against us, "They are guilty! They deserve to die and share my punishment with me! They have broken your Law, and your Law condemns them to death." That's when Mercy will come forth to triumph over Judgment. "Yes, you are right - they don't deserve eternal life. They have broken my Law," Christ responds. "But I took their punishment for them. I was treated as they deserve, so that they can be treated as I deserve."

How can I not be merciful, when Christ has shown so much mercy to me? Wow....

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

If I Don't...

"If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God.... But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord." ~James 1:5-7

I often pray for wisdom. Wisdom for homeschooling, wisdom for speaking with people, wisdom to overcome daily temptations.

But do I believe that He will really give it to me?

Do I "ask in faith, nothing wavering"?

Verse 7 - No faith, no wisdom. No faith, no anything!

If I don't believe, I won't receive.

"Lord, I believe. Help thou mine unbelief." 

(Mark 9:24)

Sunday, January 6, 2013

All Joy

Last year I committed to join a number of my friends in memorizing the book of Acts. I never finished, due to conflicting time schedules and the need to reorder my priorities once I got to Thailand. However, I learned a lot about the power of God to help me cement His words in my mind. It was an incredible experience. (For the record, I still plan to finish the book of Acts! However, the review schedule is too much for me to handle at the moment.)

This year, since I've laid aside the Acts Challenge, I've been feeling a lack. I need to memorize, but motivation has been absent. Then came an invitation in my inbox: "James: Before Men and Angels". Just what I needed. :) Something short and sweet, but power-packed. So this morning I've started.

"My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience." ~James 1:2-3

All joy.

Not 5% joy, 95% grief.
Not 95% joy, 5% grief.
100% joy!

100% joy? How can it possibly be?

The key is how you count. :) He's not saying the temptations will be enjoyable experiences. He's not saying you will feel like being joyful. He says count it all joy. Heavenly math. :) In the heavenly math books, 5% joy can equal 100% joy. How? Simply this: Stop counting when you reach the end of your blessings list. Don't count the negatives.

A new twist on a familiar verse. I love it. :)

Father, teach me how to count, so that my joy may be full.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Spiritually Poor

"Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." ~Matthew 5:3

The poor in spirit. I had always thought this meant something like "humble", referring to those who really were close to Jesus, but went around hanging their heads in holy humility.


The poor in spirit. The spiritually poor. Those who have "a sense of their spiritual poverty".

In other words, they are spiritually sick, and they know it. Theirs is the kingdom of heaven.


Isn't heaven for those who are spiritually strong and thriving?

No. It's for the spiritually poor. The ones who despair because they are "wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked." (See MB 6-7.) It's for me.


"Those who know that they cannot possibly save themselves, or of themselves do any righteous action, are the ones who appreciate the help that Christ can bestow. They are the poor in spirit, whom He declares to be blessed." (MB 7)

"Whatever may have been your past experience, however discouraging your present circumstances, if you will come to Jesus just as you are, weak, helpless, and despairing, our compassionate Saviour will meet you a great way off, and will throw about you His arms of love and His robe of righteousness. He presents us to the Father...saying: I have taken the sinner's place. Look not upon this wayward child, but look on Me." (MB 9)

How comforting....