Power and Great Glory

We have some very bad news in the world today. There is a global terrorist threat hanging over our heads. We have sexual predators loose in unknown locations all over the world. We have numerous weather disasters. Innocent children and adults who lives are being cut short by those who for whatever reason have lost all hope themselves. Is there any good in all of this bad news?

The good news is that the clock is ticking down to the second coming of Christ. There may be some difficult times to get through. Jesus said about those times close to the end; “men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.” Luke 21:26

But here is the hope in the verse that follows: “Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.” Luke 21: 27- 28

Each piece of bad news is a sign for us that the really “Good News” is close at hand.  Remain encouraged!

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Shhhh! Just let it Go….

I had two siblings growing up and you can just imagine the teasing and picking on each other that went on all the time. When I reached my ultimate frustration I would typically cry out for a reprieve from my parents. “He’s teasing me,” “He won’t give my toy back,” “He’s being mean to me.” I wanted the people with the most clout – mom and dad – to be on my side.

I didn’t always get the reprieve I was looking for. Sometimes I got the dreaded words I despised the most: “It takes two to fight.” Oh boy. I did NOT want to hear that. I fumed and would typically pout and cry some more. As a little kid I didn’t even understand what that meant except that it meant I wasn’t going to get any sympathy.

Now that I think about it I understand that I could have avoided a lot of the problems, I probably should have cried less. I realize now it made my oldest brother, pick even more… I contributed to the various quarrel sessions at times, teasing marathons and meanness bouts that often erupted. There is no way to perpetuate a fight when no one is taking the bait; it just dies.  Therefore, I have learned a valuable lesson.  Attempt at all cost to “just let it go.”

The Bible says; “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1

I may not be a child anymore but as an adult  I still have plenty of chances to “turn away wrath.” Family members (and however the enemy presents himself to us…. especially when we open our mouthes and share our ” hot buttons.”)  usually have a pretty good idea what each other’s buttons are and just how to push them for “maximum” effect. What if we take a new tactic and don’t respond or respond with a gentle answer? Remember “It takes two to fight.” Don’t be one of them. Shhh!

Rejoice in Hope

In the Old Testament there was a feast called “Tabernacles” or “Booths”. God established it for the Israelites after they had come out of the 400 hundred year bondage in Egypt. He wanted them to celebrate it every year so everyone would “‘know that I had the sons of Israel live in booths when I brought them out from the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.'” (Leviticus 23:43)

Even though God established it for all future generations, eventually the people forgot what God said and the feast fell away. Whenever they returned to the Lord and the reading of the law they would reestablish the celebration of the feast.But why would God want them to simply remember having lived in booths or tents? You might say: who cares? Well, the real reason is HOPE: He wanted them to remember God’s faithfulness through trouble and to trust that their hope in God is not in vain.

Romans 12:12 alludes to the feast of Tabernacles when Paul says: “rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer.” We can still celebrate this feast today and we should because we still need to remember God’s faithfulness, especially during trouble.Do you have a rock somewhere in your life that stirs hope inside of you? Make that your feast! When trouble comes and affliction is long and hard, don’t forget: we should rejoice in hope.

Spiritual Assault

On a recent Sunday afternoon as I was walking Jada, I heard a very angry loud voice coming from a lady in a car. She wasn’t yelling at someone with her; she was alone. I looked hard to see if she was on a cell phone but no, she was not. Still, an ear splitting rage was spewing out of her.After she turned the corner I could actually still hear her even when she got about three blocks up the street. What caused it I wondered? This was deep anger piled upon anger over time until there was nothing left but a raging bull.

I remember feeling her “poison” spill onto me that afternoon even though I was a simple passer-by. Her anger was like an assault on my spirit, and probably for anyone else that heard her as she traveled the streets of Roanoke. For one thing, it was almost as if her anger if allowed, could trigger the same in me. I felt myself wanting to yell at her to “SHUT UP” and not spit out her angry noise pollution on my quiet well mannered neighborhood.How likely is it that an angry retort from me would have helped the situation?

Actually, in her condition, it might have landed me in a hospital. She was “out of control” but I didn’t need to follow suit. The Bible says; “Hot tempers start fights; a calm, cool spirit keeps the peace.” Proverbs 15:18 from The Message

My choice is to  stay on the side that keeps the peace. So when you find yourself where someone is “hot” under the collar.  Just remain calm.  It should keep the peace.

What Next?

“Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”Ephesians 6:13

What does it mean; “having done ALL, to STAND”? Some of us out here know because we have been in a battle so fierce that eventually we have fought long enough to find out.The sixth chapter of Ephesians is all about spiritual warfare and the weapons to use and the way to fight. It is a very active chapter and we have plenty to chew on that is useful when we receive an onslaught from the devil, who is the enemy of our souls.

We beat back the enemy with the whole armor of God but what if nothing works? We are being warned in these five little words that there are times when that will seem to be the case.We have prayed and praised, fasted and inquired, spoken the Word of God, humbled ourselves, searched for obstacles, launched a counter attack – yes, all that and more! Now we are tired and confused and we wonder how long we can hold on. Many of us will ask the question, ” Should I continue in the fight?”

This is the place where many of us fall by the wayside, throw our weapons down and surrender from God’s service.When nothing else is left, there is still one more thing to do and it is a powerful thing: STAND.  We should never  underestimate our power when we simply stand. It means we are not giving up and we won’t run away or surrender the fight.

There may be times  when you feel that you have NO weapons left, but be determined NOT to leave the field. At least not until you have done ALL to STAND! So whats next? Throw down your weapons in surrender?  Or stand?  Its your call!

First Response!

James 1:2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds,I just said, “smile and be glad”!

God says to “consider it pure joy”!!!!

Over the years and trials of many kinds, I’ve realized that the “worry myself sick” approach or the “if I would have…,” beat myself up approach are both fruitless. Actually, the word “torture” best describes them. On the other hand, I have found that asking “why” can be beneficial to a certain degree, usually to learn from a mistake. But to stay in the “whys,” spending hours thinking and rethinking why you are experiencing this trial can also waste precious time and be, well, more torture. Besides, a good portion of our trials are due to the fact that we are in a spiritual battle and we have an Adversary who wants to see a big “L” looming over us, “L for Loser”!

Here’s a thought. When our back is “against the wall”, or we are in “hot water”, it will surely bring out everything in us whether good or bad!

If we are the analyzing type (or not), think about why we should “count it pure joy.”

In 2 Corinthians 12:10a, Paul said: “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties….”

By the way, do any of those words OFTEN describe our problems? YES!!! It’s obvious that there is a reason why we should and can “delight” or “consider it pure joy” when we face a trial.So let’s start in James 1:3, which begins with the word that usually starts off the answer for all “why” questions: “because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.”

Every person of great character persevered and kept a positive attitude! The opposite of perseverance is to give in and well…lie, cheat, rage, cuss, fuss,  slander, stay bitter, sulk… I could go on and on!  Have we all fallen prey to one or maybe all of the attributes.  Yes!  In James 1:5 it tells us…”If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him”.

Trials(heat) come in many shapes and sizes, and wisdom is a key ingredient for standing strong in our tribulation. Much of what we are to do during a trial is clearly written in the pages of God’s Word. Sometimes, though, we need specific instructions, so we ask God, and He will tell us “without finding fault,” even if our foolishness got us in the predicament we are in! Isn’t that wonderful?

There is another reason to delight while in a trial.2 Corinthians 12:9But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you. For my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”Who would not want to see Jesus Christ help them take care of their problem? Our Lord’s grace is sufficient for us, no matter how difficult our situation is. His help is always enough to get us through. The best part is watching him do it!

This has helped me “…boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses….” Now when a challenge or difficult person comes my way, I think about the joy I will have recording how the grace of my Lord will get me through. Is this ALWAYS my first response?  Of course not!!   So when difficulties come your way, smile, be glad, count it pure joy, and be determined to persevere, to do what’s right. And in some circumstances, just get quiet and smile! It confuses the enemy! Attempt at all cost to look at “every” circumstance, or person positively.  Again it makes it hard for our adversary to know what we’re working with….and always remember we are not alone, for Jesus Christ’s power is available to us in every trying situation.

How low can you Go?

As a woman who fears the LORD, We as women have an obligation because of our freedom in Christ to honour the Lord Jesus and our brothers in the LORD by our dress and by our behavior. Years ago I became totally aware of how my dress affected others. I was aware to the fact that I was, by the clothing I chose to wear, capable of causing a brother to stumble. I realized I had an obligation to the LORD to avoid the appearance of evil, that I had a responsibility to protect the gift that I am to my husband and the duty to my brothers in the LORD to not be a stumbling block. Could our dress be evil, you say? Yes… if I disregard my dress and am careless about the message of the cross, I see this as evil. How frequently and easily we apply this to “drinking” and how acceptable it is for a Christian to not “drink” so as not to cause a brother to stumble, but how seldom this is applied to the area of modest dress. I believe that this can help us as women by sharing the ‘hard things’ concerning our dress.

I am aware that whenever this subject comes up, there will be accusation of legalism or of “bondage.” I am perfectly comfortable hearing these allegations because I probably at one time rejected these truths or thought the same thing until I began to understand the difference between legalism and obedience. When a woman is in the bonds of legalism, she depends on behaviors or thoughts and the performing of these duties as necessary to keeping or obtaining salvation. So then, fundamentally, legalism becomes a religion unto itself. So where does obedience to the Word differ from legalism in behavior and thought?

In the last several years I have thought on this question perhaps thousands of times… wondering what in this world should a woman wear, how should a woman behave, where should a woman spend her time, how should a woman go about loving her husband and how should she live pleasing the LORD? So… here goes: It matters what a Christian woman looks like. It matters what she wears and doesn’t wear. She is a representative of the LORD. She is an “advertisement,” if you will, for the LORD.

I would like to share with you how important it is for the reputation of the LORD and other Christian women how one looks to the “watching world.” I am not referring to the physical appearance of a woman’s body, whether she is tall, short, thin, large, small, etc., etc.; but her appearance: When a Christian woman is out to shop or to run errands, it does matter what she looks like. It matters what statement she is making about the LORD and about the reputation of her sisters in the LORD.

Today, I am not simply referring to the appearance of neatness or cleanliness, but I am concerned about another area, and that is the area of modesty. Modesty is about as foreign to some as living in a mansion or in a hut or fluently speaking a foreign language. What is modesty… and what does the Word say about modesty? Not the world, but the Word. 1Timothy 2:9 says, “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel…” Why is it important for a Christian woman to dress modestly? How modest is modest? Well, I have been mulling over this question for years… How low is too low and how high is too high… and what does it matter anyway? I used to think a one piece bathing suit was a modest thing to wear to the beach. But now a one piece can be skimpy too.

I began to ask the question: what attire is appropriate to the LORD? I began to ask myself what I would think were I to open the door and see the LORD standing on my porch… would it be pleasing to Him? Would it bring glory or shame to His name.

Many have written articles on the meanings of the verses in 1 Timothy and in 1 Peter 3 regarding the dress of a woman. Sadly, these articles rarely appear in “mainstream” Christian magazines and so to many Christian women, the discussion of modest dress either never comes up or it is rejected as under the category of legalism or fundamentalism. After reading these and other verses in the Bible, what would you say? Studying the meanings of the different words rendered “apparel,” would you say that modest dress is for legalists? I don’t think you would, in fact, I believe a careful study of the Scriptures necessitates a trip to the closet and a “weeding out” of inappropriate clothing.

Maybe you are thinking right now that you already do dress modestly but perhaps there are a few things that may attract attention to you in a way that is not appropriate. I share this with you today, because I can recall a time getting instruction from the pulpit or from a Sunday School teacher in appropriate or inappropriate dress. At the time I did not know that it was even something I ought to be concerned with. However, the more I read the Word, and the more I prayed to be a godly woman, the more I realized that my appearance really did matter and I began the journey to appropriate, modest dress.

I am still studying to understand what it means to dress in modest apparel—apparel that does not cause a brother to stumble. I will tell you about a time ten years ago where I sat watching women and men watching women. I was amazed that the women in tight or low or short clothing were completely unaware of the distraction they were to some of the men. I was (in this “Christian” setting) further aware of the women who *did* know that the men were watching and the subtle entertainment and deception that was taking place… Entertaining to both the man and the woman and deceptive because of the emotions that were being stirred that were inappropriate and could or would not ever be rightly fulfilled. It was an occasion to entertain lust of the eyes and the pride of life. No matter what the world says about fantasy and entertainment… it is wrong. Does this matter? Yes, it matters. You might say something like, “well, I am not like that…” You are probably not like that… and then again, it is flattering to be found attractive by a man. You might say you no longer have an attractive figure or appearance… I think we would all be surprised at the different things men find attractive.

Good men, married men, dedicated men…. You might say, “those men should learn to control themselves!” I’d reply, you’re right and jokingly say that that would be like telling them to stop breathing. You might laugh a little, but I would exhort you to pray and ask the LORD what He would have you to do regarding this subject of dress and appropriate clothing for the godly woman and then to talk candidly with your husband or significant other, about men and what they see and what they think, how easily their thoughts are tantalized by the sights they see.You may feel like you have dressed in a certain way for so long that you wouldn’t be able to change now. Or, you may feel like you *like* the way you dress and it’s too bad what others think. Would you be open to the LORD and His promptings? I do join you in praying for what is best and seeking what is or isn’t appropriate. I would just say in closing, that it really does matter what you wear and how you represent the very God we serve. He has given us all we need in the Word for instruction as to what we ought to wear and how we ought to appear.2Timothy 3:16 “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.