Context

Context

The trees in the photograph below are at least 20 feet high but against the expanse of the sky, appear much shorter. Context makes a difference.

David and Goliath. In this well-known Bible story, the two opponents used starkly different contexts to assess each other. Goliath viewed David from his over 9 feet frame, donned with a bronze helmet, a bronze coat of mail that weighed 125 pounds, and bronze leg armor. On his shoulder he held a bronze javelin and in his hand a spear with a shaft as heavy and thick as a weaver’s beam, tipped with an iron spearhead that weighed 15 pounds (1 Samuel 17:4-7, NLT). I imagine that in Goliath’s mind were memories of his many victories that earned him the title, “champion.” He looked at David and was insulted. As he walked toward David, he sneered in contempt and roared, “Am I a dog that you come at me with a stick?” Then “he cursed David by the names of his gods” and yelled, “Come over here, and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and wild animals!” (1 Samuel 17:41-44, NLT). Context.

David looked at Goliath and saw “a pagan Philistine” who was allowed to “defy the armies of the living God” (1 Samuel 17:26). He looked at him and recalled that the LORD had rescued him from the claws of the lions and the bears that attempted to steal lambs from his flock. David looked at Goliath and believed that the LORD would also rescue him from Goliath (1 Samuel 17:34-37). In response to Goliath’s taunts, David replied, “You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies—the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.  Today the Lord will conquer you, and I will kill you and cut off your head. And then I will give the dead bodies of your men to the birds and wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel! And everyone assembled here will know that the Lord rescues his people, but not with sword and spear. This is the Lord’s battle, and he will give you to us!” (1 Samuel 17:45-47, NLT). Context.

The context Goliath used to assess David was himself but God was the context David used to assess Goliath. We know how that storied fight ended. What context are you using to assess the challenges in your life?

 

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Beloved. You.

You are beloved (1)

Whatever the name on your birth certificate. Whatever names others have called you. Your truest name is, “Beloved.”

Consider the kind of extravagant love the Father has lavished on us—He calls us children of God! It’s true; we are His beloved children. And in the same way the world didn’t recognize Him, the world does not recognize us either” (1 John 3:1, VOICE).

“This is the embodiment of true love: not that we have loved God first, but that He loved us and sent His unique Son on a special mission to become an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:10, VOICE).

The Apostle John, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, testified, “We know how much God loves us because we have felt his love and because we believe him when he tells us that he loves us dearly. God is love, and anyone who lives in love is living with God and God is living in him. And as we live with Christ, our love grows more perfect and complete; so we will not be ashamed and embarrassed at the day of judgment, but can face him with confidence and joy because he loves us and we love him too” (1 John 4:16-17, TLB).

May we believe God when He tells us that He loves us dearly. Remember, He is not a man that he should lie. Let His word stabilize your emotions and banish all doubt suggested by your circumstances. As stated in this note in the VOICE translation related to 1 John 3:1-2,

“When we feel like we are not good enough to be loved by God, we should remember that God’s love is greater than our doubts. We must silence the sounds of condemnation so we can hear the voice of God’s loving assurance and remember that He has selected us to be part of His family.”

My loved ones, we have been adopted into God’s family; and we are officially His children now. The full picture of our destiny is not yet clear, but we know this much: when Jesus appears, we will be like Him because we will see Him just as He is” (1 John 3:2) 

Beloved. That is who you are.

Five Minute Friday: Privilege

privilege

Giving to our brothers and sisters who are poor. Do we see doing so as a privilege? The Corinthian church did. Paul testified of them, “For I can verify that they spontaneously gave, not only according to their means but far beyond what they could afford. They actually begged us for the privilege of sharing in this ministry of giving to God’s holy people who are living in poverty. They exceeded our expectations by first dedicating themselves fully to the Lord and then to us, according to God’s pleasure” (2 Corinthians 8:3-5, TPT). “They actually begged for the privilege of sharing in this ministry of giving to God’s holy people who are living in poverty.” “They actually begged for the privilege of sharing in this ministry of giving to God’s holy people who are living in poverty.” How incredible is that.

I think the key to their incredible generosity lies in the fact that before they give of their substance, they first dedicated themselves fully to the Lord. Before they give of their substance, they first dedicated themselves fully to the Lord. (End of 5 minutes). When we have fully surrendered and continue to live lives of full surrender to God, I believe it is easy to see giving as a privilege. A surrendered life is a life of stewardship. Persons who are fully surrendered to the Lord and continue to live lives of full surrender understand that they are stewards, not owners. They understand the truth of 1 Chronicles 29:14 (VOICE), “All our offerings come from You, so we can give You nothing that isn’t already Yours.” When we habitually struggle internally with an opportunity to give, especially sacrificially, could it be an indication that we have slipped from the mindset of a steward to that of an owner and that a fresh surrender to God is needed?  Father, may we be cheerful givers, people who see giving to those in need as a privilege.

FMF

I am participating in a weekly writing adventure (on a Sunday) with the Five Minute Friday writing community, hosted by Kate Motaung. This week’s prompt is, “Privilege.” 

Look full

Look Full

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus,” Helen H. Lemmel instructs, in the refrain of her classic hymn with the same name.

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.”

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face.” “Look full in His wonderful face.” I understand that to turn my eyes on Jesus requires me to turn my eyes away from something or someone else that had my focus, instead of Him. And, perhaps too often, I need this reminder in all seasons of life, especially those characterized by difficulties. During challenging seasons, like Peter, I focus on  adverse circumstances around me and quickly learn that such focus can lead to near drowning experiences.

But what does it mean to, “Look full in His wonderful face”? Let us consider the definitions of look and full. “Look,” the verb, is to direct one’s gaze toward someone or something or in a specified direction. “Look,” the noun, is an act of directing one’s gaze in order to see someone or something. Definitions of “Full” include complete especially in detail, number, or duration; lacking restraint, check, or qualification; and not lacking in any essential: perfect.” Based on these definitions, to “look full in His wonderful face” is to direct our gaze toward Jesus intentionally, completely, without reservation or qualification. This is not a casual or accidental act . There is no distracted engagement here.

When was the last time we directed our gaze toward Jesus, intentionally, completely, without reservation or qualification and in a sustained manner? And how do we do so? I think the process begins with the recognition that we are not focused on Him. What are some of the signs that we are not focused on Him? They include complaining, worrying, and being anxious, self-centered, and/or confused.

The process of directing our gaze toward Jesus intentionally, completely, and without reservation or qualification also requires us to know what things distract our attention from Him and those that help us focus (and refocus) our attention on Him. The latter includes consistently reading and meditating on His Word, praying, praising and worshipping Him, recognizing His goodness and giving Him thanks.  With each passing day, the turmoil in our world increases and our need to consistently “Turn our eyes on Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face,” grows.

Prayer: God, help us keep our eyes on You. Increase our ability to recognize the things that distract us and help us daily to prioritize our relationship with You. Amen

 

Five Minute Friday: Surrender

Surrender

“Resist” – to exert oneself so as to counteract or defeat. “Resist” – to withstand the force or effect of.

“Resist.” It has been described as “a battle cry” for many who oppose the current administration and the hashtag #resist has been trending on social media for more than 12 months.

Children of the Most High are to resist unjust laws and stand up for those who are powerless and lack our privileges. We must remember however, that our first place of resistance must always be in the spiritual realm. We are told in Ephesians 6:11-13 that, “We are up against the unseen power that controls this dark world, and spiritual agents from the very headquarters of evil.” We are also given instructions for battle including this, “Therefore you must wear the whole armor of God that you may be able to resist evil in its day of power…” (End of 5 minutes)

Our ability to resist “the unseen power that controls this dark world,” beings with surrender. Total, ongoing surrender to our Father.

“Sin is a dethroned monarch; so you must no longer give it an opportunity to rule over your life, controlling how you live and compelling you to obey its desires and cravings. So then, refuse to answer its call to surrender your body as a tool for wickedness. Instead, passionately answer God’s call to keep yielding your body to him as one who has now experienced resurrection life! You live now for his pleasure, ready to be used for his noble purpose. Remember this: sin will not conquer you, for God already has! You are not governed by law but governed by the reign of the grace of God” (Romans 6:12-14, TPT).

“But he continues to pour out more and more grace upon us. For it says,
God resists you when you are proud
but continually pours out grace when you are humble.’
So then, surrender to God. Stand up to the devil and resist him and he will turn and run away from you” (James 4:6-7, TPT).

In the Stark Trek franchise, the Borg told those they intended to assimilate, “Resistance is futile.” Sometimes, as we are bombarded by news of recurring atrocities in the world, the forces of evil can seem insurmountable. In addition, sometimes in our personal lives, after repeated failures in a specific area, we can be tempted by the evil one to believe, “Resistance is futile.” That is a lie. Resisting evil is never futile. Think of the concept of resistance training. Also referred to as “strength training or weight training,” resistance training, is the use of resistance to muscular contraction to build the strength, anaerobic endurance and size of skeletal muscles. Resistance training is based on the principle that muscles of the body will work to overcome a resistance force when they are required to do so. When you do resistance training repeatedly and consistently, your muscles become stronger.”

The last sentence is worth repeating, “When you do resistance training repeatedly and consistently, your muscles become stronger.” Restated in spiritual terms, “When you engage in spiritual resistance repeatedly and consistently, your spiritual muscles will become stronger.” Let us repeatedly and consistently surrender to our Father, and repeatedly and consistently resist the evil one. And let us resist from the place of victory won for us by the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the One who led captivity captive (Ephesians 4:8, AMP). And the knowledge that, even when we are at our weakest, our God, “always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us spreads and makes evident everywhere the sweet fragrance of the knowledge of Him” (2 Corinthians 2:14, AMP). Surrender and resist!

FMF

I am participating in a weekly writing adventure with the Five Minute Friday writing community, hosted by Kate Motaung. This week’s prompt is, “Surrender.” Links were added after the five minute window closed. The definitions for “Resist” are from http://www.merriam-webster.com. The definition of “Resistance Training” is from www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au.

No greater thing

 

No greater thing

Salvation.
Clear air and water.
Shelter.
Belonging.
Peace.
Safety.
Purpose.
Work.
Grace.
Forgiveness.
Sleep.
These are some of the needs I have in common with other human beings.

I also have wants. Wants  that I sometimes mistakenly view as needs. And sometimes the list is long. Here are a few:
A bestselling book.
Life to be fair.
High end clothing and shoes at rock bottom clearance prices.
A luxury car that is fully paid for.
The news that a long lost relative left me a fortune.
To never have a bad hair day.
(Did you see any of yours on my list?)

Then I think of Moses.

And his plea to God, “… let me know Your ways so that I may know You [becoming more deeply and intimately acquainted with You, recognizing and understanding Your ways more clearly] And that I may find grace and favor in Your sight…” (Exodus 33:13, AMP).

And I am reminded that everything I want pales in comparison to knowing Him intimately.

Five Minute Friday: Intentional

intentional (1).png

“Intentional” – done by intention or design. “Intention” – a determination to act in a certain way.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” He spoke light into existence, separating the light from the darkness. Making day and night. He spoke a vault called sky into existence, separating water from water. Caused dry land to appear, creating land and seas.

He spoke to the land and it bore vegetation. He made two great lights, one to govern the day, the other to govern the night. And He spoke to the waters and living creatures sprung to life. And birds filled the skies.

Then He said, “Let us make mankind in our own image, in our likeness.” And He did so. And then there was intentional disobedience. And a promise made – “Her Seed will fatally bruise your head.” “A Child will be born and a Son will be given.” And a promise kept.

“We also were chosen to belong to him. God decided to choose us long ago in keeping with his plan. He works out everything to fit his plans and purpose” (Ephesians 1:11, NIRV). Our God is intentional.

 

I am participating in a weekly writing adventure with the Five Minute Friday writing community, hosted by Kate Motaung. This week’s prompt is, “Intentional.” Scripture links were added after the five minute window closed. The definitions for “Intentional” and “Intent” are from http://www.merriam-webster.com.

FMF