Monthly Archives: March 2017

God Our Father

I regretfully admit that I did not always obey my mother.  For instance, if she asked me a question or to do something, I would either ignore her or just tune her out.  Many times, she had to repeat herself.  Sometimes if I did not respond, there would be consequences, but often she would just get mad.  I clearly remember her frustration.  She would turn red in the face and say in exasperation, “Talking to you is like talking to myself!”

When I became a parent, the pattern repeated itself.  My children ignored me or tuned me out, just like I did my mother.  When the anger would rise in me, I heard my mother’s words come right out of my own mouth.  I admit I was not always consistent in metering out punishment either.

What about God?  I wonder if He ever feels that way about us Christians?  I’m sure He must.  After all, He is our Father, and we are His willful imperfect children.  The only difference between a human parent and God is that He may feel like He’s talking to Himself, but He will ALWAYS have consequences for those who chose to ignore Him.   He doesn’t let anyone slide by.

The Lord lets us know in many ways what He wants us to do.  It could be our conscience whispering through the corridors of our mind or a fellow Christian.  He has also provided the Bible as a guide for us to live by and from which to learn valuable lessons.  His guidelines are for our own good and will allow us for the most part to lead less stressful and more joyful lives.  If we choose to ignore His guidelines, then there are always consequences.

Every time we ignore what the Lord wants us to do, we are being disrespectful and disobedient – just like I was with my mother.  As a parent, I expected my children to obey, so why would I think God would not expect the same from me?   I confess that sometimes I hear His voice but choose to ignore it.  But the Lord loves me because I am His child and though He punishes me, it is for my own good.  He doesn’t want me to repeat the same mistake.  Sometimes as a warning, He’ll rap my knuckles hard enough to get my attention.  But if I persist in my disobedience, I will pay a higher price.

Throughout the Bible there are examples of disobedience and its consequences.  Adam and Eve, Sodom and Gomorrah, the Great Flood, and the Israelites wandering in the desert for 40 years until the disbelieving and disobedient died off to name a few examples.  From these accounts in the Bible, it’s obvious that obedience is important to God.

While God hates disobedience, He does love His children and offers forgiveness.  The only thing we have to do is recognize that we have been disobedient and confess it before the Lord with the intention that we will not repeat our mistake.  He will forgive us and keep us from falling back into that pattern.  This season of Lent is a good time to look at your life and see where you are being disobedient and ask the Lord for forgiveness and get back on the right path.

 

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.  1 John 1:9

Choices

Ever since I was a baby I have had the reputation of being a crier.  I was born crying and really haven’t stopped.  I cry at everything.  As a child, I would cry at the end of Lassie when she would hold her paw up to say good-bye.   Anything remotely sad on television or in a movie would cause tears to flow in rivers down my cheeks and sometimes I would break into a bout of sobbing.

One Saturday afternoon the movie Back Street was on.  If it was a rainy day or my dad had finished his yard work, he would sit in front of the television in the afternoons – mostly sports.  However, I turned on the movie and he sat to watch it.  As soon as it started, my father turned to me and said.  “You’d better go get about four or five hankies.”  I got upset with him for spoiling the movie by alerting me that it was sad, but I got up and got those hankies.  He was wrong, I think I used a half a box of tissues on that movie.

Part of the reason I cry so much at a sad movie is that I want to change the ending and make it a happy one, but I can’t.  I always think it is such a tragedy that the right choices weren’t made in the movie so there could be a happy outcome.  I cry at how helpless I am to do anything to help those characters.  Silly I know.

I often wonder how God must feel when He looks down on us.  Does He see us as that sad movie where we make poor choices and do the wrong things, and it breaks His heart?  While He has the power to change the ending, He has also given us freewill.  He will not interfere with that.

Although, there was a time when He did look down and saw the evil and sin of mankind.  He decided it was time to start humanity over.  There is one righteous man on Earth, Noah. He instructed Noah to build an ark and put a male and female of every animal on it, along with his family.  Noah didn’t argue with God or petition God to save the Earth if other righteous people were found as Abraham did.  He just did as God asked without question.  It makes you wonder just how bad it must have been because Noah didn’t even consider that there were others worth saving.

I believe that God cried as He let the rain fall in buckets all over the Earth for 40 days.  When I was young, I thought perhaps the rain that fell over Noah and his family on that ark were God’s tears shed over the Earth for the loss of His beloved creation that destroyed itself with sin and the lost relationship that He once had with it.  The story of Noah certainly is one of the saddest stories in Genesis.  So many human and animal lives lost and land destroyed.  And it didn’t have to be that way!  All humanity had to do was make the right choices.

The glimmer of hope in all this is that He saved the one family that he knew had the chance to make a happy ending from a sad story, and He didn’t destroy all his creation because some animals were also saved.  What’s so awesome about God is that He will save anyone who earnestly seeks Him and offers us eternal life and relationship with Him through His Son Jesus.  All we must do is make the right choice and turn from our sin and poor choices and ask for forgiveness and choose Him and the right and moral things.  It’s in our power to change our lives and have a happy ending.

 Don’t love the world’s ways. Don’t love the world’s goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. Practically everything that goes on in the world—wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important—has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out—but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity.  1 John 2:15-17 MSG

 

 

Life’s Lemons

In our quest to become healthier, my husband and I have been trying to ‘do more and eat less’.  I can tell you it has not been an easy road.  We have cut our portions, sugars and carbs.  My husband has had a harder time than I have.  He loves sweets and tries to use fruit as a substitute.

One day after lunch, he finished before I did and walked over to where I keep the fruit.  He grabbed something out of the fruit bowl and sat back down.  After a few seconds, he says, “These are the sourest oranges I have ever tasted.  Don’t ever buy these again.”

I was puzzled by his comment because I had not bought any oranges.  I looked at his pile of cut up fruit and burst out laughing.  It wasn’t an orange, it was a lemon.  (The look on his face was priceless.)

He said that it sure looked like an orange to him.  That week I had bought a new kind of lemon which was a cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange because they were cheaper than regular lemons.  I use them in recipes that call for lemon juice and salad dressing.  They look like a lemon, but have a light, smooth light orange-colored rind.

This incident was a reminder to me that appearances can be deceiving.  In Genesis, the devil was disguised as a serpent and approached Eve in the Garden of Eden.  At that time the serpent had to be an appealing looking creature because Eve had a conversation with him.

He wanted Eve to eat of The Tree-of-the-Knowledge-of-Good-And-Evil.  God specifically told Adam and Eve they could not eat from that one tree or they would die; however, all the other fruit in the garden was okay for consumption.  The serpent very shrewdly convinced Eve that she would not die if she ate the fruit.  She would be like God and know good and evil.  It was a beautiful tree and had nice looking fruit.  So, she was convinced it was okay and ate it.

Though the fruit looked appetizing, like that hybrid lemon I bought, it soured the relationship Adam and Eve had with God. They were no longer able to walk with Him and talk with Him face to face.  Adam and Eve’s disobedience was the first sin brought into the world.  God does not tolerate disobedience.

So often sin looks appealing and is enticing.  Sometimes it brings us pleasure or has some “reward” and sometimes we just can’t help ourselves.  Like Paul said, we try to do the right thing, but end up doing what we shouldn’t.  Our sins – intentional or not sours our relationship with God.

God understands that we are human and weak.  Though he cannot tolerate sin, He does love the sinner.  He has made a way for forgiveness of sin through His Son, Jesus, whose death on the cross paid for the sin of mankind that goes well into the future and all the way back to Adam and Eve.  Our part is to ask for forgiveness and just believe that Jesus died for us.  Our faith in Jesus opens the door to a new beginning and sweeter relationship with God.  After all, that’s what Easter is all about.

 

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.  Isaiah 53:6

 

Making the Grade

When my siblings and I reached school age, it was made very clear to us that a C was an unacceptable grade.  Our parents believed that if we applied ourselves and did our very best, there was no reason to EVER bring home a C.  B’s were not accepted either, any B we received had to come up to an A the next grading period.  My parents required nothing less from us, and it was disrespectful not to comply.

Needless to say, grade card time was not looked forward to in our household.  We would have to lay our grade cards before our parents for inspection.  If they felt it was not good enough, we got in trouble.  Of course, any show of an attitude or defending a bad grade was unacceptable.   If we had a good grade card, we got a little praise and were told to keep it up.  The only tangible reward was 25 cents an A which later raised to a dollar to keep us incentivized.

Just as my parents expected us to give our very best, so does God.  An example of this can be found in Genesis in the story of the brothers – Cain and Abel.  Cain was a farmer and Abel was a shepherd.  The Bible says that Cain brought some of his harvest, and Abel brought forth the best that he had and they both offered their gifts to God.  God accepted Abel’s gift, but not Cain’s.

Why?  Because Cain did not bring his best to God and because he didn’t, it was an indication he did not have the right heart.  From the story told in Genesis, you get the impression Cain kept the best for himself and gave God something less.  Cain either did not recognize or care that God was the reason for his bountiful harvest.  Yet, Abel brought the best to God showing he recognized that his good fortune came from the Lord.

It is no different today.  When we don’t bring our best to the Lord, we are no better than Cain.  We are placing more importance on ourselves and our desires and not on God.  Sometimes we go through the motions of religion, but lack the heart behind it.  Like Cain, we forget who truly loves us, takes care of us and brings good things into our lives.

The season of Lent is a time when you think about something you can give up to honor Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross.  While it is an honorable and worthy practice, it is also important to make sure that you are bringing your best to Him.   Assessing your life and seeing where you can improve in relating to the Lord is a good place to start.  There may be something you need to add to your life to move toward having a better relationship with Him.  How can you give your best if you don’t know Him and what pleases Him or what He expects?   It does you no good to give something up for Lent if you don’t even know who the Lord really is.

 

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.  Romans 12:1-2  MSG

 

What We Choose

When I was sixteen, I got my driver’s license.  In our family, once you turned sixteen, you were required to get a job and our parents provided each of us with a car.  You were responsible for your clothing, gasoline, fun and ‘wants’ from that day forward.  That isn’t to say my parents quit providing for us.  They took care of our needs and wanted us to take responsibility for everything else.  They also set forth rules and a curfew that we had to follow to maintain our driving privileges. We were also required to check our oil, radiator, tire pressure and other fluids.  My dad wanted no excuses for any car trouble that could be avoided.   So, we had a choice of freedom to go where we chose or boredom being trapped at home.  No pressure was exerted.  The consequences were based on our choices.

Our lives are full of choices that have consequences both good and bad depending on the choice we make.  This has been true since the Garden of Eden.  After God created man, He created the Garden of Eden and placed man in there to care for it.  Genesis 2:8-9 in The Message version of the Bible puts it beautifully; Then God planted a garden in Eden, in the east. He put the Man he had just made in it. God made all kinds of trees grow from the ground, trees beautiful to look at and good to eat. The Tree-of-Life was in the middle of the garden, also the Tree-of-Knowledge-of-Good-and-Evil.  God created two special trees.  The ONLY tree God told Adam not to eat from was the Tree-of-the-Knowledge-of-Good-and-Evil.  The result of eating from that tree was death.  However, he could partake of the fruit from the Tree – of – Life or any other tree in the garden.  How awesome is that?  Enjoy fruit from the Tree – of – Life or any other tree in the garden except for the one and live OR eat from that one and only Tree- of- the -Knowledge – of – Good – and – Evil and die.  Seems like a “no-brainer” choice, doesn’t it?  Sadly, Adam made the wrong choice, even though he knew the consequences.

God loved man so much that He created a special place for him to live and commune with Him. He didn’t force man to live there, and he didn’t have a lot of rules that man had to follow or remember.  There was only one choice to make – not to eat the forbidden fruit.  God gave Adam many choices of things to eat not just the fruit from the tree of life.  In doing that, GOD gave Adam every opportunity He could to NOT make the wrong decision.  God wanted Adam to choose Him willingly.

Even today God gives us the choice between life (communing with Him in a special place) and death (separation from God forever).  We can either have faith in God the Father and believe in Jesus Christ His Son and be filled with His Holy Spirit or we can go our own way and do what we want and worship who/what we please and choose death.  He does not impose His will on us or make us jump through hoops.  It’s all about faith.  For those who seek Him, He gives every opportunity to find Him, just as He gave Adam every opportunity not to eat from that forbidden tree.

God has laid out His simple rules for the road and given us the keys to the car of life so we can drive it on our own terms.  God will give us every opportunity to choose to do the right things and make that life or death decision.  When we are finished driving that car and turn in the keys, we have either followed His rules or not.  That choice has consequences that we will face.  What choice will you make?  Will you choose life or death?

     For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. John 3:16-18 NIV