Category Archives: Life Issues

Two Years Ago Today, Mom Went to Heaven!

Initial Remarks

Today marks two years since my dear mom passed away—August 27, 2020. I wrote the following letter four months after my mom died, recollecting the time my husband John and I spent living with her for four years in her home. I mailed this note to a few very close friends at the time, but today, I feel like posting this in her honor and sharing that I am still sad about a lot of things, but I know moving on would be what she would want for me.

Dear Friends

First, I want to thank all of you who have prayed for John and me over the past few years. We were in a unique season of life—a life we never expected to be in. It was challenging and rewarding at the same time.

Most of you know that in January 2016, I moved into my parent’s home when my dad was ill with leukemia and dementia. John was working overseas at the time. Dad died in February 2016.

Being concerned about mom, I stayed with her after Dad’s passing. The idea of her alone in the house made me want to stay with her. Unfortunately, 2016 brought a diagnosis of Stage 4 lung cancer to mom on top of all her other ailments, so I continued to stay at mom’s house. John came home from his overseas assignment shortly after mom’s diagnosis and moved into mom’s house with me.

We locked up our house, and our life became different—more different than we ever expected. John retired after completing his overseas assignment but found a little part-time work, and life moved on. We settled into our life with mom in west Houston, trying to adjust to not being in our own home. I did fine for the first two years. But, the last two years were physically and emotionally tough on me. As mom progressively needed more care and attention, I became more nervous and anxious. I was not my usual self. I had a hard time coping, although I was able to conceal it from others for the most part.

John saw and experienced my constant exhaustion, my need for respite, and my emotional stress worsening daily. He was my rock. I cannot imagine any other person being so kind and generous as giving up his home and life to partner with me in caretaking my mother – his mother-in-law. John occupied my mom with mind-boggling conversations and debates. He made dinner most days, and towards the end, his help and love truly inspired me as he provided nursing duties way beyond his pay grade. Christ-like love was indeed in action!

God knew my fragile mental state. And I hate to say it, but COVID was the lifeline I needed to be able to move back home. It had become apparent that I was not doing well with our 24/7 living arrangement at mom’s house. When COVID hit: Mom’s housekeeper was able to move in with her even though we were back towards the end of mom’s life. John, me, and mom all sleeping in the same bedroom, available for whatever.

Even being home was highly stressful, with daily visits to mom’s house, more doctor’s appointments than ever, and issues relating to mom’s declining health.

If you have not guessed by now, two thousand twenty has been the roughest ride of my life!

I am omitting many “specifics” so I do not get bogged down and miss the point I am trying to share with you.

The fact is, a good friend said, “God has positioned people who can take our hands and help us find our way through the fog and storms.” You are those people!!! Your prayers helped me to pray and not lose my heart. Your prayers helped me to pursue seeking the Highest God, your prayers helped me to stay strong in the Word of God, and your prayers reminded me that challenges are for our spiritual growth. This journey was not anything I had ever imagined, but God knew I had to go through it. This season was sent to accomplish things in me that could not have been accomplished any other way.

Some of you have been where I was. Some of you have not. However, I want you to know that when we experience tears and disappointment, it does not have to dimmish our relationship with the Lord. He allows each new experience to make us aware that we need to trust Him so solidly that we can tell Him the down and dirty of all we think and encounter. When I had questions, God was there. When I cried, He was there. When I could not handle it anymore, God was still there. Even though there were times I could not feel His presence, you kept me hanging on to Him. That was possible due to your prayers. Thank you!

Mom died on August 27, 2020. John and I received a call at 1:50 a.m. from my older brother to come home. I had my cuddle time with mom; then, at 3:50 p.m. that afternoon, she took her final breath.

It has only been a few months since we left that season of our lives. Still, thankfully God is showing me why the experiences I encountered were essential. I do not understand many things that came about during that season. But God always pointed me back to Him—calling me to trust Him when I couldn’t see the whys of the past or the wonders of the future. During my caregiving time, I encountered burnout, compassion fatigue, taxing emotions, and the perps of spending time with my dear mom. I knew the challenges were in His hands. Thanks for your prayers!

Life is an adventure. I wailed many times during this period, “Lord, I can’t handle it anymore!” But He knew and knows when it is time to step in for relief. God moved when I reached the pinnacle of my despair in August. These years are now part of my life story. I recognize that “being out of our comfort zone” is usually the only way we can grow, and I thank God for it. I experienced many sweet times with mom that would not have been possible any other way, but it was still strenuous and tough on me. So, thanks again for your prayers!

Each day, I feel a little more rested and restored. I know that the Lord will use this experience for His glory. There are so many Biblical principles that I had read in Scripture but not experienced before. I encountered so many aspects during these 4+ years: love, forgiveness, gratitude, and boundaries—to mention the positive ones. Sometimes it is hard to see circumstances clearly when living under stress or in a bleak period. Still, when the light is slowly restored, we can feel God’s peace and presence in extraordinary ways—even supernaturally. We start understanding the why, the why not, the how much longer questions of life. In these times, we must depend on the prayers of our friends like you. And for that, thanks again for your prayers!

My takeaway is to encourage you to look at your circumstances through the eyes of our heavenly Father. Commit to renewing your mind daily with prayer and Bible study. Remember that darkness does not stay forever in whatever situation you face. Even through hard times, He is close by—guiding us, building our faith, and waiting to meet our needs. He has a purpose for everything we experience in life, to prepare us for His assignments here on earth or for our heavenly home.

Today—Two Years Later

Yes, John and I have moved on; that is a long story. Still, one thing we both know is that God directed and allowed us to spend time with mom. However, I encountered difficult times caregiving at points along the way. If you are caregiving, hang on! Memories are being formed that will be cherished more with time. The emotional journey has a purpose that God will use in your life ministries.

While living with my mom, I wrote a book titled Christian Caregiving: Practical Advice for a Happy Ending. I wrote it during the first two years of living with mom. If I had waited until later, the book would probably never have been written. I left out the hard part, the biography of my experiences as time passed, because I hadn’t experienced that. However, it is a good book for those starting on the journey of caregiving with lots of Scripture references. I am not posting this as a sales pitch for my book, but I wanted you to know good things come from caregiving. Our strength in Him and knowing that He always has His best for us in mind keeps us going.

Mom, I love you, and I always will. Thanks for loving me. I still miss you two years later.

God Bless.

Verses from Christian Caregiving:  Practical Advice for a Happy Ending [9780692115381-Available on Amazon.com. Only $7.44 today.

Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28).

Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you (Ephesians 4:32).

Commit your works to the LORD, and your plans will be established (Proverbs 16:3)

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Sacred Snippet: Tests and Trials

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Tests and Trials

You look okay on the outside. Everything looks great to others, but privately you feel threats, encounter significant problems, or experience suffering that people can’t see. The Bible calls these tests and trials.

When people start seeing through you, it’s tough. You don’t want to feel weak in front of other people. You don’t want them to see the difficulties you might be facing, the threats you might be encountering, or the internal turmoil you are going through. However, you know they are there.

My Test and Trial

One day, I opened my blog website and discovered it was no longer there. Panic engulfed me. Also, emails were being sent to my blog subscribers, which I did not send. I panicked–fearful some obscene image or article might show up on my site sent by an intruder. I tried to fix the problem on my own. But the backend software (the hidden infrastructure of the website) was in complete disarray. I went to my paid subscription sources and hosting site and got partial help. But internally, the data inside my blog was corrupt. There were severe problems–five, to be exact. “Hacked” was a word I never wanted to hear, but hackers were precisely who infiltrated my site. [However, if you are reading this now, no worries, it has all been fixed, my dear friends.]

God is our Source

In our lives today, personal pressures and problems consume our thoughts, and nobody but us know they are there. They destroy our thinking. We even go to trusted websites or self-help books to help to no avail. When we face inner struggles, our heavenly Father is the one to approach first. He knows what is going on in our minds, personal ruminations, and physical selves. God is there not only to help us with these difficulties but to walk alongside us until the time is right for Him to show us His purposes. 

Children, take your intimate struggles to the Lord and ask Jesus to plead with your heavenly Father to show His purpose. 

Sit before Your Heavenly Father

The Bible says we will have struggles and trials. Being a believer does not alleviate living in this fallen world. Before reaching out to friends, family, or Internet sources, go first to God, sit before him, rest, and ask Him to handle your threats, problems, struggles, and concealed thoughts. He is there for you. 

James 1: 2-5 says, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of our faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”

Then wait in prayer, meditation, and Bible reading for an answer. Sometimes God answers quickly, but oftentimes, we are left waiting, yearning, and seeking His response for even years. As we wait, let us be growing in an abundance of love for our Lord and Savior. Live in joy and service until the time comes when we have “been approved” for our dedication and undefiled obedience, whether in this life or the next.

James says, “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial, for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to those who love Him” (James 1:12).

How to Handle Tests and Trials

  • Recognize that tests and trials come to all people,
  • Realize our adverse circumstances allow us to reach greater maturity in Him,
  • Pray for guidance,
  • Seek His wisdom,
  • Obey God’s principles and precepts,
  • Understand that our trials are opportunities to honor the Lord,
  • Be joyful through testing and trials,
  • Trust that God knows what He is doing,
  • Know that when the trials cease, our faith will be stronger,
  • Stand firm no matter how long our testing or preparation takes, and
  • Know that the ‘Crown of Life’ awaits us when we have stood the test and our trials are over.

Just as it took time to fix my website, commit to journeying with the Lord during your wait time and love Him with your entire being, no matter what!

God Bless,

 

 

 

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Love Your Enemies

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In 2018, a horrible accident occurred in Dallas, Texas. Amber Guyger, a Dallas police officer, was given ten years in prison. Amber fatally killed Botham Jean, an innocent man, as he sat in his apartment eating ice cream when she entered an apartment mistakenly thinking it was her apartment. Instead, she entered the man’s apartment, who lived one floor down from her. If Botham’s family had a right to hate this woman, it would be understandable.

Luke 6:27-38 (New American Standard Bible) tells how people are to love their enemies and do good to those who curse and mistreat others. These verses mirror Matthew 5:43-48, where Jesus says, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”Along with being told whom one is supposed to love, the Bible states how to love these purported enemies. In outlining Luke 6:27-38, a person can see how Jesus wants His children to act toward their enemies. This passage unfolds from start to finish by giving instructions on loving enemies, how to act toward them, and the results of acting in a godly fashion toward foes.

  • Loving one’s enemies (Luke 6:27-28)
  • Handling physical abuse and giving to those who ask (Luke 6:29-30)
  • Treating people equally (Luke 6:31)
  • Crediting, loving, and lending (Luke 32-34)
  • Loving one’s enemies and being merciful (Luke 6:35-36)
  • Giving, condemning, and pardoning others (Luke 6:37)
  • Measuring others (Luke 6:38)

However, one must ask, “Who is the enemy mankind is supposed to love?” In the Bible, three enemies, also called foes or adversaries, can be seen—the world, the flesh, and Satan. This paper will discuss each verse in Luke 6:27-38, emphasizing loving one’s enemy and what responsibilities believers have in dealing with enemies Biblically.

Context

One must look at the historical-cultural context of Luke to gain a complete understanding of the Book of Luke, Luke as a man, and the audience he addressed. Through the eyes of Luke, one gains a better understanding and perspective of his writings.

In The New Testament in Antiquities by Gary M. Burge and Gene L. Green, the authors discuss the relationship between The Gospel of Luke and The Book of Acts as a “two-volume” set with many overlapping themes. Luke’s main emphasis revolves around salvation, which he deems is for both Jews and Gentiles. Most scholars believe that Luke was penned in Rome between 60-61 A.D., and most also agree that he was the author of this book. Luke is a cultured, organized writer, also known as the beloved physician, whose sources come from eyewitnesses and multiple servants.

Luke wrote much of this Gospel about how individuals are either in need or how they conduct themselves through God’s Spirit. This Gospel can be seen in some of Luke’s most famous stories, i.e., the great catch of fish on the Lake of Gennesaret, the parable of the good Samaritan, Jesus, and the robbers as they were dying on their crosses.

Luke wrote his Gospel from Rome. Readers of Luke should know that many believe Luke was an early gentile convert to Christianity. Who’s Who in the New Testament states, “He became the loyal and indefatigable secretary, doctor, and companion of the Apostle Paul.” Luke accompanied Paul on his second and third missionary journeys and his fourth and final missionary journeys, which are not mentioned in Acts. Luke traveled the Aegean from Troas in Asia Minor to Philippi in Greece . . .then he accompanied Paul on his final journey from Caesarea, the seat of the procurator of Judea, all the way to Rome. There he loyally remained with Paul throughout his captivity. From Luke’s writing style, one can observe that Luke was a sophisticated and knowledgeable man whose writings in Luke became one of the three synoptic gospels, along with Matthew and Mark. Luke’s writing shows a more generous spirit to the Roman authorities than the Gospel of Matthew and John did.

Luke’s gospel was written to Theophilus, a man of high status who shared it with people everywhere. John Martin notes that Theophilus (lit., lover of God) was a common name during the first century. Luke wrote this gospel to Theophilus to show him the reality of Jesus Christ. From the 1st century to this present age anyone can receive Jesus. Many of the intended audience in early Christianity (Jews and Gentiles) were ready to learn truths about relating to people—including how to love their enemies.

Although there is debate on the literary genre of Luke, it appears that it is a combination of both history and biography The author of this paper believes it was written more from a historical perspective. Luke’s objective in writing this book comes first when he unveils his purpose—emphasizing the “fulfillment of God’s plan.” The writing style is simple to understand and his logical organization becomes evident as one reads from Jesus’ birth to ending with Jesus’ crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension, always emphasizing salvation in every personal situation he finds himself in such as in Luke 17:19 and Luke 7:49-50. The casual reader may not notice that in the latter part of the book, Luke shifts from third person to first person in the latter part of the book. This shift is known as the “we” section of the book. Many scholars believe this could have been written when Luke accompanied Paul face to face.

Luke, an investigative and orderly writer, created an easy-to-follow line of thinking. This continuity is seen in Luke 6:27-38 when he goes from loving one’s enemies to doing good to those who hate you. Luke informs people how Jesus wants them to act from loving enemies to not judging others. These verses involve how to treat people, including those who are an enemy. The Beatitudes, which are a basis for the blessings and woes of living precede this section and create a natural flow into how to act toward others. The verses following Luke 6:27-28 are a beautiful display of Jesus’ illustrating how one should live through a parable along with statements and questions teaching believers how to live, i.e., understanding that a pupil is not above their teachers, a good man out of good treasure brings what is good. As one ponders how to treat their enemies, one should consider their heart and desire to follow the principles outlined in the Bible.

Content

Luke’s Sermon on the Plain and Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount are similar.  In each sermon, Luke 6:27-38 and Matthew 5:43-48, one verse has been debated and examined over the years. This debate revolves around the command to love one another and how loving neighbors and enemies should be conducted. William Barclay says, while both pericopes start with “a series of beatitudes, there are differences between the versions of Matthew and Luke, but this one thing is clear—they are a series of bombshells” on how Jesus wants believers in Him to act. Barclay notes these debated sermons use different verbiage than a typical person of those days would talk.

Some scholars do not include verses 37 and 38 in their content analysis. This paper includes these verses to complete the flow and thought of this section. While many verses in the Bible discuss principles of love and loving one’s enemies, this paper points men and women to Jesus’ way to love both neighbors and enemies.

The general population shows an interest in the topics of love, hate, and enemies. It is evident because of what appears in grocery stores. Most checkout lines are filled with publications enticing readers to understand why they hate each other, such as

  • “My Neighbor, My Enemy” (New York Time­s)
  • “Hate in America” (Time Magazine)
  • “It’s a Thin Line between Love and Hate” (Psychology Today)
  • “And They Will Know We are Christians by our Hate” (The Christian Post)
  • “The Secret to Loving Your Enemies” (Today’s Christian Women)

When people read the Bible addressing love, hate, and enemies, understanding the Christian definition of certain words will help.

Table 1: Definitions—Luke 26:27-38

Word Definition Bible Verse Reference (NASB) Strong’s Concordance Reference Number
love To care for Luke 6:27,32, 35 25
enemies Adversary, foe, one who dislikes or hates another and seeks to harm another Luke 6: 1, 35 2190
hate Detest Luke 6:1 3404
“do good” [to exhibit] a fine moral character Luke 6:1, 33 2573
reward Recompense for good or evil, most often it suggests a benefit or favorable compensation 35 3635

As one delves into the so-called Golden Rule verses, it is helpful to fully understand what Luke 6:27-28 is saying as they are imperative in grasping verses 29-38, which follow. In Luke 6:27-28, there are four instructions for believers to follow:

  • Love your enemies,
  • Be good to those who hate you,
  • Bless those who curse you, and
  • Pray for those who mistreat you.

There has been debate on the actual meaning of what “love one’s enemy” means. The word here means the agape kind of love, distinguishing it from passionate love and love for only those who love them back! William Barclay describes this kind of love as “an active feeling of benevolence toward the other person; it means that no matter what that person does to us we will never allow ourselves to desire anything but his highest good, and we will deliberately and of set purpose go out of our way to be good and kind to him.” Enemies today are viewed as people who want to hurt or betray—they may even gossip or tell lies about us, still as believers, and with the power of the Holy Spirit, one can trust in God’s ability for mankind to love with this agape kind of love. Moving beyond these two verses, there are two more Biblical verses that continue to train Christians on how to act.

People are innately inclined to hate their enemies because of their sinful nature, which originated in the story of Adam and Eve. Despite this, Jesus continues to give more instructions on how to treat enemies in Luke 6:29-30. Jesus tells us that “whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other cheek, and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either.” Jesus does not want us to pick and choose who we are to love even if there is physical violence—in this case, the turning the other cheek reference. Leon Morris says that cheek is siagon, which means, “a punch to the side of the jaw rather than a light slap on the face.”As one would expect, most people would want to fight back, but Jesus tells believers to turn the other cheek and accept the same treatment again. Warren Wiersbe says it is our inner disposition that the glory of God is seeking.

Regarding accepting a strike from an enemy, Wiersbe says, “we must have the wisdom to know when to turn the other cheek and when to claim our right. Christian love must exercise discernment.” In this illustration and in the example where Jesus tells of not withholding one’s shirt if it is taken away, verse 30 says to give to everyone who asks and not demand it back. The ethics behind these two verses revolve around the ability to do good—TO EVERYONE!

It is a complex concept to understand that we are to love everyone and give to everyone regardless of how one feels. But, in Luke 31, Jesus tells us that people are to treat others the way they want to be treated. But, how can hurt brothers and sisters treat others with love and kindness? It is impossible without the Holy Spirit helping Christians to show Christ’s humility.

Robert H. Gundry shares how Jesus mingled and socialized with all sorts of people. As in ancient times, people today mingle and socialize with all types of people. Wherever Christians are, and whatever sort of people they encounter, Jesus tells us to treat each other with the same kind of treatment one wishes to receive themselves. Romans 12:10 says, “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor.” Regarding a more inwardly way to act, Philippians 2:3 says, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind, let each of you regard one another as more important than himself.” It takes God’s Holy Spirit to love the way Jesus did.

Jesus did not want or demand credit for his works; He followed the Lord’s path established for him in humility and with integrity. In Luke 6:32-4, one question is asked in all three verses. Jesus asks, “What credit is that to you?”

Many serve to obtain accolades for their service to the Lord. Christ is more concerned with the character of our heart than He is that people receive congratulations, fist bumps, or flattery for service. These accolades are in the following verses.

And if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend [with interest] to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, in order to receive back the same amount (Luke 6:32-4).

First, it does not take much to love a mother, father, son, or daughter. Second, it does not take much to love those who love us. And last, it does not take much to lend to those who will pay us back. But, from Jesus’ perspective, it is better to love one’s neighbor, love those who hate, and help others without knowing if they will pay back a loan or not. If one only does their works and service to be seen, they are doing nothing more than a sinner would do. David Guzik says, “Though we will have enemies, yet we are to respond to them in love, trusting that God will protect our cause and destroy are enemies in the best way possible, by transforming them into our friends.”

As Luke 6 progresses, Luke tells us in verses 35 and 36 that believers are to love enemies and be merciful toward them. Regarding loving neighbors, much is written about the ways to resolve hate. They are:

  • Use conflict resolution techniques
  • Kill someone with kindness
  • Come to a healthy comprise, and
  • Create boundaries between each other.

The Bible wants people to initiate love towards enemies, first with a clean heart, before the four actions afore-mentioned above. In Psalm 51:10, King David addresses God desiring a clean heart. Believers in Christ should start by cleansing themselves as David did in the referenced psalm. “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” After loving someone with a clean heart, believers are better equipped to show mercy to others. Author Andrew Herbert mentions one can extend mercy to others only when they have received sympathy, compassion, and forgiveness themselves, but “we do not have what it takes, but Jesus does, so we come to Him in brokenness and humility, hungering to be filled with what only He can give.”

Not judging and giving to others conclude this pericope in Luke 6:37-38. The Bible is ready to address judging others. Jesus clarifies in verse 37 what believers will gain. Christians should not judge or condemn others, believing that when they follow His instructions, they will gain. Leon Morris says the verse is not clear on whether it means gain in this present judgment or the future judgment of God or both. He states, “If we are harsh with our judgments on other people we generally find that they return the compliment and we ourselves are widely rewarded.”

Application

When Christ and His Holy Spirit work significantly to where individuals understand the need to forgive and love our enemies, the fruit of the spirit of love becomes evident by giving of oneself. Because the Lord has given of Himself, those who have turned their life over to Christ through the forgiveness of sin and repentance can love their enemies; thus, being a reflection of Jesus Christ.

Luke 6:27 tells believers to love enemies. The Bible commands individuals to do that, but it is not easy. As ambassadors of the Lord, the desire to love like Jesus is there, but when one is offended, hurt, gossiped about, and betrayed, the human heart does not think of kindness as one’s first choice of action. Learning to love and not to hate is a process. Sometimes it is slow and lengthy, but the process to become more as Christ must commence in obedience to the Lord’s command. When facing hate, the following points will help people from all age groups to acknowledge their hate and move towards love.

  • Pray with passion.
  • Pray for the offender. Pray for yourself.
  • Pray to be a forgiving person.
  • Repent if needed.
  • Pray for an attitude change.
  • Trust deeply in God for a resolution.
  • Trust the Holy Spirit for an understanding of the incident or developing angst.
  • Put oneself in the offender’s shoes and seek perspective.
  • Ask God to address any issues springing from both parties.
  • Plead for forgiveness. Sometimes this means addressing the person or organization involved. Sometimes not.
  • Read Bible verses on love, hate, bitterness, cruelty, offenses, and behavior of believers.
  • Recognize that God may be using this incident for good.
  • Understanding making boundaries or moving on might be His solution.
  • Keep praying with passion.

Conclusion

Returning to the 2018 accident in Dallas, Texas, where Amber Guyger fatally killed Botham Jean, an innocent man, as he sat in his apartment eating ice cream. Guyger was sentenced to a ten-year sentence. On the witness stand during sentencing, Brandt Jean, the victim’s eighteen-year-old brother, turned to Guyger, and said, “I know if you go to God and ask him, he will forgive you.” Botham’s family had every right to hate Guyger. However, in an act of kindness, the victim’s brother Brandt continued to speak directly to Guyger. He said, ‘I love you like anyone else,’ and later hugged her in the courtroom before being led to her ten-year prison sentence by the bailiff. That is loving one’s enemy in action! The conclusion reached in Luke 6:27-38 is that God commands believers to love one’s enemies, and by following and obeying God’s Biblical instructions, it is possible to live in a godly fashion toward foes.

God Bless,

 

Dear Lord, Please let us rest in Your peace indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Let us look at all people with love and acceptance, even those who have hurt us terribly. Pour Your holy power upon us to live a life of forgiveness, acceptance, and reconciliation–no matter what it might be. You love us. You hear our prayers and cries. You want to help us through all the attitudes and difficulties we face. I call upon You to touch my heart. Give me a heart of love. Let my soul be like Your soul. Transform me into Your image. In Christ, I pray.

This article may not be reproduced except for written permission from the author. For the full annotated paper and bibliography, please contact me through the comment section of this article. [This paper was written for a college, academic, research class by Patti Greene.]

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The Left Engine

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The Pilot and Passengers

The airplane pilot calmly addressed the passengers.

 “We are experiencing trouble with the left engine. We are currently talking to Chicago about the problem. Maintenance will be arriving soon. We will try to start the plane again, wait for a period of time, and try to start the engine again. Please sit tight while we address this problem.”

I sat in seat 14F on the tarmac for two and a half hours when the pilot addressed the issue. I wondered why they did not get all the passengers off this plane and onto another plane. Why stress us all out wondering if it were our last day on earth or whether angels intervened to make us safe? At this juncture, all the passengers and I could do was trust the pilot.

The Left Engine

But why all the concern with the left engine? I get it now that I am off the plane and can indulge in mindless research. The left engine is the engine that, if it fails, will have the most adverse effect on the control and performance of the aircraft. To understand why the left engine is critical, one must also understand the right engine. The right engine’s slipstream does not strike the rudder and does not affect the aircraft’s control. Still, if the right engine were to fail, the left engine’s slipstream would counteract the airplane’s instability and deviation toward the dead engine, assisting in aircraft control. [1] However, this same positive counteraction does not occur if the left engine encounters trouble.

Trusting God in our Spiritual Life

I compare the left engine to our spiritual life. In life, we sometimes have trust issues—some rational, some not! Regardless of our problems and issues, we have a heavenly Father to support us in our time of need. When Jesus’ disciples thought they would perish in the storm, Jesus came to the rescue calming the storm. He can do the same for us today because sometimes we veer off in the wrong direction (Mark 4:35-41).

On that day, when evening came, He said to them, “Let’s go over to the other side.” After dismissing the crowd, they took Him along with them in the boat, just as He was; and other boats were with Him. And a fierce gale of wind developed, and the waves were breaking over the boat so much that the boat was already filling with water. And yet Jesus Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” And He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Hush, be still.” And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm. And He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” They became very much afraid and said to one another, “Who, then, is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?”

So, how is your “left engine?” Just like how the pilot kept reassuring us that all would be okay, God, the creator of heaven and earth, reassures us continually that He has everything under control.

Let us all be diligent in maintaining our spiritual life—our left engine. We must keep our leverage firmly planted in Jesus Christ, His Word, and in prayer because it will be critical if our left engine fails!

God bless.

Bible Verses:

They rose early in the morning and went out to the wilderness of Tekoa; and when they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Listen to me, Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: Put your trust in the Lord your God and you will endure. Put your trust in His prophets, and succeed” (2 Chronicles 20:20).

Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, And trust in the Lord (Psalm 4:5).

I will raise my eyes to the mountains; From where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to slip; He who watches over you will not slumber (Psalm 121:1-3).

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Trust in the Lord forever, For in God the Lord, we have an everlasting Rock  (Isaiah 26:4).

Prayer:

Lord, give me your guidance at all times. Let Your Holy Spirit lead me through conviction, other people, the Bible, and prayer. Allow me to see where I am veering away from You, so that I may fix it before my left engine—my spiritual compass— gets off track. Gently allow me to recognize Your plan for my life and give me the trust I need in You to believe wholeheartedly that You are where my trust needs to be—always. Amen.

Bibliography

[1] “The Critical Engine.” Accessed May 26, 2022. www.thebackseatpilot/critical engine

All verses are taken from the NASB.

Please feel free to share, forward, or copy this blog with authorship included. Thank you.

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Psalm 51 Bible Study

Are you looking for a Bible study to teach or to work on yourself?

Below you will find a Bible study on Psalm 51 that can be worked on at any time. By studying straight from the Bible, my prayer is that you will discover spiritual truth and direction in your life or in the lives of others.

BIBLE STUDY TEXT: PSALM 51 (NASB)

Read 2 Samuel 11:1-27 and 2 Samuel 12:1-25 for background information about King David’s sin and Nathan’s rebuke of him. This will enhance your understanding of the Bible study lesson.

A few years ago, a man wrote to Dear Abby needing help. The article titled, “Dear Abby, Guilt over affair leaves husband thinking of suicide.” This man had been married for 19 years and had two children. He fooled around, convincing himself that the women knew what they were doing and that he never promised them anything. His affairs became public, and his reputation was in ruins. He asked “Dear Abby” to provide a solution. He signed off calling himself Shattered in Louisiana. ¹

We find a similar real-life story in the fourth and most well-known penitential psalm, Psalm 51. Penitential psalms are psalms that express deep sorrow leading to a person’s true repentance of sin. Most scholars claim that King David wrote this psalm, or if not, by someone who knew the extent of the deep suffering he experienced. This prayer psalm was written after Nathan, the prophet, confronted David about his sin of adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband, Uriah. King David was on his palace rooftop when many say he should have been with his men in battle. He looks out and sees Bathsheba bathing. He asks his men to fetch her and bring her back to the palace, where he has sex with her. She becomes pregnant. David arranges for her husband to come home from battle, anticipating that he will sleep with her and then he would take the responsibility of fatherhood. However, being an honorable man, Uriah does not go into Bathsheba and camps in tents away from her presence. David arranges for Uriah to be killed in battle. [1]

  1. As a married woman, what do these two stories speak to you about being faithful in marriage?

KING DAVID’S CALL FOR MERCY, FORGIVENESS, REPENTANCE, AND CLEANSING. Read Psalm 51:1-2.

The King James Version uses the word mercy to describe what David wants from God. He is crying out to God for help. David’s goal is for God to blot out his sin, so he can be cleansed and resume fellowship with Him. To grasp how the Bible looks at blotting, cleansing, and washing away sins, refer to Isaiah 43:25, Leviticus 11:32, and Isaiah 1:18, respectively. He is aware that he willfully rebelled against God and is grieved. David is ready to confess his sin and have fellowship with God again. Today, our sins are covered by Jesus’ death on the cross.

  1. Describe a time you reached a breaking point, and you called out to God for forgiveness?

RECOGNITION OF SIN. Read Psalm 51:3-6.

David begins to openly concede he has sinned. In verse 3, David acknowledges that his sin is “ever before me.” Although he knows his sin was towards Bathsheba, Uriah, and the entire nation of Israel, he is addressing his grave sin toward God. His sin against the LORD was the most offensive. David shows his seriousness when talking of his sin by calling it EVIL.

  1. What does David’s example teach us about the seriousness of sin?

In verse 5, David is now ready to accept whatever judgment God may choose for him. David recognizes that he was born in sin in verse 5. He is not using that as an excuse for his sin, but he acknowledges that he is human. All humankind has a sinful nature within them. Here it is important that one mustn’t think David is criticizing conception or birth, but that he is just conversing with God regarding what he understands about human nature. Moving to verse 6, we find David wanting God’s truth to be within his innermost being.

In the Compact Bible Commentary, the inward parts are described as “a rare word in the Hebrew Bible, indicating something clouded over, difficult for anyone to see but God.” ² David trusted God so much that he does not mind God searching for his innermost being. These verses conclude with David desiring wisdom—God’s wisdom. [2][3]

  1. In James 1:5, what does James say we should do if we lack wisdom?

PURIFICATION, HYSSOP, SNOW, AND BONES. Read Psalm 51:7-9.

These verses contain the phrases, “purify me, wash me, make me hear joy and gladness, let my broken bones rejoice, and hide thy face from my sins.” David is pleading for cleansing from his sin. Verse 7 mentions hyssop. Hyssop was a bush whose stems were dipped in blood or water and then sprinkled on people who needed cleansing. See Leviticus 14:4 and Numbers 19:6. Ceremonial hyssop was used on lepers and others during this period. Today, we receive our cleansing from the mighty blood of Jesus Christ. David desires true repentance and pleads for a clean heart—one that will wash him, make him joyful, and heal him. He wants his life to be as white as snow. When a person accepts Christ, there are testimonies of how they feel so clean and pure inside. That is David’s desire to have his life like that again. He also wants his sins hidden from the LORD. Verse 8 is intriguing. David declares how his sin has affected his eyes and bones. It is easy to deduce that more had been affected as well. Keep in mind that when we sin, our sin does affect us. We can become depressed, ill, and even suicidal. We should take a special interest in caring for our friends and loved ones if we see their destructive behavior. Verse 9 circles back around to David desiring God to blot out his sin. (See Psalm 51:1) This repetition shows that David really is serious about repenting of all his sin.

  1. What matters most in David’s life at this point is God’s forgiveness. What matters most in your life, and how is God intertwined in the matter?

CENTRAL VERSE EXPRESSING THE HEART OF DAVID. Read Psalm 51:10-12.

The central verse (theological principle) in this Bible study comes in Psalm 51:10 when David says, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” David desires to be renewed, restored, and transformed. In verse 10, the word create is the same word used in Genesis 1:1, which states, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” God in His power called the world into being, and God in his power can cleanse David from his agonizing sin. David wants a new heart and a new spirit. He recognizes that he cannot do this by himself. It is up to God. We see God cleansing Israel and giving Israel a new heart and spirit in Ezekiel 36:25-27. This concept is very similar to Psalm 51 where it speaks of sprinkling water on the Israelites for cleansing, giving them a new heart and a new spirit, and allowing them to walk in His ways again. David wants to be in God’s presence again when he says he does not want to be cast from God’s presence in verse 11. He wants God’s Spirit, and he is ready to do the Lord’s will. In our life, we do not want to quench the Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19). Striving to keep ourselves clean from sin is necessary for God’s Holy Spirit to move in our lives and keep us from temptation. Compare to Acts 15:8-9.

  1. While the LORD did forgive David, there were still consequences to his sin, one being the death of his son when he was 7-days old. (2 Samuel 12:18) What outcomes have you seen in your or other peoples’ lives due to sin?

Verse 12 speaks of regaining the joy of one’s salvation. David wants that “feeling” of purity and love for God back into his life. He wants it to be a sustainable feeling as well. He does not want to lose fellowship with his LORD again.

  1. Describe a time you or someone you know lost fellowship with God but then had it restored.

SINNERS CONVERTED, RIGHTEOUSNESS DELIVERED, RIGHTEOUS SACRIFICE, AND A BROKEN AND CONTRITE HEART. Read Psalm 51: 13-17.

In verses 13-15, David expresses his desire to be of service to God. He wants to teach others (sinners) and take what he has experienced and learned to help others. He wants to see people restored as he had been. It is a glorious event when we see others offering themselves up to serve God. Romans 5:20b eloquently states, “but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.” David recognized his sin, and now that he has experienced restoration, he wanted to share God’s righteousness with others. Verse 14 speaks, delivering David from bloodguiltiness. Scholars believe this refers to Uriah’s blood. David experienced forgiveness for all his sins. He got right with God.

  1. What does God call David in Psalm 51:14?
  2. Have you ever experienced God’s gift of salvation? Would you like to share your salvation testimony with the class?

DELIGHT IN GOD. Read Psalm 51: 18-19.

When we look at verses 18 and 19, David is longing for God’s security. This is what he is referring to when he says, “Build the walls of Jerusalem” The walls were to be a security to God’s holy city, and that is how he wants his heart to be—secure in His LORD and to delight in Him. David gave God the sacrifice He desired, his heart. He is ready to be “the man after God’s own heart” that many call him today.

  1. Where can we find our security in God?

APPLYING THE TEXT.

· God is gracious and compassionate; therefore, when we repent, He forgives and cleanses us.

· Sin is serious and destructive.

· We must cry out to God to create a clean heart in us.

· God desires a broken and contrite heart from us.

· Once true repentance occurs, we are restored and able to delight in the Lord, our God.

CONCLUSION: REMEMBER THE MAN IN ADULTERY. Read Psalm 51:17.

At the beginning of this study, a man asked Dear Abby for advice on dealing with his guilt over affairs, leaving him thinking of suicide. Dear Abby’s answer was purposely not shared. There is only one solution for this man. It is to follow King David’s path calling on the LORD to wash him, cleanse him, and seek repentance in Jesus Christ. Then, in God’s grace, he will become pure. His broken spirit can be healed, and he can face life with a renewed heart and spirit. If not, he will remain Shattered in Louisiana.

PRAYER

Dear Heavenly Father.

Thank you for washing me clean when I transgress against You. Lead me away from sin. Give me wisdom so that I can live with a pure heart. Keep my spirit steadfast in You. Lord, I want to be in Your presence always. Let me sing Your praises. Give me a broken and contrite heart so that I can praise You always.

In Christ Alone, Amen.

God bless,

Bibliography

Carson, D.A., R.T. France, J.A. Motyer, and G.J. Wenham, eds. New Bible Commentary. Downsers
Grove: Intervarsity, 1994.

Hays, J. Daniel and J. Scott Duvall, eds. The Baker Illustrated Bible Handbook. Grand Rapids: Baker
Books, 2011.

Hill, Andrew E. and John H. Walton, A Survey of the Old Testament. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002.

Pfeiffer, Charles F. and Everett F. Harrison, eds. The Wycliffe Bible Commentary. Chicago: Moody
Press, 1962.

Radmacher, Earl, Ron Allen, H. Wayne House. Compact Bible Commentary. Nashville: Thomas Nelson,

Van Buren, Abagail, "Dear Abby: Guilt over affair leaves husband thinking of suicide," Accessed 4
October, 2021.

https://www.mrt.com/news/article/DEAR-ABBY-Guilt-over-affair-leaves-husband-7477821.php.

Wiersbe, Warren. The Bible Exposition Bible: Old Testament, Job—Song of Solomon. Colorado Springs,
David C. Cook, 2004.

[1]Van Buren, Abagail, “Dear Abby: Guilt over affair leaves husband thinking of suicide,” Accessed 4 October, 2021, https://www.mrt.com/news/article/DEAR-ABBY-Guilt-over-affair-leaves-husband-7477821.php.

[2]Radmacher, Earl, Ron Allen, H. Wayne House, Compact Bible Commentary, Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2004. 378.

Permission: I, Patti Greene, am the copyright owner of the above material titled Psalm 51: Bible Study. I consent to use this material with the expressed purpose of individual or group Bible Study only. Please give credit to the author by including: “Written by Patti Greene @ GreenePastures.org  for use in Bible studies only.”

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The Good Samaritan

The Good Samaritan

Most of us have heard the story of the “Good Samaritan.” It is most widely known as a parable. Parables, as defined in the book How to Read the Bible for All It’s Worth, are “simple stories for those on the outside to whom the ‘real meaning,’ the “mysteries,” were hidden; these [belonging] only to the church and could be uncovered by means of allegory.” ¹

While the story of the Good Samaritan starts in Luke 10:30, we must first look at the reason Jesus bothered to tell this parable. The question asked by a lawyer was, “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” This lawyer was putting Jesus to the test. However, Christ answered and said, “What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?” And the lawyer said, “You shall love the Lord with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus responded affirmatively and answered, “Do this, and you will live.” The lawyer, wishing to justify himself, continued questioning Jesus by asking Him, “And who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10 25-28).

It is in response to this encounter that Jesus begins His parable of the Good Samaritan to prove His point.

The story contains eight characters:

  1. A lawyer – an expert on Jewish law
  2. Jesus Christ
  3. A Jewish Priest – some say he was a Jewish temple assistant
  4. A Jewish Levite, a man of God
  5. A man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho
  6. A Good Samaritan
  7. Robbers, and
  8. An innkeeper

A man was traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. Along the way, he encountered robbers (bandits) who stripped him, beat him, and left him half-dead along the road. A priest walked by along the route. When he saw the man, he chose to pass by on the other side of the road. When a Levite saw the man lying on the road, he, too, passed by on the other side of the path. Notice that these two men, from whom a more kindly-than-usual behavior is routinely expected because of their societal stations, intentionally avoided helping someone in need.

But then a Samaritan who was on a journey saw the beaten man; he felt compassion (pity). The Samaritan went to the beaten man, bandaged his wounds, poured oil and wine on them (which was considered medicine in those days), put him on his animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day, the Samaritan paid the innkeeper. Then he asked the innkeeper to take care of him and told him that he would repay him when he returned from his trip.

After sharing this story with the lawyer, Jesus asked him, “Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?”

Finally, the lawyer was answering his own question. He said, “the one who showed mercy toward him.” Jesus then said to him, “Go and do the same.” (Luke 10:30-37)

While we do not know the direction of this lawyer after Jesus commanded him to “do the same,” we can ask ourselves: how would we respond?

God does provide opportunities to see how we would respond.

God’s Test

A destructive “winter freeze” at the beginning of this year caused my husband John and me to spend 87 days in a hotel while our home was gutted and renovated. One day, as we were leaving the hotel, we saw a police officer help a lady in a wheelchair being rolled up to the hotel door. John and I both concluded that she was an abuse victim. We assumed the police officer was helping her to a temporary safe place.

However, in the evening, we returned to our hotel only to see this lady sitting in her wheelchair in the cold, pelting rain near the hotel entrance. Unfortunately, due to the hotel’s request, she was not allowed to sit under the canopy, designed to protect their guests from the sun and inclement weather.

My husband said he felt the Holy Spirit wanted us to talk to and help this woman. We introduced ourselves and asked her what was going on. She was very confused and we soon discovered she was suffering from a complicated mental illness. 

While we chatted and tried to figure out how to help, the same police officer returned to the scene. The police officer told us she had been kicked out of another hotel for lack of payment. John asked the hotel clerk if we could bring this lady up to our room to help her get dried off. 

John called her mother to notify her of her daughter’s location. Her mother would not allow her to return home or help in any way, presumably a result of the ongoing mental illness. This lady’s hands flurried all over—a sign of drug withdrawal. The police officer guessed she was under the influence of methamphetamine. She went into our restroom to get cleaned off, warmed up, and then changed into some dry clothes.

The police officer was unsuccessful in placing her at a women’s shelter. Fortunately, we were able to find a motel for her to safely spend the night. John and the police officer brought her to the motel, settled her in, and left money for the night’s stay.

Some might ask, “Did you witness to her?” No, not exactly. Her more immediate needs were physical rather than spiritual, although we told her multiple times we would be praying for her. We never saw this lady again, and I hope and pray her family eventually came to her rescue.

Afterthoughts

But what sticks in my mind is my husband wheeling this lady out of our hotel room. I stared as she was being rolled out, wearing silver pants and a green-and-black tunic shirt, both donated from my wardrobe.

My thought: “But, for the grace of God, that could be me.”

This lady was one night away from being homeless. I hope by our obeying the prodding of the Holy Spirit, she never reached a homeless status.

Bible Verses:

Compassion: But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God does not see as man sees, since man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)

Sharing: Brothers and sisters, even if a person is caught in any wrongdoing, you who are spiritual are to restore such a person in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself so that you are not tempted as well. Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:1-2)

Neighbor: I am giving you a new commandment, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:34-35)

Prayer:

Oh Lord, please let me be attentive to Your Holy Spirit when You want to use me for Your purposes. Let me obey, provide, and learn Your lessons. So many times, I might pass by opportunities. Change me now, Lord, to see and act on the situations where You need me to be Your hands and feet. Lord, if it were not for the winter freeze, we would never have been in a hotel, and we would never have had the opportunity to help this lady. Thank you, Jesus. You know the big picture of my life. Make me more like You. I surrender all to You. And thank You for a husband who heeds Your call as well. Love You, Jesus. Amen.

Challenge:

Pray for the Holy Spirit to lead you to someone you can help this week! God bless.

God Bless.

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¹ Fee, Gordon and Douglas Stuart. How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Academic. 2014.

Edited by E. Johnson.

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GUEST BLOG by Heroes II: What Makes Bible Characters Better Than Superheroes?

Most of us, especially children and youth, are fond of fictional superheroes like Superman and Batman.

We often watch them, collect toys and souvenirs, and even imitate their signature moves. Do you remember putting on an improvised cape to pretend like flying? Have you attempted to jump from a rooftop? Dangerous, right? Those were the days!

Let’s admit it! Superheroes are fascinating to follow. It is not only because of their powers but because of the inspiration they give us. We can relate to them because they experience the same struggles we do.

The most exciting part, perhaps, is whenever they overcome a tragedy.

Before going any further, let us define a “superhero.” A superhero is an imaginary character possessing superhuman power.

But do you know that the Bible also has heroes? It defines a hero as someone who lived his life in faith and helped his neighbors.

The Most Famous Fictional Superheroes of All Time

Superman the Greatest

Superman is the superhero we consider the strongest. His name implies it.

We identify him with the red, blue, and yellow costumes. His height is 6 feet and 3 inches, while his weight is 225 pounds. His hair is black with a natural curl, and his eyes are blue. He has a rugged body-build and a square jaw, giving him a noble physique.

He has a gentle, kind, and selfless personality. He knows what is right and wrong. Thus, he can act decisively during a crisis. In addition, he can maintain friendships and acquaintances.

Finally, he has superhuman powers that make him invulnerable. He can fly and leap in the air. Having X-ray vision, he sees through walls and other obstructions. It allows him to shoot red beams out of his eye.

Batman the Protector of Gotham

Batman is the superhero in a black and brown costume with the wings of a bat. He claims to be the protector of Gotham City.

His love for his city is probably one of his best qualities. He is intelligent, suspicious, devoted, and determined. He is ready for any challenge. Another good trait is his ability to control emotions and tolerate pain.

He does not have superhuman abilities, but he can do incredible things. He can pick a lock, hack and record mobile frequencies, understand multiple languages, and much more.

Spider-man the Superhuman

Spider-man is the character who does whatever a spider can. He shares almost the same uniform colors as Superman’s uniform.

He is caring, kind, loyal, brave, and intelligent. He uses more of his left brain in assessing situations. However, he has a personality disorder–neuroticism. He is anxious, fearful, jealous, envious, lonely, and frustrated.

Despite those weaknesses, he is notable for his superpowers. Like a spider, he can cling to walls. He has a sixth sense which keeps him alert for possible danger. He can also maintain perfect balance and equilibrium.

The Most Famous Bible “Hero” Characters of All Time

Joseph the Dreamer

Joseph was the second youngest son of Jacob and Rachel.

Since he was his father’s favorite, his brothers envied him. They became angry whenever he shared dreams, telling them that he would someday be their king.

As such, they would always trick him until they finally decided to sell him to Egypt. To protect themselves, they made their father believe Joseph died.

Extremely cruel, were they not?

In Egypt, Joseph became a slave. He suffered for something he never deserved. Nevertheless, God blessed his curse.

He earned the favor of the king by interpreting his dream about the coming famine. Eventually, Pharaoh appointed him governor.

When famine came, his brothers went to Egypt to buy food. They did not recognize him until he revealed himself (Genesis 45:4-5). Soon, he met his father and youngest brother. It was a dramatic revelation and reunion.

Indeed, Joseph’s curse turned out to be a blessing. It not only benefited other people but saved his family who his brothers had once disowned him.

What a hero!

Noah the Ark Builder

Noah, son of Lamech, was a righteous man in his generation. God entrusted him a special mission to save and restore the earth from all wickedness. He was to build an ark.

For 120 years, he preached about the coming global flood. He encouraged people to get into the ark, but they laughed at him–thinking he was crazy.

When the flood came, the people realized they were wrong. They wanted to get into the ark, but it was too late. Thus, they died along with other living creatures. Only Noah’s family obeyed and saved themselves.

Though he was not able to save his generation, Noah was a hero to his family. He became God’s instrument to eradicate all sinful beings and start anew.

Jesus our Savior

And, of course, there has been no better hero than Jesus Himself! Can you believe the Creator and God of the universe sacrificed Himself on our behalf?

He fulfilled this plan by living as a human on earth. God guided His earthly parents in preparing Him for the divine mission. By overcoming sin his entire life, He saved the world by dying on the cross of Calvary.

Indeed, Jesus is the ultimate hero in the Bible. His life, death, and resurrection justified us, giving us the chance to obtain salvation if we accept Him.

Reasons Why Bible Heroes Are Better Than Fictional Superheroes

Bible Heroes are Real

Bible heroes truly existed on earth. Superheroes are just fictional—meaning they are made up.

No matter how much we admire and follow them, superheroes can’t do anything outside our television screens.

On the other hand, Bible characters were real humans who did exist just like us. Genesis 2:7 confirms that God created man from the earth and gave life to it. Verse 27 of chapter 1 adds that He made them in His image.

Bible Heroes Did Not Need Superpowers to Carry on a Mission

Superman, Batman, Iron Man, Wonder Woman, and the rest had superpowers. Without such, they could not protect themselves and other people.

Meanwhile, Bible heroes did not have supernatural powers. Faith and prayer were their weapons. “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for…” (Hebrews 11:1).

With God as their source of power, they have performed acts that changed the world beyond human understanding.

The Deeds of Bible Characters Never Exemplified Violence

Fictional superheroes have good motives. Saving people from danger is their mission. However, it involves killing and other forms of violence.

In contrast, Bible characters never had to be cruel to bring about change. They just relied on God’s power and let Him move. They did not have to commit any sin that would ruin their moral character.

1 John 3:9 says that a child of God does not practice sinning because God’s seed abides in him.

Take-home Lesson

There is nothing wrong with admiring fictional characters. But to be fanatic about them is somewhat alarming.

It may sound harsh, but the truth is that there is no sense to idolize fictional characters. Superheroes are just a product of human imagination. They do not give us any value more than entertainment.

And so, Bible heroes are the ones worth following. We learn the best moral lessons from them. We can relate well because they were real beings like us. Above all, they lead us to the ultimate hero of all – Jesus Christ. Amen!

Heroes 2: The Game is a Bible trivia game released by the Hope Channel. It is a sequel to the game Heroes which was released in 2013.

The latest game version features:

  • New 3D animation
  • More challenging Bible Questions
  • Comes in four languages: English, Portuguese, Spanish, and French
  • Heroes 2 is available on  iOS and Android
  • Downloadable at the Apple Store and Google Play

CLICK HERE – Heroes II Bible Trivia Game

Changing Your Landscape? Start Anew With God’s Plan

Life sometimes requires us to start anew, as in the case of a divorce or a move. Other times, we just have a tug at our heart, knowing we need to wipe the slate clean and start afresh.

My husband and I recently made the decision to redo the landscaping at our home. It took a lot of prep work to make that decision. We needed to agree we wanted to stay in our home and not move. Next came researching landscaping companies, followed by contacting the finalists, settling on a plan and price, signing an agreement, and submitting a down-payment.

You see, our landscaping was over 25 years old. It looked aged and worn, and we wanted a new look—one that involved fewer straggly bushes and less maintenance. Basically, we were tired of the same old thing!

The laborious work began this week.

We watched the crew not just “prune” our yard, but remove every evidence of the last 25 years of growth.

It wasn’t sad to us, because we hoped “the future” look would be better. Okay, it might have been sad to our neighbors when they saw the landscapers demolish the beautiful crepe myrtle that adorned our neighborhood.

But then arose the destruction—as trenches were dug a water pipe burst, then our Internet cable was severed. An emergency call to the water district, a three-hour wait to connect to AT&T, and disruption of my husband’s work-related Zoom call seemed quite problematic. Why? Because we were not anticipating any dire consequences from our well-thought-out plans.

As a believer, we face many decisions in life. We decide what ministries to be involved in, what church to attend, who to marry, what job to take, where to live, and more.

Just as there were steps in deciding to redo our landscaping, there are steps and choices to make in our spiritual life.

While we have the personal liberty to choose God’s plan or not, our lives are best lived in the presence of God’s will and direction. He is our strength and support in this life and the life to come.

Why is it important to know God’s plan?

It is important to know God’s plan because the Lord is the best person capable of running our lives. The Bible tells us multiple times that God knows our future. When we have accepted Christ as our Savior, we are positioned to receive His blessings. When we are following His will by trusting and obeying Him, we can have confidence He hears our prayers and is working things out for our greatest benefit. God will not hide His will from us if we sincerely seek Him.

For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)

Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O Lord, You know it all. (Psalm 139:4)

Every good thing [is] given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. James 1:17

But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:30-33

You shall walk in all the way which the Lord your God has commanded you, that you may live and that it may be well with you, and that you may prolong your days in the land which you will possess. Deuteronomy 5:33

Starting Over

My husband and I don’t like yard work. In starting over from square one, we are trying to simplify our life by eliminating trees, bushes, and foliage in our yard. By removing unwanted debris, there will be more room for light to shine into our home—along with a simpler austerity.

In our Christian walk, sometimes we need to make decisions to move on, clear out our clutter, and/or change our priorities. Hopefully, when we do, our walk with the Lord will deepen and mature us to become more Christlike.

The “method to our madness” in discovering His plans entail making decisions by seeking Him, looking at options, and developing a sense of His guidance.

What are the steps to discover His plan?

  1. Ask God for His wisdom and understanding (James 1:5-6);
  2. Desire to follow His will. [That comes when we are repentant and obedient to His already established will in the Bible] (Psalm 51:2-3);
  3. Pray and meditate. [Do not make any decisions that have not been prayed over] (Philippians 4:6-7);
  4. Look for providential circumstances. [But recognize that circumstances and/or feelings alone should not be the deciding factor] (James 1:17);
  5. Talk to godly friends, confidants, or elders at your church for guidance (Proverbs 15:22);
  6. Rest and wait patiently in God through the power of the Holy Spirit (Psalms 27:14);
  7. Ask yourself if you have peace about your decision (Psalms 29:11);
  8. Understand that God’s will might involve some suffering (Romans 8:18);
  9. Recognize that if you have done these steps and are still unsure of His will, but a decision must be made, go with the best choice you can make (Romans 8:28);
  10. If you find you have made a “mistake,” keep trusting in the Lord to work everything out (Proverbs 3:5-6).

As I write this, our landscaping feat is not complete. Actually, we are deep in the midst of a huge mess.

However, I hope our decision to bulldoze all our greenery turns out to be the right one. Our expectation is to have an attractive and easy-to-keep-up-with yard. But, if it doesn’t, we still have a God who loves us and wants the best in our lives.

If you feel the need to start over, seek Him first. Be obedient. Follow His lead. And trust that He always knows what is best for us. And, don’t be afraid of a change!

Praying the Scripture

Dear heavenly Father, 

If I lack wisdom, I am asking You who gives generously without reproach to all who ask for it, because You have said in Your Word that it will be given. I am asking in faith without any doubting because Your Word says, “one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.”

Wash thoroughly from me my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Help me not to be anxious for anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, I am letting my requests, concerns, and upcoming decisions ascend to You. And Your peace, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard my heart and my mind in Christ Jesus.

I know that every good thing is given, and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from You–the Father of lights. Give me wise counsel so my plans are not frustrated, because I know that with many counselors I will succeed. Give me the ability to wait on You for all plans and decisions that I need to make. Make me strong and let my heart take courage. Yes, let me wait for Your answers. I know You give strength to Your people, and that You will bless me with peace.

I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared to the glory that is to be revealed to me. And I know that You cause all things to work together for good to those who love You, to those who are called according to Your purpose, and that includes me. I want to trust in You, Lord with all my heart, and not lean on my own understanding. In all my ways I want to acknowledge you. I know You will make my paths straight and my decisions honorable to You.

I believe in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

God Bless,

greenenpastures.org

Edited by E. Johnson

Bible verses come from the New American Standard Bible (NASB)

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Don’t Worry… Be HOLY…

Don’t Worry… Be HOLY…

Our best response to COVID-19: stay focused on God

by Ellsworth Johnson, Guest Contributor

Those of us old enough to remember the late 1980s can recall Bobby McFerrin’s song “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”. In it, he urges the listener to stay positive and upbeat through a litany of troubles, yet offers no hope or framework to support this approach.

Additionally, many people, including Christians, have been heard to say “God just wants me to be happy.” The trouble is… there is no place in Scripture where this claim is made. Our happiness, arguably, is not one of God’s explicit priorities, but our holiness is:

Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

2 Corinthians 7:1

In the age of Coronavirus, our heavenly Father wants us Christians to stop wasting time agonizing over things we cannot control, and instead turn to Him as our first response when faced with trouble or fear.

Worrying, Past and Present

“Worrying big” is nothing new.

King Jehoshaphat of Judah faced a joint invasion from Moab and Ammon, an attack he had no hope of repelling. Two centuries later Hezekiah took part in a celebrated encounter with the Assyrian army, the most advanced (and brutal!) military in the world at the time, which was massed outside Jerusalem, poised to strike.

Both kings did the best thing they could have done under the circumstances: they turned the problem over to God, and let Him fight the battle instead.

Jehoshaphat proclaimed a fast and prayed before the nation of Judah, the essence of his prayer captured by this verse:

“For we are powerless before this great multitude who are coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are on You.”

2 Chronicles 20:12b

Similarly, Hezekiah was terrified by the horde massing outside his gates, taunting the Israelite soldiers on the city walls with boasts about the superiority of the Assyrian gods, and gleefully recounting all the powerful nations they had defeated.

Hezekiah, too, went before Jehovah:

“Now, O LORD our God, I pray, deliver us from his hand that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You alone, O LORD, are God.”

2 Kings 19:19

God answered the prayers of these kings of Judah in powerful ways. In the case of Jehoshaphat, the attacking enemy was divinely confused and ended up killing each other. For Hezekiah, He released the Angel of Death, who “breathed in the face of the foe as he passed” ¹ and exterminated 185,000 soldiers in a single night.

Pandemic of the Century

Sadly, large-scale pestilence has an equally long track record. The Black Death, the most fatal outbreak of all time, killed up to 200 million people on three continents from 1347 to 1351. In 1453 Constantinople was decimated by the bubonic plague as rats carried the disease to the rest of Europe. More recently, the worldwide influenza outbreak of 1918 was characterized by the Center for Disease Control as “the most severe pandemic in recent history,” infecting one-third of the world’s population and taking an estimated 50 million lives, with about 675,000 of those casualties in the United States.

And now… this.

“Don’t worry” is the overwhelming message from the pulpit around the country as COVID-19 rages on around us. We get daily counts as to confirmed cases and fatalities, but, as during the Tenth Plague in Egypt, when the first-born of each household was killed, we are to trust God that those whom He has chosen to spare will be kept off those lists.

Oh, what miracles are possible if our leaders would only overcome their collective pride and arrogance, and lead us in bowing down in submission to the true King of the universe?

Holiness, Explained

What does it even mean to “be holy”? When I was a kid attending Catholic Masses I thought it indicated you had a halo around your head, like in all the paintings and on the stained glass, which somehow marked you as “holy”… whatever that means…

There is no shortage of available answers; countless books have been written on the subject, and advice is all over the Internet – there is even a WikiHow page on the subject of holiness!

I have a feeling I am not the only one out here with a distorted idea of what holiness is. For all of us, that ends today, right here, right now!

Q: What does it mean to “be holy”?

A: Looking it up in the dictionary, and synthesizing from the many sources I consulted, I came up with:

holy: set aside by or for God, for Him and His purposes

So the holy water at Catholic churches is “holy” because it was blessed and set aside for its part in Masses. Similarly, the wafers and wine used at Communion, as well as the vessels which contain them, are “holy” because they are reserved specifically for use during The Lord’s Supper, and used only then.

Q: What can be holy?

According to Christianity.com, time, space, objects, and people—all can become holy if they belong to God. The temple in Jerusalem was considered holy space, and the objects used in worship holy objects. The Sabbaths and feasts of Israel were considered holy days or seasons. And the Israelites were called God’s holy people by virtue of belonging to [H]im. ²

Q: That’s all well and good, but let’s focus on people. What makes a person holy?

People can be holy when they are set aside by or for God. Samson was holy because an angel of the LORD told his mother “the boy will be a Nazirite to God from the womb to the day of his death.” King David was undoubtedly holy because he was “a man after God’s own heart” and sought to do what God ordained. In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul was used mightily by God in spreading the Gospel and writing numerous letters to churches in Asia which became part of Christian canon.

Q: Why does holiness matter?

The main benefit of holiness is a close relationship with God, and the bounty which follows from it. Kathy Howard describes such closeness in her essay “5 Benefits of Living a Holy Life”:

Would you like to sit next to God and snuggle up against His side? To be so close you could hear Him
breathe? There would be no distance between the two of you, no barriers to prevent you from drawing
near. You could linger in His presence and rest in the circle of His embrace. ³

Howard’s list of those five benefits:

1. Holiness fosters intimacy with God and builds spiritual strength and stability (Psalm 15:1-6)

2. Holiness makes us useful and effective for God’s purposes (2 Timothy 2:20-26)

3. Holiness in your life causes people around you to glorify God (1 Peter 2:9-12)

4. Holiness builds peace with God (2 Peter 3:10-18)

5. Holiness pleases God and produces “fruit” (Ephesians 5:1-17)

Another aspect of holiness is that God gets rather protective of holy people and things, and visits vengeance on those who would attack, abuse and defile them.

God said to the Israelites in Leviticus 19:2: “You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.” In turn, the Old Testament is replete with cases where foes like the Moabites, Ammonites and Amalekites are vanquished before the LORD.

In Daniel 5, King Belshazzar commanded that the golden vessels his father Nebuchadnezzar plundered from the temple in Jerusalem be brought forth so that he and his nobles, wives and concubines could drink from them while praising their false gods. God responded by bringing the Babylonian kingdom to an end that very night, and Belshazzar was killed by the conquering Medes.

Q: Well, I’m not one of those giants of the Bible, yet Scripture urges me to be holy anyway. How can I do that?

A sentence I found in an online commentary pretty much nailed it:

You are holy to the extent that your life is devoted to [H]im and your actions reflect [H]is character. ⁴

Yes, imitation really is the sincerest form of flattery! Perhaps the most profound way to glorify God (enhance His reputation) is by mirroring His temperament.

Q: So what can I take away from all this?

Holiness is how we manifest God’s nature in our own behavior. We make ourselves holy by setting ourselves apart for God and His purposes, and rejecting the way the world acts and thinks. It’s a “win-win” all around: God gets glorified (His reputation enhanced), we individual Christians enjoy a closer and protective relationship with Him, and the lost world witnesses His goodness and love through us.

While contemplating what it means to be holy:

1) holy: set apart for God

my mind drifted to this sound-alike phrase:

2) wholly set apart for God

Is this not a strong description of holiness? It’s also a great way to remember the definition given above.

Another good memory device for discerning holy behavior is an acronym popularized in Christian circles during the waning years of the 20th century. In a given situation, ask yourself:

WWJD → “What Would Jesus Do?”

The answer you get to that question will guide you toward an appropriate response.

What Did Jesus SAY?

Jesus eloquently captured this message on personal holiness during the Sermon on the Mount, specifically in Matthew 6:26-34:

“… do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?

And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith!

Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

In other words: “Don’t worry… be holy.”

Bible Verses

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

Philippians 4:6

[If] My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

2 Chronicles 7:14

Take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and touch the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin. None of you shall go out of the door of his house until the morning. For the LORD will pass through to strike the Egyptians, and when he sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the LORD will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to strike you.

Exodus 12:22-23

[W]e also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.

Romans 5:3-4 (NIV)

Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Matthew 5:48 (NIV)

But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.

Hebrews 10:12-14 (NIV)

Prayer

Yes, Father, those of us with ears to hear do indeed receive the loud warning You are proclaiming; You have our attention.

You have once more allowed pestilence and death to stand up against this world, to dim the distractions around us and focus our sights on our need for salvation, both physical and spiritual. For these, we look to You.

I believe You are showing us the cracks in the foundation of our way of daily life, as a first step in addressing and, hopefully, repairing them. You let us see our limitations and our biases, the gross inequalities which exist in our nation, and the stark choices we make when lives are at stake.

Shine a light on our corrupted values, and convict us where they have been compromised.

Bless and protect those who put themselves in harm’s way to safeguard our collective health and keep the essentials of this society functioning.

I pray that our leaders humble themselves, get the messages You are sending us through this pandemic and act on them; if they don’t, replace them with Godly men and women who will.

We fear not, because You promised to take care of us. “We are Your people, the sheep of Your pasture.” We remain set apart for You, a light by which this country and this world may navigate these dark times.

Our source and guide in all this is Your Son Jesus, the bright and morning star, in whose name I pray. Amen.

Works Cited:

¹ Byron, Lord. “The Destruction of Sennacherib.” epic poem by Lord Byron, 1815.

² Christianity.com Editorial Staff, “What Is Holiness? How Can We Be Holy?” https://www.christianity.com/wiki/christian-terms/what-is-holiness-what-can-be-holy.html.

³ Howard, Kathy, “5 Benefits of Living a Holy Life” https://www.kathyhoward.org/ November 2, 2017.

⁴ Gumbel, Nicky, Bible in One Year, Day 58, February 27, “Six Characteristics of a Holy Life”,
https://www.bibleinoneyear.org/bioy/commentary/2461.

All Bible verses come from the New American Standard Bible unless otherwise noted.

*The content of “Guest Contributor” posts are at the discretion of the contributor. While only those with similar beliefs are asked to contribute, their content may or may not represent the views of this website.

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Bible Gateway Bloggers

COVID-19: It’s Time to Take God’s Word and Prayer to Heart [Part 2]

COVID-19 [Part 2]

It was Tuesday, March 24, 2020, in Houston Texas—the last day all the nail and hair salons in our area could operate under the newly imposed state laws due to COVID-19.

To me, it was the last day I could get my hair colored gray to match my gray roots!

One week earlier I took the plunge and had 5-6” of my long hair cut off. My wonderful hairdresser (yes, I am showing my age by calling her that) kept three tufts of my hair to skillfully practice various dye methods to see which shade of gray would be best suited for me. Unfortunately, none of the three gray strands fit the bill–and we both recognized that.

Not knowing when the salons would be given the green light to open again, I left the shop both disappointed and empowered—disappointed I could not obtain my gray hair and empowered because I still had the choice not to go through with a dye job.

Perhaps that is how you feel with COVID-19—disappointed, empowered, or both!

Maybe you must Stay-at-Home or Stay-in-Place. Maybe your children are out of school and you don’t know how to teach them remotely or even worse, you are still having to work leaving your children unattended all day. Maybe you have been furloughed and you don’t know if you will have a job when all this is over. Maybe you had to cancel your cruise. Maybe you can’t find food or toilet paper in the grocery stores. Or maybe you have lost half or more of your life savings in the stock market.

Or on the opposite side of the spectrum, maybe you are grateful for the time to do some Spring cleaning. Maybe you are looking forward to just being home with your family. Maybe you are grateful for the time to read and spend time with the Lord. Or maybe you are thankful your church has an online service you can participate in.

The Word of God and Prayer

We may be disappointed in what is going on, but we can also be empowered because we have the choice in how we respond to the circumstances this virus has foisted on us.

I am choosing to spend this time in the Word of God and prayer.

In last week’s post titled COVID-19: It’s Time to Take God’s Word to Heart, I shared,

The question is, “Why is God allowing this?” Honestly, I don’t know. But I do know that He knew about it and He knew when it [the Coronavirus] would arrive.

Whether the coronavirus is just a medical occurrence or a foreshadowing of what is to come in our world, only our Heavenly Father knows for sure. ¹

And one week later, after reading multiple secular and Christian articles from various viewpoints, I feel the same way.

The Word of God—The Bible—has many purposes in our lives. Click here to read.

But prayer has many purposes in our lives, as well. Prayer . . .

  • Allows for faith, trust, and humility to develop
  • Creates humility and obedience in our lives
  • Builds compassion
  • Unlocks divine resources
  • Allows the Holy Spirit’s presence to guide and help us
  • Equips us to face every situation that comes our way
  • Develops our character
  • Permits us to see situations from God’s perspective
  • Shows us our weaknesses and failings, among other purposes.

Below are some Old Testament Bible verses from the King James Version to help us during this present-day situation.

Read them, pray over them, write them down, memorize them, meditate on them, highlight them in your Bible, or look them up in other Bible versions. But, please take them to heart and let the Holy Spirit of the Living God speak supernaturally to you through prayer.

As in all cases, when a particular verse is shared alone, there is always the possibility it may be misunderstood. I pray that these verses are not in that category. However, if you feel any verse is difficult to understand, out of context, or hard to digest, please take the time to look up the verse and read it in context to completely understand what God is saying to you or to one of his “ancient” servants.

The Pentateuch

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. Genesis 1:1

Thou in thy mercy hast led forth the people which thou hast redeemed: thou hast guided them in thy strength unto thy holy habitation. Exodus 15:13

Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the Lord. Leviticus 19:18

God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good? Numbers 23:19

If thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which are written in this book of the law, and if thou turn unto the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul. Deuteronomy 30:10

And the Lord, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed. Deuteronomy 31:8

The Histories

One man of you shall chase a thousand: for the Lord your God, he it is that fighteth for you, as he hath promised you. Joshua 23:10

And they said unto him, Ask counsel, we pray thee, of God, that we may know whether our way which we go shall be prosperous. And the priest said unto them, Go in peace: before the Lord is your way wherein ye go. Judges 18:5-6

And he shall be unto thee a restorer of thy life, and a nourisher of thine old age: Ruth 4:15

He will keep the feet of his saints, and the wicked shall be silent in darkness; for by strength shall no man prevail. 1 Samuel 2:9

And David spake unto the Lord the words of this song in the day that the Lord had delivered him out of the hand of all his enemies, and out of the hand of Saul: And he said, The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; The God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my saviour; thou savest me from violence. I will call on the Lord, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies. 2 Samuel 22:1-4

(Elijah says to a widow) And keep the charge of the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses, that thou mayest prosper in all that thou doest, and whithersoever thou turnest thyself. 1 Kings 2:3

And David enquired of God, saying, Shall I go up against the Philistines? And wilt thou deliver them into mine hand? And the Lord said unto him, Go up; for I will deliver them into thine hand. 1 Chronicles 14:10

And he went out to meet Asa, and said unto him, Hear ye me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin; The Lord is with you, while ye be with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you. 2 Chronicles 15:2

For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments. Ezra 7:10

Let thine ear now be attentive, and thine eyes open, that thou mayest hear the prayer of thy servant, which I pray before thee now, day and night, for the children of Israel thy servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel, which we have sinned against thee: both I and my father’s house have sinned. Nehemiah 1:6

For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father’s house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this? Esther 4:14

Poetry and Wisdom

He shall deliver thee in six troubles: yea, in seven there shall no evil touch thee. Job 5:19

Behold, I go forward, but he is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive him: On the left hand, where he doth work, but I cannot behold him: he hideth himself on the right hand, that I cannot see him: But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold. Job 23:8-10

And he shall judge the world in righteousness, he shall minister judgment to the people in uprightness. The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. Psalm 9:8-9

He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. Psalm 91:1

Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday…Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. Psalm 91:5-6, 14

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Proverbs 3:5-6

He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end. Ecclesiastes 3:11

As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child: even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all. Ecclesiastes 11:5

Major Prophets

Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. Isaiah 41:10

When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee. Isaiah 43:2-3

For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee. Isaiah 54:10

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Jeremiah 29:11

Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not. Jeremiah 33:3

Thou, O Lord, remainest for ever; thy throne from generation to generation. Lamentations 5:19

 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. Ezekiel 36:26-27

To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against him; Daniel 9:9

And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. Daniel 12:2

Minor Prophets

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children. Hosea 4:6

And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: Joel 2:28

Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets. Amos 3:7

Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down, saith the Lord. Obadiah 1:4

And the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the second time, saying, Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee. Jonah 3:1

Therefore I will look unto the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation: my God will hear me. Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light unto me. Micah 7:7-8

The Lord is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him. Nahum 1:7

Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. Habakkuk 3:17-18

Seek ye the Lord, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the Lord’s anger. Zephaniah 2:3

Now therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts; Consider your ways. Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes. Haggai 1:5-6

Turn you to the strong hold, ye prisoners of hope: even today do I declare that I will render double unto thee; Zechariah 9:12

And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse. Malachi 4:6

Headlines, Articles, and Reports

This week countless headlines, articles, and reports seemed threatening, gloomy and ominous. Regrettably, we can anticipate more will come this following week, but let’s try looking at them from our Heavenly Father’s viewpoint. We can when we are grounded in His Word and prayer. He will show us how to pray. Let’s not let Satan create a fear in us. That is what he wants to do, so our hearts will worry and stray from God.

Recent headlines include…

  • Health care workers on frontlines feel like ‘lambs to the slaughterhouse’
  • Hedge funder Bill Ackman profited $2.6B in Coronavirus market rout
  • Southwestern Baptist Seminary full-time faculty members were let go for financial reasons
  • Pestilence-Is the coronavirus an end-time biblical plague?
  • Surging traffic is slowing down our Internet
  • Virtual happy hours are the new shut-in activity—and everyone’s invited
  • How can you have a church in the age of social distancing?
  • Women are begging for pills to end their pregnancies
  • The reality is that the disease is beyond our capacity to handle in this country
  • Hospitals across the U.S. consider universal do-not-resuscitate orders for coronavirus patients
  • Texas colleges change to pass-fail grading during the pandemic
  • Amazon delivery guy spits on package

Conclusion

The happenings of the day will create fear, loneliness, and an unsettled feeling to many. But, let’s try looking at them from our Heavenly Father’s viewpoint. It is then, and only then, we can experience the wonders of God (during this time) through prayer and His Word—The Bible.

So as with my hair, I was disappointed I couldn’t reach my goal of leaving the salon with my new gray hair. But, I was empowered I had the choice I could wait for a better day and a better color.

We may be disappointed regarding the state of world affairs right now or we can be empowered to make a difference in our life or in the life of others. It is my choice! And, it is your choice.

God promises to care of us. Just keep looking to Him through prayer and the Word of God.

He loves you.

To read COVID-19: It’s Time to Take God’s Word to Heart Part 1, click here.

God Bless.

GreenePastures.org

Bible Verses: See above.

Prayers:

“20 Prayers to Pray During This Pandemic” by Jen Pollock Michel

1. For the sick and infected: God, heal and help. Sustain bodies and spirits. Contain the spread of infection.

2. For our vulnerable populations: God, protect our elderly and those suffering from chronic disease. Provide for the poor, especially the uninsured.

3. For the young and the strong: God, give them the necessary caution to keep them from unwittingly spreading this disease. Inspire them to help.

4. For our local, state, and federal governments: God, help our elected officials as they allocate the necessary resources for combatting this pandemic. Help them to provide more tests.

5. For our scientific community, leading the charge to understand the disease and communicate its gravity: God, give them knowledge, wisdom, and a persuasive voice.

6. For the media, committed to providing up-to-date information: God, help them to communicate with appropriate seriousness without causing panic.

7. For consumers of media, looking to be well-informed: God, help us find the most helpful local information to equip us to be good neighbors. Keep us from anxiety and panic, and enable us to implement the recommended strategies, even at a cost to ourselves.

8. For those with mental health challenges who feel isolated, anxious, and helpless: God, provide them every necessary support.

9. For the homeless, unable to practice the protocols of social distancing in the shelter system: Protect them from disease, and provide isolation shelters in every city.

10. For international travelers stuck in foreign countries: God, help them return home safely and quickly.

11. For Christian missionaries throughout the world, especially in areas with high rates of infection: God, provide them with words of hope, and equip them to love and serve those around them.

12. For workers in a variety of industries facing layoffs and financial hardship: God, keep them from panic, and inspire your church to generously support them.

13. For families with young children at home for the foreseeable future: God, help mothers and fathers to partner together creatively for the care and flourishing of their children. For single mothers and fathers, grow their networks of support.

14. For parents who cannot stay home from work but must find care for their children: God, present them with creative solutions.

15. For those in need of regular therapies and treatments that must now be postponed: God, help them to stay patient and positive.

16. For business leaders making difficult decisions that affect the lives of their employees: God, give these women and men wisdom, and help them to lead self-sacrificially.

17. For pastors and church leaders faced with the challenges of social distancing: God, help them to creatively imagine how to pastor their congregants and love their cities well.

18. For college and university students, whose courses of study are changing, whose placements are canceled, whose graduation is uncertain: God, show them that while life is uncertain, their trust is in you.

19. For Christians in every neighborhood, community, and city: May your Holy Spirit inspire us to pray, to give, to love, to serve, and to proclaim the gospel, that the name of Jesus Christ might be glorified around the world.

20. For frontline health care workers, we thank you for their vocational call to serve us. We also pray:

  • God, keep them safe and healthy. Keep their families safe and healthy.
  • God, help them to be knowledgeable about the diagnosis and treatment of this disease, as well as the changing protocols.
  • God, help them to stay clear-minded in the midst of the surrounding panic.
  • God, deliver them from anxiety for their own loved ones (aging parents, children, spouses, roommates).
  • God, give them compassion for every patient in their care.
  • God, provide for them financially, especially if they fall ill and are unable to work.
  • God, help Christians in health care to exhibit extraordinary peace, so that many would ask about the reason for their hope. Give them opportunities to proclaim the gospel. ²

Bibliography

¹ Greene, Patti. “COVID 19: It’s Time to Take God’s Word to Heart. Greene Pastures Blog. 24 March 2020. https://greenepastures.org/COVID-19.

² Michel, Jen Pollock, “20 Prayers to Pray During This Pandemic.” Christianity Today. Mar 18 2020. Accessed Mar 29 2020. https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2020/march-web-only/covid-19-coronavirus-20-prayers-to-pray-during-pandemic.html

All Bible verses come from the King James Version.

Patti Greene’s Bio

Patti Greene is a fun-loving (but serious) coffee drinking wife, mom, and Grammi! She serves as a Bible teacher and Sunday School helper in her home church in Katy, Texas. She writes and speaks with the sole purpose of leading and maturing others in Jesus Christ and His everlasting love. To receive blogs from GreenePastures.org delivered straight to your email, please sign up from this blog or email her at Patti@GreenePastures.org with your email address, and you will be added to the email listing. You will need to confirm your decision to be added to the blog by email. You can also catch up with her on her Twitter feed at (@PattiGreene13) or her Facebook Patti Greene-Pastures page at (https://www.facebook.com/author.greene).

Books by Patti Greene

Christian Caregiving

Christian Caregiving: Practical Advice for a Happy Ending

Devotional Prayer Journals

Answer Me: Developing a Heart for Prayer

Anchor Me: Laying a Foundation in Bible Study and Prayer

Awaken Me: Growing Deeper in Bible Study and Prayer

@PattiGreene13 #PattiGreene13 #bgbg2