I was looking up into the sky today, and seeing the sun shine. The sun is always there shining. It doesn’t matter if the sky is clear or filled with dark clouds. Even at night when you cannot see the sun it is still there, shining it’s light reflecting on the moon. I thought this is how God is. He is always there, even when you cannot see Him. The Light of Jesus shines no matter what the conditions are. We may not be able to see the light because of the storms in our lives, but it is there and does not go away. God is always there for us. Faithful and true, we can trust Him at all times, in the dark of night, or in the middle of the storm. If God is for us why should we be afraid of what the world tries to do to us? I do not need to be afraid but have faith in God, and trust in Him at all times.
With all the sleepless nights I have had, I have spent many nights looking up into the night sky praying to God and thinking of many things. One thought that I have had is the comparison to the light reflected from the moon and Christians. The moon is not the source of light. It reflects the light of the sun. It has many phases from full to not visible, and it can even eclipse the sun. We who have received Jesus as our Lord and Savior are called Christians. We are not the source of light, Jesus is The Light. His light shines through us. Some of us shine like a full moon, and others are like the different phases of the moon.
His light can shine through us in the darkest of night or even during the day.
Then there are people and things in this world that try to eclipse His Light. God created the sun and the moon and all the stars in the sky. The moon does not think or have choices in where it will be in the sky, but we do. We make choices every day. We decide if we go to work, go to school, go shopping, sleep in, etc… We choose to repent and follow Jesus. We choose to love or hate. We make so many choices, and our choices can reflect His light if our actions and choices reflect His love. We can be a vessel filled with His Love and Light giving to others what He has given to us.
Today I have been thinking about the Dead Sea. Many tourists travel to it because of the high mineral content and the buoyancy caused by the salt volume. This is supposed to have healing qualities, but it is the name that is stuck in my mind today. Water flows in but it goes no where and this is to be the reason why for the high salt and mineral content. This sea is called dead because it cannot support life. Water continues to flow in but then it under the sun it evaporates. I wonder how many of us are like the Dead Sea? His spirit and blessings are flowing into us, but what are we doing with what He is giving to us? Works do not produce faith but faith should produce works.
For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.(Read James 2:14-24)
Think about the parable of ‘the servants and the talents. Matthew 25:14-30. In this parable three servants are each given talents. The amounts varied, but it was what each servant did with what was given to them. The first two increased their talents, but the third one buried his talent and it produced him nothing. It is with this servant that the master was not pleased. This servant lost his talent and it was given to the first servant. This parable too, reminds of the Dead Sea. I want to be like the first two servants and do something with what God has entrusted to me.
Even though I have faced many trials and abuse in my life, I know He has been with me through it all. He kept me going when I there was nothing I could do. When I felt hopeless He gave me hope. He did not create me for the pain I have lived through but that pain inspires me to help others who are in pain. I don’t want to wallow in my self pity, but share that even when everything in the world is coming against you, He never leaves you and His love is limitless. For all that He has done for me I want to do whatever I can to be there for others. I want to be a vessel that He uses, not one that sits on a shelf collecting dust, and I don’t want to be a dead sea. Receiving but doing nothing with what He has given to me. I want to be more than a hearer of the Word, but a doer as well.
What about you? Are you using what has been given to you to further His Kingdom, or are you sitting their collecting dust?
Many these days are anxious because of the pandemic of Covid19, that is world wide. It is effecting people of all nationalities and classes. Social media has become the main way people are keeping connected. Unless you have a job that is deemed necessary, you are basically grounded. When the stay at home orders were first being issued, one of my first thoughts were about the parallel of Passover and the Exodus. One of the things Moses had told the people to do before Pharaoh would finally release the Hebrews, was that they were to put blood on their doorposts and were to remain inside. The reason for this was to keep their first born alive. For the plague of death of every first born was coming. yet those under the blood would be safe.
Exodus 12:22-23 22 Take a cluster of hyssop, dip it into the blood in the basin, and brush the top and the two side posts of the doorframe with some of the blood. None of you shall go out of the door of his house until morning. 23 When the LORD passes through to strike down the Egyptians, He will see the blood on the top and the two sideposts and pass over the door; so He will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses and strike you down.
We are all going through a terrible time right now and the treat to life is real, so I understand why so many are afraid. This virus does not care if you are a first born, what your religion is,what color your skin is, or if you are wealthy or poor. Any one of us could get sick from this virus. If we take the necessary precautions we should be okay. Looking at the story of Exodus I do see the reason to have hope. If you are stuck staying home you could very well have cabin fever by now, and are itching to get out. If you have a full house you may want to get away just to find some peace and quiet, if you live alone the desire for company can make you want to leave the safety of your home. As much as I do not like feeling like I have been grounded, I do see the importance of staying home unless I have an important reason to go somewhere.
We need to remember these is temporary and that we will get through this. There is hope. I turn to the Word for this hope and it never lies.
Art by Julie Sheppard
Light at the end of the tunnel is not a train but the Light of Jesus Christ!
The term ‘Toxic Relationship” can be applied to a number of relationships we may have. What makes the relationship toxic? Well there can be a number of reason to label a relationship toxic. The word ‘Toxic’ implies that it is poisonous, harmful and even deadly. A relationship is obviously toxic when you can see the outward signs of abuse. Bruises, black eyes, and broken bones, are signs you can see. What about the unseen? The emotional and mental damaged being done that the eyes do not always detect. What ever the excuse or reason that we may have to stay in these relationships, there comes a time when we need to realize that we are doing more harm than good to ourselves and to the other person. We may have the need to stay to help them, but how can you save someone from drowning when you are drowning yourself?
We need to remove ourselves from harmful relationships. This does not mean you do not care or that you have to hate them to leave. Sometimes the saying, ‘If you love someone, you set them free’, is very exactly what we need to do. Staying in a harmful relationship does neither of you any good. You could be standing in the way of God reaching that person, or they may be standing in the way of God in your life. Proverbs tells us that it is better for a man to be on top of the roof with a dry morsel of bread than in a house with a quarrelsome wife. If you are a woman or a man this is telling you to distance yourself from the one who is trying to do you harm. This could be physical, emotional or verbal, no matter what it is that is causing you harm, the only way to stop it,is to remove yourself from the picture. You would not put your hand in the fire and keep it there. If you did, more than your hand would catch on fire.
Some relationships will be restored and others will come to an end. either way you will grieve the loss, whether it is temporary or permanent. It will hurt more than ripping off a band-aide, but it is a pain you will heal. Healing is the goal in letting go of a harmful relationship. It takes courage to walk away, especially when you love the other person, and they may actually love you but sometimes the only way for the both of you to find healing is to let go.
(A personal thought – bleach is a cleaner and ammonia is another cleaning product, but you don’t put the two together. Why? If combined they produces a toxic gas that will kill you.)
Last year I began a project on relationships, and I called it ‘Right Relations/How our relationship with people effects our relationship with God’. Well I have been distracted and derailed more times than I can count. Lately my health has been in a major issue. I am not writing consistently and it has been months since I have put any effort it into ‘Right Relations’. I have not wandered away from God, and my faith is still intact, but my focus is off. There was a reason that I wanted to write about our relationships. As God had shown me how each of my relationships in my life has had an effect on my relationship with Him. Though I had not forgotten about this project or how important is is on a personal level, I have allowed myself to get busy with other things and I have neglected this work. My back has been locked up for over 2 months now and I have had migraines, ear infections, blood vessel in my eye burst and a long list of other issues. I have barely been able to work and that has been the most I have been able to do. When I do work I come home and collapse unable to do much else. I pray and listen to my audio Bible, but I am frustrated and my focus has been on what I am unable to do. Instead my focus should be on what I can do and what God is doing for me in the midst of this valley. This project was not only to help others get closer to God but it is to help me better understand my relationship with Him.
Who of us has not been hurt, felt rejected or neglected, and even abandoned by the people in our lives? One way or another in our relationships we have been let down and have lost our trust in others and at times even with ourselves. So how can we have a good relationship with an unseen God, who we call our Heavenly Father? First we need to learn how our relationships have shaped our way of thinking. Jesus told us to even look with lust in our eyes is to have already committed the sin of adultery, and we are told to take every thought captive. Why? How we think dictates how we act or react. If I think someone is going to hurt me, I can push them away and build a wall around me to keep them from hurting me. I could run away and hide, or I could even try to hurt them before they can hurt me. The list goes on what I could do. So why do I think I might get hurt? Is it because I have been hurt in the past? The more you have been hurt the less you tend to trust. Yes there are those who seem to trust blindly who constantly get taken advantage of because they keep hoping that there is someone who they can trust who truly loves them, this is not healthy either.
One thing I have learned since I began this journey is that God is not man(this includes women too) No matter what any person has ever done to me, and no matter what pains I have suffered He has been the ONLY ONE, who has never let me down, but I have my focus on those who I feel I have to protect myself from more than I have kept my eyes on Him. So here is my ‘Do over’, starting back to work on ‘Right Relations’ but taking it from a new perspective. I my only have one post a week to share my progress, but this is my minimum goal. As I share my progress I hope my journey helps you with your relation with God too.
I still remember the first time I watched the movie Star Wars. I was a child dressed in my pajamas with my parents at the Winnetka Drive-In theater in Chatsworth, California, in 1977. It has been quite a long time, and that old drive-in is now Pacific Winnetka 21 multiplex. I was only 8 years old then and now I am 49 and the making of Star Wars movies is still happening. The line, ‘Luke I am your father’, has not been forgotten. Even those who had not yet been born when the first movie came out know this line. The battle between good and evil, light and darkness. Darth Vader, and evil menacing character, who had once been good and was also Luke’s father.
I know these are not faith-based movies, but you can see some parallels. Darth Vader had once been good, but turned to the dark side. Lucifer had been and angel who turned against God and turned a third of the angels against god as well. Lucifer became Satan. The battle between good and evil had begun and God cast Lucifer and his angels out of heaven.
Now we must choose on which side we will fight. There is no Switzerland in this war, no neutral territory. When God wrote to the church of Laodecia, He told them they were neither hot or cold but luke warm and He would spit them out. Elijah said choose you this day who you will serve, God or Baal.
Ephesians tells us our battle is not one of flesh and blood, but is spiritual and we are to put on our armor daily. Why daily? The war is a daily one. From taking our thoughts captive and submitting God. Resisting the Devil and submitting to God. These are our choices. Not making a choice is still making a choice. We are to fight the good fight. This fight is not going out and getting into some fist fight, but fighting for the sake of righteousness. So on whose side will you be fighting?
Not sure why the wedding at Cana (John 2:1-11 ) keeps coming to me and the various insights I get each time. My thought today is on what the guest had to say about the wine. That normally wine at other weddings at this point in the celebrations would have not have been the best. Meaning it would either be of lesser quality or you could say watered down. Today as I look upon this passage, I am thinking that how many of us have watered down our faith. We are called Christians, read our Bibles, and go to church. We even serve and take part of various ministries. We believe in the name of Jesus and that He is the Son of God, our Savior and Redeemer, but have our hearts grown weak? Are we merely going through the motions, watering down the Word of God. We dismiss one part or another saying that it is not for today. Yet I can’t stop thinking about the fact that Jesus is the Word of God, and that He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. God is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. So why is it so easy to fall into believing we can dismiss any part of His Word, because we don’t like or agree with it? We compromise, or turn a blind eye because we hide behind not wanting to judge. I understand this because there is much written about judgment. Like in the same way you judge, you will be judged ( Matthew 7:2). Jesus also said ‘How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while there is still a beam in your own eye?’ (Matthew 7:5) We cannot ignore His instruction about our behaviors just because of fear of judging others or being judged. Jesus made it clear that if we love Him we will keep His commands Adding one, that we are to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. Jesus did not do away with God’s commands. Which are found in Exodus and Deuteronomy. The fact they are written in two books of the Bible tells me their importance. Jesus even told us to look with lust in our eye is equal to adultery, and that hatred is equal to murder. Yet, many of us our guilty of one or more of these things, and instead of receiving God’s correction we make excuses, and claim His grace while continuing doing the things we know we need to stop. Read His commandments and we can find in one are or another we have compromised. Yes I have been called a legalist, yet I know that I am guilty of what I am talking about and that if I continue doing the things I know are wrong are agree with others saying it is okay to overlook a sin then I am not being faithful to Him. We live in this world but we are not to conform to it, but be transformed by His Word. Submit to God and resist the devil. To me this means turn from my own ways of doing things or what others say that I am to do and do as His Word tells me. If I don’t understand something He says then dig deeper into His Word and pray for understanding, He will give it to me. His ways are not ours and His thoughts are not ours. So if I want the full strength of His promises and provisions I cannot water down and compromise His Word in my life, even if others disagree with me.
What do you do when you have done everything you can do? I have not been able to write for a while and even today typing this message is hurting me a lot, but the inspiration to share what my current state is teaching me is stronger than the pain. For over a month now I have been in so much pain I have barely been able to make it to work, but that is all I have been able to do. I hate missing fellowship with my church River of Life Christian Center, they may not be my natural family but they are my spiritual family. The hugs and love and words of encouragement, I really miss. I am thankful that I do not have to miss the messages because I can watch them online which feed me God’s word, but it is not the same as being there with them. Nick and Alissa my pastor and his wife are wonderful and have come by to check on me as well as my prayer team leader and friend Diane. Yet I want to be able to do more than barely work. I want to spend time with my spiritual family. (If you don’t have a church you should come by, and if you are not in the area check us out online https://www.facebook.com/riveroflifeoverflowing/ )
I only work 20 to 30 hours a week and after cleaning and preparing meals for others but I come home and I cannot care for myself because my body can’t do more. Each week my pain level has increased, one more body are is going out on me. As I said in the beginning of this the pain in my hands is terrible and every stroke on the key board is like knives and electric pain from my fingers up through my arms and neck, which is increasing my headache.
I live alone so this makes things more difficult because there is only me, and then on Monday my phone was shut off, leaving me feeling even more cut off and isolated, thank God I still have internet. I also battle depression, so things have really been piling up. Do I blame God? Definitely not! He did not cause the damage to my body, my abusers are responsible for my physical pain, even the abuse has been over for a while now, the damage done is done. Do I believe God can heal me? Yes I do! Just because the physical healing has not manifested, I know I am healed. It is in God’s hands.
Yet frustration over circumstances and pain leaves me stressed over taking care of my basic necessities. My church helps but I cannot expect them to pay for everything. I work even though my body screams at me it is in pain, so I have done everything I can to take care of my bills, my health, and my stated of mind. I know when people ask if I have done this or that and I have done it all, I am not frustrated with them, but the fact that instead in spite of doing everything I can and I am getting worse instead of better. It makes no logical sense. I trade putting heat and ice on my back and neck. I do the stretches I am supposed to do. I do breathing exercises, etc… and most important I pray and read or listen to His Word. I am finally taking a day off from work which I probably should have done sooner, but didn’t because of bills have to get paid and mine is the only income and yes I tithe.
Does my frustration mean I have lost faith? No. I have done everything that I possibly can, yet I have still come up short. A quick side lesson from this is no matter how hard you work, you cannot earn salvation, it is a gift from God, paid for by Jesus.
So what do I do now that I have done everything I can and I still fall short of meeting my basic needs? I wait and trust God is in control. What did Jesus say when He was in the boat and his disciples were afraid of the storm? – Matthew 8:26a ‘Your faith is so small! Why are you so afraid?’ There He was sleeping peacefully on a boat that was getting rocked by the storm and would have slept peacefully through the entire storm had the disciple in their fear woke Him up. Yes a storm may be all around me but He is in the boat with me. Now I do know this in my mind it is getting this message listened to by my body that is the challenge. Yes I am frustrated because of what I can’t do right now. I am however thankful that God is compassionate and understanding and just because I don’t feel good right now it does not change who He is or our relationship. So now that I have done everything that I can? For now I will rest and I know He is for me. He is the Good Father. I will trust in Him with my whole heart and lean not on my own understanding.
Watching an old episode of the T.V. show ‘The Ghost and Mrs. Muir’ in which the son, Jonathan had won a writing contest. His piece being titled friends and patriots. After he wins, the Captain tells him that he missed a some facts so Jonathan rewrites his report. When he reads it publicly, the audience gets so upset that Jonathan does not get to finish reading. The arguments go from that he did not read his original paper, to that he is not american. No one listens to what he wrote in its’ entirety. Close minded and looking for something they disliked and disagreed with, they stopped listening.
This made me think. How many times do we tune out, and stop listening because something we are listening to or reading is not what we like or agree with. We do not finish listening or reading. We will even interrupt and be disruptive keeping others from hearing what is being said, or written.
I think we can sometimes treat our bibles in the same manner. We come across a passage that is unpleasant and I have been told that is no longer important because it is Old Testament and was done away with. The problem with that is Jesus is the Word and leaving any part out would be leaving a part of Him out. Many stay away from Revelation because they don’t think it pertains to them, and it is too scary. However it does begin with that it is a blessing.
We want to take the good parts and leave the painful parts out. We want beauty as we see it, and we refuse to listen to anything unpleasant or disagreeable. Yet if you read through the entire Bible from beginning to end you get the whole picture. A picture designed and created by The One True Loving and Living God, our Creator.
Right now we only know in part, and see in part, and look through a mirror dimly, but the day will come when will see and we will know. For now let us stop long enough to listen and not form any opinion until you have heard all that is being said, without verbal or mental interruption. Let us not add nor take away. Let us finish what has begun.