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The SACK


“At that time Hanani the seer came to King Asa and told him, ‘Because you have put your trust in the king of Aram instead of in the Lord your God, you have missed your chance to destroy the army of the king of Aram……The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him.  What a fool you have been.  From now on you will be at war.’ ”  2 Chronicles 16:7, 9

Chinese Christian Brother Yun, known as the Heavenly Man, tells of this happening in one of the Chinese house churches.  The Chinese believers regularly send off other believers to go into surrounding towns and villages to share the love and life of Christ.  Before each sending, the group would take up a collection for the work.  Many of those who were in attendance had nothing of material or monetary value to give. These believers, with tears streaming down their faces, when the large sack came to them, would literally place themselves in the sack.  Yun said that by doing this, these gentle folk wanted to signify to God that their lives were all they had to give and that they were willing to give all of themselves for His glory.  I’m humbled by this.  Are you?

Here in the west, there are many who are willing to give….up to a point, or as I heard one man put it, up to a tithe.  There are also those who are willing to go…..again, up to a point or a place.  How many of us are really willing to give all of ourselves to all that is Him?  When “the sack” comes to us, are we willing to put many “things” in it, but not all of ourselves?  Is giving, to us, a matter of percentage, or totality?  How many invisible lines have we drawn, and boundaries placed on how much of ourselves we’re really willing to be sacrificial with?  Who are we really more like in Jesus’ story of the rich Pharisee and the poor widow?  Jesus watched the Pharisee give a large amount of money out of his  wealth.
The widow gave two pennies, which was all she had.  The first gave out of his surplus, the widow gave all with nothing held back.  Who are we more like?  When the sack comes our way, to which heart attitude are we really drawn to?  What have we really put in the sack?  Every moment of every day, the sack comes before us.  What’s really going into it.  A percentage or a person?

This is not just a matter of our resources or time.  It’s a matter of the self.  All of the self.  The past, present and future.  They all go into the sack. Our motives.  Our dreams, desires, disappointments.  People.  Both those we love, and those we perhaps do not love so much.  All of it goes into the sack.  When the sack comes to us, we cannot stop with a check or a volunteering for some needed church ministry or job.  We cannot stop with a part or percentage.  It cannot be the part. It must be the whole.  The whole of us.

Asa the king had trusted God with much.  He could not trust Him with all.  “War” was the fruit of that.  For us, this means that all that we hold back from him will be under attack from our enemy satan, and we will spend ourselves on trying to protect in our strength what can only be kept by His.  If this is not so, just think on how much unrest is in our lives as the result of trying to bring about the results we desire by our own efforts, be they relationships, professions, and especially ministries.  Like Asa, we suffer constant “war” and have no peace because of it.

The Lord continues to search the world for hearts fully committed to Him.  As He searches, what does He find in ours? Percentages?  Bits that are His, but pieces that are not?  Asa lived in this way, and the Father called him a fool.  What does He call us?

Blessings,
Pastor O

(A special thanks to my brother in Christ and friend for allowing me to share this devotional message.)

FAITH is a Verb!


Faith is declared to be a noun according to Webster’s Dictionary and yet it acts like a verb. Faith is used as a name and, as such, it makes perfect sense to be a noun. However, when we say he or she has faith or is exercising faith, this is an active statement for faith. Faith involves unquestioning belief, complete trust, and loyalty.

Unquestioning belief is the state of believing or having no doubt. This unquestioning belief is the driver of faith. The active part of faith is the state of being. We say, you exercised your faith today when you approached that individual and witnessed to them about the good news of Jesus. Your faith enabled you to share the Gospel through the action of faith. “What does Scripture say? Abraham believed God, and that faith was regarded as the basis of Abraham’s approval by God.” Romans 4:3 “Then Abram believed the LORD, and that faith was regarded as the basis of Abram’s approval by the LORD.” Genesis 15:6 (God’s Word) In both cases his belief and faith are the same; the action of his unquestioning belief, his state of being, and having no doubt was faith.

Complete trust is a matter of being confident and having assurance in someone or something. How often do we display complete trust? The answer is daily: in things like the brakes on our car or truck; when we want to stop we simply put our foot on the brake pedal and press the brakes into action. We display our faith in each other in varying degrees, our spouse to be faithful or our doctor to know how to help us get well. “Faith assures us of things we expect and convinces us of the things we cannot see.” Hebrews 11:1 (God’s Word) Faith is the action that builds our confidence and assurance into complete trust.

Loyalty is dressed in the faithful adherence to the word of God. We learn as we grow in our journey with Jesus; faith is a companion who works along side us in our endeavors to fulfill the great commission. “And remember that I am always with you until the end of time” Matthew 28:20b (God’s Word) Our best friend is Jesus and he has promised to be with us always! God faithfully adheres to His word. This faithful adherence of God is shown through Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for the remission of our sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit to lead and guide us always…this is loyalty.

Because faith is unceasing belief, absolute trust, and devotion, we know that faith is a verb. Sure we are able to say, “Hello Faith, how are you today?” and calling her by name is placing faith in the context of a noun. When we then say that Faith displayed her faith in the word of God, faith was a verb.

Blessings and Peace Always

I Need More Coffee!!! Thoughts and a song on Isaiah 55


I Need More Coffee!!! Thoughts and a song on Isaiah 55.

I find more and more what great fun it is to watch our Father at work!  Here Julie Harris has again been pulled into HIS Word through another daily activity.  Every one of us have found ourself in this same moment, having to wait for something to eat or drink and not just a little put out by the wait…. Seriously, good coffee aside, HE has promised us, “but whoever drinks of the water I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become a water springing up to eternal life.” ~John 4:14 (NASB) Also, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” ~Matthew 5:6

Our Father IS in all these moments, every single day.  A beautiful moment, with HIM by her side and just when you didn’t think it wouldn’t get any better; a melody to go with the passage!

Be moved by HIM.  In the smallest of things, in the greatest of things and by everything HE will show us…we have only to look and listen.  I believe HE talks to us throughout all the moments of our days.  Often while we wait in neutral for the next thing.

Thanks Julie for sharing and for the smile that crosses our face when we get to see HIM at work even through a “cup o’ joe”.

Blessings and Peace Always,

~Robert

He Washed Me White as (Ivory) Snow


What a great observation on missing the details. Julie again helps us to see that desiring to be CLEAN is the point, appearing clean is worthless. Jesus said, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.” ~Matthew 23:27

Just like the fabric softener isn’t a cleaning agent, we can’t “fake it till we make it”. We must purpose to follow HIM, know HIM through HIS word and focus our life’s intent on HIM. Protecting our heart, mind and soul by paying attention to what we hear, say and see! Paul said, “Everything is permissible for me—but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible for me—but I will not be mastered by anything.” ~1 Corinthians 6:12 I should only seek to be around things that are drawing me to Christ always! If I’m not being drawn to HIM, I’m moving away from HIM.

It is our responsibility to yield to HIM and this is accomplished by HIS grace and through the power of the Holy Spirit, who gives counsel, guidance and peace. When we speak HIS words, when we seek HIS presence and when we hold HIM dearest of all things, HE blesses us in ways we could never have dreamed.

We have a choice and we must choose, HIS way or our own…. Let’s join Julie in her closing prayer; that HE will help us to “mind the ‘small print’ in HIS Word, to take time to pay attention to details, and to continue to see You in all things.” I’ll tell you this, HE will honor this prayer as you honor HIM through a life dedicated to honoring HIM daily.

Blessings & Peace Always,
~Robert

I Sing Because I'm Free

I am going to share something slightly embarrassing today… yes, folks, I have been a victim of “laundry bottle identity crisis”.  I cannot be the only one that has suffered from this condition, so I felt the need to come out of the closet…

One evening when my youngest was still a baby, I was carefully switching the laundry from the washer to the dryer.  As I  mindlessly took each article of clothing out, my dear, darling husband sweetly pointed out  that the bottle of laundry detergent I had been using for weeks was, in fact, not detergent at all- it was….. wait for it…. FABRIC SOFTENER!!!!  The horror!!!

I did not know what to do!  I mean, I thought wow, my clothes sure have been smelling good!!   And then I worried- what if it was just like spraying Febreeze on them?  What if I was just covering up…

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Children of Light


Children of Light. The beauty of our children and how our Father fills them in ways that we seem to miss.  It really is a beautiful sight to behold, watching our children being who God created us all to be….filled with joy and wonder.  In the linked blog entry by Julie Harris, we again get to see how as adults we can and all too often go through this life in stoic fashion.  Missing the moments of mystery and wonder.  The opportunity to live in a carefree fashion even though we have responsibilities.

In Matthew 18, Jesus makes the point very clear; “Jesus called a little child to his side and set him on his feet in the middle of them all. “Believe me,” he said, “unless you change your whole outlook and become like little children you will never enter the kingdom of Heaven. It is the man who can be as humble as this little child who is greatest in the kingdom of Heaven.” ~J.B. Phillips New Testament (Phillips)  We have no choice if we want to see Heaven.

We are driven by the need to perform, to accomplish, to be more…. more than what exactly?  What more could or should we desire than to be in a relationship with our Creator God through HIS plan of redemption – Jesus Christ?  HE has planned more for us than we know and His way involves our becoming just like our children.

Our children are dependent on us for everything and yet in their dependance, they are completely free to just be who they’ve been created by our Father to be, children loving life! Struggling to learn and grow, experiencing highs and lows.  All the while, they know we are there to help, nurture and guide.  They ARE the picture of what HE calls us to be in this life as we journey to the next.

At our best, we are but a shadow image of HIM in displaying love and providing for our children.  Yet we push through and do all we can for our children for HE has planted HIS glorious seed within us to take up this charge.  Knowing this and seeing how important it is that we allow and encourage our children to enjoy life to the fullest, is it any wonder that Jesus calls us to return to this humble state?

I humbly submit, if we will become as children once again, HE will show us wonders beyond compare.  HE will show us a life we have yet to know or experience.  HE will return the sparkle to our eyes that will bare witness to all of HIS glory.  I believe HE wants more in this life for us than being driven to excel in a life that is so very fleeting.

Let’s become like children again, filled with wonder and hope.  Excited by what the day will hold and eager to stop and join in the playfulness of our children’s lives!

Blessings and Peace to you always,

~Robert

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