Fear and Faith.

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God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.  Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.  Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea;  though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.

Psalm 46:1-3

 Psalm 46 brings comfort to me. There are beautiful, as well as fearful thoughts here. Verses 1-3 remind me of what Jesus said to the disciples in the midst of a terrible storm, when they were in danger of capsizing and drowning. He asks them, “Why are you afraid? Where is your faith?”

Jesus was explaining to them that no matter how frightening a situation is, we must have faith (trust) in God. If God allows us to drown, that is fine. If God decides to save us from drowning, that is fine. This is total trust in God’s wisdom and power. The disciples had not learned this kind of trust yet.

In these three verses, the Psalm describes the world in convulsions. Some commentators say these represent the anger of the nations. Some say they represent actual physical events. Some say they represent the storms of life. Some say they represent all three.

Because of the later verses in this chapter, I believe they represent the physical condition of the earth right before Jesus returns. Verses 6-9 say this:

“Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts. The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.”

“Come and see what the Lord has done, the desolations he has brought on the earth. He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire.”

About the last plague to come upon mankind, the Book of Revelation says this:

“Look, I come like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake and remains clothed, so as not to go naked and be shamefully exposed.” And they assembled them at the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon. The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple, from the throne, saying, “It is done!”  

“And there were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, and a great earthquake such as there had never been since man was on the earth, so great was that earthquake.”

“The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell, and God remembered Babylon the great, to make her drain the cup of the wine of the fury of his wrath.   And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.”

Revelation 16:15-20

What is so beautiful in this Psalm are the verses that give us hope, peace and courage:

“There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.”

“He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

“The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.”

As these days draw near, let us pray for God’s courage, faith and peace.

 

Miracles and Dreams.

Announcement:

I have cataracts on both eyes. They are growing. It is hard to read on my laptop and tablet. My eyes feel strained and tired. Therefore, I’ve had to cut down or even eliminate reading your blogs, my friends and followers. Terribly sorry, but that is the way it is for now. I’ll be getting surgery sometime this spring or summer. I’m hoping to return and start reading again.

I love to read your blogs. They usually inspire me. I love hearing how God is working in people’s lives. So, I will come back when my eyesight is normal. I will also still be posting once a week if I feel God wants me to.  So on to my post for today.

Dreams and Miracles

I wanted to share with you some of the miracles that have taken place for a group called GLOW – Giving Light to Our World. It is part of the ministry for my church, Seventh-Day-Adventist. I don’t go to church any longer because of many reasons, one being I am not mentally well and find it hard to be around people. I rarely leave my apartment, but I’m very happy here with my family.

Anyway, my mom gets a magazine from the church and they had an article about what has happened with GLOW this year. I want to share this exciting news with two stories:

“In the U.S. Liz was working at home when she heard a knock on the door. When she opened it, David, who was handing out GLOW pamphlets, was already walking away. Liz called out to let him know she was home. Back on her porch, David handed Liz a GLOW paper.

“I have chills right now!” Liz said. “Not too long ago I had a dream. In the dream I saw two ministers of the gospel coming to my house sharing literature.” David was thrilled to hear about her dream, but he was the only person there.

Just then, Taylor, his ministry partner, arrived. He had run out of tracts and had come looking for David to get more. Now there were two ministers of the gospel at her door.

Liz looked at David and Taylor, “I believe this is from God. In my dream I saw two ministers at my door bringing me hope. I heard a voice from heaven saying, “This is your last chance. I am coming back soon!” Please pray for me. I need Jesus in my life.

This story came from the Philippines:

A church member was walking through several neighborhoods handing out GLOW tracts. In his city, it was customary for trash to be swept into small piles near the street and burned. Someone lit a pile of trash near where the missionary was handing out pamphlets. Then a man walked by and noticed one piece of paper that would not burn. He picked it up and tried to light it, but it wouldn’t catch fire. He called some people over to see this strange happening. Speechless, the crowd watched his failed attempts to burn this pamphlet.

Across the street, the church member noticed the crowd and went to see what was happening. Stunned, he told them he was the person handing out the leaflets. He invited them all to an evangelistic meeting at his church that evening. Some came just for the one meeting, others continued to come until the series ended. Several of the eyewitnesses of the tract that wouldn’t burn were baptized.

From Adventist World, October 2017.

 

 

From Robbing Banks into God’s Arms.

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One of my followers has asked me to write about my family and how God worked in their lives. For many in my family, it has been a slow growth from child to adult, always believing in God. However, there is one family member who met God while he was in prison.

He doesn’t want me to share his name so I’ll call him Stephen. Stephen was raised in a home of physical abuse and neglect. His father beat him and his siblings, later his step-father did the same. Both fathers were alcoholics. They also beat Stephen’s mother. They were in great poverty and sometimes there wasn’t enough to eat.

Stephen started getting into trouble with the law and went to prison at 16  for the first time for robbing a postal office. He got a year hard labor for that. He never went back home to live. He moved from city to city, getting arrested and sentenced for assault. He was in lots of fights. He sold drugs.

When he was 24, he lived in a large city. He met a man who came from a small prairie town. This man knew when the town bank received it’s money. The nearest police were many miles away. It looked like a sure thing to rob this bank and get away. Stephen said he was in.

Another man joined them. They bought rifles and duffel bags for the money. They drove to the town. They got out of the car with the rifles and went through the first door. But Stephen said, “Something’s wrong.” He said he just felt something strange. He told his friends to follow him and leave. As they walked back through the front door they were surrounded by police and arrested. It turned out the third man had ratted on them to get a lesser sentence on a previous crime. The police had been waiting for them.

At the trial, Stephen expected to get 8 years. He was surprised to get only 2 years. Apparently, if they had walked through the second door, the sentence would have been much harsher.

Stephen was used to going to jail, but he hated it there. You had to be tough and fearless and make the other inmates afraid of you. He did that in every jail he was in. He was an expert fighter and would have killed someone if he had to.

The warden of this large prison was a Christian. There was a punishment room called, “The Hole,” that you were sent to if you caused trouble. Stephen was sent there for fighting in the cafeteria. The warden had a Bible put in each of these cells. That is all that was in the room besides a cot and toilet.

Stephen started reading the Bible and finished reading it the month of his detention. One night, while he was sleeping, he heard God call out his name, “Stephen, Stephen.”

The next day, he was back in population, but had been sent to a part of the prison that had a lot of Christians in it. A Christian said something to him and Stephen came towards him to hit him. He heard the same voice say to him, “Stephen, if you hit him, I will come down on you like a ton of bricks.”  (This is what Stephen would say to people.) Stephen stopped walking towards the man. He was stunned. He turned around and went to his cell and cried, “like a baby,” he said. He was amazed God would speak with him. He gave himself to God that moment.

So, that is the story of a man in our family. He got out of that prison and 40 years later is still a Christian. He had strong faith in God right away. He brought other inmates to Christ. Three of them were baptized when they got out.

Turn to me and be saved,

all you ends of the earth;

for I am God, and there is no other.   Isaiah 45:22

 

“Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the LORD,

“Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow;

Though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool.

If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land;

But if you turn away and refuse to listen, you will be devoured by the sword of your enemies.

I, the LORD, have spoken!”

Isaiah 1:18-20

Don’t Refuse God’s Comfort.

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“A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.”   Matthew 2:18

This verse is also found in Jeremiah. Matthew says it was the fulfillment of a prophecy of when Herod killed the little children in Bethlehem, after hearing of the birth of Jesus, “the king of the Jews.” He wanted to make sure there was no king but him.

The mothers of these children refused to be comforted.

I don’t remember what book I read where the author quoted this and said they could have been comforted by God, but refused.

I’d never thought about what that verse meant, besides a great sorrow. The author said we must allow God to comfort us because if we don’t, sin will follow. I believe he is right.

Right now, in my family, there is a lot of sorrow and grief. My youngest sister’s friend is dying of cervical cancer, my daughter’s mother-in-law is in the hospital with lung cancer, my older sister’s son committed suicide last fall, my grandson is suffering from depression, my mother has colon cancer, my youngest granddaughter has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and is in great mental pain, which is giving her mother deep emotional pain.

If we don’t allow God to comfort us and walk through this with us, we will start asking, “Why us?”  “Why me?”  We could become bitter and angry. We could begin to blame and hate God, who has allowed all this to happen and put us in such a terrible world.

Yesterday, when I heard my granddaughter was feeling worse, I felt so burdened and sad. I remembered this verse and told God I wanted his comfort. I needed his comfort. I receive his comfort by prayer, reading the Psalms and remembering what Jesus suffered.

This I know. God has not asked us to go through anything he has not gone through.

“For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.”  2 Corinthians 1:5

“Now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”  Romans 8:17

“But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.”  1 Peter 4:13

“I want to know Christ–yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.”    Philippians 3:10

“…and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are sharers of our comfort.”   2 Corinthians 1:7

 

 

 

 

 

 

God Saved the Jews From Alexander the Great.

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Photo by Gunnar Bach Pedersen

I have read some of the writings of Josephus Flavius. He lived from AD 37 – 100 AD. Some scholars have not accepted his account of history, but many do. I believe God moved upon him to write about God, Jesus, the Scriptures and the history of the Jews. He wrote in both Aramaic and Greek and was writing for the Gentiles who had no knowledge of the Scriptures and Jewish history.

In Part 1, The Antiquities of the Jews, I came upon a chapter that dealt with Alexander the Great and his treatment of the Jews. It was fascinating, and I think many of you would like to know how God spared his people from being killed by Alexander. I will now quote from the book only:

“Now Alexander, when he had taken Gaza, made haste to go up to Jerusalem: and Jaddua the high priest, when he heard that, was in an agony, and under terror, as not knowing how he should meet the Macedonians, since the king was displeased at his foregoing disobedience.

He therefore ordained that the people should make supplications, and should join with him in offering sacrifices to God, whom he besought to protect that nation, and to deliver them from the perils that were coming upon them. Whereupon God warned him in a dream, which came upon him after he had offered sacrifice, that he should take courage and adorn the city, and open the gates; that the rest appear in white garments, but that he and the priests should meet the king in the habits (clothing) proper to their order, without the dread of any ill consequences, which the providence of God would prevent.

Upon this, when he rose from his sleep, he greatly rejoiced and declared to all the warning he had received from God according to which dream he acted entirely, and so waited for the coming of the king.

And when he heard Alexander was not far from the city, he went out in procession, with the priests and the multitude of the citizens. The procession was venerable, and the manner of it different from that of the other nations…The Phonecians and the Chaldeans that followed Alexander thought they would have liberty to plunder the city, and torment the high priest to death, which is the reverse of what happened.

Alexander, when he saw the multitude at a distance, in white garments, while the priests stood clothed with fine linen, and the high priest in purple and scarlet clothing, with his mitre on his head having the golden plate on which the name of God was engraved, he approached them by himself and adored that name, and first saluted the high priest. The Jews also did all together, with one voice, salute Alexander, and encompass him about; whereupon the kings of Syria and the rest were surprised at what Alexander had done, and supposed him disordered in his mind.

However, Parmenlo alone went up to him and asked how it came to pass that when all others adored him, he should adore the high priest of the Jews? He replied, “I did not adore him, but that God who hath honored him with that high priesthood. For I saw this very person in a dream, in this very clothing, when I was at Dios, in Macedonia, when I was considering with myself how I might obtain the dominion of Asia.

He exhorted me to make no delay, but boldly pass over the sea thither, for he would conduct my army, and would give me the dominion over the Persians. So, having seen no other in that clothing and now seeing this person in it, and remembering that vision and the exhortation which I had in my dream, I believe that I bring this army under the divine conduct, and shall therewith conquer Darius, and destroy the power of the Persians, and that all things will succeed according to what is in my own mind.

And when he had said this to Parmenlo, and had given the priest his right hand, the priests ran along beside him as he came into the city. He went into the temple and made a sacrifice to God, according to the hight priest’s directions and magnificently treated both the high priest and the priests. And when the book of Daniel was showed him, wherein Daniel declared that one of the Greeks should destroy the empire of the Persians, he supposed that himself was the person intended. Then he was glad and dismissed the multitude…”

“I love the LORD, because he has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy.” Psalm 116:1

“It is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men And knowledge to men of understanding.” Daniel 2:21

Making Assumptions.

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When I was in my early 20s, I went to a prayer meeting where the preacher said, “Isn’t it wonderful to be a Christian. We don’t suffer from the ups and downs of emotions like neurotic people.”

I’ll never forget sitting there thinking, “My emotions are up and down. Am I neurotic? Is that what is wrong with me? He is saying it means you aren’t a Christian! Is that right?”

This happened in the 1970s. I would bet most pastors now realize most of their congregation is neurotic in some way or another. Here is the definition from Wikipedia:

Neuroticism is one of the Big Five higher-order personality traits in the study of psychology. Individuals who score high on neuroticism are more likely than average to be moody and to experience such feelings as anxietyworryfearangerfrustrationenvyjealousyguiltdepressed mood, and loneliness.[1] People who are neurotic respond worse to stressors and are more likely to interpret ordinary situations as threatening and minor frustrations as hopelessly difficult. They are often self-conscious and shy, and they may have trouble controlling urges and delaying gratification.

I don’t know, but it sounds like most of us to me.

I confess, I have done what that preacher did: assume. He assumed none of us in the room had those up and down emotions because he didn’t. He assumed all Christians were like him. He assumed Christ had taken care of all that in everyone.

I have assumed things about people. I have often said, “Well, they weren’t real Christians if they could do that!” You know what? That was wrong of me. I was actually saying they had no relationship with God at all. I don’t think I had the right to say that.

Our lives are a journey with God; we learn on this journey. We walk, fall, get up, run, crawl, get up, walk…  The times we fall may be when we are closest to God, who knows? Not you, not me. I am so guilty of the sin of judging people. I’m ashamed of myself and pray I will quit doing it. I hope I can just love people. Just love them. Let God worry about what they are doing. Let him clean them up and clean me up in his own time. I know very well there are people who think I am not a Christian.

In closing, on my last post I mixed up which quotations I was putting together. I left out a really good quote by Thomas a Kempis about feelings that I still want to post. So here it is:

MY SON, trust not to your feelings, for they will quickly be changed into something else. As long as you live you are subject to change, even against your will; so that you are at one time merry, then sad; at one time quiet, then troubled; now devout, then worldly; now diligent, then listless; now grave, and presently light-hearted. 

 But he that is wise and well instructed in the spirit stands firm upon these changeable things; not heeding what he feels in himself, or which way the wind of instability blows; but that the whole intention of his mind may tend to the right. 

So, I guess that pastor was wrong. We can have emotions that swing all over the place and still be Christians.

What to do About Evil Thoughts.

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Manuscript of Imitation of Christ.

Thomas Kempis has a lot to say about feelings and thoughts in his book, “Imitation of Christ.”  I remember when I was a young Christian, I would get so discouraged by my thoughts. They did make me feel bad about myself. It is nice to know our thoughts are no surprise to God and he accepts us as we are, thoughts, feelings and all other things.

I wish I had learned when I was young what to do with bad thoughts and feelings, but the first I heard about the topic was from Joyce Meyer, who told me what to do about them: Quote Scripture out loud. Or tell Satan to go away. We can do that, Joyce says, because Jesus did and he is our example. Kempis also writes a lot about not finding our comfort from fellow humans – that God is enough.

From the book,”Imitation of Christ” (Abridged),

by Thomas a Kempis.

IT IS GOOD that we sometimes have troubles and crosses; for they often make a man enter into himself, and consider that he is here in banishment, and ought not to place his trust in any worldly thing…

It is good that we be sometimes contradicted; and that men think ill or inadequately of us, even though we do and intend well. These things help often to the attaining of humility, and defend us from vain glory: for then we chiefly seek God for our inward witness, when outwardly we are condemned by men, and when there is no credit given unto us.  

Therefore, a man should rest himself so fully in God, that he need not to seek many comforts of men. When a good man is afflicted, tempted, or troubled with evil thoughts, then he understands better the great need he hath of God, without whom he sees he can do nothing that is good. Then, also, he sorrows, laments, and prays, by reason of the miseries he suffers. Then also he understands that perfect security and full peace can not be had in this world.

That good and sweet affection which thou sometimes feel, is the effect of grace present, and a sort of foretaste of thy heavenly home; but on this you must not lean too much, for it comes and goes. 

But to strive against evil motions of the mind which arise, and to reject with scorn the suggestions of the devil, is a notable sign of virtue, and shall have great reward. 

Let no strange fancies therefore trouble you, which on any subject whatever may crowd into thy mind. Keep to your purpose, with courage, and an upright intention toward God. Neither is it an illusion that sometimes thou art suddenly rapt on high, and presently return again unto the accustomed vanities of thy heart.

 Know that the ancient enemy strives by all means to hinder your longing for good, and to keep you clear of all devout exercises… Many evil thoughts he suggests to you, that so he may cause a weariness and horror in you, to draw you away from prayer and holy communion.

Blame him when he suggests evil and unclean thoughts unto you; say to him, “Away, you unclean spirit! ” “Depart from me you wicked deceiver! you shall have no part in me: but Jesus shall be with me as a valiant Warrior, and you shalt stand confounded. “

‘The Lord is my Light and my Salvation, whom shall I fear?’ “If whole armies should stand together against me, my heart shall not fear. The Lord is my Helper and my Redeemer.”