The Knowledge of Evil.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”   Philippians 4:8

I’ve thought about this verse a lot lately. When I have negative thoughts, I usually praise and thank God out loud and the thoughts go away. I don’t let myself dwell on sad or bad thoughts.

Last week, I came across a review on a new book about the Circus and the arenas in ancient Rome. I’m interested in history, so I began reading the review. They quoted the author on some of the different games and contests that were celebrated. The games became so popular that there was pressure on the administrator to show the people something new and more spectacular each time.

As I read about the contests and killings, I thought, “I should stop reading this. It is going to get worse.” But no, I did not stop reading until I came upon something so horrible, so unspeakable, that it took my breath away that men would do such things to each other. And these things took place a hundred years before Jesus was born. The games were corrupt almost immediately.

The humans they used in these games were prisoners, slaves or captives of war. Their lives meant nothing to the ones who put on the games and probably little to the common Roman who went to the games. Their suffering and humiliation was sport.

The Romans got the idea for having games after a victory from the Greeks. But I’m pretty sure the Greeks did not torture and slaughter people and animals in their games. Reading those few paragraphs made me realize why Rome’s enemies hated her.

But the moral of my story isn’t about the Romans, it is about me. I was curious and so I read on and on. Afterwards, I felt sick and had images in my mind that will always be there. I was like Eve, who wanted to know if the fruit would maker her smarter. The Knowledge of Good and Evil. That was the name of the tree. She had no knowledge of evil, and I guess she felt if God had the knowledge then she should have it too.

But the knowledge of the evil going on in this world is depressing and incredibly heavy. We aren’t meant to carry that heavy load. I do think though, that we should fight against evil, like human trafficking. If we didn’t know it was going on, how could we help those who are caught in slavery?

I have heard about ministries that help the children who are kidnapped into the sex trade. Joyce Meyer Ministries helps those children and there are many other Christians in this work. What a blessing they are!

There are things I have seen in newspapers I wish I had never seen. There are movies and TV shows I wish I had never seen. The depths to which sin goes is as deep as the ocean. These horrors of evil we have to give to God to carry. We haven’t got the strength.

And there is that Bible verse in Philippians. God wants us to think on that which is good and lovely. It is the best way to live, to have peace and love in our hearts. The more we think on God, read the Bible and pray, the more we will see the beauty of goodness. As we see that, we will admire God, who is goodness himself. When we contrast what he is like with evil deeds, we will worship him even more.

I used to like to read about politics and world events, but I noticed it made me feel angry and sad. I rarely read anything on those subjects now. There is nothing I can do about corrupt politicians, except vote for someone I think is good. I just want enough information to do that.

David wrote, “I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless. I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me.”   Psalm 101:3      Good advice.

Sometimes We Feel Overwhelmed. Like Every Day.

“From the end of the earth I will cry to You; when my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”   Psalm 61:2

I’ve been feeling overwhelmed lately, and yes, I cried out to God and he lifted me to stand on the rock, Jesus. I often wonder how people manage life without Jesus.

My mother is 92, and has been living with us for around 4 years. There have been many ups and downs in her health. We have called for an ambulance at least 5 times. She broke her hip, had an operation, got an infection, was diagnosed with colon cancer and had heart attacks. She sleeps a lot, but still eats (not very much) and enjoys watching TV, playing Yahtzee and reading magazines. Her short-term memory is gone, so she has had to stop reading books.

Two or three weeks ago, she started coughing a lot. It wasn’t a cold, so I took her to the doctor. It turned out she has acid reflux so bad that she had burned her throat. She had had no symptoms of acid reflux, so I was surprised. But the doctor was right, after giving her the new medicine she got better. She started sleeping through the night again.

As soon as she was a bit better, her sciatic nerve went wonky and she was in terrible pain one morning. She would scream at the slightest move. It was so hard for her to get out of bed, go to the bathroom – just everything.

But I thank God for the internet. I looked up sciatic pain and one of the things an article said was it can be caused by slumping in your chair. Well, Mom was slumping lately. She said she was comfy when she was doing it, but I told her it might be causing her sciatica to give her pain. I started watching and having her sit up straight when she was up.

It worked. I gave her pills for the pain too, of course, but she has needed less and less medication. She can move around easily now.

All this time I have called out to God for help because I wasn’t getting enough sleep. Night after night being woken by my poor mom was making me feel exhausted. (Like new parents with a baby – very difficult, I know.) But believe me, God came through, like he always does and I was able to take care of my mom. I’m so grateful to Him.

This morning, I was thinking about my grandson, who has had an off and on addiction to heroin. Actually, I think about him every day and pray for him. His life has been so sad it just brings me to tears to think of him. We all love him so much and it has been so painful for everyone in the family to see how he has suffered.

Thinking about him makes my heart sink and I knew I was thinking too much because I was getting depressed. Maybe because I’ve been so tired too. I was feeling overwhelmed. So, I prayed and went to do my Bible study. I’ve been writing out the Bible in my own words, hoping to put the words deep in my heart.

What I read really encouraged me and I want to share it with you. It is from Philippians 3. The whole chapter is beautiful, and I will share that some other time, but these are the words that helped me the most this morning:

Paul writes, “I want to know Jesus, yes, I want to know the power of his resurrection and also participate in his sufferings.”

This stopped me cold. Do I want to participate in his sufferings? No, I don’t. I am weak and a whiny baby. I want everything to be great and to not have any problems and I want to see everyone in my family to be well and happy with no problems.

Jesus suffered, but not only on the cross. He suffered when Lucifer and a whack of angels turned their backs on him. They were his children. He suffered when he saw the grief around him as he walked this earth. He suffered when his brothers made fun of him. He suffered when his earthly father, Joseph, died. He suffered when Judas betrayed him. He suffered when the church of his day rejected him and called him demon-possessed.

He suffers now. When I think someone in my family will not be saved, my heart melts from pain. He has to see those on earth, through the thousands of years we have been here, who reject his offer of eternal life. He loves them. He died for them. They are his children too. He says he was there the day they were born, hoping for them that they would have faith.

Do I want to participate in his sufferings? No, but I will pray that I will. I will pray God will give me the strength, because I have none. I will pray for the mind and heart of Jesus. I will pray he will fill me with himself, and I know he will do that for me, simply because I asked.

What's in A Name?

Philippians Chapter 2: 5-11: In my own words.

“In your relationships with others, have the same mind that was in Jesus. Even though he was equal with the Father, he did not consider grabbing hold or keeping that equality. But he made himself into nothing by taking the form of a servant and becoming a human being. When he was born here, he humbled himself by being obedient to his Father, which included his death on a cross.

Because of this, God lifted him up to the highest place and gave him the name above all names. So that at the name of Jesus, everyone will eventually bow down, those in heaven, on earth and in the entire universe. Every mouth will say Jesus the Messiah is I Am, to the glory of the Father.”

I once read, I wish I remembered where, that when Lucifer and other angels rebelled against God, they at first only had God’s word that he was all wise and all good. They knew no other life than the one they were living in heaven. Isaiah chapter 14 explains to us what was in Lucifer’s heart. He wanted to have the power and authority of God. I am sure God warned him what would happen if he went off on his own, but God, believing in complete freedom, let him go.

Without God’s Spirit in his life, Lucifer became evil. His thoughts were bent on revenge towards God. If he couldn’t be master in heaven, he hoped to become master of this world. Adam and Eve also doubted God’s love, and when they sinned they handed their rulership of the world over to Lucifer. They wanted knowledge God had not given to them. They chose this new king who would give them the knowledge of evil.

But the plan of God was to send Jesus to save this world. He couldn’t save Lucifer, or he would have, but he could save some of humankind if they would change their allegiance from evil to good. And so, the plan of salvation was begun. When on the cross, Jesus said, “It is finished,” he meant the plan was concluded. He had done all he could to show man and the universe that God was a God of love, sacrifice and compassion.

Now all of us can look upon good and evil and make a clear choice. The Holy Spirit brings light to every man, the Bible says. Even if someone has never heard the gospel, if they follow the light within them, they can be saved from the power of evil in this world. The plan of salvation is for everyone in every corner of the earth. One day, those who follow the Spirit of God will be together in heaven praising the name of Jesus. The name above all names.

Death as A Shepherd.

Castle Howard
Photo by: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Mdbeckwith

“Death will be their shepherd.”

I came upon this line in Psalm 49. It jumped out at me because of the many times I have read about Jesus being the good shepherd. It is a terrible thought that Death is leading people around like sheep, but it makes sense because God is the author of life and light. Life is to be found in him alone.

Psalm 49, In my own words:

Listen to this all people who live on earth! Listen, rich and poor, high and low alike! I will speak wisdom to you and help you understand.

Why should I fear when evil days come? Even if evil men surround me, those who trust in their wealth and boast about it, why should I fear?

No one can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for them. The ransom for a life is too costly. No payment would ever be enough to secure eternal life for a friend.

Everyone can see that wise men die and also the foolish. They leave their riches to others. Their tombs will be their home forever, even though they name their lands after themselves.

People do not endure. They are like the beasts that perish. That is the fate of those who trust in themselves and also of their followers, who approve of them.

These people are like sheep destined to die. Death will be their shepherd. Their bodies will decay in the grave, far from their expensive houses.

But God will redeem me from the house of the dead. It is sure he will take me to himself.

So, do not be in awe when some people grow to be super-rich. Don’t be amazed by their splendid houses for they will take nothing with them. Although, while they are alive, they think of themselves as fortunate; though many people praise them, they will join those who have gone before. They will never again see the light of life.

Remember this: People who have wealth but lack understanding are like the beasts that perish.

Jesus, the Bridegroom.

Psalm 45 is a song about the Messiah. On the surface, it speaks of a king. But this king is too glorious to be just any king; it is about King Jesus. So, I thought I’d write it out that way.

Psalm 45

My heart is overflowing with admiration when I think about Jesus! I pray my pen will do him justice.

You are the most excellent of all humans! Your mouth is anointed with grace; God has blessed you forever.

Strap your sword to your side, Mighty Warrior! Clothe yourself with splendor and majesty! Ride forth in victory! Defend the cause of truth, humility and justice. May your hand achieve awesome deeds.

May your sharp arrows pierce the hearts of your enemies. May the nations fall beneath your feet.

Your throne, O God, will last forever and ever. Your scepter is one of justice.

Jesus, you love what is good and hate what is evil. That is why your Father has lifted you above all angels and human beings. He then anointed you with the oil of gladness.

All your clothing, Jesus, is fragrant with the best perfume. You came, and then returned to the ivory palaces where the music of strings makes you glad. Your women are daughters of the King. At your right hand is your royal bride (those who follow Jesus) decked in gold.

Listen, royal bride, forget your people and father’s house. May the King be in rapture by your beauty. Honor him, for he is your Lord. His bride is all glorious; her gown is interwoven with gold. She is led to the King and her friends follow her into the palace. Everyone is filled with joy. Her sons will be princes in the land.

I will remember you Lord and praise you forever and ever!

Hope in Sorrow.

In writing out Psalm 42, I recognized myself. I used to get depressed and full of sorrow, then I would reach out to God and had hope again. I thought the sadness was over, but then my heart would grow heavy again. I learned I had to fight sadness and discontent with prayer and speaking God’s words out loud.

I think the first negative thought we have is a temptation to go down the path to depression. If we stop and dwell on the negative thought, more will come until our minds are full of sadness. We need to stop at the first thought and give it to God. Then start thanking God for all the good things in our lives. We can go through each day in sorrow or peaceful joy. It is up to us.

Psalm 42.

Like a deer pants for water, my soul pants for you, O my God. I thirst for the living God. I long to meet him face to face.

Yet I have been crying day and night, and people ask me, “Where is your God.”

As I pour out my soul to God, then I remember how I used to go to church with shouts of joy among other believers.

Why is my soul in sorrow? Why do I feel so disturbed? I must put my hope in God; if I can do that, I will then praise him, my Savior and my God.

My soul is in sorrow; therefore, I will think on you. My life is filled with turmoil, like waves of the sea going over my head.

Yet, in the daytime, the Lord sends his love to me. In the evening, he puts a song in my heart and a prayer to the God of my life.

Yet later I say, “Why have you forgotten me? Why must I go around in sadness because my enemies oppress me? They ask me, “Where is your God?”

I ask myself again, “Why is my soul filled with sorrow? Why do I feel torn in my heart?

I must put my hope in God. If I do that, I will again praise him, my Savior and my God.

What About the Wicked?

Slave traders.

The following is Psalm 37 in my own words. This Psalm compares the wicked with the followers of God. I rarely ever write about the evil people of the world, but after copying out this Psalm, I felt I should share it. There is so much written about what the wicked do that is wrong, all through the Bible. It is to warn us not to be like them.

Notice the Psalm says nothing about burning in hell forever. No, it says the wicked will become like smoke. They will vanish and you won’t see them. Some people want to believe all will be saved. I understand that because I feel sorry for those who will be lost. But sometimes, when I read the news about sex traffickers, or watch a movie and there is a really awful, bad person in it, I want them to be dead. I want them to be dead because all they do is hurt people. Have you ever known someone like that? I have known a few, and when they died, I thought, “Well, they can’t hurt anyone any longer.”

Notice also the verse that says God will give you the desires of your heart. I believe this is true, if our desires are good. I asked myself what my greatest desire is and it is to see my children believe in God and be saved. I can see that now and am content. I thought back on what my greatest desire was as a child. It was to have children. Yes, God has given me my greatest desires.

Here is the Psalm:

“Do not worry and fret about evil people in this world. Do not be envious of those who do wrong and profit from their deeds. Like the grass and plants, they will soon die away.

Trust in the Lord and do good. Live your life, and take pleasure in knowing the Lord; he will give you the desires of your heart. Give your life to the Lord and trust him. Your reward from him will shine like the rising sun.

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret about the wicked who succeed in their plans and carry out their evil schemes.

Bridle your anger; do not fret, for it only leads to evil. For those who are evil will be destroyed, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit heaven.

In a little while, evil men will be no more; you may look for them, but they will  not be found. But the meek will inherit heaven and enjoy peace.

The wicked plot against good men. But the Lord knows their day is coming. They kill the poor and needy, but in the end, they will die by their own weapons.

It is better to have little in this world than have the wealth earned by wickedness. For the power of the wicked will be broken, but the Lord holds up the righteous.

The blameless spend their days under the Lord’s care; their inheritance will last forever. In times of disaster and famine, they will prosper.

But the wicked will perish; they borrow but do not repay; they will be consumed and will go up like smoke.

The great I Am, makes his children’s steps firm. They may stumble, but will not fall, for the Lord holds their hands in his.

I have been young and now I am old, but I have never seen God’s people forsaken by him. They are generous and freely give what they have; their children will also be a blessing to the world.

Oh, turn from evil and do good! Then you will live forever. For our good Father, I Am, loves those who are just and will never leave them.”