Evil Begins with One Thought.

I was watching a British show about Sherlock Holmes the other day and noticed that in the story a whole family was destroyed by one person with one evil thought that turned into an obsession.

The story was about three sisters who lived together. One of them got married and one of them wanted her husband. It ended in murder of one sister and the other two sisters estranged.

That day, I also listened to a podcast called, Joyce Meyer’s Talk it Out. Three of Joyce’s friends talk about a subject that affects their lives. It’s a lovely podcast.

They talked about “thoughts” and how when they were first Christians, they didn’t understand that thoughts are not always our own, but many can come from God or Satan. I had felt the same when I was first a Christian. I would have evil thoughts and was horrified by them. I wondered if I was really a Christian. But eventually I came to see that the thoughts were temptations from Satan.

I do know the Bible supports this theory. I will share some Bible verses with you.

How Satan speaks to us:

The evening meal was underway, and the devil had already put into the heart of Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus.  John 13:2

 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, He was hungry.

The tempter came to Him and said, “If You are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”

But Jesus answered, “It is written: Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:1-4

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can make your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this world’s darkness, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  

Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you will be able to stand your ground, and having done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness arrayed, and with your feet fitted with the readiness of the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.   Ephesians 6:10-17

How God speaks to us:

And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.   Isaiah 30:21

 But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”  Matthew 16:23

… some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming!”

But Jesus knew what they were thinking and said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts?  Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk?’  But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins…” Then He said to the paralytic, “Get up, pick up your mat, and go home.”  And the man got up and went home.   Matthew 9:3-7

Jesus said, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. “  Matthew 6:1

How we speak to ourselves:

When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone.  But each one is tempted when by his own evil desires, he is lured away and enticed. Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.  James 1:13-15

Like the woman in the Sherlock Holmes story, she had a desire. She desired her sister’s husband.

The remedy to these temptations is easy: quote the Bible, as Jesus did, say to God and yourself, “I will not think about this anymore”, and pray for God to help you to throw that thought into the sea.

The quotes I use the most are: “You are a shield around me, my glory and the lifter of my head.”  “May everything that breathes, praise the Lord.” “The Lord is a strong tower I run to and am safe.” “The Lord is the strength of my life and my portion forever.”

Evil thoughts don’t hang around when the Lord is praised.

The Outcast. Mental Illness and Homelessness.

(I give permission for anyone to copy any of my posts.)

I have a sister who lives at a campground. Some of the sites are for permanent residents and the rest are for campers. She lives in a motorhome. After living there for awhile, she found out a man lived on the property who did odd jobs for the owner of the camp and its residents.

She asked this man if he would clean off the roof and do other tasks for her. She got to know him and realized he wasn’t quite normal. She found out he used to be an executive at a large corporation, but his young wife had died of cancer and he had a nervous breakdown. He told her he was in a hospital for a few months and was better for a time. A few years later, he had a girlfriend who also died, in an accident I think.

After that, he was in a permanent depression and just couldn’t cope with life at all. He lost his job and was homeless for a long time. Somehow, he got a small camper and lived in that. He came to the campground and asked the owner if he could live there by doing odd jobs and he told him he could.

My sister knew him for at least five years but told me he was going downhill. He started going to a psychiatric hospital occasionally. Later, when she would ask him to work for her, he forgot or took a few weeks to do it. Eventually, he quit doing all work.

Around that time, they started talking about God. She bought him two Bibles, one a graphic novel type and another regular Bible. She spoke to him of what God had done for her and how she loved being a Christian.

He told her all the Christians he had met were unkind to him, especially two people at the park, one of them the manager. They had promised to pay him a certain amount of money and then cut his pay in half after he was done. He said he had tried to go to churches, but the people there didn’t want him. He said he was surprised she was a Christian because she was nice to him.

A few months later, she found out the owner and manager had kicked him out because he wasn’t working enough and his site was messy. She doesn’t know where he went.

When I think of that man, I think of the word, “Outcast.” Then I think of Jesus, a friend of outcasts and who became one himself. I also think of mental illness and how misunderstood it is.

As I’ve written before, I have a mental illness and my sister told me most of the homeless people she met have had either a physical or mental illness. They are people no one knows what to do with. They are without a rudder in this cold world. People look down on them and ask, “Why aren’t they working? They look healthy enough to work!”

I’ll tell you why. They probably can’t concentrate, they may be terrified of people (like me), they are afraid to work because they know they will make mistakes and people will yell at them, and they can’t bear the thought of that. (me) Their memory isn’t good. They will forget what you told them to do, or misunderstand instructions. (me) They don’t have a car, bus fare, clothing. They are sometimes so nervous they cannot speak. (me)

If I didn’t have a husband to support me, I’d be homeless myself. Well, my daughters would take me in. I am blessed that way. My family understands my illness and loves me.

I’m writing this because I wish so much that the world would do something for these people. I know how complicated that is; although I did read about a city in Canada that built apartments for all the homeless and made it a law they couldn’t live on the streets. It has worked out wonderfully and is actually saving the city money. Maybe it isn’t as hard as we think. We have a terrific Premier in BC, where I live. He is doing a lot for the homeless. I admire him.

Well, I said what was burning in my heart tonight. Here are some verses from the Bible about outcasts.

The blind man Jesus healed:

They answered and said to him, “You were born entirely in sins, and do you teach us?” And they cast him out. When Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, He found the man and said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”

 “Who is He, Sir?” he replied. “Tell me so that I may believe in Him.” “You have already seen Him,” Jesus answered. “He is the One speaking with you.” “Lord, I believe,” he said. And he worshiped Jesus.   John 9:34-38

A parable of Jesus:

So, they took him and killed him and cast him out of the vineyard.   Mark 12:8

Verses about Israel:

If your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there the LORD your God will gather you, and from there he will take you.  Deut. 30:4

I will make the lame into a remnant, and the outcast into a strong nation. Then the LORD will rule over them in Mount Zion from that day and forever.  Micah 4:7

Behold, at that time I will deal with all your oppressors. And I will save the lame and gather the outcast, and I will change their shame into praise and renown in all the earth.   Zeph. 3:19

Whereas you have been forsaken and hated, with no one passing through, I will make you majestic forever, a joy from age to age.   Isaiah 60:15

Treatment of the poor:

What do you mean by crushing my people, by grinding the face of the poor?” declares the Lord GOD of hosts.   Isaiah 3:15

What sorrow awaits the unjust judges and those who issue unfair laws.

They deprive the poor of justice and deny the rights of the needy among my people.

They prey on widows and take advantage of orphans.

What will you do when I punish you, when I send disaster upon you from a distant land?

To whom will you turn for help?

Where will your treasures be safe?

Isaiah 10:1-3

It is a perilous thing to take advantage of the poor.


Can God Set A Table in the Wilderness?

File:1963 - Hikers heading to Malduce Peak in Dick Smith Wilderness.jpg

“They spoke against God, saying, ‘Can God spread a table in the wilderness? True, he struck the rock, and water gushed out, streams flowed abundantly, but can he also give us bread? Can he supply meat for his people?’”   Psalm 78-19.20

These verses are speaking of the nation of Israel when they wandered in the desert. God had been sending a food called manna for a long time but the people were tired of it. They wanted meat to eat instead. God said he would send meat, but even Moses asked God where he would get meat for these thousands of people. Then God sent a wind that blew quails into their camp and they ate.

These are dark times in the world. Not only are we living through a pandemic that has turned the world upside down, but there is strife and violence within the nations. Because of global warming, we could be facing another disaster: famine.

If this happens in Western nations, where we have had plenty of food to eat all our lives, violence will fill the land. People will kill even their own neighbors for food. I pray this won’t come to pass, but as Christians we need to fortify ourselves by asking God to strengthen us and also by believing He will feed us if there is ever a shortage of food. There are also many stories in the Bible of God feeding his followers when they needed it. God has shown us he will take care of his children during a famine.

When there was a famine in the land, God fed Elijah. “Then a revelation from the LORD came to Elijah: “Leave here, turn eastward, and hide yourself by the Brook of Cherith, east of the Jordan. And you are to drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.”

“So, Elijah did what the LORD had told him, and he went and lived by the Brook of Cherith, east of the Jordan.  The ravens would bring him bread and meat in the morning and evening, and he would drink from the brook.  Some time later, however, the brook dried up because there had been no rain in the land.” 1 Kings 17:2-7

God then sent Elijah to a widow whom he knew would feed him. “Then the word of the LORD came to Elijah: “Get up and go to Zarephath of Sidon, and stay there. Behold, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you.” Verse 8

“So Elijah got up and went to Zarephath. When he arrived at the city gate, there was a widow gathering sticks. Elijah called to her and said, “Please bring me a little water in a cup, so that I may drink.” And as she was going to get it, he called to her and said, “Please bring me a piece of bread.”

But she replied, “As surely as the LORD your God lives, I have no bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. Look, I am gathering a couple of sticks to take home and prepare a meal for myself and my son, so that we may eat it and die.”

 “Do not be afraid,” Elijah said to her. “Go and do as you have said. But first make me a small cake of bread from what you have, and bring it out to me. Afterward, make some for yourself and your son, for this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be exhausted and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the LORD sends rain upon the face of the earth.’ ”

So, she went and did according to the word of Elijah, and there was food every day for Elijah and the woman and her household. The jar of flour was not exhausted and the jug of oil did not run dry, according to the word that the LORD had spoken through Elijah.”

Notice how the widow obeyed and even served the prophet first? God sent Elijah to her because he knew her faith was great. She is a shining example for us.

When Jesus had been with crowds of people for days, he felt sorry for them and fed thousands of them with just a few fish and a little bread.

       In the book of Isaiah it is asked, “Who of us can dwell with a consuming fire?

Who of us can dwell with everlasting flames?”  (The context is seeing God in his glory when he comes again.)

The answer is:

       “He who walks righteously and speaks with sincerity,

who refuses gain from extortion, whose hand never takes a bribe,

who stops his ears against murderous plots and shuts his eyes tightly against evil—

he will dwell on the heights; the mountain fortress will be his refuge;

his food will be provided and his water assured.

Your eyes will see the King in His beauty and behold a land that stretches afar.

Your mind will ponder the former terror:

“Where is he who tallies? Where is he who weighs? Where is he who counts the towers?”  Isaiah 33:14-18

Evil people can terrify us, but remember who made the earth, food, water  and animals. We will see the King in His beauty and wonder why we were afraid.

Why Did Jesus Call Himself, “The Son of Man?”

Jesus spoke of himself by the title, “The Son of Man,” more often than anything else. He sometimes called himself The Son of God, The Good Shepherd, The Door, The Bread of Life, and The Light of the World. He has many titles, but The Son of Man was his favorite.

I think it is my favorite too because he knows what it is like to be a human being on this planet. He understands our weaknesses. He is our brother during this great war between good and evil.

Jesus said, “But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins…” He said to the paralytic, “I tell you, get up, pick up your mat, and go home.”

And immediately the man got up, picked up his mat, and walked out in front of them all. As a result, they were all astounded and glorified God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”   Mark 2:10-12

Jesus said, “For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon!’  The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look at this glutton and drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ But wisdom is vindicated by all her children.”   Luke 7:33-35

“You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.”   Matthew 26:2

“Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory.   Matthew 24:30

“So, if they tell you, ‘There He is in the wilderness,’ do not go out; or, ‘Here He is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it.  For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.”   Matthew 24:26,27

“For the Son of Man will come in His Father’s glory with His angels, and then He will repay each one according to what he has done.”   Matthew 16:27

“Truly, truly, I tell you, the hour is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.  For as the Father has life in Himself, so also, He has granted the Son to have life in Himself. And He has given Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man.”  John 5:25-27

Jesus says God the Father has life in himself and has given that to him also. And he has given authority to Jesus to be the judge of all humankind. The reason? Because along with being the Son of God, he is the Son of Man, and it is this that gives him the insight to judge us. He was a human being like us and felt what it is like to be us. Therefore, he can judge correctly.

The Pulpit Commentary says this:

“Verse 27. – And he gave him (i.e. the Son, the God-Man) authority to execute judgment, because he is Son of man. He has vindicated his power to confer life upon the dead by asserting the possession by “the Son” of the Divine Sonship. He now adds, so far as the relation to man is concerned, his fitness and authority to administer justice, to preside over the entire juridical process, to lift the scales, to determine the destiny of the human race. The fitness is seen in this, that he, “the Son,” is “the Son of man.” The one term, “THE SON,” entirely covers the twofold Sonship. The proof of his humanity is assumed to be complete. The fact of it is the ground that he who knows what is in man should be the Judge of men.

By personal experience of man’s temptations and frailties; by knowing every palliation of our sins, every extenuation of our failures, every aggravation of our weakness; by gazing through human eyes with human consciousness upon our mysterious destiny, he is competent to judge; whereas by being Son of God as well as Son of man, he is entrusted with power to execute the judgment of the Eternal.

The principle involved is based upon perfect justice. The honour thus conferred on the God-Man is infinite, the consolation thus held out to man unspeakable. We are being judged by Christ, not by impersonal law. The entire incidence upon every individual of the Law is in the hands of the Redeemer. The Saviour, the Life-giver, the Voice which quickens the dead, assigns the judgment. We must be careful, in any inference we draw from this grand utterance, to avoid all suspicion of schism or rivalry between the Father and the Son. The Son is not more merciful than the Father. For the Father of the Old Testament pities his children, and knows their frame (Psalm 103:13, 14), and the Father of Jesus Christ loves the world, and counts the very hairs of our heads. The Son will not exercise this judgment with less regard to the claims of eternal justice than the Father; but his knowledge of humanity is, by the nature of the case, a guarantee of such application of the justice of God to the case of every individual, that man’s knowledge of himself will be able personally to justify and verify it. The Divine judgment will go forth from the heart of man himself.”

Why Read the Bible?

“In the beginning was the Word. The Word was with God and was God.” John 1:1

Two definitions for “word:”

The expressed or manifested mind and will of God.” Merriam-Webster Dictionary

“A speech sound, or series of speech sounds, that symbolizes and communicates a meaning…” Merriam-Webster Dictionary

“By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth.” Psalm 33:6

“By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.  Hebrews 11:3

“For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm.”  Psalm 33:9

This is what makes God be God. No one else in heaven or earth can speak a word and create something.

“Remember what happened long ago, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me. I declare the end from the beginning, and ancient times from what is still to come.”   Isaiah 46:9,10

“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.   Hebrews 4:12

God’s word is alive and active: His words in the Bible are alive because as we read them the Holy Spirit takes the words and imbues them with energy or life itself. Then puts these words in our minds. He makes the words meaningful and relevant to our lives. We can sometimes think, “This is beautiful. This is interesting. This is something I always want to remember.” Later on, God will remind us of these words which will help us in our lives.

This was how John saw Jesus in a vision, “He held in His right hand seven stars, and a sharp double-edged sword came from His mouth. His face was like the sun shining at its brightest.”

This is a marvelous work of the Word of God. When we read the Bible, we can become convicted of what we are doing wrong. But not only doing, what we are thinking! If the Bible says we are to love our enemies and we know we don’t, then the words of God convict us we are in the wrong.

Our attitudes can be destructive. If we have an attitude of pride for ourselves and contempt for others, we don’t even have to say a word, that attitude can be seen through our body language. We can sneer, roll our eyes, turn and walk away etc. There are so many ways our attitudes can hurt people and God doesn’t miss a trick.

Our Words have power too:

“You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”  Matthew 12:34

Solomon wrote, “Life and death are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”   Proverbs 18:21

This has been shown to be true in this world of sorrow. People lie on the witness stand, they bully people online, they gossip or spread lies either online or to other people.

These kinds of words have caused people to die for a crime they didn’t commit. They have caused people to commit suicide. They have caused people to become depressed, angry, and vengeful.

Jesus said to the religious rulers of his day, “Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad; for a tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.

 The good man brings good things out of his good store of treasure, and the evil man brings evil things out of his evil store of treasure. (God’s words are like a treasure you store in your mind.) But I tell you that men will give an account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”   Matthew 12:33-37

Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers

(36) Every idle word that men shall speak.—The teaching, though general in form, still looks back to the hard, bitter words of the Pharisees which had been the starting-point of the discourse. Our Lord does not speak, as we might have expected, of “every evil word,” but of “every idle—i.e., useless and purposeless—word,” the random utterances which, as being more spontaneous, betray character more than deliberate speech. Such an “idle word” had been the passing taunt, “He casts out devils by Beelzebub.” It is not said, however, that for every such random speech a man shall be condemned, but that he shall give an account for it. It will enter into that great total which determines the divine estimate of his character, and, therefore, the issues of the great “day of judgment.”

On the other hand, our words can help heal a person who is going through a difficult time. We can bring happiness, gratitude, love and all the good things to others with our words.


Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.  Psalm 19:4

A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.  Proverbs 15:1


The words of a wise man’s mouth are gracious; but the lips of a fool will swallow up himself.   Ecclesiastes 10:12

A person finds joy in giving an apt reply– and how good is a timely word!   Proverbs 15:23

Like apples of gold in settings of silver Is a word spoken in right circumstances.   Proverbs 25:11

God’s words are always life. He himself embodies life and love. We can trust his words.

‘Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.”   Psalm 119:105

Metaphors

Jesus used many metaphors, and one of the most common was comparing himself to food and drink. We need these to survive and won’t live long without them. It is the same with humans and Jesus. Without him, we will not live eternally because God is life itself and if we spurn him, we have actually chosen death.

In Isaiah chapter 55, God calls to us, pleading with us to come to him and have life:

He says, “Come, all who are thirsty, come to the waters. You who have no money, come and eat! Come buy wine and milk at no cost to you.

Why do you spend money on what is not bread, and work for what does not satisfy?

Listen, listen to me and eat what is good and you will delight in the richest fare. Give me your ear and come to me; listen that you may live. I will make an eternal pact with you; I will give you the faithful love I promised to David.

Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake their ways and the evil ones their thoughts. Let them turn to the Lord and he will have mercy on them, and to our God for he will abundantly pardon.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

As the rain and snow come down from heaven and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish – so is my word that goes out of my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

(Now God speaks about the future life in heaven.)

“You will go out in joy and be led in peace. The mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.

Instead of a thorn bush will grow the juniper, and instead of briars the myrtle will grow.

This will be for the Lord’s renown, for an everlasting sign that will endure forever.”

(The first verse of Isaiah 56 is apt in these days of injustice.)

“Maintain justice and do what is right, for my salvation is close at hand and my goodness will soon be revealed.”

Fear.

These are trying times for everyone. We can’t see the future and feel powerless over the COVID-19 virus. We are used to having some control over our lives and that seems to be gone. Most of us have lives of trying to cope with problems without the virus; with the virus, life can feel overwhelming.

I am taking care of my 92-year-old mother. The doctor recently prescribed morphine for her because her constant angina wasn’t letting her sleep for more than an hour or two at a time. I’ve been trying one pill, then two pills. If she doesn’t have enough food in her stomach before taking the pill, she gets nauseated and sometimes vomits. I’ve found the solution in giving her a bowl of cereal before she goes to bed; that seems to work the best with one pill at night.

My heart overturns sometimes when I look at my mom. She is so weak and fragile and feels yucky a lot of the time. I wish none of this was happening to her, but I am powerless over her illness.

Each day I pray for God’s strength and he always gives it to me. But last night I watched a video online that showed a woman in her 90s who got the virus and lived through it. I’m so glad she did, but what she described was truly awful and painful. I began to feel deep fear about getting the virus. I’m not afraid of death, but I am afraid of pain.

As I was praying later that night, I was reminded of the many people in the Bible who were close to God and suffered greatly. It felt like the Lord was telling me I shouldn’t expect a life with no suffering; he never promises that.  Jesus said, “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

When I think of how David was running and hiding from King Saul for 20 years, I can understand why he wrote Psalms of sorrow and fear. When I think of Daniel and his friends being taken away from their homes and families in Jerusalem and made to be slaves for the king of Babylon, I think of the long journey there. They were forced to walk for miles and miles before they arrived. Perhaps they saw their parents and siblings killed when Jerusalem fell. Their faith in God was surely tested.

Jeremiah and Isaiah both suffered greatly because they spoke out for God. They did what God asked them to do yet were jailed. Jewish history says Isaiah was sawn in half by King Manasseh. Jeremiah was hunted down and hated by the rulers of Jerusalem. It is only because of the king’s mercy that he stayed alive until the city fell.

In the New Testament, the disciples of Jesus were persecuted and all died from murder except John. Paul writes about the Thessalonians who had all their property taken away because they became Christians. Thousands lost their lives to different emperors of Rome.

These are some of the sufferings of Paul that he wrote about in 2 Corinthians:

In my frequent journeys, I have been in danger from rivers and from bandits, in danger from my countrymen and from the Gentiles, in danger in the city and in the country, in danger on the sea and among false brothers, in labor and toil and often without sleep, in hunger and thirst and often without food, in cold and exposure. Verses 26,27

…in harder labor, in more imprisonments, in worse beatings, in frequent danger of death. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked. I spent a night and a day in the open sea. Verses, 23-25

For myself I can say, I don’t really know what it is to suffer like Paul. Still, I have my own sufferings and I know God sympathizes with me; he walks with me through my sufferings; he gives me strength to bear up under them but he doesn’t always take them away.

I believe Jesus is returning very soon. If that is so, the COVID-19 virus is only the beginning of suffering at this time. I was reading Isaiah chapter 24 this morning and came across the condition of the world at the time of the end:  4-6  

The earth mourns and withers;
the world languishes and withers;
the highest people of the earth languish.


The earth lies defiled (polluted)
under its inhabitants;
for they have transgressed the laws,
violated the statutes,
broken the everlasting covenant.

Therefore, a curse devours the earth,
and its inhabitants suffer for their guilt;
therefore the inhabitants of the earth are scorched,
and few men are left.

Jesus said in Matthew 24:21-26 For at that time there will be great tribulation, unmatched from the beginning of the world until now, and never to be seen again. If those days had not been cut short, nobody would be saved. But for the sake of the elect, those days will be cut short.

At that time, if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There He is,’ do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders that would deceive even the elect, if that were possible. See, I have told you in advance. )

So if they tell you, ‘There He is in the wilderness,’ do not go out; or, ‘Here He is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.

In Daniel 12:1-4, it says “At that time Michael, the great prince who stands watch over your people, will rise up. There will be a time of trouble, the likes of which will not have occurred from the beginning of nations until that time. But at that time your people—everyone whose name is found written in the book—will be delivered.

And many who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake, some to everlasting life, but others to shame and everlasting contempt. Then the wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness will shine like the stars forever and ever.

But you, Daniel, shut up these words and seal the book until the time of the end. Many will roam to and fro and knowledge will increase.”

One of the best things Jesus said was, “Don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will have itself to think about. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”  Matthew 6:34

I heard something online today that made me smile. It was, “I am not a strong rock, but I stand on one.” Amen to that.

The Waters of Shiloah or the Euphrates River. All of Us Must Choose.

The Euphrates River
Photo by
: Jayel Aheram from Iraq,USA.

Forasmuch as this people refuses the waters of Shiloah that go softly … the Lord bringeth up upon them the waters of the river, strong and many.’ ISAIAH 8:6, 7.

In the days of Isaiah, the prophet of God, Ahaz was King of Judah. The 10 tribes of Israel along with Damascus joined forces to take over the land of Judah and the city of Jerusalem. Ahaz and the people were frightened. They knew they couldn’t beat back the great force of those armies.

Isaiah came to Ahaz with these words from God, “Listen to me, and keep calm; don’t be afraid; don’t let your heart be easily moved. Aram, Ephriam and Rezin have plotted your ruin saying, ‘Let’s invade Judah; let’s tear it apart and divide it among ourselves and make Tabeel king over it.’ “But the Lord says, “It will not happen…” and God adds, “If you do not stand in your faith, you will not stand at all.”

The message was longer than this, but God was telling King Ahaz that if he trusted in him, God would protect Judah. But Ahaz did not believe in or listen to God. He had his own idea, which was to ask the kingdom of Assyria to come to his aid. So, he made an alliance with a ruthless, godless people.

Because of Ahaz’s choice, God tells him that eventually the king of Assyria will turn to fight against Judah itself.

 “Because this people has rejected the gently flowing waters of Shiloah and rejoiced in Rezin and the son of Remaliah,

the Lord will surely bring against them the mighty floodwaters of the Euphrates —the king of Assyria and all his pomp.

It will overflow its channels and overrun its banks. It will pour into Judah, swirling and sweeping over it,

reaching up to the neck; its spreading streams will coveryour entire land, O Immanuel! Isaiah 8:6-8

God compares his rule over Judah to the, “…gently flowing waters of Shiloah,” to the king of Assyria who was like a raging river, overflowing its banks and causing ruin.

The waters of Shiloah is the spring of water that bubbles up near Jerusalem. It is the water that filled the pool of Siloam, where Jesus told the blind man to go and wash and he would see. It is the water source where Jesus came and proclaimed, “If any man is thirsty, let him come to me and drink!”

Alexander Mclaren writes:

“The waters of Shiloah that go softly stand as an emblem of the Davidic monarchy as God meant it to be, and, since that monarchy was itself a prophecy, they therefore represent the kingdom of God or the Messianic King. The ‘waters strong and many’ are those of the Euphrates, which swells and overflows and carries havoc, and are taken as the emblem of the wasting sweep of the Assyrian king, whose capital stood on its banks.

But while thus there is a plain piece of political history in the words, they are also the statement of general principles which apply to every individual soul and its relations to the kingdom, the gentle kingdom, of our Lord and Savior, or swift Euphrates in spate. That is what the rejecters have chosen for themselves.

Better to have lived by Shiloah than to have built their houses by the side of such a raging stream. Mark how this is a divine retribution indeed, but a natural process too. If Christ does not rule us, a mob of tyrants will.”

Jesus said to the woman of Samaria, “Whoever drinks of the water I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.    John 4:14

I pray all of us will choose the gently flowing spring that flows from the throne of God.

A Neighbor’s Corona Virus Story.

“Therefore, my spirit faints within me; my heart within me is appalled.”  Psalm 143:4

The verse above is from a prayer by David.

Today, a neighbor talked with me while I was getting my mail. We were careful, standing at least 15 feet apart. She poured out her heart to me about her mother-in-law, who has all the symptoms of Coronavirus and nothing is being done for her. They aren’t allowed to take her to the hospital, even though there are empty beds. She is suffering at her home, all alone. She is quarantined and in pain, gasping and trying to get her breath. She is 83. The hospital told her family, “It isn’t time yet.” My friend told her mother-in-law to dial 911 (which they did once already and no one came), when she felt she was dying so someone would come get her body.

I think hospitals here are doing this because they have run out of tests for the virus, nurses are becoming infected and she is 83 years old. I can’t think of any other reason they would not even try to relieve her suffering. I see statistics on the news that the curve is flattening here in Canada. Well, that makes sense since they aren’t taking tests and are leaving people to fend for themselves and die alone.  I felt so sad for this family.

My sister and I talk about the virus every day. She lives in Washington State and I live in BC, Canada. We think she has had the virus already. She was very sick a week ago, but is back to feeling awful instead of horrible. She has a lot of health problems and never feels normal.

She and I are both negative people. We have always thought the worst would probably happen to us and people we love. We are “catastrophic thinkers.” Each event, we take to the nth degree of disaster. We don’t want any surprises. This has made life extra hard for us, but we have both been working on turning to God with these thoughts. Believe me, he comes through big-time.

You know how a person gets into that kind of thinking? My sister was threatened by a family member a few times by waking up with a sharp knife at her throat. I was abused by my father. If your life is threatened by someone close to you when you are a little child, you never feel safe again.

But this is where faith in God comes in. Not that we think God won’t let us get the virus and die, no, we just trust him to know what is best. If God doesn’t want you to die, you won’t. And if you are dying, he will be with you. This gives me peace. I wrote about this recently, but I feel I should share this again.

Also, there is hope for new medicine and a vaccine. I just read last night a university in Canada has experimented and found a drug that seems to help people get better from the virus. That made me so happy. I hope they will start using it on patients soon.

The prayer of David, at the beginning of my post goes on to say:

I remember the days of old; I meditate on all Your works;

I consider the work of Your hands. I stretch out my hands to You;

my soul thirsts for You like a parched land.

Answer me quickly, O LORD; my spirit fails.

Do not hide Your face from me, or I will be like those who descend to the Pit.

Let me hear Your loving devotion in the morning, for I have put my trust in You.

Teach me the way I should walk, for to You I lift up my soul.

Deliver me from my enemies, O LORD; I flee to You for refuge.

Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God.

May Your good Spirit lead me on level ground.

This is a good prayer for this time in history. When we feel our spirit faint within us, consider the works of Jesus, stretch out your hands to him. Put your trust in him. Ask him to teach you how to live. Then rest in his love.

God says to all of us,Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God.

I will strengthen you; I will surely help you;

I will hold you up with My right hand of righteousness.”

Isaiah 41:10

Let Go and Let God.

“Be still and know that I am God.”  Psalm 46:10

I’ve read this verse many times, but I found out something I didn’t know before. A person who knows the Hebrew language said that “Be still…” means, “Loosen your grip. Let go.”

He said, “know that I am God,” means, “Experience God.”

Both interpretations are lovely, but I think “loosen your grip,” gives us a lot more to think about. What do we hold onto that we should let go? I think it means let go of your worries, sadness and perhaps your plans. You can do that by experiencing close friendship with God. When we know him better and better each day, we will learn how to trust him. We can then have a mind that is quieted by God.

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6,7

I’ve thought a lot about how peace guards our hearts. When you are full of peace, the daily irritations, and even big disappointments don’t bother you as much.

I’ve been ill lately because my mother, whom I take care of, wasn’t sleeping well. So, for a couple of weeks I didn’t get enough sleep. Then two of my teeth were pulled and I had a headache for a week. Lack of sleep and pain made me feel really sad. Did I have peace of mind? I think so, but I will say sadness was in my heart. I’ve learned to give my sad feelings to God and I asked him to help me care for my mother. He helped me each day.

I tell you this because of course there are things that happen that will make us sad. Sometimes we can feel sad for a very long time. Jesus felt sadness, so it is not a sin to feel that way. But I wanted his comfort, wanted to feel his arms around me. He did comfort me as I prayed, and I’m thankful.

There has been a lot of talk in Christian circles on how to go through grief and yet have joy at the same time. Jesus did that too. He grieved for his people Israel, yet because of the “joy that was ahead, he endured the cross, despising the shame of it.”

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:2,3

Feeling very sad and yet having joy about Jesus and one day being with him forever is a paradox, I guess. It is hard to wrap my mind around, but I am going to keep trying. I do know one thing, sadness alone leads to despair and God doesn’t want us to go there.

Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.Psalm 43:5