A Divided House Cannot Stand

And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: Matthew 12:25

We typically think of this verse as referring to a home or family–literally, a house divided cannot stand.  Too often, we see the affects of a divided house: a husband and wife run in completely opposite directions until one of them, or even both decide that life would be better if lived apart. Rebellious children expertly divide the home, sowing seeds of discord by their attitudes and actions.  It is a divided house, and woe to them that are trying to function in such a situation.

This weekend the Lord showed me some other areas where life breaks down if it is divided.

You cannot “stand” if you are “divided” against yourself.  That may seem odd, but let me explain.  We are three-part beings, made up of body, soul, and spirit.  As born-again believers, life works best when we allow God’s Spirit to control our minds, which in turn, control or bodies, or fleshly actions.  But what happens when our flesh has a plan of its own?  The Spirit within says, “Read your Bible,” and your will says, “Read your Bible,” but your flesh says, “I want to stay in bed.”  Conflict–a divided “house.”  Suddenly, your life is out of sync, because the Spirit starts convicting your will while your flesh battles for its way, and you are divided against yourself.

You cannot “stand” when you are “divided” against God.   Last week, my computer went on the fritz.  I told myself not to crash and burn: God had allowed it.  I worked hard to get my mind and body under the control of the Spirit; however, when the report came back that it was my hard drive and they would have to “ghost” it, the cost quadrupled.  Still, I worked to maintain a united front. Three days later, the ghosting didn’t work, they would have to wipe it clean, and the cost crossed the two hundred dollar mark!  OR, I could save about a hundred dollars and do some of the work myself. After four failed attempts to communicate with the Dell recorded lady, I decided I needed to put the whole problem on hold and go do something successfully: vacuum out the car.  BUT, when I plugged in the vacuum, it made a hi-pitched squeal and had half the suction power.  That’s when the division happened.  I needed to blame someone.  I  wanted to blame my husband, but he was really innocent and so sympathetic–I had a hard time making him the scapegoat.  So, then it was obviously God’s fault.  After all, He knows my bank account.  He could have avoided this all from happening!

Division now reigned everywhere: my relationship with my spouse, my God and myself!  War was raging and battles were being fought on every front!  What to do?  I did something I’ve never done before.  Before reading my Bible, I scribbled all my woes in my journal in the form of a prayer.  Then I pleaded for God to help me . . .  and He did.  In His gracious ways, He fed me, healed my broken spirit, forgave me, and lead me on my way!

Satan wants to divide and conquer, and he’s an expert at it.  Jesus can restore, and He’s the Master of everything good.  We just need to allow Him to do so.  So, what happened with the computer?  I called the techie and said, “Fix it, please.”  I still don’t have it back, so there might be another post, 🙂 but after making that call, the burden lifted.

 Just do it!  That may be the NIKE theme, but it’s a good one!  Just do what needs to be done, stop stewing, and get on with life!   I know it’s not always that easy, but speaking the truth in your heart and staying submissive to God are great division destroyers!  Satan will happily take just a toehold in any part of our lives, and who wants him to win? 🙂

Will the Real Christian Please Stand Up

Knowing the ways of God is such a mystery to man.  We can read His precious Word, standing in awe of the very fact that He gave it to mankind! Can any other book make such a claim?  Did any other god give his people his written word, written by the very finger of God?

And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God. Exodus 31:18

God speaks to us through His Word; however, He also directs our paths through various ways: another person’s words or actions, a dream, circumstances, nature. His Spirit dwells in believer’s hearts and also moves among us, (John 3:8) in ways we cannot see.

It is 4:45 A.M., not my usual waking hour!  I was awakened by a dream and thoughts of my teen years—thoughts I would just as soon forget.  Why did I dream them?  Where did these thoughts come from?  I certainly didn’t wish for them; however, God used them to remind me once again of my salvation.  I cannot give you an exact date of my salvation, only the details and approximate times. Once again, I took a moment to read the Gospel tract which I read so long ago alone in my bedroom, and what a joy it was to me–a blessed reminder of the best day of my life!

Today, the word “Christian” is proclaimed by so many, but I wonder how many “Christians” would find themselves in hell, if death knocked on their door this day.

Last week at the National Prayer Breakfast (February 5th), Darrell Waltrip gave a clear testimony of salvation. What a thrill to hear this man clearly testify:

  1. That his past had been filled with arrogance and self-seeking fame. Several times, he expressed his difficulty in even sharing these facts, ashamed of his actions.
  2. That there was a point in time when he surrendered his life to Jesus Christ
  3. That the testimony of his wife was a constant draw and conviction in his life
  4. That he is a changed man

I had never hear of Darrell Waltrip before last week—we’re really not into NASCAR; but after hearing him speak, listening to him openly share his heart, describing himself as he was and then watching a totally different man as he now is, I was once again challenged: Why are there so many Christians whose lives have not changed?

One possible answer: believing vs. receiving.  In my own life, I can look back and say, “That’s when it all changed.”  Before I was saved, I believed and went to church faithfully, but my life did not reflect Christ, it reflected me!

But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God,

even to them that believe on his name, John 1:12

I love this verse!  For years I missed it, but look how it reads. The ending phrase says it all: YOU CAN BELIEVE AND NOT RECEIVE.

If you have cancer, and your doctor has a miracle pill that has been proven to completely cure cancer—you can believe in that pill all you want, but until you put it in your mouth and swallow it, the cancer will kill you.

Receiving is an act of the will, it is a choice. It is an act of surrendering all to Jesus.  Anything else that I am clinging to must be dropped.  Our president says that he is a Christian by choice.  I’m not sure what that means, but I do know that you can’t embrace both Islam and Christianity. Many American Christians are just like the lost of other lands.  The missionary presents Christ and they accept Him freely, placing Him on their god shelf beside all their other gods.  It doesn’t work that way!

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. John 14:6

Jesus said it, not me.  If you have any doubts about your salvation, I’d urge you to read God’s Simple Plan of Salvation There are many tracts out there, but this one is dear to my heart because by reading it, I became a real Christian!

Twenty-five Acts of Love

This Valentine’s Day, I honor my husband and his love for me.  We’ve been married for nearly thirty-four years, and there have been times that I doubted his love—not because he didn’t show it, but because of my actions during our dating years.  To cut to the chase—that’s exactly what I did—I chased him.  I often joke that it took a while, but he finally slowed down and I caught him!

Humor aside, it’s always better for the girl if she is chased; that way she knows that he really wanted her!  For years, that doubt lingered in the back of my mind no matter how much Tom showered me with his love.  I’m not exactly sure when the turning point came.  I don’t believe it was a sudden thing.  It’s like watching for a flower to appear.  We see the bud, we watch it get bigger, and then one day we look at it and it has opened its bloom!

Now the doubts are gone, and here are just a few spontaneous reasons whyI KNOW he loves me!

  1. He greets me every morning with a smile.
  2. He makes my breakfast and packs my lunch on the days that I need to substitute teach.
  3. He helps me around the house.
  4. He faithfully prays with me and for me.
  5. He reads the Bible to me.
  6. He takes me on dates and really makes them special.
  7. He makes me cards. (It’s part of his frugal way to really dread spending money on cards, and love him for it!:))
  8. He wants to spend time with me.
  9. He watches over my spiritual and physical well-being.
  10. He supports me in my writing adventure.
  11. He listens to me and takes my suggestions.
  12. He will make the effort to change when something is bothering me, if he feels it is of the Lord. (Do you know what I mean by that? In other words, there are times when I may not like something, but after prayer and consideration, we realize that its ME and not him!)
  13. He sharpens me, encouraging me to be my best for God.
  14. He does the finances and is preparing for our future.
  15. He sings with me.
  16. He plays games with me, even when I know he may not want to!
  17. He is patient with me when I’m emotional.
  18. He loves me when I’m unlovely.
  19. He has really works on “thinking no evil” about me and putting the best spin on my hard-to-understand actions!
  20. He gives his best at improving our relationship at every level.
  21. He works hard at his end of this partnership called marriage.
  22. He talks to me.
  23. He listens!! 🙂
  24. He’s not afraid to criticize me when he knows it is for my own good, even when, sad to say, he knows that I may not react the best!
  25. He always tries to look his best!

Dear reader, if you have a spouse, I challenge you to take the time to make your own list.  I’m not sure that there is anything apart from prayer and improving your own actions that you could do for your relationship!  Love, it comes in all shapes and sizes—embrace each one, and Happy Valentine’s Day!

God’s Pet

128-2848_IMGWe have a pet—actually, it’s our son’s pet.  Pepper is a ten-year-old black Cocker Spaniel.  She is a cutie and a wonderful pet.  She never messes in the house.  She doesn’t get up on the furniture (unless we’re not watching!).  She LOVES to takes walks.  She’s never had any health problems, doesn’t eat much, loves people . . . she’s a great dog.

But she begs.  We don’t feed her scraps from the table . . . or I should say rarely do we feed her scraps—just an occasional pizza crust.  Her worst begging habits happen in the living room.  Now we do have one snack that we share: popcorn.  She would eat as much as I do!  She’s really good at catching it!

The problem is that she must not be able to discern between popcorn and anything else we’re eating, because if we are eating ANYTHING, she sits there looking at you with those big brown eyes and that cute little face, staring at you or the food!  It drives me crazy!!!  Rarely do I give in because I’d really like to break her of that habit.  If I tell her to go away—sharply—she will, and I feel like a big meanie!  If she only understood English!

Is this how I appear to God?  Am I always begging for this or that? Does He ever wish that I understood His language?

Prayer – we all understand what prayer is.  Perhaps we even use the acronym to help our prayers:

P—praise

R—repent

A—ask

Y—yield

But do we rush through the praising, like some ritual to a statue, so we can appease God and get to our requests?  Do we really understand God’s language?  Have we studied His Book enough to get a grasp of what it means to pray?

One of the best habits I have come across is to occasionally spend my whole prayer time praising and thanking God: praising Him for Who He is and thanking Him for what He does.  It takes great effort.  So many requests come crashing in, desires that I wish to beg Him for, but I push them aside and just praise Him.  The request can wait for another day!

Now for the positive picture that Pepper gives us: She is Miss Happy-Ending.  She is ALWAYS glad to see us.  (Well, maybe not at bath time!  She can slink slower than any dog I know!) It doesn’t matter if we’ve been away for five minutes or five days—the greeting is always the same!  “So glad to see you!”

She is a faithful friend.  When we were choosing her, the owner said that she would never be more than five feet away from us.  Boy, has that proven to be true!  As I am typing this, she is just on the other side of the coffee table, snoring away!

So faithful.  Always happy to see us. Am I like that to God?  Arg!  My heart shames me!  I want it to be so!

As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.

My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?

Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me?

hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance…

Psalm 42:1,2,5

Blinded by Fear

It was a forty-year-old Moses who left Egypt and became a shepherd at the foot of Mt. Sinai.  For the next forty years, he herded sheep for Jethro, the Midianite priest who became his father-in-law.  (By the way, Midian was a son of Abraham and Keturah, the woman that Abraham married after Sarah died!  Amazing!)

For forty years he lived on the back side of the desert.  Did he ever think of his exotic life in the Egyptian palace as the son of Pharaoh?  He was an educated man, a man accustomed to wealth and ease, a conquering hero…and a broken man.  Life crashed in around him when he discovered his true identity and tried to put life into a new box—a box in which he did not fit!  His life was now simple, perhaps even complete: He had a wife and two sons and a job where he could be successful.

Then came the call of God. As you read Exodus three and follow the conversation between God and Moses, it becomes clear that Moses has not yet understood this God—the God of the Hebrew slaves which he left.  At the burning bush God outlines His plan, taking four verses to do so, and Moses humbly replies, “Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?” (Exodus 4:11) The next verse is amazing!  God says:

Certainly I will be with thee;and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee:When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain.

 

God has just told Moses that he would be successful in this venture; he would return to this mountain and serve God there!  It was a done deal, but that’s not what Moses heard.  His ears were tuned into all the past fears that he had brought with him out of the land of Egypt!

When Moses once again questions God as to His name, and God calls himself I AM THAT I AM, God once again outlines His plan, this time taking eight verses to do so!  He tells Moses exactly what will happen:

  1. Go to the elders and tell them I will visit them and have seen their affliction
  2. I will bring them out to the Promised Land
  3. They WILL listen to you
  4. The king of Egypt will NOT listen
  5. I WILL smite Egypt
  6. He WILL let you go
  7. The people will spoil Egypt

Can you imagine if the Lord laid some venture on your heart, and as you prayed about it, God spoke to you and told you exactly what was going to happen?  Yes, there would be some bumpy spots, but in the end you would be successful.  That’s exactly what God did for Moses and yet he continues to plead incompetence, even after his rod became a snake and his hand was eaten away with leprosy.

Where is the turning point? In verse fourteen, God is angry with Moses!  But He doesn’t’ dismiss Moses; instead, he tells him that Aaron will be his voice.

We’ve all been there—faithless.  Moses does not have faith in God because he is crippled with fear:

  1. Lord, they won’t believe me: the fear of man is probably the most crippling fear that stops us from being all that God KNOWS that we can be! There are one hundred forty-five Bible verses that contain the words fear not!  Moses didn’t have those words, but he went on to write twenty-five of them! We have them all, written by our heroes:  Joshua, Samuel, David, Nehemiah, Job, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel Joel, Amos, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, Matthew, Luke, John, Paul, Peter and John! Perhaps a study on the phrase fear not would refocus our view.
  2. But I can’t _____ : You fill in the blank. In Moses’ case, he felt he couldn’t speak well.  God then reminds him that He is the One who makes the dumb, deaf, seeing and blind.  God gives us all that we need to do the job that He expects us to do.  It may have been a fact that Moses had these difficulties, and isn’t that just like God to give us a job that requires our greatest inadequacies, to strengthen our trust in Him as well as bring Him all the glory?

But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise;

and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;

And base things of the world, and things which are despised,

hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:

1 Corinthians 1:27,28

 

  1. Send someone else: Moses feels so incompetent that he cannot hear all the promises of God. He finally asks God to send someone else.  We have no idea what Moses faced in Egypt.  We do know that Pharaoh wanted to kill him—that’s pretty serious!  Not many of us need to run for our lives!  To put it into today’s terms, Moses was suffering from a major victim mentality!

Perhaps the greatest blessing from this passage is this: Even though God knew that Moses would be successful, he gave Moses the comfort which he needed to get the job done—his brother!  God promises to never leave us or forsake us, even when we have run from Him.  He promises to equip us with His own power and strength; and like Moses, He often sends us exactly what we need to do the job.  Maybe it’s a friend or mentor; perhaps it’s the finances we need or the equipment necessary to finish the job.  Often those “packages of blessings” come in ways or forms that we don’t recognize or expect. They come wrapped in faith, and God’s fingerprints are all over them!

Remember, no matter the situation, God ALREADY KNOWS THE CIRCUMSTANCES AND THE OUTCOME!  Praise His Name!

And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear. Isaiah 65:24