Give and take
A world of involvement
Bear each other’s burdens
Think of others before yourself
Kind in kind repeating
Love them more than anyone else
Love the one who hates you
Treat each person with respect
Holding tightly to God’s ev’ry promise
His perfect peace and blessed rest
Standing firm in your convictions
A humble life has glowed
Meekly shone friends to the Truth
And let them choose their road
Hoby was alone.
He was an only child. His mother died giving birth to him. His father was always in the market place.
They didn’t have much money but with what his father could trade and Hoby could steal, both scratched out a living.
Survival. That was the single focus of their lonely, outcast life.
Living by wit and will power gets one many things but not friendship. Not peace.
Hoby thought everyone hated him. Everyone that is until he met Festus, the shadow. Shadows became comfortable and darkness became Hoby’s dearest friend.
Festus told him about people; Who to steal from, who to lie to, how to make it fun. With Festus for a companion Hoby got very good at it. He could talk faster and steal more. His father wasn’t entirely happy about it but he sure enjoyed all the stuff Hoby brought home and he was always busy working an angle at market; Too busy to concern himself with his son’s life.
One day Festus wanted something in return.
Hoby would give him anything. That’s what friends do.
Little by little Festus continued taking things from Hoby. Soon Hoby had nothing but his health. In time that too he gave to darkness.
Hoby’s father grew sadder and sadder as the days went on. Unknown to Hoby, his father loved him and hated seeing him this way. Each day he wound his way through the labyrinth of the market place keeping a watchful eye on his son… his only son. When Festus took over his boy’s body, hot tears of remorse and helplessness ran down his cheeks.
If only he’d shown more love to Hoby. If only he’s kept him with him all day. If only….
Wasn’t there anyone who could save his only son?!
Yes! There was a healer in town named Jesus. He cast out demons and wherever he went darkness fled from him. Some said Jesus was the son of God. Maybe he could help him. Would he help such poor sinners like himself and like Hoby?
Paralyzed by his lot in life, the troubled and sad father did nothing until one day Festus threw Hoby into convulsions right in front of everyone. In a sudden burst of love, the father thought nothing about the gawking market goers, he just wanted his son to be free.
He waited for his chance. Festus sometimes left Hoby alone. When he left him the next time Hoby’s father would take him to this Jesus.
They found Jesus’ disciples! They had hope. Nothing happened. A crowd began to gather and argue about demon possession. Festus returned.
When Hoby’s father saw Jesus he said, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child. A spirit seizes him and he suddenly screams; it throws him into convulsions so that he foams at the mouth. It scarcely ever leaves him and is destroying him. I begged your disciples to drive it out, but they could not.”
“It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”
“‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”
In that moment, the only son of the King of the Universe met the heart deep need of one young sinner, the only son of a despairing and desperate dad.
You can find the real story here.
Remember that no matter how long it’s been, everything is possible for him who believes …in Jesus.
Just a thought.
How do you wash a child?
…After dinner has been the sensory development of hands, face, shoulders and hair rather than mouth and tongue?
…After curiously decorated mud pies are ready to bake in the summer sun and the pint size baker is wearing so much of the ingredients that only a huge smile and sparkling eyes let you know there is a happy child somewhere in the vicinity?
…After wading through creeks swooshed with algae capturing polliwogs?
…After a day at the beach building sand sculptures and frolicking in tiny breakers with the family pooch?
No matter what the situation, the basic washing remains the same. When it comes to spiritual things, how do we get clean?
To find out, let’s look at The Great Commission in Matthew 28. Jesus commands us to wash all nations (disciples….or we could say, our spiritual children) in the Name. Yes, we are put into the Name as one puts children into the bath water.
The word translated by the NIV and most other translations as“baptizing” is Strong’s word 907 – baptizō . It is defined as – to wash; to baptize; the baptizer.
So the text actually says, “ Therefore go and ‘make disciples of” (teach – Strong’s word #3100) all nations, washing them in the name of the Father, and of the son and of the Holy Spirit teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”
It dawned on me that this does not describe being dipped, dunked, or sprinkled with H2O, making a public profession of faith in Jesus, and then having another person speak the words, “In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” over the one being dunked like it’s some kind of good luck charm.
While that tradition is long-lived and will remain, there is much more to God’s intention.
If we think of the Name(s) of God as the water by which we wash (i.e. that substance into which we are immersed or with which we are sprinkled), then our thinking about the great commission – indeed about the beginning of discipleship – must align itself with that reality. Amen?
Consider these thoughts about washing a child:
- A parent washes their own child
- A parent makes sure that all body parts are cleansed
- A parent ensures that the child emerges from the process a happy camper
- A parent trains them to enjoy being clean as the process repeats
- A parent teaches the child how to wash themselves
Consider these realigned thoughts about washing an infant believer:
- The one who instructs them about Christ does the washing
- The instruction includes training the newbie to enjoy the washing
- The Name of the Father (Creator, Sustainer, and Judge), the Son (Forgiver, Lasting Friend our Boss and Agent of Rescue), and the Holy Spirit (the Counselor) are the ‘water’ used to cleanse all the body parts
- We don’t stay in the “water” but we do return to it…regularly.
- After having been cleansed, we dress, then start daily “play” all over again.
Washing another person does not last forever. Part of the training includes allowing the child to wash themselves with the water. To neglect this essential part is to set the child up to be shunned by their, parents, peers and the community in general.
Children need to be trained to take baths regularly because it is not natural for them to want to. Neither is it natural for us to want to be immersed in the Name of God. .. to make central to our daily routine, His activity and nature. It is, however, a spiritual necessity.
Willfully stinky, dirty people are not accepted. Appropriately cleaned and dressed ones are. So we educate our children about this good habit. In fact, we insist on it.
Dear Friend, please take a bath in Jesus’ Name… regularly. It’s simply good spiritual hygiene.
Just a thought.
Your servant is lonely,
O God, please hear my cry!
I feel so forsaken,
Must I give until I die?
The aching of my heart deepens with everything I do
It just isn’t worth it
this serving You.
No one cares for me, LORD.
My love is not returned.
I pour all that I am
Into a cup wholly spurned.
Don’t people see any value
In my jar of clay?!
Through my tears, I too, question what You say.
Why must my journey be packed with so much pain?
Tell me, God of Heaven, what have You to gain?
Precious child of Mine, let me hold you to my chest
Without the press of time
For your Glory O LORD
You lift up my head.
New life is mine
Exactly like you said.
In the beauty of its bloom
You are magnified
Fragrant Rose of Sharon
Blooming on Your fertile plain
Thorns on my right
Thistles on my left
and all of us get rain.
Let those at sea and those on land
witness what You’ve done.
Transformed the seed
Shone through me
Radiant as the Sun.
Let my love be to You a rose among the thorns
Most precious in Your sight
With holiness adorned.
Precious child of Mine,
Let us walk hand in hand without the press of time
Reveling in the glory by yourself you cannot claim;
Truth, Love and Faithfulness
…Godliness with contentment is great gain.
1 Timothy 6:6
Do I believe that? Do I believe contentment is profitable when mixed with godliness?
I’m not sure. Going to church never made me rich. Avoiding the urge to want more than I’ve got has sometimes squelched my dreams.
Should I believe what God’s Word says? Well, if I’m going to make the Bible my creed (that standard to which I align my life in word and deeds), then, yes.
Let’s investigate the equation closely.
Godliness  eusebeia: godliness, piety – comes from 2095 + 4576 (well, well done! + to worship, be devout, God-fearing)
Contentment  autarkeia – contentment, having all of one’s needs, sufficiency – comes from 846+714 (him/herself +to be content, satisfied)
Gain  porismos – means of gain; from 4198 (to come, go, travel)
The order in the verse is important. Well done all the time reverent worship + being satisfied with myself (who God made me to be) = forward motion, going places.
I’ve never seen the equation worked successfully backwards (i.e. going places + being satisfied with myself = well done worship) The jury is still out on using this equation for living… algebraically.
However, working it from the beginning to the end always works. Fearing God and bowing my knees to His Superior Awesomeness consistently + recognizing who I am, how I’ve messed up, allowing Him and his mercy to bring me to 100% functionality to the satisfaction of us both = a propelling force to be reckoned with. I always end up someplace other than where I’ve been and happy about it.
So if my goal is economic growth from godliness, the padding of my wallet with “resources”, then I am setting myself up for disappointment. Paul describes this group of people as:
- understanding nothing
- having a morbid interest in
- controversial questions
- disputes about words
- Out of which arise
- abusive language
- evil suspicions
- constant friction between men
- Out of which arise
That is so not where I want my life to be! It’s easy to get there though so I’m careful as I listen to what people say about God’s word.
In this same passage ( verse 5), certain men think that godliness is a means to financial gain. After bludgeoning their character, he tells Timothy that it really is a means to gain… great gain. IF you put contentment into its proper place in the equation you end up much better off.
While I LOVE word studies, I do not in any way desire to argue about them. Instead, I hope that by considering what the words really are and what is really being said that we would all have better access to the truth.
Freedom is a great place to travel to. Amen?
May gainful travel be yours in Christ Jesus and may He give you joy in the journey. Amen.
In preparation for my next book chapter, I was looking at the word “truth” ( Strong’s number 571 – faithfulness, reliability, trustworthiness, truth…what conforms to reality in contrast to what is false). Gotta love keeping it real, right? :)
Through my searching, a word combo kept popping up; truth was combined with mercy 15 times. Usually, Bible study veterans say repeated words are worth consideration. I think 15 times is practically yelling, “PAY Attention!” Lord willing, we will.
In each of these word combos, the word for mercy is Strong’s word # 2617 – hesed. Of the 26 times this word is used as loving kindness, we can add at least three more to this mercy–truth word combo. 18 times God says mercy is combined with reliable reality.
Sweet deal! Uh…not so much.
Mercy always get me in trouble. I can think of situations where showing kindness, going the extra mile, etc. has only cost me, not profited me. Too much of that one-way relational kindness stuff has the effect of discouraging kindness – in me at any rate. I’m a firm believer that givers need to be given to.
Ah, but mercy doesn’t mean what I thought it did.
Mercy is defined in this word combo as unfailing love, loyal love, devotion, and kindness. That is a special kindness. Handing this type of kindness to just anyone would be inappropriate. Loyalty is both earned and exclusive by an act of choosing. Devotion is willfully and thoughtfully ongoing bringing the emotion of love into every action. This mercy is a treasure not to be taken or to be given lightly.
This last defining tidbit of mercy is what caught my attention; #2617 Mercy is often based on a prior relationship, especially a covenant relationship. This is important to me..and to you… because being kind is exhausting and expensive. Investing this type of all-the-time relationship with everyone is relational bankruptcy waiting to happen. Knowing we can focus our resources and streamline our efforts to include only those with whom we have a committed relationship takes a lot of the burden… the heaviness of being kind … away and frees us up not to be fake about it either. That IS a sweet deal.
One act of kindness or loyalty is a stepping stone. You can get to the next one only after having first stepped on the one before it. They are sequential and in my mind’s eye I expect them to be reasonably set distances apart. I also often expect them to be well suited to my footfall. (not always the case but I still hold out for it)These stones across the water bridge one part of life to another. Acts of relationship are based on prior relational acts. Bad ones and good ones. Remember that reality-is-truth thing?
If we look at our relational journey as stepping stones across a brook, (the analogy falls apart so don’t think too hard.) Some of us hop delightedly along until we discover a stone is missing. At that moment in this hop-along-bridge, some important relational mercy-truth event just isn’t there. Life and time stand still.
We grieve over it. We stare longingly at the other side thinking to ourselves that the far bank is hopelessly outside our capability so we give up ever reaching it. More grief. We look at the water and begin viewing it every bit as formidable an obstacle as the great wall of China. (Perceptions can get crazy…amen?) Putting our feet in the water is not an option for all the imagined slippery footing beneath the crystal sheen of rippling current racing past; fear has begun to cripple our legitimate crossing.
Notice again, that this mercy is, by definition, restricted. While it might show up in any relationship, it predominantly works within covenant relationships. Focus is such a blessing. Covenant relationships are ones that are legally binding: God with the nation of Israel, Israel with the Levites and the temple, a husband with his wife, etc.
Some of my pathway’s bridges have missing stones. Human loyalty and devotion however cherished, are not always reliable and legally binding contracts get broken all the time but God’s mercy endures forever. The reality that God’s mercy is a forever kind of deal is repeated 38 times. Shall we pay attention? Please, please do.
If God’s loyalty and devotion to his children is reliable and certain (mercy + truth), then our anxiety about his mercy vanishes. Certainty wages war with anxiety and wins every time. Having annihilated anxiety, we enjoy a greater sense of awareness and calm with which to proceed.
So we look up. We hop.
Sometimes with one foot on a stone and the other outstretched reaching for the next. Sometimes by gaining enough momentum and height to plant two feet on a stone. Sometimes we stop on a particular stone to adjust our balance with arms and hands unconsciously working the air around us. Sometimes another hand grabs ours and lifts us to the next one.
Stones go missing for all kinds of reasons. There are two ways to cope: 1. get and place another stone, 2. have somebody help you get to the next stone.
If we find that a stone is missing, we can call on the Name of the Merciful One and He will carry each person across to the next stone. Other helpers might be found and might not but the LORD’s mercy endures…forever.
God likes to help people who call on his name. Perhaps He even enjoys our delight when we reach the other side and turn round to share the success with him before skipping off through the woods to our next grand, exclusive mercy-truth adventure.
Does God listen to His people? …To you? …To me?
Sometimes I swear he listens to my thoughts. There I am going about my day thinking to myself something … not bowing my head, not on my knees, not stretched out on the floor, not covered in sackcloth and ashes, not reciting liturgy, not fasting for any amount of time. Not doing any of that high sounding, on-purpose stuff that we often associate with talking to God …but He’s listening.
For example, last night. As a matter of habit I read the Bible daily. Yesterday I was reading in the book of Matthew, “So do not worry, saying ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your Heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you as well.”
I was in the part of my day when I begin to think about preparing our evening meal. I hadn’t gone shopping this week. OK, I have the meat;Into the crock pot that goes. I have the veggies – no salad fixings but I have carrots and broccoli and potatoes – so I’ll boil those. Today I am making unleavened bread so even though I don’t have yeast, I don’t need it. What I don’t really have that I need is juice. But I continued on with my day not doing anything about it.
My pregnant daughter who has been craving broccoli walks in the door a few hours later toting our grandson cheerfully proclaiming, “Ryker and I thought we’d contribute to the juice tonight.”
Ahhh LORD GOD…. how you do listen and in your great mercy show loving kindness to us all.
Listening with God goes both ways; We listen to him, He listens to us.
I was taught that God always listens to any person who calls on His name. Is that true? Let’s find out.
This two way listening can be broken. Sometimes we break it but sometimes God breaks it.
44 You have covered Yourself with a cloud
So that no prayer can pass through. Lamentations 3:44 (NASB)
When God breaks His connection with us, it is a serious thing. Here is a list of things that broke the listening relationship He had with His people in the Bible. If you click on the links and read the passages, you can learn along with me. Please do.
- When they did not trust Him ( I kind of think God was looking forward to fighting for them with great displays like He fought for them in Egypt but they got in the way because they were afraid they could not accomplish the task on their own. Duh. God knew that. Their job was to not be afraid and move forward.
- When they regarded sin in their heart That word ‘regard’ is Strong’s word #7200 rā’â. To see, look view, realize, know, consider, to be selected / to become visible, appear, to show oneself/ to be seen/ to cause to see, show/ to be shown/ to look at each other, meet with. It is a general word for visual perception.If you keep the wrong things in front of your visual cortex for extended periods of time getting to know them pretty well, that blocks your listening relationship with your Creator. Makes sense to me.And another thing about this is when Ikeep bringing up past wrongs that God has already dealt with, he not only plugs his ears but my quality of life suffers a downward spiral– May this not be true in your life or mine but may fruitful qualities be yours in abundance.
- When God gives you an answer (and you need to make sure it is really Him) then do what he says. Not doing what God says ensures He will stop listening to you The “I” in this passage refers to “wisdom”. The wisdom we seek is wisdom from God and indeed all wisdom sprouts forth from Him.
- Along the same lines we have this passage
9 He who turns away his ear from listening to the law, Even his prayer is an abomination. Proverbs 28:9 (NASB)
Keep in mind this listening is a hear it, obey it kind of deal.
- How husbands treat their wives matters if they want God to listen to them.
- If they treated God badly (idolatry, breaking the covenant) He refused to listen to their crys for help
- The prophet was disallowed to pray for those among God’s chosen who treated God badly. Their awful fate was already decided If you are petitioning God on behalf of someone who considers themselves to be a part of God’s family yet who treats God badly and your prayers seem blocked, realign your prayers with God’s promises.
- When they lied , saying God had forsaken them and didn’t see them, and chose to honor idols in the place He chose for His Name not even loud cries in his ears would convince Him to listen. When God’s people corrupt their worship of Him and teach others to do the same, He hates it. This would be a HUGE mistake for anyone in the house of God.
- When the celebrations He instituted among them became worthless offerings The way out of that mess is in verses 16 and 17. Turn your life around. Every life is valuable – people... animals.... This was all part of what God told Noah and in verse 15 of Isaiah 1 God calls them to account.
- How you treat people around you makes God either smile or turn his face away. I have trouble hearing someone if my face is turned away from them. Apparently so does God.
I was taught that God always listens to any person who calls on His name. After reading these passages, I’ve concluded that is just not the case.
Why is this important?
The public spectacle of the cross during the feast of Passover was epic.
Deliverance from oppression was on everyone’s mind. Their champion was put to death.
How deflating is that?!
All seemed lost. Despair wove its lethal tentacles through their very core. Hope for the people seemed to die with him. They were caving in, one broken heart after the other, to their perceived reality of Roman rule. With no Messiah from God it seemed like the only option…not pleasant but at least it was real.
So they ranted against their …uh…mistake.
He saved others but he cannot save himself… Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down… come down from the cross and we will believe you… Mark 15:25-39
Was it / Is it a mistake to trust in Jesus?
Some of the people of the Exodus got stuck in a similar frame of mind when Pharaoh not only refused to let them go to worship God in the wilderness BUT he made it his mission to make life harder for them. “…You are lazy. That’s why you want to worship God…” Offended with such a lie, the mistreatment and the even more difficult situation they now faced, they also ranted against their …uh..mistake.
19 The foremen of the sons of Israel saw that they were in trouble [a]because they were told, “You must not reduce[b]your daily amount of bricks.” 20 When they left Pharaoh’s presence, they met Moses and Aaron as they were [c]waiting for them. 21 They said to them, “May the Lord look upon you and judge you, for you have made [d]us odious in Pharaoh’s sight and in the sight of his servants, to put a sword in their hand to kill us.” Exodus 5:19-21 (NASB)
Was it a mistake to follow Moses?
Freedom seemed like a pipe dream. Hopes got dashed. Tempers flared. Life got harder.
Does it still work that way? I think so.
My guess is that they began to see God as an enemy for not making their lives easier.
Was it a mistake to follow Moses out of Egypt? No.
Was it / Is it a mistake to trust in Jesus unto salvation? No.
God never promised us easy. He promised us rest. There is a huge difference.
28 “Come to Me, all [a]who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is [b]easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 (NASB)
It’s still a yoke. It’s still a burden. Just not an oppressive one.
There is still work to do. There are still spectacular things to witness.
12 Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father
John 14:12 (NASB)
Life does not get easier when you decide to live according to God’s way. It may actually get more difficult. If you persevere it may also be beyond epic into the realm of spectacular splendor.
May the LORD make it so in your life and in mine. Amen.
If something never changes, it remains the same.
If the unchangeable remains the same no matter what, everything else must realign in relation to it.
For every earthy thing I think up to be an example of something remaining the same, I immediately think up something that can budge it a little:
Brick walls: Dynamite
We rely on immovable objects to get our bearings. When those objects get busted, we are adrift with loss, floundering as we try to find our own way.
This is not the case when following Jesus Christ– honestly. He determines the way we go. He is absolutely unchangeable. When railed upon by whatever force, he is not the one busted, the one(s) coming against him are. There is comfort for the floundering in this; they can get their bearings when aligning themselves with him.
Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or [r]shifting shadow.
James 1:17 (NASB)
Who God was when He created the stars, He was when He made you. He continues to be the same when He walks with you today as He does until the end of time. The LORD is the LORD. Jesus is Jesus. He is trustworthy, true, and reliable because of who he is. We can test him and he remains the same … always.
This is important for those of us who have suffered from abandonment – physical, emotional or both. Trusting God is a gargantuan prospect. Indeed, trusting anyone is a huge deal. Like the people who followed Moses out of Egypt so very long ago, our first line of defense is to try to align our relationships for our own sense of stability and like them we long for sameness… things already known regardless of reality:
Take their comments in Exodus 32 as an example:
Now when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people assembled about Aaron and said to him, “Come, make us[a]a god who will go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.”
Everything was up for grabs when they decided they would wait no longer. But it is just as big a mistake for us as it was for them:
Then the Lord spoke to Moses, “Go [c]down at once, for your people, whom you brought up from the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. 8 They have quickly turned aside from the way which I commanded them. They have made for themselves a molten calf, and have worshiped it and have sacrificed to it and said, ‘[d]This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt!’” 9 The Lord said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and behold, they are [e]an obstinate people. 10 Now then let Me alone, that My anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them; and I will make of you a great nation.”
People are fickle though not all of them. Sorting out who to trust is hard work. We need to trust God. God is reliable all the time. Easy-Peasy. No oppressive work in it.
Let’s follow God’s reliability in other passages.
8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who [a]is to come, the Almighty.” Revelation 1:7-9 (NASB)
I am so glad God is always all mighty, aren’t you?
10 “I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem,[a]the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn.11 In that day there will be great mourning in Jerusalem, like the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the [b]plain of [c]Megiddo. 12 The land will mourn, every family by itself; the family of the house of David by itself and their wives by themselves; the family of the house of Nathan by itself and their wives by themselves; 13 the family of the house of Levi by itself and their wives by themselves; the family of the Shimeites by itself and their wives by themselves; 14 all the families that remain, every family by itself and their wives by themselves. Zechariah 12:10-14 (NASB)
Don’t miss the connection here. … the Pierced One (that’s Jesus, FYI), the tribes in mourning. In chapter 13 we see that the Almighty is there.
ON that day… a cleansing fountain opens to the house of David
On that day… the LORD banishes the name of idols, they will be remembered no more
On that day… the LORD Almighty removes both the prophet and the spirit of impurity from the land
Fear concerning the unreliable, whether things or people, is out of place in the Christ-following experience because God, the Almighty, the Lord Jesus Christ, is who he says he is … reliable – time and time again. Amen.