Monday, June 5, 2017

Sanctuary of Tranquility: Sins We Take For Granted

Sanctuary of Tranquility: Sins We Take For Granted: My church was reading in 1 Corinthians Chapter 10 last Sunday about the reminder from Paul of the sins the people were committing as Moses...

Sins We Take For Granted

My church was reading in 1 Corinthians Chapter 10 last Sunday about the reminder from Paul of the sins the people were committing as Moses lead them out of the wilderness.
Verses 1-4 remind us of how they were all under the cloud, they all passed through the sea, they were all baptized unto Moses, and they all survived forty years in the dessert eating only mana; (John 6:49-50) and drinking only from the Spiritual Rock of Christ.
In verse 5 Paul reminds us of the things they did that were displeasing to God as a reminder that we should not commit those same sins ourselves. He let the reader know that many were struck down (some versions say overthrown) because of their sins. Verse 6 lets us know that these things should serve as an example to us and also as a reminder for us to not desire evil as they did. 

In verse 7, we are warned "Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, "The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play." I wasn't totally clear on the whole idolatry thing so I did some research and discovered that most idolatry in our world today is our self.
The core is in the three elements of lust found in 1 John 2:16 "For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life-is not of the Father but is of the world." 

The more I researched, the more disillusioned I became. Although I already had some idea, I was disturbed by the fact that millions of people, mostly women work sixty to ninety hours per week so they have more money for stuff. Self-worship propels some to work weekends as well as vacation time so they can buy; to name a few things; newer cars, more expensive toys, luxurious vacations and nicer homes. In the meantime, children are shoved into daycare and are starving for attention and love. We fool ourselves into believing that we are doing it for others when in fact it is to feed our own self-esteem. 

We fancy ourselves to be more clever than our creator by rejecting God's word and his description of how he created the heavens and earth and believe instead what scientists tell us. We convince ourselves that we can preserve the earth as it is for perpetuity when God has made it very clear that the earth and everything on it will be laid bare (2 Peter 3:10-13).
And last but not least, we are so obsessed with fulfilling our own selfishness that we overlook the needs and desires of those around us, including the people we love. We have become a world filled with self-indulgent people who take advantage of unlimited amounts of drugs, alcohol, and food to make us happy. We expose our children to those same addictions and wonder why they are obese, suicidal, and have the addiction, and attitude problems that they have. 
We are making every effort to be the God of our own lives.

This has its origin way back in the Garden of Eden when Satan (I hate using a capital form of the letter 's' for his name) tempted Eve, assuring her that if she ate the apple she would be just like God. (Genesis 3:5) This has been man's desire for all time; to be God. How tragic. 

Verse eight tells us point blank that we must not be involved in sexual immorality of any kind as it says "Many of those people were, and it is told that twenty-three thousand people all died in one day as a result of this kind of behavior." 

I have included the list of the top four excuses people attempt to use for their sin and the scriptures that explain why they are not valid excuses.

1.It's not wrong if we love each other.

Sex within marriage is blessed (Genesis 1:28); sex outside of marriage is “fornication” or “sexual immorality” (1 Corinthians 7:2–5)
2. Times have changed, and what was wrong in Biblical times is no longer considered sin today. 
Most of the passages condemning sexual immorality also include evils such as greed, lust, stealing, etc. (1 Corinthians 6:9–10Galatians 5:19–21). We have no problem understanding that these other things are a sin. 
God’s character does not change with culture’s opinion (Malachi 3:6Numbers 23:19Hebrews 13:8).
3. We're married in God's eyes.
This argument implies that God is cross-eyed. 
The fallacy of this idea is that the God who created a marriage in the first place would retract His own command to accommodate what He has called sin. God declared marriage to be one man and one woman united for life (Mark 10:6–9). The Bible often uses the imagery of a wedding and a covenant marriage as a metaphor to teach spiritual truth (Matthew 22:2Revelation 19:9). God takes marriage very seriously, and His “eyes” see immorality for what it is, regardless of how cleverly we have redefined it. 
4. I can still have a good relationship with God because he understands.
Proverbs 28:9 says, “If one turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination.” We fool ourselves when we think that we can stubbornly choose sin and God does not care.
First John 2:3–4 contains a serious challenge for those who persist in this line of thinking: “We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. Whoever says, ‘I know him,’ but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person.”

Verse nine warns us not to test Christ. Testing Christ means to deliberately continue doing something after you have a full understanding that it is wrong. However, verse ten is the one that really opened a few eyes at my church that day and the one that has been following me around all week.

10 Do not grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer.

It doesn't matter if you whine, snivel, or grumble; it all adds up to the same word, complainer. 
When translated from the Greek, it means one who is discontented with their lot in life for that is certainly not a Fruit of the Spirit.
The first complainer on record was Adam, who was less that pleased with his wife after she ate from the forbidden fruit and went whining to God that it was all Eve's fault because she gave him some of the fruit to eat. (I can envision the entire thing, can't you? Eve sat on him and forced it down his throat.) 
From that moment on, complaining seemed to be a fairly common thing to do. 
Cain was obviously displeased even though there is no record of his saying so. 
Moses was not very happy about the burning bush situation or the trials during the Exodus. 
David complained to God in several Psalms.
The prophets complained about the idolatry of the Jewish nation, and Job, well Job...he complained all the time about everything. Although, despite his complaining, he was able to sanctify his complaints to the Lord, and that took more humility than most people will ever have. 

Philippians 2:14-15 says "Do all things without murmuring or complaining that you may be blameless and innocent children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation among whom you shine like the lights of the world" 

I must confess that I wasn't the only person in church that day who squirmed in their seat during the discussions, especially those about idolatry and complaining. After church that same day I had lunch with my pastor and his family at their home. My pastor always asks each and every person at his dining-room table what they took from the morning's sermon.
 As we went from person to person, the overwhelming response was our surprise that God was as disenchanted with complaining as he is with the other sins. 

This made me stop and think about how quick we are to put sins on some imaginary list we have developed in our own mind that classifies them from the worst to the least offensive, something very human that we are all guilty of. 
Needless to say, complaining was certainly at the front of my mind all last week. Especially when the traffic was slow and backed up and it inconvenienced poor little me and then there was the day that my job was monotonous and the next day how there was so much to do I couldn't keep up, and sadly I can think of several other times as well.

I knew I was as capable of sin as anyone else, so I have asked for forgiveness and added complaining to the list of traits I need to work towards truly repenting from. 
Praise God for His Mercy & Grace for they are new every morning.  



Friday, May 12, 2017

Sanctuary of Tranquility: I saw you....

Sanctuary of Tranquility: I saw you....: My first truly memorable encounter with Jesus was during the winter of 2007.  I had been attending a church my oldest daughter had discovere...

I saw you....

My first truly memorable encounter with Jesus was during the winter of 2007. I had been attending a church my oldest daughter had discovered and we both really enjoyed. The music was uplifting; the congregation, super friendly, and the pastor and his family were wonderful.
This was where I gave my heart to Jesus Christ. 

One cold, snowy Saturday evening my daughter and I attended the candlelight service at this particular church and as I glanced around at the familiar faces, my eyes fell upon a very beautiful, very pregnant woman. I watched as she juggled a young child in her arms and kissed him sweetly on his head. I couldn't help but notice the proud and loving husband sitting next to her with his arm draped over her shoulder. The love they shared was overwhelming to me and brought on a tremendous feeling of sadness over a child I had never known. A child who was aborted when I was very young. 
Towards the end of the service,  the pastor asked that we close our eyes, and without looking at others, raise our arms if there was anything in our heart we wanted to confess to Jesus.  With no thought of condemnation, my arm shot right up. didn't realize until much later that on that cold winter night, I was saved by a Grace only God could deliver. 

John 3:2-3 This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know it is from God that you have come as a teacher; for no one can do these miracles you perform unless God is with him.” “Yes, indeed,” Jesus  answered him, “I tell you that unless a person is born again from above, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.”

It took some time for me to comprehend what happened to me that evening but my reaction and confession were certainly not news to Jesus who had known of my sin and what was going to happen that night in that church since before time began.

That evening may have been the first time I encountered Jesus, but He had encountered me many, many times before that without my realization. In fact, as I reflect on my life, there were a great many times when I dismissed fortunate things that happened to me, and simply considered myself to be lucky when the truth was simple, Jesus had me in his scope and He was watching over me

John 1:48  Nathanael said to him, "

How do you know me?"
Jesus answered him...
"Before Phillip called you. 
When you were under the fig-tree,
 I saw you." 

Whoa! "I saw you." 

That is really powerful!!
He knows everything about us, we have absolutely no secrets from Him. In fact, he knows more about us than we know about ourselves. So, we're just fooling ourselves when we pretend he doesn't know what's in our hearts and why we do the things we do.

 Matthew 10:31 tells us that we are worth more than many sparrows and not one of them can fall to the ground without being noticed. 

That is how much he loves us, swhy would we ever lie to him or pretend that he doesn't know what our needs are and exactly what we are doing? 

 Jesus knows everything. He knows about that time you stuck your tongue out at your sixth-grade teacher, how many times you skipped school in the 11th grade. He knows all about that pack of gum that you stuck in your pocket at the mom and pop store and he knows that you lied to your husband about how much you paid for that new dress and he knows what you do in the dark of night. Because of his great love, he understands why you did it and why you lied. 
So, instead of lying to him or pretending he doesn't know and understand us, we need to realize that he is the very best friend we could ever have in our lifetime and just start talking to him. 

Tell him everything. Even if He knows it already, he wants to hear it directly from you.  There is absolutely nothing you can tell him that he won't forgive you for. He won't gossip about you on Facebook and he won't ignore you the next time you cry out to him. He loves you, and he loves me, and he has a great big plan for our lives.
He has an adventure specifically designed for each and every one of us and it doesn't include dragging around guilt and being miserable or feeling unloved and unforgiven. We are ALL very much both loved and forgiven.   

In Luke 19 we read a story of a man named Zacchaeus who lived in the town of Jericho. He was the chief tax collector and according to verse 2, he was also undeservingly rich.  
One day Jesus was passing through Jericho and Zacchaeus wanted most desperately to get a glimpse of him but since he was very short in stature, he decided to run ahead on the street Jesus would be coming down and climb up into a Sycamore tree so he could see Jesus when he passed by. When Jesus got near the tree, he looked right up and said to him

5“Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. 7. All that saw it grumbled, "He has gone to be the house guest of a sinner." 

Jesus knew Zacchaeus was in the tree without even looking up. He also knew that the man was a thief, scoundrel, and a sinner; but most of all, Jesus knew Zacchaeus had a heart problem that nothing in the world could fix but his own special kind of love.

He knew that about me and he knows the same thing about you.
Trust him, love him and he will rock your world.  

Blessings to you! 



Thursday, May 4, 2017

Sanctuary of Tranquility: Why Pray When You Can "Go Fund Me"??

Sanctuary of Tranquility: Why not ask God instead of Go Fund Me?: What are your feelings about praying? Back in February of 2015, I wrote a blog about praying and not giving up. It was then and continues to...

Why Pray When You Can "Go Fund Me" Instead?

What are your feelings about praying? Back in February of 2015, I wrote a blog about praying and not giving up. It was then and continues to be what the Bible tells us to do. I have personally found prayer to be very rewarding and it has helped me develop a closer relationship with God. I have seen the hand of God make amazing transformations in people's lives in areas of health, finances, and relationships.

Witnessing God on the move is always amazing. It doesn't really matter if the prayer we see answered is for our self, or for someone else, it is the coolest thing ever!
There are, however, times when prayers aren't answered as quickly or in the way that we would have custom designed for ourselves (e.g. our way). Yet even in some of the worst case scenarios, when things don't go the way we are hoping, God simply had a different plan. He had His promised plan...

Jeremiah 29:11-1311 For I know the plans I have for you”—this is the Lord’s declaration—“plans for your well-being, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. 12 You will call to me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart.

In this world of getting what we want immediately, if not sooner, we tend to forget that God is both sovereign AND omnipresence. He knows exactly what we need, and when is the very best moment for us to receive it. He listens for sincerity in our prayers and humility in our hearts and conversations and makes His own determinations regarding how things are going to go.

But for some reason, people who should know this, totally abandon all thought off prayer and seek instead an easier, quicker way to get what they think they want, need or what would be fun to have.
God never promised us a cushy life. He might give us one, and then again, He might not. When we truly belong to Him, He searches our hearts and our motives and because He knows every last thing about our situations and circumstances He and only He determines what is best.

So if we know this and we know He wants us to talk to Him about our needs and desires why do we abandon our one on one chats with our Papa and set up Go Fund Me Pages?

Weren't Go Fund Me Pages designed for victims of fires and serious accidents? Designed for people who have urgent needs? Lately, I have been seeing one right after another of these pages set up for people who want to skip the praying part and just get the stuff. As Christians, why are we operating out of fear instead of faith?

Are we so afraid that it might take to long, or it might not be exactly what we want that we skip the prayers and go right to the ME part? Where is our faith? Do you believe in God or not?
How can we convince our maker; the one who loves us more than anyone in this world possibly ever could, that we have Faith in Him when we leave Him out? How can we convince others who don't know Him yet of His goodness when we blatantly demonstrate that we don't trust Him with our needs ourselves?

Just a thought....

Monday, April 3, 2017

"I'm was wronnnnn....."


Fonzie was cool enough to understand that even though he was forgiven, he was still capable of hurting people's feelings from time to time and he didn't want to do that. His friends were important to him. 

We all have bad days, sad days and truly frustrating days; some of those days can give birth to cranky, or absentminded moments when we can say or do some rather thoughtless things.

Sometimes we know in our hearts exactly what we said or did that was uncalled for, and other times we are pretty much clueless unless it is brought to our attention by either the person we hurt, someone who witnessed it or God, himself.

The next part is the tough stuff.  Admitting we are wrong, which is never easy. After we realize we hurt some one's feelings, we need to clear it up. Not just for them, but for us as well. 
That is when the apology comes in.
Apologies can mean being vulnerable and even exposing ourselves to the possibility of getting hurt, but that doesn't give us an excuse not to do it. 
The act of apologizing is likened to a smooth salve applied to the soul, which makes it totally worth doing. God takes pleasure in helping us obtain guilt free hearts and souls. 

"This is how I want you to conduct yourself in these matters. If you enter your place of worship and are about to make an offering when you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go and find the friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and make things right with God."  Matthew 5:23-24 
God loves us so much that he gave up his only son so that we could be sin and guilt free. 
Why would we want to challenge that guilt free existence by going against His will for our lives?
We ask that He forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. 
Part of that forgiving and healing process includes the knowledge that we not only forgive but we are also forgiven. 
So, Complete the circle. Apologize and accept apologies freely from others... say "I'm sorry." 
Those two magic words can change your life.  

Blessings to you

Friday, February 3, 2017

Sanctuary of Tranquility: Reaction is Everything!

Sanctuary of Tranquility: Reaction is Everything!: A few years ago I had a very strange falling out with someone I cared a great deal about. It hurt my feelings and my pride and happened...

Reaction is Everything!

A few years ago I had a very strange falling out with someone I cared a great deal about. It hurt my feelings and my pride and happened at a terrible time in my life. For months afterward, I would see him out and about, sometimes alone and other times on what appeared to be a date.    It hurt my heart.                                                   One evening after such an encounter I cried out to Jesus, who through experience, I know to be totally sovereign, "Why do you keep making me see that, if you love me the way you say you do, you wouldn't want to put my heart through that." 
I was surprised by his near immediate response; a response that revealed a great deal to me about my precious Jesus. 

His answer was this, 
" My dear heart, it was not for you to see him, but for him to see  you." 

I have thought about that response many times. Jesus shared a part of his character with me that night that was much more important for my own personal growth than the temporary comfort for my hurt feelings that I was seeking. He taught me that HE is always looking at our reactions because those reactions reveal the spontaneous truth as it flows directly from our hearts and that is the knowledge he is seeking concerning His sheep. 

Proverbs 17:3 The fining pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold: but the Lord trieth the hearts 

After thinking about his response for some time I have come to understand that Jesus is not in the business of making people feel comfortable. He want's our hearts. He watches as we ignore the things we should and could do for others and the things we choose to do which only serve to harden our own hearts, and He takes note of our attitude about those things.

How do we react when someone we know is suffering; do we avoid them? Are we secretly delighted? Do we feel sadness in our hearts and try to help them or pray for them, or do we simply shrug our shoulders and go on with our lives? 

I shared my story and my thoughts regarding it with a dear friend, who's husband is a pastor. I explained to her that Jesus helped me to understand that he is always looking for reactions from us. She said it reminded her of a man she and her husband had met some years ago. The man was one of sizable wealth, and he had felt pressed to do mission work. He was having some difficulty getting responses to programs he applied for so he asked Jesus what the problem was; why was he being overlooked for something he was dreaming about?  Jesus told him that if he were serious about being a missionary he needed to give his money away. In the man's earthly thinking, the money would provide him the opportunity to help others more. But God had other plans, He wanted to see this man's reaction to his simply bringing the gospel to the table.
This account, in turn, reminded me of an incident I had heard of where a woman from the United States had gone to a third world country on a missions trip wearing her enormous diamond wedding ring and diamond earrings and it made me think of the famous quote by Carl W. Buehner, 
"They may forget what you said — but they will never forget how you made them feel." 
Without knowing the circumstances it's difficult for us to know what any one's motives, thoughts or feelings are, but for Jesus, it is nothing, He knows.He always knows the truth.   

 Search me [thoroughly], O God, and know my heart; Test me and know my anxious thoughts, and see if there is any wicked or hurtful way in me, And lead me in an everlasting way. 

Jesus walks with us daily, listening in on our conversations with others. He makes note of those who feel convicted and those who do not. He doesn't care if we're rich or poor, handsome or ugly. if we look like a fashion plate or if we are dressed in garments that came from a bag of rags. 
He doesn't give one iota about big noses, fat bellies or stringy hair...what matters to Jesus is our reactions to life and the people around us. Those reactions show Him the condition of our hearts. 

1 Samuel 16:7 But the Lord said to Samuel  "Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."

What's inside of your heart?