What Happened in the Lion’s Den?

Asking, Seeking, & Knocking at the Door

There are two similar passages found in Matthew 7 and Luke 11. They both instruct followers of Christ to, “ask and you will receive, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you.” These words have brought both encouragement and dismay. I have listened to the tales of woe from Christians who have “asked believing” and what they asked for did not take place. They are perplexed and discouraged. Have you ever found yourself in that same sinking boat of despair?

It’s all to do with reading in context. For example, many people cling to verses 7-8 in Matthew 7 but they pay little attention to verses 9-11. Let’s look at it: Matthew 7:7-11, “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. You parents, if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask Him?” This same passage in Luke 11:13 reads, “So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Heavenly father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” There are both “fruits” of the Spirit and “gifts” of the Spirit. An example of fruits are love, joy, and peace. An example of gifts are word of knowledge and word of wisdom.

When Jesus is speaking to His followers in these passages, He is addressing, not the tangible, but the spiritual. Does God care about the tangible in our lives? May we pray for physical needs? Absolutely! However, never lose sight of the fact that the tangible is temporary and fades. The spiritual, by contrast is full of lasting power, comfort, and strength to get us through the tangible difficulties that come to us all. By way of example, let’s say a loved one is ill. Death seems imminent. You “ask” believing you will “receive,” but your loved one passes away. Did God not answer your request when He promised He would? No! He promised to give you everything of the Holy Spirit that you would need to get through the darkness moments of your lives.

I encourage us all to look beyond the tangible. Look to the power of the Holy Spirit. How could Paul and Silas sing in prison? How could Daniel remain calm when he was thrown to the lions? It was solely because of the power of the Holy Spirit. When we ask, seek, and knock, then we discover that our Heavenly Father gives us everything we need to get through anything at all. The Holy Spirit is the most lovely answer to prayer that we can ever receive.

Whatever you are going through today — ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and the door of everything you need will be opened to you. “For with God, nothing shall be impossible.” (Luke 1:37) Remember, too, the words of Jesus in John 14:16-17, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth.”

May we all engage in the instruction Jesus gave us to, ask, seek and knock, knowing that we will receive all we need through the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, filling us, empowering us. That’s why nothing is ever impossible for us to get through with God’s own peace, joy, strength, and courage.

The Money Pouch

I’m sure we’ve all had those moments when a thought or memory pops into our minds for no understandable reason. It just comes. Such was the case with me earlier this week. I recalled an incident that happened to me when I was eleven or twelve years old. It was the time my mother had announced with a smile that it was time I wore a training bra. Oh, the excitement! This was it! I was on the road to womanhood! How proud I felt wearing my training bra, which of course, was merely an elastic band with shoulder straps. Never mind! I was wearing a bra and that was significant! In no time at all, I was certain, I would be driving a car and renting my first apartment.

It wasn’t long after receiving my womanly bra that my mother gave me something else — a money pouch. She had sewn it herself. A tiny pale blue bag. She put a five dollar bill inside the pouch and then pinned it inside my elastic band, oops, I mean my bra. My mother explained that whenever I was away from home, whether at school, riding my bike around the neighborhood, going to the community swimming pool, anywhere at all; if I found myself in difficulty, I had my money pouch to help me out. I could phone home, call a taxi, pay for an unexpected something. The money in the pouch, in the elastic band bra, was my mother’s provision for times of trouble.

Now, you may laugh, but this memory made me think of the Holy Spirit. You see, Jesus assured us in John 14:16, that when He left earth, we would not be alone. He would ask His Father to send the Holy Spirit who would be our Advocate. The dictionary defines advocate as: protector, supporter, fighter. When you and I get into any kind of trouble, whether it be temptation, relationship struggles, unfair treatment from others, financial despair, anything at all; if we find ourselves in difficulty, we have the Holy Spirit to help us out. We can call upon Him at any time of day or night. The Holy Spirit dwelling within us is our Heavenly Father’s provision for times of trouble.

When difficulties come, the Holy Spirit reminds us of all the treasure we have in Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit brings us to a place of praise for all the Lord has done for us in the past, and for all He is to us in the present. Praising is a wonderful antidote to despair. The Holy Spirit gives us a song to sing in our hearts even in times of deepest sorrow. The Holy Spirit is a constant presence of both gentleness and power. I close with the following passage in Psalm 34:1-6. Whatever you are going through today, remember the provision made for you; the presence of the sweet Holy Spirit to guide, comfort, and empower.

“I will praise the Lord at all times. I will constantly speak His praises. I will boast only in the Lord; let all who are helpless take heart. Come, let us tell of the Lord’s greatness; let us exalt His name together. I prayed to the Lord and He answered me. He freed me from all my fears. Those who look to Him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces. In my desperation I prayed, and the Lord listened; He saved me from all my troubles.”

The Handwriting On The Wall

Heavy Bags of Burden

I recall a few years ago watching a young woman at the airport pulling a suitcase with one hand, holding another bag in the other, and toting a backpack. She was bent forward to balance the load on her back while clutching to her two bags with white knuckled fingers. She looked exhausted and frustrated as she had to stop every now and again to rest and catch her breath. Once, it appeared her backpack was going to topple her over, but in the nick of time she managed to regain balance and continue her struggle forward.

Suddenly, a man pushing an empty trolley walked over and spoke to the woman. She smiled and nodded. The man then loaded her bags onto the trolley and walked toward the exit with the woman. She stood straight and tall, a pleased look across her face as the man pushed her load for her. What relief to have someone else handle her heavy bags of burden.

It’s no different in our own spiritual worlds. Perhaps we become troubled by a situation in life or in the life of someone we care about dearly. There’s a backpack of worry nearly pushing us to the ground of despair, we’re pulling a load of, “what can I do,” in one hand, while lugging a heavy weight of, “near tears,” in the other. The burden of it all is nearly making us topple over in anxiety.

But, wait! We’re not alone! Here’s the Holy Spirit, our Helper! He has come to the rescue, to point us to the words of Jesus in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” The Holy Spirit is our greatest teacher, revealing God’s truths. The Holy Spirit reminds us we need not bear our burdens alone. Jesus will carry our bags of worry, replacing them with lightweight packages of strength and peace. Jesus places all our troubles on a trolly of, “out the door,” and then walks with us into places of inner tranquility and quiet joy.

In Psalm 23 we have a beautiful and powerful picture of the Shepherd’s love for the sheep. In times of trouble, the sweet, Holy Spirit, brings to our remembrance the fact that knowing Jesus means He is our Shepherd. Jesus is all we need to get through anything at all. Jesus lets us rest in green meadows and walk beside gentle streams when our emotions are frantically whirling all over the place. Jesus renews our strength and guides us along right paths, which brings glory to His name because of all He is to us. When the Holy Spirit reminds us that Jesus is our Shepherd, then, even when we must travel through a dark valley of pain, we won’t be afraid because we are not alone. The Holy Spirit indwells us, never letting us forget that our Shepherd protects and comforts us, preparing a feast of His own joy and peace even in the midst of our greatest trials. When that happens, our cups of sorrow overflows with blessings of His help instead. With the help of the Holy Spirit, we know, through all the days of our lives, that Father God’s own goodness and unfailing love follows us through our every living moment. Then, when life on earth comes to an end, we live on with Him in the beautiful House of the Lord, the City of God, where no tears can be found, and where sorrow does not exist.

Thank you, Holy Spirit, for always leading us into truth. Thank you for being our Helper in all our times of trouble. Thank you for always pointing us to Jesus, our Rock, our Savior.

When Your Enemy is at The Door

It’s Good to Laugh

God created us to express emotions. We feel and express sadness, anger, perplexity, surprise, joy, and humor. My grandmother passed away when I was only seventeen, but I vividly remember her sense of humor. She died of cancer and was often in great pain. I know that from the pain meds she had to take. Even so, it’s not her pain I remember so much, but her laughter. She said to me once, “make sure you laugh everyday because you’ll feel better all over.”

Psychologists and physicians report that the act of laughing reduces stress level hormones, but increases antibody-producing cells which boosts our immune systems. Laughter helps to lower blood pressure and raises our tolerance to pain. It’s also a social mechanism that connects us with others.

I remember years ago I entered an elevator in a high-rise office building. When I stepped inside there were several others. When the elevator would stop on each floor, people would exit or enter. No words were exchanged. No eye contact was made. Suddenly, someone sneezed. “Oh goodness!” a voice said, “I scared myself! How about the rest of you?” Laughter erupted. We all began to chat, a few shared their own sneezing escapades. As people began to leave the elevator the rest of us would call out a cheery, “have a good day,” or “beware the sneeze,” which brought on fresh laughter all over again.

God’s Word tells us in Proverbs 17:22, “A cheerful heart is good medicine but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.” We’ve probably all experienced being so down about something, that our physical strength faded and motivation flew out the window. Laughter, by contrast, can provide bursts of energy and raise our motivation levels.

It has even been medically noted that in the womb, a baby kicks more when he or she hears laughter, just as he or she rests when quiet music is played. Imagine that! A human being, even before physically entering the world, responds to bouts of emotion. It has been medically noted that a laughing mother promotes better health for her yet unborn child.

Laughter is fun to do and makes one feel good all over. What a wonderful gift God gave us when He created us with the ability to laugh. So, I wish you a great day, and may you look for and find, something to laugh about.

When You Can’t See In The Dark

Our dog, Jack, woke up at 5:30am this morning. It was okay because I was awake, too. I quickly dressed, slipped Jack’s harness over his head, and we were off — stepping into the darkness. I could only just make out the shape of the sidewalk. The sky was overcast so any thought of moonlight helping was out of the question. Even so, with no hesitation, we walked on. After all, we have walked this route many times. We know where we are going be it daylight or night.

As we moved along I sensed Jack pull against the leash. He was alert to something I could not see. He began to pull harder in his quest to go after whatever had caught his attention. I hung on firmly as we stepped forward with caution, but I did not try to hold him back. After all, his nighttime vision is far better than mine. As we walked further I saw it, just as I had guessed. It was a fox trotting across the street, watching Jack as Jack kept his eyes on him. The fox jumped into some shrubs and Jack continued on with no further pulling against the leash.

I began to think of how we are at times with our Heavenly Father. He is out front leading the way. He can see through the darkest moments of our lives. Sometimes He stops us from proceeding. At other times He continues to lead us forward. We don’t know what’s out there. We can imagine all sorts of threatening scenarios, but if we give in to the fear, turning back as He leads forward, we may miss a faith-building part of our journey.

Just as Jack sees in the dark, sensing what is danger and what is not, God does so even more. He never makes mistakes. When He leads us forward, we can hang on amidst any fear, knowing that He knows, He cares, He protects, and He will not lead us into any situation alone. He is there. He will never leave us. He is our strength. He is our courage. All we need do is hang on to Him. This reminds me of that beautiful song, Be Still, For The Presence of the Lord. I find the words encouraging and faith building every time I hear them. The song is filled with beautiful and comforting truth. May you be blessed today with the reminder that — whatever dark place you may be going through, with God, you are never alone.

Be still for the presence of the Lord, the Holy One, is here.

Come bow before Him now, with reverence and fear.

In Him no sin is found, we stand on Holy ground.

Be still, for the presence of the Lord, the Holy One, is here.

Be still for the glory of the Lord is shining all around;

He burns with Holy fire, with splendor He is crowned.

How awesome is the sight, our radiant King of light!

Be still for the glory of the Lord is shining all around.

Be still, for the power of the Lord is moving in this place.

He comes to cleanse and heal, to minister His grace.

No work too hard for Him, in faith receive from Him;

Be still, for the power of the Lord is moving in this place.

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