The Beatitudes – #1 in series

The Magnifying mirror

Does the title of this blog conjure a feeling of horror? The very idea of things looming large can be a scary thought, especially when it involves looking in the mirror. I should say, especially when it involves a magnifying mirror.

Years ago I was visiting a friend who mentioned she had recently purchased a magnifying mirror. “What a discovery!” she said. I questioned what she meant. “Just wait,” she replied, “I’ll show you.” She then retrieved her magnifying mirror and held it up to my face. I could have screamed! I will spare you details of what gigantic things on my face jumped out of the mirror nearly scaring me to death, but it was a wakeup call. I will admit I immediately went to the store to purchase stronger tweezers and my own magnifying mirror.

There is a verse, not scary at all, in Psalm 34:3 that says, “Oh magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together.” The Hebrew word for magnify means to make great. When I look in the magnifying mirror, I am also making great, what the mirror reveals to me. How do you and I make great the Lord? The rest of the verse tells us: exalt Him or praise Him together. There is power in our individual praise to God. There is magnifying power when we praise Him together.

Haven’t you been in a church service when songs of praise and hymns were being sung to our Heavenly Father? Didn’t your heart swell with the greatest of joy; the sweetest of affection and love for God? To praise His name reminds us of who He is and of all He does for us, even through us. To magnify or make great His name together, brings to the forefront, steadfast assurance that with our God nothing shall ever be impossible. We can swim through rivers of grief, climb mountains of difficulty, remain unmoved in storms of fear.

We must praise His name in our alone times to know the sweet intimacy of His presence with us, and we must magnify His name together with our brothers and sisters, to overflow in blessings of greatest joy and courage that lives in the midst of praise.

Nothing too small

Many of you will have heard that our dog, Jack, ended up in the hospital this week. A friend in America had shared that her dog was unwell and also in the hospital. I’m happy to report that both Jack, and friend’s dog, Sophie, are both back home and on the mend. All those who love fur babies will understand the angst that arises when our much loved, four-legged, family members are unwell. It’s sad to me because we can’t explain to our pets what is happening. We can’t assure them that we are leaving them in the hospital for their own good. We can’t explain what their physical problems are that cause such pain and discomfort. They just stare with bewildered eyes, trusting us, waiting for us to come back.

During this week’s concern, my mother and I so appreciated knowing that people were praying for Jack. In America, Sophie’s family were just as thankful in assurances of prayers going up for their sweet, little fur baby. It would be easy in such situations to question if asking for prayer is really the thing to do. After all, we may reason, it’s just animals; why, there are far greater worries going on in the world.

Have you ever wondered if praying for seemingly little things is right to do? Making comparisons on situations deemed important or insignificant is human nature. However, that will never work because what is measured as important to one person may well be counted as a trifle to another. This is where, in the big or the small, we must travel beyond our human reasoning and look to the supernatural.

The Holy Spirit speaks into our soul, which is our mind; reminding us of the supernatural book of wisdom — God’s own Word. Does it surprise you to think of the Bible as supernatural? II Timothy 3:16 tells us, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God…” The phrase, “given by inspiration” is the Greek word THEOPNEUSTOS. THEO means “God” while PNEUSTOS means “spirit or wind or breath.” Therefore, the literal translation is “God-breathed.” That is supernatural. Every Word of God of is supernatural. That’s powerful!

Keeping in mind the above thought — is anything too insignificant to pray about — we can look into the supernatural, powerful, all truth, Word of God. A simple but wonderfully comforting Word is found in I Peter 5:7, “Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you.” The word “all” means exactly what it implies; it means everything, whether considered big or little. When your heart hurts, He cares. When you shed a tear, He cares. When you have worries piling up in your imagination of the very worst that could happen, He cares.

When difficulties and worries come, never measure its significance. Just know, God’s Word is supernaturally inspired with truth, comfort, and love. His Word emphatically declares — He cares.

Why is ‘good friday’ good?

The execution is recorded in John 19. Jesus was whipped with a lead-tipped throng of leather straps until the flesh on his back lay open. Thorns, twisted into the shape of a crown, were pushed into his head. He was made to carry His own cross. Nails were hammered into His hands and feet. He heard the sobs of His mother. He heard others mocking Him. Then, His Holy Father who could not gaze upon sin, turned His face away as His Son paid the penalty for every sin of every person in the whole world. Unlike the other two prisoners being executed with Him, whose legs were broken to hasten their death, Jesus had already died when the guards came to Him. Even so, a spear was thrust into His side spilling forth blood and water. It happened on a Friday. Why was this a good day?

If Friday’s death had not happened, there would be no Sunday Resurrection. Resurrection meant Jesus had conquered death. Jesus had conquered sin. Jesus, innocent, had paid a penalty which was ours, guilty, to pay. If His payment is accepted by any of us, then forgiveness of our sin is granted, being already paid for, and we are promised eternal life after death with Jesus forever. In the City of God, there are no more tears, or grief, or sorrow, or pain, or sickness, or death. In the City of God there is peace and joy for ever and ever and ever.

“For God so loved the world He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him, will not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

That’s why today is celebrated as ‘Good Friday.’ Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

If you don’t know Him personally, I hope today you will call out to Him. He will forgive any sin if you just ask; and then, He makes you into a new person filled with endless hope and peace no matter what falls upon your path. All of this because of — Good Friday.

What was living in my fridge

The unwanted surprise came yesterday. I was moving things around in the fridge to make room for something when I spied the cream cheese. It was hiding in the back on the top shelf behind the butter. How long had that been there, I wondered. I had forgotten all about the cream cheese which I love to spread on toast or bagels. I shouldn’t have been so quick to pop open the lid, for there to greet me was a smear of blue fuzzy mold. Gross! I snapped the lid back on and threw that thing away! Why did I let that happen, I asked myself. What a waste of something so delicious. I didn’t mean to let it go bad. I just forgot it was there.

It was then I thought about the state of our spiritual hearts. Our desire is to keep them clean before God. We don’t mean to ignore the condition they may get in. We don’t want our hearts to become tainted by anything ungodly. We want to be holy, not just appear that way on the outside, like the shiny plastic container of the cream cheese. We don’t want to be found with the mold of sin on the inside. We want to be filled with the Holy Spirit. We want sensitive ears to hear His voice when He informs us we’re going the wrong way, behaving unloving, forgetting the ways of our Father. We want the right things, the holy things, the things that please our Father and fill us with the greatest of joy of peace.

We crave it, but how to have it? The Apostle Paul shares the secret to keeping a clean heart. It’s found in Romans 12:1-2, “And so dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all He has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice — the kind He will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship Him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”

Every morning when we wake, an effective prayer can be: Father, I give you all of me today. By Your Holy Spirit, guard my thoughts. Let my words be pleasing to You. Guide my feet. Fill me afresh, Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ wonderful name. Amen.

into the unknown

Today I’m thinking about two women who were both told something extraordinary. In the Old Testament, Sarah, Abraham’s wife, was told she would have a child. She found this unbelievable because she was already well past the age of child-bearing. In the New Testament, Mary, who would be mother to Jesus, was told she would have the Christ-child. She found this amazing because she was a virgin. Two women, understandably, finding such a declaration very hard to believe.

In response to Sarah’s unbelief, the Lord asked in Genesis 18:14, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” In response to Mary’s astonishment, the angel Gabriel said in Luke 1:37, “For with God, nothing will be impossible.” Sarah and Mary each gave birth, in the midst of human impossibility, just as God had planned.

There have been times in all of our lives when anxiety fills us because we cannot see the way forward. We try to peer through the unknown, but all we see is darkness ahead; and yet, God tells us to walk that way. Walk into the darkness? When we can’t see ahead? We’ll stumble! We’ll fail! We can’t do it, comes a cry from deep within, where fear brews an uneasy discontent for being given a task that’s impossible! How can we go forward if we can’t even see the way! We brood. Peace fades.

Reluctantly, as doubt casts shadow over hope, we choose in our bleak moment to look into our Father’s love letter. Please, God, we call out, give some comfort! Something stirs in our thoughts. Yes, we remember, as fingers quickly turn pages. There it is! A smile forms on lips as God’s peace calms churning waves of apprehension. Our Father’s Words comfort us. We read in Psalm 119:105, “Your Word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.” The way ahead often appears in darkness until we make the first step, for then comes the light to guide the way.

Deep inside, we want to obey God, to trust His leading. The desire is there but the path appears too hard. Questions of doubt shatter our resolve. The unknown looms large. In our own anxious moments, may this be our prayer:

“Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow. Lead me by Your truth and teach me, for You are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in You.” Psalm 25:4-5

Preparing For rapture – #10 in series

Running alone

Yesterday I took Jack to his favorite park. He has several dog friends there. They run and play with smiles and wagging tails, running in wide circles in games of chase. When we arrived Jack saw a group of dogs playing ahead. I didn’t ‘t recognize the dogs or their owners. Jack ran to join them but was quickly chased away. No harm done. Jack understood the dog language and carried on running past them, still smiling, tail still wagging. The other dog owners and I smiled and waved, too.

As Jack and I carried on, I watched as he streaked ahead. His shiny coat was glistening in the sunlight. Jack was having a wonderful time. I thought about being alone. While it can be a lonely path, it can also be liberating, especially in our spiritual worlds.

We can read many stories in God’s Word where His children were alone. At times if was hard, like when Elijah was running for his life from Jezabel, or when Daniel was thrown alone into a pit of lions, or when David alone faced Goliath. Even though the initial moments were fearful and difficult: they found a strength, a surge of courage and peace that carried them forward. It wasn’t their own strength conjured from within. It was the very strength of God pulsating throughout their thoughts, leading them on, alone, and yet having all they needed, for in Christ no one is ever a solitary figure.

We can’t forget Jesus when He died alone on the cross for the sins of the whole world. Even He, in the greatest of anguish called out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?!” It was agony like no one has suffered before or since; yet in those moments of unimaginable torment, Jesus found a strength from the promise of His Father that He would sit on the throne of Heaven, holding the place of highest honor for all eternity. We also have such a promise, to reside in Heaven, where tears nor sorrow will be experienced ever again.

Yesterday in the park, Jack wasn’t really alone. My eyes were on him, watching the situation, determining if my help was needed. It was not so he ran ahead with curly tail bouncing in his stride, tongue hanging out, ears pinned back in the wind. Alone but full of joy.

Bible teacher Leonard Ravenhill once said, “Great eagles fly alone; great lions hunt alone; great souls walk alone — alone with God.”

Jesus said in Matthew 28:20, “…Be sure of this, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. We may walk alone; yet in Christ, we are never unattended.

Regret

No one can hide from regret. It’s an emotion that has plagued us all, often weighing heavily, threatening to suffocate all joy. When it begins to smother us, we feel it will be forever. Regret in itself is not a bad thing. It serves as a reminder that we don’t want a repetition of the transgression that crashed into our once peaceful world. When regret leads to repentance, it’s a very good thing. When it leads to overwhelming hopelessness, it’s a very bad thing.

Who knows the plans He has for us, plans for good and not bad, offering us hope and a future? Our Heavenly Father. Who has a plan designed for bad and not good, offering us dejection and ruin? Our arch enemy — Satan. Satan, as we know, is the father of lies. He will lie to us, not some of the time, but all of the time. His goal is to bring a sense of hopelessness, destroyed joy, demolished peace. Satan’s tactics are deceptive. Often he uses regret as his tool of devastation.

Always remember, when you do something or think something that results in regret, thank the Holy Spirit for it, and immediately repent. Remember, too, repentance doesn’t just mean being sorry; it means to have desire not to offend again. For a child of God, it means calling out for strength and guidance of the Holy Spirit to restore your joy, renew your peace, and reinforce your resolve to walk in all of God’s ways. After all, only God’s ways guarantee walking on paths of gladness no matter the stones of complication along the way.

Never forget, Jesus loves you and values you so much, that He died so you may have eternal joy through Him. It’s easy to find that joy because Jesus is the only way. We don’t have to worry about choosing the best way for us; He is the only way. That’s why He said in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to my Father except through me.” Jesus also said in John 8:32, “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” He is truth. He is life. His ways are without mistake.

He died to free you from all regret. May you walk today in the joy of that freedom.

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