Permissive vs Perfect

I think that no matter how old you get there is still a child inside that we have to notice every now and then, today my inner child reminded me of a few things. A friend sent an email to me that started this thought process, she asked me, “What are you doing with your life now?” As I began writing my answer I remembered things I had forgotten were there: When I was about 10 I watched the B&W movie Joan of Arc starring Ingrid Bergman in the title role. As I lay there on my stomach watching as she was tied to a stake and the fire was set that would take her life, I thought it was the most wonderful thing I had ever seen to see someone so willing to give their life for what they believed. Then I watched the Bells of St Mary’s; again with Ingrid Bergman, and Bing Crosby, I was totally impressed, this time with the Nun. I thought the life of sacrifice, of the Nun giving her whole life married to God would be the life I needed to live, no surprise that when I told my Pentecostal Preacher dad that I wanted to be a Nun, he had a few other suggestions and explained that I could live a life of service to God without living in seclusion, that my life would be worth more helping people out in the world. But I digress, there are days I search my heart to see what it is I can do. I used to discuss the subject of God’s Perfect Will vs. God’s Permissive Will and asked how do we know the difference? One of the greatest examples of God’s permissive will is found in the story of Israel’s desire to have a king (I Samuel 8). The Israelites lost sight of the fact that God was their king and they demanded an earthly king. They wanted to be like their neighbors and have a courageous man to lead them into battle. At first God resisted, stating the obvious drawbacks: a king would force them into servitude, take their best livestock, crops, and even children. But the Israelites were determined. So God relented, he gave in and allowed them to have a king. Their numerous years of pain and suffering from this decision are chronicled in the next 150 pages of the Bible. God’s permissive will is most easily understood when we first discuss God’s perfect will. I believe that God has a perfect plan for your life and my life. He’s omniscient and caring, he knows what is best for us and has planned accordingly. We discover his perfect plan by seeking Him through his Word, His Spirit, and His people. Unfortunately, in our flesh we often pursue a plan that is different from God’s perfect plan so we earnestly pray and we are persistent and God gives us our desire (even though it is probably not in our best interest). How does this apply to our lives? It applies to relationships, careers, family decisions, how we handle our finances, and even to our physical health. At this point in my life, and if you have made choices that you aren’t happy with, we have to carry on, so we should turn it all over to God and ask Him to take the rags of our life and make a beautiful garment of Praise!

I am sure my two wonderful children are happy I opted out of the Nun option!

 

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It’s not a face cream, it’s a Balm

There is an old hymn that I remember my dad singing, not only in church, but as he prayed. I could hear him weep for the people in his congregation and sing it, I didn’t understand as a little girl, but having looked it up in the scriptures, I see that Jeremiah penned the words in 8:22 Are there no healing ointments (balm) in Gilead? Isn’t there a doctor in the house? So why can’t something be done to heal and save my dear, dear people? He sung the words: There is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole; There is a balm in Gilead To heal the sin sick soul What is the solution for our world, country, home, me?

David asked and answered the question in Psalm 121:1-3 I look up to the mountains; does my strength come from mountains? No, my strength comes from God, who made heaven, and earth, and mountains. He won’t let you stumble; your Guardian God won’t fall asleep. Not on your life! Israel’s Guardian will never doze or sleep. We live in a time when the majority of the commercials you see on television are about painkillers and antidepressants. Funny thing about the latter is it comes with a disclaimer: “If you get feelings of suicide, be sure to tell your doctor!” WHAT? You are taking something to make you feel less depressed and then you want to kill yourself? Is that the solution or the problem?

Isaiah 41:10 Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. That makes me feel secure! My great God will protect and strengthen me! Isaiah 43: 18 “Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? So much of the time we grieve about things in the past that we have no control over, yet they are ever present in our mind; that is like carrying a weight around your neck, you can’t lift your head, and your eyes cannot look up. Here is the Balm that always helps me! Jeremiah 32:27“Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me? Jeremiah 33:3 ‘Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’ 

If I told you about a great skin cream that I used, or a wrinkle remover that really worked, wouldn’t you want to try it? I am offering you Balm, God’s Word! Give it a try,

 

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Love, Loyalty, Faithfulness

There comes a point in your life when you realize who really matters, who never did, and who always will. Stop and think, how many true hearts have you walked upon to get to a transient relationship? How has that worked out for you? There is a friend that sticks closer than a brother and it is Jesus. Forgiveness, faithfulness and true love are words that have gotten lost in the world of unfaithful friends and lovers. There are those of us who are willing to give our love and devotion and then find that we have put our trust in the wrong place. Jeremiah 17:5 This is what the LORD says: “Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans, who rely on human strength and turn their hearts away from the LORD. Maybe you don’t trust God because you don’t know that you can lean on the Lord for help, or you may not know that the only way we can truly forgive is to learn from the One Who forgave us! Un-forgiveness and hatred in your heart and mind, is like drinking poison and expecting your enemy to get sick, or die. Chances are they don’t know how you feel and if they do they simply do not care! So why burden yourself with hating or not forgiving them, it means they are actually controlling your life!

There is only One who completely, continually, forgives, and because of Jesus that is God Almighty.

 

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Hard decisions?

Have you ever hard the statement “I’m between a rock and a hard place“?  I looked to see what others thought that statement meant and found that it means exactly what I was thinking; it’s the dilemma of being in a position where one is faced with two equally unwelcome options, quite literally the uncomfortable nature of the choice between two choices you would rather not make. Other phrases that compare two less than desirable alternatives are ‘the lesser of two evils’, and ‘between the devil and the deep blue sea. Songs have been written about the subject as Mick Jagger wrote when talking about the human condition, “and there are some pretty deep lyrics, such as one written by Mick Jagger, “People are hungry, they crowd around and the city gets bigger as the country comes begging to town. We’re stuck between a rock and a hard place.” I dare say that most of us find at least one situation like that every day we live, confusion sets in and we don’t know which way to turn.

If you turn to the Bible you see people faced with hard choices, Moses must have thought, “Should I remain a Prince in line for the throne of Pharaoh, or go lead my Hebrew people?” Abraham had to choose to stay in his home with all his possessions or journey to a far away land he didn’t know because he heard a call from God. Ruth was a Moabite that sojourned to a foreign land after the death of her husband with her mother-in-law and stayed, probably under the stares and gossip of the local women at the well. Esther took her life in her hands to go into the King and plead for her people when she could have chosen to remain in her chambers with beautiful clothes, plenty of food and servants to wait on her. There were other choices where right and wrong was clearly marked but a decision had to be made, Peter made the choice to deny Jesus, to His face, because he feared for his life, and Judas who chose a purse with thirty pieces of silver in it in exchange for the life of Jesus. We know how that ended, Judas’ guilt made him hang himself. But think of the choice that Jesus had to make while kneeling at the rock in the Garden of Gethsemane. Matthew 26:39 He fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”  He had to make the choice of suffering a torturous death rather than returning to His life in the heavenlies with His Father, God, or saving our souls for all eternity.

That kind of makes my decisions seem a little easier than I first thought…

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I CAN’T HEAR YOU!

One Sunday at lunch something happened that often happens when we are alone but it is funny when others hear and notice it. My sister and I were having a conversation and we knew what we were talking about and we know each other so well that it never dawned on us until I noticed my nephew had stopped dipping food from the vast selection on the bar and was standing looking at the two of us with his mouth open in shock! I asked him what was wrong, he answered “Do you two realize that neither one of you has finished a sentence? I have no idea what you are talking about!” It is usually that way in our house at the table where everyone talks at once. If you hear something that interests you it’s like hopping onto a merry-go-round, you just hop into the conversation. My dad used to sit and look around and then just shake his head, he would say we hop from one subject to another so fast that he couldn’t keep up! We not only talk at the same time but we all talk so fast that someone that doesn’t know our language or recognize all the colloquialisms we use will never know what we are talking about. My grand daughter uses her phone to text as quickly as I can speak with her thumbs moving so fast, and the words that come out look like a foreign language, things like IDK for “I don’t know,” or MSOMS means “mom standing over my shoulder”. If you looked at one of those text messages you would just shake your own head and say, “You talk too fast, I can’t understand the language you use.” It occurred to me that with cell phones, landlines, computer conversations all going on at one time, the air waves must be a cacophony of sounds all loud and jumbled at once! The airwaves are full of crying, laughing, arguing and sounds of love all happening at once. Then you think of all the prayers that are going up in every language on the face of the earth and God hears them all! There are we Pentecostal people speaking in tongues, Catholic people saying their Rosaries, Masses being conducted in Latin and ministers all over the world talking, all at once! For Him to hear them all and keep them all separate so that each can receive an answer is amazing and a huge miracle in and of it’s self! I am a mom so I did get used to hearing more than one conversation at once and able to answer or contribute to them all, so on a very small scale, I know how He does it, but when you think of all the people on the face of the earth, it has to boggle your mind! Isaiah 65:24 It shall come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear. Jeremiah 33:3 Call to me and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know! Zechariah 13:9 They will call on My name, and I will answer them, I will say, “This is My people; and each one will say, “The Lord is my God.”  Luke 11:9-10 So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.”  John 14:14 If you ask anything in My name, I will do it. 15:7 If you abide in Me and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.  Here is the condition of answered prayer, “if you abide in Me and My words abide in you.”

When the devil comes at you with doubt, throw these scriptures at him! You have some good spiritual ammunition! Now go ahead and pray He hears us all!

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Are you a Witch?

For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He also has rejected you from being king. 1 Samuel 15:23 When you think of a “witch” don’t you see a kind of a “hag” figure with wild scraggly hair, long nose with a wart, a high pointed hat and a broom stick on which she is riding high in the sky? If you asked a child in grade school to draw one that is the picture you would have. You would be in shock if I told you that someone in our congregation was a practicing witch! If I said that they were actively using witchcraft so powerful that it had entrapped whole families in your own church wouldn’t you think that was terrible? Yet we ourselves might just be that person! There is a form of witchcraft among us it is called rebellion! The prophet Samuel says that rebellion is like the sin of witchcraft, why do you think he said that? A witch casts spells and summons spirits to try and make people do what they want, to alter the natural, to take authority that they have no right to take using deceit and lies. Rebellion is your attempt to control your circumstances independent of God, to make your own rules regardless of what the Word of God has to say about anything. Rebellion uses disobedience, disharmony and disunity to gain or maintain control of a situation. Either way when you’re trying to rule from “I can,” rejecting any notion of “God can” you are operating in the wrong spirit. When you do that, you are becoming one with the enemy! One of Satan’s best tools is a “wedge” which is the tool that separates churches, friends and family. Don’t fall into the sin of witchcraft by trying to always be in control, but don’t allow yourself to be controlled by anyone but the Spirit of God only! “Not doing what God tells you is far worse than fooling around in the occult,” 1 Samuel 15:23

I know you would never think of yourself as being a witch, but if you are trying to control anyone or their circumstances then you are operating in that very spirit. If someone is trying to control you, then they are operating in that spirit.

Haggai 1:5 Now therefore thus says the LORD of hosts: “Consider your ways!”

Before we start thinking of people that might fall within this category maybe we need to take stock of our own attitudes and see if this rebellion lies within our own mind!

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How much is “enough”?

In the World English Dictionary the definition for “enough” is: sufficient to answer a need, demand, supposition, or requirement, adequate. Used as an adverb it means: in a quantity or degree that answers a purpose or satisfies a need or desire; sufficiently. If you love someone, you have to love them enough, enough to accept them just as they are, bad habits, bad breath, picking their teeth or cutting their nails at inappropriate time, warts and all; enough to accept all the circumstances and situations of their life, without complaining or throwing anything up to them in future arguments. When you sign on for marriage, you sign on for all the things you have to do for your partner. When you have children you have to have enough love to become parent, disciplinarian, nurse, teacher, and, after all is said and done, friends to them as they become adults. Enough means you will go the extra mile to fill a need for the ones you love, it means there is no greater way you can love. If you love your family and friends, you have to love them enough to keep your mouth shut in times that you want to give that sharp rebuttal, or “pay-back” for some un-kind deed they have committed. Enough means there is need for nothing else, as when God supplied food for the Children of Israel as they traversed the desert!. They went out every morning to gather Manna for the day, if they took more than they needed for that day, except on Holy days when they took enough for two days, the manna would get wormy, rot, and stink!

Think about this next time you ask God for something, He will supply your need, don’t worry, He will give you enough! What do you give to Him in return for all the ‘enough’ that He gives to you? Malachi 3:8-11 “Begin by being honest. Do honest people rob God? But you rob me day after day. “You ask, ‘How have we robbed you?’ “The tithe and the offering—that’s how! And now you’re under a curse —the whole lot of you—because you’re robbing me. Bring your full tithe to the Temple treasury so there will be ample provisions in my Temple. Test me in this and see if I don’t open up heaven itself to you and pour out blessings beyond your wildest dreams that there will not be room enough to receive it. For my part, I will defend you against marauders, protect your wheat fields and vegetable gardens against plunderers.” The Message of God-of-the-Angel-Armies. In Matthew 25 we read about the virgins waiting for the Bridegroom to arrive, the wise women had brought enough oil for theirs, but not enough to supply their foolish friends. Be wise and keep the oil of prayer in your lamp to light the way till Jesus comes.

When Jesus cried to the Father “It is finished” He was saying “I love you enough!”

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So Ask!

Some people just have the knack of talking to anyone, no matter how important or austere they might seem. Unafraid to approach their boss for a raise, companies for donations for their church or school, these are the people that always seem to get the “yes”. There are other shy souls that are afraid of their own shadow, feel “less than”, and never get answers of any kind because they don’t ask! When my parents got married, my dad told mother that he would never take a “hint”, anything she wanted him to do she just needed to ask, be direct! Matthew 7:7-11 Don’t bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need. This isn’t a cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek game we’re in. If your child asks for bread, do you trick him with sawdust? If he asks for fish, do you scare him with a live snake on his plate? As bad as you are, you wouldn’t think of such a thing. You’re at least decent to your own children. So don’t you think the God who conceived you in love will be even better?  John 16:24 Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. In all of these scriptures, Jesus is giving us His permission to ASK!

Are you afraid to go before God? Hebrews 4:16-17 Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help. 

I am not a person that can walk in and get a big donation from anyone, I would rather give it myself than to ask, but even I understand this last scripture! Jesus stands as our ambassador, lawyer, friend, to take us right up to the Throne and say, “Father, this is my friend and she needs help!” We miss out on so much when we wait to get “worthy” before we ask, He welcomes us! We will never be as worthy as Jesus, so forget that and just present yourself! The old hymn says, “Just as I am without one plea but that Thy blood was shed for me, and that you bid me come to thee, Oh Lamb of God I come, I come. Just as I am, and waiting not to rid my soul of one dark blot, to thee whose blood can cleanse each spot, O Lamb of God, I come, I come.”  You may feel older than dirt, but remember, God made Adam from the dust of the earth, so you are still His little child, and He cares for you.

Psalm 16:11 You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. 

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If I had a Hammer

There is a song, penned by Lee Hays and Pete Seeger, called “the Hammer Song”. It was playing through my mind tonight.. Let’s talk about it for a minute. The writer says, “If I had a hammer, I’d hammer in the morning, I’d hammer in the evening, all over this land”, Then he says, “If I had a bell, I’d ring it in the morning,” and last, “If I had a song, I’d sing it in the morning, etc.” What he wants to do is “hammer out danger, hammer out a warning, then hammer out love between the brothers and the sisters, all over this land.”  Then “ring out danger” and finally “sing out danger, and a warning and love between the brothers and sisters all over this land”. OK, those are good and lofty words and a great idea, in the last verse we see the writer already has all of these things! “Well I’ve got a hammer, And I’ve got a bell, And I’ve got a song to sing, All over this land It’s the hammer of justice, It’s the bell of freedom, It’s the song about love between my brothers and my sisters, All over this land.” In this verse we see that he has realized he is already equipped with everything he needs to do what he wants, and I wonder, what happened that made him realize this wonderful thing? Philippians 4:13 Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am. You can do anything you want, through and in Him, who gives you strength, the catch is this, some of the things you want to do need preparation! There was a lady who wanted to talk to my dad, she told him that God had called her into missionary work and she wanted him to get the church to sponsor her. He questioned her, because she was very adamant, seems she didn’t know the language of the country she had been “called “to minister in, and she had five young children at home! He asked her, “When did you feel the call to go into this ministry?” Her answer was no real surprise to him as he was more doubtful of God calling her away from her children to go into a foreign land, “I was sixteen.” Daddy told her that her missionary field was her children, until they became adults. He told her to take the time to learn the language and study the customs of the people and the Word of God to be prepared for that time. It made her angry with him, she didn’t want to do that, and she wanted to go right then! I may have all the ingredients in the kitchen to make a wonderful cake, but if I don’t take the time to put it together in the proper way it will not happen! 2Timothy 2:15 Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that doesn’t need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

Don’t be discouraged if your ministry, career as a songwriter, or whatever you want to be  doesn’t become instantly successful, you can’t grow a stalk of corn over night, but when it’s ripe, it sure is good dripping with butter!

 

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Hell in the Hall

Sometimes it does feel that even when we are trying our best to do good things and get the best we can out of life, things happen that hinder it. I say that if you have placed your entire life in the hands of God and trust in Him completely, then when someone slams a door in your face, look for the open window, or perhaps another door! Remember this, “Sometimes when there is a closed door and God opens another one, there is Hell in the hall.” Does that mean that because God is giving us something good we have to walk through Hell to get it? I don’t know the complete-all-the-time answer for that, but I do remember the story of Joseph, that after he was sold into slavery by his own brothers he ended up being the ruler of Egypt second in command only to the Pharaoh! At the end of the story his word to his brothers was, “you meant this for evil but God turned it for good!” So we see that in that case he walked through Hell in the hall to get to the best door.

Maybe you are going through a tough time right now and need to know exactly which door to go through, well here’s what I do, I pray that the wrong doors will all be slammed in my face so that I don’t have to make a decision. Does that always work? No, if it did we would never gain wisdom, knowledge or understanding.

Here’s help: Revelation 3:8 I see what you’ve done. Now see what I’ve done. I’ve opened a door before you that no one can slam shut. You don’t have much strength, I know that; you used what you had to keep my Word. You didn’t deny me when times were rough. When I read those words I know that God’s plan for my life cannot be stopped if I trust Him, He opened a door that no one can slam shut! Don’t be afraid to step out on those plans, but if they get stopped, don’t be devastated, just consider it a shut door because if God had opened it, it would have remained open, put your life in His hands! Look for the open door but don’t be afraid if you find a closed one, if you face Hell in the hall, He will get you through it!

 

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