Do Good

You know when you hear something over and over, and over and over, and over and over again, like ‘wash your hands’ and ‘wear a mask,’ you get the feeling that the message is important, that we should listen and take action.

Recently, I became keenly aware of the same thing as I read the brief book of Titus. I mean, the book is only three chapters long with a total of 46 verses, but I couldn’t help but catch Paul’s message to his spiritual son. I’m sure you will too.

“Teach what is good” (Titus 2:3c). “In everything set them an example by doing what is good” (2:7a). Be “eager to do what is good” (2:14c). “Be ready to do whatever is good” (3:1b). “Be careful to devote (yourselves) to doing what is good” (3:8c). And finally, “Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order that they may provide for daily necessities and not live unproductive lives” (3:14).

Do Good

Most of us have a gut instinct that recognizes the good we ought to do. We hear that inner voice encouraging us to step up. The difficult part, for most of us, is actually doing it. So, today … and every day this week … and well, you get the idea … let’s DO good. If you need ideas, Paul gives some specifics in Titus 2:2-10,12; 3:1-2. Let’s stop being focused on our self, our needs and desires, and instead, see the good we ought to do, and simply do it! Why? Check out this promise. “Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does …” (Ephesians 6:7-8). Sounds good to me!

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No Distance

Social Distance

In ancient times, those with leprosy, a disease of the skin thought to be highly contagious, were isolated in colonies. If they dared to venture out, lepers were required to loudly announce their condition.

But, there is a worse predicament. All people everywhere have been ‘diagnosed’ with the ‘disease’ called sin. We all have done wrong, been disobedient, and rebelled against God. This ‘disease’ or sin caused us to be separated from God until He sent the ‘antidote,’ Jesus, to heal us. Jesus’ death on the cross and subsequent resurrection cures us of our ‘disease’ when we choose to believe in and follow Him.

With our surrender, the separation disappears, the distance is dissolved. In fact, the opposite happens. When welcomed, God’s Holy Spirit comes to live inside us to help transform us to become the people God meant us to be ~ completely forgiven and wholly healed!

Here is the Apostle Peter’s response to the crowds after they were devastated with the ‘diagnosis’ and asked what action they should take. “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).

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Quiet Assurance

Squealing with excitement, grandkids race through the house, stopping to scramble to the top of the back of the couch to momentarily stretch out, then build a fort with its pillows. One child dizzily spins till she drops to the floor and another plays street football with Papa. Occasionally, we are soothing skinned knees and bumped heads. Their visits bring laughter, shouts of joy, quiet conversations, consoling cuddles, and wiping tears.

As adults, pandemic days may dizzy us with shifting schedules, the juggling of jobs, company complications, and noisy news. We find ourselves feeling overwhelmed with worries of an unknown future while longing for quiet assurance. Who do we turn to for consolation?

The prophet Zephaniah shared this encouraging word. “The LORD your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing (Zephaniah 3:17).

Being quieted in God’s love offers comfort and companionship. It means we are not going through this alone. It means He listens to our fears and has the answers. He is strong when we are weak. He lovingly holds each one of us and our future and offers quiet assurance in His ever-ready embrace.

Hug from Jesus

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What-a You Lookin’ At?

various colored sheep

After our recent jaunt through the 23rd Psalm, I couldn’t help but be inquisitive about the colors of sheep. Most of us are familiar with black and white sheep, but did you know there are also gray, silver, brown, red, reddish-brown, and spotted sheep? I also learned:

  • Some breeds produce many different colors.
  • Some fleeces have multiple colors.
  • The inner and outer coats may be different colors.
  • A dark fleece of a lamb can lighten as they grow older.
  • Even though the fleece color may change, the lamb may retain darker legs and face.
  • On a spotted sheep, the white wool grows out of white skin and the black wool, from black skin.

Cool for colorful sheep! Boring for humans. We humans have only one skin color. The shade of our skin depends on how much melanin, or how much brown, we have. People are not white, black, yellow, or red. We do NOT match the basic box of crayons or package of construction paper handed out by this kindergarten teacher. So, let’s stop sorting and judging others by shades of brown.

Let’s look beyond skin, and see people, people created by God. “God spoke: ‘Let us make human beings in our image, make them reflecting our nature, ’” worthy of honor and respect. (Genesis 1:26a)

Remember what you learned in Kindergarten:

  • Be kind and respectful.
  • Treat others the way you want to be treated.
  • Share.
  • And NO running in the halls!

black & white sheep

Now, just look how nicely these sheep are getting along. Let’s try it!

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Solid Rock

IMG_0644

Treetop Adventures! Outfitted in a helmet and full-body harness, I cautiously confronted each challenge of this spine-tingling quest and was becoming more assured of my ability to successfully complete the obstacle course … until … there was a lull in the action. It was then I decided to test my skill at walking on a spinning log that was suspended at least 30 feet in the air. As I slipped, I instinctively grasped for the cable overhead, removing skin from my fingers, while lunging for the platform, gouging my right shin. My panic was painful!

If I could have stopped time, I would have remembered my harness was double belayed to the cable above me. There was no way for me to fall more than a few inches. I was completely safe, almost as if I were standing on solid rock, or at least a pine platform.

Zipping over to the spiritual side, how are we doing on our current obstacle course? Are we keeping our balance? Are we wildly seizing temporary solutions to permanent problems or have we chosen a firm foundation on which to build our life? Can our faith withstand the outside forces beating against us? And, are we grounded on the solid Rock, the Rock called Jesus?

Jesus taught, “These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundational words, words to build a life on. If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock. Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit – but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock” (Matthew 7:24-25).

King David declared, “The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and … my salvation” (2 Samuel 22:2-3a). May this be our proclamation before the storm, during the storm, as well as after the storm. Let’s build our lives on the best foundation, the sold Rock, Jesus.

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An Appointment to Keep

Appointments. Recently, they have been missed, postponed, canceled, rescheduled, and canceled and rescheduled again. We face disappointment because many of our planned visits, meetings, gatherings, vacations, and celebrations have not occurred as we had hoped.

So, where do we find a hope that does not disappoint? The apostle Paul writes, “And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us (Romans 5:5). To whom does God pour His Spirit? To those who believe and follow Him.

Even though we disappointed God by giving in to temptation and rebelling against Him in disobedience, Jesus, the Messiah, kept His appointment. He came to save all people. To believers, Paul explains, “For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:9). We are appointed for salvation. Now, that’s an appointment to keep!

Appointment

Jesus kept His divine appointment. The question is, will we respond to His invitation by believing that He is God’s Son and choosing to follow Him. If we do, we are guaranteed an eternal heavenly appointment. From our viewpoint, it may appear delayed, but it will never be cancelled! Don’t miss it!

“They cried to You and were saved; in You they trusted and were not disappointed” (Psalm 22:5).

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The Living Word

Living in the desert can be hard on annual spring flowers. The pansies we planted late in January recently succumbed to our 100+ temperatures, and it’s only May! Gone are those delicate, colorful faces … until we plant anew next year.

When we think of living things, people, plants, and animals typically come to mind, but the writer of the book of Hebrews adds this to the mix. “For the word of God is living and active” Hebrews 4:12a. In this instance, ‘living’ does not refer to something that’s changing and growing, but actually life giving! It speaks to and applies to our lives, no matter the decade or century in which we live.  

In Old Testament times, one way God spoke was through prophets. He yearned for His people to hear, see, listen, pay close attention, follow, obey, understand, and take to heart His message. (Isaiah 42) Unfortunately, their usual response was to ignore Him. God even accused them of being blind and deaf, paying no attention. 

Bible w pen

Today we are blasted with information, teachings, and opinions from every side. ‘News’ is quickly outdated and discarded. So, instead of whiling away endless hours each week on something that will ‘wilt’ and tomorrow be gone or useless, may we use at least some of our precious time reading the living Word, hearing from a living God who has a message for each of us. May we have eyes that see, ears that listen, and a heart that desires to follow His plan for our lives.

I challenge you to open a Bible and experience God talking to you.

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For Life

Look around. There are people out there on the front lines and behind the scenes fighting against evil, fighting to protect and care for others, fighting for life. We thank them, respect them, and support them.

All around us, people are choosing life. They are working hard to protect the healthy, wearing masks, scrubbing down their surroundings, and washing their hands. Others are serving the sick, striving to create an immunization, and searching for a cure or at least a treatment that will reduce the severity of symptoms. Choosing life is costly. It takes time and energy. Choosing life is not convenient. It is an act of love and self-sacrifice.

So, can we apply this ‘fighting for’ and ‘choosing life’ to the youngest of God’s creation, the pre-born? From the earliest stage of development, science and medical knowledge verify that even an embryo is a distinct, living, growing, whole human being. I challenge you, if you haven’t done so recently, to check out ‘human fetus’ online and prepare to be amazed. That baby within the womb is not a ‘blob’ of cells, but rather a life carefully and wonderfully made by God, the Creator of the universe.

Scripture says, “Oh yes, You shaped me first inside, then out; You formed me in my mother’s womb … You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, You watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before You, the days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day.” (Psalm 139:13-16 The Message)

Horton

Remember the words of the great theologian, Dr. Seuss, “A person’s a person no matter how small.” And be thankful someone chose to give you life.

May we stand to protect and value all life as well as support those who are pregnant with precious, little ones.

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Exhale Exaltation

Remember (or imagine) the feeling of diving down to get something off the bottom of the swimming pool in the deep end? Your arm strokes and kicks propel you downward. Then, with the object in hand, you thrust off the bottom, jetting upward. As you break through the water’s surface, your lungs refill what was rapidly depleting.InhaleLet’s do that today. Let’s all take a deep breath of God’s goodness, love, and faithfulness. Psalm 89:15 says, “Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim You, who walk in the light of Your Presence, O LORD.” Today, let’s choose to applaud our Creator. Look around. What are we thankful for? It doesn’t have to be anything major. Remember, God works in the details. It may be something someone else would consider insignificant, but to you, it touches your heart that your Heavenly Father presented you with that specific blessing today.

I know if your favorite sports team was winning or if you were attending an amazing concert or event, you’d be applauding full on! Psalm 89:16 adds, “They rejoice in Your Name all day long; they exult in Your righteousness.” FYI, ‘exult’ means to jump for joy; with elation or jubilation. So, let’s release that pent up energy to the Lord today, because after all, “He is more awesome than all who surround Him” (Psalm 89:7b). There is no one more worthy of glory, honor, and praise. Breathe Him in and then exhale exaltation to the King of kings! It is just what the ‘Doctor’ ordered!

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Wednesday Whisper ~ Voices

All is well with my heart and soul until … What is that voice in my head? What is with the hateful, vengeful words that are trying to break into my mind, daggers of lies and blame aimed at my heart? Whether hauntings of our past or a battle in our present, there is a truth that rings louder and stronger if we listen carefully. Hear instead the end of the 23rd Psalm. Verse 6 says, “Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”

Heart Hands Sunset

Ah, love, God’s unfailing love, sometimes translated kindness and mercy, emotes a strong sense of goodwill especially to those in need. Remember that Shepherd who has been with us throughout everything? He not only leads us, but His love and goodness follow us. The word ‘follow’ in this verse means to literally pursue aggressively or chase, like an enemy with hostile intent. Only in this instance, the Shepherd’s love and goodness are coming for and enveloping us sheep … all the days of our life! 

So let’s pause and soak in His love. Let it flood and overflow our heart, mind, and soul. Allow His love to wash away the pain and bask in His goodness. “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! (1 John 3:1). Open your ears and heart to hear His whisper, “I love you, I love youI love you!” Let it echo in your mind and replay it often, chasing the unpleasant away.

Enjoy being in His Presence here on earth and look forward to being “home in the house of GOD” in His heavenly kingdom. Know that He yearns for us to live with Him as His special guest in His holy, royal house. May we welcome and experience His love.

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