Friday, September 28, 2012

Learning to Lean: Living by Faith

The Lord is my Strength and my [impenetrable] Shield; my heart trusts in, relies on, and confidently leans on Him, and I am helped; therefore my heart greatly rejoices, and with my song will I praise Him. (Psalm 28:7 AMP)

Leaning on God
Faith. Jesus spoke a great deal about it. He commended people who had it, and reproached those who didn’t. Faith, the Bible tells, is the requirement to be saved. But more than that, it must infuse our daily lives, for the just shall live by faith (Romans 1:17).

How does living by faith look? I like the word picture created by the Amplified Bible in Psalm 28, which likens faith to leaning yourself on God: “The Lord is my Strength and my impenetrable Shield; my heart trusts in, relies on and confidently leans on Him, and I am helped” (Psalm 28:7).

Am I doing this? It’s hard to tell in my comfortable life, where all my needs are supplied. Even in areas where I struggle, I probably still lean on my own resources before I lean on God. If I am honest, I would have to say that my faith is lacking.

But here is where one of my favorite Bible verses gives me hope. It might just be the most honest thing anybody ever said to Jesus. Let’s take a peek into the scene:

It’s hopeless. I don’t know why I even bothered to come looking for this Rabbi everyone is talking about. Deep in my heart I knew another person saying another prayer would be useless. Hasn’t every rabbi from here to Jerusalem tried to do that already? Hasn’t every physician who has ever seen my son declared him a hopeless case? But fool that I am, I came, and here we are right at the centre of the growing crowd as this man’s disciples shout for the demon to leave Reuben alone, and the teachers of the law rebuke them for it. Reuben is convulsing on the ground, and all I want to do is grab him and take him away from all these gaping stares. Freak-show over, people! Leave us alone!

Suddenly the crowd’s attention seems to shift. I hear the whisper pulsating through the throng—Jesus—and look up to see the Rabbi approaching. The crowd grows quiet and I hear his soft voice ask: “What’s all the arguing about?”

As his disciples point to us, he gazes intently at Reuben and—for an instant—I sense a fearsome power in that glance. My son is suddenly thrust to the ground by a new convulsion, more violent than any I have ever seen. But strangely the Rabbi hardly gives him another glance; instead he turns to me and asks me about my son.

So I tell him about all the years of torment as the dark presence stole away my son’s words and mind, and now seems to be demanding his very life. And given that I’ve come all this way, I decide I might as well ask for his help too, although even I can hear my plea carries little conviction: “Please help us, Rabbi. Do something if you can.”

“What do you mean ‘if I can’? He looks at me sharply. “Anything is possible if a person believes.”

“I do believe, Rabbi!” What would be more truthful is to say that I’ve never wanted to believe more, so I add:  “Help me not to doubt.”

He nods and a slight smile forms on his lips. Then he speaks to the dark spirit, not with the screams and shouts I am so used to. No, he just speaks. But the words are full of such authority that a wave of cold ripples through my body. Reuben convulses one last time as a high, angry scream escapes from his lips. Then he falls back to the ground, unmoving. A murmur ripples through the crowd and I hear the voices whisper: ‘He is dead.’ But I know it’s not true, even before the Rabbi lifts Reuben, and my son looks at me with eyes that are clear and joyful and full of innocent life again. In that moment I know that this man is more than a Rabbi. The One who touched both Reuben’s spirit and my own unbelief, can only be God Himself.

“I do believe. Help me not to doubt.” I know this whole story is remarkable, reflecting all of Jesus’ deity and power. Yet my favorite part is that one line: help me not to doubt. It shows me that as long as I am honest with God and bring him all my limitations—in my faith, in my love, in my witness, in every part of my life—He can do something about it.

Andrew Murray wrote: “Few have understood what a perfect Savior Jesus is, and how He will each day do for the sinner just as much as He did the first day he came to Him.”

Oh, how wonderful those words sound to someone who has glimpsed a little of their own faithless heart! Joan Campbell

(The account of Jesus healing the demon-possessed boy is found in Mark 9)


This article has been written as a narrative to help readers better comprehend the context of the events through imagery, which content is not entirely derived from the Scriptures or recorded history.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Memories of a BBQ Cookout

not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:25 NAS)

Barbeque Cookout
“It’s summer and we are in our backyard, and everyone in the world it seems is there,” wrote Dylan Rousan sharing a nostalgic memory of a cookout at RandyQ.Addr.com. “The women are at tables laughing and preparing food and there are kids playing everywhere.”

“Soon after ... I moved to Arizona ... I think I hold on to that memory because it was the last really happy time I had there before my life changed so much” Dylan wrote. “But to this day I associate a good time and family being together with BBQ. If I'm somewhere and I catch a whiff of que in the air it always takes me back, if only for a second, to that summer day in Missouri.”

A barbeque cookout get-together offers lots of fun. I remember when I had it years ago with my friends, it brought our relationship closer. Too often we neglect spending quality time together with our loved ones and friends because we have been too busy working, caring for ourselves and for our family, or even serving in the ministry. Are we missing out on what is more important?

The Bible says not to forsake our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but to encourage one another, and all the more as we see the day drawing near. The purpose for such meeting together is clear—to stimulate one another to love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24-25).

Although these Bible verses are frequently used to refer to the need for fellow believers to regularly meet in church, in effect they are also applicable to any other type of get-together. Do we know that participating in activities such as a cookout can yield much good as well? We get to encourage one another, build relationships with loved ones, friends, and those who are yet unsaved, create opportunities to share the gospel, and still find rest from the routines of our stressful life.


So when we are invited for a cookout the next time, let us try not to turn down the invitation, for unless we turn up we can never know what joyful memories it will bring to us in the days ahead. Who knows, we may win or lead some souls to the Lord. If we are the ones inviting people to a cookout, always remember not to keep ourselves too busy doing all the necessary and neglect what is more important—to share and listen (Luke 10:41-42).

Thank You dear Lord for granting us the many opportunities to spend meaningful time with our loved ones, friends and those who have yet to know You. We know Lord that through such meeting together, You have given us rest amid building closer relationships with one another, to love, share, and encourage. Help us Lord not to turn down or refrain from such gatherings because of busyness doing all the necessary and neglect the crucial—the salvation of those yet unsaved and the strengthening of fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Refill us Lord with joy and happiness that we may not, because of life changes, fail to find rest from our stressful lives, but hold fast in confidence the confession of our hope in You.

Friday, September 14, 2012

To Eat or Not Eat Junk Food

And he would have gladly filled his stomach with the pods that the swine were eating, and no one was giving anything to him. (Luke 15:16 NAS)

Junk Food
Whether it is for better or for worse (mostly worse), junk food is now available all over the world, wrote Elaine Magee, MPH, RD, in an article about junk food facts at WebMD.com. It is found everywhere—in grocery and convenience stores, fast-food restaurants, on television—usually looking very appealing.

What is considered as junk food, however, may differ with different people, depending on who we ask. In an article at Dietitian.com, junk food is regarded as foods that are high in salt, sugar, fat or calories and low nutrient content. Such foods include salted snack, candy, gum, most sweet desserts, fried fast food and carbonated beverages.

The problem with junk food is it is low in satiation value—people do not tend to feel as full when they eat it—which can lead to overeating. Another problem is junk food tends to replace other more nutritious foods, according to Magee.

In a news story at CBSNews.com, it is reported that nearly one-third of U.S. children aged 4 to 19 eat fast food every day, which is estimated to pack on about six extra pounds per child per year. The findings suggest that fast-food consumption has increased fivefold among children since 1970. Fortunately, there are signs policy-makers are taking action to protect children from the fast-food trend. These include efforts to limit soft drink and snack food sales in schools, and the curbing of food advertising aimed at children.

All of us know that junk food is not good for our health, and in the parable of our Lord, the prodigal son knew that as well. After he had spent everything, the prodigal son got himself hired and was sent into the fields to feed swine. He would have gladly filled his stomach with the pods the swine were eating, but no one was giving anything to him. When he finally came to his senses, the prodigal son decided he would go back to his father to become one of the hired men, for he said to himself, “How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger!” (Luke 15:14-19).

Like the prodigal son who came to his senses and the policy-makers who are taking action to reduce the fast-food trend among children, are we also making efforts and taking measures to cut down on our unhealthy living? Remember, eating junk food is harmful for our physical bodies, and so it is with our souls if we choose to indulge in ways contrary to the teachings of God’s word. Squandering our wealth, for example, while we know of people around us who are in need is not right and can build up hardened hearts in bringing harm to ourselves.

Just as we can choose to reject junk food to keep ourselves healthy, similarly, we can also choose to reject whatever brings harm to our spiritual health.  Whether it be indulgences or things that make us feel gratified or keep us occupied, if any of these leads us away from spending more time with God, then let us be prepared to dump it to gain Christ (Philippians 3:8). Never ever let the enticements of this world cloud our minds for such tend to replace our first love for Christ. Put our trust in the Lord completely and always acknowledge Him in all we do, and He will make our paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Dear Lord thank You for showing us what we should free ourselves from and what we should keep and hold on.  Help us be sensitive Lord in knowing what is harmful for us that we may with one heart and mind willingly let it go to gain You. In our efforts and measures to cut down on unhealthy living Lord, grant us the strength to remain steadfast in overcoming our weaknesses, especially in the things we indulge in or feel reluctant to let go. We put our complete trust in You O Lord, for You will make our paths straight.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Sweet as Honey

My son, eat honey, for it is good, Yes, the honey from the comb is sweet to your taste; Know that wisdom is thus for your soul; If you find it, then there will be a future, And your hope will not be cut off. (Proverbs 24:13-14 NAS)

Honey
Honey is known to provide many benefits. Besides being a natural sweetener, it is said to offer antiseptic, antioxidant and cleansing properties for our body and health, according to an article at Benefits-of-Honey.com. For thousands of years, its healing attributes have been used to cure ailments and diseases as well as correct health disorders. Honey is nature’s energy booster, a natural source of carbohydrates which provide strength and energy to our bodies. It is known for instantly boosting performance, endurance, and reducing muscle fatigue. Unlike refined sugar, it keeps the body’s sugar levels somewhat constant because the fructose in honey is absorbed at a slower rate to give sustained energy.

Some possible effective healing properties of honey mentioned in an article at WebMD.com on Find a Vitamin and Supplement include promoting the healing of cough, wound healing and burns. Taking a small amount of honey at bedtime helps reduce the number of coughing spells, especially in children age 2 and older. Several clinical trials and case reports indicate the use of honey or honey-soaked dressings for certain types of wounds, abrasions, burns, cuts, among others.

Honey, however, is not for everybody. Even though it is natural, for dieters or people with diabetes, honey is no better than ordinary white or brown sugar. This is according to dietitian Toby Smithson, RD, CDE, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association and founder of the web site, Diabetes Everyday, cited in an article ‘Medicinal Uses of Honey’ by Julie Edgar at WebMD.com.

Like honey that is sweet to the taste, the Bible describes the words of God as sweeter than honey to our mouths (Psalm 119:103). It is like wisdom which is good for the soul; if we find it, then there will be a future for us, and our hope will not be cut off (Proverbs 24:13-14). Just as honey yields many benefits, so it is with God’s word and wisdom. By studying the word of God, we gain wisdom, and in so doing, we receive strength and spiritual health. Like nature’s energy booster, we who hope in the LORD will gain new strength, mounting up with wings like eagles, run and not get tired, walk and not become weary (Isaiah 40:31).

Not all of us who have tasted the kindness of the Lord however will grow in respect to salvation, if we fail to put aside malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander (1 Peter 2:1-3). Just as honey is harmful to dieters or people with diabetes, so food gained by fraud although may taste sweet, the end is a mouth full of gravel (Proverbs 20:17). Stolen water may taste sweet and food eaten in secret pleasant, but little do we know we are dining alongside the dead, those who are destined for the depths of hell (Proverbs 9:17-18).

Let us therefore diligently in all wisdom study the word of God that we may regain our spiritual health and experience the sweet taste of God’s lovingkindness. Put away dishonest gains which although may taste sweet for a moment, but its end shall be like the venom of cobras within our stomachs (Job 20:12-14). Even though we may not be an overseer or a leader in the faith, as followers of Christ, we are all entrusted with God’s work, and should therefore remain blameless and not pursue after sordid gain (Titus 1:7). Take control of our future now and forsake our sinful nature that our hope in Christ may not be cut off (Proverbs 24:14)!

Dear Lord, thank You for granting us wisdom through the study of Your word. Your word O God is sweet to our taste, sweeter than honey to our mouths! Guide us therefore Lord in Your word by Your Spirit that we may not waver nor seek dishonest gain, but diligently pursue wisdom and put aside all malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy and slander. Grant healing from all our health disorders Lord, both physically and spiritually, that we may with renewed strength run and not get tired, walk and not become weary.

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