The Image Breaker Kay Keith Peebles

Kay K. Peebles

Every person has been given two images of themselves, one from God and the other from Satan.  Our sin nature feeds the image from Satan, allowing it to dominate us.  God’s plan for us, however, is a completely different image and we can find it as we seek Him through His Word, prayer and by being quiet in His presence so that we may hear His voice.

One of my favorite Christian books is “Hinds’ Feet on High Places”, by English writer Hannah Hurnard.  It was published in 1955.  The lead character is Much Afraid, who is a yearling belonging to the Fearlings family.  They live in the Valley of Humiliation. Her family had arranged for her to be married to a cousin named Craven Fear.  Much Afraid is insecure, fearful and easily controlled by her family of Fearlings.  The family consists of several formidable characters named Gloomy, Spiteful, Foreboding, Dismal, and of course, Craven Fear.  More distant relatives are Self-pity, Bitterness and Pride.  All these family members attempt to keep Much Afraid intimidated and a permanent resident in the Valley of Humiliation.  This was their image for her.

The Shepherd, however, reveals himself to Much Afraid and offers her a completely different lifestyle and image of herself.  He draws her to the High Places although she visibly has many afflictions, such as club feet, a crooked mouth, ugly appearance, and deformed hands.  Much Afraid becomes enthralled with the notion that the Shepherd believes in her ability to abide in the cliffs and shear ledges of the High Places.  She answers his call to come up higher but questions her escorts, Sorrow and Suffering, whom the Shepherd assigns to aid her as she begins her ascent upward.

Surrendered to the Shepherd, Much Afraid receives her first gift from him.  He plants the “Seed of Love” within her heart.  It is inserted with a slight feeling of pain, but quickly settles into a peace that strengthens her for the journey.  She is surprised that her ascent upward to the High Places often leads her downward through difficult situations, trials and challenges.  She soon realizes each are meant to build her stamina, increase her resolve, and reveal insight to the new image her Shepherd has for her.  The book ends with a newly created hind, healed of all deformity and weakness, fear and insecurity.  She is re-named Grace and Glory by the Shepherd, the lover of her soul.  She becomes bold, secure in His love and sure footed.  She has developed the ability to withstand those who once brought her low, and she has obtained freedom from all that made her fearful.  Her transformation became a witness to all her family that lived in the Valley of Humiliation.

“The Lord God is my Strength, my personal bravery, and my invincible army; He makes my feet like hinds’ feet and will make me to walk [not to stand in terror, but to walk] and make [spiritual] progress upon my high places [of trouble, suffering and responsibility]!”  Habakkuk 3:19.

Mephibosheth was the grandson of King Saul and the son of Jonathan, David’s friend. His name means exterminator of shame or image breaker. (Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary).   “Jonathan, Saul’s son had a son who was a cripple in his feet.  He was five years old when the news came out of Jezreel [of the deaths] of Saul and Jonathan.  And the boy’s nurse took him up and fled; and in her haste, he fell and became lame.  His name was Mephibosheth.”  2 Samuel 4:4

Before King Saul became jealous of David, he and Jonathan became close friends.  Jonathan made a covenant of friendship with David.  “When David had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own life…Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own life.  And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, and his armor, even his sword, his bow, and his girdle.  And David went out wherever Saul sent him, and he prospered and behaved himself wisely; and Saul set him over the men of war.”  1 Samuel 18:1-5.  (Read entire chapter).

Later on, David had to flee the country because King Saul, through jealousy, sought to kill him.  Rather than defending his own life, David chose to leave the kingdom.  He walked in integrity refusing to hurt the king.  He would not even speak against him.  David was a mighty warrior and Jonathan knew he could have killed his father if he had so desired.  Jonathan was caught between his father and his closest friend, David.  He chose to support David, made a covenant with him, and protected him.  He also decided to honor his father by standing with him in his time of need.  “So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, And the Lord will require that this covenant be kept at the hands of David’s enemies.  And Jonathan caused David to swear again by his love for him, for Jonathan loved him as he loved his own life.”  1 Samuel 20:16-17.

Eleven years passed as David kept one step ahead of King Saul and his men, who searched the land in order to locate and kill David.  David proved faithful twice by leaving evidence he had been in close enough proximity to have killed the king but chose otherwise.  David had the fear of God and knew it was only God’s right to judge King Saul in His own timing.  He showed great restraint as he honored the Lord and “his anointed” King Saul.  Sometimes anointed vessels of the Lord do not act honorably toward others or the Lord.  They may even fall into serious sin as David eventually did, but they are still the Lord’s anointed.  David knew better than to be judge and executioner of a fellow son of God because only God can judge the heart of man.

King Saul’s judgement day ultimately came.  He was killed by the Philistine army along with Jonathan and his other sons.  David eventually became King of Israel.  Mephibosheth had been hidden since the death of his father and grandfather for several years.  King David inquired if there were any descendants of King Saul or Jonathan left in the land.  Ziba, who had been of the house of Saul was asked by David, “Is there not still someone of the house of Saul to whom I may show the [unfailing, unsought, unlimited] mercy and kindness of God?  Ziba replied, Jonathan has yet a son who is lame in his feet.”  2 Samuel 9:3.  He summoned Mephibosheth to his palace and he came before King David in fear and trembling.

“And Mephibosheth son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, came to David and fell on his face and did obeisance.  David said to him, Fear not, for I will surely show you kindness for Jonathan your father’s sake, and will restore to you all the land of Saul your father [grandfather], and you shall eat at my table always.  And [the cripple] bowed himself and said, What is your servant, that you should look upon such a dead dog as I am?  Then the king called to Ziba, Saul’s servant, and said to him, I have given your master’s son [grandson] all that belonged to Saul and to all his house…So Mephibosheth ate at David’s table as one of the king’s sons.”  2 Samuel 9:6-11.  Mephibosheth’s grandfather, King Saul had sinned against the Lord and excused his actions before the prophet Samuel instead of repenting of his sin.  He brought shame and dishonor upon his family.  Jonathan, however, honored his father while he also honored David who had been anointed by God to be king in Saul’s place.  His actions restored honor to his household.  It was through his covenant with David that Mephibosheth was cared for all the days of his life.  His honor and respect was restored to the place that he once again sat at the king’s table as a son and he was given back all his inheritance for the rest of his life.  Mephibosheth saw himself as a dead dog, but God had another plan.  His name “image breaker” foretold of his destiny.

The Lord is calling forth the Mephibosheths in the earth.  There are those who once ate at the King’s (Lord’s) table but fell, became crippled (whether at the hand of another or by their own sin) and have hidden themselves from the Lord.  He is inviting them back to His table to partake of his unfailing, unsought and unlimited mercy and kindness toward them!  There are those Mephibosheths who have never before eaten at the King’s table.  They have family members who have prayed and interceded for their life and the Lord wants to invite them to His table of provision filled with His unfailing love, unsought, unlimited mercy and kindness.  The Lord is also calling those Mephibosheths who believe they are the dead dogs, the unredeemable of society, the unwanted and filled with fear.  The Lord is saying to them, come to My table of grace and mercy.  Come partake of my unfailing love, my abundant grace and mercy and my healing waters.  My table is for you, just come!

God’s arms are open wide to all who will respond to His call to come to His table.  It is a table of healing, a table of provision, a table of restoration and a table that offers a new name, a new identity, and a new way.  King David showed Mephibosheth his identity was not a dead dog, it was son of a king!  The Lord is the true image breaker.  He calls us to surrender to His plans and purposes for our life and removes the stigma of our old, crippled and broken life.   He exterminates our shame and delivers us from fear.  He clothes us in His righteousness, places a ring on our finger and sits us at the place of honor at His table.  He has picked us out from among the crowd and called us to come out of the Valley of Humiliation so that He may give us hind’s feet to dwell in the high places with Him.  He crowns us with glory and honor (Psalm 8:5) as we become transformed to reflect the image of Christ.

Thoughts on Leadership, Part 1 by Larry W Peebles

Thoughts on Leadership, Part 1   by   Larry W Peebles  April 21, 2017   17.14

This might just be my dream job.  I was invited to interview for a major leadership position with a big company in our local area with a great brand name.  This was a successful company with an image to match.  They were looking for a company president to take them to another level.  I went through a high level interview, with all the appropriate tests and interview strategies, conducted over several sessions.  In one of the sessions I was asked to name a favorite book or a book that I had read recently.  I replied “the Bible”.  This caused an awkward moment for the interviewer, as if that was an unusual or inappropriate answer.  I think the follow up question to my answer was “Why”?  I gave a short but accurate response and we moved on to the next question.  Instead of my answer being considered a strong answer, I had the impression it was deemed something they might be able to overlook or work around.

I was offered that job, but after praying, I felt I should decline.  God ultimately had something even better in mind.  Thinking back on it, I do not believe I could have been happy in a company that never saw themselves intentionally aligned with Biblical principles, or had no appreciation for or understanding of anyone who was seeking Biblical wisdom and guidance.

I have been fortunate to have many men in my life that I respected and considered to be leaders—even great leaders.  As I think of these men, I realize styles of leadership vary.  My dad, my father-in-law, my two brothers, a coach, and a few pastors and friends are certainly on the short list of leaders that impacted my life.  However, for purposes of this article, I will use my grandpa as an example of a great leader.  I loved my grandpa, and the older I get, the more I remember from what he taught me.  I do not write this to glorify my grandpa, although I adored him and think of him often.  He led by example more than by what he said.  Much of what he demonstrated I did not grasp until years later.  There is no better legacy than to have your example endorsed by the Bible.

Let’s start with this familiar principle–we reap what we sow.  I can remember when I was a small boy I found my grandpa alone in the barn, combing through the ears of corn, hand sorting each one.  Everyone else was in the yard starting to celebrate finishing the harvest of the corn crop.  Good ears went in one pile, bad ears that were only partially developed, or that had sections of brown or black kernels went in another.  The bad ears would be used for hog or cow feed.  Grandpa was really looking for the outstanding ears—the ones that were big, perfectly developed, with rich golden kernels.  Grandma’s fried chicken at the celebration would have to wait until he had finished searching for the perfect ears of corn.

When he found one of those golden perfect ears, it went in yet another pile in the corner of the barn.  After those ears dried, they would be run through a special machine that picked the kernels off the cob, where they fell down a chute into a seed bag.  The seed bag would be sewn shut, and the seed stored until the next planting season.

Without his ever saying a word, my grandfather taught me a valuable lesson.  If one wants to produce a field of big, beautiful golden corn, one must have the discipline to start with the best seed.  Seed selected from the partially developed ears with black kernels would produce more of that same poor quality corn.  The poor corn should be fed to the animals.  Similarly, the seed from the average corn would produce more average corn.   This corn could be sold or eaten.  The very best corn had only one purpose.  It was not to be eaten, not even at the celebration with friends and neighbors who helped bring in the crop.  The very best corn needed to be his seed for the next planting.  Similarly, the best results require the best effort.  If we expect to be treated well, we must treat others well.  Loving others is the best way to receive love in our lives.

The Bible says it this way.  “Be not deceived: God is not mocked; for whatever a man shall sow, that also shall he reap.”  Galatians 6: 7.  Whatever one plants determines his harvest.  My grandpa provided a graphic illustration of this Biblical truth I shall never forget.  Consider these additional examples that reveal great leadership:

  1. He worked hard, dawn to dusk, and he was not afraid to do things that were hard. There were fields to plow, livestock to feed, barns and fences to build or paint, and lots of children and grandchildren that needed attention.  Colossians 3:23- “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.”  Proverbs 16:3- “Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.”  Proverbs 14:23- “In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty.”  Isaiah 41:10—“Fear not, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
  2. He did not work on Sunday. Exodus 20:10- “But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God: in it you shall not do any work, not you, nor your son, nor your daughter, your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your cattle, nor any stranger that is within your gates.”  Sunday morning was for church, and Sunday afternoon was for the large family gathering at the farm for fellowship, a light evening meal, or perhaps homemade ice cream.
  3. Grandpa not only rested himself, he rested the land. He lived his whole life on his farm.  He was born there, and he died there.  He was a successful farmer, married over 50 years to one wife, and raised six children through two world wars and the Great Depression.  Under all that pressure, he never over-worked the land.  He also never used fertilizer on his crops.  He plowed the stubble back into the field after the last crop, and let it decay naturally back into the soil.  Certain crops were planted that had no value except to rejuvenate the soil, and crops were rotated through different fields.  On a rotating schedule, he also rested a field so it could refresh itself.  Leviticus 25:4- “During the seventh year the land shall have a Sabbath rest, a Sabbath rest to the Lord; you shall not sow [plant] your field nor prune your vineyard.”
  4. Grandpa left an inheritance. He left a book full of fond memories, an example of a life well lived, and a monetary inheritance.  Although he only completed formal education through the third grade, he ultimately owned two farms, and a number of rental homes and commercial buildings.  He was decisive with the investments he made with the money he had received as a blessing from God.  When he died, my dad and mom (his daughter) were able to pay cash for a modest home from the inheritance.  When my dad and mom passed, my portion of the proceeds of the sale of that house went to my children, or grandpa’s great grandchildren.  Proverbs 13: 22- “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children.”
  5. Grandpa was a willing lender/giver to those in need. He loaned money to my older brother to finish college.  He gave me and my wife an envelope full of cash on our wedding day, which took a great deal of financial strain off our plans for the honeymoon.  Grandpa had no debt, and he never had a credit card; he paid cash for everything.  One of the blessings the Lord promised Israel in return for following and obeying Him is found in Deuteronomy 28: 12- “You will lend to many nations but will borrow from none.”
  6. He cared for the widow. I went with him and watched him care for his mother and my grandma’s mother (both my great grandmothers) after they became widows.  He would visit them often, make sure they had food to eat, check on their health, and keep up the maintenance on their homes.  James 1:27 says- “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”  I watched him care for his wife (my grandma) when she had a stroke and went into the nursing home.  As busy as he was, he always had time for others and their needs.  This experience helped me as I cared for my parents in their later years.
  7. He helped his family and neighbors. He could repair almost anything.  He painted my first car, put new brakes on my cousin’s first car, and helped my dad keep our family car running.  If he was not repairing his own farm equipment, he was off helping a neighbor repair theirs, or helping them bring in a crop.  Hebrews 6:10- “For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do.”
  8. He loved to laugh. He had a certain enthusiasm for life.  Many of his children, my aunts and uncles, carried on that trait.  They were the generation that courageously carried the burden of WWII, but when the war was over, they came home, rebuilt their lives, moved forward, and learned to laugh again.  They never allowed their situation or their circumstances to diminish their joy or hope.  Psalm 126: 2-3– “Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy.  Then it was said among the nations, The Lord has done great things for them.  The Lord has done great things for us, and we were filled with joy.”

He never used tobacco products, and the only alcohol I saw him drink was a little brandy he made himself from peaches he grew on his farm.  These are just some of the leadership examples my grandpa left for me, all Bible based.  Enthusiasm, courage, discipline, and decisiveness are some of the traits of a leader I saw in my grandpa.  I’m sure Grandpa was not perfect, and maybe these are the things I choose to remember about him.  But the examples I remember out of the shadow he chose to cast helped me as I grew older.

Peter was one of Jesus’ disciples and a leader in the early church.  His shadow healed the sick as he walked by.  (Acts 5:15).  We all cast a shadow as we walk through life.  My prayer is that my shadow is helpful to others, not harmful.  My prayer is that I can be a positive influence on my wife, children and grandchildren.  My prayer is that I can lead by example, and demonstrate an inner Biblical compass that points to Jesus.

WORDS HAVE POWER Kay Keith Peebles

Kay K. Peebles

I remember hearing the phrase:  “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”.  It was a ridiculous statement one would say when their feelings had been hurt deeply.  I said it and ran home in tears several times when I was a child.  There was absolutely no truth in those words.  The Bible says “Death and life is in the power of the tongue, and those who love it and indulge it will eat its fruit and bear the consequences of their words.”  Proverbs 18:21.

I went to church every Sunday while growing up.  My family attended Sunday mornings and evenings and I regularly participated in our youth group.  If our church scheduled a week of revival meetings, we were there.  I was on the church board as a teenage representative and I taught Sunday school and Vacation Bible School as a college student.  I was a church choir member from high school through my adult life, but I wasn’t saved (born again).  I did not know Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior and I did not know the Word of God.  I was simply religious.  My biggest obstacle in finding the Lord was pride.  I had tried to be the “good little girl” all my life.  I tried to obey the rules and not make trouble.  I didn’t know what I had done that deserved my death and hell.

Eleven years of a challenging marriage, two children and one miscarriage brought me to a place of crisis.  Nothing was working and I was an angry, disappointed and disillusioned 30 year old wife and mother.  My marriage was in shambles and I had nowhere to turn for help except the Lord.  I had been in Bible Study for two years and was beginning to learn about Jesus.  He was not the distant God I had imagined.  He was not old, angry, and eagerly searching for those who disobeyed His laws in order to punish them.  Instead, He was the kind, gentle, loving, graceful and merciful Lord who died on a cross for my sins.  His judgments were righteous.  He was the One who carried the weight of my sinful consequences upon Himself, so that I could be adopted into His family.

One night, feeling hopeless that my marriage was lost, I dedicated my life and my children to the Lord because I somehow knew He would take care of us no matter what happened.  He graciously answered my prayers that night.  He showed me my sin, but not in a condemning way.  He explained the answers to my questions about why I should deserve death and hell.  He told me, “Your words have killed others.”  He did not mean that the people I hurt had literally died, but that my words had deeply injured them, killing something inside of them.  I knew I had a sharp tongue and felt determined to win every argument.  I also knew that I had rejected Him all those years, thinking I was a good person.  I began to understand that words can wound more deeply than weapons.  I was forgiven, and my heart had begun the transformation process.  I was finally seeing things from God’s perspective.

Jesus spoke to the Pharisees and the people teaching them the consequences of judging others and the power of their words.  Matthew 12:34b “For out of the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks.  The good man from his inner good treasure flings forth good things, and the evil man out of his inner evil storehouse flings forth evil things.  But I tell you, on the day of judgment men will have to give account for every idle (inoperative, nonworking) word they speak.  For by your words, you will be justified and acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned and sentenced.”

Gaining control of our tongue is extremely difficult and I am still learning.  Lately, I have been hearing the Lord speak to me deeper revelation about the power and authority He has given us through what we speak and declare.  It is exciting to know that He charges us to pray and declare certain things He wants to do in the earth.  It is also terrifying to know that I can speak the wrong things, even casually, and bring curses upon myself and others.  I am becoming more sober minded about what I say because “the power of death and life are in the tongue”.

The Apostle James discussed the importance of controlling our tongue in James chapter 3.  He began by praising one who has successfully learned to guard his mouth.  “For we all often stumble and fall and offend in many things.  And if anyone does not offend in speech [never says the wrong things], he is a fully developed character and a perfect man, able to control his whole body and to curb his entire nature.”  Spiritual maturity is equated with the ability to control our tongue.  James sees it as the litmus test for a mature Christian.

James continued his discourse by describing the destruction that can come from a “loose” tongue.  “And the tongue is a fire.  [The tongue is a] world of wickedness set among our members, contaminating and depraving the whole body and setting on fire the wheel of birth (the cycle of man’s nature), being itself ignited by hell (Gehenna).”  We get the picture!

The Lord has great plans for our tongue.  What we declare, decree and pray makes a major contribution to inviting His Kingdom to come down and influence things here on earth.  “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”  (See Matthew 6:9-13).  The Lord created the heavens and the earth by declaring and decreeing His will:  “Let there be light”.  He called prophets forth to declare and decree His will over kings, nations and people.  He has also called us, His disciples, to declare and decree truth, light, His attributes and His works in the earth today.  We are to “bear witness” to Who He is and What He has done (and is continuing to do) on earth.

Our sin nature is solely based on self:  how things affect us personally.  It is not focused on God’s plan and purpose for our lives in regard to His Kingdom.  Therefore, we can become envious, jealous, offended and bitter.  When that happens, our tongue is used to gossip, slander, pull down others, compete with others and curse others in anger.  Unfortunately, we often do so against our brothers and sisters in the Lord which can cause divisions that affect churches, friendships and families by destroying them.

It is therefore imperative that we allow the Lord to transform us through Bible study and meditating on His Word in His presence.  We will then learn to properly intercede (pray) for the body of Christ to mature in the knowledge of our Lord.  We will also learn how to operate in a Kingdom mentality helping the Kingdom of God to expand in the earth.  We will become salt and light as our prayers, declarations, and decrees of His will in the lives of His church and the world manifests His Kingdom in the earthly realm.

There have been many times I have meditated upon the power and authority of the Apostles after Jesus’ resurrection compared to what I see in the church today.  I have struggled with the differences.  I have come to the conclusion that many believers are still heavily influenced by the secular world view, politics, and celebrity instead of becoming the influence of the Kingdom of God in the earth.  I say this not to condemn, because we have all failed from time to time.  My purpose is to challenge us all to begin to judge ourselves more carefully by weighing our conversations in and out of church and examining who or what we are allowing to influence us.  Matthew 7:17- teaches, “Even so, every healthy (sound) tree bears good fruit [worthy of admiration], but the sickly (decaying worthless) tree bears bad (worthless) fruit.  A good (healthy tree cannot bear (worthless) fruit, nor can a bad (diseased) tree bear excellent fruit [worthy of admiration].”

Every idle word, negative judgment made, criticism and accusation of others not only works against the Kingdom of God, it expands the kingdom of darkness.  Every praiseworthy witness, declaration of truth, action of love, and decree of what the Lord has done is building His Kingdom on earth!  Every acknowledgement of Who He is, praising His attributes and celebrating His faithfulness, mercy and grace resoundingly invites heaven to earth!

What we say matters, and that may be why we have not seen answers to some of our prayers.  How we influence others matters, by whether we draw them to the Lord or repel them from Him.  We must ask ourselves this question, “Are we building His Kingdom in the earth or are we just passing through life focused upon ourselves?”

Jesus spoke what the Father told Him to speak and the Kingdom of Heaven invaded the earthly realm.  The Apostles and Prophets spoke what the Lord told them to speak and the Kingdom of Heaven manifested in the earth.  When we allow the Lord to apply the hot coal of fire upon our lips, cleansing our mouths from earthly banter, we can then be used by God to open up the Heavens giving His Spirit free reign on earth.  (See Isaiah 6:1-7).

Words matter.  “Death and life are in the power of our tongue.”  May we go and build His Kingdom, one word at a time.

Repair or Replace by Larry W Peebles

Repair or Replace   by   Larry W Peebles   April 7, 2017   17.12

The food in the refrigerator was ruined.  I knew it as soon as I opened the freezer compartment to retrieve some ice.  The ice in the freezer had melted, and the water that resulted had mixed with the liquids from the other defrosted foods to form a sticky slime that filled the bottom to over flowing.  The temperature in the freezer was tropical warm.  The meats were ruined, along with all the packages of peaches my wife and I had peeled and put away from the summer crop.  There would be no fresh peach cobbler until next summer.  From the looks of things, the freezer had stopped cooling some time ago.

Fortunately this was not the main kitchen refrigerator, and the loss from the refrigerator compartment below the freezer was minimal.  This was a back-up refrigerator in the downstairs kitchenette off the game room.  It did a good job of producing ice.  We used it for over flow, and to store freezer items we do not use every day, such as the peaches.  Since it was not in use daily, some time had passed since it was last opened.  There was nothing to do immediately except throw out the spoiled items and clean up the mess.  Once that was done, I could begin the process of analyzing why it had failed, and make the decision to repair it or replace it with a new refrigerator.

There are some things I can fix, and enjoy doing it, but a refrigerator is not one of them.  I decided it was time to call in the experts.  In a few days, the local appliance repairman had performed his inspection and found the problem.  The electronic mother-board (or “brains”) of the refrigerator had failed, and would need to be replaced.  My cost to repair would be the charge for the first service call, plus the cost of the part including installation. The part would have to be ordered.  While this was no small expense, it was a lot better than the cost of a new refrigerator.  In addition, I was not eager to move the old refrigerator upstairs, and deliver a new one downstairs.  In this case, a repair was clearly the better way to solve the problem, and the refrigerator works well to this day.

The question of whether to repair or replace something comes up often.  It always depends on the exact part that is broken, the availability of a replacement part, and whether the owner can repair it themselves, which will save on labor costs. The decision could involve a car repair, a computer, or something in the house such as an air conditioner, TV, or a vacuum.  Sometimes the cost of the repair is so high it approaches or exceeds the cost of a new item.  Sometimes the age of the item is such that additional repairs might well be expected, and the smarter move is to replace it now rather than to continue to invest in repairs.

When a person makes the decision to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior, it is often because something in their life is broken, missing, or not working as it should.  Perhaps there is an addiction to something they cannot shake or control, or there is something that happened to them in the past that they cannot change. It might be a damaged relationship, or any of a number of other possibilities.  They may have tried to fix it themselves, but had no success.  Frustration may have led to actions that made the matter worse.  Out of desperation, the decision is made to turn it over to someone with the expertise to fix the problem–God.  Who better to get to fix the problem of a broken heart, a ruined life, or a crushed spirit than the one who created it?

When God comes into the broken situation, there is never the question of whether to repair or replace.  There is no budget or cost constraints.  Economics is never the issue.  There is no need for salvage or refurbished parts.  He does everything new, and He does it right.  Consider these ten things that become “new” when we invite Jesus into our lives to take control, and to correct the problems.

  1. We become a new man, or “born again”. As Jesus explained to Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council (John 3:1-21), we are born again spiritually when we come to Jesus, believe in Him, submit to His Lordship, and let His spirit dwell in our hearts.  We enter into His kingdom with new life, new light, new truth, and new hope in life eternal.  2 Corinthians 5: 17 -“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”
  2. We receive a new heart and spirit. Ezekiel 36: 26, 28—“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone, and give you a heart of flesh.  You will be my people, and I will be your God.”  When we follow the One True God, we have a leader we can follow whole-heartedly.
  3. We receive a new container for this new spirit. The Bible refers to this as a new wineskin.  Matthew 9: 17 says—“Neither do men pour new wine [new spirit] into old wineskins.  If they do, the skins will burst, the wines will run out and the wineskins will be ruined.  No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.” [Insert mine.]  God thinks of everything; there is no sense in pouring a new person into the old form of life.
  4. We start fresh on a new day. Lamentations 3: 22-23- “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”  God’s mercies are new and fresh every day.
  5. We start a new life. In Romans 6: 1-4, we read in part, “We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer…just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”  We take our past to the grave, and rise again with Christ in a new life.
  6. We receive a new covenant promise from God. “For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance-now that He has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.” (Hebrews 9:15).  Again, when we follow the One True God, we have a promise we can rely upon.
  7. We receive a new name or identity. At turning points in their lives, Abram became Abraham, Sarai became Sarah, Jacob became Israel, and Saul of Tarsus became the Apostle Paul.  Revelation 2:17- “To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna.  I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.”  To God, names are important, as they give clues to the character, purpose or destiny of a person.  We know the name we were given by our parents at birth.  How much better it is to know the name God has given us as a result of our new birth.
  8. We receive a new tongue or language. This language becomes a direct and effective way to communicate (pray) with God.  While some controversy exists in the church today over this gift of tongues, the Bible is actually quite clear on the matter.  Acts Chapter 2 tells the story of the Day of Pentecost, as was foretold by the prophet Joel in Joel Chapter 2: 28-32.  Jesus spoke of the “new tongues” in Mark 16: 17-18 as just one of the new “signs” which would accompany those who believe.  I myself have experienced the new tongue.  I consider it a prayer language I use it to pray fervently, especially in complicated and overwhelming situations when I do not know exactly how or what to pray.  I think of it as praying directly through a powerful interpreter (Holy Spirit), who makes my translated prayer known before the throne of God.
  9. He makes all things new. God has no limitation on what He can do.  He is able to turn around any situation, and remove every obstacle.  He can even work unfortunate things in the past into our current and future good.  Isaiah 43:18-19—“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.  See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.”  He can bring water to dry desert, and cause wasteland to flourish.  Nothing is too difficult for Him.
  10. He will one day establish a new heaven and a new earth. In the Book of Revelation, John records seeing a new heaven and a new earth.  Chapter 21: 1-3—“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.  I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them.  They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God.’”   This is the ultimate fulfillment of the verses in 2 and 9 above. He will continue to live in the hearts of men I suppose, but the time is coming when He literally will once again walk and live among men, just as He did originally with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, when everything was new.

This list is not intended to be exhaustive.  It is intended to encourage us to believe that when our lives have become unbearable because something is broken and not working well, God promises more than a repair of what has been damaged.  He has the unlimited power and resources to completely replace the problem with new components.  He does so much more than put a patch on the old problem and hope it holds for a while.  When a ruined life or a broken heart is involved, instead of continuing to ignore the problem and hoping it will get better, or trying to fix it ourselves, we need to turn back to God and ask for Jesus to take over in our lives.  He makes everything new.

 

 

UNQUALIFIED Kay Keith Peebles

Kay K. Peebles

God chooses unqualified people to represent His Kingdom!  Unqualified:  not having the skills, knowledge, or experience needed to do a particular job or activity.  Meriam-Webster.

King Saul had sinned against God and ignored His commandments, therefore God rejected Saul as king of Israel.  “The LORD said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel?  Fill your horn with oil and be on your way, I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem.  I have chosen one of his sons to be king.”  1 Samuel 1-13 (entire story), Amplified Bible.  Samuel came to Bethlehem with a sacrifice and called out Jesse and his sons to join him in worshipping and sacrificing before the Lord.  Samuel immediately saw Eliab, one of Jesse’s sons and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord. But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Look not on his appearance or at the height of his stature, for I have rejected him.  For the Lord sees not as a man sees; for man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.’ ” The Lord had picked David, Jesse’s youngest son to be king of Israel.  David seemed so unqualified Jesse didn’t even invite David to join the rest of his sons meeting with Samuel.  It was only after Samuel asked Jesse if he had any other sons that David was even considered, but he was God’s choice.

When David, a youth, stood before the Philistine and Israelite armies to battle the giant Goliath, David appeared most unqualified.  He was too small to handle King Saul’s armor.  He used a simple sling and a rock to destroy the greatest warrior of the Philistine army and incited fear among the enemy.  The unqualified are often overlooked by man, but not by God.

When Jesus began His ministry on earth, He first called forth His disciples whom He would leave in charge to build His church after His death and resurrection.  The first two disciples He called to join Him were Peter and Andrew.  They were brothers who operated their own fishing business.  The Bible says they “cursed” which would be expected of the two crusty working men.  They probably lacked manners, were crude in their speech and obstinate and inflexible in their beliefs.  He then called another pair of brothers who were also fishermen, James and John.  They were called the “sons of thunder”, signifying they might be loud, obnoxious and possibly angry in temperament.

Matthew was another of Jesus’ disciples.  He was among the most hated in Israel because he was a tax collector.  It was common for the tax collectors to exact a little extra tax from the people to line their own pockets.  They were despised, distrusted and loathed.  There was doubting Thomas and of course, Judas, the one who betrayed Jesus.  There is no need to mention the others; I’m sure you get the idea.  None of them were qualified to turn the world upside down, yet they did!

Whether we are electing the president of a nation, the head of an agency, or the CEO of a corporation, history has proven the one most assume to be best qualified may not be the one most successful in the job.  The Bible says we choose by the “appearance” but God looks upon the heart.  One may have the best resume’, but lack the people skills necessary to build a workable team atmosphere at the office.  Another might be the most awarded athlete yet be unable to teach/coach others to develop those same skills.     What we know or can do does not necessarily make us successful in God’s eyes.  He seems to like choosing those the world would consider to be “unqualified”.

Moses questioned God’s selection of him to deliver the Israelites from slavery in Egypt.  He listed his inability to speak fluidly as one of several issues that made him “unqualified”.  Exodus 3:9-4:17 “Now behold, the cry of the Israelites has come to Me, and I have also seen how the Egyptians oppress them.  Come now therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh, that you may bring forth My people, the Israelites out of Egypt.  And Moses said to God, Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt…And Moses answered, But behold, they will not believe me or listen to and obey my voice; for they will say, The Lord has not appeared to you…And Moses said to the Lord, O Lord, I am not eloquent or a man of words, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; for I am slow of speech and have a heavy and awkward tongue.”  The Lord began to become angry with Moses as he continued to disagree with the Lord’s choice for a deliverer for Israel.  “And the Lord said to him, Who has made man’s mouth?  Or who makes the dumb, or the deaf, or the seeing, or the blind?  Is it not I the Lord?  Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and will teach you what you shall say.”  Moses would soon understand that God did not need his help, He needed his cooperation.

It is human nature to question the Lord when He chooses us to do something for Him. We tend to focus upon our inabilities or failures rather than His ABILITY to give us all we need to do the job!  The truth, however, is the fact that God lacks nothing.  He is All-knowing (omniscient), All-powerful (omnipotent), and All-present (omnipresent).  He simply needs our willingness and our obedience.  He applies His ABILITY to our inability, His SUPERNATURAL to our natural, His FAITHFULNESS to our obedience and His ABUNDANCE to our lack.  No matter what our current condition happens to be, when the Lord calls, He is able to provide all we need to succeed in what He has asked us to do.

He is our wisdom and our counsel.  He is our provision and our supply.  He is our strength and our shield.  He leads and guides us and provides us with those who can help us accomplish all He has called us to do.  He teaches us and sends us teachers to equip us.  He enables us to do what we could not do ourselves.  He transforms us as we make Him our priority and trains us to learn whatever is necessary for us to succeed.  If we are willing to obey and determined to persist, nothing will be impossible.

1 Corinthians 1:24-29 explains, “But to those who are called, whether Jew or Greek (Gentile), Christ [is] the Power of God and the Wisdom of God.  [This is] because the foolish things that has its source in] God is wiser than men, and the weak thing [that springs] from God is stronger than men.  For [simply] consider your own call, brethren; not many [of you were considered to be] wise according to certain estimates and standards, not many influential and powerful, not many of high and noble birth.  [No] for God selected (deliberately chose) what in the world is foolish to put the wise to shame, and what the world calls weak to put the strong to shame.  And God also selected (deliberately chose) what in the world is lowly and insignificant and branded and treated with contempt, even the things that are nothing, that He might depose and bring to nothing the things that are.  So that no mortal man should have pretense for glorying and boasting in the presence of God.”

Saul of Tarsus was a prominent Pharisee in Jerusalem.  His zeal for the law of God motivated him to seek the new Christian sect members and have them killed.  Saul was filled with the wisdom of men.  After his encounter with the risen Christ, he became Paul and emptied himself of all that he knew in order to be transformed with the Gospel of the Kingdom of God.  The Apostle Paul helped to build the first century church.  His letters to the churches are used today to lead, instruct and mature believers all over the world.  He is considered to be the most notable of the Apostles, but Paul had something else to say of himself.  1 Corinthians 2:4-5 Paul writes, “And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”

The more inability we have, the greater things God can do through us!  Those who feel disqualified must take their focus off of their inabilities or failures and turn their attention to the Lord’s infinite Wisdom, Power and Strength.  It has never been about us and what we can do, it is totally about the Lord and what He can do through us!

Whenever we pray a prayer that is answered by God, it was not our wisdom or power that succeeded, it was God’s.  Whenever we lay hands upon the sick and they are healed, we are not the healer- God is!  Whenever we encourage someone in their faith at a difficult time it was not our grace we supplied to them, it was God’s.  We are nothing more than a conduit that connects the source of power to the receiver.  Similar to an electric wire or a water hose, the power source sends power through us to those in need.  The only revelation that changes hearts comes from the Lord.  The only power that heals and transforms comes from the Lord.  The only provision or supply that supports another comes from the Lord.  When we submit ourselves to God’s will, speak what He says to speak and do what He says to do, miracles will happen.  The more frequently we do so, the more miracles we will see!

Do not let people, the devil, or your own voice tell you that God cannot or will not use you to touch others for His Kingdom.  He calls the unqualified.  Your stature, intellect, finances or connections do not matter.  All that matters is the unlimited ability of God.  Unqualified?  Expect to see the miraculous!

Strength Never Comes Easy by Larry W Peebles

Strength Never Comes Easy   by   Larry W. Peebles   March 24, 2017   17.10

In 1973, America fell in love with a race horse.  That was the year Secretariat, Horse of the Year in 1972 as a two-year old, won the Triple Crown of racing.  He was the first Crown winner in twenty-five years, and made the cover of Time Magazine, Newsweek, and Sports Illustrated along the way.

He did not just win—he dominated the Triple Crown.  The Kentucky Derby was the first race of the Triple Crown.  He ran a record time for the 1 ¼ mile race at Churchill Downs that still stands today.  Each quarter mile was faster than the previous, meaning the horse was still accelerating at the finish line.   He then ran a record 1 1/8 miles at the Preakness, although that record was not established until 2012 when forensics settled the controversy caused by a clock malfunction on race day.  At the Belmont Stakes, the final leg, he set not only a Belmont record for 1 ½ miles, but also an American record for 1 ½ miles on a dirt track.  His margin of victory, 31 lengths, was also a record.  Each race of the Triple Crown drew record crowds, and the televised Belmont Stakes drew a 52% market share. He set a world record for 1 1/8 miles at the Marlboro Cup that same year, and tied the track record for 1 mile at the Gotham Stakes.  He was voted the Horse of the Year again in 1973.

The strength of this unique horse was evident when he stood at 45 minutes following birth, and nursed at one hour fifteen minutes after birth.  Secretariat was described as a massive, powerful horse—well-balanced, with a nearly perfect shape and stride.  Bio-mechanically speaking, he was a machine with a large chest, large heart (estimated at 22 pounds at death), and well-muscled hind quarters.  His hind legs reached well under himself as he ran, with great drive and a stride measured at 24’ 11”.  He had a tremendous appetite, 15 quarts of oats per day, and only his heavy speed workouts kept the food from turning to fat.  His trainer often opted for training versus rest between big races because of the horse’s great energy.  He was concerned the horse would hurt himself banging against the stable walls if he did not get out and run.  Secretariat’s eagerness to train, coupled with his strength from birth, destined this horse for greatness.

A gifted champion like Secretariat does not come along all that often.  Some would say this was the greatest thoroughbred of all time.  In the one hundred forty one year history of the Triple Crown races, there have been only twelve winners.  Oddly, Seattle Slew won the Triple Crown four years after Secretariat in 1977, followed by Affirmed in 1978.  Then there would not be another winner for thirty-seven years, until American Pharoah won in 2015.  He was one of 23,500 new thoroughbreds registered in North America the year of his birth.

Why all this attention on a horse in a Christian article?  Because there is a life lesson we can learn.  Like horses, most people are not gifted from birth with great physical, mental or spiritual strength.  Our strength is developed over time, by trial, and does not come easily.  Most people are not eager to train themselves for strength.  Motion through resistance to gravity in the form of weights increases physical strength, while overcoming opposition increases mental and spiritual strength.

With regard to spiritual strength, the Bible is clear on two points:

First, our loving Father God allows us to be exposed to circumstances involving opposition or resistance in order that we strain and struggle to overcome.  In the process, we grow stronger.  The Bible calls it many things, such as discipline, testing or trials.  We might call it training.  He does it because He loves us, and knows what we need to grow to full spiritual strength and maturity.  Consider these five verses:

  1. Hebrews 12: 5-11- “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and punishes everyone he accepts as a son. Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons.  For what son is not disciplined by his father?  If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons.  Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it.  How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live!  Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness.  No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.  Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”  This scripture is clear that the discipline arises naturally out of a loving Father/son/daughter relationship.  However, adding strength-getting stronger-never comes easy.
  2. Hebrews 3: 8- “Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the desert.” We must not rebel and become angry and hard of heart during discipline, lest we miss the training opportunity.  Continued rebellion might lead to our falling away from God, so there is a very real danger here.  This does not mean we cannot eventually come back to God, but I have known many who paid a dear price while drifting so far away.
  3. James 1: 2-4- “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
  4. Proverbs 17: 3- “The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the Lord tests the heart.” There is a process for refining silver and gold, but God refines (tests, strengthens) our heart because, as stated elsewhere in Scripture, even a man’s heart will deceive him, until it is pure and refined before the Lord.
  5. Isaiah 48: 10-11- “See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction. For my own sake, I do this.  How can I let myself be defamed?”  God is interested in the proper development of our character because we carry His name and are created in His image.  We have a certain responsibility to carry the family name well.

The second point the Bible clearly establishes is that during the testing or training process, God is with us and supplies the necessary increase in strength to pass the test.  He wants us to succeed.  The Bible is filled with verses and stories to support this statement.  Now consider these five verses:

  1. Colossians 1: 11-14 “…being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves [Jesus], in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
  2. Hebrews 12: 2- “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” God set joy before Jesus so that He would have the strength to endure the cross.
  3. Nehemiah 8: 10- “Do not grieve, the joy of the Lord is your strength.” This indicates that I do not have to merely survive the trial and training—I can have joy the whole time, and the joy of the Lord is my source of strength.
  4. 2 Samuel 22: 33-35- “It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to stand on the heights.  He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze.”
  5. Isaiah 40: 31- “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

The quote “Fatigue makes cowards of us all” is attributed to WWII General George Patton, but has also been made famous by the late legendary football coach Vince Lombardi of the Green Bay Packers. Fear comes from a lack (or perceived lack) of superior strength or weapons, lack of help or allies, or lack of position relative to the opposition.  God tells us over and over again in His word that we are not to be afraid.

It is popular these days to put ourselves in the hands of a trainer, a personal trainer, or a life coach.  Why not ask and then trust God to train us?  Why not willingly (joyfully) put ourselves in His hands, and let Him test and condition us so that we have the strength and confidence for what lies ahead?  He is the only one who knows the exact training and schedule we will need to prevail victorious over the oncoming opposition.  Psalm 147: 10 says- “His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor His delight in the legs of a man; the Lord delights in those who fear [reverently respect] Him, who put their hope in His unfailing love.” [Insert mine.]  When our love for and trust in Him is well placed, we can say “Praise be to the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle.”  (Psalm 144: 1).  It may not be easy, but may God train us to be champions for Christ.

 

UNCHANGING KAY KEITH PEEBLES

Kay K. Peebles

My generation is the post- World War II generation.  We are called “baby boomers” because the U.S. population exploded when the soldiers from our parent’s generation came home from war!  Their generation, called the “greatest generation”, experienced the Great Depression in 1929, World War II 1941-1945, the Korean War 1950-1953, the Vietnam War 1955-1975, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963 and the “Cold War” 1947-1991.

My husband’s parents married December 6, 1941, one day before Japan attacked Pearl Harbor.  Sadly, the newlyweds were separated by a war.  My father-in-law was shipped off for basic training several months after the wedding and served in the Pacific during the Second World War.  My mother-in-law had conceived before he left and delivered his first son while he was in active duty.  He met his two-year-old son when he came home at the end of the war.  My father-in-law also lost both his parents during that same time period.  It was a difficult time to be alive and the affects were worldwide.  Women quickly volunteered to do what was considered to be “men’s work” as the men were rushed abroad to defend our nation and a world in crisis.  Many worked in factories producing the metal and equipment used by our armed services oversees.

My generation has experienced the Korean War 1950-1953, the “Cold War” 1947-1991, the Vietnam War 1955-1975, Kennedy’s assassination 1963, Desert Storm 1990-1991, War in Afghanistan 2001-2014, the Iraq War 2003-2011 and the current war with ISIS.  Our parents were strong disciplinarians.  We weren’t coddled.  It was not because we weren’t loved, but because our parents had lived very disciplined lives in order to survive.  One crisis succeeded another.  They were fully aware of how quickly circumstances could change so they tried to impart to us the skills that would sustain us throughout our lifetime.  During the 1960’s many of my generation began to protest all forms of war, experiment with psychedelic drugs and rebel against the Word of God.  They wanted nothing to do with the establishment, responsibility, or the rules our parents followed, which were meant to undergird us if we experienced similar years of crisis.  The term “God is dead” surfaced and the battle cry was for freedom from all restraints.  Many lived in communes where “love” was free- free from responsibility and accountability.  They traded responsibility for pleasure and God’s love for self-love.  The right to abort an unborn baby was made legal in 1973.  It was the result of generational selfishness with little regard for others or the sacrifice others made to provide them their freedom to choose their lifestyle.

How quickly things changed.  One generation was so responsible, hard-working and persevering while the very next one was irresponsible, unaccountable and rebellious.  What changed?  People do, but God does not!  I have found that although the hearts of men change from generation to generation, God has a remnant that remains steadfast, no matter what circumstances assail them.  They are a witness to a God Who never changes.

Simultaneous to those in my generation who rebelled, God was moving in another way, drawing others close to Him.  There was a “Jesus Movement” which began in the late 1960’s until approximately 1973-4.  Revival touched all denominations, many seminaries and college age students across the nation, drawing them to righteousness and a deep personal relationship with the “Living” God, the Lord Jesus Christ.  Every circumstance in life will bring one to a crossroad which requires a choice.  While some chose to reject God and live without constraints, others ran to Him and sought strength, consolation and righteousness through their Savior, Jesus Christ.

King Solomon, King David’s successor, is believed to have written the book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible.  Solomon experienced God through his father David, and began his reign worshipping, honoring and serving the Lord.  The Lord asked Solomon what he would like to guide him as he led the nation of Israel.  Solomon could have asked for riches, armies or many other things, but instead, he asked for wisdom.  His request pleased the Lord.  God gave him wisdom and riches.

Solomon began to compromise as he turned from God’s wisdom to seek the wisdom of the world (mankind without God).  Theologians debate whether he returned to God at the end of his life.  I hope he did.  Nearing the end of his life, he had learned the vanity of seeking a lifestyle solely for personal pleasure.  Ecclesiastes was his warning of vanity for all who seek to live according to the wisdom of man.  The heart of man is self-seeking without God.  Ecclesiastes 1:18-2:1, “For in much [human] wisdom is much vexation, and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.  I said in my mind, Come now, I will prove you with mirth and test you with pleasure; so have a good time [enjoy pleasure].  But this also was vanity (emptiness, falsity, and futility)!”

Jeremiah 17:9-10, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and it is exceedingly perverse and corrupt and severely, morally sick!  Who can know it [perceive, understand, be acquainted with his own heart and mind]?  I the Lord search the mind, I try the heart, even to give to every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings.”

Genesis 6:5, “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination and intention of all human thinking was only evil continually.”

The Bible is filled with the history of mankind and the futility of life apart from God.  The emptiness of living a self-pleasing lifestyle is extraordinarily cruel when one reaches their last days on earth.  They, like Solomon, find a fruitless life provides nothing to savor in death.  Solomon saw that in this world, there is “nothing new under the sun”.  (See Ecclesiastes 1:9).  All has happened before and will happen again.  Generations may come and go, and the hearts of the people fluctuate.  Their hearts deceive them and they seek the things that will perish rather than the eternal.  They are incapable of knowing true meaning or purpose without God.  This in an ever-changing world but it remains stable because God never changes and neither does His Word.

Matthew 24:35, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.”  NIV.

Psalm 119:89, “Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven [stands firm as the heavens].”  AMPV.

Psalm 89:2, “For I have said, Mercy and loving-kindness shall be built up forever; Your faithfulness will You establish in the very heavens [unchangeable and perpetual].”

God’s unchanging Word reveals His nature, and it is an anchor for those living in an ever-changing world.  No matter the generation or circumstance, God still remains the same.  His Word is never outdated because it is eternal.  Although man’s perspective may change from generation to generation, God’s remains the same.  There is nothing to edit, modify or remove because it is everlasting.

1 Peter 1:25, “But the Word of the Lord (divine instruction, the Gospel) endures forever, And this Word is the good news which was preached to you.”

Isaiah 40:6-9, “A voice says, Cry [prophesy]!  And I said, What shall I cry?  [The voice answered, Proclaim:] All flesh is as frail as grass, and all that makes it attractive [its kindness, its goodwill, its mercy from God, its glory and timeliness, however good] is transitory, like the flower of the field.  The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the Lord blows upon it; surely [all] the people are like grass.  The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.”

There are those in every generation who stand proudly against the Lord God and defy His rule, His wisdom, His authority and His grace.  Sadly, they believe in their 70+ years of life they have learned the “wisdom of the ages”.  They live, they soon die…But the Eternal Word of God lives on.  It never dies, it never becomes irrelevant or obsolete.  The Wisdom of all eternity belongs to those who fear the Lord and reverence not only Him, but His Word.  If we want stability, security and something that will never change, then we must hope in the Eternal One.  His Word was first (Alpha) and it will be last (Omega) because He is Unchanging!

God’s Not Sneaky by Larry W Peebles

God’s Not Sneaky   by   Larry W. Peebles   March 10, 2017   17.08

We were snowed-in for the weekend.  Our daughter, her husband, and three children had come to the mountains to visit my wife and me in hopes of catching some predicted snow.  We were all hoping for enough snowfall for a good play day.  Shortly after they arrived on Friday night, right on cue, it began to snow.  By Saturday morning, 3 inches had accumulated, enough to spend the day outdoors sledding, hiking, and building a snowman. It was truly a great family day.

By Sunday morning the snow that melted Saturday had turned to ice overnight, leaving a mixture of snow and ice on the slippery mountain roads.  In town, ice had blanketed the church parking lot, and services were cancelled.  We would have to conduct our own worship service right here in our home on the side of a mountain.  Our daughter’s oldest son and I played some worship songs on our guitars, and everyone joined in the singing.  Then I spoke to all the grandchildren about how the snow and ice had changed the mountain.  The snow and water had seeped into cracks in the rocks, frozen and expanded, and had popped off the face of some of the rock.  I suggested they might see evidence of that when they were able to drive home later in the day.  It might be small signs of a mountain changing, but over long periods of time, this is how mountains erode and become smaller.

I went on to tell them that even if the mountains change, God does not change.  He promised in His word that He is the same yesterday, today and forever.  I asked them to name some things they knew about God that do not change.  My granddaughter said His love for us does not change—He always loves us.  The older grandson said His power does not change—He is the most powerful force in the universe, and can do anything.  Then the youngest grandson, age 5, said something very profound.  He said “God’s not sneaky.”  He never tricks us.  Being the youngest, his brother and sister may play tricks on him, and maybe I joke around and tease with him more than I should, but God does not.

Let’s study what came from this young boy’s mind and heart.  As I think about God’s not being “sneaky”, I can easily find these three characteristics of God that make Him “not sneaky”.  There are more, to be sure, but these came rather easily.

He is always truthful.

God is so full of truth that He only tells the truth.  He cannot lie.  John 1:14 says Jesus was “the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”  In fact, Jesus was not just full of truth, He is the truth.  Truth is not a philosophical concept, it is the very person of Jesus.  In John 14:6, Jesus answered “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one goes to the Father except through me.”  Jesus admonished His followers to “let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes’, and your ‘no’ [be] ‘no’”.  Matthew 5:37.  We are to be truthful so that others can count on our word, just as we count on, depend upon, and trust in God’s word.  We find in Scripture seven things that are detestable to God (Proverbs 6:16-19)—two of these are “a lying tongue”, and “a false witness who pours out lies”.  Both of these are “sneaky.”  When we are not truthful, we are not only disappointing God, we are moving toward becoming like the devil.  Scripture says he “was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him.  When he lies, he speaks his native tongue, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44).  It would be hard to make it any plainer than that.  Just as Jesus can only speak the truth, the devil can only speak lies.  We want our native tongue, our heart language, to be the truth.  In this way, we operate in the image of God, our Creator.

There is another simple explanation as to why God cannot lie.  It is because of the creative power of His words.  In Genesis we understand that all creation came into being (from nothing) when “God said”.  When He said “let there be light”, there was light.  He spoke creation into being.  If He said one’s hand was green, would that be a lie?  No, because when He said it, the hand would become green.  He cannot lie.  When He says it, it is.  What He says manifests.

He always does what He says He will do.

In Genesis 18:14, God promised Sarah, age eighty-nine, a son—“Is anything too hard for the Lord?  I will return to you at the appointed time next year and Sarah will have a son.”  Abraham, her husband was already ninety-nine when the promise was given.  A year later, Isaac was born to this couple, who from a reproductive standpoint, were already thought to be dead in their bodies.  (Genesis 21:1).  Not only can God do what He wants, He does what He says.  Numbers 23:19 says—“God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should change His mind.  Does he speak and then not act?  Does He promise and not fulfill?”  Psalm 89: 8 and 34 taken together read—“O Lord God Almighty, who is like you?  You are mighty, and your faithfulness surrounds you.  You will not violate your covenant, or alter what your lips have uttered.”  Then Isaiah 55:11 says—“My word that goes out from my mouth: it will not return to me empty [void, powerless], but will accomplish what I desire, and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”  [Insert mine.]

He is not a God of empty promises.  When we want to reinforce a promise, we might say “I give my word.”  Jesus is the Word of God. (John 1:1).  When God gives a promise, He has already given His Son.  In Psalm 138:2, we see that God places such a high importance on His word (doing what He says He will do), that He places His word above His name.  His word is magnified in importance above His name.  Without the integrity of His word, He does not have a name.  It should be no different for us.  We make a name for ourselves with the integrity of our word.  If we say it, we must do it.

His plan is always for our good.

When my wife and I started our juvenile justice ministry, which lasted for fifteen years, we asked God what He wanted us to tell the young people held in maximum security in the juvenile justice system.  We felt strongly we were to tell them two things.  First, God loves them no matter what they had done to break the law.  Second, God still had a good plan for their lives.  Those two simple statements guided our messages and prayers for the young people as we visited them on a weekly basis over the years.  God is a good and loving God, and His unwavering intentions and plan for our lives is good.  Jesus provided another sharp contrast between His purpose and that of the devil in John 10:10—“The thief [devil] comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”  [Insert mine.]  Jesus came that we might have full, abundant life.  Jeremiah 29:11 says—“For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and to not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  The devil wants to harm; God’s plan is for a life full of hope for the future.  As He says in 2 Chronicles, He is always looking for ways to help strengthen His children in whatever they face—“For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” (16:9). His plan is not that we would come up short, give up and fail.  His plan is that we would succeed and accomplish every good purpose for which we were uniquely created-that we would reach our God-given destiny.

So out of the mouth of a child comes this truth: God is not sneaky.  Indeed, He always speaks the truth, He always does what He says He will do, and He always plans for our good.  There is nothing sneaky about it- we can depend on that.  We should aim for no less from ourselves.

 

What Do You See? Kay Keith Peebles

Kay K. Peebles

I have always had a gift for seeing things clearly.  I remember an incident that happened when I was an elementary age child.  I was playing in the grass at my grandfather’s house with my brother and a friend.  Our friend dropped a small toy in the thick grass.  My brother and the boy were looking for the small object for a while, and became frustrated.  I realized they had been unsuccessful and joined in the hunt.  I was able to quickly see the small object in the grass and restored it back to the boy.

My husband was in the homebuilding industry most of his career.  He would take me to see his newly built and decorated model homes.  His company worked hard to produce a quality product, well designed and soundly constructed.  He had a wonderful decorator who saw the potential in each model home and meticulously decorated them beautifully.  They were attractively ornamented and welcoming as we walked through the door.  My eyes would first see the overall appearance and feel of the room but quickly go past the beauty and symmetry of the design to find the things that seemed to be out of order.  I saw the straight pins left in the draperies, which secured their pressed pleats while transporting them from the workroom to the model home.  I could also see the spots on the wall that needed touch up paint, or the bedspreads unevenly placed on the beds.  My eyes could easily see crooked pictures on the wall and anything with the slightest imbalance of position.

It is simple for me to locate one thing out of order in a picture of a hundred identical objects, or determine which color is not exact from multiple samples.  I can read sentences written up-side-down or backwards.  God has given me an eye for exactness, precision and recognition for that which is out of order.  There are times that ability is of great blessing, but there are also times it makes me very uncomfortable.  Still, it is a gift and I am grateful that I can see in some cases, what others do not.  It is especially good and fulfilling to help others see things they could not see.

Faith is equated with “sight” in the Bible.  “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”  Hebrews 11:1, NKJV.  Faith (sight) has substance!  The Amplified Bible calls that substance assurance, the “title deed of things hoped for”.  It also describes the conviction of things not seen as a “conviction of their reality”.  “Faith (actually) comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses.”  (Insert mine).

There was a blind man named Bartimaeus who came to Jesus asking for the miracle of sight in Mark 10:46-52.  Bartimaeus was a beggar who sat beside a heavily traveled road to beg for his living.  He had heard of Jesus and the miracles He had done.  The crowd became excited when Jesus came down the road and Bartimaeus began to shout and cry out loudly to Jesus.  Many in the crowd tried to quiet him by asking him to not make a spectacle of himself.  Instead, Bartimaeus continued crying out and shouting even louder, “Son of David (Messiah), have mercy on me!”  Jesus stopped immediately when He heard the beggar call Him the Son of David, the Messiah for whom the Jews were waiting.  He knew who Jesus was, although Bartimaeus could not physically see Him.  The blind man had the spiritual eyes not only to SEE but also to BELIEVE!  Jesus called him to come to him and when Bartimaeus came close, Jesus asked him, “What do you want Me to do for you?”  Blind Bartimaeus answered, “Master, let me receive my sight.”  Bartimaeus again acknowledged that Jesus was Master, teacher, one in authority.  Jesus’ reply to him was “Go; your faith [and confident trust in My power] has made you well.”  Bartimaeus was immediately healed and he “accompanied Jesus on the road.”

Jesus went to Nazareth, where He had grown up, to preach and teach in the synagogue.  The people who knew Him were amazed at His profound teaching.  They recognized His great wisdom but were unable to distinguish His Divine authority as the Messiah and the Son of God.  Their sight only led to His humanity, not His divinity.  Therefore, they became offended, “repelled and hindered from acknowledging His authority.” Matthew 13:58 records, “And He did not do many works of power there, because of their unbelief (lack of faith in the divine mission of Jesus).”   AMPV.

Throughout His ministry Jesus rebuked His disciples for their unbelief.  Twice they were fearful and panicked when a storm arose while in a boat on the Sea of Galilee.  Jesus calmed the storm on their behalf.  Their fear exposed their lack of faith in Him.  They also demonstrated unbelief when they were attempting to drive out demons on at least one occasion.  Later, after Jesus had prepared His disciples for His death and resurrection, most of His disciples fled in fear when He was arrested. Mary Magdalene had been to the empty tomb after Jesus’ death on the cross and encountered her risen Lord.  She quickly ran to tell the disciples He had risen, yet they did not believe her.  (See John 20).  Mark 16:14 explains, “Afterward He appeared to the Eleven [apostles themselves] as they reclined at table; and He reproved and reproached them for their unbelief (their lack of faith) and their hardness of heart, because they had refused to believe those who had seen Him and looked at Him attentively after He had risen [from death].”  AMPV.  Once the disciples saw their risen Lord and waited in the upper room for the Holy Spirit, their faith became undaunted.  They were not only filled with faith, they were all willing to die for that revelation, and we know historically, they did.

Jesus healed a man who had been born blind (John Chapter 9).  His eyes had not developed.  Jesus spat on the ground and rubbed the moistened clay into the eye sockets of the blind man.  He then told the blind man to go to the Pool of Siloam and wash his eyes.  He returned to Jesus healed and miraculously able to see.  This man received a creative miracle.  People who knew him asked how he had been healed and he replied, Jesus had healed him.  They took him to the Pharisees and they questioned him.  The Pharisees began accusing Jesus of being a sinner, someone wicked, and asked the man again who healed him.  His response was one of insight, “I do not know whether He is a sinner and wicked or not.  But one thing I do know, that whereas I was blind before, now I see.”  Finally, after more questions the man proclaimed, “Well, this is astonishing!  Here a Man has opened my eyes, and yet you do now know where He comes from. [That is amazing!]  We know that God does not listen to sinners; but if anyone is God-fearing and a worshiper of Him and does His will, He listens to him.  Since the beginning of time it has never been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind (creative miracle).  If this Man were not from God, He would not be able to do anything like this.” AMPV, Insert mine.

Every good Jewish believer of that day knew that God had formed man from the dust of the earth.  (See Genesis 2:7)  They also knew it was impossible to take the clay of the earth, spit on it and place it upon the man’s eye sockets to form eyes!  Only God could do that!  John 1:1-3 Confirms that Jesus was not only present at creation but verse 2 declares He, Himself was the Creator!  “All things were made and came into existence through Him; and without Him was not even one thing made that has come into being.”  It was His hands that formed Adam out of the dust of the earth, and His breath that breathed life into him.  1 John 1:1-3 also proclaims, “[We are writing] about the Word of Life, [in] Him Who existed from the beginning.”  Only the Creator could have healed this man’s eyes!  Although the Pharisees read and taught from Genesis 1 (the Torah) in their synagogues for generations, they could not see their Creator standing before them.  Spiritual blindness is the result of a heart hardened by unbelief.

Jesus later returned to the blind man He had healed, and questioned him again.  “Do you believe in and adhere to the Son of Man or the Son of God?  He answered, Who is He, Sir?  Tell me, that I may believe in and adhere to Him.  Jesus said to him, You have seen Him; [in fact] He is talking to you right now.  He called out, Lord, I believe!  [I rely on, I trust, I cleave to You!]  And he worshipped Him.  Then Jesus said, I came into this world for judgment [as a Separator, in order that there may be separation between those who believe on Me and those who reject Me], to make the sightless see and to make those who see become blind.”  John 9:35-39.  AMPV.

Last Sunday during worship, we were singing the words to a song, “We lift Him up, we lift Him higher…”  The Lord began to speak a prophetic word to me.  Philippians 2:9-11 proclaims, “Therefore [because He stooped so low] God has highly exalted Him and has freely bestowed on Him the name that is above every name.  That in (at) the name of Jesus every knee should (must) bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, And every tongue [frankly and openly] confess and acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

I began to see a picture of Abraham, who was counted as righteous because of his faith, and the Lord reminded me that He called Abraham to a land he did not know nor had ever seen.  He told him that wherever the soles of his feet walked, that land was his, and whatever he could “see” would be his possession.  Abraham believed God.  When the Lord asked Abraham to sacrifice his promised son Isaac, Abraham willingly began to walk out in obedience what God had said, but he was believing (seeing) the promise of God and the God of the promise!  Abraham saw beyond the instruction and through eyes of faith, he met Jehovah Jireh, the Lord his provider!  God provided a ram for the sacrifice so that Isaac was spared.

The Apostle Paul prayed a mighty prayer for the Ephesian church.  It has been my prayer for myself and the church for many years:

 Ephesians 1:17-23 [I always pray] that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may grant you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation [that gives you a deep and personal and intimate insight] into the true knowledge of Him [for we know the Father through the Son].  And [I pray] that the eyes of your heart [the very center and core of your being] may be enlightened [flooded with light by the Holy Spirit], so that you will know and cherish the hope [the divine guarantee, the confident expectation] to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints (God’s people),  and [so that you will begin to know] what the immeasurable and unlimited and surpassing greatness of His [active, spiritual] power is in us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of His mighty strength which He produced in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion [whether angelic or human], and [far above] every name that is named [above every title that can be conferred], not only in this age and world but also in the one to come.  And He put all things [in every realm] in subjection under Christ’s feet, and appointed Him as [supreme and authoritative] head over all things in the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills and completes all things in all [believers].

True faith sees substance!  It sees what has not yet become a reality; it is the conviction of its reality.  True faith knows it has received the title deed to the promise of God.  The Lord spoke to me, “Whatever the problem is, if you see Me above that problem, higher than that problem and more powerful that the problem, the victory is yours!”  Our faith must be in Him, in His name, in His character, in His word!  That is the faith that will move mountains.  Today the Lord is asking us all, “What do you see?”

Why Are You Running by Larry W Peebles

Why Are You Running   by Larry W. Peebles   February 24, 2017   17.06

From the time I was a small boy, I loved to run.  My two favorite games involved running.  The kids in my neighborhood would play chase in the evenings until we had to come inside for dinner, homework, or bedtime.  We played over a large area of several city blocks.  The kids all gathered at an agreed “home base”.  Someone was selected to be “it”.  That person hid their eyes while everyone else ran off to hide.  The person who was “it” then had to run all through the neighborhood looking for the kids who were hiding, and when he spotted one, the race was on to beat them back to the “base”.  The loser of that race became “it”, and the game continued with all players looking for new hiding places.  It seemed like we ran non-stop for hours on end.

My second favorite game was something I could do alone, or with another friend.  We would just see how fast we could run.  This could be a two or three person race to a finish line, complete with all the usual arguing over whether or not we got a fair start, and who made it to the finish first.  The arguing almost always resulted in running the race again, which no one minded.  If I was alone, I would just run as fast as I could, then see if I could not run even faster–“hit another gear”, so to speak.  If I felt I had hit the additional speed, then I would attempt to run even faster.  This went on until the point of exhaustion.  After a rest, I would start over running through all the gears again at increasingly faster speeds.

I think I was born with this love to run.  My brothers are all taller than me; they got their height from Mom’s side of the family.  My Dad was shorter than Mom, but he had speed in high school football and track.  I think I inherited his speed.  I ran junior high and high school track and cross country.  Upon graduation I received a scholarship to run track at the community college level.  I continued to run for fitness and conditioning for most of my adult life because I liked it.  It became my time alone with God.  I could run and pray.  Early morning running became early morning prayer-time.  I cannot count the times I found strength, courage and solutions to the day’s problem in those early morning prayers while running.

The Bible compares the process of building and growing our faith to running a race.  I love the story of Elijah in 1 Kings 18.  By the word of God, Elijah had told King Ahab (who “had done more to provoke the Lord than any king before him”) there would be a drought in the land.  Three years later, after Elijah had called down fire from Heaven on Mt Carmel and killed the 450 false prophets of Baal, Elijah prophesied the rain would come to break the drought.  He told Ahab “Hitch up your chariot and go down [from Mt. Carmel] before the rain stops you.” [Insert mine.]  Then the Bible says in 1 Kings 18:46—“The power of the Lord came upon Elijah, and tucking his cloak into his belt, he ran ahead of Ahab all the way to Jezreel.”  God gave Elijah the speed and endurance to outrun a horse-drawn chariot.  God will give us the strength to complete the Christian race laid out before us.

The following scriptures present a clear comparison of our faith challenge and running.  I have grouped them into three categories.

  1. We run for perseverance. Hebrews 12:1 says—“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”  Training, conditioning, and then persevering through the race builds confidence we can succeed.  Hebrews 10:35-36 says—“So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.  You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised.”  In Romans 5: 2-5, Paul writes —“We rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.  Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  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.”
  2. Run to finish. While I was blessed with speed, I definitely learned many more life lessons from training/running a long distance marathon.  The objective was to finish the run after having tested yourself physically and mentally in every way imaginable over the 26-mile course.  2 Timothy 4:7 says—“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”  Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 9: 25—“Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training.  They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.”  Finally, consider Philippians 2: 15-16—“…in a crooked and deprived generation, …you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life-in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing.”  We must finish what we start as we bring Jesus, the very word of life, to a deprived world.
  3. Run to win the prize. Check out these four scriptures that relate the Christian life to running.  First, from Philippians 3: 13-14—“One thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”  Paul also writes in 1 Corinthian 9: 24—“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize?  Run in such a way as to get the prize.”  Then, 2 Timothy 4: 8 says—“Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award me on that day-and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”  Finally, from James 1: 12—“blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.”

The Bible is very clear that the Christian faith-walk is not without its trials.  This is where we trust in, cling to, and rely upon God for everything needed in our lives.  It is similar to a sports competition where training to overcome fatigue, perseverance, stamina, dedication to the cause, and an eye on the finish or prize is necessary.  The goal must occupy the forefront of our heart and mind.  The resistance or opposition is overcome spiritually, physically, and mentally.

We are all running.  I am convinced there is no middle ground–we are either running toward/with God, or away from Him.  There is no standing still.  I heard a pastor say that when we mess up, we tend to run away from God.  He strongly encouraged when we mess up, that is the very time to run toward God–as fast as we can, and say “I messed up, please forgive me”.  God will forgive, take us back and help us.  It so important to get back in the race quickly when we take a wrong turn on the course, or need a break to take water or tend to an injury.  While He loves us unconditionally, our daddy God loves for us to make the effort to run and chase Him.  Unlike the game I played as a child, He allows us to catch Him.  This is why we run.