Monthly Archives: April 2020

Conform or Transform

What does it mean to conform? A few definitions I found are “to act in accordance with the prevailing standards, attitudes, practices, etc. of society or a group.” “To adopt the form of those around you.” It is a verb, therefore it is an action that describes what we can do. We can conform to something.

What are some ways we conform? Maybe to house rules as we are growing up. Maybe to a new space as we go off to college or to an apartment. Maybe it is to another person we marry, and live with that has ways different from ours. Maybe we conform to a new schedule as we take on a new job or opportunity. There are many ways that we conform to people, places and rules on a daily basis. Most of the ways we comply may not harm us,  but God warns us about conforming to the world in Romans 12:2

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and pleasing will of God.”

The opposite of conform is to depart, vary, disagree, dissent and rebel, to name a few. What is the “world” that this passage is referring to? We have to live here on earth, in this world, right? There are rules that everyone must obey. What should I disagree with or rebel from?

The “world” in New Testament teachings comes from the word *kosmos, “an orderly arrangement, i.e. decoration; by implication, the world (in a wide or narrow sense, including its inhabitants, literally or figuratively (morally)):–adorning, world.”

It also means—and we need to pay attention to this—“the ungodly multitude; the whole mass of men alienated from God, and therefore hostile to the cause of Christ, a source of moral corruption, a danger to the spiritual health & life of Christians.”

The leader of all the chaos and moral corruption is none other than Satan and his demons. He tries to lead us astray. He tries to fill us with rules that are against God, Satan then manipulates people to turn them into immoral laws that contraction God’s Word.

Romans 12:2 goes onto say that not only must we not conform, but we must transform. Transform is also a verb. Something that requires our action. It means to make a thorough or dramatic change in the form, appearance, or character of (especially for the better). It is to change, renew, reshape, or reorganize. I like these two definitions, to turn upside down, to stir up.

As Christians, we need to be careful not to be dragged into the false lull of doing “What everyone else is doing”. If God says it is wrong, it is wrong, no matter how many are participating in it.

We also have to stand up to laws that are against God and against life. We need to take a stand. We cannot afford to be silent. But how can we be transformed?

By the renewing of our mind, our thoughts, our ideas. We can read God’s Word and seek Him…Seek an on going relationship with Him as we learn His character. We can pray & ask for His wisdom to be discerning in who to vote for and things to research in our laws and government. We can ask Him for the strength to make our voices heard and He will give us the strength to carry out His purposes.

Father God, Help me not to let this world squeeze me into its’ mold, but may I allow You to transform me from the inside out as I meditate on and apply Your Word to my life. May I be able to discern Your will and make the correct choices that You want me to make to follow & fulfill Your purpose through me & to make a positive difference to around me. Amen.

*https://www.bibletools.org//index.cfm/fuseaction/Lexicon.show/ID/G2889/kosmos.htm

 

A Saturday of Life

What does Saturday make you think of? I usually say a day off, end of the workweek, a time to go out and enjoy life. Maybe even a day to party.
But I was listening to a sermon on Good Friday by author & Pastor Max Lucado and he talked about looking at Saturday in a different way. He said not to overlook the Saturday after Jesus was crucified. Many of us jump right to the Resurrection Sunday, which is an awesome day, but what about what was happening or not looking like anything was happening on Saturday. A time of waiting when Heaven seemed to be silent. Silence as the disciples scattered, devastated by the death of Jesus and all hope seemed to be gone.

It got me to thinking about waiting. If you think about it, we spend most of our life waiting, waiting for big things, like:

  • Waiting for the right person to marry
  • Waiting to buy a house
  • Waiting to have children
  • Waiting for the perfect job or to get promoted
  • Waiting for test results can be a big & scary thing to wait for

Some smaller things we wait for could be and we wait on a daily basis for most of these:

  • Waiting in line, at the checkout, at the bank, at the movies, at the drive thru
  • Waiting in traffic or at a light
  • Waiting for others to speak and then we can respond
  • Waiting at an appointment
  • Waiting for the commercial to finish to get back to our favorite show
  • Waiting for our dog to do his business so we can go back inside
  • Waiting for the coffee to brew
  • Wait, wait, wait

We are not very patient at waiting it seems. We want things fast.
Society has changed much over the last few years, it seems we can have things in our hands or done for us faster & faster.

Quick meals via the microwave and now instapot, Meals delivered to our door with a few clicks online, online banking where we can take a picture of a check and it is quickly deposited into our account, fast internet to connect and have a group chat, Skype or other video chats, or look up information, self-diagnose or order products, We have overnight delivery of mail because we need it now! We don’t like to wait.

God tells us we need to know how to wait. But how do we act while we wait? How do we react when God isn’t answering our prayers, when we have asked & asked, even pleaded, knocked & knocked, yet Heaven is silent? When the wait is stealing our joy for today.

Are you in a time of your life where you are waiting? Waiting for this COVID-19 virus to be over, waiting for test results, waiting to go back to work, waiting for the children to go back to school, waiting for money to come in, waiting for a phone call from a loved one, waiting to see & hold your loved ones again.

Waiting can make us weary, like maybe life will never be back to normal or what is was. To be honest, this day number whatever of self-quarantine was leading me to a slump.
How can I encourage you if I am discouraged? The answer is to look to God for my strength. I sometimes want to rush God to get Him to fix areas of my life. I can get anxious when He is not working in ways that I want Him to or ways that I can see or in my time frame. Is He working?

I was recently working on a Bible study and these verses on waiting came up at the perfect time in my life. I needed this encouragement from the LORD today.
“In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; In the morning I lay my requests before you and WAIT in expectation.” (Ps. 5:3)                                                                            He hears our voice and we should be waiting expectantly for how He answers!

“We WAIT in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield.” (ps. 33:20)                        We wait in hope that He will help us and protect us.

“WAIT for the LORD and keep his way. He will exalt you to inherit the land.” (Ps. 37:34) We shall receive all that He promises if we wait and follow His ways.

“I will WAIT for you, O LORD; you will answer, O LORD my God.” (Ps. 38:15)                     We can wait without getting anxious.

“They that WAIT upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” (Isa. 40:31, KJV)
We can wait without getting weary, even though time seems to drag as we wait. He will give us strength. We can run and continue with our life, continue with His plan for us while we wait for answers.
Through everything God is working. He is working all things out according to His purpose. Think back to Good Friday and that Saturday in between, after Jesus died on the cross, Mary waited, Peter waited, James & John waited, the rest of the disciples waited, perhaps even all of creation waited. They did not know that Sunday was coming!

They waited through Friday and that hopelessness dragged into Saturday, but on Sunday morning Jesus rose from the dead! He did what He said He would do! God was still very much at work between Friday & Sunday! I am thankful for the reminder. I am in a Saturday of life right now, maybe you are too…waiting, waiting…most of the world can probably say they are waiting with the Corona virus and the shutdown of life as we know it…we don’t know what is going to happen, what the future holds but God does.

So hold on—Sunday is coming!

Your Love Letter

Have you ever gotten a love letter? When someone took the time to tell you how much you mean to them. Do you remember how excited you were you to read the words from someone who loves you!

heart shaped rock 04072020

I was out walking with a friend today and I looked along the path and saw this rock shaped like a heart. I call it a wink from God to remind me how much He loves me! He loves you too!

Maybe you know this, or it may come as a surprise…But you and I…we have a love letter that was written to each of us. It is called the Bible, or God’s Word.

Right from the very beginning as recorded in Genesis 1, God talks about all He created, including us. In Genesis 1, after each day of creation, God looks at His work and He says it is good. Look closer on day 6, (Genesis 1:31). After God has created you and I in His own image—He says, “it is very good.” When He created us, He tells us that in His job of creating us—we are very good. Notice what He does NOT say, He doesn’t say  “kind of okay” or “maybe I should have done this or that”, not “oops.” NO, He says His creation is very good!

His love letter is full of instruction and guidance. This love letter is like no other. It is a letter written to a daughter or son by your Father. Your Heavenly Father. A perfect Father, with perfect love for us. No human knows the depth of us, only God knows all.

“For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works. And that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You. When I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them. How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; when I awake, I am still with You.” Psalm 139:13-18 (NKJV)

Wow, the Creator of the heavens and earth thinks about you and me. His thoughts about us are so many they cannot be counted. We are wonderfully made. We are not an accident or a mistake. We are alive at the precise moment and place that our Creator has willed. You are on earth at exactly the right time, created with the exact features, personality and skill set that He designed. We are His workmanship.

In Ephesians 2:10 of the New Living Translation (NLT), we are called “God’s masterpiece, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand.”

No accidents, everything we are and even what good works we do is prepared by God beforehand.

“But the very hairs on your head are all numbered.” Matthew 10:30 (NKJV)

Again, I say, WOW! I am in awe of how close He is connected to us.
There are many more things that God longs to tell you if you open your love letter.
I have a favorite anchor verse that I would like to share with you, John 3:16. See how much you are valued.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (NKJV)

 

In His love letter to you, God tells you what it cost, what He gave to show how important you are, how loved you are, how valued you are. He gave His Son Jesus to die for you. Sounds like that might be the end of the story…Nope!

On Easter morning…Jesus rose from the dead! Overcoming death, darkness and the grave to set us free!!

During times in your life when you are feeling overwhelmed, overlooked, under appreciated or unloved, or if someone is telling you that you have no value…open God’s love letter. If you want to have a relationship with the Creator of all, with your Father, open your love letter. If you are unfamiliar with the Bible, may I suggest you read in the book of John. He loves you so much!

Until next time, my friend, may you be blessed!

Who is my Neighbor

This morning I was reading in Luke 10:25-37. Jesus is talking about the  Parable of the Good Samaritan. The following verses are from the New International Version (NIV) Luke 10:25-29:

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ ; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.”

“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

Jesus goes on to tell the story of a certain man who was on his way from Jerusalem to Jericho was robbed, beaten, stripped of his clothing and left by the side of the road for dead.

Three different people pass by.

The first is a priest and when he saw the man lying by the side of the road, He must have noticed the man had no clothing on or no way to be identified, so not wanting to touch a non-Jewish person or possibly a dead body, the priest passed on the other side of the road.

The second is a Levite, he came and looked at the man lying by the side of the road and he too passed by on the other side of the road.

The third is a Samaritan. Traveling along this road from Jerusalem to Jericho, most likely meant this man left for dead was Jewish. Samaritans & Jewish people did not associate with each other. In fact, Samaritans were the despised enemies of the Jews. However, this Samaritan, when he saw the man, he had compassion. He went to him, bandaged his wounds and put him on his own donkey and brought him to an inn and took care of him.

When the Samaritan had to depart the next day, he left instruction & money with the innkeeper to continue to care for the wounded man. Any additional fees he would pay the next time he came to the inn.

“So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?” And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.” Then Jesus said to him,         “Go and do likewise.” (VS 36-37)

helping handWe have much to learn from this. Who is our neighbor? Everyone is our neighbor. We have the opportunity to lend a helping hand, to help each person that crosses our path or we cross theirs.

I am very much reminded of my neighbors during this challenging time in our nation. It should not matter the race, the gender, the political party, the financial status or any other prejudice we may have.

As I make phone calls and check on people, I am reminded how scary this time can be, how many are feeling uncertain and anxious, even going so far as to say they are nearing hopelessness.

What can we do to help our neighbor? If each of us reached out to at least one person…one person that perhaps has no one else, who is forgotten, who is fearful and lonely.

Many of us are in self-quarantine. We have extra down time on our hands that has not happened in years, if ever. Pray and think about who needs your help, your personal attention. Take a few minutes and send a text or even better…make a phone call, ask how they are doing, do they need anything. If they need something, you can get it and drop it off at their door, so no physical contact is needed.

Write a letter, send a card. Do you have nieces & nephews, grandchildren? Send them some stickers, coloring books or educational activities. What a great way to help the Moms & Dads that are homeschooling! Most people love to get mail. In this face paced world, handwritten cards & letters have fallen by the wayside. Tuck in a favorite Bible verse or word of encouragement. Let us pick up that beautiful way of keeping in touch again.

These are just a few ways, I’m sure you can think of other ways to help your neighbor. YOU can make a difference!  You may never know how much you have enriched a life, & perhaps reached someone who was feeling hopeless, all alone & isolated.

” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.” (VS 37)

As Followers of Jesus, we are His hands & feet. Let’s look out for our neighbors. Not only will they be blessed, but we will as well as we give of ourselves to those around us. May  God Bless you.