Monday, July 8, 2019

THE OLD PERCOLATOR


Recently, we spent a week in Missouri to prepare my mother-in-law’s belongings for auction. It was a daunting task as Michael and I worked tirelessly every day, from early morning into late at night. My job was to take everything that was brought to me and clean, categorize, and organize the items into flat boxes. 

During that process, my husband showed me an old, electric percolator that he was about to trash. I understood his reasoning. Most people want a quick cup of hot coffee at the touch of a button. Thus, the Keurig has become a fixture in many homes. But there was something about that dirty coffee pot that intrigued me. I could see the stainless trying to shine through its dull exterior. As I gently cleaned and polished it, the beauty of the stainless-steel began to gleam brightly, and when I finished, it looked like I had just purchased it. I filled it with water, plugged it in, and it worked perfectly.

I see myself like that old percolator. I might be viewed as being elderly, but I still have much to offer, despite the fact that I am far beyond 65. Unfortunately, the moniker, “elderly,” denotes someone who is feeble and unable to care for themselves. Fortunately, today’s push for fitness has helped seniors and the "elderly” stay fit, vibrant, and active. Despite this, many under the age of 40 have a disturbing perception of those over 40. 

I recently viewed a video of a study done with young men and women who were between the ages of 19 and 29. They were asked what they considered old and how they viewed the elderly. All of them said that “old” was between 40 and 50, and beyond 50 was “elderly.” They were then asked to visually show how an old person might cross the street, exercise, perform household duties, etc. It was both laughable and sad to see how these young people portrayed the aging. 

Next, the young participants were assigned an “elderly” person. The pairs were to teach each other an activity that neither had done before. The young partners were shocked to see that those in their 60’s and 70’s could keep us with them. At the conclusion of the testing, the youth stated that they had readjusted their thinking about what is "old" and "elderly."  

Today’s youth have access to technology that did not exist for many seniors. Therefore, many of the Centennials born since 1996; the Millennials, born between 1977-1995; and Generation X, born between 1965-1976, view themselves as smarter, wiser, and savvier. Sadly, they see little value in seeking the wisdom and advice of senior citizens, who if asked, could offer perspectives, otherwise not considered. 

Many who were born in the sixties, seventies, and eighties are unaware of the fact that until 1962, when the Supreme Court banned praying and reading the Bible in school, those who are considered senior citizens or elderly, lived in a world that was all about patriotism, God, and flag. With hand proudly held over heart, the Pledge of Allegiance was recited each morning in school, which was then followed by the teacher reading a Bible verse. Awards were given only to those who earned them. They studied hard, had chores, and had manners. They respected and honored their parents, and if they didn’t, there was swift, corporal punishment. Most families attended church and divorce was rare. They felt safe in their homes, so doors were rarely locked. They felt safe on the streets and played hide-and-seek late at night. Parents set curfews that were honored. When not in school, they were enjoying outdoor activities,  regardless of the weather. Parents and children ate together and played together. There were no smartphones to distract both parents and children from having meaningful conversations. They respected their elders, those in authority, and those in government, because their leaders had integrity and were not self-serving. 

Interestingly, mass shootings began in the early sixties shortly after prayer was removed from schools. Sadly, many underestimate the life-changing power of prayer.

To show how far America has departed from its Judeo-Christian heritage, the majority party in the House of Representatives has deleted God from as many congressional proceedings as possible, including the swearing in of witnesses, as evidenced on February 28, 2019, when a representative who led the swearing-in oath for the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Rights & Liberties, purposefully omitted, "so help me God." When another representative challenged that omission, the representative said, "I don’t think it is necessary and I don’t want to exert my will over other people."  (Viewed on C-SPAN).
                                                                        
God gives warning, “To whom shall I speak and give warning that they may hear? Behold, their ears are closed, and they cannot listen. Behold, the Word of the LORD has become a reproach to them; they have no delight in it” (Jeremiah 6:10). “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth” (Romans 1:18). “But blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD” (Psalm 33:12).

America’s younger generations need to understand that the freedoms they enjoy are being threatened. If this nation is to get back on track, there needs to be a pursuit of the Judeo-Christian values that built “one nation under God.”  It would behoove the younger generations to heed the words of the older generations who fought to protect and defend the United States and its interests against communism, socialism, and tyranny. Sadly, like the coffee pot wrongly assessed to be past its usefulness, senior citizens are considered “a drain on society” and not an asset.

The elderly carry within them a wealth of knowledge, wisdom, and experience that should be embraced by generations that follow. That is why God’s Word instructs the young to submit themselves to their elders (I Peter 5:5). Most importantly, His Word holds an immense reservoir of truths that guide and instruct us in navigating this world and life. 

If today’s youth want a better world, they need to reflect on America’s history—one not redacted from textbooks—and seek knowledge from those who helped build this nation, who were a part of its history, and who understand the importance of living life according to God’s Word. 

Like that old percolator that had lost its luster, the elderly’s once youthful shine is now dulled with wrinkles and sagging skin. Yet inside, they are still percolating and praying for the America they were raised to love, defend, and support under the righteous banner of God and its unparalleled Constitution.

PRAYER: FATHER, this great nation once honored and sought You for direction. Its rich history and heritage have been preserved and recorded for all generations, lest they forget that You bless those who observe Your testimonies and seek You with all their heart (Psalm 119:2)I pray You would touch the hearts of all generations to appreciate the wisdom, knowledge, and experiences of their elders and the rich legacies they leave behind. Give our young people eyes to see and hearts to understand that their future depends on whether or not they seek wisdom and guidance through Your Word and prayer. For You say, “I love those who love Me, and those who seek me diligently will find Me” (Proverbs 8:17).  In Jesus’ name, amen.


Wednesday, June 26, 2019

UNEXPECTED ANSWERS


Have you prayed for an answer, but the answer has not yet arrived? Will you recognize the answer when it comes? 

The story of Peter’s supernatural rescue from prison gives us a glimpse into the heart of God and how His ways and thoughts are so much higher than our ways and thoughts. He answers prayer, but not always according to our timing and expectations.

We learn in Acts 12 that Peter was arrested and delivered to four squads of soldiers. Typically, a squad included eight soldiers. So, it took thirty-two soldiers to guard one non-violent man. Meanwhile, the Church was earnestly praying for Peter’s release.

Peter was bound with two chains and asleep between two soldiers with sentries posted at the door of the prison. An angel of the Lord stood next to Peter, struck him on the side, and woke him saying, “Get up quickly.” His chains fell off and the angel ordered him to dress, wrap a cloak around himself, and follow him past the two guards. As they approached an iron gate, it opened of its own accord and they went out along a street, and the angel left. 

Peter quickly went to the house of Mary, the mother of John where they were all gathered together praying for Peter. When he knocked at the door of the gateway, a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer. She recognized Peter’s voice and instead of opening the door ran to tell the others that Peter was at the door. They responded, “You are out of your mind.” Despite her insistence that Peter was at the door, they argued, “It is his angel!” Meanwhile, Peter continued knocking on the door. When they finally opened the door, they were shocked to see him standing before them. 

How often do we pray and either we do not fully expect our prayer to be answered, or we have our own ideas of how that prayer should be answered? So, when the answer comes, we, like those who prayed for Peter, fail to recognize it. 

We have the blessed assurance that if we abide in Him and His Words abide in us, we can ask whatever we wish, and it will be done for us (John 15:7). God tells us that before we even call to Him, He will answer. While we are yet speaking, He will hear us (Isaiah 65:24). And this is the confidence that we have toward Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of Him (I John 5:14-15)

Jesus said, “…whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours."  For God calls into existence the things that do not exist (Mark 11:24; Romans 4:17).

BELIEF is the key to faith. To believe means to be convinced, to trust, and have total confidence in God. Paul had such great confidence in God that he was able to sleep peacefully, in chains, between two soldiers! 

Like Peter, are you caught in a prison of circumstances that you have no control over? 
If you have been praying and waiting, yet you have not seen an answer, keep believing and trusting God, so that when the answer arrives, you will recognize its appearing. 

PRAYER: FATHER, Jesus said, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are 
possible” (Matthew 19:26). Help me to trust and focus on You and not my circumstances. Prepare me to recognize and receive Your answer. Thank you for Your unwavering love and the fulfillment of Your promises. In Jesus’ name, amen.





Monday, June 17, 2019

THE HEART IS A RESERVOIR


Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.
Proverbs 4:23 NIV

What does God say about the heart? The heart is mentioned 830 times in the King James Bible, so we can assume that God wants us to understand the spiritual components of the heart. For the heart is a reservoir that can either hold things that support life and faith, or they can hold things that impede the flow of life and faith. The following outlines a few of the many reasons why we must guard our hearts.

The mouth is the heart's barometer. That which is in the heart overflows into our  speech (Luke 6:45). Jesus said, “…I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment”— “for death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Matthew 12:36; Proverbs 18:21;) Therefore, we must guard our heart by guarding our mouth.

King David said, “Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips (Psalm 141:3-4). Words have the potential to be beautifully wrapped gifts that encourage and uplift, or they can be destructive darts that harm others, including the one who speaks them.What word-containers do we hold in our hearts? The mouth speaks what the heart is full of" (Luke 6:34 NIV).

The deceitful heart make its plans. "The
heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). What concealed motives, hidden secrets, or personal agendas do we have neatly tucked inside our hearts?

The foolish and careless heart knows God, 
but does not glorify Him as God, nor is it thankful, but is futile in its thoughts and becomes darkened (Romans 1:21). What things, that God calls “sin unto death,” has been accepted by society and many Christians, because their understanding has become darkened?

The willful heart walks in disobedience and
rebellion. Satan was the “seal of perfection,” full of wisdom and perfect in beauty (Ezekiel 28:12-19). But he became prideful and said in his heart, “I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God…I will be like the Most High” (Isaiah 14:11-15). Those two words “ I will,” reveal a willful pride that precipitated Satan’s great fall. That old sin nature continually draws us to willful disobedience and rebellion.

An obstinate heart is hardened to God's
truth, guidance, direction, and is ill-informed about divine things (Deuteronomy 2:30). According to the Oxford American Writer's Thesaurus
"obstinate" means to be stubborn, unyielding, inflexible, unbending, bull-headed, self-willed, strong-willed, uncooperative, stiff-necked, rigid, uncompromising, and immovable. The obstinate heart is easily deceived.

The Apostle Paul said of the obstinate, that their foolish hearts are darkened because their spiritual eyes are closed (Romans 1:21). Blessed is the one who fears the Lord always, but whoever hardens his heart will fall into calamity (Proverbs 28:14 ESV). Do we yield daily to the things of God?

A heart of unbelief is a dangerous place—
"Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God, but exhort one another daily, while it is called "today," lest any of you be 
hardened through the deceitfulness of sin" (Hebrews 3:12-13). Unbelief can cause backsliding.

The heart holds desires. We are forewarned
against lust, covetousness, and envy, and told to set our hearts on those things above—for where our treasure is, there our heart will be found (Colossians 3:1; Matthew 6:21). Do we desire God above all earthly things?

An obedient and willing heart says "yes" to
God. Jesus asked His Father in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Father, if You are willing, take
this cup away from Me—nevertheless, not my will, but Yours be done (Luke 22:41-43). Even Jesus struggled with surrendering His will, but His love for mankind and His Father was greater than what He desired, and He surrendered all to God. What are we willing to surrender to God?

God requires a pure heart of integrity. That
heart is principled, honorable, upright, truthful, ethical, and moral. Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out. ”For it is the righteous man who walks in his integrity, that his children are blessed after him" (Proverbs 10:9; 20:7). Shading the truth, misleading, deceiving, lying, and exaggerating all contribute to an impure heart.

The heart thinks. What we think in our heart, we become (Proverbs 23:7). Jesus asked, “Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts?" (Matthew 9:4) We are to think on what is true, noble, right, lovely, admirable, excellent, pure, and praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8). What consumes our thoughts?

The heart remembers, reflects, and meditates. “Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart" (Luke 2:19). To “ponder” is to meditate, consider, reflect, review, and deliberate. “May the words of [our] mouth and the meditation of [our] heart be acceptable to You, Lord, [our] rock and [our] Redeemer” (Psalm 19:14). Do we daily reflect on God's Word?

The heart understands, discerns, and gives insight. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians said, “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints” (Ephesians 1:18). The Holy Spirit will illuminate our heart of understandig when we seek Him.

The heart is a reservoir of either good or bad. We choose what goes into that reservoir. Are we choosing wisely? Are we choosing God’s Word, for His Word is a safeguard against sin (Psalm 119:11).

The heart functions as our conscience. It
alerts us to the presence of sin. It is the inner forum where decisions are made. “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps” (Proverbs 16:9). Do we include God in our decision-making, or do we make our own plans?

The faith-filled heart possesses unwavering
trust, integrity, purity, obedience, willingness, discernment, insight, understanding, wisdom, joy, and much more. It trusts God in all circumstances. Conversely, a hard and unyielding heart holds doubt, fear, unbelief, pride, sin, inflexibility, stubbornness, rebellion, sinful thoughts, lust, envy, covetousness, and unforgiveness. The hard heart follows its own path.

The more we invest in God, the more we allow His extravagant love to work in and through us. He wants us to trust Him and pour our hearts out before Him (Psalm 62:8). His peace will then protect our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. When we speak God’s Word and believe what we speak, His powerful and creative Word becomes action.

What power transforms hearts of unbelief into pure hearts of faith? What should we be storing in our reservoir? The answer to both questions is God's Word. He always responds to faith that is anchored to His sovereign Word. We can depend on His Word to bring truth to our souls, to heal, encourage, direct, lift burdens, and settle joy and peace deep within our hearts. Then as our lives are daily transformed by the renewing of our minds through His Word, we become living testimonies to others of His immense goodness and love.

PRAYER: FATHER, like King David, I ask that You “Create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10). Help me embrace and understand Your Word, as I  read it each day, so that I may know how to guard my heart. In Jesus’ name, amen.