Being invisible

Being invisible

Set Christ apart as Lord in your hearts and always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks about the hope you possess. Do it with gentleness and respect. – 1 Peter 3:15

1 Peter 3:10-14

 10 If you want to enjoy life and see many happy days, keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies.

 11 Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it.

 12 The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right, and his ears are open to their prayers. But the Lord turns his face against those who do evil.

 13 Now, who will want to harm you if you are eager to do good?

 14 But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats.

Samin Nosrat, renowned chef, is best known for her best-selling cookbook, Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat and her Netflix original documentary series based on her book. Nosrat’s book, is a focused, folksy, often humorous account of the tasty cooking techniques. It offers basic how-to’s of good cooking. The book reflects her many years as a cooking instructor and professional chef. First published in 2017, it was named one of the 10 best cookbooks of the 21st century in 2019. She maintains that, “good food around the world is more similar than it is different, and that we, as humans, are more similar than we are different” (The New Yorker).

Her writing and Netflix series exude a kind of warmth, friendship, and camaraderie that draws people to her. Why is that so?

Samin Nosrat is an American born child of Iranian immigrants. They fled Iran in 1976 because of religious persecution. Her father’s family is Baha’i. But what most people don’t know, is that she spent most of her life being “invisible.” She felt socially isolated and different. She was always an outsider and never really fit in. How did she react? She decided to become the nicest, smartest, most polite person around. She was determined to please others.

How are we to react when we are mistreated, neglected, ridiculed, left out, or worse?                                                                 

1 Peter 3:11 Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it.

REFLECT & PRAY

Instead of being victimized by people, becoming fearful and withdrawing behind imagined walls and barriers, we are to reverence Christ.

Father thank You that You have set us free from our natural and expected human responses to hurtful and painful experiences. We can choose to love life, do good, seek peace, turn away from evil, anger, and isolation. We no longer have to be invisible. We no longer have to be invisible. In place of isolation, You offer peaceful solitude.

INSIGHT

How can we live out this lofty goal which the apostle Peter sets before us? We are to desire to love life and see good days (1 Peter 3:10). Do you love life, or do you despise life and wish for death? This is not some kind of pie-in-the-sky, Pollyanna-like outlook of being excessively or blindly optimistic and overlooking the unpleasant and difficult things in life. Rather, Peter is urging each of the Father’s children to approach life in a positive way, exercising faith in every situation.

Set Christ apart as Lord in your hearts and always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks about the hope you possess. Do it with gentleness and respect. – 1 Peter 3:15

The Greek word translated sanctify, set apart, or reverence is hagiazo. Hagiazo normally has the connotation of making holy or to sanctify something. “But here seems to have the sense, ‘treat as holy, regard reverently’ (it has a similar sense in Matthew 6:9, ‘hallowed be thy name’, or ‘may your name be reverenced’” (Grudem).

Simply stated, we are to give the Lord Jesus Christ first place in our lives. We are to sanctify Him, that is, set apart a special place for Him and acknowledge Him as holy. We are to honor and worship Him from our heart, the deepest part, the center of our being. We are to do it completely and unreservedly.

Each of the Father’s children are to make the Father and His son Lord Jesus Christ of prime importance in their life. When we give the Lord Jesus Christ a special, unique place in our lives, He is to become the most precious thing to us. We are no longer easily hurt or discouraged. We can literally put others before ourselves and become fountains of kindness, goodness, generosity, and light in a very dark place.

Taking the high road creates a beautiful, almost irresistible, sense of hope. Others become curious as to what makes us different. As a result, we are to be prepared, ready, to explain our hope with gentleness and deference.

If no one is asking, there is probably something missing from our lives that should set us aside from everyone else. What is missing? Hope!

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As far as the east is from the west

As far as the east is from the west

As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. – Psalm 103:12

Psalms 103:1-14

 1 A psalm of David. Let all that I am praise the LORD; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name.

 2 Let all that I am praise the LORD; may I never forget the good things he does for me.

 3 He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases.

 4 He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies.

 5 He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagle’s!

 6 The LORD gives righteousness and justice to all who are treated unfairly.

 7 He revealed his character to Moses and his deeds to the people of Israel.

 8 The LORD is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.

 9 He will not constantly accuse us, nor remain angry forever.

 10 He does not punish us for all our sins; he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve.

 11 For his unfailing love toward those who fear him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth.

 12 He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.

 13 The LORD is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him.

 14 For he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust.

What is the distance from South Pole to North Pole? Although planet Earth appears to be a perfect sphere, it is not. The earth is a bit wider than it is tall.

The circumference from South Pole to North Pole is 24,859 miles. While the circumference taken at the equator is a bit larger, 24,902 miles. As a result of modern science and mathematics we are able to calculate these measurements. If someone were to travel North, eventually they would arrive at the North Pole. If they proceeded further, they would no longer be going North but South.

What is the distance from the “East Pole” to the “West Pole?” In that neither of these poles exist, this question is a non sequitur. If you were at the equator and headed east, you would never reach the “West Pole.” You would just travel indefinitely in an eastward direction. The same is true if you headed west, you would never reach the “East Pole.” Travel in either direction, as no terminus.

How far is the East from the West? It simply cannot be measured. It is an infinite distance. We can travel East or West indefinitely. That is the point. How far has the Father removed our sins from us? A vast distance with no end in sight. When the Father removes our transgressions from us, the separation is permanent, never to be revisited.

Of course our understanding of the shape of the earth and its circumference is the result of modern science. How could David understand about the East and the West before there was modern science? This is one of those remarkable instances where the Bible speaks truly, long before mankind had the technology to discover that it was scientifically accurate.

REFLECT & PRAY

The Father’s love and forgiveness are infinite and complete. The Father has freed each of His children from the haunting power of our past wrongdoings. He has forgiven us all of our trespasses.

Father thank you that because of the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross, all of my sins have been removed and that my conscience can be truly cleansed.

INSIGHT

Psalms 103:12 He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.

At the time when David wrote this Psalm, modern science was unknown. So what exactly was he trying to say? “God did not say he forgives our sins as far as the North is from the South but as far as the East is from the West, namely infinitely” (Constable). our sins have been removed from us and placed infinite distance away!

If this is so, why do they seem to linger around? Could it be because we are simply unaware of what the Father has marvelously accomplished for us? The Scriptures always speak the truth. Therefore our sins are indeed gone for good. They are no longer a factor in our eternal relationship with the Father God. It is incumbent upon us to simply grasp this fact and believe that it is true. But perhaps there is another step that we must practice?

We must apply what we know. The enemy keeps bringing up our past and bringing to mind our past sins. Rather than focusing on the past, we must resist it. It is not simply a once and for all act but a process. The Father has given us a fantastic promise. He not only forgives our sins, but He will also purge and cleanse our conscience. Our conscious awareness of them will simply fade away in time.

Hebrews 9:13-14 

 13 For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh,

 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

Memorize Hebrews 9:14 and consciously recite it when past sins come to mind. Eventually, the memories will fade, and our consciences will be cleansed.

This beautiful Psalm reveals the heart of the Father God and His loving and gracious attitude towards His children. It describes our relationship with the Father through the use of word pictures and spatial terms. Our heavenly Father is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He does not accuse us nor does He punish us. He does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve. His unfailing love for us is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth. He has removed our sins from us as far as the East is from the West. He is tender and approachable. He is indeed not only like a father; He is the Father to His children.

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Wait and Hope

Wait and Hope

Forgive as the Lord forgave you. – Colossians 3:13

Colossians 3:12-17

 12 Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.

 13 Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.

 14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.

 15 And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.

 16 Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.

 17 And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.

The Count of Monte Cristo is an adventure novel by French author Alexandre Dumas. The story takes place in France, Italy, and the Mediterranean islands. It is an adventure story that focuses on timeless themes of hope, justice, vengeance, mercy, and forgiveness.

Edmond Dantes, a merchant sailor, is betrayed by a friend, is wrongfully accused of treason, arrested, and imprisoned without trial in the Château d’If, a grim island fortress off Marseille.

A fellow prisoner, Abbé Faria, befriends him. Over the next eight years, Faria gives Dantes an extensive education in language, culture, mathematics, chemistry, medicine, and science. And tells him the location of a vast treasure on the small island of Monte Cristo. After a near miraculous escape, he is rescued. When he acquires the fortune, he vows revenge.

He changes his name to the mysterious and wealthy Count of Monte Cristo and returns to France to exact his revenge. There are many twists in the plot. He discovers that Albert, the son of his former fiancée Mercedes, is actually his own son. This changes everything and allows him to forgive.

The story ends with one final thought: “Live, then, and be happy, beloved children of my heart, and never forget, that until the day God will deign to reveal the future to man, all human wisdom is contained in these two words, ‘Wait and Hope.’”

Him The Count of Monte Cristo had many justifiable reasons for hatred, resentment, and a desire for revenge because of the wrongs which he suffered. He successfully carried out almost all of his longed-for vengeance.  But then suddenly, in a moment he has a change of heart.Rather than the expected words, ‘Wait and get revenge,’ the story ends with the surprising, upbeat words, ‘Wait and Hope.’”

REFLECT & PRAY

Because the Lord Jesus Christ has forgiven us, He has set us free to forgive others.

Father thank you that when we were in hopeless despair and Your enemies, You reconciled us to Yourself, forgiving us at the moment we accepted the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sins.

INSIGHT

The Father calls His children to provide allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends them. However, it seems that this is just simply not in our human DNA. But to our delight and wonder, we are given a whole new series of spiritual DNA, when we are born again as children of the King. This offers a whole new way of life for us.

Without the supernatural motivation and strength of the Spirit of God we will always fall short. But He has exchanged our stony cold hearts, with warm hearts that are capable of forgiving. We now have the choice to make it so.

Jeremiah 31:31-33

 31 “The day is coming,” says the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah.

 32 This covenant will not be like the one I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand and brought them out of the land of Egypt. They broke that covenant, though I loved them as a husband loves his wife,” says the LORD.

 33 “But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day,” says the LORD. “I will put my instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.

Ezekiel 11:19 And I will give them singleness of heart and put a new spirit within them. I will take away their stony, stubborn heart and give them a tender, responsive heart,

Proverbs 17:22 A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength and dries up the bones.

There is a strong correlation between spiritual and physical health. Our physical well-being is impacted and altered by our inner life, our heart. A cheerful heart translates two Hebrew words that are rendered “a happy heart” in Proverbs 15:13. A crushed spirit is equivalent to being depressed or saddened. Bitterness and a desire for revenge even affects our bones (Buzzell).

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Gratitude or not

Gratitude or not

Even if we butchered all our flocks and herds, would that satisfy them? Even if we caught all the fish in the sea, would that be enough? – Numbers 11:22

Numbers 11:1-11

 1 Soon the people began to complain about their hardship, and the LORD heard everything they said. Then the LORD’s anger blazed against them, and he sent a fire to rage among them, and he destroyed some of the people in the outskirts of the camp.

 2 Then the people screamed to Moses for help, and when he prayed to the LORD, the fire stopped.

 4 Then the foreign rabble who were traveling with the Israelites began to crave the good things of Egypt. And the people of Israel also began to complain. “Oh, for some meat!” they exclaimed.

 5 “We remember the fish we used to eat for free in Egypt. And we had all the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic we wanted.

 6 But now our appetites are gone. All we ever see is this manna!”

 7 The manna looked like small coriander seeds, and it was pale yellow like gum resin.

 8 The people would go out and gather it from the ground. They made flour by grinding it with hand mills or pounding it in mortars. Then they boiled it in a pot and made it into flat cakes. These cakes tasted like pastries baked with olive oil.

 9 The manna came down on the camp with the dew during the night.

 10 Moses heard all the families standing in the doorways of their tents whining, and the LORD became extremely angry. Moses was also very aggravated.

 11 And Moses said to the LORD, “Why are you treating me, your servant, so harshly? Have mercy on me! What did I do to deserve the burden of all these people?

How much does it take for us to have enough and be grateful?

John D. Rockefeller was asked, “How much money is enough money?” He replied, “Just a little bit more.”

Rockefeller may ultimately be remembered simply for the raw size of his wealth. In 1902, an audit showed Rockefeller was worth about $200 million—compared to the total national wealth of the United States that year of $101 billion. Rockefeller’s net worth over the last decades of his life would easily place him among the very wealthiest persons in history.

In many ways, Rockefeller echoes the hunger in our own hearts. Whether it’s directed at one thing in particular, or just a vague longing for “more.” But in reality “more” is never enough.

There is a more excellent way. The Father does not simply want us to be grateful for what we have. He wants us to be grateful in all things. King David learned this lesson early in life and lived it. David gives us glimpses throughout the Psalms.

Psalms 73:25-28

 25 Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth.

 26 My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever.

 28 But as for me, how good it is to be near God! I have made the Sovereign LORD my shelter, and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things you do.

As we grow older, the vitality of youth gives way to weariness and loss of strength due to mere aging. There often is limited mobility and sometimes chronic pain and frustration. It is all too easy to lose heart, become discontent, and ultimately bitter. This regrettably leads to a demanding and ungrateful spirit. We find ourselves complaining and resentful. This downward cycle continues until the Father opens the eyes of our hearts to what we have become, and more importantly. When we finally see, we are able to confess and seek forgiveness. In the doldrums of our discontentment and resentment, we often hurt many along the way. Often it is those closest to us. So our forgiveness needs not only to be vertical but also horizontal. We need to ask for forgiveness from those whom we hurt in route to despair.

REFLECT & PRAY

Wanting more in and of itself is not a bad thing. Wanting more of the Father is a great thing.

Father how I long to have the heart that David had in his great love and devotion to You. I know that nothing on this earth will ever satisfy me as You alone can.

INSIGHT

Apparently, complaining became the national pastime for the children of Israel when they were in the wilderness. The more they complained, the more self-centered they became. It seems that they were never satisfied and always grumbling about the Father’s provision (Exodus 17:1-3). The Father sent manna from heaven (Exodus 16:4). But instead of rejoicing and being grateful for the Father’s provision, they wanted more. They pined for different food (Numbers 11:4). The children of Israel wanted something more, something better, something else, or even something they used to have (Numbers 11:4-6).

Psalm 16 is a very personal hymn of joy that focuses on the Father’s goodness. David finds his delight only in the Father and confesses that everything good in his life has come from Him. David expresses a combination of joy, praise, humility, and submission to the divine will.

David depended upon the Father to keep him safe. He needed the Father’s constant care and oversight of all the good things that the Father alone provided. For David, the Father was his highest good and greatest treasure.

Regrettably, our longing and hungry hearts take us on desperate futile quests for satisfaction. David shows us a better way to live. Rather wanting more things, more wealth, more power, more recognition, etc., he found true contentment was not found “out there.” Rather, David learned the secret and joy of being at home in the Father’s presence.

More than that, David truly delighted in just being close to the Father. The source of David’s greatest joy was just being with the Father.

Psalms 16:11 You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Psalm 16:11 is unsurpassed for the beauty of the prospect it opens up, in words of the utmost simplicity. The path of life is so called, not only because of its goal but because it is a way to live. It leads into God’s presence and into eternity. The joys and pleasures David speaks of are wholly satisfying and endlessly varied. They are found in what the Father is and what the Father gives (Kidner).

The Hebrew translated, “in your presence,” is literally in your panim, “faces.” The sense is close proximity, companionship, care, and protection.

How can we ever be satisfied? What is enough? When we learn the art of gratitude we will be satisfied. The Father is pleased when His children are content and offer Him grateful praise.

Isa 30:15 In quietness and trust is your strength.

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Black Swan event

Black Swan event

[The Lord Jesus Christ] was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ our Lord. – Romans 1:4

1 Peter 1:3-5

 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,

 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

The Black Swan Events have become a metaphor for events that comes as a surprise, and often have serious, major consequences. The term is derived from an old belief which presumed black swans did not exist. All swans that Europeans ever saw were white and only white. When Dutch explorer Willem de Vlaming went to Australia, he discovered black swans on January 10, 1697.

In 2007, Nassim Nicholas Taleb wrote a book called the Black Swan Theory. He explained that Black Swan Events are metaphors. They describe incidents that are hard-to-predict, and rare events. These events are far beyond the realm of normal probabilities and expectations. They come as a surprise. No one expects them. They often have serious, major consequences and influence history, science, finance, and technology.

Is all of the concern regarding the spread of COVID-19 a storm in a teacup? Apart from the fish, a smoked herring which turns a reddish color, a Red Herring is something that misleads or distracts and draws attention away from more relevant or important matters. In the catchphrase of Fox news, “We Report. You Decide.”

On March 11, 2020, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, general director of WHO, declared, COVID-19, the coronavirus a pandemic. It was first detected in Wuhan, China in December 2019. By March 11, 2020, the virus had spread to every continent except Antarctica and infected more than 121,000 people, causing 4,300 deaths.

WHO defines a pandemic as “the worldwide spread of a new disease.” “Pandemic is not a word to use lightly or carelessly. It is a word that, if misused, can cause unreasonable fear, or unjustified acceptance that the fight is over, leading to unnecessary suffering and death,” Tedros said.

The coronavirus disease was first discovered infecting humans in Wuhan, China in December, 2019. Many people could not help but observe eerie parallels with a fictional novel by Dean Koontz, The Eyes of Darkness, published in 1981. In the novel, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) develops a deadly virus called Wuhan-400. It is created in a secret laboratory in the Wuhan suburbs in Hubei Provence. The virus is a bioweapon. In the novel, it is highly infectious and 100 percent lethal. Has fiction become reality? It wouldn’t be the first time.

Biblical prophecy is not fiction or works of the imagination. It is written history before the events occur. Only the living God can do that. And that is exactly what the Father God did.

Isaiah 48:3,5

 3 Long ago I told you what was going to happen. Then suddenly I took action, and all my predictions came true.

 5 That is why I told you what would happen; I told you beforehand what I was going to do. Then you could never say, “My idols did it. My wooden image and metal god commanded it to happen!”

REFLECT & PRAY

Black Swans are alive and well throughout the Scriptures. They demonstrate the reality and existence of the living God. The Father has repeatedly and miraculously intervened in the time-space continuum. The things that then occurred were improbable, and in many cases impossible. Today we call them miracles.

Father thank you for predicting in the Old Testament the greatest, most improbable and impossible events of all human history: the virgin birth and the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. You accurately predicted them, and through Your supernatural intervention, they came to pass.

INSIGHT

The Scriptures are replete with Black Swans. They have had massive influence on the history of the human race. I want to focus on just two.

The first was a remarkable birth, a virgin birth. That in and of itself was highly improbable, if not impossible apart from divine intervention. But on top of that, that child was the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ. He had humble human origins. Yet He was indeed God’s Son aand the Messiah of Israel. By all accounts, He lived a regular, “normal” life right up until the time that He was baptized by John the Baptist. John recognized Him as, “the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.”

As a result of His birth, an entire new calendar system was created. The timeline was split. A whole new reckoning system was created. New terms were introduced: B.C. (Before Christ) and A.D. (Anno Domini – “In the year of our Lord”).

“He died upon a cross of wood, yet made the hill on which it stood.” Death by crucifixion was a fairly common form of execution carried out by the Romans. What was unpredictable, improbable, if not impossible was the historical fact of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. That was the greatest and most significant Black Swan Event in human history. Through His death and resurrection He brought salvation and redemption to the human race. Eternal life was now available to anyone who accepts Him as their Savior and Lord.

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