Great happiness ∙

Aslab
Aslan

Great happiness ∙

I will fully satisfy the needs of those who are weary and fully refresh the souls of those who are faint. – Jeremiah 31:25

Luke 12:29-32

 29 And don’t be concerned about what to eat and what to drink. Don’t worry about such things.

 30 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers all over the world, but your Father already knows your needs.

 31 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need.

 32 So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom.

Have you ever been persuaded to purchase something that you never had any intention of purchasing? If so, you might well have been hooked by psychological advertising.

John B. Watson is the father of the psychology of behaviorism. He developed Behavioral Conditioning.

Watson enjoyed a successful, early academic career at Johns Hopkins University, until he was engulfed by scandal and dismissed from his position. But he landed on his feet and made a smooth transition from academics to Madison Avenue. Having mastered the art of human conditioning, he leveraged his knowledge to become overwhelmingly successful in advertising and marketing.

Watson developed several successful, high-profile advertising campaigns for Maxwell House coffee, Scott toilet paper, Ponds cold cream, and other personal-care products. He popularized the term “coffee break” while promoting Maxwell House coffee. Marketing was based on creating desire, brand loyalty, and product image. How would you feel if you saw a bunch of doctors discussing a patient and asserting that the medical problem was the result of “harsh toilet paper?”

The appeal is transparent: true happiness stems from having the best products, experiences, and services available.

But what is happiness?

REFLECT & PRAY

The world hopes for the best, but the Lord offers the best hope (John Wesley).

Father, encourage me to seek Your kingdom above all else and find satisfaction and contentment in what You provide.

INSIGHT

The word happy entered the English language in the 14th century. It originally had the connotation of being “lucky.” Thomas Hobbes shifted the emphasis to the accumulation of material gain and the positive feelings which so doing elicited. Thomas Jefferson clearly stated that the Creator had endowed all people with the inalienable rights of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” For Jefferson, happiness was the enjoyment of life and liberty in calm tranquility without the fear of interference or reprisal. Happiness today has morphed once again into the pursuit and acquisition of peak experience. We try to collect moments of happiness that never seem to last.

If happiness is about having enough, can we ever be truly happy? The answer is of course, No. Why? Because we worry that we will not have enough. And that which we have accumulated seems to seep away, diminish, go sideways, or lose its edge. Additional anxiety enters the picture, and our pursuit of happiness gradually intensifies. But this is a fool’s errand. We find ourselves grasping for what we can never obtain. We clutch at foolishness.

Uneasiness tears at the fabric of our souls. “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength” (Corrie Ten Boom). Worry spawns and fosters an incorrect view of life and the Father. Our inner turmoil fixates on temporal values and material things. But what does worry accomplish? Nothing!

Life forms not created in the image of the Father are under the Father’s care. The Father watches over and provides for them. If the Father looks after flowers and birds, how much more will He take care of His children? The Father encourages us to trust Him and work alongside Him making the most of the abilities and opportunities that He gives us (1 Thessalonians 4:10-12).

He is all-sufficient. Because of our weak faith, the problem abides in us. 

Worry results from a lack of faith and trust in the Father’s provision. Let’s call worry what it is, sin.

How do we overcome worry? We began with a clear understanding and recognition of Who and What the Father is. The Father is neither weak nor feeble. We recognize that the Father is all-sufficient and that He promises to care and provide for us.

But there is more. The Father wants to take care of all children of the King. The Father takes great pleasure in giving us His kingdom.

When our hearts are fixed on the transient things of earth, worry will linger within us. But when we fix our eyes on the eternal, then our hearts and minds will be guarded by the peace of God (Philippians 4:6-9, Wiersbe).

Biblical happiness is something entirely different from earthly happiness. The word “happy” is found in The King James Bible 28 times. The word “happiness” is not found at all. Instead, the Scriptures speak of blessings. There are over 300 instances of the use of the term “blessed.”

The Hebrew word translated blessed is barak. Barak meant “to endue with power for success, prosperity, fecundity, longevity, etc.” (TWOT) “Blessed is the most common word in the Old Testament for God doing something favorable to someone or something” (UBS). The Bible never promises that the Father will make us happy. But it does promise that He will bless us.

The Father never tells children of the King to seek happiness. He encourages us to find contentment and be at peace. The Father has a better way. The Father knows our needs and promises to provide for them. More than that, the Father delights in caring for us. When we seek His kingdom above all else, the storehouse of blessing is open wide.

Luke 12:29-32

 29 So do not be overly concerned about what you will eat and what you will drink, and do not worry about such things.

 30 For all the unbelievers all over the world pursue these things, and your Father knows that you need them.

 31 Instead, pursue his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

 32 Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father is well pleased to give you the kingdom.

Happiness in giving and caring for others is probably embodied in the esprit de corps of the United States Marines. With its official motto, “Semper Fi,” the Marines maintain a volunteer organization called WOCHP (Words of Comfort, Hope, and Promise). They intend to bless others, to do them good, and not harm. November and December are marked by the collection and distribution of Christmas Care Packages and Toys for Tots. The WOCHP motto is “What makes a nation great is love for one another.”

Happiness is bound up in the Father’s love, care, and concern for us. We demonstrate His love, care, and concern for us, by loving and caring for others.

Many of you receive a copy of the Reflection in your email.

Often after it is published, I review it one more time and tweak it.

To read the most up-to-date version, please click on the title.

¯\_()_/¯ 12-21-9

Amending the soil of your heart-

Aslab
Aslan

Amending the soil of your heart

Taste and see that the LORD is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him! – Psalms 34:8

Luke 8:5-15 (Mark 4:3-20)

 5 A farmer went out to plant his seed. As he scattered it across his field, some seed fell on a footpath, where it was stepped on, and the birds ate it.

 6 Other seed fell among rocks. It began to grow, but the plant soon wilted and died for lack of moisture.

 7 Other seed fell among thorns that grew up with it and choked out the tender plants.

 8 Still other seed fell on fertile soil. This seed grew and produced a crop that was a hundred times as much as had been planted!” When he had said this, he called out, Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.

 9 His disciples asked him what this parable meant.

 11 This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is God’s word.

 12 The seeds that fell on the footpath represent those who hear the message, only to have the devil come and take it away from their hearts and prevent them from believing and being saved.

 13 The seeds on the rocky soil represent those who hear the message and receive it with joy. But since they don’t have deep roots, they believe for a while, then they fall away when they face temptation.

 14 The seeds that fell among the thorns represent those who hear the message, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life, the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things, so no fruit is produced.

 15 And the seed that fell on good soil represents those who hear and accept God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!

In many locations, the soil is either depleted through overuse or naturally very poor. When there are low levels of key elements like potassium, phosphorus, nitrogen,  etc. it needs to be revitalized or amended. The goal is to create a rich fertile loam. This is accomplished by adding materials to the soil to improve its physical properties to provide a better environment for plant roots to grow.

The steps of action are breaking the ground, spreading a great deal of mulch, adding worms, of all things introducing chickens into small beds (the area eat the soil, keep it compacted, eat unwanted pests, and naturally fertilize it), and add more compost and manure.

With amendments added, vegetables, flowers, and other plants can thrive.

To improve soil, amendments are required. And so it is with the human heart.

REFLECT & PRAY

Psalms 19:7-10

 7 The instructions of the LORD are perfect, reviving the soul. The decrees of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple.

 8 The commandments of the LORD are right, bringing joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are clear, giving insight for living.

 10 They are more desirable than gold, even the finest gold. They are sweeter than honey, even honey dripping from the comb.

Father amend the soil of my heart that it may become rich fertile loam for Your Word. May I fall deeper in love with You and Your Word?

INSIGHT

Ask yourself, how good is the soil of your heart? Are there weeds and thorns mixed in? Am I producing what the Lord Jesus Christ intends to produce in my heart and life? If the answer to these questions and similar ones is less than stellar, the question becomes how can I amend the soil of my heart?

When our soil is right, something remarkable happens. We are freed to deeply fall in love with the Lord Jesus Christ and His Word.

A common sowing practice of New Testament times was to sow seed on ground that was not prepared by plowing in advance to receive the seed. The seed was subject to the quality and receptiveness of various kinds of ground. The Lord Jesus Christ shares the parable of the four soils.

His parables resulted in two opposing outcomes. For those who are openhearted, they are means of instruction regarding principles of living for children of the King. For those who are hardhearted, the parables are a warning of judgment to come.

The seed is the Word of God. The farmer or sower is the Lord Jesus Christ. But by application, a sower is anyone who shares God’s Word. The various soils a representative of human hearts. The four soils are listed beginning with the least productive to the most productive and. The parable begins with inhospitable, hard hearts. The Word is heard but before it can take root, it is stolen away by the enemy. The second type has receptive hearts. The soil is fertile but shallow with underlying rocks. These people are receptive and receive the Word and believe. But the seed develops no deep roots and soon wilts and dies.

The third kind of soil is also fertile but it is filled with thorns. The seeds sprout and develop roots, but the tender plants were choked out by the thorns. They do not reach maturity because these people are weighed down by the cares of the world and seek riches and pleasures in life. The fourth kind of soil is fertile and receptive. The seed takes deep-rooted, tender plants come up and grow to maturity and produce much fruit. These people have honest and good hearts. They hear and accept the Word of God. Over time they patiently wait for a good harvest.

A common characteristic of people who are receptive and open to the Word of God is a deep love for the Word of God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

If your soil is depleted ask the Father why? What has depleted the soil of your heart? Some children of the King have never fallen in love with the Word of God. We are born again with initial enthusiasm and hunger for it. But somehow it seems to just fade away.

If the soil of your heart has become depleted, how can it be amended?

It all begins by getting into the Word and learning to enjoy it and being thrilled by it all over again.

Psalms 34:8 O taste and see that the LORD is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!

The Hebrew word translated as taste is taam, in Taam has the sense of sampling, testing, discerning, or partaking. In Psalms 34:8, we are encouraged to taste and take in something delightful, pleasurable, and provides great satisfaction. As we taste the goodness of the Word of God, we taste the goodness of God Himself (Ellsworth)

1 Peter 2:2-3

 2 Like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation,

 3 if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.

The Greek word translated long for is epipotheo. Epipotheo has the sense of great affection for, yearn, crave, strong desire, long after, or pursue with love.

We are to seek to fall in love with the Word and run after it with reckless abandon to do so.

Many of you receive a copy of the Reflection in your email.

Often after it is published, I review it one more time and tweak it.

To read the most up-to-date version, please click on the title.

¯\_()_/¯  

We are not heavy

Aslab
Aslan

We are not heavy

LORD your God cared for you all along the way as you traveled through the wilderness, just as a father cares for his child. – Deuteronomy 1:31

Isaiah 46:3-10

 3 Listen to me . . . I have cared for you since you were born. Yes, I carried you before you were born.

 4 I will be your God throughout your lifetime – until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you.

 5 “To whom will you compare me? Who is my equal?

 9 Remember the things I have done in the past. For I alone am God! I am God, and there is none like me.

 10 Only I can tell you the future before it even happens. Everything I plan will come to pass, for I do whatever I wish.

Father Edward J. Flanagan was born in Ireland and immigrated to the United States s in 1904. He was ordained a priest He had a vision for changing how America cared for its children and families. He worked to close reformatories and other juvenile facilities where children were routinely abused and literally held as prisoners. He believed that children had the right to be valued, to have the basic necessities of life, and to be protected. On December 12, 1917, he founded Boys Town. It was originally called Father Flanagan’s Boys Home℠. In 1921 Flanagan established Boys Town ten miles west of Omaha. It became a large community with its own boy-mayor, schools, chapel, post office, gym, and other facilities.

Boys Town accepted all boys, regardless of their race, creed, or cultural background. Father Flanagan attempted to provide every child a new start in life. He sought out the neediest and most helpless – even boys imprisoned for serious crimes.

In 1918, a boy named Howard Loomis was dumped off and abandoned by his mother at Boys Town. Howard had been stricken with polio and wore heavy leg braces. Walking was difficult. It was grueling for him to go up or down steps. Soon, several of the Home’s older boys began to carry Howard up and down the stairs.

One day, Father Flanagan asked Reuben Granger, one of those older boys, if carrying Howard was hard.

Reuben replied, “He ain’t heavy, Father. . .. he’s m’ brother.” Later, these words were modified to, “He ain’t heavy, Mister . . .. He’s m’ brother.”

These iconic words came to symbolize the spirit of Boys Town. The motto is still the best description of what boys and girls at Boys Town learn about the importance of caring for each other and having someone care about them.

At some point in our lives, metaphorically speaking most everyone needs to be carried by someone. Most of us have also chosen to carry somebody else. We all stumble and need help from each other when we do.

Who has carried you? The Father has carried us since we were born and He will carry us to the end of our days on planet Earth.

We are not heavy; we are His beloved children.

Isaiah 46:3-4

 3 Listen to me . . . I have cared for you since you were born. Yes, I carried you before you were born.

 4 I will be your God throughout your lifetime – until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you.

Isaiah 46:4 was the inspiration for a stanza for “How Firm a Foundation” that is usually omitted from our hymnals:

E’en down to old age, all My people shall prove,

My sovereign, eternal unchangeable love;

And then when grey hairs shall their temples adorn,

Like lambs, they shall still in My bosom be borne.” (Wiersbe).

What a remarkable promise! “Normally, we expect that as children reach maturity, they do not need to be carried any longer. Furthermore, there usually comes a time when the child must begin to carry the aged parent. This is where God transcends the imagery. There will never come a time when we outgrow our dependence on God. We are as dependent on God in old age as we were when we were infants” (Oswald).

REFLECT & PRAY

“Ever since Isaiah, men have been aware that one of the vital distinctions between true religion and false is that whereas the latter is a dead burden for the soul to carry, the former is a living power to carry the soul” (James S. Stewart).

Father thank You for carrying me all these many years and Your wonderful promise to carry me for the rest of them.

INSIGHT

Isaiah 46:3-4 applies to each child of the King in a very personal way. It becomes more important as we age. On the one hand, we look forward to our retirement in the sky. But on the other hand, we also face the harsh realities of aloneness, decline, and incapacitation which frequently accompany our declining years.

The Father is pointedly trying to get our attention. He emphatically says, “Listen to Me . . ..” It is as though He is saying, “I been with you all these years, I will be with you to the end. Yet, in all this time you hardly got to know Me.”

The Father emphatically states His promise to all children of the King to make it crystal clear. He is there for us throughout our lives. He made us and will care for us. He will carry us and save us even in old age.

Isaiah 46:4 I will be your God throughout your lifetime – until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you.

Rather than allowing the Father God to carry them, people make idols which they must carry. What possible good is an idol that is carried by people, but carries no one? It is simply dead weight.

Isaiah 46:7 They carry it around on their shoulders, and when they set it down, it stays there. It can’t even move! And when someone prays to it, there is no answer. It can’t rescue anyone from trouble.

When we attempt to compare the Father God with man-made gods, there is no comparison at all. How foolish to even begin to try.

“The creation of humans and are subject to all the limitations of time and space. He is the Creator of humans – and all else – and is limited by nothing” (Oswald).

In the end, all analogies within the creation fall short. “No analogy, and no combination of analogies, can adequately describe His greatness” (ESV, Notes).

There never was nor will there be a time when the Father ever needs to lean upon us. He is the great self-existed, self-dependent “I AM” (Exodus 3:13, 14). He is transcendent and above all changes, limitations, in time and space itself.

We are not heavy; we are His beloved children.

Footprints in the Sand

One night I dreamed a dream. I was walking along the beach with my Lord. Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life. For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand, one belonging to me and one to my Lord.

When the last scene of my life shot before me I looked back at the footprints in the sand. There was only one set of footprints. I realized that this was at the lowest and saddest times of my life. This always bothered me and I questioned the Lord about my dilemma.

“Lord, You told me when I decided to follow You, You would walk and talk with me all the way. But I’m aware that during the most troublesome times of my life there is only one set of footprints. I just don’t understand why, when I need You most, You leave me.”

He whispered, “My precious child, I love you and will never leave you, never, ever, during your trials and testings. When you saw only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.”

Many of you receive a copy of the Reflection in your email.

Often after it is published, I review it one more time and tweak it.

To read the most up-to-date version, please click on the title.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Maligned for right living

Aslab
Aslan

Maligned for right living

In the same way, let your light shine out for all, so that your good deeds will be seen by everyone and they will praise your heavenly Father. – Matthew 5:16

1 Peter 2:11-21

 11 Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls.

 12 Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world.

 15 It is God’s will that your honorable lives should silence those ignorant people who make foolish accusations against you.

 16 For you are free, yet you are God’s slaves, so don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do evil.

 17 Respect everyone, and love your Christian brothers and sisters. Fear God, and respect the king.

 19 For God is pleased with you when you do what you know is right and patiently endure unfair treatment.

 20 Of course, you get no credit for being patient if you are beaten for doing wrong. But if you suffer for doing good and endure it patiently, God is pleased with you.

 21 For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.

Large swaths of the planet are closed to the open expression and practice of biblical Christianity due to cultural, religious, or geographical barriers. In many locations, the preaching of the gospel is forbidden. Consequently, many of the locals have never heard the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Yet, the father has managed to get the word out, and “underground churches” exist. If people cannot speak the gospel, how does the word get out?

Children of the King have the freedom and responsibility to live out their faith. When this is done, people become curious and want to know more about their positive attitude and joyful outlook even in dire times of deprivation. They are often moved to ask questions privately. This presents an opportunity for them to share the gospel and their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

But on the other hand, people are often wary or envious of the results of the good work of children of the King. Slanderous false charges and accusations are often made. This is exactly what Peter predicted would happen.

Dear friends . . .. Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God. – 1 Peter 2:11-21

As we go through life we are noticed and scrutinized by those that are around us at home, at work, at social gatherings, and at school. How we live makes an impression on others. It is incumbent upon us as children of the King to depend upon the Father to guide and empower our thoughts and actions.

“Be careful how you live. You may be the only Bible some person ever reads” (William J. Toms). You may be the only Jesus some people ever see. As children of the King, we are obligated to demonstrate to those around us what the Lord Jesus Christ would look like if He were present on earth today.

Most people would rather see a sermon lived out than hear one.

REFLECT & PRAY

“Preach the gospel all the time, and, if necessary, use words” (St. Francis of Assisi).

Father, help me to live in such a way that Your name will be honored wherever I go.

INSIGHT

What is right living? As Peter exhorts the children of the King to live properly before their unbelieving neighbors, he explains in a few words what right living is.

1 Peter 2:12 Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles.

The Greek word translated behavior or conduct is anastrophe. Anastrophe focuses on a person’s whole conduct not simply their words. It has to do with their moral character and way of life. Think in terms of the adage “Actions speak louder than words.” When our actions do not live up to our words, what do we really have that is worth saying?

Anastrophe is a neutral term like passion. It can either refer to good or bad conduct. Peter is very specific; he wants the behavior of the children of the King to be excellent. The word translated as excellent or good is kalos. Kalos connotes not merely goodness but that which is lovely, fine, attractive, pleasing, or beautiful. The beauty or loveliness is charming and elegant manifested in harmonious completeness, balance, proportion.

When we allow the Lord Jesus Christ to live His life through us, our lives become characterized by Christlike fragrance or aroma. This aroma is divisive. Those who are being saved are drawn to it. While those who were not, are repulsed by it.

2 Corinthians 2:15-16

 15 Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing.

 16 To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this?

When children of the King walk closely with the Lord Jesus Christ a spiritual fragrance is produced. Whether the fragrance is pleasant or odious is determined not by the source, but rather by the recipient (Baker). The same aroma is either life or death to those who sense it. Children of the King are intended to be a billboard advertising the Lord Jesus Christ.

This is a monumental responsibility. Paul asked who is adequate for such a task? The knee-jerk response is no one. When considering an individual’s ability alone, that answer is correct. But Paul provides a more excellent answer.

2 Corinthians 3:5 Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God.

“In the early Church, this demonstration of the loveliness of the Christian life was necessary above all because of the slanders that were deliberately circulated about the Christian Church.”

“The striking fact of history is that by their lives the Christians actually did defeat the slanders of the Gentile world. . .. Here is our challenge and our inspiration. It is by the loveliness of our daily life and conduct that we must commend Christianity to those who do not believe” (Barclay).

Philippians 2:15 Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.

Many of you receive a copy of the Reflection in your email.

Often after it is published, I review it one more time and tweak it.

To read the most up-to-date version, please click on the title.

¯\_()_/¯

The Lover of your soul

Aslab
Aslan

The Lover of your soul

I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness. – Jeremiah 31:3

Hosea 11:8-10

 8 “Oh, how can I give you up, Israel? How can I let you go . . .? My heart is torn within me, and my compassion overflows.

 9 No, I will not unleash my fierce anger. I will not completely destroy Israel, for I am God and not a mere mortal. I am the Holy One living among you, and I will not come to destroy.

 10 For someday the people will follow me. I, the LORD, will roar like a lion. And when I roar, my people will return trembling from the west.

What is an object lesson? Object lessons are employed by teachers to enable learning. Physical objects or visual aids are used as part of instruction. Object lessons are employed to communicate or illustrate abstract ideas, principles, life lessons, or other important concepts.

Object lessons enhance recall of the teaching. Object lessons often are well-known events or individuals or visual 3-D objects that are well known to stimulate interest.

As children of the King, we recognize the Lord Jesus Christ as the ultimate Teacher. As the paragon instructor, he repeatedly employed object lessons to communicate. He captured people’s attention with object lessons which helped them to understand and remember. He used parables that referred to common earthly experiences and experiences to communicate spiritual truths.

The Father used Hosea and Gomer’s relationship as an object lesson. Gomer was the unfaithful wife of Hosea the prophet. The story revealed two very important concepts. First was the unfaithfulness of the nation of Israel to the Father. Israel had sinned against Him by following other gods. The second was the total and complete faithfulness and loyalty of the Father to His people even when they are in rebellion and committed adultery with idols.

The Father Himself gave Hosea a seemingly incongruous, bewildering, and seemingly inappropriate command to marry a promiscuous woman who was a prostitute. He was to settle down and have children with her (Hosea 1:2). This marriage would serve as an object lesson to illustrate the adulterous behavior of Israel, the Father’s “wife.” Israel was guilty of gross immorality and unfaithfulness to the Father.

After bearing three children, Gomer took off and left Hosea. She returned to her former lifestyle to live with another man.

The Father then gave Hosea a more incongruous, more bewildering, and counterintuitive command.

Hosea 3:1 Then the LORD said to me, “Go and love your wife again, even though she commits adultery with another lover. This will illustrate that the LORD still loves Israel, even though the people have turned to other gods and love to worship them.”

Hosea complied and bought his wife back with fifteen shekels of silver and some barley.

Hosea illustrated the Father’s undying loyal love for faithless Israel. His loyal love, undeterred by Gomer’s unfaithfulness, mirrored the Father’s loyal love and devotion to His wayward and idolatrous people.

Israel is the Father’s treasured possession, the apple of his eye, a pearl of great price. He will never give up on them no matter what.

Yet Israel is like an adulterous spouse who rejected the Father and sought her happiness and security elsewhere. How tragic!

The Father has emotions. How do you suppose He felt that all of this? How this must have hurt Him deeply. Can you visualize Him with tears in His eyes, running down His cheeks revealing a broken heart? The Lord Jesus Christ provides some insight.

Luke 13:34 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me.

Love and marital fidelity are a 2-way street. Both parties must be willing.

Malachi 1:2 “I have always loved you,” says the LORD. But you retort, “Really? How have you loved us?”

REFLECT & PRAY

The Father treasures all children of the King. He is faithful and will not give up on us.

Father thank You that Your love that never gives up on me. You are loyal, faithful, and devoted no matter what. Help me to love You wholeheartedly.

INSIGHT

Hosea reveals the Father’s longing for uninterrupted intimacy with those He loves. His longing and passionate love are revealed in His anguished, doleful words.

Hosea 11:8-10

 8 “Oh, how can I give you up, Israel? How can I let you go . . .? My heart is torn within me, and my compassion overflows.

 9 No, I will not unleash my fierce anger. I will not completely destroy Israel, for I am God and not a mere mortal. I am the Holy One living among you, and I will not come to destroy.

 10 For someday the people will follow me. I, the LORD, will roar like a lion. And when I roar, my people will return trembling from the west.

What does that have to do with us, children of the King? Everything!

The Father longs for an intimate relationship with each one of us. He would and did do everything possible to get your love. His great love is displayed in the greatest most magnificent act of love of all time. The Father sent His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ to make such intimacy and fellowship possible. The Father is the passionate and faithful Lover of the soul of each child of the King.

“Our intimacy with God – His highest priority for our lives – determines the impact of our lives” (Stanley).

Hosea’s prophetic mission stands alone among the Old Testament prophets. Hosea not only prophesied the Father’s message, but he also acted it out in his life. His life experiences serve as the ultimate object lesson which mirrored the Father’s unrequited love for Israel. Despite Israel’s unrepentant unfaithfulness, the Father sought reconciliation, restoration, and blessing for His beloved.

All children of the King have the same assurance: His love for us is a love that will never let us go (Romans 8:37-39). When we stray away from the Father, He yearns for our return. He is the lover of our souls and He will not give up on us.

Numbers 23:19 God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through?

“Once God sets His love on us and we accept His love through faith in Jesus, nothing can ever break the bonds of love that He creates: ‘No one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand’ (John 10:29)” (Stanley).

Whom or what do you treasure as the Father treasures you?

Many of you receive a copy of the Reflection in your email.

Often after it is published, I review it one more time and tweak it.

To read the most up-to-date version, please click on the title.

¯\_()_/¯

There’s no place like home

Aslab
Aslan

There’s no place like home

We are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. – Philippians 3:20

Acts 7:6 God also told Abraham that his descendants would live as aliens in a foreign land, where they would be oppressed as slaves for 400 years.

1 Peter 2:11 Dear friends, I warn you as aliens and foreigners to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls.

Hebrews 11:13 All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads.

Figures provided by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration show that the most dangerous place to drive is near your home. The NHTSA reports that approximately 52% of all accidents occur within a five-mile radius of home and 69% of all car accidents occur within a ten-mile radius from home. Only 1% of accidents occur more than 50 miles from home.

Knowing this, is it had time to move? Of course not. Statistics only provide information. But correlation does not demonstrate causality.

Since 1967 dual citizenship has been permitted in the United States. Many Americans today have dual passports. That is kind of what it is like for children of the King. We are citizens of our native countries on earth and we are also citizens of heaven. Most people down through the centuries lived on earth for less than 100 years. Compared to eternity that is infinitesimally small, less than a nanodrop of water measured against the Pacific Ocean.

As children of the King, where is our real home?

Philippians 3:20 We are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior.

Heaven is our true and final home. The Bible is quite clear that we are exiles from our home in heaven. We are as merely temporary, resident aliens on planet Earth. We may have earthly passports, green cards, work permits, visas, etc. but we really do not belong here.

Getting our arms around this can be a life-changing perspective transformation. There’s no place like home.

But there is a downside. The world can be quite hostile children of the King. One way or another we are told, “your kind is not welcome here.” In our lifetime, this antipathy has risen to the level of hatred. And why are we hated? Is it simply because cherish we cherish the name of the Lord Jesus Christ? Sadly yes! But this is really nothing new.

John 15:18-19

 18 “If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first.”

 19 “The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you.”

1 John 3:13 So don’t be surprised, dear brothers and sisters, if the world hates you.

For most Americans, this sounds a bit “alien.” But perhaps a little less so every year. While we are considering hostility and hatred towards those that are associated with the Father God, ponder this prophecy concerning their persecution in the last days.

Revelation 12:17 And the dragon was angry at the woman and declared war against the rest of her children – all who keep God’s commandments and maintain their testimony for Jesus.

Who are the players here? The Dragon is the enemy of our souls. The woman is the nation of Israel through whom Lord Jesus Christ came into the world. The enemy has tried to destroy Israel for millennia but has been unsuccessful. The enemy also wanted to destroy the work of Christ. He thought he was successful when the Lord Jesus Christ died on the cross. A mistaken he was. But his death is not the end of it. The Lord Jesus Christ was resurrected from the dead and the enemy’s plan was thwarted. So who is left for the enemy to direct his anger and hatred toward?

Who is known for trying to keep the commandments of the Old Testament? Could it be religious Jews who have not accepted Christ as their Messiah? Who maintains faith and testifies of Jesus? Could it be those who are known in the world as Christians, the children of the King?

REFLECT & PRAY

Right now, the Lord Jesus Christ is preparing a place for us in our Father’s home (John 14:2-6).

Father there is no place like home. Thank You for adopting me and making me part of Your Forever Family. My home is not where I live. It is where my family is.

INSIGHT

Well if we are citizens of heaven but temporarily confined as resident aliens to the earth how should we live?

The advice of Jeremiah to the exiles in Babylon is most apropos. Perhaps we should heed it.

Jeremiah 29:5-7

 5 Build homes, and plan to stay. Plant gardens and eat the food they produce.

 6 Marry and have children. Then find spouses for them so that you may have many grandchildren. Multiply! Do not dwindle away!

 7 And work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare.

Rather than planning on going home anytime soon, they were to settle in and carry on life as usual. But there is more. Jeremiah does not stop there. He raises the bar. The exiles were to strive for the peace and welfare of the city of Babylon and not work against it. On top of that, they were even to pray for the Father’s blessing upon it! They were to pray for their enemies.

Praying for barbarous Babylonians? What a seemingly strange and revolutionary idea!

But, this is the standard for all children of the King. “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).

Why should the children of the King work for the peace and prosperity of the city? The practical straightforward answer is that their welfare is linked to the welfare of the city. When the city prospers, they prosper.

Jeremiah does not tell the people to seek peace in the city; he tells them to seek the peace of the city. Could this possibly work? The answer is unequivocally yes!

“What unusual advice for Jeremiah to give his exiled countrymen! History shows that in all the centuries of their worldwide dispersion, the Jews have tried to follow this pattern. They have identified themselves with the country of their residence, while at the same time looking toward eventual restoration to their native land” (Feinberg).

“This passage reflects something that becomes an important component of Jewish and Christian life in the centuries that follow. In most cases, these believers have found themselves to be the minority in their society. They have little influence over the moral and ethical tone of the culture in which they find themselves. They see themselves in a struggle with much in the society. It is important to see what this passage teaches, and what it does not teach. This passage reminds believers that their general economic welfare is tied to the society in which they live. For this reason alone the LORD tells them to pray for the city in which they live. They are not expected to promote or even condone the standards of their society. They are to pray for it for their own sake” (Willis).

We are pilgrims passing through a foreign land. We are in territory dominated and controlled by the enemy of our souls, the god of this world. Our values and beliefs are under pressure from the alien local culture in which we live. We are strangers and stand out because we have absolute values, not relative ones.

The Father requires that all children of the King remain firm in our faith and live out the truth we know from the word of God. We are to make the best of our circumstances and live life to the fullest with integrity and righteousness.

The question becomes, “Father what would you have me do as I live here and now?”

Often after it is published, I review it one more time and tweak it.

Many of you receive a copy of the Reflection in your email.

To read the most up-to-date version, please click on the title.

¯\_()_/¯

Ragnarök and the Last Days

Aslab
Aslan

Ragnarök and the Last Days

Unless the Lord shortens that time of calamity, not a single person will survive. But for the sake of his chosen ones he has shortened those days. – Mark 13:20

Luke 21:7-26

 7 “Teacher when will all this happen? What sign will show us that these things are about to take place?”

 8 He replied, “Don’t let anyone mislead you, for many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and saying, ‘The time has come!’ But don’t believe them.”

 9 “And when you hear of wars and insurrections, don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place first, but the end won’t follow immediately.”

 10 Then he added, “Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.”

 11 “There will be great earthquakes, and there will be famines and plagues in many parts of the world, and there will be terrifying things and great miraculous signs from heaven.”

 25 “And there will be strange signs in the sun, moon, and stars. And here on earth, the nations will be in turmoil, perplexed by the roaring seas and strange tides.”

 26 “People will be terrified at what they see coming upon the earth, for the powers in the heavens will be shaken.”

Ragnarök is a Norwegian fantasy drama streaming television series reimagining Norse mythology from Netflix. It is a take on the presumed Existential Threat of climate change. It takes place in the current day, in the fictional Norwegian town of Edda in Hordaland, Western Norway. Edda is plagued by climate change causing melting glaciers and industrial pollution from local factories.

According to Norse myth, Ragnarök is the end of the world of gods and men – Ragnarök means “Doom of the Gods” in Old Norse. It was said that Ragnarök would be preceded by cruel winters and moral chaos, after which giants and demons would come from everywhere to attack and kill the gods.

In the myth, Thor the Norse god of thunder appears to save the day. He is good and righteous and the protector of humanity. Using his enchanted hammer, Mjolnir, he defeats the World Serpent, ending Ragnarök. This in turn leads to the world’s rebirth and restoration and a new beginning for humankind. Only a god could save the planet.

Ragnarök is an end times scenario that is not too far afield from what is going on planet Earth, sans the Norse gods and legendary creatures.

Throughout the Old Testament and New Testament, the Father has predicted through His prophets and apostles, and the Lord Jesus Christ, an overall outline of the last day scenario. He provided a great deal of detail in a few areas as well.

In the synoptic Gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, His disciples asked three questions: When will these things be?, What will be the sign of your coming?, What will signal the close of the age? The Lord Jesus Christ speaks of the soon-coming destruction of Jerusalem and the distant events leading up to the Second Coming. His warnings are similar but more elaborate than those of Norse mythology. But more significantly, they are eerily consistent with current day events.

Of course, for centuries, students of the Scriptures have jumped to the conclusion that the prophecies of Matthew 24, Luke 21, and Mark 13 are coming true during their lifetimes. Of course, they were all wrong.

REFLECT & PRAY

The day of the Lord will be a “thief-like,” unwelcome surprise for the world. People who live in the dark will suddenly be surprised by the light.

Father thank You that all children of the King are children of the light. Enable us to walk in the light as You are in the light and cleanse us from all sin (1 John 1:7).

INSIGHT

How are children of the King to know? The Lord Jesus Christ was crystal clear regarding this. On the one hand, no one on earth will know the day or the hour.

Matthew 24:36 However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.

But on the other hand, when we see these things happening know that the return of Lord Jesus Christ is near.

Matthew 24:33 When you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door.

Consequently, children of the King are to be on the alert and always waiting for the imminent return of the Lord Jesus Christ to the earth. How then should we live?

Matthew 24:42-44

 42 So you, too, must keep watch! For you don’t know what day your Lord is coming.

 44 You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected.

1 Thessalonians 5:2-8

 2 For you know quite well that the day of the Lord’s return will come unexpectedly, like a thief in the night.

 3 When people are saying, “Everything is peaceful and secure,” then disaster will fall on them as suddenly as a pregnant woman’s labor pains begin. And there will be no escape.

 4 But you aren’t in the dark about these things, dear brothers and sisters, and you won’t be surprised when the day of the Lord comes like a thief.

 5 For you are all children of the light and of the day; we don’t belong to darkness and night.

 6 So be on your guard, not asleep like the others. Stay alert and be clearheaded.

 8 But let us who live in the light be clearheaded, protected by the armor of faith and love, and wearing as our helmet the confidence of our salvation.

Luke 7:35 Wisdom is shown to be right by the lives of those who follow it.

Many of you receive a copy of the Reflection in your email.

Often after it is published, I review it one more time and tweak it.

To read the most up-to-date version, please click on the title.

¯\_()_/¯

What is your AQ?

Aslab
Aslan

What is your AQ?

Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered. – Hebrews 5:8

2 Peter 1:5-8

 5 Applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge,

 6 and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness,

 7 and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.

 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

AQ, Adversity Quotient, measures the ability of a person to deal with the adversities of life. Paul Stoltz coined the term in 1997, in his book Adversity Quotient: Turning Obstacles into Opportunities.

AQ is commonly known as the science of resilience. AQ has to do with how we respond to the ebb and flow of life. AQ encompasses our reaction to all types of stress, from mere everyday hassles to the torments of deep disappointment and sorrow.

AQ has proven to be a strong indicator of an individual’s success in life. It is an accurate predictor of one’s attitude, adaptation to changes in the environment, stress management, persistence, determination, wisdom, and character.

Like IQ, AQ can be modified and developed. AQ enhancement programs often result in improvements of 11-23%. Increased AQ often results in increased productivity, capacity, performance, innovation, and morale (PEAK Learning).

These modern scientific “discoveries” were first revealed in the Scriptures. The Father has been in the business of developing His children’s AQ for over 4500 years

The scriptural terminology varies somewhat. The Scriptures speak of proven character, self-control, moral excellence, diligence, integrity, perseverance, endurance, maturity, hope, reverence, and godliness.

REFLECT & PRAY

Our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! – 2 Corinthians 4:17

Father, I am limited in my comprehension of your ways. Enable me to begin to grasp the immensity and perfection of Your eternal perspective and purpose.

INSIGHT

The Father employs intriguing methods to develop AQ. He introduces trials, difficulties, and tests into our lives. He starts small. As we develop and mature and demonstrate character and integrity, the challenges often become more difficult. AQ develops in a fashion similar to muscle. AQ is strengthened through exercise and exertion.

Romans 5:3-4

 3 When we run into problems and trials, we know that they help us develop endurance.

 4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope.

James 1:2-4

 2 When troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.

 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.

 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

Hardship and adversity have a way of wearing us down. That is all part of the process. The difficulties of life may seem overwhelming and ceaseless. We often feel abandoned.

Paul was a man with tremendous AQ. He was determined to remain faithful and overcome every obstacle. Paul was successful. His responses to hardship revealed his character and the depth of his relationship with the Father. He had learned the art and science of surrender rather than resistance to the Father’s will for his life.

Rather than seeking to escape, he learned to depend upon the Father’s power to go through the great challenges that he faced. He developed a unique trait that should be common for all of the Father’s children, going forward on his knees.

Dr. Hudson Taylor, of the China Inland Mission, wrote to Jonathan Goforth, that to be successful in China. “you must go forward on your knees.”

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen” (Elisabeth Kübler-Ross).

Psalms 121:1-3

 1 I look up to the mountains – does my help come from there?

 2 My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth!

 3 He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber.

Psalms 27:13-14

 13 I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.

 14 Wait for the LORD; be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the LORD.

Our certain confidence in knowing and experiencing the Father’s goodness while we live encourages us to be brave, courageous, and wait expectantly.

The Father we serve is worthy of our loyalty and confidence. Adversity is one of the strategies He employs to mature our faith, conform us to the likeness of His Son, and fulfill His unique plan for each of our lives. Temporary afflictions yield “an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:17). When we give Him the freedom to work, His light will illumine us and shine through us in each trial.

When God wants to drill a man and thrill a man and skill a man, when God wants to mold a man to play the noblest part; when He yearns with all His heart to create so great and bold a man that all the world shall be amazed, watch His methods, watch His ways! How He ruthlessly perfects whom He royally elects!

How He hammers him and hurts him, and with mighty blows converts him, into trial shapes of clay which only God understands; while his tortured heart is crying, and he lifts beseeching hands! How he bends but never breaks.

When his good He undertakes; how He uses whom He chooses, and which every purpose fuses him; By every act induces him to try His splendor out – God knows what He’s about (anonymous).

Many of you receive a copy of the Reflection in your email.

Often after it is published, I review it one more time and tweak it.

To read the most up-to-date version, please click on the title.

¯\_()_/¯ 12-20-9

%d bloggers like this: