Month: January 2012
She stands alone
By: Glynnis Whitwer
“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:58 (NIV)
I wiped beads of sweat from my forehead as I pushed the shopping cart towards my car. Unloading my groceries as fast as I could, I hopped in my car, hoping for quick relief. But the triple digit temperatures had seeped inside. Blasting the air conditioning, I pulled out of the parking lot on to a back street. That’s when I saw her. Standing alone.
A petite figure stood on the sidewalk in front of a brick building. A black covering draped her head, leading to a black dress, black hose and sturdy black shoes. Though she faced the building, I could see she held a Bible. Her head bent over the cradled book as she stood in the sweltering heat. Alone.
It took but a moment to pass her, but the image of her standing alone branded into my brain. Oh, I’ve seen people standing alone in front of buildings. But this wasn’t just any building. This wasn’t a bank or a restaurant. There was no bus stop in front. The women entering this building were broken, and weren’t going in for healing.
And on that hot summer afternoon one woman stood alone praying for them and the children they carried.
She stood alone for what she believed God told her to do that day. In the heat. Facing discomfort, odd looks and probably some derisive comments. Some might say her sacrifice made no difference. We’ll never know.
We’ll never know whose plans were changed by her prayers, by her willingness to stand alone.
Moments before I saw her, all I thought about was getting out of the heat. But her conviction challenged me to ask: For what cause am I willing to stand alone?
The sight of her touched me deeply because I know the exhaustion of battle fatigue. I’ve sat in frustration rather than standing firm. I know what weary feels like when it seems my efforts aren’t making a significant difference. I’ve felt cornered rather than like a conqueror.
Some days, I’m tired of standing for what I believe in. I think others would stand taller, or with less exhaustion. They’d deal with discouragement better than me. They’d show mercy where I show frustration. Maybe someone else could … maybe they should … take over for me.
That’s when the image of this humble woman comes to mind. And the Lord says to me:
You just think she’s standing alone. She’s not. I’m right next to her. And I’ll be right next to you. Keep standing.
So I breathe in and breathe out. I picture the precious sister standing in front of the building. Only this time, she’s not alone. In my mind I see Jesus standing beside her.
And on my own street, in my own life, in my own home, facing my own calling, wondering if I’m making any difference, I determine to stand another day. For a cause I believe in … for the cause of Christ … wherever He calls me to stand.
Dear Lord, thank You for reminding me that when I think I’m standing alone, I’m not. Thank You for being my hope in difficult times, and holding me up when I want to sit this one out. Help me to remember You are a very present help in times of trouble. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
What amazing insight. Great reminder of how evil is exposed and is not hidden from God.
The Traitor’s Traitor
Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him to you?” And they counted out to him thirty pieces of silver. —Matthew 26:14-15
The most mysterious, and perhaps the most misunderstood, of the twelve disciples is Judas Iscariot. His very name is synonymous with evil and treachery. Judas is the traitor’s traitor, ending his life in suicide after he sold out Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. But there is more to Judas than that.
I think if we could travel back in time to the first century and actually see Jesus and His disciples, we wouldn’t be able point out Judas. I don’t think he would be the sinister man we would suspect—at least outwardly. In fact, Judas might even appear to be relatively compassionate.
For example, when Jesus and the disciples were at the home of Lazarus, Martha, and Mary in Bethany, Mary brought out some expensive perfume and began to wipe Jesus’ feet with it. Jesus was deeply touched by this sacrificial act, but it was Judas who pointed out that this costly perfume should have been sold and the money given to the poor. Those listening may have thought, That is a good point. You know, Judas is a good steward. He is frugal. He is thoughtful. Let’s give Judas a round of applause.
But John gives us a little insight into why Judas said this: “This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it” (John 12:6). Some have portrayed Judas as someone who got caught up in the drama, and things just sort of backfired. But Judas did what he did because of his greed. He could have changed his course had he chosen to. He certainly was given opportunities.
This reminds us that things are not always as they appear. And Judas’ covert greed ultimately destroyed him.
Break the Chain of Lies
I originally posted this on April 28, 2011. Imagine my surprise when I was on google tonight and the result that appeared was my own. Apparently God knew I needed the reminder. He’s always on time.
Article first published as Break the Chain of Lies on Blogcritics.
“Therefore, laying aside falsehood, SPEAK TRUTH EACH ONE of you WITH HIS NEIGHBOR, for we are members of one another.” Ephesians 4:25 “He who practices deceit shall not dwell within my house; He who speaks falsehood shall not maintain his position before me”. Psalm 101:7
Because my life has involved the court system over the past year, I have found myself researching and trying to understand more about how our system works. One of the fasicnating things I have found interesting in the process is that of perjury. In a court of law, those that lie under oath are committing a crime and can be charged a fine or put into prison. Judges do not look favorably upon those that lie in court and can even throw out their testimony.
Lying is a sin. Many verses address Gods feeling toward those that lie and lying itself. Proverbs (6:16-17) says that God HATES a lying tongue and He hates those who tell lies (Prov 12:22) as well as destroys those that lie (Psalm 5:6). Those are harsh statements but true. True because God cannot lie and cannot be in the presence of those who choose to lie.
So why is God so tough on those that lie? Why such harsh statements? Because lying is contrary to God’s character. It is not that God chooses not to lie or that He will not lie but instead that He CANNOT lie. God IS TRUTH. Titus 1:2 says, “In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began”. God always speaks truth! When He makes a promise to us, we can be assured that He will follow through with His promises to us. Even when we fall short and fail Him, God is still there. He is faithful to His promises and will not forsake us.
“if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.” 2 Timothy 2:13
When we lie, it is never “of God” but instead comes from the “father of lies”, Satan. His mission is to steal, kill and destroy and that is exactly what he accomplishes when we fall into the sin of lying. We lie for various reasons. We tell little white lies because we don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings. We lie to keep ourselves out of trouble. We lie to make ourselves appear better to others. No matter what the reason or the kind of lie, God considers it all a sin.
When we don’t tell the truth, there are consequences to face. In the story of Ananias and Sapphira, they sold a piece of property and only gave half of their money to the church. They lied to the Apostles saying that they only sold the land for the amount that they gave. God struck them down dead. There sin was not that they kept the money but instead that they did not tell the truth.
Proverbs tells us that God destroys those that lie. In the case of Ananias and Sapphira that meant literal death. For us I think it may mean other things. I was reading a book today that suggested some things we might lose to death because of our lying. Things such as our marriages (“falsehoods are termites in the trunk of the family tree”), our conscience (the tragedy of the second lie is that it is always easier to tell than the first), a career, faith (those who are fluent in the language of false-hood find terms like confession and repentance hard to pronounce). We could also lose things like intimacy, trust and peace.
When we lie, we lose the most important thing of all: our witness. Just as the court will not hear the testimony of a perjured witness, the world will not listen to the testimony of a lying proclaimed Christ-follower.
One of my favorite verses is found in Matthew. It says, “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!”(25:21) I have seen this verse lived out so much over the past year. I have experienced God’s faithfulness. He gives us so much more when we choose to follow Him and live according to His ways and not our own.
So many are bound and buried by their lies. When we are facing a problem, we are left at a fork in the road wondering which path to take. Should we tell the truth and face the music or continue down the path of lies? The question to ask in those moments is whether or not God will bless your deceit. Would God, One who hates lies, bless a strategy that has been built on lies? Will God honor the manipulator? Will God rescue the cheater? Will God bless our dishonesty?
We must choose to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth or we will be bound by chains and buried forever. Once we make the choice and examine our hearts, the truth will set us free.
Angels Among Us
Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.
Why Can I Not Follow You Now?
Peter said to Him, ’Lord, why can I not follow You now?’ —John 13:37
There are times when you can’t understand why you cannot do what you want to do. When God brings a time of waiting, and appears to be unresponsive, don’t fill it with busyness, just wait. The time of waiting may come to teach you the meaning of sanctification— to be set apart from sin and made holy— or it may come after the process of sanctification has begun to teach you what service means. Never run before God gives you His direction. If you have the slightest doubt, then He is not guiding. Whenever there is doubt— wait.
At first you may see clearly what God’s will is— the severance of a friendship, the breaking off of a business relationship, or something else you feel is distinctly God’s will for you to do. But never act on the impulse of that feeling. If you do, you will cause difficult situations to arise which will take years to untangle. Wait for God’s timing and He will do it without any heartache or disappointment. When it is a question of the providential will of God, wait for God to move.
Peter did not wait for God. He predicted in his own mind where the test would come, and it came where he did not expect it. “I will lay down my life for Your sake.” Peter’s statement was honest but ignorant. “Jesus answered him, ’ . . . the rooster shall not crow till you have denied Me three times’ ” (John 13:38). This was said with a deeper knowledge of Peter than Peter had of himself. He could not follow Jesus because he did not know himself or his own capabilities well enough. Natural devotion may be enough to attract us to Jesus, to make us feel His irresistible charm, but it will never make us disciples. Natural devotion will deny Jesus, always falling short of what it means to truly follow Him.