Bible Reading Plans (Eek!)

Every year, especially leading up to the start of a new year, a plethora of articles are published on how to read the entire Bible in a year with a variety of Bible reading plans available. And every year I bury my head as the thought of trying to read (with understanding, mind you) the Bible from cover-to-cover in one year is just, well, so daunting. At one time I owned a copy of the “One Year Bible” that plans out each day of the year with Bible readings. I didn’t get very far in it.

If one starts with Genesis, by the time you get to Leviticus you might want to throw in the towel (see an article published in February 21, 2021, titled, Where Bible Reading Plans Go to Die,” by Barbara Lee Harper, blogger, wife, mother, and grandmother, who lists some very good reasons why Leviticus is good to read). She also published a blog post on December 6, 2020, titled, How To Get Out of a Bible Reading Rut,” that has some very good suggestions (I’ve bookmarked that post). One of her key points in that post is this:

Remember the purpose of time in the Word: not just to get through a certain number of chapters or a certain amount of time, but to meet with the Lord and get to know Him better. (Quote source here.)

To spend time reading the Bible and getting to know God better should not be seen as drudgery or boring (and without guilt as the motivation to do so, either). So, this afternoon as I was searching online again for a Bible reading plan, I discovered a chart on two websites that shows the approximate amount of time it takes to read each of the 66 books in the Bible. As I looked at it, suddenly it seemed more “doable” when broken down into the actual amount of time it takes to read each book. Looking at the chart, it didn’t look like such a huge or monumental task after all. The chart below is located on both Desiring God (click here), and Bible Gateway (click here):

Bible Gateway has a number of Bible reading plans that include the entire Bible in several formats, and also reading plans on the Gospels, the New Testament, Proverbs Monthly, and others available at this link. As I was looking over the selection, I decided to subscribe to the “Daily Reading for Personal Growth, 40 Days with God.” It may not be an entire Bible reading plan, but least it’s a start, right? And it starts tomorrow!

More suggestions for Bible reading plans are available in this article published on January 4, 2022, on the Bible Gateway Blog titled, This Year Select a Bible Reading Plan That’s Right for You,” by Jonathan Petersen, Content Manager for Bible Gateway (click here to go to the article).

I also found a large selection of reading plans at Bible.com not only including Bible reading plans but a wide variety of topics under the subjects of Anxiety, New to Faith, Through the Bible, Marriage, Dating, Work, Leadership, Prayer, Worship, Forgiveness, Faith, Listen and Watch, Divorce, Addiction, Women, Men, Youth, Kids, and Young Adults. Check them out at this link.

Another source is Bible.org which also includes a list of Daily Bible Readings, and the NETBible.org resources. And Navigators.org also has several Bible reading plans available at this link.

I’ve already mentioned Desiring God above, and here is a link to some of their Bible reading resources. Also, one of my favorite websites that I quote from a lot in my blog posts is GotQuestions.org. There is a massive amount of information on that site and one can spend hours just reading through the answers to thousands of questions pertaining to the Bible. It is a real gold mine of Biblical information (click here).

When I started writing this blog post I was needing encouragement to get started on a Daily Bible reading plan, and I went from being sort of “down in the dumps” (I call it the January blahs) to being really encouraged with all that I have found and have linked to in this blog post. I hope you have found encouragement, too, if you don’t know where to start to find a Daily Bible reading plan, and you are feeling a bit overwhelmed as to where to start.

I guess you could say “start anywhere you want.” There are plenty of options in the links above as starting points to choose from. And you never know where God might take you as you read and meditate on His Word everyday.

I’ll end this post with the words from Psalm 119:105 which states: Your Word is a lamp

To my feet . . .

And a light . . .

To my path . . . .

YouTube Video: “You Raise Me Up” by Selah:

YouTube Video: “Revelation Song” (live) by Guy Penrod:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here

Generational Déjà Vu

The Advent Season for 2021 is over (it started on November 28, 2021 and ended on December 24, 2021), but I just now came across a sermon online that was given at the beginning of Advent on November 30, 2021. The title for the sermon is Sermon for Advent–1C,” by Rev. Porter C. Taylor, Rector, at St. David’s by the Sea Episcopal Church.

I looked for a “reblog” button to reblog the post of that sermon (e.g., a transcript of the sermon along with a link to listen to the sermon), but I didn’t find one, so I decided to post the opening paragraphs to his sermon and you can read the rest (or listen to it online) at this link. It is thought-provoking, and it applies to all generations.

Here are the opening paragraphs to his sermon found at this link:

This sermon is from the First Sunday of Advent (Year C), November 28, 2021 and it was originally preached at St. David’s by the Sea Episcopal Church in Cocoa Beach, FL. where I [Peter C. Taylor] serve as Rector. You can listen to the sermon here.

Christian worship is meant to be multi-generational. I love that I can look out at you on any given Sunday and see church members who are 5 years old and church members who are well into their 90’s…and everyone in between. We have members of each extant generation present in our worship: Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X, Baby Boomers, and the Silent Generation. Members of each generation rubbing shoulders with and rubbing off on the next.

I think each and every generation asks itself two essential questions. First: “What kind of world have we inherited?” And second: will we be the last generation?

When reflecting upon his 1989 number one hit, “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” Billy Joel recalled an encounter he had with a young Sean Lennon. Lennon and his friend were bemoaning the state of the world they were inheriting from the generation before them: foreign debts, homeless vets, AIDS, crack, Bernie Goetz. Joel found himself reflecting on his own generational woes and worries with great ease and so he put pen to paper. In fact, it was the first time Joel had written full lyrics before the melody. 

Despite the fact that it is tied specifically to the late 1980’s, Joel provided a timeless classic by poignantly tracing the concerns of multiple generations. His verses capture the fears and insecurities of every decade from the 1940’s through the 1980’s. Here is a verse that will touch on things all of you remember: 

Birth control, Ho Chi Minh, Richard Nixon back again
Moonshot, Woodstock, Watergate, punk rock
Begin, Reagan, Palestine, terror on the airline
Ayatollah’s in Iran, Russians in Afghanistan

And the fun didn’t actually stop in 1989. “We Didn’t Start the Fire was even the inspiration for many pandemic memes last March. “Today was like if ‘we didn’t start the fire’ was a day,” the TV writer Matt Warburton tweeted on March 12, 2020, and shortly after a therapist named Brittany Barkholtz went viral when she took him up on this challenge:Schools close, Tom Hanks, trouble in the big banks, no vaccine, quarantine, no more toilet paper seen.”

It’s all very funny, and yet as Lindsay Zoladz commented in the NYT back in August, there is something strangely comforting about the lyrics. She writes:

It can be easy to feel that we are currently living through the nadir of human history—and hey, maybe we are! But Joel also wrote this song to capture a certain kind of generational déjà vu that has existed since the dawn of civilization. As he [Joel] reflected to his biographer: “Oh man, we all thought that too, when we were young: My God, what kind of world have we inherited?”

Zoladz captures the deep truth underlying the two questions each generation asks itself. At the end of the day, each generation is caught between a sense of “generational déjà vu” and a fear that they are on the precipice of the “nadir of human history.”

Part of the occupational hazard of being a human on this earth is the ability to ask the question, “Is this the end of the world as we know it?”…and are we feeling fine? We notice the fire blazing on around us and we don’t want the blame for its origins, but we also have a sense that we can’t extinguish it. So what do we do?

We enter Advent once again.

Bet you didn’t see that one coming! (Hint: It’s good news about Jesus. Read on at this link).

You’ll definitely . . .

Want to see . . .

How it ends . . . .

YouTube Video: “We Didn’t Start the Fire” (1989) by Billy Joel:

Photo credit here

Selah–Pause and Reflect

Years ago someone mentioned to me that the word “selah” means “pause and calmly think about that” in reference to whenever you see the word written in the Bible (found in two books in the Old Testament). Selah “occurs 71 times in 39 of the Psalms, and three times in Habakkuk 3: altogether 74 times in the Bible. It is found at the end of Psalms 3, 24, and 46, and in most other cases at the end of a verse, the exceptions being Psalms 55:19, 57:3, and Habakkuk 3:3, 9, 13.” (Quote source here.)

GotQuestions.org provides the following information regarding the word “selah”:

There is a great deal of uncertainty about the meaning of “selah.” Most versions of the Bible do not attempt to translate “selah” but simply transliterate the word straight from the Hebrew. The Septuagint translated the word as “daplasma” (“a division”). Well-meaning Bible scholars disagree on the definition of “selah” and on its root word, but since God has ordained that it be included in His Word, we should make an effort to find out, as best we can, the meaning.

One possible Hebrew word related to “selah” is “calah,” which means “to hang” or “to measure or weigh in the balances.” Referring to wisdom, Job says, “The topaz of Ethiopia shall not equal it, neither shall it be valued with pure gold” (Job 28:19). The word translated “valued” in this verse is the Hebrew “calah.” Here Job is saying that wisdom is beyond comparing against even jewels, and when weighed in the balance against wisdom, the finest jewels cannot equal its value.

“Selah” is also thought to be rendered from two Hebrew words: “s_lah”–“to praise”; and “s_lal”–“to lift up.” Another commentator believes it comes from “salah”–“to pause.” From “salah” comes the belief that “selah” is a musical notation signifying a rest to the singers and/or instrumentalists who performed the psalms. If this is true, then each time “selah” appears in a psalm, the musicians paused, perhaps to take a breath, to sing a cappella, or to let the instruments play alone. Perhaps they were pausing to praise the One about whom the song was speaking, perhaps even lifting their hands in worship. This theory would encompass all these meanings—“praise,” “lift up,” and “pause.” When we consider the three verses in Habakkuk, we also see how “selah” could mean “to pause and praise.” Habakkuk’s prayer in chapter 3 inspires the reader to pause and praise God for His mercy, power, sustaining grace, and sufficiency.

Perhaps the best way to think of “selah” is a combination of all these meanings. The Amplified Bible adds “pause and calmly think about that” to each verse where “selah” appears. When we see the word “selah” in a psalm or in Habakkuk 3, we should pause to carefully weigh the meaning of what we have just read or heard, lifting up our hearts in praise to God for His great truths. “All the earth bows down to you; they sing praise to you, they sing the praises of your name. Selah!” (Psalm 66:4). (Quote source here.)

In a devotion published in Our Daily Bread on December 16, 2007, titled, A Selah Moment,” by Dennis Fisher, Senior Research Editor (now retired) at Our Daily Bread, he wrote:

A Selah Moment

He is the King of glory. Selah.Psalm 24:10
Today’s Scripture: Psalm 24

King David proclaimed: “The Lord of hosts, He is the King of glory” (Ps. 24:10). The word Selah was later added to the end of this psalm and many others. Some believe it refers to an instrumental interlude because the psalms were often set to music. Biblical scholars also suggest other possible meanings, including “silence,” “pause,” “interruption,” “accentuate,” “exalt,” or “end.”

Reflecting on these words can help us to take a “Selah moment” to pause and worship God during the day.

Be silent and listen to the voice of God (Ps. 46:10).

Pause from a hectic schedule to be refreshed in spirit (Ps. 42:1-2).

Interrupt the day to do a spiritual inventory and be cleansed (Ps. 51:1-10).

Accentuate the joy of God’s provision through thanks-giving (Ps. 65:9-13).

Exalt the name of God for answered prayer in spite of disappointment (Ps. 40:1-3).

End the day by reflecting on the Lord’s faithfulness (Ps. 119:148).

David’s reflection on God included a Selah moment. Following his example will help us worship our God throughout the day. (Quote source here.)

I think back to when this devotion was first published in December 2007 and how much my world has changed in the 14+ years since then. I would guess that is true for many people who are reading this post. At that time I was working at a Christian university in Florida, and I thought I would most likely work there until I retired which was at least a decade away. Little did I realize that in that same month, December 2007, I would learn that the division I was working in would be dismantled in January 2008, and it would totally change the direction of my life. It reminds me of those verses found in James 4:13-15 which state:

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”

If you are like me, it is rare that any of us pause long enough to reflect on just how brief our lives are here on earth whether we die at a young age or we die well into our golden years. We certainly don’t think about being “a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” Yet that is our life, especially in light of eternity.

This also reminds me of a parable told by Jesus found in Luke 12:16-21:

And he (Jesus) told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’

“Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’

“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’

“This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”

This is the time for “selah”–for pausing and reflecting on our lives, especially since we have just entered another brand new year–2022. We make so many assumptions every single day, but nobody knows what tomorrow will bring even with all of our “best laid plans.” That is not to say there is anything wrong with making plans, but as Proverbs 19:21 states:

Many are the plans in a person’s heart,
    but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.

Never in a million years would I have guessed what these past 14+ years would entail as they have unfolded. None of it was on my radar screen–not even remotely; not even as a tiny blip. Nada, zero, zilch… and yet, for the plans I made (which didn’t occur after all), it is, as stated in the verse above, the Lord’s purpose that has prevailed–day-by-day, week-by-week, month-by-month, and year-by-year. And it continues to unfold.

From the time I was born I attended church, and I spent many years of my life active in church, but nothing came close to preparing me for what I have experienced in these later years of my life. However, I would not trade what I have learned in these past 14+ years for the different outcome I had planned for in my later years when I was still working at that Christian university in 2007.

Most Christians who have grown up in a church setting are familiar with the Wilderness story found in the Old Testament–Exodus 15:22-18:27–(a summary is available at this link). Today we might liken a wilderness experience” with feelings of apathy or “just coasting along” after years of being a Christian. Everything starts to seem “routine” and there isn’t much challenge nor are we looking for it, or we are going through a difficult trial that never seems to end. There are other ways to describe it, too, but for the most part, it is a sort of “falling away” or letting “other stuff” get in the way and fill up our lives, and it sometimes happens slowly over time. Call it “complacency.” And this can happen even when one is attending church on a regular basis and with those who are involved in church activities. It is insidious because it isn’t recognized for what it actually is, and I had reached that point back when I was working at that Christian university without realizing it. My “wake up” call came when my division was dismantled.

This kind of complacency reminds me of the allegory of the frog being slowly boiled alive as described as follows in Wikipedia:

The premise is that if a frog is put suddenly into boiling water, it will jump out, but if the frog is put in tepid water which is then brought to a boil slowly, it will not perceive the danger and will be cooked to death. The story is often used as a metaphor for the inability or unwillingness of people to react to or be aware of sinister threats that arise gradually rather than suddenly. (Quote source here.)

And this story reminds me of Paul’s admonition found in Ephesians 5 (specifically, verses 13-17):

But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,

“Awake, O sleeper,
    and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

Back right before Christmas I was in a Hobby Lobby store and I looked over their small selection of Christians books. I came across a new book titled, Invincible (2021), by Dr. Robert Jeffress, Senior Pastor of the 14,000-member First Baptist Church in Dallas, TX. Here is a brief description of his book on Amazon:

As we walk through this life, the way will not always be easy and well-marked. In fact, we can expect lots of ups and downs and setbacks along the way. Sometimes we’ll find ourselves face-to-face with a mountain that threatens to stop us in our tracks. We know that Jesus tells us we can move these mountains–but how? 

In “Invincible,” Dr. Robert Jeffress helps us identify and defeat the mountains that threaten to keep us from experiencing a blessed life. Offering biblical insight and practical tools, Dr. Jeffress shows us how to conquer the mountains of doubt, guilt, anxiety, discouragement, fear, bitterness.

Such obstacles can seem insurmountable. Yet we know that with God we are invincible. When we put our faith in God and rely on his power, praying according to his will, he will enable us to move the mountains in our lives. (Quote source here.)

There are also chapters (more mountains to conquer) that deal with materialism (a biggie in America), loneliness, lust, and grief. Too often, we tend to stumble over or even deny that these are issues in our lives; hence, the “boiling frog” analogy as we aren’t paying any attention. And those very issues can be our wilderness, too.

With the beginning of a new year, now is the time to start cleaning out our closets. What we hide from others (and even try to hide from ourselves) is never hidden from God. So I’ll end this post with Psalm 46:10-11, which is a very good place for us to start: Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! The Lord of hosts is with us…

The God of Jacob . . .

Is our refuge . . .

Selah . . . .

YouTube Video: “Wonderful, Merciful Savior” by Selah:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here

Less Angst More Peace

I have published and deleted three new blog posts in the span of as many days leading up to the start of 2022 today. I’ve had a bad cold all week (not Covid) and with the cold came a lack of energy and a listless, angst-type feeling which is hard to describe. In fact, I had decided to take a break from publishing blog posts for now, and I even stated so in the last of those three blog posts that I published in the wee hours of this morning–January 1, 2022–which has now been deleted. I felt my angst was trying to take control and silence me into oblivion–well, that’s an exaggeration to say the least. I blame it all on the very bad cold that managed to find me leading up to Christmas Day and two days after when it showed up in full force.

A generalized angst is something most of us have been feeling since the onset almost two years ago of the Covid-19 pandemic. It has certainly changed our entire world, and the effects are still very much ongoing. And while I’m not trying to take away from the seriousness of the situation, the entire subject is just getting to be old beyond words as we wait for yet another variant to show up. Of course, long before Covid-19 showed up, viruses have had variants (take the flu, for example), but the media and hype surrounding Covid-19 have made a very big deal out of variants coming from Covid-19 which keeps the general population in a perpetual state of angst.

Angst is defined as “a feeling of deep anxiety or dread, typically an unfocused one about the human condition or the state of the world in general” (quote source here). From a biblical perspective, GotQuestions.org defines “angst” as follows:

Angst is a deep feeling of anxiety, dread, insecurity, or apprehension. “Angst” comes from an Indo-European root word that means “anguish, anxiety, or anger.” Sigmund Freud first introduced the word “angst” to the English language as a term referring to generalized anxiety. Angst differs slightly from true anxiety in that, while anxiety is active, angst is passive. Anxiety is fear about a certain event, but angst is a sense of underlying dissatisfaction without specific cause. People who are filled with angst are morose, dissatisfied, and unhappy for no particular reason.

Some seasons of life produce apprehension that, if not dealt with properly, can create angst. Geographical moves, an upcoming job change, or the teenage years are often seasons in which we can develop angst. The decisions of national leaders can stir unrest in the citizenry during war times or economic crises. Rather than allow those events to create angst, the Bible invites us to cast all our care upon the Lord, because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). We are not scolded for our fear but urged to choose a better option than angst. Philippians 4:6–7 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

The book of Psalms gives us many examples of situations that could produce angst, but the psalmists continued writing until they found a solution. Psalm 42, for example, expresses the fear, apprehension, and anxiety we often feel, but it intersperses those heartfelt cries with hope, such as in verse 5: “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”

For citizens of heaven, life in this broken world can be overwhelming. We don’t fit in here. We don’t like or agree with much of what the world celebrates, and that feeling that we are “not home yet” can create angst. When we allow ourselves to be emotionally embroiled in ongoing conflict and fruitless debate, we can develop angst without realizing what it is (Titus 3:92 Timothy 2:14). Christians who struggle with feelings of angst should ask God to develop the fruit of the Spirit, joy, in their lives (Galatians 5:22); find their satisfaction in Christ (Psalm 103:1–5); and choose the path of blessedness (Matthew 5:3–12). We are “more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:27). Jesus promised to give us His peace, saying, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). (Quote source here.)

When I’m feeling a lot of angst, I find one of the most calming sources for me to go to is book of Psalms in the Old Testament. King David wrote many of them (even before he became King), and the entire range of human emotions have been expressed by him and others often using emotional expressions we might not think of as being “nice Christian words/emotions” but rather with a raw honesty that is both refreshing and real. And God called David “a man after my own heart” (Acts 13:22) even in the midst of some grievous sins which he had committed and that had to be dealt with.

So what does “a man after God’s own heart” look like as an example for us to follow? GotQuestions.org answers that question regarding David (emphasis is mine):

To understand why David was a man after God’s own heart, we need to see what characteristics he had to qualify for such an exalted description. In the book of Acts, the apostle Paul speaks of God’s feelings about King David: “After removing Saul, he made David their king. He testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do’” (Acts 13:22). The answer to why David was considered a man after God’s own heart is found right in the verse: David did whatever God wanted him to do. An obvious question is how could God still call David a man after His own heart when David committed such terrible sins, including adultery and murder?

We learn much of David’s character in the book of Psalms as he opened up his life for all to examine. David’s life was a portrait of success and failure, and the biblical record highlights the fact that David was far from perfect. But what made David a cut above the rest was that his heart was pointed toward God. He had a deep desire to follow God’s will and do “everything” God wanted him to do. He was a man after God’s own heart. Let’s look at some characteristics of David’s life to discover what that entails:

Part of why David is called a man after God’s own heart is that he had absolute faith in God. Nowhere in Scripture is this point better illustrated than in 1 Samuel 17 where David as a young shepherd boy fearlessly slew the Philistine, Goliath. Shortly before the duel, we see direct evidence of David’s faith when David says, “‘The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.’ And Saul said to David, ‘Go, and the LORD be with you!’” (verse 37). David was fully aware that God was in control of his life, and he had faith that God would deliver him from impending danger. How else would one venture into a potentially fatal situation with such calm and confidence? David knew early on in life that God was to be trusted and obeyed. As we see in Scripture, David’s faith pleased God, and God rewards David for his faithfulness.

Another reason David was a man after God’s own heart is that he absolutely loved God’s Law. Of the 150 psalms in the Bible, David is credited for writing over half of them. Writing at various and often troubling times in his life, David repeatedly mentioned how much he loved God’s perfect Word. We find a beautiful example of this in Psalm 119:47–48: “For I delight in your commands because I love them. I lift up my hands to your commands, which I love, and I meditate on your decrees.” It is not hard to see his complete adoration for God’s Word. Also notice how David “meditates” on God’s statutes. God granted David understanding and wisdom through daily meditation. We would do well to not only read God’s Word but also think about it throughout the day, for God loves us to think about Him. “Blessed are they who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart. They do nothing wrong; they walk in his ways” (Psalm 119:2–3).

David was a man after God’s own heart in that he was truly thankful. “I wash my hands in innocence, and go about your altar, O LORD, proclaiming aloud your praise and telling of all your wonderful deeds” (Psalm 26:6–7). David’s life was marked by seasons of great peace and prosperity as well as times of fear and despair. But through all of the seasons in his life, he never forgot to thank the Lord for everything that he had. It is truly one of David’s finest characteristics. “Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!” (Psalm 100:4, ESV). As followers of Jesus Christ, we would do well to follow David’s lead of offering praise through thanksgiving to our Lord.

After he sinned, David was truly repentant. David’s sin with Bathsheba is recorded in 2 Samuel 11:2–5. The mighty fall hard, and David’s fall included adultery, lying, and murder. He had sinned against God, and he admits it in 2 Samuel 12:13: “David said to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the LORD.’ And Nathan said to David, ‘The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die.’” But admitting our sin and asking for forgiveness is only half of the equation. The other half is repentance, and David did that as well. Psalm 51 is David’s prayer of repentance to God: “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!” (Psalm 51:1–2).

In conclusion, David was a man after God’s own heart because he demonstrated his faith and was committed to following the Lord. Yes, his faith was tested on a grand scale, and he failed at times. But after his sin he sought and received the Lord’s forgiveness. In the final analysis, David loved God’s Law and sought to follow it exactly. As a man after God’s own heart, David is a role model for all of us. (Quote source here.)

Where we place our focus makes all the difference in whether we let ourselves be ruled by angst and anxiety or whether we keep our focus on God and trusting in Him completely in prayer to take care of everything going on in our lives. In an article published today, January 1, 2022, in The Christian Post titled, 2022, yet the same yesterday, today, and forever,” by Samuel Sey, op-ed contributor, he states:

Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Who he was in 2020 is who he is in 2021, and who he is in 2021 is who he’ll be in 2022.

New year, same God.

So don’t be anxious. Don’t be afraid.

The year won’t be the same. The world won’t be the same. People won’t be the same. But praise God, Jesus will be the same. 

God doesn’t change. That is probably the greatest promise in the Bible. Everything we believe about God and the Gospel hinges on that. Since God doesn’t change, His promises do not change either.

Many of us, however, do not reflect on this.

The reason why we can trust that God is still sovereign—the reason why we can trust that God will still be in complete control of every atom in the universe and every action in this world in 2022 is because He doesn’t change.

What I’m describing is called the immutability of God. It means God’s essence and attributes, His plans and promises—are unchanging. God does not and cannot change.

Who God is in eternity past is who He’ll be in eternity future. Who God is at the last seconds of this year is who He’ll be at the first seconds of next year. Time doesn’t change God, God changes time. (Quote source and his entire article is available at this link.)

So… on this very first day of January 2022, let’s start this new year with less angst and more peace by following this advice from Paul in Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT): Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

And I’ll close this post with the words Paul continues with found in Philippians 4:11-13 (NLT): Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little…

For I can do everything . . .

Through Christ . . .

Who gives me strength . . . .

YouTube Video: “Help Is On The Way” by TobyMac:

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Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace

We have now entered the month of December and the season of Advent leading up to Christmas. Several hundred years before Jesus Christ was born, Isaiah prophesized his birth which is found in Isaiah 9:6 (NIV):

For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Jesus as Wonderful Counselor

GotQuestions.org describes Jesus as our “Wonderful Counselor,” the first of four names given to him in Isaiah 9:6, as follows:

When Isaiah wrote his prediction of the coming of the “Wonderful Counselor” (Isaiah 9:6), he was spurring Israel to remember their Messiah was indeed coming to establish His Kingdom (Isaiah 9:7). Isaiah was writing nearly 800 years before Christ. This period of history was tumultuous as the Assyrians were on the march, taking people into captivity by droves. Isaiah’s prophecy gave the people of God a hope they so desperately needed: a Child would be born to fulfill the Davidic Covenant, and He would bear the titles Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” The Child was Christ; the prophecy will reach its consummation at Christ’s second coming.

That Isaiah calls the Messiah the “Wonderful Counselor” indicates the kind of character this coming King has. The word wonderful in this passage literally means “incomprehensible.” The Messiah will cause us to be “full of wonder.” The word is much weightier than the way it’s used in normal conversation today—we say things are “wonderful” if they are pleasant, lovely, or the least bit likable. Jesus is wonderful in a way that is boggling to the mind. The same word for “wonderful” is used in Judges 13:18 when Manoah, Samson’s father, asked the LORD (in a theophany) what His name was. The angel of the LORD responded, “Why do you ask my name, seeing it is wonderful?” In other words, “Why do you ask my name, since it is beyond your understanding?”

Jesus demonstrated His wonderfulness in various ways when He was on the earth, beginning with His conception in the womb of a virgin (Matthew 1:23). He showed He is the “wonderful” One in His power to heal (Matthew 4:23), His amazing teaching (Mark 1:22), His perfect life (Hebrews 4:15), and His resurrection from the dead (Mark 16:6). Jesus taught many wonderful things that are counterintuitive to the human mind: “Blessed are those who mourn” (Matthew 5:4). “Rejoice and be glad” in persecution (Matthew 5:11–12). “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you” (Luke 6:27). Jesus’ kind of wonderful is awe-inspiring and superior to any other kind, for He is perfect in every way (Matthew 5:48).

The second part of the Messiah’s title is the word counselor. In ancient Israel, a counselor was portrayed as a wise king, such as Solomon, giving guidance to his people (1 Kings 4:34Micah 4:9). Isaiah uses this word again in 28:29 to describe the LORD: “This also comes from the LORD of hosts; he is wonderful in counsel and excellent in wisdom.” Jesus is a wise counselor. “He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person” (John 2:25). He is able to advise His people thoroughly because He is qualified in ways no human counselor is. In Christ is “hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3), including the knowledge of all human nature (Psalm 139:1–2). Jesus always knows what we are going through, and He always knows the right course of action (Hebrews 4:15–16).

Christ’s position as our Wonderful Counselor means we can trust Him to listen to our problems and guide us in the right direction (Proverbs 3:6). We can be sure He is listening because He told us to pray to Him about our worries (Philippians 4:6James 1:5). We can be certain He has our best interests at heart because He loves us (1 John 4:19). And His love is so wide and deep (and wonderful) that we cannot fully understand it (Romans 5:8). (Quote source here.)

Jesus as Mighty God

Our Daily Bread provides the following description of Jesus as described in his second name given in Isaiah 9:6 as “Mighty God”:

What is the meaning of the name “Mighty God”?

This name is the compound Hebrew title “El Gibbor,” and both parts of the name need to be understood.

“God.” The first part of the title is El, the singular form of the word Elohim. In the Old Testament this referred to the one true God (though on occasion it was used of mighty heroes, or even false gods). Yet even though Jesus Himself pointed out that the title is sometimes used of mighty sons of men (John 10:34), the title is so often used of God and only God, that the prophet Hosea used El to set God in contrast to man in Hosea 11:9. That Isaiah 9:6 was predicting One who would be far more than a man is indicated by the third name “Everlasting Father” and by the New Testament record of Christ. The Christ who walked on water, died voluntarily for our sins, and then physically rose from the dead is the One who also said, “Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58). He is the One of whom John wrote:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made (John 1:1-3).

“Mighty.” The other part of the name is “Gibbor,” which means “strength, power, hero.” What a statement! In a world where heroes are often determined by athletic prowess, personal talent, or financial power, we are told that the only One truly worthy to be called “hero” is the One whose might is unparalleled.

The focus of Isaiah’s prophecy is “El Gibbor,” the mighty God who is our true Hero. What this prophet in the seventh century BC anticipated, the New Testament confirms. Because the Messiah would be God, He would have God’s power—but to Isaiah the amazing thing was that the Messiah would not only have the power of God, He would be the God of power!

What is the evidence that Jesus Christ is the “Mighty God”?

By His perfect life, sacrificial death, and resurrection, He showed we could trust Him, though most of His own people rejected Him. John wrote, “He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him” (John 1:11).

Yet in many cases He was recognized as the long-awaited Messiah. Nicodemus, a rabbi of Israel, recognized Him (cp. John 3 with John 19). The disciples recognized Him (compare Matthew 8:27 with 16:16). Mary Magdalene recognized Him, and her life was transformed (Luke 8:2). Others’ lives were changed as well, including the church’s most feared persecutor, Saul of Tarsus (Acts 9).

These and thousands of other first-century people believed—and for good reason. Jesus Christ proved Himself to be El Gibbor as He displayed His life-changing might and power. Still today, for those who see their need of a Savior, the evidence of Christ’s mighty power is overwhelming. For those who sense their own inability to live up to God’s standard, the apostle John wrote, “As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12).

The New Testament provides us an opportunity to see the fullness of the “Mighty God” Isaiah predicted, showing both how His power was displayed in His life on earth—but also how it was seen before He even came to the earth.

Jesus, the Mighty God before His birth. The Bible clearly states that Christ displayed His might by creating the world before He physically entered it. John 1:3 says, “All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.” Colossians 1:16 agrees: “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.”

Christ’s display of might in the act of creation distinguished Him from mere humans. We have the ability to make things, but we require some basic raw materials. Christ showed His might in the ability to create—to make something out of nothing. It takes divine might to truly create. Christ demonstrated that power in the most profound way—by creating the universe.

Jesus, the Mighty God during His earthly life. Jesus showed His right to be recognized as the Mighty God by demonstrating power over nature (Luke 5:1-11), power over disease (Matthew 9:18-26), power over demons (Luke 8:26-39), power over sin (Mark 2:3-12), and power over death (1 Cor. 15:1-19). Throughout the course of His public life, Christ revealed His divine might in ways that not only were undeniable (Acts 2:22) but also intentional validations of His claim to be God (John 20:30-31). When we see the otherwise inexplicable demonstrations of God’s might in the unparalleled life of Christ, it becomes clear why Paul would call Jesus “the Son of God with power” (Romans 1:4) and “Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Cor. 1:24).

What is the importance of the name “Mighty God” to believers today?

While appreciating the evidence that shows Christ to be the Mighty God, we must remember that this is more than mere theological data. It is inspired evidence that urges us to see and respond to Christ as He is—our “Mighty God.”

He is the source of our power. In Acts 1:8, Jesus promised to send the power of the Holy Spirit to enable us to be His representatives in the world. Inherent to this provision of the Spirit is the fact that He wants us to live distinctive lives in an impure world as evidence of His presence in us.

He is the strength of our lives. In Philippians 4:13, Paul wrote, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” What a great promise! He will strengthen us for all the circumstances and inevitabilities of life. This doesn’t mean that we will never know pain or hardship, but that we can endure in triumph. How can we do that? Only as we rest in His power, not in our own.

He secures our eternity. The apostle Peter wrote that we are “kept by the power of God” (1 Peter 1:5). Nothing can overcome God’s power to keep us in Christ. What a great assurance it is to know that we are secure not because of our own ability to hold on to Him, but by His power holding on to us.

In view of the evidence, how can we see our Lord Jesus Christ as anything less than the Mighty God, “El Gibbor”? In 1885, J. B. Figgis took it even further, describing in his book “Emmanuel” the surprising way in which the Mighty God not only showed His might by miracles, but also by His disarming meekness:

Christ’s inimitable meekness and patience never once forsook Him in a vexatious, ungrateful, cruel sphere. He never stepped out of the humble sphere in which He was brought up; He does not seem to have ever possessed for Himself so much as the smallest coin, and when He died had no means for providing for His mother, and could only commend her to one of His disciples. Yet, His life was infinitely superior to all others. If Jesus were no more than a man or a hero, why are there not more men like Him? What God did for one man, God would certainly do for others. It is unaccountable that it has never been done. The incarnation, when Jesus came as “the Mighty God,” alone helps us to the solution of such an enigma. (Quote source here.)

Jesus as Everlasting Father

GotQuestion.org gives us the description of Jesus’ third name listed in Isaiah 9:6“Everlasting Father”–as follows:

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6, ESV).

In context, this verse is proclaiming the redemption of Israel and the activities, titles, and blessings of the Messiah who is to rule the earth and usher in a reign of blessing and peace that will have no end. One of His titles is “Everlasting Father.”

The Hebrew phrase translated “Everlasting Father” could be translated literally “Father of Eternity.” For this reason, some have suggested that the title means that this coming Messiah is also the creator of everything: He is the father of time and eternity, the “architect of the ages.” While we know this to be true from the New Testament (John 1:1–3Colossians 1:16–17), that is not the emphasis in Isaiah. In the Hebrew construction of the phrase, “father” is the primary noun, and “everlasting” (ESV, NIV, KJV) or “eternal” (NASB) is the term that describes His fatherhood. He is Father forever.

The Hebrew word translated “everlasting” has the idea of “in perpetuity” or “without end.” Indeed, the next verse says of the Messiah, “Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end” (Isaiah 9:7). The emphasis is forward looking, so “everlasting” is probably a better translation than “eternal,” which not only indicates “without end” but also “without beginning.” (Again, from the New Testament we may argue that the Messiah is without beginning, but that is not the emphasis of this term in Isaiah.)

So, as the Everlasting Father, the Messiah will be a father, and His fatherhood will be without end. Some have objected that this designation as father seems to confuse the roles within the Trinity, calling “Father” the one who is really “the Son.” Some in the Oneness movement use this verse as a proof text to show that Jesus really is the Father and that there is only a Unity, not a Trinity. In both cases, the interpreters are reading New Testament concerns back into the Old Testament. Neither Trinitarian nor anti-Trinitarian concerns are being discussed in Isaiah 9:6.

Many rulers in ancient times were considered “father of the country.” Americans who read this term might immediately think of George Washington who is called “the father of his country.” It was Washington’s determination and leadership that led to victory in the Revolutionary War and his support of a strong national government that led (at least in part) to ratification of the U.S. Constitution. Without Washington, the United States might not exist today, or it might exist with a far different form of government. However, if some of the interpretations discussed so far are guilty of reading New Testament theological concerns into Isaiah in an anachronistic fashion, using George Washington as an interpretive clue to the meaning of the phrase is also anachronistic. The most appropriate analogy is far more universal.

In ancient times, the “father of the nation” was viewed in much the same way as the father of a family. It was the father who was to protect and provide for his children. In the same way, this Child to be born will become a king who will be a father to the children of Israel—He will protect and provide for them. And His role as protector and provider will not be limited by aging or death. His role as father (protector and provider) will continue in perpetuity. Just how this will come about is not revealed in Isaiah’s prophecy. The full identity of the Messiah—that He is God in the flesh, the second Person of the Trinity who would protect and provide for His people by His death and resurrection on their behalf; and that Gentiles could also be grafted into the family of Israel—may be hinted at in Isaiah, but God’s people would have to wait almost 700 years to see the Messiah revealed in the “fullness of time” (see Galatians 4:4). (Quote source here.)

Jesus as Prince of Peace

GotQuestion.org gives us the description of Jesus’ fourth and last name listed in Isaiah 9:6“Prince of Peace”–as follows:

In a world filled with war and violence, it’s difficult to see how Jesus could be the all-powerful God who acts in human history and be the embodiment of peace (Isaiah 9:6). But physical safety and political harmony don’t necessarily reflect the kind of peace He’s talking about (John 14:27).

The Hebrew word for peace--“shalom”is often used in reference to an appearance of calm and tranquility of individuals, groups, and nations. The Greek word “eirene” means “unity and accord”; Paul uses “eirene” to describe the objective of the New Testament church. But the deeper, more foundational meaning of peace is “the spiritual harmony brought about by an individual’s restoration with God.”

In our sinful state, we are enemies with God (Romans 5:10). “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Because of Christ’s sacrifice, we are restored to a relationship of peace with God (Romans 5:1). This is the deep, abiding peace between our hearts and our Creator that cannot be taken away (John 10:27–28) and the ultimate fulfillment of Christ’s work as “Prince of Peace.”

But Christ’s sacrifice provides more for us than eternal peace; it also allows us to have a relationship with the Holy Spirit, the Helper who promises to guide us (John 16:713). Further, the Holy Spirit will manifest Himself in us by having us live in ways we couldn’t possibly live on our own, including filling our lives with love, joy, and peace (Galatians 5:22–23). This love, joy, and peace are all results of the Holy Spirit working in the life of a believer. They are reflections of His presence in us. And, although their deepest, most vital result is to have us live in love, joy, and peace with God, they can’t help but to spill over into our relationships with people.

And we desperately need it—especially since God calls us to live with singleness of purpose with other believers, with humility, gentleness, and patience, “being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1–3). This unity in purpose and gentleness would be impossible without the work of the Holy Spirit in us and the peace we have with God thanks to the sacrifice of His Son.

Ironically, the lightest definition of peace, that of the appearance of tranquility in a person, can be the most difficult to grasp and maintain. We do nothing to acquire or maintain our spiritual peace with God (Ephesians 2:8–9). And, while living in unity with other believers can be extremely difficult, living in peace in our own lives can very often feel impossible.

Note that “peaceful” doesn’t mean “easy.” Jesus never promised easy; He only promised help. In fact, He told us to expect tribulation (John 16:33) and trials (James 1:2). But He also said that, if we called on Him, He would give us the “peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension” (Philippians 4:6–7). No matter what hardships we are faced with, we can ask for a peace that comes from the powerful love of God that is not dependent on our own strength or the situation around us. (Quote source here.)

Jesus truly is our “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and our Prince of Peace”! I’ll end this post with the verse that follows Isaiah 9:6 (verse 7): Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever….

The zeal . . .

Of the Lord Almighty . . .

Will accomplish this . . . .

YouTube Video: “His Name Shall Be” by Matt Redman:

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Photo #2 credit here

Kairos Moments

I came across a term I was unfamiliar with this morning while doing a Google search. That term is “kairos moment,” and I wondered what it meant. Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines“kairos” as: “a time when conditions are right for the accomplishment of a crucial actionthe opportune and decisive moment.”

GotQuestions.org provides a longer definition on the meaning of the Greek word “kairos”:

The word kairos was an ancient Greek word meaning “opportunity,” “season,” or “fitting time.” Another Greek word for “time” was chronos. A sequence of moments was expressed as chronos, emphasizing the duration of the time; an appointed time was expressed as kairos, with no regard for the length of the time. Thus, chronos was more linear and quantitative, and kairos was more nonlinear and qualitative.

The Bible uses the word kairos and its cognates 86 times in the New Testament (e.g., in Matthew 8:29Luke 19:44; and Acts 24:25). The word often includes the idea of an opportunity or a suitable time for an action to take place. When we “seize the day,” we are taking advantage of the kairos given to us. Kairos is related to the Greek word kara (“head”). A kairos is a time when things “come to a head,” requiring decisive action.

In Jesus’ parable of the wheat and the tares, the Lord refers to the coming judgment as a harvest: “At that time [kairos] I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn” (Matthew 13:30). By using kairos here, Jesus emphasizes the fact that Judgment Day is an appointed time, and at that time will occur certain things appropriate for the day.

There was “an appointed time” for John the Baptist to be born (Luke 1:20). The Lord promises to reward His servants at “the proper time” (Luke 12:42). Jesus predicts that Israel will be judged “because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you” (Luke 19:44, emphasis added). Each of these uses of kairos denotes a unique time in which something special was to happen.

The Bible warns that we should take full advantage of the opportunities God gives us. Unbelievers have the responsibility to respond to opportunities to believe the gospel. Jesus’ first recorded sermon was simple: “The time [kairos] has come. . . . The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:8). When the people of Galilee were confronted with Jesus’ life-changing message, God expected them to believe.

Governor Felix was listening to Paul speak, and “as [Paul] reasoned about righteousness and self-control and the coming judgment, Felix was alarmed and said, ‘Go away for the present. When I get an opportunity [kairos] I will summon you’” (Acts 24:25, ESV). Felix wanted to pick his own opportunity to respond to the gospel, ignoring the opportunity of the present. In so doing, he did respond—he rejected the gospel.

Paul communicated the urgency of the gospel: “I tell you, now is the time [kairos] of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2). There is a window of opportunity to accept God’s salvation, and we do not know when that window will close.

The believer must take advantage of opportunities to serve the Lord. “As we have opportunity [kairos], let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers” (Galatians 6:10). We must bemaking the most of every opportunity [kairos], because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16). And “let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time [kairos] we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9). (Quote source here.)

In an article published on November 13, 2014, titled, KAIROS = God – Time,” by Pr. Michael Jannett, pastor at Advent Lutheran Church, he uses the acronym “SOAP” to describe a kairos moment:

S (Scripture): John 14:2b [Jesus said,] “I am going away to make ready a place for you. 14:3 And if I go and make ready a place for you, I will come again and take you to be with me, so that where I am you may be too. 14:4 And you know the way where I am going.” 14:5 Thomas said, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 14:6 Jesus replied, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 14:7 If you have known me, you will know my Father too. And from now on you do know him and have seen him.”

O (Observation): Thomas hears that Jesus is changing course again. That is a “kairos” moment for him–a time to listen and pay extra attention to what God (Jesus) is saying. So Thomas chimes in, and wonders how the disciples are to make their way without Jesus?

A (Application): I’m sitting in an airport (as I type), awaiting departure for Detroit, MI, for an ELCA Youth Gathering training event. My flight was delayed a half hour. That was a kairos. A moment that catches my attention.

We all have lots of kairos moments. Sometimes we call it: coincidence, providence, happenstance, chance, aha moments, light bulb moments…I call them Kairos moments.

Kairos is a Greek word that essentially means “God-time.” Every moment that catches my attention is a moment for me to reflect on what God is saying to me, and to reflect on what I should do about what God has said to me.

Being delayed a half hour reminds me that rushing from one place to another is not healthy. “Abide, Michael. Sit. Wait. I have come to sit with you awhile as you write your devotion.” Cool. So I sit and reflect and share with you, now.

Thomas had a kairos. Jesus said he was leaving. “So where to, Jesus? We don’t have GPS. Or an iPhone.” Jesus responds that he is the way.

So maybe Thomas starts to realize (like we do, maybe) that following Jesus is not just a physical journey, but a physical AND spiritual one. That it’s about being shaped in a way of “being” that effects our actions and thoughts and beliefs, wherever we head…like Detroit, or home, or work, or school.

Next time a thought/event/whatever stops you in your tracks…pause…ask yourself, “What is God Saying?” And then ask yourself, “What would God have me do now?”

(Hint: if “what God says” tears you down and demoralizes you…that’s not God, that’s the devil. God brings life. God can bring anger or disappointment, but that message should be to a constructive end.)

Challenge: Share a kairos moment that you had today. If you feel really bold, answer the two questions:

1. What is God saying to me? And,
2. What would God have me do?

P (Prayer): Lord, you have spoken to us through the prophets of old. Now you speak to us through your Son, Jesus Christ. Help us to listen to your voice and believe that you have called us to do greater things than “these.” Amen. (Quote source here.)

In an article published on July 24, 2020, titled, How A Kairos Moment Changes the World,” by Chris Walker, Director of Spanish Ministry and Director of Ministry Development at PRMI, he provides the following definition for “kairos”:

Kairos: Now Time

“Kairos” (kairos) is one of two Greek words used for time that is used in Scripture.

Greek dictionaries give the meaning in terms of

  • due measure,
  • a fixed and definite time,
  • the time when things are brought to crisis,
  • the decisive epoch waited for,
  • opportune or seasonable time,
  • the right time (Thayer’s definition).

Kairos moments are not measured by minutes or hours but by what is happening.

Examples from Scripture of where Kairos is used of time.

The time has come, the kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!Mark 1:15 (NIV) 

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.Romans 5:6 (NIV) 

And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.Romans 13:11 (NIV) 

A kairos moment occurs when it is God’s time to act in human affairs.

The Holy Spirit is present and moving in a person, situation, or group to accomplish some specific work for the advancement of the Kingdom of God. (Quote source here.)

The following statement comes from the opening  paragraph of an article titled, Your Kairos Moment,” on OneChurch.family (the author’s name is not mentioned):

We’ve all come to these points in our life when a decision is made that changes every day that follows. Many times, you weren’t even aware that you, in fact, were standing in such a moment. A tipping-point or a kairos moment is usually discovered behind the scenes of an ordinary day. It’s the moment when desperation and courage collide. It’s the moment when great opposition threatens all that you know and you choose to remain unmoved by fixing your eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith. It’s the moment when a choice of faith catapults you into divine destiny.

KAIROS… (Quote source here.)

So be on the lookout for kairos moments, and it all boils down to exercising our faith. GotQuestions.org states the following regarding faith (as found in Hebrews 11):

The writer of Hebrews opens chapter 11 with a brief description of faith: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1, NKJV). This statement should not be regarded as a complete definition of faith. Instead, the author focuses on two critical aspects of a much broader theological concept to introduce a famous gallery of Old Testament heroes of faith. The first vital facet of faith is that it is “the substance of things hoped for.”

The word for “substance” (KJV, NKJV) in the clause faith is the substance of things hoped for, is alternatively translated as “assurance” (ESV), “confidence” (NIV), and “the reality” (NLT). In the original Greek, the term conveys the idea of “a firm foundation,” “the real being,” “the actual existence,” “the substantial nature,” and “a resolute trust.” One sense of the word refers to a title deed or a legal document guaranteeing the right to possess a property.

According to Moulton and Milligan in Vocabulary of the Greek New Testament, “faith is the substance of things hoped for” could be translated “faith is the title-deed of things hoped for” (Robertson, A. T., Word Pictures in the New Testament, Nashville: Broadman Press, 1960). Another commentary suggests that faith, as described in Hebrews 11:1, “apprehends reality: it is that to which the unseen objects of hope become real and substantial. Assurance gives the true idea. It is the firm grasp of faith on unseen fact” (Vincent, M. R., Word Studies in the New Testament, Vol. 4, New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1887, p. 510).

The clause faith is the substance of things hoped for describes a conviction that already takes custody—here and now—of what we hope for and what God has promised us in the future. This present-day ownership of things hoped for and promised in the future is an inner reality. Right now, amid a global pandemic, financial crisis, and social unrest, as our world seems to be falling apart, we can stand on the rock-solid, unshakeable  promises of God’s security, rest, peace, provision, mercy, grace, and salvation. His Word can be trusted. We can have full confidence in the Lord’s promises because they are real and a firm foundation for this life.

This “substance” or “assurance” describes our inward response to God’s trustworthy, unfailing nature. We can be sure of the Lord’s promises because, as the writer of Hebrews goes on to show, biblical heroes of every generation have proven them to be true: “By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead. By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death” (Hebrews 11:4–5). On and on goes the list. By faith Noah built the ark, saved his family, and became an heir of righteousness (Hebrews 11:7). By faith Abraham obeyed God and moved from his homeland (verses 8–10).

The writer of Hebrews presents example after example of those who demonstrated faith as the substance of things hoped for: “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth” (Hebrews 11:13). From the patriarchs to King David to anonymous champions of faith, believers have trusted in God’s promises despite enduring unimaginable challenges (verses 17–38).

Faith, being the substance of things hoped for, is also an outward force. Possessing the reality of hope supplies believers with the motivation to endure trials and hardships. It results in decisive obedience—the kind that caused the ancient heroes of faith to act upon their hope. Faith, as the substance of things hoped for, activates believers to preach boldly, pray unceasingly, love unconditionally, serve compassionately, and work tirelessly “as long as it is day” (John 9:4). The inward substance of faith moves our hearts while the external reality moves mountains. (Quote source here.)

With my faith still very much intact (and, hopefully, yours is, too), be on the lookout for kairos moments. I’ll end this post with the words from Hebrews 11:6And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards…

Those who . . .

Earnestly . . .

Seek him . . . .

YouTube Video: “Help Is On The Way” (Live on June 10, 2021) by TobyMac:

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All Things Are Possible

Most of us have found ourselves in a Catch-22 type situation from time to time. They are awkward, frustrating, confusing, and infuriating, to say the very least. Wikipedia defines the meaning of Catch-22 as follows:

catch-22 is a paradoxical situation from which an individual cannot escape because of contradictory rules or limitations. The term was coined by Joseph Heller, who used it in his 1961 noveCatch-22. An example is:

“How can I get any experience until I get a job that gives me experience?” –Brantley Foster in The Secret of My Success.”

Catch-22s often result from rules, regulations, or procedures that an individual is subject to, but has no control over, because to fight the rule is to accept it. Another example is a situation in which someone is in need of something that can only be had by not being in need of it (e.g.: the only way to qualify for a loan is to prove to the bank that you do not need a loan). One connotation of the term is that the creators of the “catch-22” situation have created arbitrary rules in order to justify and conceal their own abuse of power.

Joseph Heller coined the term in his 1961 novel Catch-22, which describes absurd bureaucratic constraints on soldiers in World War II. The term is introduced by the character Doc Daneeka, an army psychiatrist who invokes “Catch-22” to explain why any pilot requesting mental evaluation for insanity—hoping to be found not sane enough to fly and thereby escape dangerous missions—demonstrates his own sanity in creating the request and thus cannot be declared insane. This phrase also means a dilemma or difficult circumstance from which there is no escape because of mutually conflicting or dependent conditions. (Quote source here.)

For anyone who has ever found themselves in a Catch-22 type situation, the definition above is a moot point as you know exactly what it feels like and how impossible it seems to be in order to escape from it.

In an audio file with attached transcript published on July 12, 2018 titled, When You Are Confronted with a Catch-22 Situation,” by Dr. Harold J. Sala, speaker, author, Bible teacher, and founder of “Guidelines for Living,” he states:

“From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I” (Psalm 61:2, KJV).

It’s a catch-22 situation, one where you can’t win. That expression “catch-22” was made famous by a book by the same title, one that came out of the war experiences of Joseph Heller. Heller was flying over France in World War 2 when shrapnel hit his plane, a B-25 bomber. Up to that time, he had been pretty well fearless, but no longer. He wanted out.

His emotions formed the backdrop of his most famous book, a 1961 novel called Catch-22. In the book, John Yossarian decides he doesn’t want to fly any more dangerous missions so he invents a mysterious liver ailment, sabotages his plane, and tries to get himself declared insane.

Here’s the predicament. Yossarian learns that in the military, anyone who really is insane has to be excused from flying dangerous missions, but the catch is that he must ask to be excused. But “anyone who is smart enough to show ‘rational fear in the face of clear and present danger’ obviously is not insane and must continue to fly.”

Yes, you’ll find Heller’s expression “catch-22” in the dictionary. It’s defined as “a problematical situation for which the only solution is denied by a circumstance inherent in the problem…” or “an illogical, unreasonable, or senseless situation.”

The fact is that catch-22 situations have been with us for a long time and are still very much part of life. That’s what confronted the children of Israel when they came out of Egypt and were trapped by the Red Sea, the mountains of Pi Hahiroth, and the Egyptian Army. That’s what confronted Daniel when he either had to bow to the image of the king or be tossed to the lions. A catch-22 situation also confronted King Jehoshaphat, who had committed to serving the living God, yet was confronted with the armies of Moab and Edom.

Sometimes people feel that they are in a catch-22 situation when a marriage goes bad.  The choice is stay there and suffer or feel that you are wrong in walking away from it. In business you face it when you know that a fellow employee is cheating on the company. Do you report the situation and face the consequences of being a whistle-blower, or do you violate your conscience by keeping quiet?

Catch-22 situations are grim apart from one thing, the one who can eliminate the hopeless feature. It is God. When Jehoshaphat faced a catch-22 situation he cried out, “We have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you” (2 Chronicles 20:12). Did you hear those words, “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you”? God is always enough.

When Daniel faced a catch-22 situation, he chose to either die with integrity or to allow God to bring him through the difficulty.

There were lots of times when David faced catch-22 situations, but he learned that God makes a difference. He cried out, “From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I” (Psalm 61:2, KJV).

One of the reasons that God allows catch-22 situations is so we learn that He can roll back the waters of the Red Sea, and stop the mouths of lions, and turn marriages around.

Joseph Heller–not God–is the one who invented that phrase–catch-22! The good news is there is nothing too hard for God. Have you learned this?

Resource reading: 2 Chronicles 20:1-30. (Quote source here.)

In another article using that same passage found in 2 Chronicles 20 that was published on April 2, 2020, titled, Praying in Impossible Situations,” by Greg Laurie, author and senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship, he writes:

Do you feel like you’re in an impossible situation right now? Maybe the “what if” has become reality for you, and there’s no apparent way out. Maybe a national crisis has quickly become a personal crisis.

I recently read that nearly half of the country believes the deadly coronavirus is a wake-up call from God. Perhaps you’ve had this kind of “wake-up call” in your own life, and you’re looking for answers.

If so, it’s crucial to recognize the power of God that can take place through urgent, storm-the-gates-of-Heaven type prayer.

We find an example of this in 2 Chronicles 20, where the bottom had suddenly dropped out for Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah. He received the devastating report that a vast army was coming against them.

But Jehoshaphat responded with three things that we can also do when crisis comes our way.

1. He Prayed with His Family

Where did Jehoshaphat begin? He prayed with his whole family. He said, “O our God, will You not judge them? For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You” (verse 12). Then we read, “Now all Judah, with their little ones, their wives, and their children, stood before the Lord” (verse 13).

That is such a powerful scene. Here was a multitude of vulnerable people with an invading army coming against them, and King Jehoshaphat was saying, “Lord, we are depending upon You. We don’t know what to do, but our eyes are on You.”

Humanly speaking, it is a picture of weakness. King Jehoshaphat was saying, in effect, “Lord, here we are. We have the kids. We have an army coming toward us. What am I going to do here? Our eyes are on You.”

Many times we think of prayer as a last resort. After we have exhausted every other possibility, all we can do is pray. But that is what we should have done in the first place. It has been said that if you are swept off your feet, it is time to get on your knees.

Jehoshaphat shows us the importance of united, family prayer.

God answers the prayers of His people and can turn around radical, hopeless situations when His people go to Him in prayer.

2. He Recognized that the Battle Was the Lord’s

Jehoshaphat, King of Judah, faced a dilemma. His enemies greatly outnumbered him. To make matters worse, his enemies had joined forces with the other enemies of Israel and were coming to destroy him.

It was hopeless. There was no way that he could meet this army with what he had. He was going to be destroyed. What did Jehoshaphat do?

The Bible says that he “set himself to seek the Lord.”

Take another look at the content of his prayer: “O our God, will You not judge them? For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You” (2 Chronicles 20:12 NKJV).

The Lord answered Jehoshaphat, “Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s. . . . Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you” (2 Chronicles 20:15–17 NKJV).

He prayed, looking for an answer. And God answered Jehoshaphat’s prayer, intervened, and rescued them.

Jehoshaphat recognized that this crisis was out of his control. God turned an impossible situation around.

3. He Led with Worship

So Jehoshaphat and his army went out to meet their enemies, but they put the worship team out front.

We read that Jehoshaphat “appointed those who should sing to the Lord, and who should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army and were saying: ‘Praise the Lord, For His mercy endures forever’” (2 Chronicles 20:21).

The Bible says that when they began to sing and praise the Lord, the enemy started fighting among themselves and destroyed each other.

Something supernatural takes place when people worship, more than we may ever realize. Even the enemy’s power can be broken through worship.

When we don’t know what to do, we can always pray and worship.

Maybe you are facing what seems like an impossible situation right now. You may not be able to see a way out. But God can. Call on Him. Then stand still and see what He will do.

Desperate Times Call for Desperate Faith

Here is a picture of a vulnerable people who don’t know what to do, who are completely dependent upon God. It is a great picture of what to do in time of need.

God answered the prayer of the king and dramatically altered his circumstances by destroying his enemies. Remember, you can turn to God in prayer in desperate circumstances, and He will hear your cry. (Quote source here.)

On April 15, 2019, I published a blog post on my second blog, Reflections,” that is also titled, All Things Are Possible (click here to go to that post). That post goes into great detail regarding what is meant by all things.” I’ll end this post with same reminder from that post that includes a verse found in Romans 8:28 which states: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” “All things” include our Catch-22 and impossible situations that seems to have no solution from a human perspective.

Therefore, let us never forget in the midst of our difficult circumstances no matter how impossible they may seem to be, to pray, worship, and give thanks to God, and remember that…

With God . . .

All Things . . .

Are Possible . . . .

YouTube Video: “The God of the Impossible” by Lincoln Brewster:

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Choosing Joy

I have always liked the word “joy.” I often buy Christmas cards that have “joy” written somewhere on the cover or inside in the verse, and I have two decorator pillows that have “joy” embroidered on them. I even have a newly acquired coffee cup that has “joy” written across the front of it. However, with all of those external reminders about “joy,” I realized that lately I need to get more of it inside of me instead of just seeing it on all of those external reminders.

I have always thought that joy is different from happiness. Happiness seems to be something fleeting or momentary, and it doesn’t last long; whereas joy is an internal feeling that is not dependent on circumstances. As I was looking online to see what the differences were between the two words, I found an article that asks a question in it’s title–Is there a difference between joy and happiness?”–and the answer is found on GotQuestions.org:

There is no explicit difference between happiness and joy. Both involve the emotions, both are pleasurable feelings, and both are mentioned in Scripture in passages that equate the two.

A dictionary definition of “happiness” is “a state of well-being; a pleasurable or satisfying experience.” A definition of the word “rejoice,” related to the word “joy,” is “to feel great delight; to be glad.” Depending on the translation, the Bible uses the words “happy” and “happiness” words about 30 times, while “joy” and “rejoice” appear over 300 times.

Jeremiah 31:13 says, “I will turn their mourning into gladness; / I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.” Here, in the parallelism of Hebrew poetry, the words “gladness” and “joy” are used synonymously. And Proverbs 23:25 says, “Let your father and your mother be glad, / And let her rejoice who gave birth to you.” Being glad is the same thing as rejoicing in this verse. Unless we are willing to say that gladness and happiness are completely different things, then we must say that joy and happiness are linked.

It is common today to hear believers speak of a difference between joy and happiness. The teaching usually makes the following points: 1) Happiness is a feeling, but joy is not. 2) Happiness is fleeting, but joy is everlasting. 3) Happiness depends on circumstances or other people, but joy is a gift from God. 4) Happiness is worldly, but joy is divine. But there is no such distinction made in Scripture, and forcing a distinction between two words that are so obviously close in meaning is unnecessary.

If a person is joyful, then he or she is happy. There’s no such thing as glum joy. We cannot drain joy of emotion and still call it “joy.” When God’s Spirit gives us joy, then we are happy people. Christians should be joyful; happiness should characterize our everyday lives.

James 1:2 says, “Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials.” Christians can be happy, even in the midst of difficulties, because we know “the testing of our faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (verses 3–4). As we persevere through trials, with God’s help, our faith strengthens and matures. By God’s grace we can be happy despite our circumstances.

Joy is often presented as “true” contentment based on faith. Happiness, in contrast, is often thought of as “false” or “superficial” emotion dependent on circumstances. But this is a false dichotomy. There is nothing in the Bible that suggests we divorce joy from happiness. The two are equal.

Of course, there are different types of joy and happiness. There is a joy that comes from the world, such as “the fleeting pleasures of sin” spoken of in Hebrews 11:25. There is a joy that is part of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). There is a temporary happiness and an eternal happiness, but we can call both “happiness.” We don’t need to split hairs between the meaning of “joy” and “happiness.” We just need to decide where our joy comes from. Are we happy in the Lord, or are we content with the happiness the world affords?

Solomon tried the world’s brand of happiness and found it to be lacking: “I said to myself, ‘Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good.’ But that also proved to be meaningless. ‘Laughter,’ I said, ‘is madness. And what does pleasure accomplish?’” (Ecclesiastes 2:1–2). The joy of the world is hollow, but the joy of the Lord is rich and abundant. The world’s happiness will fade with time, but God’s people will be happy forever.

“Those the LORD has rescued will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away” (Isaiah 35:10). (Quote source here.)

Given that explanation, joy and happiness are equal in their meanings, but both differentiate between the happiness and joy found in worldly pursuits, and the happiness and joy found in the Lord.

However, I found another article published on August 13, 2020, that differentiates between joy and happiness. In this article titled, What is the Difference Between Joy and Happiness?” by Glory Dy, content editor and contributing writer on Christianity.com, she states:

Joy and happiness are two different emotions that are somewhat similar but are actually very different. Joy is attributed to something very consistent and internal, while happiness tends to be triggered externally. (Quote source here.)

She lists five key differences between happiness and joy, with descriptions given for each of these differences in her article at this link:

  1. Happiness is External; Joy is Internal
  2. Happiness is Bliss; Joy is Selfless
  3. Happiness is Pleasure; Joy is a Sacrifice
  4. Happiness is Achievable on Earth; Joy is a More Spiritual Connection with God
  5. Happiness is Not Necessarily Good: Joy is Purely Good

And she ends her article with this summary:

Many people tend to have difficulty differentiating happiness from joy. However, it is actually very simple. Happiness is merely external, fleeting, can sometimes only be for pleasure, is only achievable on earth, and can sometimes not necessarily be good.

Joy, on the other hand, is internal, selfless, sacrificial, a spiritual connection with God, and is purely good. We need joy in our lives just as we need the Father and Jesus in our lives. That is why, to be able to attain joy, we must receive Christ, follow Him and His teachings. (Quote source here.)

Joy, of course, is also listed as part of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

GotQuestions.org explains what the fruit of the Holy Spirit is as follows:

Galatians 5:22-23 tells us, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” The fruit of the Holy Spirit is the result of the Holy Spirit’s presence in the life of a Christian. The Bible makes it clear that everyone receives the Holy Spirit the moment he or she believes in Jesus Christ (Romans 8:91 Corinthians 12:13Ephesians 1:13-14). One of the primary purposes of the Holy Spirit coming into a Christian’s life is to change that life. It is the Holy Spirit’s job to conform us to the image of Christ, making us more like Him.

The fruit of the Holy Spirit is in direct contrast with the acts of the sinful nature in Galatians 5:19-21, “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” This passage describes all people, to varying degrees, when they do not know Christ and therefore are not under the influence of the Holy Spirit. Our sinful flesh produces certain types of fruit that reflect our nature, and the Holy Spirit produces types of fruit that reflect His nature.

The Christian life is a battle of the sinful flesh against the new nature given by Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). As fallen human beings, we are still trapped in a body that desires sinful things (Romans 7:14-25). As Christians, we have the Holy Spirit producing His fruit in us and we have the Holy Spirit’s power available to conquer the acts of the sinful nature (2 Corinthians 5:17Philippians 4:13). A Christian will never be completely victorious in always demonstrating the fruits of the Holy Spirit. It is one of the main purposes of the Christian life, though, to progressively allow the Holy Spirit to produce more and more of His fruit in our lives—and to allow the Holy Spirit to conquer the opposing sinful desires. The fruit of the Spirit is what God desires our lives to exhibit and, with the Holy Spirit’s help, it is possible! (Quote source here.)

As I mentioned at the beginning of this blog post, I need to cultivate more joy internally in my life and take my focus off of all the “external” stuff that is going on all around us in the world today. With that in mind, I found an article published on January 7, 2020, titled, 10 Ways to Get Your Joy Back,” by John Lindell, Lead Pastor at James River Church, and author of “New Normal: Experiencing God’s Best for Your Life,” published in April 2021. I’ll include a list of his “10 ways to get your joy back” below with more explanations on each one available at this link:

1. Joy is something God can restore

PSALM 51:12, Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. (ESV)

2. Joy is found in God’s presence

PSALM 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. (ESV)

3. Joy is the result of righteousness

PSALM 97:11, Light shines on the godly, and joy on those whose hearts are right. (NLT)
ECCLESIASTES 2:26, God gives wisdom, knowledge, and joy to those who please him. (NLT)

4. Joy is found in delighting in God’s Word

PSALM 119:111, Your statutes are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart. (NIV) I like the way The Message reads, “I inherited your book on living…”

5. Joy is the result of speaking with wisdom

PROVERBS 15:23, To make an apt answer is a joy to a man, and a word in season, how good it is! (ESV)

6. Joy is produced by righteous hope

PROVERBS 10:28, The hope of the righteous brings joy… (ESV)

7. Joy is found in answered prayer

JOHN 16:24, Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. (ESV)

8. Joy is produced by the Holy Spirit

GALATIANS 5:22, But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy… (ESV)
GALATIANS 5:25, Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. (NIV)

9. Joy fills our heart as we remember the good things God has done through the people He has placed in our lives

PHILIPPIANS 1:3-5, I thank my God for you every time I think of you; and every time I pray for you all, I pray with joy because of the way in which you have helped me in the work of the gospel from the very first day until now. (GNT)

10. Joy comes when we trust the Lord

PSALM 40:4, Oh, the joys of those who trust the Lord… (NLT) (Quote source here.)

I do believe I’m starting to feel more joyful! I’ll end this post with the words found in Nehemiah 8:10b: Do not sorrow…

For the joy . . .

Of the LORD . . .

Is your strength . . . .

YouTube Video: “The Joy Of The Lord” by Twila Paris:

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Speak Life

Personal insults–they infect conversations whether in person or on social media or in group settings. They occur in families, and among friends, and even from strangers. And often they come out of the blue when we are least expecting them. And they are meant to hurt, intimidate, and humiliate whoever is the target of them, especially when the insult hits below the belt.”

So how do we respond when a personal insult is targeted at us? And what is our initial response? Shock, anger, humiliation? How about rage, or striking back?

That’s the response they are looking for, waiting for, hoping for. So don’t give it to them. That is the best response.

As I was researching this topic online, I came across an article titled, Ad Hominem: When People Use Personal Attacks in Arguments,” (author’s name not mentioned), that states the following:

An ad hominem argument is a personal attack against the source of an argument, rather than against the argument itself. Essentially, this means that ad hominem arguments are used to attack opposing views indirectly, by attacking the individuals or groups that support these views.

Ad hominem arguments can take many forms, from basic name-calling to more complex rhetoric. For example, an ad hominem argument can involve simply insulting a person instead of properly replying to a point that they raised, or it can involve questioning their motives in response to their criticism of the current state of things.

Ad hominem arguments are common in both formal and informal discussions on various topics, so it’s important to understand them. As such, in the following article you will learn more about ad hominem arguments, see what types of them exist, and understand what you can do to respond to them properly….

A basic example of an ad hominem argument is a person telling someone “you’re stupid, so I don’t care what you have to say”, in response to hearing them present a well-thought position. This is the simplest type of fallacious ad hominem argument, which is nothing more than an abusive personal attack, and which has little to do with the topic being discussed….

There are various types of ad hominem arguments, each of which involves a different way of attacking the source of an opposing argument. These include, most notably, “poisoning the well,” “the credentials fallacy,” “the appeal to motive,” “the appeal to hypocrisy,” “tone policing,” “the traitorous critic fallacy,” “the association fallacy,” and “the abusive fallacy.” (Quote source here. Each of those types are discussed at length in the article.)

In a post published on May 13, 2020, titled, How to Respond to Insults,” by Dianna Miller, on her blog, dressedinfaith.com, she writes:

We’ve all been in this situation. Someone gets very angry with you and insults you for no understandable reason. Sometimes, it may be the result of an unintentional mistake you made. Other times, you may just be the unlucky person with bad timing. Either way, the insult is completely unjustified.

I know my first instinct is to say something insulting back, but it has to be just right. It has to be a perfect zinger that expresses exactly what I’m feeling and hurt the other person as deeply as they hurt me. You know, it has to be the perfect comeback line.

Fortunately for me, I am not one of those people who is quick on her feet when trying to immediately get back at someone. Yet, that doesn’t mean I haven’t come up with something before to hurl at the other person. How do I usually feel after I do this? I don’t feel so great about it!

As Christians, we are taught not to pay back insult with insult. Instead, we are taught to pray for them and ask God to bless them. It is not easy at times as emotions can certainly get the better of us. Yet, I know my response not only plays a role in how the other person will feel but also how I will feel.

Many times, someone’s behavior towards us may have nothing to do with us personally, especially when from a stranger. Stopping to pray for them gives me perspective. They may be having the worst day of their life and need prayer. I don’t need to add to their heartache even if I’m feeling offended.

The same can be said if I know the person well. An angry response certainly doesn’t solve anything or make the situation better. In fact, it just stirs up more anger for both parties. While a kind response may not immediately resolve the situation, prayer for the person who offended me also calms my spirit. I can place my stress and anxiety about the situation in God’s hands. I know He will work in both our lives to meet both our needs.

We inherit a blessing when we treat others with respect and when we shine as an example of a life changed by Christ.

Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. —1 Peter 3:9 (Quote source here.)

And in answer to the question, What did Jesus mean when he instructed us to turn the other cheek?” on GotQuestions.org, the following answer is provided:

In Matthew 5:38–39, Jesus says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.” The concept of “turning the other cheek” is a difficult one for us to grasp. Allowing a second slap after being slapped once does not come naturally.

In the section of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in which He commands us to turn the other cheek, He addresses the need for true transformation, versus mere rule-keeping. It’s not enough to obey the letter of the law; we must conform to the spirit of the law as well.

Much of the material surrounding Jesus’ command to turn the other cheek complements the nature of His coming, which was characterized by mercy, sacrificial love, and longsuffering toward sinners. At the same time, Jesus affirms the “last is first” principle upon which the kingdom of God is based. For instance, He tells us to go the extra mile for someone who abuses us (Matthew 5:41) and to love and pray for our enemies instead of holding enmity against them (verse 44). In summary, Jesus is saying we need to be pure inside and out and as accommodating as possible for the sake of a lost world.

A word about the “slap” that Jesus says we should endure. Jesus here speaks of personal slights of any kind. The slap (or the “smiting,” as the KJV has it) does not have to involve literal, physical violence. Even in our day, a “slap in the face” is a metaphor for an unexpected insult or offense. Did someone insult you? Let him, Jesus says. Are you shocked and offended? Don’t be. And don’t return insult for insult. Turn the other cheek.

Matthew Henry’s comment on this verse is helpful: “Suffer any injury that can be borne, for the sake of peace, committing your concerns to the Lord’s keeping. And the sum of all is, that Christians must avoid disputing and striving. If any say, flesh and blood cannot pass by such an affront, let them remember, that flesh and blood shall not inherit the kingdom of God; and those who act upon right principles will have most peace and comfort” (Concise Commentary, entry for Matthew 5:38).

Turning the other cheek does not imply pacifism, nor does it mean we place ourselves or others in danger. Jesus’ command to turn the other cheek is simply a command to forgo retaliation for personal offenses. He was not setting government foreign policy, and He was not throwing out the judicial system. Crimes can still be prosecuted, and wars can still be waged, but the follower of Christ need not defend his personal “rights” or avenge his honor.

There was a time in history when a man would feel compelled to protect his honor against one who slandered him or otherwise besmirched his character. The offended party would challenge the offender to a duel. Swords, firearms, or other weapons were chosen, and the two enemies would face off. In most cases, senseless bloodshed ensued. Samuel Johnson wrote in favor of the practice of dueling: “A man may shoot the man who invades his character, as he may shoot him who attempts to break into his house.” The problem is that “invasions of character” are exactly what Jesus told us to tolerate in Matthew 5:38. Turning the other cheek would have been a better option than dueling, and it would have saved lives.

Retaliation is what most people expect and how worldly people act. Turning the other cheek requires help from on high. Responding to hatred with love and ignoring personal slights display the supernatural power of the indwelling Holy Spirit and may afford the chance to share the gospel.

Jesus was, of course, the perfect example of turning the other cheek because He was silent before His accusers and did not call down revenge from heaven on those who crucified Him. Instead, He prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). (Quote source here.)

I’ll end this post with the words from 1 Peter 3:9Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called…

So that you . . .

May inherit . . .

A blessing. . . .

YouTube Video: “Speak Life” by TobyMac:

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A Sign of Our Times

An article published on September 13, 2021, titled, Study Reveals Stunning Statistics About Profession Christians,” by the Charisma News Staff at CharismaNews.org, reveals some interesting stats from a study published by the Cultural Research Center of Arizona Christian University. The  following statement is from the article:

George Barna, the lead researcher at the Cultural Research Center, says that the term Christian has become “somewhat generic” rather than a name that reflects a deep commitment to passionately pursuing and being like Jesus Christ.

“Too often, it seems, people who are simply religious, or regular churchgoers, or perhaps people who want a certain reputation or image embrace the label ‘Christian,’ regardless of their spiritual life and intentions,” Barna says. (Quote source here.)

Some of the statistics on errant perspectives mentioned in the article include:

  • 176 million American adults identify as Christian, but only 15 million, or 6%, actually hold a biblical worldview.
  • 58% of people who identify as Christians believe that the Holy Spirit is not a real living being but merely a symbol of God’s power, presence or purity.
  • 7 in 10 adults (69%) have adopted the label “Christian” to identify their faith, this large group entertains a wide range of perspectives that are not in harmony with biblical teachings.
  • 58% believe that if a person is good enough or does good things, they can earn their way into heaven.
  • 72% argue that people are basically good.
  • 71% consider feelings, experience or the input of friends and family as their most trusted sources of moral guidance.
  • 66% say that having faith matters more than which faith you pursue.
  • 64% say that all religious faiths are of equal value.
  • 58% believe that if a person is good enough, or does enough good things, they can earn their way into heaven.
  • 57% believe in karma.
  • 52% claim that determining moral truth is up to each individual; there are no moral absolutes that apply to everyone, all the time. (Quote source here.)

The article concludes with the following paragraph:

Christians are also likely to reject a number of biblical teachings and principles. For example, slightly less than half (46%) believe that the marriage of one man to one woman is God’s plan for humanity, across all cultures; just 40% believe that when they die they will go to heaven, but only because they have confessed their sins and accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior; only one-third (34%) believe that people are born into sin and can only be saved of the consequences by Jesus Christ; just one-third (32%) believe premarital sex is morally unacceptable; and about 1 out of every 4 (28%) believe that the best indicator of a successful life is consistent obedience to God. (Quote source here.)

The term “Christian” today has too often become a hodgepodge of things that are not even remotely related to what it means to be a follower or disciple of Jesus Christ. The term “Christian” is first mentioned in the Book of Acts in the New Testament (see Acts 11:19–26). GotQuestions.org provides the following information as to what it means to be a true Christian:

According to Acts 11:26, the followers of Jesus were first called Christians at Antioch. Why were they called Christians? Because they were “followers of Christ.” They had committed their lives to “walk as Jesus did” (1 John 2:6).

Other Scriptures explain how a person comes to faith in Jesus Christ and begins this relationship. For example, Ephesians 2:8-9 reveals that a person becomes a Christian by faith, not by following a list of rules or good works: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” A true Christian has faith in Jesus as the Savior.

Romans 10:9-10 says, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” A true Christian is unashamed to say Jesus is Lord and believes Jesus was resurrected from the dead.

First Corinthians 15:3 says this message of the resurrected Jesus is of “first importance.” Without Jesus’ resurrection our faith is “futile,” and we are “still in [our] sins” (v. 7). A true Christian lives by faith in the resurrected Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:13-14).

Paul writes, “If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ…. The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children” (Romans 8:916). A true Christian has God’s Holy Spirit living within.

The evidence of a true Christian is displayed in both faith and action. “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17). James says, “I will show you my faith by my works” (James 2:18). Jesus put it this way: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). A true Christian will show his faith by how he lives.

Despite the wide variety of beliefs that fall under the general “Christian” label today, the Bible defines a true Christian as one who has personally received Jesus Christ as Savior, who trusts in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ alone for forgiveness of sins, who has the Holy Spirit residing within, and whose life evinces consistent with faith in Jesus. (Quote source here.)

It is not the world that shapes Christianity. It is Christianity that shapes our personal world if we allow it to shapes us. We cannot fit it into our own mold or liking or lifestyle; we must be willing to fit into its mold. We cannot change the tenets of the Christian faith to be what we deem is acceptable to us; we must be shaped by the tenets of genuine faith in Jesus Christ. And we cannot make Jesus Christ into an image that we want Him to be; we must be conformed to the likeness of His image, and not our own. As Romans 8:29 states:

For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.

In an article published on April 2, 2016, titled Making Jesus in Our Own Image,” by Dr. Sinclair Ferguson, Chancellor’s Professor of Systematic Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary, he states:

Many years ago now there was a scholarly movement that became known as “The Quest for the Historical Jesus.” Scholars said “Let’s try to get behind the Gospels to find out who Jesus really was, and what he was really like.” So they took bits and pieces of the Gospel testimony and made a picture of Christ. One of the shrewdest things that was said about this movement was that these scholars were like people looking down a well to find Jesus, but didn’t realize that the “Jesus” they saw was really just a reflection of themselves from the water at the bottom of the well!

Sometimes I feel this is actually what has happened in popular evangelicalism. Our “Jesus” is actually a reflection of ourselves. This is the constant danger when we don’t simply open the Scriptures and listen to their testimony about Jesus: we make a Jesus in our own image, usually domesticated. Sadly, much that dominates the Christian media seems to fall foul here. Any Jesus who isn’t both Savior and Lord, Sacrificial Lamb of God and Reigning King, cannot be the Jesus of the Gospels. And any Jesus who does not call us to radical, sacrificial, and yes, painful, discipleship, cannot be the real Jesus…. (Quote source here.)

Regarding the results of the survey posted above, if we really don’t believe some or many of the basic biblical essentials of the Christian faith that make it Christian in the first place, then why do we call ourselves Christians? What purpose or whose agenda are we really following? And if we are basically following what we want in life and only give God a nod on Sunday morning, yet we call ourselves Christians, isn’t that hypocrisy?

One of the questions asked on GotQuestions.org is Why are all Christians Hypocrites?” and their answer is worth considering:

Perhaps no accusation is more provocative than that of “hypocrite.” Unfortunately, some feel justified in their view that all Christians are hypocrites. The term “hypocrite” enjoys a rich heritage in the English language. The term comes to us via the Latin hypocrisies meaning “play-acting, pretense.” Further back, the word occurs in both classical and New Testament Greek and has the very same idea—to play a part, pretend.

This is the way the Lord Jesus employed the term. For example, when Christ taught the significance of prayer, fasting, and alms-giving for kingdom people, He discouraged us from following the examples of those who are hypocrites (Matthew 6:2516). By making long public prayers, employing extreme measures to ensure others noticed their fasts, and parading their gifts to the Temple and the poor, they revealed only an outward attachment to the Lord. While the Pharisees performed well their dramatic role as public examples of religious virtue, they failed miserably in the inner world of the heart where true virtue resides (Matthew 23:13-33Mark 7:20-23).

Jesus never called His disciples hypocrites. That name was given only to misguided religious zealots. Rather, He called His own “followers,” “babes,” “sheep,” and His “church.” In addition, there is a warning in the New Testament about the sin of hypocrisy (1 Peter 2:1), which Peter calls “insincerity.” Also, two blatant examples of hypocrisy are recorded in the church. In Acts 5:1-10, two disciples are exposed for pretending to be more generous than they were. The consequence was severe. And, of all people, Peter is charged with leading a group of hypocrites in their treatment of Gentile believers (Galatians 2:13).

From the New Testament teaching, then, we may draw at least two conclusions. First, hypocrites do exist among professing Christians. They were present in the beginning, and, according to Jesus’ parable of the tares and wheat, they will certainly exist until the end of the age (Matthew 13:18-30). In addition, if even an apostle may be guilty of hypocrisy, there is no reason to believe “ordinary” Christians will be free from it. We must always be on our guard that we do not fall into the very same temptations (1 Corinthians 10:12).

Of course, not everyone who claims to be a Christian is truly a Christian. Perhaps all or most of the famous hypocrites among Christians were in fact pretenders and deceivers. To this day, prominent Christian leaders have fallen into terrible sins. Financial and sexual scandals sometimes seem to plague the Christian community. However, instead of taking the actions of a few and using them to denigrate the whole community of Christians, we need to ask whether all those who claim to be Christians really are. Numerous biblical passages confirm that those who truly belong to Christ will exhibit the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). Jesus’ parable of the seed and the soils in Matthew 13 makes it clear that not all professions of faith in Him are genuine. Sadly, many who profess to belong to Him will be stunned one day to hear Him say to them, “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!” (Matthew 7:23).

Second, while it should not surprise us that people who pretend to be more holy than they are claim to be Christians, we cannot conclude that the church is made up almost entirely of hypocrites. One surely may concede that all of us who name the name of Jesus Christ remain sinners even after our sin is forgiven. That is, even though we are saved from sins’ eternal penalty (Romans 5:16:23), we are yet to be saved and delivered from the presence of sin in our lives (1 John 1:8-9), including the sin of hypocrisy. Through our living faith in the Lord Jesus, we continually overcome sin’s power until we are finally delivered (1 John 5:4-5).

All Christians fail to perfectly live up to the standard the Bible teaches. No Christian has ever been perfectly Christ-like. However, there are many Christians who are genuinely seeking to live the Christian life and are relying more and more on the Holy Spirit to convict, change, and empower them. There have been multitudes of Christians who have lived their lives free from scandal. No Christian is perfect, but making a mistake and failing to reach perfection in this life is not the same thing as being a hypocrite. (Quote source here.)

As I read the article with the survey mentioned at the beginning of this post, I was reminded of something Paul told Timothy, his protege, near the end of Paul’s life that is found in 2 Timothy 4:3-5. The following are those verses taken from The Message Bible:

You’re going to find that there will be times when people will have no stomach for solid teaching, but will fill up on spiritual junk food—catchy opinions that tickle their fancy. They’ll turn their backs on truth and chase mirages. But you—keep your eye on what you’re doing; accept the hard times along with the good; keep the Message alive; do a thorough job as God’s servant.

These are the days in which we are living. The truth is stretched to fit our feelings and emotions, and thus it is perverted. Hebrews 13:8 states, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” He doesn’t change with our desires or whims or anything else we can come up with. So let that ring loud and clear…

Jesus Christ is the same . . .

Yesterday, today . . .

And forever . . . .

YouTube Video: “Revelation Song” sung by Phillips, Craig & Dean:

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