Don’t Be Afraid

Our dryer emits a loud buzz when it is finished drying our clothes and this scares our toddler.  Every time he hears it he runs to his Daddy or me, terrified.  We hold him for a moment and then gently explain to him, “The dryer is just saying ‘I’m done.  I’m done drying your clothes'”  We tell him “Don’t be afraid.  The dryer will not hurt you.”

I thought of Zechariah and how terrified when he was when he saw the angel Gabriel.  Gabriel calmed his fears with these words, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard” (Luke 1:13).  The angel said the same thing to Mary who was troubled.  “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God” (verse 30).

The best example of calming fears was when the disciples saw Jesus walking on the water and they were frightened.  They thought they were seeing a ghost.  Matthew tells us that immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid” (Matthew 14:27).  Jesus did not wait until He got into the boat to calm their fears.  He did so immediately.  When our toddler runs to us in fear we stop whatever we are doing and attend to him.  Our response to his fear is immediate just as the Lord’s is to ours.

When we are afraid or troubled, the Lord is right there to calm us and assure us that we have nothing to fear because He is always just a prayer away.

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God’s Helper

Our son’s favorite story is Samuel Listens to God.  It is one of the stories in the Bible Study Guide for Beginners.  The other day he was reading it after a long time had passed since I read it to him.  He remembered it very well, especially the part where God was calling Samuel.

The paragraph reads like this:  “Sam-u-el!” (Call in a dramatic voice, then whisper.)  Sh!  Who is calling? (Pause)  “Samuel!” (Loudly again) It must be Eli.  Little Samuel runs to Eli.  “Here I am!” he says.  “You called me.”  “No,” Priest Eli replies.  (Shake head.)  “I did not call.  Run back to bed.” (Repeat this page twice, making Eli sound more emphatic each time.)

When our toddler reads it, he says “Move on back to bed” I guess he is mixing this story with the driver on the bus who says “Move on back”.  This morning I read the story to him and he was laughing in delight as I pretended to be God calling Samuel.

It is a wonderful story for toddlers.  It teaches about Samuel, the little boy who lived at God’s tent and was helping the priest Eli.  It showed how God calls and how we should answer.  The third time Samuel went to Eli thinking that he had called him, Eli said to him, “God is calling you.  Next time say, ‘Speak Lord.  Your helper is listening.'”  When God called Samuel again, Samuel did what Eli told him to do and God whispered secrets to him.

Daddy asked our son if he wanted to be like Samuel, God’s little helper and he said yes.  Daddy told him to pray to God and ask Him to be like Samuel.  Let us all find a way to be God’s helpers too.

The Lexus Temptation

Yesterday, we got confirmation that our car loan was “paid in full”.  Hallelujah!   No more car payments!

My soul-mate always wanted to buy a Lexus SUV but the plan was that this would be a future purchase.  However, he decided to check out the Lexus website just to browse.  Of course, he saw a SUV he liked and called the office.

We set up an appointment to test drive a SUV.

The Lexus SUV is the ultimate vehicle!  It lives up to its reputation as a car of excellence.  It was a lot fun to drive. The interior was luxurious and everything about the vehicle was tempting!  Compared to his BMW, my soulmate believes that the Lexus is a better car.  Our son even gave his stamp of approval by declaring, “I like it!”

After the test drive, the salesman wanted us to complete the purchase right away.  He was very persuasive and determined.  However, my soulmate decided to discuss it with me and make a decision the following day.

On our way home, we carefully analyzed the situation.  By the time we got home, we had decided not to purchase the SUV at this time.

My soulmate, after careful reflection, said something very insightful. He said there is a lesson to be learned from this situation. The salesman’s persuasiveness was almost a “type of temptation”.  He used the attributes of the SUV to appeal to our desires. We agreed the SUV was a great vehicle to own and drive. It was plush, high-status, and affluent but it was not a good purchase for our family at this time. Purchasing this SUV would put us back in debt.

The lesson for us was:  the Devil will tempt you to do things but he cannot force you . He can persuade you that something is good for you but it may be a lie. He uses things that are pleasing to our eyes or appeal to our desires to tempt us.

Conversely, Jesus can never tempt you.  He is the Good Shepherd who came so that His sheep”might have life, and that they might have [it] more abundantly” (John 10:10).  He would never lead you astray.  He will only lead you into things that are good for you.  We can attest to that because He shepherded us out of debt!

If you are tempted, run to Jesus and He will give you strength to resist your temptations.

Knocking

Our toddler has a habit of throwing open our bedroom door and entering without knocking.  We have been trying to teach him that when the door is closed, to knock first.  So far, not so good.  Oh, well.

I thought of when Jesus said, ““So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” (Luke 11:9, 10).   Prayer is likened to knocking on a door.  We don’t barge into the room.  We knock first and the door is opened.  We make our requests known to God.  We don’t demand.  Jesus gave the natural progression of prayer–ask, seek, find and knock.  Prayer is all about asking.

Jesus said, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me” (Revelation 3:20).  Jesus doesn’t just walk in unannounced.  He knocks and it’s up to us to say, “Come in.” 

We hope to teach our son that he must knock first and wait for us to say, “Come in.”

Anger and Sin

The other day I read Psalm 4 where David gave these words of advice, “Be angry, and do not sin” (verse 4).  This made me think of two people who had every right to be angry.  One sinned but the other did not even though he thought about it.

Moses got angry with the Israelites because of their constant complaining and grumbling and contending with him.  When God told him to speak to the rock so that water would gush out for the people to drink, Moses disobeyed.  Instead, he struck the rock ans as result of his disobedience, he was prevented from entering the Promised Land.  God said to him and Aaron, “Because you did not believe Me, to hallow Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them” (Numbers 20:12).

Moses’ anger led to the sin of disobedience and the result was devastating for him.  He begged God to change his mind (Deuteronomy 3:23-26) but to no avail.

Before my soulmate and I met he was in a two year relationship which he ended.  He moved out and got a place of his own.  Everything was going well until one morning in the wee hours, someone vandalized his car.  He suspected that it was his ex.  Understandably he was angry–so much so that he wanted to get back at her.  He was tempted to do the same thing to her especially during those times when he had to walk home from the bus-stop or grocery store in freezing weather while she drove right by him.  However, the Holy Spirit talked him out doing something he would regret.

And it all worked out.  He and I met on the bus over four years ago and now we are blessed with a son and a car.  If he had allowed his anger to get the better of him things would have turned out very differently.  He would have prevented God from answering his prayer for a family.

Unchecked anger can cause people to do terrible things.  Cain’s anger and jealousy led him to murder his brother (Genesis 4:1-8).  In the Garden of Gethsemane Peter’s anger led him to hurt someone (John 18:10).  Paul gave the same advice David did in handling anger.  “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil (Ephesians 4:26, 27).  Nothing is wrong with being angry as long as we don’t let it get the better of us.

Who Made Jesus?

Last Saturday (Sabbath) morning when we were singing the “Who made…Our Father God” song , our toddler asked “Who Made Jesus?” I told him that no one made Jesus.

I thought to myself “what a good question.”  There are some denominations who do not believe that Jesus is God the Son.  They believe that He was created by the Father.  Some even believe that He is an angel.

Do we go with what others believe or what the Bible says?  To answer the question “Who made Jesus” we go to the Bible.  Jesus Himself answers this question.  “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM” (John 8:58).  When He said this the Jews picked up stones to throw at Him.  Why?  He called Himself “I AM.”  This is the name by which the Voice from the burning bush identified Himself to Moses. 

In calling Himself “I AM” Jesus was using the divine title which belonged to Yahweh only (Exodus 3:13, 14).  His Jewish audience knew this and that is why they were enraged and wanted to stone Him.  “The phrase harbours within itself the most authentic, the most audacious, and the most profound affirmation by Jesus of who He was” (Stauffer).  Calling Himself “I AM” was an act of blasphemy in their eyes.

In another incident, the Jews accused Jesus of blasphemy.  What did He do?  He said, “I and My Father are one.”  The people picked up stones to throw at Him “for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God” (John 10:33).  Note that  they said that Jesus made Himself God.  Clearly they saw what those who deny Jesus’ divinity fail to see.  Jesus claimed to be God.

Another point I want to make is if Jesus were not God, why didn’t He rebuke Thomas when he called Him, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28).  Why didn’t He say, “Why do you call Me God?  There is One, that is, God”?  Why did He allow His disciples to worship Him (Matthew 28:17).  Why didn’t He react the same way that Peter did when Cornelius fell down at his feet and worshipped him in Acts 10:26? 

The greatest testimony of Jesus divinity comes from the Father Himself.  Your throne, O God, isforever and ever; Ascepter of righteousness isthe scepter of Your kingdom.   You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; Therefore God, Your God,has anointed You With the oil of gladness more than Your companions” (Hebrews 1:8, 9).  ”

Begotten speaks of the equality of substance and essential nature between the Father and Son; it means that the Father and the Son share the same being” (Bible Commentary). 

No one made Jesus.  He is not a created being.  He was in the beginning.  As John puts it, “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).  Paul backed up what John wrote, “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” (Colossians 1:16).  God created all things through Jesus Christ (Ephesians 3:9).

In Revelation 1: Jesus called Himself the Beginning and the End and Almighty.  Almighty is the title used for God to denote His sovereignty.  It means ruler of all. 

Jesus was God in the flesh.  He took on humanity.  This is why He was called Immanuel which means God with us (Matthew 1:23).  Paul describes what Jesus did.  For he, who had always been God by nature, did not cling to his prerogatives as God’s equal, but stripped himself of all privilege by consenting to be a slave by nature and being born as mortal man. And, having become man, he humbled himself by living a life of utter obedience, even to the extent of dying, and the death he died was the death of a common criminal. That is why God has now lifted him so high, and has given him the name beyond all names, so that at the name of Jesus “every knee shall bow”, whether in Heaven or earth or under the earth. And that is why, in the end, “every tongue shall confess” that Jesus Christ” is the Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Phillippians 2:6-11, Phillips Bible).

Jesus is proof that with God nothing is impossible.  God can come into the world as a newborn baby and spend thirty-three years mingling, ministering and teaching His creation.   God can be fully God and fully Man.  God, the Son came into the world and lived as one of us.  How amazing is that?

Hallelujah

I learnt the other day that “Hallelujah” means “Praise the Lord”.  Our toddler has been saying this word lately.

Psalm 145 is a Hallelujah psalm.  It praises God for His works, greatness, love, mercy, provision and graciousness.

Many people who encountered Jesus during His three and a half year ministry had a “Hallelujah” moment.  The leper who was cleansed (Mark 1:40); the centurion whose servant was healed (Matthew 8:5-13); the widow of Nain whose son was raised from the dead (Luke 7:11-17); the poor woman who was bent over for eighteen years (Luke 13:10-13);  the man born blind who received his sight (John 9); the leper who returned to thank Jesus (Luke 17:11-19); the woman who touched the hem of His robe and was healed of a condition she had for twelve years (Mark 5:25-34); the paralytic who picked up the bed he was lying on when his four friends brought him to Jesus and carried it home.  Those who witnessed this miracle, raised their voices and glorified God (Luke 5:17-26); the Samaritan woman who met her long awaited Messiah at the well (John 4:1-26); Zacchaeus, the tax collector who climbed up a tree to see the Messiah and almost fell out of it when Jesus looked up as He walked by and called out to him (Luke 19:1-10).

The Bible is filled with “Hallelujah” moments but to me the greatest one was when Jesus rose from the dead.  The empty tomb is something to praise God for.  Jesus lives!  Hallelujah!  For the disciples it was seeing their risen Lord ascend to His Father (Luke 24:52).  Luke wrote that they were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God.

What was your “Hallelujah” moment?

“Sorry, Daddy”

This morning our toddler was crying and saying, “Sorry, Daddy” because he was spanked for being disobedient.  I explained to him that being sorry is not enough.  To show that we are sorry we must stop doing the things that we are told not to do.  We have to change the behavior that will get us into trouble.  As I said this I thought of God.

When we are truly sorry we stop sinning.  Every time the Israelites were disobedient, God punished them.  They were sorry and He forgave them but soon they were disobedient again.

Zacchaeus was sorry for all the things he had done and the people he had cheated and vowed that he would change and make it up to them.  And he did.  Saying that he was sorry was not enough for Zacchaeus.  He went further.  He changed his life and ways.

This is the kind of kind of sorry Jesus meant when He told the adulteress to stop sinning and the cripple at the pool of Bethesda.  This is the kind of sorry Jesus preached about when He began His ministry (Matthew 4:17).  When we repent we change our old behavior and adopt a new good behavior that is pleasing to God.

Don’t just say that you are sorry.  Show it!

Spelling God

On October 13, Thanksgiving day in Canada, our toddler spelt “God” using his alphabet blocks and was so excited about it.  He ran into the kitchen to tell his Daddy and me.  Of course, I had to take pictures.  When I was in the kitchen by myself washing the dishes, I spoke to God, saying that He must be pleased that a little child was so excited about spelling His name.

Tears came to my eyes as I spoke to God and I was moved to pray for our toddler.  It is my hope and prayer that he would have a loving and lasting relationship with God and that his life would be one of obedience and pleasing to God.  I thanked God for blessing him and watching over him.

One Sabbath our toddler thanked God.  He said, “Thank You, God for giving Daddy. Thank You, God for giving Mommy…”  He was giving thanks for all that God had blessed him with.  Do you thank God for your family, friends, etc?  Take time now and give Him thanks.

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