Friday, October 12, 2018

WHAT'S Going On In This World Today?

"Mark this: there will be terrible
times in the last days..
(2 Timothy 3:1 NIV)
"Mother, mother,
  there's too many of you crying.
  Brother, brother, brother,
 there's far too many of you dying.
You know we've got to find a way.
to bring some loving here today,
What's Going on?"
(Song by Marvin Gaye -What's Going On? Lyrics by:
Alfred Cleveland, Marvin Gaye, Renaldo Benson)

Never has this song been more relevant than it is today!  I'm not just talking about the general chaos in the political arena, but in the world at large.  Every morning it seems there's a new level of ethical dysfunction we have to deal with. Hurricanes of historic proportion have been pounding our shores. Wildfires are occurring in unusual places like the one this year north of the Arctic circle.   California continues to burn (approximately 6,906 this year and counting) causing the Northern portion of the state to be declared a national disaster. And let's not even talk about the rise in violence and murder in every major city!

If you have any doubt that we're living in the last days, all I have to say is just open your eyes! 
Here's how the Amplified Bible translates 2 Timothy 3:1


"But understand this, that in the last days there
will set in perilous times of great stress  and 
trouble - hard to deal with and hard to bear."

In eschatology (the study of last things and end of time for humans), the Last Days chronicles the time period beginning with Jesus Christ's resurrection and ends at His Second Coming!

How easy it would be to just shake our heads and bemoan these tragedies, but instead of tearing our hair out why not use these now frequent occurrences as spiritual opportunities.  Professional Spin doctors are skilled in turning bad news into good.  As Christians, there's no better news to share than what we have...God's Word.  Here's an excerpt from an article published on Christianity Today's website in 2005.  I came across it in my files and because it is Family and Friends Month at my church decided to pass it along to you.  Read it prayerfully and be discerning as to when to introduce these thought provoking questions.  Feel free to adapt it to fit your individual conversation's focal point.  With things the way they are, it is only a matter of time before someone asks you:  What's going on this world today?

20 Questions to Help You Share Your Faith
(Transitions you can use to turn a conversation to spiritual things by Worldwide Challenge.
Worldwide Challenge.org

1.  People invest time and energy into developing their career, their bodies and relationships, but often neglect the spiritual dimension of their lives.  How do you actively pursue spiritual growth?

2.  Do you think much about spiritual things? (This usually leads to conversations about what spiritual means, i.e., religion vs. relationship).

3.  How has this experience affected the way you look at God?

4.  We've never had a chance to talk about your religious background.  Where would you say you are in your spiritual pilgrimage?

5. I'd like to tell you how I established a personal relationship with God (Tell your personal testimony)

6. What is your concept of God?  Do you view Him positively or negatively?

7.  Have you come to a point in your life where you have trusted Jesus as your personal Savior or do you think that is something you're still moving toward?

8.  Do you find that faith and spiritual values play a role in your work, marriage, perspective on life?

9. Do you go church? Why or why not?

10.  We've been friends for quite some time now, and I've never really talked to you about the most important thing in my life.  May I take a few moments and do so?


**I've only given you ten of the twenty. To learn more go to the following website: https://www.christianitytoday.com/biblestudies/articles/evangelism/051012.html

UNTIL NEXT TIME...

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Monday, September 24, 2018

EMBRACE YOUR SEASON!

To everything there is a season,
a time for every purpose under
heaven (Ecc. 3:1)
Stopping by a local discount store, I was struck instantly by the various merchandise displays.  Within only an aisle or two,  I came across Fourth of July picnic supplies; Fall pumpkins, and Christmas decorations all ready for purchase!  It was hard to know what to focus on first!  What a confusing mess!

It made me think about the seasons in a human's life. You know God is so thoughtful and orderly. He designed each one of us with a specific purpose and time frame to fulfill His plan. Furthermore, He did it with such wisdom and loving care.

Each season of life is unique with a special beauty about it.  Within its intricacies and limitations, it develops and matures us for leaving one and gracefully entering the next one.  However, we tend to miss the glory of God's handiwork by either rushing into one season too soon or lingering longer than we should in another!

Read this familiar passage from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8:


For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

There are 28 different seasons illustrated in this text!  More than enough to capture the essence of our human existence.  But in our foolish vanity we refuse to embrace the normal ebb and flow of each season and its valuable lessons opting instead to manipulate them for our own selfish desires.

It saddens me to see adult women in one season trying too hard to fit into a season they left long ago.
I'm all for personal expression at any age.  And there's something quite inspirational about a man or woman who stays active and vibrant as they age. But this does not mean that every fashion trend is appropriate for you.  You don't have to dress down or dowdy to be attractive but as an older woman once told me; just because you can get in it....doesn't mean you should wear it! 

Men too, suffer from this cultural phenomenon.  We've all seen the jet black hair and the gray mustaches that don't match. Shirts opened to the navel with gold chains over salt and pepper chest hairs.  Speedos at the swimming pool barely visible under pot bellies and ads for pills promising more stamina and virility. No one it seems is content with being who they are and the consumer industry is making big bucks off of it all!

Staying seasonally appropriate has benefits with long range effects we might not have thought about.  It teaches the following generations how to transcend the ravages of aging in an emotionally healthy and spiritual way.  Robbed of the season of innocence, our children are sexualized early, their minds focused on adult things. This makes it difficult for parents to train and mold them into the moral, productive individual God desires (Proverbs 22:6) .

 Even if we're blessed to get them through the adolescent and teen seasons, there is a tendency for them to languish there.  They do not want to take on the accountability and responsibilities of the adult season and become independent.  Think about it!  Why should they? They now have parents who have become adult playmates with lots of money! 

America has a long way to go in the respect they show seasoned adults!  Perhaps if we caught up with other countries, we wouldn't find it so hard to embrace our seasons:  In Asian countries like China, Japan, and Korea to get older is to be revered, respected, and to become an honored member of the family and society.  In fact, in China the elderly can sue their children for financial and emotional support.  In Scotland older citizens are sought after mentors, and founts of wisdom.  They are influential and do not have to fight to be heard. Regardless, the greatest motivation one can have to appreciate the gift of years is to remember that if you're not satisfied with the season you're in, God's love is big enough and long enough to follow you into the next one.  You'll always have a place and a plan in His kingdom!


UNTIL NEXT TIME...

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Tuesday, September 11, 2018

ANOTHER WAY TO REMEMBER - 9/11!

But Christ being come an High
Priest of good things to come...
(Hebrews 9:11)
It has been 17 years today (September 11, 2001) that the Twin Towers fell in New York City! The enemy made his way on to sacred ground. The heart of America's finances, the hub of our beloved music and entertainment industry, and home to 8.284 million people!

As we busied ourselves that Tuesday morning, fighting freeway traffic, grabbing coffee before work, we were struck by the news... the enemy was upon us, airplanes were falling from the sky!   For many it shook our world. It certainly did for the families of the 2,977 victims of this terrorist attack.  

Today, even in the midst of the chaos occurring in our own cities and nation's capitol, there will be tributes, memorials, and documentaries reminding us of this tragedy.  I'm asking that while we solemnly honor the victims and heroes of that time that we not grieve as those who have no hope (I Thess 4:13).   Jesus is STILL on the throne and Americans as tragically wounded as we are spiritually, have much to be THANKFUL for!  

In my devotion this morning, I decided to remember 9/11 in a different way!  I searched the Bible (God's word) for scripture references that would bring hope and not despair.  I offer them to you now so that those of us who know the end of the story of life here on earth, may share it and help others who are still suffering.  

In Times of Despair:

1.  Remember the Covenant Promises of God. 

Genesis 9:11
And I will establish my covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth.  

2.  One day God will Restore all the Broken places. 

Amos 9:11
In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old. 

3. God will Save His People from Disasters.

Zechariah 9:11
As for thee also, by the blood of thy covenant I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water. 

4.  Our Nation is Hurting but look to Jesus for Healing.

Luke 9:11
And the people, when they knew it, followed him: and he received them, and spake unto them of the kingdom of God and healed them that had need of healing.

 5. Our Prayers will be Answered for the Lord Jesus Himself is Interceding on our behalf.

Hebrews 9:11
But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building;

6. Continue to Praise Him for His Faithfulness

Psalms 9:11
Sing praises to the Lord, which dwellers in Zion: declare among the people his doings.

The Terrorist Attacks of 9/11 will not be last of the tragedies that will befall us as we get closer to the Return of Christ.  These and others visited upon our nation will be chronicled in history until the end of time. The best way to handle calamities like this and others is to put your hope in the One Who promises to protect you and see you through to the end:


He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
Psalm 91:1


UNTIL NEXT TIME...

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Thursday, August 30, 2018

Reprogramming Our Children's Faith!

Hope deferred makes the heart
sick but desire fulfilled is a
tree of life. (Proverbs 13:12)
America's children are angry, sad, and confused!  Have you ever wondered why? As a grandmother of a teenager and a Tween, I'm concerned about the world they are forced to grow up in!
The turbulent years of puberty have always been rough.  Lord knows I don't want to revisit any one of my own, but I can't begin to wrap my mind around the challenges young people are dealing with today.  Unprepared and scary would be gross understatements! 

 Each morning they awaken with continuing news of the Holocaust of their peers.  Friends and family gunned down in the streets or victimized by drugs, suicide, and other self-destructing behavior.  How do you keep a positive attitude with that going on?
I pray.  I counsel.  I try to engage their hearts, then pray again!  I speak to them with encouraging words, build their confidence with affirmation of their God-given beauty and skills.  But sometimes wonder if it's doing any good...I have to BELIEVE it does!  And here are reasons why:
~~ Our children are engulfed in Spiritual Darkness.  They live in a world that teaches them that they have choices and they can do whatever they desire even when it conflicts with God's Truth.  Yet  it shrewdly hides the reality of the devastating consequences!  They fight and fight for these rights but when they succeed, become disappointed and angry! The sex and drugs don't make them happy! The power trip from Gang Banging last only until the next bullet takes their life. Their gay love connection turns out to be just as hellish as their heterosexual counterparts and there seems to be no escape from the dysfunction of any of it!
Those of us who know the Real Truth must constantly remind them that God's original plan is not only the BEST plan but it's the RIGHT plan for their lives.  What they see before them is not the end of their life but God's strategic pathway to a new destiny in Christ.  They just need Him to show them how to get through it. (2 Cor. 5:17 -Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation,; old things have passed away behold all things have become new. ) 
~~Our children are suffering from an Identity Crisis. They don't know who they are and they are not alone!  As adults we've set a poor example for many of them.  The Brokenness of our culture has stolen our children's innocence through mass media and so-called reality shows that constantly blast from our televisions, Blu- Rays, and re-enacted in real-time.  As adults we've got to get our act together! Our children are drawn to celebrities, rappers, and the Kool Kids in their purview because they don't often find a righteous role model in their own homes! 

If the Generation Z's (born between 1995-2010) are labeled less focused, and more savvy with multi-tasking it may be for survival!  Their Boomer (born between 1948-1964) and Generation X parents (born between 1965-1984) are too consumed with getting their own freak on to raise them godly!  We must not only tell them who they are in Christ but show them in our own lives that God's will can be more fulfilling and satisfying than the icons lauded in our society. (Matthew 16:33 - But seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all will be added unto you. )  

~~Our children have lost their faith in God and the good of human kind. Two important gifts from God have been perverted in this present age...imagination and dreams!  False perceptions of success have been embedded into our children's minds from birth.  They have been nurtured on the belief that one has to look a certain way; possess a certain amount of skill, or charisma to be found valuable or worthy of acclaim.  When our children can't live up to these worldly standards they become demotivated and cease to dream of anything better for themselves!  They seek approval in the other ways but continue to be frustrated. They become even more disillusioned when they see others who appear to have the whole package, abuse their gifts, even using them to belittle others.  They just simply give up!

Instead, those of us who know the Real Truth must reject denigrating labels that place limits on our children and their abilities.  We must devise ways, create opportunities, and speak into their lives empowering and affirming messages of hope and life every chance we get.  We must find the positive in every situation and show our children their worth as God's creation.  We must say it over and over and over and over until the Enemy ceases to bombard them or they simply learn to resist these negative reports!  This is our duty!  This is God's plan! We must Deprogram the anger and violence that dooms our children to destruction and Reprogram a faith in God that unleashes the strength, skill, and intelligence the Devil and his cohorts so greatly fear! We need to do it and do it NOW!!!
(Jeremiah 29:11-For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to  give you a future and a hope.)

UNTIL NEXT TIME...

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Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Finding God's Comfort In Chaos!

Last  month my husband had a very scary health crisis! Praise God he survived it and is now doing well.  But it is at times like this that I like to reflect on the events that transpired and what I learned. Things that would help me prepare and cope better when  the next crisis comes along...and you know there will be another one, don't you?

Man born of a woman is of a few days, and full of trouble.
(Job 14:1)

I must say things happened so quickly that I didn't have time to panic.  I was too busy praying and taking care of the immediate to give into the emotions that come so naturally at times like these.  I give no credit to my flesh however for it was only the steady, unrelenting grace of God that gave me the wherewithal to keep moving through the dismal prognosis and the wait for critical tests results...His COMFORT during CHAOS!

That's what I'd like to share with you today. How to find God's comfort in these turbulent and confusing times.  My chaos is not like yours, so I'm not about to weigh in or judge you on how you're handling it.  But this, I can assure you:

 There is peace in the midst of the storm.  There is a light at the end of the tunnel. The night is always darkest just before dawn.

These might seem trite and mundane to you when you're going through, but that's only if you don't have the promises of God to back them up! I did, along with lots of Prayer Warriors who kept those promises fresh in my mind!

To Find Comfort in Chaos...

--REFUSE TO PANIC.
 It is when you panic that you make foolish and costly mistakes. Slow down,  Pray purposely, Gather the facts and move from there.   My husband fell ill hundreds of miles from home. After arriving at my doorstep I took one look at him and my first thought was to immediately call an ambulance for the less than five minute drive to the hospital. Although I realize that minutes are important in an emergency, my husband had just survived a four hour car drive. My God kept him four hours, He would surely keep him four more minutes! I drove him to the E.R. (Isaiah 26:3 - Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trust in you.)

--UTILIZE YOUR SUPPORT SYSTEM.
Call a Friend.  No not the ditzy one that always folds under pressure, but a praying one that has proven to be calm, reassuring and will help you think through things clearly and logically.  One thing that I learned last year with my son's hospitalization is that you need someone there to make sure that you're hearing exactly what the doctors are saying regarding your loved one.  When under stress there is a tendency to forget or misread key information needed for making decisions about future care. Read everything and make sure you understand it before signing consents.  If possible don't sign anything if you are in an agitated state! (Proverbs 18:24b - but there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother.)

--REMAIN HOPEFUL. 
 Physicians only practice medicine. God is the One Who heals! Hospitals are scary places. Medical professionals are trained to present the worst case scenarios along with promising outcomes. This protects them from malpractice and misdiagnosis should things turn negative.  Don't dwell on negative prognoses! To do so puts you in a place emotionally that moves God out of the picture.  In my case, the specialist was quick to tell me that they lose people every day from the illness my husband had.  He even gave me the percentages of deaths.  I chose to think on the percentage of those that survived! I had no fear!  (Philippians 4:8 - Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.)

--TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. 
In chaotic times self preservation may or may not be the first thing on your mind! Minus any narcissistic motives... it should be!  To handle chaos you must be at your best.  You need to eat, hydrate, sleep and move to keep your body fit and your mind alert. Things are not normal and you may have to perform in ways unfamiliar and uncomfortable to keep things going. You can't do that exhausted. 

As my husband recovered in ICU, I was offered pillows, blankets and a recliner should I choose to spend the night.  I appreciated but declined the offer.  I slept every night in my own bed, undisturbed by hallway noises, two hour vital sign checks, and the constant beeping and whirring of machines.  I was only a few minutes away should I be needed and I could offer no more care than what was being given by trained caregivers. Truly, there are times when you need to be there to assure maximum standard of care is given but neglecting yourself will come back to "bite" you once your loved one is home.  Believe me I needed all the energy I could muster to take care of his needs, run the errands, and provide post hospital care without additional support. (Prov. 3:7-8 - Do not be wise in your own eyes. Fear God and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.) (Psalm 121:4 - Behold, He that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.)

--DO NOT NEGLECT PRAYER AND DEVOTION
This may be last on the list but of utmost importance.  In times of crisis keeping your spiritual disciplines: prayer, bible reading, scripture memorization/ meditation and worship service (if possible) is what will hold you together when everything else if falling apart! I love this quote by Charles H. Spurgeon, "Prayer is the slender nerve that moves the muscle of the Omnipotent."  (I Thess. 5:17 - Pray without ceasing.)


SO UNTIL NEXT TIME...BE COMFORTED IN YOUR CHAOS!

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Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Forgive and FORGET?...NOT!!

"Be kind to one another...
forgiving one another as God
in Christ forgave you." (Eph. 4:32)
This week I'm tackling a rather difficult step in a Christian's Walk of Faith...the act of forgiveness! In our hearts we know we should forgive.  The bible certainly enforces the idea. And good upstanding church folks will tell you in a minute, when offended,  just forgive and forget! But is it as easy as all that? Speaking from experience, I've found that to forgive is a lot more complicated than one would have you think, even when doing so biblically!

With that being said, before going any further let's see how the bible defines forgiveness in its multifaceted ways:
Forgiveness means to release, dismiss, pardon, set free, send away or to let go.  

Here's the crux of the matter: Forgiveness IS A COMMAND (Ephesians 4:32) and God wouldn't tell us to do it if it wasn't possible! To do so is  far more an act of surrendering than mere fear of  consequences coming from disobedience.  Matthew 6:15 clearly states that  If we want God to forgive our offenses we have to forgive the offenses of others!  Now that's a sobering thought!

In no way am I suggesting that after reading this post, forgiveness will come easy the next time you're offended.  What I do hope to clear up are a few lies about forgiveness that may be slowing up the process.  And believe me it is often over a period of time given spiritual revelation and supernatural intervention that we will be led to the peace and freedom true forgiveness brings!
  • LIE # 1 - Forgiveness softens or rids you of the pain! It is true that in the act of forgiveness the one offended receives many benefits.  More so than the perpetrator that you have released.  But that doesn't mean that you won't still feel hurt for awhile. Some wounds are superficial and we can move past them quickly.  Others cut deep and heal more slowly.  They may never seem to heal.  Yet God promises that eventually they will.  Psalms 147:3 says God heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. We must persevere until He does.
  • LIE # 2 - Forgiveness means you will forget what happened!  Short of a lobotomy or  medical disease that takes away your memory, it is impossible to forget offenses.  Even when one is able to induce mental blocks, the right stimuli will often bring them back.  That's why the old adage: forgive and forget just doesn't work!  What gives Christians the ability to walk in the freedom of righteousness and fulfill God's command to treat our offender well is God's  enabling grace. 2 Corinthians 9:8 says: And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything you may have an abundance for every good. deed. Others may wonder how you can treat those who have hurt you with kindness and compassion.  You may even be accused of being a fool.  But you and I know it is the supernatural grace of God.  
  • LIE # 3 - Forgiveness brings relationships back to their former status!  This myth is very important to understand. Even after forgiveness, trust takes time to be restored... if ever! Forgiveness does not guarantee an automatic "do over."  It doesn't mean that the relationship will go back to its former level of intimacy or vibrancy.   Sometimes the damage has been so severe that reconciliation is not possible. In the case of unrepentant physical abuse or destructive behaviors a relationship shouldn't even be considered!  This does not mean that you should withhold forgiveness or give up hope. Just know as someone once said.  Forgiveness is solo, reconciliation is a partnership--it takes the cooperation and work of two individuals.  Galatians 6:7 reminds the perpetrator: Do not be deceived, God is not mocked, for whatever man sows that he will also reap. Luke 17:3 reminds the offended: Take heed to yourself, if your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. Loss is a natural consequence of sinful behavior. Loss of fellowship for a time but then often loss of a valuable relationship.
  • LIE # 4 - Forgiveness does not has quantifications or limits! This one takes a bit more explanation. Just a subtle misunderstanding of the biblical principle can throw us off.  It is in the Bible passages of Matthew 18:21-22; Luke 17:3-4 and then Matthew 12:31-32 that there appears to be a conflict.  There is not!   Jesus responds to His disciples in the first two passages concerning limitations that Rabbis set to forgive offenders. They taught three times was adequate.  Peter was being generous saying seven times but Jesus teaches here that compassionate love sets no limits at all. He follows this up with a profound parable. Many deduce from reading this that forgiveness is unconditional and limitless. NOT SO!  God forgives personal sin yet He requires a condition. We must confess it with the implication of repentance and then He is faithful (I John 1:9).  He forgives national sin but humbling and turning away from wickedness must be done  (2 Chronicles 7:14). Christians enjoy the privilege of  forgiveness but only because of the shed blood of Christ was required.  Jesus had to die! See  Ephesians 1:7 and Hebrews 9:22.  Now let's examine Matthew 12:31-32 in which Christ flat out says that  anyone speaking against the Son of Man will be forgiven but he that speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven! This is known as the unpardonable sin or blasphemy against the Holy Spirit!  It would take a whole blog to explain the context of this verse but be assured this sin cannot be committed today!  The only sin that is not forgiven is rejecting Jesus Christ as Savior!   
  • LIE # 5 - You have to FEEL like forgiving before you do it! When it comes to obeying God feelings has no place in it! Our emotions makes us like God in that we can feel deeply both love and the offense, but like everything else since the Fall of Man, our emotions must be renewed and sanctified! Often we think we haven't forgiven our offender because it still hurts or we are seeking to relate to them in the same way as before the offense.  There's just not the warm and fuzzy that was there before.  But if you are able to treat them as Christ would treat them in every situation, then you have forgiven!  We forgive not because our emotions dictate it but simply because it brings God glory and helps us to grow in His image. 2 Peter 3:18 says: But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  To Him be the glory both now and forever, Amen 
SHARE THIS TODAY WITH SOMEONE WHO MAY BE STRUGGLING WITH
THE SPIRIT OF UNFORGIVENESS! BUT KEEP IT HANDY FOR YOURSELF,  CHRIST TELLS US AS SAINTS WE CAN EXPECT TO BE OFFENDED!
 (2 Corinthians 12: 10)
UNTIL NEXT TIME...

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Thursday, July 12, 2018

MOVING from "IF" to....DONE!!!

"If you have faith the
size of a mustard seed..."
(Matt. 17:20 KJV)
"If wishes were horses, beggars would ride, if turnips were watches, I'd wear one by my side!" So goes the little nursery rhyme you may recall from your youth.  All of us have indulged in a little wishful thinking from time to time, but aren't we getting a little old for that now?

While studying a recent Sunday school lesson, I came across a passage of scripture that opened my eyes to this little word... "if"(Luke 17:1-6).  Christ was teaching His disciples vital principles on forgiveness.  In just a few verses of the translation I was reading He used the word "if" five times. Serious bible students will tell you that when a word is repeated in a bible text, you need to pay close attention. I did!

The word, "if" is used 1,595 times in 1,420 different verses of the  popular King James translation of the bible. This says that it's a pretty important word for Christians.  Don't you agree?  For being such a tiny word, only two letters, it sure packs a wallop in its various meanings!

For example "if" can denote something conditional as in bible promises we saints are  eager to claim: "IF you believe, you will receive whatever you ask in prayer" (Matt. 21:22). Or "IF you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciple" (John 8:31).  We glibly quote these scriptures  confident we'll get what we want without being intentional about doing our part... accepting with joy whatever the Lord chooses to do in the matter?

Many times we see "if" used to express regret in stressful or emotional situations:
"Martha said to Jesus, 'Lord, IF you had been here my brother would not have died" (John 11:21).
Even Jesus in His humanity felt these pangs when He wept over Jerusalem over their stubbornness: "IF you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace--but now it is hidden from your eyes" (Luke 19:42).  The word "if,"along with its cousins: "shoulda, woulda, coulda," has creeped too frequently into our conversations and life.  A change in faith and attitude is now in order!

We are probably most familiar with "if" in situations suggesting hope.  The bible gives us many examples of those as well: Before brash and impulsive Peter stepped out of the boat, he paused long enough to say these words: "Lord, IF it's you, command me to come to you on the water" (Matthew 14:28).  We are encouraged by Jesus when He says: "I am the door: by me IF any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture (John 10:9).  Embolden in our walk and ministry by Paul who preaches:  "Therefore, IF any man be in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, behold, all things have become new (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Truly this tiny word "if" can put us on a path of faith or doom us to self-inflicting failure! It can be prohibitive, as a warning to keep us from harm or spur us on to greatness! It's all in how you choose to use it!  Will you limit its potency by ignoring critical conditions?  Sink into self-pity and settle for the ordinary. Or cling to a hope that guarantees success if you do it God's way!

It may help in your decision-making to remember this quote:  Doubt kills more dreams than failure!  Putting it in a different light, a fellow women's ministry leader and dear sister reminded us this week at the Grace Place, that life is too short to live with regrets!

Christians must embrace the teachings of one of the most powerful verses in the bible to fulfill the GOD-POTENTIAL  in your life:

 "IF you have the faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'move from here to there,' and it will move.  Nothing will be impossible for YOU! (Matthew 17:20)


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