Focus Forward on the Father

I’ve been asking myself lately, where is my focus? Where should my focus be? So many things are wrong in this world, and much of the news is bad. In fact, many things today are just terrible, and it seems to be getting worse. It is easy to be negative. I think it may even be our natural bent as humans.

In 1890, Briton Rivière painted an illustration I saw recently of the Biblical story of Daniel in the lions den. In Daniel in chapter six, King Darius planned to put Daniel in charge of his whole kingdom because he had distinguished himself above all others. Daniel’s opponents seemed jealous of his skill and ethical behavior. As a result, they secretly devised a plan to get rid of him. Over 120 of these leaders went before King Darius and convinced him to issue an irrevocable decree that no one could worship anyone or any thing except the king for the next thirty days. Anyone found disobeying the decree was to be thrown in the lion’s den.

Daniel’s opponents knew that Daniel got on his knees and prayed three times a day, every day, giving thanks to the Lord. They counted on his faithfulness to find fault in him before the king. After the decree, Daniel never hesitated. The Bible says that Daniel continued praying to God just as he had done in the past. Once the king was told of Daniel’s violation of the decree, he was reluctantly compelled to throw Daniel into the lion’s den.

The artist, Rivière, presents a very interesting perspective in his painting of Daniel’s situation in the lion’s den. In the painting, Daniel is not focused on or looking at the large group of hungry lions. His back is turned from the lions. Daniel, in the painting, is focused completely away from the lions and upward and on the Lord, who every day heard and answered his prayers. The painting is titled – Daniel’s Answer to the King.

I have to ask myself, what am I focused on these days. Bad news sells and in its own way, is attractive to draw us to it, BUT — God has a positive plan for all the problems in this world. He wants our focus on Him. He calls us not to fear. He has a purpose for us and calls us to shine. We must shine, not as just a ‘little light’ like the children’s song says, but brightly, clearly, and proudly, shining and showing the way to Him.

In spite of his situation and all of his problems, Daniel kept his focus on the Sovereign of all things and the Source for life both now and eternally. Daniel’s attitude is powerful and inspiring. The story of God’s provision for Daniel in the midst of the predators and problems he faced is magnificent!

The Bible says in I Peter 5:8, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” Yes, the devil – the lion of this world – the evil is all out there. But, let’s remember that the Lord is listening to his servants. He loves us and will protect and care for us.

I’m inspired to be more positive and bold by this wonderful painting and the true story of Daniel, who was an exile in a foreign land doing his best to serve God first and then his fellow man. I pray that I will keep my focus on the One who holds the world in His hands.

Romans 8: 31 says, “If God is for us, who can be against us?”

Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

Romans 14:8 says, “If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.”

I think Daniel knew these things well. I’m still learning. I’m learning to lean on these verses. I hope in them, and I hope this story and these verses will give you hope and inspire you as well to stand, and shine, and show the way for souls who are lost without His love.

May God richly bless us all in our service to Him.

Robin House©️
09/17/2021

Hope

A can do attitude can make dreams possible if not probable.

When you want positive change–

1. Acknowledge why your dream is important.
This is your “why.”

2. Write it down.
This is your “what.”

3. Decide your time frame to accomplish your goal.
This is your “when.”

4. Make a plan.
This is your “how.”

5. Decide who can help you, even if it just to know your plan or pray for your success and who you will help by accomplishing your goals.
This is your “who.”

6. Think about the differences and impacts in your life and the lives of others when your goal is met.
This is your “where.”

7. Celebrate your accomplishments and remember you can do more than you can think or imagine when you put your mind to it.

There’s Just Two Kinds of People in the End

C. S. Lewis said, “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done.’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.'” God loves us and wants to free us from the sin that entangles and causes so much pain in the world, but God is also respectful of our right to choose.

I was listening to a couple debates with famous anti-theist, Christopher Hitchens yesterday about whether there is a God or not. Unfortunately, he seemed more interested in condemning the God he did not believe in than engaging the question to prove that God doesn’t exist. In fact, since the tragedy in our nation on 9/11/2001, Christopher seemed to have made it his mission in life to discourage, denigrate, and destroy all faith in God among both those who believe in the Savior and those who did not know for sure in the secular world. Mr. Hitchens passed away in December of 2011 from cancer. From all appearances, he never acknowledged God as Sovereign.

Many today grow up with no knowledge of God and our society promotes the idea that each person is autonomous and free to do and be whoever they want to be without consequence or responsibility. Because God gave mankind free will, we do have the choice to do as we please. But to please God and for eternally positive outcomes, we need to look to his way and will found in the Word of God. God promises life eternal for those who follow him. He also promises to reject those who chose to reject Him.

The apostle Paul says in Philippians 2:5 and following, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.”

Our time here on earth is but a moment in all of eternity. We must choose wisely in this life how we want to spend our immortal life for all eternity. I agree with C. S. Lewis. In the end, there are just two groups of people. Which group will we choose to be in? Those who choose to serve God or those who do not serve God. Ultimately, we all will know that Jesus is Lord, confess Him and bow our knee to Him, including Christopher Hitchens. God lets us choose His way or our way. There are really just two kinds of people in the end, but all will know God exists and His Son was sent to save the world. I hope you, like me, will choose God’s way, come to know, love, and trust Him will and will freely say now in this life to God, “Thy will be done.”

Robin House ©️
07/22/2021

Love Your Neighbor

In Mark 12:28-31, a scribe comes up to Jesus and asks, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus replied, “This is the most important: ‘Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”

After putting God first and loving Him, Jesus says the second command is that we must love our neighbor. But HOW? How can we do this? The verse tells us when we look closely. It says we must love our neighbor ‘AS yourself.’

Unfortunately, many of us don’t love ourselves. It’s not necessarily because we don’t want to but that we just don’t know how to love ourselves. Some of us grew up with constant criticism and correction and are caught in a cycle of crummy thinking. Some days our self-esteem wouldn’t reach the baseplate threshold of the front door frame. We know quite well our shortcomings and sins. They loom large before us as we replay the records of the words of relatives who told us we were worthless. We hear loudly and clearly the whispered words of the father of lies (the devil) who unceasingly says that we’re not good enough and never will be. But, our physical fathers, forefathers, and the father of lies are not the measure or standard we need to heed.

When we look up at the the Lord of Love and remember the greatest command, we will see things differently. When we choose God for our Father and His Son for our Savior, we are blessed beyond measure. We are bought with the precious blood of Jesus Christ, who willingly laid down His life as an exchange for our sins and shortcomings. In Christ, we are a new creation and a called child of the Living God. We are adopted into God’s family, and He lets us and wants us to call him ‘Abba, Father.’ In Mark 14:36 as Jesus was dying on the cross He called out, “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” Jesus took the cup, followed His Father’s will, and gave His all for you and for me.

In light of this, how can we fail to see that the God, who created the universe and everything in it and the God that holds it all together in his power and might, loves us. He loves you, specifically! He loves me, specifically! He knows the number of hairs on each of our heads. He knew all our days before they began. God is a Father like no other. He declares that we are worthy. He says that we are valued. He says that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. He says we are His. Stand tall my sister and brother. Bask in His great love. Put your hand in His and walk with wonder with the One who loves you more than the life of His own Son.

How can we love our neighbors? It requires that we must love ourselves. We must love ourselves, not because we are ‘all that and a bag of chips’ that but because of what God did to transform us into His pure, holy, and perfect children.

Today, as His beloved children, God calls us to take the cup of Love He gave for us and share that Love with one another. We can only do that if we love ourselves and see ourselves as God sees us.

The next time you look in the mirror, I hope you will look into your eyes and say out loud, “God loves me!” Let your voice speak clearly, “I am worthy, because Jesus gave His life to save me!” Tell yourself, “I am wanted and valued, because the God of the universe chose me and adopted me as very His own child.” I John 3:1 says, “See how great a love the Father has given us, that we would be called children of God; and in fact; we are.”

As we learn to love ourselves in the right context and way, we will be better able to love our neighbors and share the Gospel with them. Most people still don’t care what you know until they know that you care. Let’s learn to care for ourselves and when we do, we will be able to truly love our neighbors as ourselves.

I think on these things…

Robin Robbins House ©️
07/13/2021

Gratitude Attitude

On his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee and encountered ten lepers. The ten lepers stayed at a distance from Jesus because they were considered contagious. The Bible does not name these ten lepers or fully describe their conditions, but they knew that they were doomed to be isolated from their families and society because of the destructive and debilitating disease of leprosy.

During Bible times, there was no cure or treatment for leprosy. The old testament law prescribed that those with skin lesions must go before the priest to be examined. Those with potentially contagious diseases were isolated from their community for a time, but many with leprosy were isolated for the rest of their lives. The priest in the Jewish culture was the one person to examine and say whether someone was clean (or free from disease) and able to return from isolation or remained unclean and had to continue their isolation from family and friends. It was often quite devastating to families to lose a family member to leprosy. Lepers often could not continue in their workplace and some lived in leper colonies where everyone had the disease. Lepers who traveled were required to notify those that may come near them by shouting “unclean, unclean” so that others without the disease wouldn’t be exposed to them. There was a considerable stigma for the leper in addition to the disability, deformities, and destruction of the body that came with leprosy.

The ten lepers discussed in Luke 17 had heard enough about Jesus that they called out in a loud voice saying, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” A few things are very interesting about their statement. First, it seems that they all in a coordinated fashion shouted out to Jesus. They seemed to know or have heard who Jesus was and called him by name. Second, they call Jesus Master indicating that they consider him to have rule and power over them. Not everyone considered Jesus their Master or respected his authority, but these ten lepers did. Third, the men don’t specifically ask to be healed, but that Jesus have pity on them. Leprosy can be a severely debilitating causing terrible skin lesions, vision problems, muscle weakness, nerve damage, and the loss of limbs. We don’t know what stages of leprosy these ten men were in, but they begged for pity. Pity is said to be a sympathetic sorrow often leading to relief, aid or mercy. The lepers wanted that. They knew they had an incurable disease, but they wanted whatever Jesus could do to give them relief, aid, and mercy.

Interestingly, Jesus doesn’t say he will heal them, but he says, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” Jesus knows that to be accepted back into their culture and society, they must be approved by the priests. Luke goes on to say that “as they went, they were cleansed.” All ten left Jesus headed to the priest with their leprosy, but on the way, they were cleansed. Leprosy leaves many marks on the skin, but after encountering Jesus, they knew before they had time to get to their priests that they had been healed. All ten of them. What an amazing miracle and wonderful thing for these men to know that soon they would be allowed and welcomed back into their communities and families.

One of the lepers, when he saw that he was healed, came back praising God and threw himself at the feet of Jesus thanking him for healing him. The Bible describes this thankful leper as a Samaritan. Most Jews didn’t and wouldn’t associate with Samaritans, but Jesus did. It is assumed that the other lepers were probably Jewish, since other nations did not have in their law to present themselves to the priest to be judged unclean or clean.

Next, Jesus asked the thankful Samaritan praising God at his feet, “Were not all ten cleansed?” It seems a rhetorical question as Jesus goes on to ask, “Where are the other nine?” And “Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” Jesus intimates that the Jewish lepers should have known to praise God and be thankful for healing. It seems that Jesus would have expected the Samaritan to not praise God or thank him, but Jesus is surprised at his own people. They had all just called him ‘Master.’ They all had some expectation that Jesus could help them or they wouldn’t have cried out. Yet when Jesus did help them, nine of the ten didn’t take the time to be thankful to him. They couldn’t be bothered to go back and show their gratitude.

What about us today? Do we pray for God’s help and never acknowledge that it came? Do we ignore the blessings our heavenly Father brings us each and every day? Do we give credit to someone or something else, after we’ve made our appeals to God for healing? Do we assume it is simply our good luck that helped things turn out well? Do we ignore God after our appeals to Him?

Look at the statistics of gratitude in this story. Only one out of ten said thank you. Jesus never heard back from 90% of those he healed in this case. Why? Were they just that selfish or self-centered? Did they not connect their request for pity with the removal of the plague of leprosy from their bodies? Do we sometimes get so excited that a trouble or trauma is over that we just want to move on and forget it? Jesus seems disappointed and specifically disappointed in his own people as he asked, Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” What does this say about God’s people, who supposedly know and follow him? What does it say about the foreigner?

In the region of Tyre and Sydon, another foreigner came to Jesus for help and healing. She was a Canaanite mother begging Jesus to help her daughter who was demon possessed and suffering terribly. Jesus said that he was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel, but as the woman begged, “Lord, help me.” Jesus explained again that it was not right to take the children’s bread and give it to dogs. But the Canaanite woman said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Jesus replied to the woman that she had great faith and granted her request and in that moment for her daughter’s healing.

The Jewish teachers and leaders of Jesus’ day often claimed to be the children of Abraham and to only worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They were a proud people and boasted in their Jewishness and relationship with God, yet they weren’t really obedient to him, following him, or even grateful to him for his blessings. God addresses this many times with them, and I see a lesson here for us, as Christians.

Are we grateful? Are we thankful? Do our friends and family know that we hold God and Jesus Christ in high esteem? Do our friends, family and others know that we give thanks to God for the food we eat? Do our colleagues, customers, and even those who can’t stand us, know who we call Lord? Do we thank God for our jobs and financial provision? Do we praise God for healing after we’ve prayed for it, or do we assume it was the doctor’s skill, or the new medicine, or luck, or a simple quirk of ‘nature’ that healed us or our loved one?

If you were one of the ten lepers, what group would you be in? Would you be like the one Samaritan or the nine Jews?

We pray to God for help, then don’t acknowledge that He did help. Why is that? Are we embarrassed? Do we really believe He can, will, and does work today in the lives of men and women? If we don’t believe He is working and answering prayers today, why do we pray? Do we or can we understand how everything works? Of course not, but if we have prayed for something to happen and it happens, why not assume it is from God? He is, by the way, in charge of EVERYTHING! God cares for us down to knowing the number of hairs on our head. As we clean the lost hairs out of our hairbrush at night, do we understand that God knows how many hairs are in the brush and how many hairs are left on our head? Do we see the detail, care, and specificity with which the God of the universe has for each and every person? Matthew chapter 10 says that not one sparrow falls that God doesn’t know about it, and goes on to say that each of us are worth more than many sparrows.

For those who don’t know Jesus, He is the good news/the Gospel. No more is there a separation between people groups. Jesus came for all – for Jew and Gentile, slave and free, for you and for me.

All of us are sinners and have rebelled against God. All of us are on our way to Hell. Hell is the just destination and penalty for our sin. All sin is rebellion against God and His authority. All of us – (every single person and all of mankind throughout every age) have committed treason against the Lord. Our rebellion is clear, but thanks be to God, the penalty and just consequence for our sin has been paid by Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.

An eternal death separating us from God for all time is no longer necessary, if we will accept the gift of salvation that comes through Christ Jesus alone. The choice is ours. God will not force us to accept salvation from our sin. He will allow us to proceed on our own way, if that is what we choose. God doesn’t send anyone to Hell. People choose to go there of their own accord. God stands at the door and knocks, but He will only come in if we open the door to accept and surrender to His will and way. That’s the deal. We can go our way or His way.

Long ago, some lepers were healed from a physical disease because they sought help, cried out, and asked for mercy from the Lord. Long ago, a mother secured health and safety for her child from demons because she had faith in and sought help from the One she knew had the power to save her child. Today, God still waits and wants all who will come to Him in faith with submissive and grateful hearts to live in His way and walk in His will in this life. Won’t you come like the leper and the mother to the feet of Jesus? Won’t you look to him for help and healing? Won’t you give God all praise for all He has done and is doing in your life? Won’t you trust and draw near to Him? He loves and cares for you more than you can even imagine?

Won’t you, think on these things…

Robin Robbins House ©️

Image by Barbara Jackson from Pixabay

Spring

There’s a yellow mist
Of pollen in the air.
The flowers are all blooming
Without a worry or a care.

The rain clouds loom heavy
Making the sky look dimly gray,
As the wind blows so gently
Through the trees and shrubs today.

The miracle of life
Is seen in every spring,
From the flowers that grow
To the birds that sweetly sing.

Life is renewed
After the long winter cold,
As spring shows off
With colors so bright and bold.

And so it was like spring
Many centuries ago
When God brought forth His Son
For all man to see and know.

God’s plan so full of hope,
So bountiful and free –
Bought by Christ’s own blood
On Calvary’s cursed tree.

Through Christ’s death on a cross
Eternal life came to man
After the winter of sin and death.
Hope and new life springs forth again.

So when you think of springtime,
I hope that you will see
God’s gift and gracious plan –
Redeeming love – for you and me.

Robin Robbins House ©️
04/07/2021

Judge Correctly!

When the time for the Feast of Tabernacles had come and Jesus’ brothers asked him to show himself to the world publicly, Jesus told them that His time was not yet come. Jesus’ brothers went on ahead to the feast without Jesus, and the Bible says that at this time “even his own brothers did not believe in him.” Jewish leaders were looking for Jesus and among the crowds of people at the Feast of Tabernacles people were talking. The Bible said that there was widespread whispering about Jesus. Some said that Jesus was a good man while others believed He wasn’t good and deceived people. No one would, however, speak out publicly for fear of the Jewish leaders. It seems like some things never change.

About half way through the eight day festival, Jesus did go up to the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem and began teaching in the temple courts. The Jews there were amazed at Jesus’ teaching. They wondered how He had so much learning without being taught. You see, Jesus, was not of the elite or powerful. He made his entrance in the manger of a barn and by all accounts wasn’t wealthy or part of the elite in society.

In reply to their questions as to how Jesus knew so much Jesus said, “My teaching is not my own. It comes from the One who sent me. Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. Whoever speaks on their own does so to gain personal glory, but he who seeks the glory of the One who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him. Has not Moses given you the law? Yet not one of you keeps the law. Why are you trying to kill me?”

Jesus goes on to say that because he did one miracle in healing a man, they were all amazed. Jesus reminded them that by the law of Moses newborn boys are circumcised on the Sabbath (even though it is a declared day of rest) so that the law of Moses may not be broken, yet they were angry with Jesus for healing a man’s whole body on the Sabbath. Jesus goes on to say, “Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.”

In today’s society, people are all about following the latest or greatest popular person. How many followers someone has is a thing of status. Jesus, like some today, was somewhat a phenomenon. He had many followers who were fascinated by Him. He was unusual and “amazing” to some and someone to be feared by others. People throughout the region were talking about Jesus. The powerful in politics and religion were watching for Him. Some feared Him and His influence on the people since the things He did and the words He spoke did not match up with their belief system and expectations. Some feared Jesus would show them to be the fraud’s they were. Some feared that He would take away their power. Some just didn’t know, but they still distrusted Him.

We have this same situation happening today in our political and religious world. The common man and woman on the streets are discussing whether someone should be able to have presence or platform from which to speak. Publishers and politicians are banning speech that they don’t like or agree with in order to cancel their effect on others. Like the threats against Jesus, some are calling for the death of those they do not like or agree with on issues. Today, Dr. Seuss’ own publishers decided that some of his works need to be removed from the public square. Why? What is behind all the censorship of thoughts, ideas, and words? Can we no longer stand to see the truth of history? Can we not acknowledge a viewpoint that isn’t in lock step with our own?

The Bible begins, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” It is a bold statement. It is how the Word of God begins. We must each decide if this is a true or a false statement. We will choose to believe this is right or wrong. In the same way, Jesus challenged those in the temple courts over 2000 years ago to check out what He said. Jesus said that anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether His teaching comes from God or is from him only. Jesus said that those that knew the will of God would be able to verify that He spoke on behalf of His Father who is God almighty.

There is a challenge today for the Christian and the non Christian to decide whether what Jesus said is true or false. We must each decide whether what he preached was right or wrong. Jesus confronted those in the temple courts about their inconsistent enforcement of the law of Moses. Do we today see the inconsistencies in how things are decided? Do we see the contradiction in our own conversations and behaviors between how we treat one person or idea over another?

Jesus admonished those listening to him in the temple courts saying, “Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.” I think this advice needs to be repeated today. What we see is not always as it appears. The only way to know for sure what is true is to seek the truth in the consistent message revealed throughout the Holy Word. Jesus tells us that those who choose to follow God’s will – will know whether what Jesus preached and taught was of God or not. How is that? It is because they will see and come to know the will of the Father written in the Word of God.

When we judge things today, do we stack it up against the standard of the Word of God? Do we have the will to do the will of God? Are we judging by mere appearances or seeking to judge rightly? Each of us makes decisions and judgements every day about a myriad of things including one another. Are we judging rightly as the Righteous Judge and Lord would want us to do, or are we jumping to conclusions without all the evidence?

Do we give people the grace of time? Do we look below the surface of appearances to the motives of their movements through life? Have we tried to get to know one another and their circumstances, or do we dismiss people out of hand? Are we willing to walk in someone else’s shoes for just a minute to see what paths they must tread? Are we interested in our fellow man enough to change our point of view to try to see what things look like through their eyes? Has someone “offended” us and unbeknown to them been written off? Do people get a second chance with us? Or a third? Or seventy-seven times? Jesus told Peter to forgive a brother or sister not just seven times in a day, but seven times ten times in a day when they repent. Do we accept those who are sorry and repent for wrongs they do – intentionally or not? Are we so perfect that we can’t stand to put up with any imperfection in those around us? Are we so prideful and pious that we won’t be in the presence of those called pathetic in our society? Do we use our power or position to ‘put out of mind and sight’ those who don’t share our ideas and beliefs? Did we write off a friend because they told us the truth or we felt they were just too much trouble?

Who are we to stand as king of the hill to look down pridefully at anyone? Don’t we, each and every one of us, have our own problems and missteps to overcome? Do we have any charity/love for our fellow man? Will we give it and show it?

Jesus calls us to judge correctly. Can we? Will we? And if we do, I know our God be pleased. Just as Jesus spoke not on his behalf but on the Father’s, can we as Christians and children of God not do the same?

We can, if we will, choose to follow God, and if we will learn His will, we will know that Jesus’ message was true and His ways are right. What an awesome world this could be if we would judge correctly.

Think on these things…

Robin Robbins House©️
3/2/2021

The Bible passage reference is from John 7.

Cheap Grace in the Church

A friend recently shared a post on facebook about Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I must admit that I don’t know much about him or his work. He was a German pastor and theologian during World War II. He also worked as a spy and was a martyr. When asked how the people of Germany allowed Hitler to do what he did to persecute and kill so many as he seized absolute power in Germany, Dietrich’s reply was the teaching of cheap grace in churches in their country. He said, “Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ.”

What about us today in our churches? Do we teach ‘cheap grace’ in our congregations? What does it really mean to be a follower of the Father and the Son? Is there no cost communicated to those who would make a commitment to Christ? Is the easy evangelism of everything is okay and everyone doing anything they like is okay – with us? with God?

What does the Word say? Some of us don’t like it. We shy away from proclaiming the whole truth of the Word and Gospel. It is a bit embarrassing to say to those considering Christianity that God demands it all — our all. There is a saying that God can fix broken hearts, but we must give Him all the pieces. Many of us want to keep some of the pieces and things in our lives that we think we need or want. We don’t want to relinquish it all. It could be that we don’t think God can handle all our sin – all our problems – all our history. It could be that we don’t want to give up what we like and want that is contrary to God’s will. The pleasures of sin are real and can be really attractive and tempting. Some want to ride the fence on the border between God’s will and our way.

In Revelation 3:14-22 we read a message to one of the seven churches in Asia. It says, “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation. ‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit (Some versions say vomit.) you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”

Is the church in America lukewarm? Do we relish in our riches, and blessings, and lifestyles? Are we so self-sufficient that we don’t really need a Savior? Do we realize that we are wretched, to be pitied, poor, blind, and naked? Are we arrogant and prideful like the story of the king in The Emperor’s New Clothes walking proudly about ignorant that we are naked and in spiritual poverty as a ‘Christian nation’ today? What are we teaching in our churches? What are we espousing in in our communities? What do we want our our children to know about Christ and a life in His service? Is it ‘cheap grace’ or is it the full Gospel of a God who gave His all to save a wretch like me? Grace is not cheap. It cost the Christ His life. As his disciples, it will cost the Christian as well.

Christian brothers and sisters let us not sit on the sidelines of life. Let us be salt as Jesus says in Matthew 5:13-16, “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

I hope you are salt for someone today. I hope your light shines the light of truth in a world of falsehoods for someone today. I hope we will be the people and do the things we need to do so that others will give glory to the Father in heaven. I hope you, like me, will think on these things…

©️ Robin House 01/30/2021

Listening to and for God

Recently, my husband I went for dessert at a restaurant in Augusta, Georgia. The building was old and in the same family for generations. A small place, it was know for its regional foods and colossal deserts. We had eaten dinner at another place, but my husband wanted coffee and dessert. When we arrived, the staff was busy, and we had to wait a few minutes for a table. The bartender seemed to be the host as well. He took us around the corner to a booth made for six. The desserts looked great. My husband ordered coffee and key lime pie while I had carrot cake. The cake was delicious. He ate all of his pie, but because I was still full from supper, 90% of my cake was boxed for a treat to eat the next day.

The next day around 1 PM, I left the hotel and walked along the Savanah River. The view of the river and homes along the bank were beautiful. Few were about as I explored the area on the bright, but cold, January afternoon. At one point there was a wooden swing that I took the time to swing in while overlooking the river. It was very pleasant, but my stomach, which had not enjoyed a breakfast was clamoring for lunch. I’d heard that there were a lot of restaurants along Broad Street a few blocks away, so I headed there on foot. Like many downtowns in America today and in the aftermath of almost a year of Covid lockdowns, the street was lined with a mixture of open and closed businesses. I didn’t see anything that looked inviting. Circling back toward my hotel I remembered a Quiznos sandwich shop sign in the hotel near mine. Approaching to find the doors locked, I realized that even this chain store didn’t make it through the pandemic.

Across the street was the restaurant my husband and I had eaten dessert at last night. Hunger called again, so I crossed the street to climb the three steps up to the restaurant and wait to be seated. A woman greeted and seated me (a party of one) at the exact same table where we ate the night before. It seemed a bit odd to be seated at the same table, and I wondered if we’d have the same gentleman server, too. Separate menus with one for food and another for the desserts were placed on the table as the hostess told me my server would assist me soon. The server was a young woman this time. She had dramatic eye make up and eyeliner that curved way out with a swooped flair that I could never dream of applying to myself without looking like a child had used an oversize crayon on my eyes. As the server greeted me, I explained that my husband and I had been there the night before and enjoyed their dessert menu resulting in a huge piece of cake left over in my hotel room for me to work on after my lunch today. After she brought a coke and some water, my server took my order for corn chowder and a club sandwich on their fresh baked honey wheat bread. The food was good, and I enjoyed sitting there resting from my long walk beside the river and along downtown’s Broad Street. During the meal, the server came by several times to check on me and asked me at least twice if I wanted dessert. I explained over again that my dessert I couldn’t finish the night before was waiting on me at the hotel. As I finished up, I asked my server for some napkins, a box for the second half of my sandwich, and a coke to-go. I thought for a while she went on break or something, because she was gone for a long time. When she finally returned, she brought the box but no napkins or the to-go coke. She apologized and got the napkins and left for the coke. When she came back, she brought the ticket but no coke. The next time she came by I asked for the coke to-go, and she said that she was sorry and somewhat frazzled today. As she left to get the coke, I fished for the cash to pay the bill. It was after she left that I had a distinct feeling and thought that I should pray for my server. She came back after about five more minutes with the coke and took my cash for the bill, but I said nothing. She walked by another time, and I didn’t stop her or say anything about the prompting to pray for her in my mind. That would be weird I thought. When she brought my change saying that she had rounded up my return cash, and that she was sorry that she was so scattered today. I thanked her, and once again, I said nothing about the prompting I felt.

As I counted out my change and figured her tip, I felt clearly a prompting in my spirit once again to pray for this young woman. She’s gone now Lord, I said in my mind. I had paid cash, and I was ‘done’ as far as dealing with the server or waiting on anything else. My server wouldn’t likely come back by, but I hesitated to leave and waited. This time, as she walked by, I asked if I could talk to her. As she turned and leaned down, I began nervously and feeling very awkward to explain. I told her that I felt called to offer to pray for her. After her exaggerated look of surprise, I asked if I could pray for her, but she became animated and had something to say first. I could have never imagined what she would say next. She said, “This is so strange. You are the second person today to ask to pray for me.” She said that she just didn’t understand it. I saw tears in her eyes as she continued and the conversation became so surreal that I don’t remember exactly everything we said, but I can convey the message of what we discussed.

My server started telling me about herself. She said that she’s not a believer, at least not anymore. She said she used to believe but had gone away from that to do her own life. Almost apologetic, she said that though she didn’t hold to a belief in God anymore that she did respect other people’s religions and beliefs. As the manager walked by, I hoped that my conversation with her would not get her in trouble and that no one was waiting to sit at my table. She went on to say again that it was so odd that another person that very day had asked to pray for her. I told her that I felt a bit weird asking to pray for her. I also told her that I felt compelled so that I had to ask to pray for her. The experience is so hard to describe as two souls met in that moment on another plane. After what she told me, I asked again if she would like me to pray for her, and she said yes.

Next I asked her name so that I could pray for her by name. I won’t tell it to anyone reading, but she gave it. I then asked my next question. I asked if she would like me to pray for her privately on my own or right there in the restaurant with her and out loud for her to hear. I was prepared to honor either way. She said out loud and to pray now was fine. So I bowed my head and began.

As I prayed, I asked God’s blessing and guidance for her. I asked God to show her how much he loves her. I can’t remember exactly what all I said, but my prayer was from the heart and though it seemed longer was over in just a few heartbeats. I think she thanked me for praying, but I really can’t remember. It didn’t really matter. It mattered that I did it. As I left, I remember telling her that I hoped she had a good rest of her day. That’s it. I walked to the door, down the steps and out onto the street to go back to my hotel with a few tears in my eyes.

Why did I feel called to pray for the server in that restaurant on that day? What did God want of me? Was it to just pray? Was it so that a lost or hurting soul would know someone cared or that two people on that same day cared and spoke of God to her? Did I do all I was supposed to do in that moment? Was it enough? Did I please my Master? Was I a fool for Christ? Were those few moments and prayer a message for a drifting soul of God’s care, love, and grace? Will she come back to and seek the Lord? Was the lesson for me to see if I’m listening to the Lord and willing to follow His lead? To all these questions, I don’t really know. All I know is that I (very reluctantly) listened to the quiet voice of the spirit within me and let myself be led and used (after a couple promptings) to serve and praise God through a prayer for a server who was a stranger to me while I was very briefly in a strange city where I knew no one.

Who can fathom the mind of God or know his ways? Romans 11:33-34 says, “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! “Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?”

Perhaps the point of what happened is for me to write about it and share it with you, my readers. Perhaps it is to encourage you to listen to the still, small voice of God to do good in your life and to your neighbor. We’ll probably never know, but I hope you, like me, will ‘think on these things’….

RRH 01/16/2021

Bible verses to think on…

“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.” Psalm 37:4-5 (ESV)

“For God speaks in one way, and in two, though man does not perceive it. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls on men, while they slumber on their beds,” Job 333:14-15 (ESV)

“Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.” Psalm 25:4-5

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” John 10:27-28 (ESV)

“But he answered them, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.” Luke 8:21 (ESV)

“You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him.” Deuteronomy 13:4 (ESV)

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105 (ESV)

“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” James 1:22 (ESV)

“But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” Luke 11:28 (ESV)

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV)

“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” Psalm 46:10 (ESV)

“As it is said, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” Hebrews 3:15 (ESV)

How can we run and not get weary? Isaiah answers.

Isaiah 40 says, “Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the LORD’s hand double for all her sins. A voice of one calling: “In the wilderness prepare the way for the LORD ; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all people will see it together. For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” A voice says, “Cry out.” And I said, “What shall I cry?” “All people are like grass, and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the LORD blows on them. Surely the people are grass. The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.” You who bring good news to Zion, go up on a high mountain. You who bring good news to Jerusalem,lift up your voice with a shout, lift it up, do not be afraid; say to the towns of Judah, “Here is your God!” See, the Sovereign LORD comes with power, and he rules with a mighty arm. See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him. He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young. Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance? Who can fathom the Spirit of the LORD, or instruct the LORD as his counselor? Whom did the LORD consult to enlighten him, and who taught him the right way? Who was it that taught him knowledge, or showed him the path of understanding? Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales; he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust. Lebanon is not sufficient for altar fires, nor its animals enough for burnt offerings. Before him all the nations are as nothing; they are regarded by him as worthless and less than nothing. With whom, then, will you compare God? To what image will you liken him? As for an idol, a metalworker casts it, and a goldsmith overlays it with gold and fashions silver chains for it. A person too poor to present such an offering selects wood that will not rot; they look for a skilled worker to set up an idol that will not topple. Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood since the earth was founded? He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in. He brings princes to naught and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing. No sooner are they planted, no sooner are they sown, no sooner do they take root in the ground, than he blows on them and they wither, and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff. “To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing. Why do you complain, Jacob? Why do you say, Israel, “My way is hidden from the LORD; my cause is disregarded by my God”? Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (NIV)

When our hope is in the Lord, He will sustain us. He will help us be strong. He will help us soar and succeed. Trust in the Lord. Give Him your burdens. He can handle it all, and He will.
RRH 01/15/2021