Singing

We sang one of my favorite songs yesterday at church services. It is a song about the greatest commands of God to love God and one another.

Listen on youtube to The Greatest Commands

Though my voice is not as strong or clear as it was in my younger years, there is something so amazing and wonderful about singing and praising God and hearing others sing too, even when I miss some notes.

In Ephesians 5, Paul tells Christians how to live and specifically in verses 15-20 says, “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

In Colossians 3:15-17 Paul says, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

In James 5:13 we read, “Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise.”

God wants us to sing! God commands the Christian to sing! It is not a suggestion! It is a clear command seen throughout the Bible, yet more and more congregations have become silent or selected a chosen few to sing in worship for and to us. This is not good. God commands all of us to sing and praise Him. He commands us to speak to one another with songs, hymns, and songs from the Spirit.

We are to make music from our hearts always giving thanks to God the Father for everything through His Son and our Lord, Jesus Christ.

I know that we as Americans don’t want to be commanded to do anything and sometimes the commands we are given are the very last things we will or want to do. Like a toddler, even adults say, “You can’t make me.”

Why is that? I think the answer is three-fold — pride, fear, and selfishness. Pride says that we don’t have to do what we don’t want to do. We sometimes feel autonomous and this makes us idolatrous – putting ourselves up and in the place of God. Sometimes we fear others will be critical of our ability or lack thereof to sing. That is their problem and not ours. God calls us to make a joyful noise unto Him in Psalm 98 and to make a melody in our heart to God in Ephesians 5. No where in the Bible does it say we have to sing perfectly to sing to and praise God with song. No where does it say that if you can’t sing well, you are excused from the command. When we think this way, we are thinking more of ourselves and not about God’s good and perfect will for us. When we refuse to sing, we are selfishly refusing to encourage and admonish one another in our congregations. Sometimes a song can speak to a brother or sister where a sermon can’t. Let us not withhold the blessings of song from one another.

Faith in God and Jesus requires action on our part. It requires a change in our behavior. It is not that works saves us, but faith without works is dead. (James 2:14-26) Faith in God means doing what God commands. Jesus said in John 14:15, “If you love me, keep my commands.” To be faithful to God means following His will —whether we like it or not — whether we think we have a better idea or way or not — whether we are comfortable with the command or not — whether we want to obey or not.

Most preachers and Bible teachers today won’t touch this subject out of fear of offending or hurting someone’s feelings. I think some of our congregations are sick and less healthy than they could be because of an attitude that says participating in the song service is optional by the Christian members present.

How much of God’s will do we get to select to submit to in our lives? What parts of the Bible will we agree to go along with and submit ourselves to obey? What about if we don’t like a particular song, and we’re not talking about songs that are unbiblical or teaching error here?

What does God say? What does He want and command for us to do? What authority do we, as Christians, have to disregard God’s commands and disobey Him? To disobey God’s command is sin, and sin separates us from God. Let us not choose to sin when we know His commands.

We all struggle with pride and selfishness, but these are sins we must resist and remove so that we can fully follow our heavenly Father. He made us. He knows what is best for us, and He wants us and commands us to sing. Don’t let fear stop you from doing what God commands. It is said that one of the most common statements and perhaps it could be said commands in the Bible is to “fear not.” Let us not fear our fellow man or what he or she may think or do or say, but have the appropriate fear (reverent respect) for God first and foremost.

When singing songs, hymns and spiritual songs, we do the following things.

1. We are obeying God’s will
2. We are teaching one another.
3. We are admonishing one another. (Meaning – To counsel (another) against something to be avoided or warn (that something is dangerous)
4. We are engendering gratitude in our hearts toward God.
5. We are giving thanks and praise to God for everything through Christ.

There is nothing bad in this list. All these things are good and good for us and for those around us. So let’s put aside whatever has suppressed our ability or willingness to obey God’s command to sing. It is good for us and with practice, it will grow on us …

God wants to hear the songs of our joyful hearts. God wants and deserves our praise. Our fellow brothers and sisters need the encouragement and admonition of our singing.

Let us commit this week and every week and with every opportunity to singing out loud and with joy to God and one another. It is God’s will. It is His command. It will be a blessing for you and others.

Think on these things…

Robin House

Additional Reference:
64 Bible Verses on Singing

Friends, Foes, and Fellowship

The world, the worldly, and sometimes even fellow Christians tell us that we are not enough, not worthy, not wanted, not liked or loved, and just not a good fit to be in their fellowship and with their friends. The message is rarely overt, but none the less, the message is as crystal clear as a dinner bell. Some may not know or realize what they are saying or doing when they snub someone or are silent. Some do.

Over the past year or so, a lot of relationships have changed or even ceased among our friends and families. Social isolation drove many to social media platforms for connections and to meet our needs for value and validation. Unfortunately, social media platforms and an expanding worldly worldview among our population has spurred trends among our young people (and some of us older ones, too) for increasing cases of depression, malaise, anxiety, and even suicide.

The devil often uses our pasts, our insecurities, and our many faults to trip us up. He even uses those we call friends to intimate to us and whisper softly to others that we aren’t quite good enough and that we aren’t worthy to be in their company, to be their friend, or to share in their fellowship. Clicks and clubs among other groups and methods have been a way to exclude and reject for a long time. The cancel culture is even seen among the members of Christ’s church. There is really nothing new under the sun, but these things are still hurtful and even harmful, especially to young girls and women.

On the day after Jesus fed over 5000 men with only five barley loaves and two small fish, the crowds followed Jesus across the sea to Capernaum. As Jesus was questioned by the crowd, he questioned the crowd’s motives for following Him. Did they just want free food and a miracle or two? He taught them clearly in John 6:29, “The work of God is this: to believe in the One He has sent.” The crowd that followed Jesus found His teachings difficult to understand and accept. Jesus didn’t quite meet their expectations of who He was or how He should be. His mission didn’t fit in with their mindset or worldview.

In John 6:66 the writer says, “From that time on many of His disciples turned back and no longer walked with Him.” When push came to shove, Jesus, God’s own and only Son, sent with a message of love and reconciliation for all mankind was rejected by most. In this passage, Jesus seems sad and even dejected by the reaction of those precious souls He loved and came to die for.

After the crowds left from following Him, Jesus turned to the twelve and asked if they wanted to leave Him too. Simon Peter replied, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that You are the Holy One of God.” They understood. They listened to Him. They believed in and appreciated Him, but most didn’t.

Sometimes today, just like in Jesus’ day, who we are and what we are about doesn’t meet the standards and expectations of others. Some people just won’t get us or our mission. Not everyone will like us. We’re not their flavor, style, type, or cup of tea as a person. We are and will be rejected, deemed unacceptable or unworthy to be in their company or at their party or event. We are not invited. We are summarily disfellowshipped, and removed or isolated from their presence, often without a hearing or even knowing why. We are just excluded.

It doesn’t matter that we said something awkward, dumb, or even the wrong thing at the wrong time in the wrong way and didn’t realize it. It doesn’t matter that we are sorry when we have a faux pas or unintentionally hurt someone’s feelings. Cancel culture has no room for mercy or grace – much less real forgiveness. It doesn’t matter that we don’t know how to be the life of the party or even if we do. Whether too serious or too silly, we somehow don’t stack up to be selected for the group, team, meeting, event, click, or whatever.

It can be very painful from the outside looking in, knowing that friendship and fellowship are out of reach and withheld from us in our families, among some we consider our friends, and even within our congregations of Christian brothers and sisters.

The devil wants us to feel alone and isolated. He’s happy to divide and destroy relationships and reputations. He will use any and all methods, including our families and friends, to discourage and depress us. The devil wants to distract us from what is important and dissuade us from doing and following the good and perfect will of God, our Father. The devil used the same techniques on Jesus during His life and ministry here on earth. In His last moments on the cross, Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me!” The agony of all the sins of every person past, present, and future fell on Jesus’ shoulders on the cross that crucifixion day, and though God can not be in the presence of sin – God didn’t forsake Jesus. God, through Christ and the cross, worked out and fulfilled His wonderful and perfect plan of salvation for us.

When rejected, let’s remember what Jesus said in John 15:18 and following: “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father as well. If I had not done among them the works no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. As it is, they have seen, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason.’

Sometimes people will hate us without reason also. Sometimes the reason we are rejected and excluded is because we do belong to Christ, and that makes some uncomfortable. Sometimes people are just flat out mean, and mean to be hurtful. Sometimes they are simply thoughtless and careless of their words and actions.

In any case, the devil will take any and every reason and opportunity to hurt and dishearten us. That’s why we must keep in mind that our battle is not against flesh and blood. Our battle is not with the people who reject or exclude us. Our battle is with the devil and spiritual forces of evil. That’s why God tells us to put on our armor and be fully dressed for when (not if) the battles of this life come. The devil loves to hurt us and will use family, friends, and foes to do it.

The key to dealing with this issue is to keep ourselves in the Word of God and recognize the ways the devil schemes. When we hold up the shield of our faith, the Bible says that we “can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” We must keep top of mind that on our heads we wear the helmet of salvation. Our destiny and eternity with God are sure. Lastly, with the sword of the Spirit, “which is the Word of God” we can go on offense to counter the lies the devil tells us – even and at times, through those we know, love, admire, and respect.

With our armor on, we are instructed next in God’s word to “pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.” How often do we try to solve our own problems not remembering Matthew 11 which says, “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Let’s lay down our yokes and burdens and take the one Jesus offers. Psalm 55:22 says, “Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.”

God cares for us down to the hairs on our head and knows exactly what we need. Sometimes what we think we need, isn’t really what we need. Perhaps God prefers we seek His fellowship over that of those we would want as friends. In our prayers, let’s trust Him. Romans 8:26 tells us that we have an advocate in the Holy Spirit. The verse says, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” For those in Christ, God is for us. In fact the Bible says, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” How awesome is that?

The answer to feeling rejected, ignored, disliked, unwanted, unloved, unworthy, etc. is to get dressed with God’s protective armor, hold up our shields, rightly wield our swords, and pray at all times in the Spirit. This gives us the protection and the provision for the battles in this world with both ‘friends’ and foes.

We can not “make” others act rightly or follow the Lord or His commands. We can only and must focus on what we can do. Our focus needs to be on our relationship with Christ following and obeying our heavenly Father. Jesus said in John 15:12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” That’s how we need to respond to rejection. Jesus said in John 15, “You are my friends if you do what I command you.” We need to follow Christ’s lead and act with love towards others – whether family, friend, or foe. Remember, we are only responsible for our actions, not theirs.

In conclusion, I Peter 3:8-17 says, “Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. For, “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech. They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.”

Let’s remember these verses. Let’s look to the Lord for our identities, our value, and our relationship needs. He is able. He loves us. He wants us. He valued us more highly than His only Son. He has set a table for us – even in the presence of our enemies. He is the only One who will never let us down and always has what is for our best in mind. Trust Him. Depend on Him. He will be there for us, even when or if one else is.

I am thinking on these things…

Robin Robbins House

Happy New Year!

The past few years have brought much turmoil to and through many in our nation. Different groups war with one another and enjoy pitting people against one another.

In the coming year, let’s remember Job 12: 10 which says of God, “In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.”

In Proverbs 16:3-4 the Bible says, “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans. The Lord works out everything to its proper end— even the wicked for a day of disaster.”

In this new year 2022, trust in the Lord and reject all who would pit one group or person against another. Man is not in control of this world. God is!

Stand for what is right. Do what is right. Let us love God and one another as He has loved us. We are all precious – valued so highly that God gave His own Son for each and every one of us. This is the Good News of the Gospel.

The world only offers us sin and death. Jesus came to offer us life – abundant life. Don’t listen to the world. Listen to Him who made the world and everything in it. He cares for us and has abundant blessings for all who will come to and serve Him.

Happy New Year, 2022!

Lessons learned at the check out line

Today I was in a grocery store, and as I was checking out, the man who was sacking my groceries said, “I didn’t like that woman that came before you.” He went on to tell me how she approached the cashier and complained about how he checked out her items and was irritated when he did not get her loyalty number down right the first time. He said that she was peeved that she had to repeat her phone number. He went on to say that she was rude to him too in the way she asked for a bag for her items. I said that maybe she was having a hard day. The sacker didn’t buying my excuse for her.

As I completed my purchase, I told him that I thought I could carry everything to my car by hand, but he said no and that he wanted to go outside anyway. I told him thanks and as we walked to my car I remarked that it was sad that some people couldn’t or wouldn’t take the time to be kind and polite and be respectful of one another. He agreed.

It doesn’t take that much more time to be kind, yet I know there have been times when I have been short with someone or expressed my frustrations and exasperations. There is no room for me to point any fingers. Today was really more of a reminder for myself as I spoke to the gentleman that helped me get my groceries to my car during this hectic season of holidays about “giving.” We went on to talk about what a pretty day it was and other small talk as he helped me load the groceries in my car and parted with a have a great day to one another.

When I think about Jesus, He came as God to become a man – initially as an infant. God got down in the dirt with sinful man to live among us, serve us, and show us the way of salvation through His love for the Father and obedience to His will. Why should I complain? Why should I expect anything really? Jesus, who never sinned and lived a perfect human life, was misunderstood, mistreated, rejected, and ultimately selected to be executed in the place of a murderer.

What a Savior! What an example. Jesus said that as His disciples we shouldn’t expect to be treated any better than He was, but don’t we … When we remember who we are and whose we are, a lot of things really won’t matter or shouldn’t. The way others treat us is more of a reflection on who they are than on who we are. When we remember this and consider what God’s own Son went through, we won’t care so much that we had to deal with a long line, repeat information a second or third time, or that we need to ask for something that seems obvious to us, but is oblivious to someone else. When we remember that we, as Christians, are dead to our selves — to our will, ways, and wants – we will have the ability to focus on others and their needs. We will notice their needs, respect their efforts on our behalf, notice when they are having a difficult day, and show the common courtesy that isn’t so common anymore.

There are a lot of people weighed down with the worries of this old world today. There are many who don’t know what to do or where to turn. Life is tough for them. With a smile, kind words, a little empathy, and genuine love for our fellow man (all of whom are equally valued by God and worthy of Jesus’ sacrifice), we can show them the light, the way, the truth, and how to spend an eternity in heaven with God.

I’m talking to myself here — I pray that I can look outward to others and their needs over my own. I hope I can lift someone’s spirits and perhaps even make their day with something positive or good. Sometimes it is just the simple things, the little things, and a smile, a thank you, or an excuse me, please that can show someone that they are valued and appreciated. I’m going to work harder on remembering all of this and my experience at the grocery store today.

Lastly, I am reminded of Philippians 2. This scripture challenges me so very often. It says, “Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.” I’ll be thinking on these things… I hope I have encouraged you to think on them too.

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