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

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)

Let’s have some P’s please!

1. Pause and pray for our nation, its citizens, and our duly elected leaders.
2. Place your confidence in Christ.
3. Pledge your loyalty to God and no other.
4. Plan to do what is right, even if no one else does.
5. Prepare promptly in place to provide and protect your family and friends.
6. Promote peace in all conversations and activities as you pursue and point out what is true and right.
7. Pick your friends carefully.
8. Pray for your enemies.
9. Prevent dissension at home and work during tumultuous times. Don’t go into crowds or around anyone demonstrating about anything as many have no self-control or sense of right and wrong in their behavior within crowds.
10. Persuade those who don’t know God to seek Him through your godly behavior and love. John 13:35
11. Produce the fruits of the spirit. Galatians 5:22-23 says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
12. Pursue what is true, honorable, ethical, and right.
13. Prohibit yourself from negative thinking, self-talk, and talk. Think and speak positively.
14. Persist in studying the Word of God and the hope within found in a relationship with Christ.
15. Present your bodies every day as living sacrifices in the service of the one true God and only King of kings and Lord of lords.
16. Praise God at all times.

RRH 01-18-2021

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

Censorship and cultural chaos: What’s next?

FB says it is not an editorial group, yet they edit. FB says it is not responsible and has no liability for people’s posts, yet they take responsibility without any liability by deleting, suppressing, banning, censoring, putting up warnings, and limiting the reach/spread and comments of certain posts. FB says certain people, thoughts, ideas, words, and specific phrases are unacceptable and not allowed in our society as determined by their own unknown, unaccountable censors and mathematical algorithms, but other people, thoughts, ideas, words and phrases are acceptable and promoted by these oligarch, tyrannical, tech titans.

Perhaps these Goliaths are pure as the driven snow in their motives and actions – or maybe they are not. Why did T (twit) leave up a post calling for the VP to be hurt? Why are illegal activities including the sale and harming of precious children tolerated on these platforms while Bible verses, godly ideas, ethics, morality, and political opinions that do not call for harm to anyone at anytime or anywhere banned? Why can leaders of other countries call for the elimination of Israel and the death of all her people on their platforms without constraint? These are critical questions that demand an answer. Who decides what is allowed or not, what is right or wrong, and what is truth or a lie? Who is the true arbiter? Who today thinks and acts as if they are the arbiter for our society?

How can liberty, free speech, independence, and peace be preserved, protected and safeguarded in our nation? It will not be on or through these Goliath sites. Shut downs of certain people as well as billion dollar corporations and multiple mom and pop small businesses on A, G, T, and F show clearly that the ‘thought police’ are serious about suppression of truth, prevention of equal and fair trade, and the limiting and elimination of the exchange of ideas. They seem to want to “adjust” what is ‘right’ in their minds and ours including reality.

The removal and revision of actual historical facts, documentation, and evidences has been clearly seen over the past year in the anarchist movements to destroy monuments, buildings, cities, people, and ideas. George Santayana is quoted to have said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” When we do not learn from our past including the mistakes, we will be destined to revisit the same issues and problems again and again. Why is it that some leaders are speaking of and promising a “dark” winter and “dark” times ahead? Must we leave the enlightenment of truth and knowledge including learning the lessons of our past to go back into the dark ages of the past? Why, when there is so much knowledge and information available, do we see a limitation of information and repetitive articles of only one viewpoint? Why are current events on the news not current?

There is a serious movement in our nation by some to “deprogram” and “reprogram” those who do not think like “they” think some should. This is serious. Communist China has almost complete censorship of its society including the ability to cut off one’s ability to buy food and travel. They send citizens to thought reprograming camps. There is censorship of and the elimination of churches throughout the country as Christians are terrorized and tortured by the powers that be. There is even evidence that China is harvesting organs from live political dissidents and prisoners. Is that where we are going?

Reports on the news this day are calling some U S Senators terrorists for their opposing political opinions. Businesses are being called upon by Forbes to never hire anyone with certain ideas or thoughts. Media companies are cancelling people and businesses in political vendettas. The blame game continues. When party “a” in power says we need to get back to work in our economy, it is atrocious, but once party “b” comes to power, it is suddenly a great idea to get the economy back to work. Really?

What is happening in our United States? Over a million Americans have given so much for our freedoms up to and including their last drops of blood. Have we taken these freedoms for granted too long? Perhaps we haven’t held it dear enough and that is why it is almost extinguished and extinct. Abraham Lincoln said, “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” Are we destroying ourselves from within today? If freedom in America is not defended and protected, it will be lost.

I know many that read this post will be just like a child warned by a parent or authority figure in a crystal store to only “look and not touch.” Many who read my words will not touch this post with a ten foot pole much less a comment, ‘like’ or any other such expression of feeling for fear of retaliation or being singled out and cancelled out. That’s sad. So many are living in fear today and have no faith. They have believed the rampant fomenting of fear through the media reports from the pandemic to the political and cultural unrest.

I’d like to encourage you to look to the Lord for answers. Read the Word of God. Learn His will for your life. He wrote the book on us. His Word is of peace, reconciliation, love, freedom, and a bright and wonderful eternal future. Cast all your anxieties upon God. Seek your rest in the salvation freely offered through Jesus Christ. Give yourself fully and completely into his service and care. God loves and cares for you and is the only true and real and complete answer to all the ills in our lives and in this world. Don’t live in fear. Live in faith.

Put on the full armor of the Lord like it says in Ephesians 6:10-18. “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”

For those that want in this earthly life and in this country freedom, peace, and a real “united” states in America again, I have this to offer. Spread the “gospel of peace.” Stand up for truth. Speak clearly what is right. Do right and be ethical in your businesses and personal dealings. Conduct yourself as the Lord would want. Be honest. Be faithful. Be better not bitter. Be holy as the Lord is holy. Love your family. Raise your children to know and love the Lord. If we don’t raise our children to be godly, then they will be ungodly. That’s just how it is. We will be either a godly or an ungodly people. We cannot be both. Love your neighbors as yourself. Pray for your enemies. Show kindness and courtesy to all. I don’t like to say it, but be patient. I know it is hard to be patient. I want things fixed now and before now would have been better in my mind. In fact, why did America have to go down this road? I think it is because we, as a nation, have rejected the Redeemer to make our own rules and self-righteousness. This is idolatry, and God won’t stand for it.

To those who are Christians, remember that Christians will be hated and persecuted. No surprise here. Jesus, the holy, sinless Son of God, was hated, reviled, rejected, and relegated to death on a cross. All Christ’s followers should not be surprised that they may be persecuted. Don’t fear. Don’t give up. God was willing to save even Sodom and Gomorrah if only 10 righteous were found in its midst. Don’t back down. Be peaceful not pugnacious. Never run away, for your Father in Heaven is Sovereign and we are in His army. Walk in the Light. Live confidently in your faith. Supplant every fear with faith. Have joy in the Lord. Pray without ceasing. Let the Spirit work in you and through you for His will and way. Always move forward in the power of His might and not your own.

Remember that the ‘world’ will not understand or ‘get’ you. God still uses the foolish things of the world to shame the wise. (I Cor. 1:27) Do what you are called by God to do, and then — be still and KNOW that GOD is GOD. God’s got all this. May God bless our nation and you in His will. RRH 1/12/2021

Hurricane Harvey

Hurricane Harvey

As I’ve watched on television the people of Texas deal with the effects of Hurricane Harvey, I’ve heard many reporters and commentators expressing their opinions on the rescues, recovery, and responses about those affected, their neighbors and how both citizens and elected officials around the nation have reacted to this natural disaster. I posted a video interview on my Facebook feed about one man who came from Kentucky to help out. The man told a story of how, while helping, he became hungry was helped by hospitable citizens affected by Harvey with a meal in the midst of their own loss and devastation. His heart-felt and humble testimony, while giving God the glory, was inspiring.
Video of a good Samaritan

Christian groups like Samaritan’s Purse, The Churches of Christ Disaster Relief Effort, and many others led the response preparing to send people and supplies both now and for the long haul of the recovery. The Cajun Navy from Louisiana loaded their boats and supplies and en masse jumped in the water (both literally and figuratively) to seek, save, and serve their fellow man. The Red Cross is helping with shelters and supplies while coordinating contributions. Govenor Abbot and public officials throughout Texas have rallied together to coordinate their efforts while accepting assistance offered by President Trump from the federal government. Mexico and other countries have also offered to help and are sending aid.

In spite of thousands of what I’d say are wonderful stories and responses to the tragedy of Hurricane Harvey, there are many reporters that seem determined to be critical. They appear to feed on being divisive, disparaging and destructive as they pompously judge the thoughts and motives of elected officials, church leaders and others. I heard one reporter try to bait Govenor Abbot to say that the mayor of Houston made the “wrong call” about evacuating the city. Many in the media are not content to report on brotherly-love, self-sacrifice, and people doing the neighborly and right thing because of their faith in Christ or their patriotism as Americans. They want conflict and controversy. I for one am tired of the media pitting one group against another just to “watch the show” of one group tearing down or into another verbally and even physically.

As I was reading in the gospel of Luke this morning, I came across the passage in Luke 9:49-50 where John tells Jesus that they saw a man driving out demons in Jesus’ name and how they tried to stop him, because, as John said, “he is not one of us.” Jesus replied to John and the apostles, “Do not stop him, for whoever is not against you is for you.” This story is also told in Mark 9:38-41. Sometimes, just like in Jesus and John’s day, people get territorial about their service and critical of others who try to serve God and man. I think Jesus speaks to this in these passages, and there are lessons to learn. As I read this passage, it also called to mind another group of Bible verses that seem to contradict this message. In Matthew 12:30 Jesus says, “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.” In this passage Jesus had just healed a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute (Matthew 12:22-23) so that the man could both see and hear. Those that saw the miracle were astonished and wondered if Jesus could be the Son of David. The Pharisees, when they heard about the miracle, said Jesus was of Beelzebub, the prince of demons. As such, that is how the Pharisees thought Jesus drove the demon from the blind and mute man. Jesus’ next words address the Pharisees contention and have been quoted by millions, including President Abraham Lincoln. Jesus responded to the Pharisees by saying, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand.” Jesus could not be casting out demons by the prince of demons. That doesn’t make any sense at all. Our nation needs to know this truth and act on it to survive as a nation. The success and well-being of our cities and our very homes depend on us working together and being united. Too often, we have let dissension, disagreements, and down-right destructiveness reign in our homes, our cities, and our nation. This is one reason why our families have failed, and the divorce rate is at 50%. Recent studies show that Washington D. C. has the highest divorce rate in our nation. Is anyone surprised? In contrast, Hawaii has the lowest divorce rate, so there may be something to being stuck on an island and having to work things out together. I say all this not to meddle or digress, but to inspire thought and consideration for how we may “hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds…” (Hebrews 10:23-24 NIV) I think that’s what many have done in response to the situation and needs following Hurricane Harvey. They have considered how to spur one another on to love and good deeds.

So what is the answer about the apparent contradiction between what Jesus says? I did find an interesting article that seems to have an answer to the question. (Disclaimer—Please know that I don’t give a blanket endorsement to all of what anyone says unless they are specifically quoting the Word of God. I do think that there are many scholars and Bible students that can present excellent information and insight from which we can decide what to think or believe about a Bible message or passage. As such, I just read the article written and copyrighted by Ken Collins titled “Did Jesus Contradict Himself about Who’s on His Side?” this morning. I do not know the author, except by reading what he has posted about himself, so I encourage you to think, study and decide for yourself on this question and others.) Many say that the Bible contradicts itself. I don’t believe that. I think that sometimes I just don’t have the skill or understanding to fully grasp some of the statements and concepts in the Bible. But – I keep trying, and I’m continuing to study, learn and grow. I hope you are too. As I read Ken Collins article this morning, I think that Ephesians 6:10-18 and especially verse 12 may also tie in to the discussion. I hope you will enjoy the article and dive into the exercise of studying God’s Word and discovering more fully God’s will. Read the article.

In response to a concern I had about the article written by Ken, I want to say that I believe that we all make choices every day in our lives to seek, serve and be subject to God or not. I believe that Jesus was sent as the Son of God to serve His Father’s will and be offered as a sacrifice to save all mankind from sin and eternal death. I believe that God gives us the choice to accept Him and His free gift of redemption through Christ or not. I believe we all choose by our actions, and even by our inactions, whether we will accept Jesus as our Savior or serve ourselves and satan.

Finally, my desire is like that of Paul, who said in I Timothy 2:1-6 “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone — for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men— the testimony given in its proper time.” I hope that everyone reading my message will be encouraged and be voices for unity and peace in our homes, cities, and nation. I hope that we will continually seek God and share his wonderful message with our families, friends, and even our foes. Let us think on these things….

Robin House
© 2017

Stocks, Seeds, and Investing

IMG_2307 Robin’s Roses Photograph by Robin House

At the opening bell this Wednesday, January 25, 2017, as the U. S. stock market opened it topped 20,000. Reporters all over the world carried the story as the floor of the stock market erupted with cheers. Video graphics of fireworks displays were shown and a sense of excitement prevailed. The stock market had been flirting with 20,000 for almost a month, and now the record had been reached. Discussions about whether the number was a fluke or would hold were made. Experts discussed whether 20,000 was just a new beginning benchmark for a new optimism in America since the presidential election. Many asked themselves if they should get in the market now or sell before the possible fall? People looked to experts in stock predicting to learn if they had waited too long to seize opportunities. They questioned if they should keep investing or pull back?

In II Corinthians chapters eight and nine, Paul writes to the Corinthians about their plans for giving and thereby investing financially in the gospel and others. Paul reminds the Corinthians of their commitment to giving a year previously. At the time of his writing, the Corinthians had not yet fulfilled their promise. Paul reveals in II Corinthians 9:1-5 that he had been boasting to the Macedonians of their commitment to give. He said that the news of what the Corinthians planned to do had inspired the Macedonians to give also. He reveals in chapter eight of II Corinthians that in spite of “severe trial, their overflowing joy and extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.” As a result, Paul wanted to make sure that the Corinthians were prepared to fulfill their promise. He didn’t want the shame that would accompany an unfulfilled commitment when it came time to gather the funds. As a result, Titus and others were sent ahead of Paul and the Macedonians to assist the Corinthians to complete their commitment before Paul arrived. Paul wanted to make sure that the gift they promised was “ready as a generous gift, not as one grudgingly given.” How many times have we forgotten a gift for a party or shower and had to inconveniently rush out to get something? Or how many times did we just skip the party, because we were unprepared or unwilling to bring the expected gift or party food?

Sometimes today we are enthusiastic about an opportunity or project we’d like to invest in and make ambitious commitments to help or participate only to, with the passage of time, forget our promises and lose our ardor for the project. It is easy to do. Time flies and sometimes we lose track of what we promise. Sometimes after making a commitment, we don’t plan or think at all about that date in the future when the “bill” will come due. Procrastination is an easy habit to keep. In II Corinthians 8-9, Paul is encouraging the Corinthians to not delay and to be prepared. In II Corinthians 9:6, Paul reminds the Corinthians that “whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.” In the next verse Paul reminds them that, “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” Both of these statements have to do with planning, preparing, and being proactive to do what we say we will do.

What about us today? What do we commit to each day? Do we prepare for the promises we have made? Are we cheerful in our commitments? What kind of “farmers” are we? Do we sit on the porch swing of life moving back and forth but never really going anywhere expecting to reap a crop we have not planted? When we do sow the seed, is it sparingly? Paul makes clear that sowing sparingly can only reap a sparing crop. What kind of harvest do we want and expect in this life— and what harvest do we want in the next one?

In II Corinthians 8:10-12 Paul says, “And here is my advice about what is best for you in this matter: Last year you were the first not only to give but also to have the desire to do so. Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it will be matched by your completion of it, according to your means. For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have.” In II Corinthians 9:8, Paul continues telling the Corinthians that “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” Here’s the question. How can one fail when God is able and willing to help us? The answer is, we can’t. Like the Corinthians in Paul’s day, when we serve to supply the needs of God’s people, our generosity will reap great rewards and overflow to thanksgiving to God in our world by those of the world.

To sum it all up, is a bull market on the run? Time will tell. The stock market will always go up and down. Gains and losses will continue. Should we get in the stock market or sit it out? Each person must answer that for himself. The bigger question in life is this—Do we have the courage and commitment to plan, prepare and generously plant into others today? With God’s help to make us able, there is no need to be afraid to invest in the good things that are of eternal consequence. There is no better season to plant and invest in God’s will than right now. When we watch carefully each day, we will recognize the opportunities we have to sow (invest) generously in our church, community and culture. Remember that God even supplies the “seed to the sower and bread for food.” Just like he promised the Corinthians in chapter nine verse ten, God will help us – “increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.” When we invest ourselves in others and in the ways God wants us to, our mission and enthusiasm will be clear. When we fulfill our commitments, God will be praised even by the ungodly in our world. We will bloom in beauty like a rose for all to see. When we work in God’s field to generously plant, we will reap a generous harvest. It is a law of nature, like gravity. When we keep our commitments, God’s grace will abound to us, so that in all things at all times having all that we need, we will abound in every good work.

Robin House

Football, Politics, Polls and Fair Play

angry voters

Do you know who won the football game last Sunday? Did you see it? Though the Dallas Cowboys are not “my” team, no one can dispute the successes and quality of the Dallas Cowboy team play since Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott and others banded their team together to complete one of the best Cowboys football seasons in recent history. Since Dak Prescott is from my hometown, I have enjoyed seeing his success. Watching a great athlete compete with skill and perseverance while calling his mind and body to perform at an elite level is a beautiful thing – no matter what team a player is on. I saw only the last seconds of the game Sunday night, but it was in those final moments that it became clear that Green Bay’s kicker, by the narrowest of margins, kicked the football between the uprights to give the Green Bay Packers a winning score of 34 to 31 over Dallas. The scoreboard numbers and the celebrations by the Packers team and fans showed the television audience that Green Bay would move on to the final playoff game before the Superbowl. Dallas Cowboy fans were stunned, shaken, and sad. What happened?

What happened was that the Packers won and the Cowboys lost. But wait just a minute. On Monday I heard a story that said Green Bay won the scoring vote but that the Cowboys won the popular vote. The Cowboys had been ahead during the game and let’s face it — the Cowboys are America’s team. According to the story, the Cowboys deserved to win. The final score just couldn’t be the “be all and end all” outcome of the competition. Could it? Should someone send a note to the Green Bay Packers and fans to tell them that the final scoreboard score just didn’t count? Would someone actually say that a popular vote of public sentiment and rankings trumped the actual game played and score?

Of course not! Green Bay just like Clemson in the College Championship game beat Alabama in the final seconds because they scored more points than the other team. Yes, Alabama like Dallas, was favored to win, but they didn’t. They didn’t win because they didn’t score more points than the other team. That’s the way the game is played. Yes, some will be disappointed that their team did not win, but that is what happens in a contest. One wins, and one looses. The contest and the rules are clear to all before the competition begins, and then the game is played. For 60 minutes the football teams competed and each did their best to win.

In the recent presidential election, the candidates entered the contest, knew the rules, and competed fiercely for victory. One won, and one lost. Since the infancy of our nation and for over 240 years, we have held the same system of electing a president. On several occasions the presidential candidate that won the popular vote did not win the majority vote in the electoral college. The first incident of this kind was in 1824 with Andrew Jackson winning the popular vote by over 10% but losing to John Quincy Adams in the electoral college. Yet in the 193 years since that first contentious election where John Quincy Adams became our sixth President, our citizens, and as a result our elected officials, have not voted to change the electoral college system or rules by which U S Presidents are elected each and every 4 years. I’m not giving an opinion on the electoral college system, but simply stating that it is the current system and provides the rules for the election of all of our presidents.

Our government is not a true democracy, but a representative republic by which each citizen (unless they are a felon or live in a U S territory) has the right to vote to elect representatives to vote their will. Unlike most governments in our world, the United States of America has a system of government that is of, by and for the people. Too often I think our citizens have abdicated their rights to control the government by being inattentive, ignorant and apathetic. In most elections only a small percentage of citizens even show up to the polls to cast their votes. As a result, the small majority that do vote or do push their agenda in the halls of our state legislatures and in Congress often get their way in a manner that is many times not “fair” or good for the citizenry as a whole.

Like the Clemson/Alabama game the week before and the Cowboys/Packers game this past Sunday, the presidential team with the popular vote, poles and rankings did not win. The final score was Hillary Clinton 232 and Donald Trump 306. Mr. Trump seemed to trail most of the game, and the popular opinion and poles were not favorable for him. But, in the end and at the end of the election, Donald Trump had the winning score.

In less than 24 hours, our nation is set to inaugurate the 45th President of the United States. This man was elected by the rules of candidacy and competition set forth in our laws to serve our nation and its people. Like the 44 Presidents before him and as required by the U S Constitution in Article II, Section One, Clause 8, Donald J. Trump is scheduled to take the same oath his 44 predecessors did. The oath says “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” George Washington, our first President, was recorded to have concluded his oath of office with the statement, “So help me God.” requesting the help of the Almighty as he served. Washington set a precedent that has continued for over 200 years, including both swearing in ceremonies for Barak Obama.

Our national motto says “In God we trust.” But do we? Our Pledge of Allegiance says “… One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” But is it? I see a great rift in our nation today. What once was clearly an indivisible citizenry is divisive. Those promoting freedom and tolerance are often the most restrictive and intolerant. Justice seems to apply to some more equally than others. Have you read Animal Farm? Any look at our history, its monuments and the words engraved on many of our government buildings clearly shows that our nation was based and built on Christian values and freedoms. Alexis de Tocqueville, the French political thinker and historian who came to America in 1831 and wrote Democracy in America, said, “Liberty cannot be established without morality, nor morality without faith.” Revisionist historians and teachers are working diligently to rewrite, revise and remove all semblance of this truth from our documents, monuments, buildings and culture. As a result, many today have no knowledge or appreciation for the work done and the price paid by our founding fathers for the freedoms we enjoy. In no other country in the world are people dying to “break in” to join our society. In no other country in the world do its citizens hold as many rights and freedoms. No other country has the opportunity and the great responsibility to self-govern as we, the citizens of the United States, do.

In watching the recent events and outbursts designed to disrupt, dismantle, and delegitimize our society and government, I am sad to see the disunity in these United States. This is not good for our nation. The spirit of anarchy should not be allowed to fester and grow. I hope that you will join me to pray and to work for our nation’s best interests and unity. I believe the answer to what ails us lies in developing a more godly, patriotic, informed, critical thinking and intentional voting citizenry that seeks not their own good, but the good of the nation as a whole. A citizenry that loves their neighbor as their self. Towards that end, here are some lessons that I learned as a child from my parents, teachers, and mentors about sportsmanship and life. Some in the younger generations may not have seen these teachings before, so I hope you will enjoy them, take note and let them guide and enrich your life.

LESSONS OF SPORTSMANSHIP AND LIFE FROM A LOUISIANA LADY

1. Life isn’t always fair. I just hated hearing my mom tell me that over and over, but it’s true.

2. You have to play the game to have a chance to win. Get in the game.

3. In almost every case, the more skilled or competitive player or team will win.

4. You won’t always win, even if you work and try hard.

5. There are no awards for just showing up and participating.

6. Opponents will often work and fight just as hard, or harder, to win as you did. Life’s tough.

7. When you give your best efforts and still lose, there’s no shame in that.

8. Competing by the rules with integrity and fairness is expected.

9. Cheating is wrong.

10. It is important to be a “good sport.” Otherwise, you are a bad loser.

11. You don’t argue about the rules of the game after the game is over.

12. You may not have a hissy fit if you lose. You’ll be disciplined if you do.

13. Be gracious in loss and victory. Learn to sincerely show respect and congratulate an opponent.

14. Learn to “follow the leader” elected or selected even when he/she wasn’t your preference.

15. Know that there might be a next time, or there might not be a next time for a rematch. Sometimes you just get one chance at something.

16. Remember that President Abraham Lincoln quoted Jesus when he said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” from Matthew 12:25 (NIV)

17. It is often beneficial if you can get along with those with which you disagree. We know that Galatians 5:15 (ESV) says, “But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.” So, don’t burn your bridges and boats.

18. “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.” I John 4:20-21 (NIV) Love is the greatest commandment.

19. About authority, remember Romans 13:1-7 (NIV) which says “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgement. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience…” Respect those in authority, whether you like them or not because they are under authority too.

20. Don’t forget that “The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble.” Proverbs 16:4 (ESV)

21. Winning doesn’t make us better than others.

22. Losing is not the end of the world, and God is in charge of the end of the world too. (See Matthew 24:36 and Mark 13:32)

Thanks for reading. I appreciate you. May God bless you and yours.

Robin House

Open Doors and Opportunity

In a new year I often feel like I have a new beginning point and opportunities. New resolutions, renewed plans to try again or start over, and the desire to set new goals for the coming year come to mind after Christmas and in the first weeks of the new year. Sometimes I make resolutions for the new year, and sometimes I don’t. This year I am having a “take 2” shot at one of the major resolutions from last year. I “sort of” like making resolutions but often bite off more than I can chew. Like a child in front of a restaurant buffet or at a church pot luck dinner, my ideas – like my eyes are often bigger than I can possibly handle. Committing to a better diet, exercising regularly, beginning new projects, exploring interests and learning new skills all call to me. I like challenging goals. I like the satisfaction I get when I have completed a difficult task well. It gives me feelings of confidence, accomplishment, optimism, and fulfillment when a goal is achieved. It just makes me feel good!

Today opportunities abound for many worthy causes and goals. Just Google it, and you’ll see. As a child of the 70s, I grew up with the “Superwoman myth.” It said that as a woman, I could do it all, be it all, and have it all. Both experience (I tried it.) and wisdom have taught me that I can’t do it all, be it all, and have it all. So how do I choose what priorities to address, goals to set and plans to make? I credit my husband for pointing out and sharing a passage in II Corinthians 2:12-13 for helping me address this question. I read this passage again this week and want to share it now.

Paul had travelled to Troas to preach the gospel to the people there. The Scripture says that he had an open door from the Lord, but Paul had no “peace of mind” or confidence in his ability to carry on the work in Troas. Paul said that because his brother Titus was not there with him, he said goodbye to the people of Troas and went on to Macedonia. It seems that Paul gave a pass to Troas in his missionary journey to share and spread the gospel. What did that mean for Paul then? What does it mean today?

Here’s what I think. Sometimes we have great opportunities open to us for doing God’s will and good in our world, but something is just not quite right. A specific ingredient is missing, or the timing is not quite right in the moment. In Paul’s case, the Lord gave him an open door of opportunity in Troas, but Paul didn’t walk through it. In Paul’s example, I see that I don’t have to go through every door of opportunity either — even if the Lord opens the door. I believe that if God really wants me to go in a particular direction or through a particular “door,” He has just as much power today as He did when He dealt with Jonah to send me through any “door” He wants me to enter. I can say that I have had some “Jonah-like” experiences during my life, minus the fish, of course. Second, I think it is important to listen to that still, small voice that says, “Not now.” Sometimes, like Paul, I don’t have a “peace of mind” about a project or goal. Third, I need to remember that some plans and goals are better achieved with the help of a trusted colleague or friend. Some goals are just not meant to be completed alone and may need to be deferred until help arrives. The church Jesus established is an excellent example of this principle. The body of Christ works best when it works together to support, nourish, and spur its members to love and good works. God made us to need each other. If not, why did God make Eve for Adam? If not, why did God tell Adam and Eve to be one as husband and wife and have children? If not, why did Christ establish his church for his followers?

I hope that as we encounter various opportunities in this new year, that we will remember Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:33 where He says to seek God’s kingdom and righteousness first and all the things we need will be provided to us. In addition let’s look at the very next words of Paul in II Corinthians two after he reveals that he left Troas to go on to Macedonia to preach the gospel. In II Corinthians 2:14 (NIV) Paul says, “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Him.” Paul knew — and I think we can see, that wherever he went and whatever “door” he entered, as he put and served God first, God made him effective in His service. In the same way, we, too, can be effective and successful with our goals and plans as we go through whatever “doors of opportunity” we may enter.

May God guide and bless you in all ways!

Robin House

Additional study verses Colossians 3:2, Psalm 119:112, Hebrews 12:2, Matthew 6:25-34, Proverbs 16:3, II Timothy 1:7