Does What I Say and Do Line up with God’s Character?

“God stretches the northern sky over empty space and hangs the earth on nothing. He wraps the rain in His thick clouds, and the clouds don’t burst with the weight. He covers the face of the moon, shrouding it with His clouds. He created the horizon, when He separated the waters: He set the boundary between day and night. The foundations of heaven tremble; they shudder at His rebuke. By His power, the sea grew calm. By His skill, He crushed the great sea monster. His Spirit made the heavens beautiful, and His power pierced the gliding serpent. These are just the beginning of all that He does, merely a whisper of His power. Who, then, can comprehend the thunder of His power?”

Job 26:7-14 NLT

Omnipotent…It’s a big word that simply means “All Powerful.” This describes God, the Almighty! Whether you believe it or not, God can do ANYTHING…as long as it falls in line with His purposes…

“I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be restrained.”

Job 42:2 WEB

“But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases.”

Psalm 115:3 MEV

…and His character.

“So God has given both His promise and His oath. These two things are unchangeable, because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to Him for refuge can have great confidence, as we hold to the Hope that lies before us.”

Hebrews 6:18 NLT

“You know that He appeared to take away sins, and in Him there is no sin.”

1 John 3:5 ESV

“God is not a human being who speaks falsely, nor a mortal, who feels regret. Is God one to speak and not act, to decree and not bring it to pass?”

Numbers 23:19 NAB

“If we are faithless, He remains faithful—for He cannot deny Himself.”

2 Timothy 2:13 ESV

Some people have questioned whether or not it’s “impossible” for God to lie or if He just chooses not to. Take a look back at Hebrews 6:18 (listed above). The Greek word for “impossible,” used in this verse, is “adunatos,” which comes from two Greek words: “alpha” (meaning “not”) + “dunatos” (meaning “possible” or “able”) = “not able or possible.” I think “impossible” is quite an adequate word to describe His inability to lie! He can’t “deny” (“contradict”) Himself; He IS Truth (John 14:6, 16:13, 17:17)!

As I was thinking about this the other day, I got to thinking about how we identify ourselves with God. Maybe we call ourselves “believers” or “Christians” (“little anointed ones”). If this is true, then we identify ourselves as children of God through faith in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:26-4:7), God’s Son, and have the Spirit of Christ in our hearts, crying “Father! Father!” So, if we’re children of God and have a healthy relationship with our daddy, we love Him dearly and are dependent on Him. Keep trackin’ with me, here…

  • If God is in us…the same God who’s unable to sin or contradict His character…don’t you think He’s a good daddy and can be relied on to help us, as we try to imitate Him?
  • And if He’s unable to contradict His character, why do we think it’s ok to act in a way that contradicts HIM, when we belong to Him?!?

If [God] is unable to contradict His character, why do we think it’s ok to act in a way that contradicts HIM, when we belong to Him?!?

“Well, you didn’t see what she did to me! She totally had that comin’!”

“They only seem to listen if I yell!”

“Why should I forgive him? He doesn’t deserve it!”

“Well, if I told you the truth, I’d hurt your feelings.”

We have our excuses, don’t we?!? But if we have God inside us…the One Who can do anything that pleases Him, we should be truly reflecting Him by making choices that also please Him. If we’re acting contrary to His character, we’re acting like He’s not in us…like we’re not identifying as His kid. If we, as a believer in Christ, contradict Him, we give a false representation of Who He is to others. It’s not about seeming “stuck up,” “intolerant,” or “too conservative.” It’s about truly representing Who God is!

That’s enough for me to pause and dig deep, asking the Spirit to show me any inconsistencies in MY life. How about you?
Photo by Thomas Grams on Unsplash

Sin, Guilt, and Repentance

“I got to thinking about the first time I ever felt guilty. It happened when I was in the first grade…My mom was a hair dresser, and every Saturday, she had me stay with Mrs. Gunner; Mrs. Gunner was…my baby sitter while Mom…worked. I loved Mrs. Gunner! She was like a second mother to me.

She had a son named Scotty…He was off to college…I used to take a nap in Scotty’s room. Scotty had a soldier’s hat, and I REALLY LOVED that hat! So, one day, I was getting ready to [go] home. It was cold; I’d worn a coat, and I took that hat (I loved it so much)…, and I put it under my coat…I took it home.

Well, it didn’t take me long to realize, once after I got home, that I couldn’t wear the hat, ’cause if I did, my mom and dad would ask me where I got the hat, and I’d have to rat myself out! So, you know what I did with that hat? I put that hat under my bed.

For the next week, I got the worst sleep of my life! All I thought about was that hat, and this thought kept coming to my mind: ‘That’s not your hat! It doesn’t belong to you! You stole it! You shouldn’t have taken it! That is NOT YOUR HAT!’ I was miserable, and I finally realized (on Friday night before the Saturday I was going to go back to see Mrs. Gunner); I finally got it! ‘I don’t have that hat! That hat has ME!’

So, the next morning, I got up, put the hat under my coat (I never told my mom, by the way, that this happened)…, and I went back. I’ll be honest with ya. I’m six years old. I don’t even know if I know what the word “guilt” really means, but I can remember it like it was yesterday. I walked into the house, and, oh, I just dreaded it so badly! I walked into the kitchen. Mrs. Gunner was in the kitchen; she was making breakfast for me. I walked in, and I took that hat from under my coat, and I put it on the table.

I said, ‘Mrs. Gunner, I stole Scotty’s hat, and I’m so sorry!’ I had tears in my eyes.

I still remember Mrs. Gunner coming over to me, and she said, ‘Well, I saw you took it.’

I said, ‘What?’

She said, ‘I saw you took it.’ She was a godly woman, and she said, ‘But I wanted God to teach you a lesson. She said, ‘How did your week go?’

I said, ‘Terrible!’

She said, ‘Good! That’s what I prayed for every single day!’

But I want to tell you, when I gave her that hat, and she said to me, ‘I knew you’d bring it back, and I forgive you,’ let me tell you what happened: 1) I had the best time playing I had all week! 2) I got the best night’s sleep I’d gotten in a week!

…You may be living with guilt today, but you don’t have to live with guilt tomorrow! There is an answer! There is a hope for you! Now, let me say up front: There is no human cure for the problem of guilt…Why? Because the cause of all guilt is sin, and only God can cure your problem! You can…get all the counseling that you want to, but guilt is the infection, and only God has the cure.

Dr. James Merritt

God used this story to impact me this week! I see sin, and I hate it! It bothers me, and I want to cure it…fix it. So, I pray that God will use me…something I say…to penetrate someone’s heart! Mrs. Gunner’s reaction jumped out at me like bold letters on a white page! In that situation, I so would’ve been chompin’ at the bit to share God’s word with Dr. Merritt’s younger self, show him why what he did was wrong, call his mom and fill her in, so she could talk through it with him and pray for him, too,…! Sigh. Did you see what he said? “Only God can cure your problem!” I’m not saying that God doesn’t use us to bring Truth into people’s lives! He does! I’m just realizing there are times when all He wants is for us to trust Him with the timing and to trust Him with the conviction and result! I think the thoughtful, trusting, prayerful approach Mrs. Gunner took in letting the Spirit of God work that week was further reaching than anything she could’ve ever said days earlier!

Dr. Merritt went on to preach a fantastic sermon about sin, which “in the eyes of God, is not a misdemeanor; it’s a felony,” guilt, and repentance, based on Psalm 51:1-5.

Sin: It is NOT a cold; it’s a cancer!

Dr. james merritt

Several words in the Bible refer to sin, but I haven’t always understood why they’re all used, like they’re different. Here’s how they’re slightly different (you’ll also see them in Psalm 51):

  • Transgressions–cross a forbidden boundary; rebel against the law
  • Iniquity–perversity (to think you can sin against an all-knowing, all-perfect, all-holy God and get away with it)
  • Sin–miss the mark (bullseye); the bullseye of your life is the will of God, which is what’s right…His best for you

Take some time this week to read Psalm 51. It’s a heart-wrenching prayer of sin, guilt, and repentance that we all can pour out to God, when He convicts us of our sin.

“The sacrifices of God [are] a broken spirit, a heart broken and bruised, O God; You do not despise.”

Psalm 51:17 LSV

To hear Dr. Merritt’s entire sermon, click on this link:

https://www.touchinglives.org/watch/clean-slate-2

Far from Reckless

You’ve probably heard a well-known song, describing God’s love as “reckless.” A rendition I heard a while back was unique, with beautiful harmonies; it stirred my Spirit, even well into the night. It’s a controversial song. Some have spoken to their worship leaders about it, chosen not to join in singing it at their churches, or turned the channel/skipped it, when it’s come on the radio, Spotify, etc.

WHY DOES THE TERM “RECKLESS” SPUR CONTROVERSY?

“Reckless” is “marked by lack of proper caution: careless of consequences; irresponsible; heedlessness of probable consequences.”1 Here are some synonyms listed for this word with their definitions/implications; note that all of them expose “oneself to danger more than required by good sense:”1

  • DARING implies fearlessness in courting danger.”
  • DAREDEVIL stresses [a showy, unrefined demonstration in order to draw attention and impress with greater qualities than one actually has] in regard to daring.
  • RASH suggests imprudence and lack of forethought.”
  • FOOLHARDY suggests a recklessness that is inconsistent with good sense.”1

This is why many have a tough time with this description of God’s love; it’s depicted as careless or irresponsible.

WHAT WAS THE WRITER’S INTENSION?

“When I use the phrase, ‘the reckless love of God,’ I’m not saying that God Himself is reckless. I am, however, saying that the way He loves, is in many regards, quite so. His love bankrupted heaven for you. His love doesn’t consider Himself first. His love isn’t selfish or self-serving. He doesn’t wonder what He’ll gain or lose by putting Himself out there. He simply gives Himself away on the off-chance that one of us might look back at Him and offer ourselves in return. The recklessness of His love is seen most clearly in this – it gets Him hurt over and over. Make no mistake, our sin pains His heart. Yet He opens up and allows us in every time. His love saw you when you hated Him – when all logic said, ‘They’ll reject me,’ He said, ‘I don’t care if it kills me. I’m laying My heart on the line.'”2

Cory Asbury
DIVISION OR UNITY AMONG BELIEVERS?

I read a blog by a passionate worship leader about the use of the word “reckless” in “Reckless Love” and how believers have raised questions about it. He said, “I honestly cannot believe I just wasted 10 minutes of my time needing to argue why reckless is an okay description of God’s love in this context. I think if more Christians were more distressed about reaching their lost neighbors with the gospel of Jesus instead of putting up a fuss about songs like this, the world would be a much better [place] with more saved people. But nope. We still battle our pharisaical and religious tendencies.” His view was that “The chorus focuses on how incredible it is that God loves us and pursues us. The term “Reckless” has gotten a lot of attention. As usual, when a gifted songwriter uses a bit of language that is not typical, all of the Pharisees in the church come out of the woodwork and make a loud fuss.”3

We ABSOLUTELY need to be concerned with reaching our lost neighbors with the gospel of Jesus and be in awe of the incredible love God so drastically demonstrated to us! So, when’s it “fussy” to call something out, and when’s it just discerning? My belief is that when something misrepresents Who God IS, it’s ok to be “fussy,” as some people see it. Misrepresented information has the possibility of deceiving people or causing them to question truth, and we want to be extremely discerning in representing our God correctly. If you follow this blog, you know I spent quite some time combing through misrepresentations of love. The consequences of misstatements are detrimental.

A LOOK AT TRUTH…GOD IS:
  • Love (1 John 4:8, 16), so describing God’s love IS describing HimHis character; you can’t separate the two. This word for love, as you may remember, is agape, which means “what God prefers.” He prefers what aligns with His character/who He is.
  • Purposeful (Job 42:1-5, Ephesians 1:7-11, 3:8-12). I’ve seen this with new eyes while working on the Bible study God’s prepared for me; He is purposeful, even in the smallest details.
  • Righteous and merciful (Deuteronomy 32:4; Psalm 89:14, 119:137; 2 Corinthians 5:21).
  • The giver of every good gift (James 1:17).
  • Our debt payer. The definition of “bankrupt” is “unable to pay outstanding debts, completely lacking in a particular quality or value.”4 To say God’s love “bankrupted heaven” is to say He was insufficient in paying the debts for our sins; however, He PAID the world’s sin debt…in full…with one payment (Psalm 37:21, Ephesians 1:7, Hebrews 10:10, 1 John 2:2, 4:9-10; 2 Corinthians 8:9–there’s a difference between “poor” and “bankrupt”).

There’s much more we could dive into here, but this is enough to digest.

We creative types like to make an impact through our words and try to be different in our approach in order to do so. However, it’s important that we choose our words with MUCH care (Matthew 12:36).

The purpose of this post is not to bash that song or its author; it’s to draw close to Truth and encourage all of us (including myself) to study Him and rely on His Spirit to convey Him/His character correctly through our words.

1 “Reckless.” Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/reckless. Accessed 9 March 2022.

2 Asbury, Cory. “Reckless Love.” Songfacts, https://www.songfacts.com/facts/cory-asbury/reckless-love. Accessed 9 March 2022.

3 Gosselin, Jake. “Reckless Love by Cory Asbury – Song Meaning, Review, and Worship Leading Tips.” Churchfront, https://churchfront.com/blog-churchfront/2017/11/8/reckless-love-by-cory-asbury-song-meaning-review-and-worship-leading-tips, 8 November 2017.

4 “Bankrupt.” Oxford Dictionaries, https://www.google.com/search?q=define+bankrupt&sxsrf=APq-WBu8EqW-E-d5oK6WPtQwMRafy8z5lA%3A1647018946537&ei=woMrYou7ILnN0PEPtL2M4Ak&ved=0ahUKEwiLpPzZx772AhW5JjQIHbQeA5wQ4dUDCA4&uact=5&oq=define+bankrupt&gs_lcp=Cgdnd3Mtd2l6EAMyBAgAEEMyBQgAEIAEMgUIABCABDIFCAAQgAQyBQgAEIYDMgUIABCGAzIFCAAQhgM6BwgAEEcQsAM6BwgAELADEENKBAhBGABKBAhGGABQ7QFYwQdgjgxoAXABeACAAWWIAYQDkgEDMy4xmAEAoAEByAEJwAEB&sclient=gws-wiz. Accessed 11 March 2022.

Parenting Prayers

Prayer…It often tends to be thought of as a one-sided conversation from us to God, whether we’re thanking Him for something, praising Him for Who He is, or asking Him for help; however, did you know that the Greek word for prayer (“proseuchomai”), actually, refers to a two-sided conversation…an interaction or exchange? The first Greek word that makes up this compound word for “prayer” is “pros”; it’s a preposition, meaning “toward,” “with.” Here’s where many get the view that prayer is a verbal, one-way trip to God’s ears; they take this preposition to only mean “toward” (or to God), not really “with” God. However, “with” gives us a different picture. It reveals that the initial words (or prayer) from an individual to God are doing just that–initiating a conversation, one that will be reciprocated. It’s a going back and forth with God; our words reach Him, and He responds.

DOES GOD RESPOND?

This may be where many check out, as they initiate a conversation with God, but don’t feel like they get an answer back…that He’s “silent.” If I’m sitting down, talking with another person, and I say something, I anticipate some kind of response from the other individual to know they’re listening (i.e., words, a gesture, a facial expression). Responding, obviously, involves some sort of effort on the part of the one listening; this person will need to actively listen in order to reply. However, positive communication also requires the one initially talking to watch and listen for a response. If I’m talking to someone in another room, and they respond with a shrug or softly spoken word, I’ll, probably, assume they didn’t hear me or weren’t listening. This is when I need to seek them out to see if they replied and, if so, hear what they said. So, rather than assuming God’s not responding, we need to seek Him out and check to see if He’s replied. If I accept the words in the Bible as truth, I can know:

“because the eyes of the LORD [are] on the righteous, and His ears—to their supplication, but the face of the LORD [is] against those doing evil”;

1 Peter 3:12 LSB

“For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.”

2 Corinthians 5 21 NLT

Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God. We receive from Him whatever we ask, because we obey His commands and do what pleases Him.”

1 John 3:21 NKJV, 3:22 GST

“You will call to Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”

Jeremiah 29:12-13 CSB
INTERACTING WITH GOD

So, if I know that God hears and pays attention to what the righteous ask of Him, and I know I’m made right with God through accepting Jesus Christ as the sacrifice for my sins, I can be confident when I approach God…that He’s listening and willing to answer, when I’m obeying Him, doing what pleases Him, and my inner self is sold out to finding Him, watching and listening for His reply. If I know this, wouldn’t it make sense that I would want to pray Scripture–words that He’s given? I can, then, be confident that He’ll hear and answer my request, because His word aligns with His will and character.

PARENTING PRAYERS

Over the years, there are a few passages of Scripture I keep coming back to, when I pray for my kids. There are a bunch of other ones, but I thought I’d share these with you.

“May the LORD answer [me] in the day of trouble! May the name of the God of Jacob set __________ securely on high [and defend him/her in battle]! May [You] send help from [Your] sanctuary (dwelling place) and support and strengthen __________ from Zion! May [You] remember all [my] offerings and accept [my] burnt offering [of Jesus Christ]. Selah. May [You] grant [my] heart’s desire and fulfill [these] plans. [I] will sing joyously over [this] victory, and in the name of [my] God, [I] will set up my banners. May [You, LORD] fulfill all [my] petitions. Now, I know that [You,] LORD, save [Your] anointed; [You] will answer [me] from [Your] holy heaven with the saving strength of [Your] right hand.”

Psalm 20 AB

“Remind __________ of these things, and solemnly exhort [him/her] in [Your] presence not to dispute about words, which is useless and leads to the ruin of the listeners. [May __________] be diligent to present [himself/herself] approved to [You] as a worker who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. [May __________] avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene…[Your] firm foundation stands, having this seal: ‘[You] know those who are [Yours]’ and, ‘Everyone who names [Your] name is to keep away from wickedness.’ [As You know,]…in a large house, there are not only gold and silver implements, but also implements of wood and of earthenware; some are for honor, while others are for dishonor. Therefore, if [__________] cleanses himself [/herself] from these things, he[/she] will be an implement for honor, sanctified, useful to [You], prepared for every good work. [Please stir in __________ a desire to] flee from youthful lusts; to pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace with those who call on [You] from a pure heart; to refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels. [I pray that __________ will serve You well by not being] quarrelsome, but being kind to all, skillful in teaching, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps 25b[You] may grant them repentance, leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.”

2 Timothy 2:14-26 NASB

There are times I’ve prayed verses 25b-26 for my kids, specifically, rather than in light of leading others who are snared, even though they’ve received Jesus as their Savior. We all step in traps that require Divine rescuing.

Thank You for Your “goodness and kindness pursuing __________ all the days of [his/her] life! [May he/she] dwell in [Your] house for [the] length of [his/her] days!”

Psalm 23:5b-6 LSV
HOW AM I COMMUNICATING?

I’m so thankful I serve a God Who communicates with me! He listens, answers, and responds. I want to make sure I’m actively listening to Him, however He answers, and looking for/seeking out His reply!

WHAT SCRIPTURES DO YOU PRAY AS A PARENT? I’D BE ENCOURAGED BY HEARING! REPLY/COMMENT BELOW OR AT THE TOP OF THE PAGE.

Answered Prayers…and Prayers in the Waiting

Several times last week, I visibly saw the LORD answer my specific prayers…those numerous “smaller” questions to answers about big decisions we’ve been praying over for a while. My heart’s full!!

“Come, hear, all you who fear God, and I recount what He did for my soul. I have called to Him [with] my mouth, and exaltation [is] under my tongue.”

Psalm 66:16-17 LSV

“If You have seen evil in my heart, You will not save me, LORD JEHOVAH.”

Psalm 66:18 ABPE

“But God has heard; He has attended to the voice of my prayer.”

Psalm 66:19 LSV

“Blessed be God, Who has not turned away my prayer, nor His mercy from me.”

Psalm 66:20 BST

WHAT DOES RECOUNTING MEAN?

“Recount” in Verse 16 means to chalk up tallies, like in school, of all that He’s done…keeping record and proclaiming all that God’s done for my soul…how He’s breathed life into me! I needed His breath of life! Do you ever have times when your air supply just feels cut off?

WHAT DO I DO WHEN I’M WAITING FOR ANSWERS?

There have been a number of heart cries over the last year or so for my kids (well, all their lives, but my cries have seemed elevated as of late). God’s recent answers to several prayers prove what He had me focusing on before last week ever started:

Surely [His] goodness [what He will make good] and [kindness and] mercy will follow me all the days of my life,”

Psalm 23:6a BSB

“Surely” is certain; it’s truth. I can count on it. The Greek word for “mercy” in Psalm 66:20 refers to kindness AND mercy, which we see, also, together in Psalm 23:6a! I feel both, when I see His hand…His answers; but He’s not keeping them from me, when I don’t see them…or feel them. His kindness and mercy…How can I remember them, while I’m waiting for His answers? I’m trying to focus on Psalm 23’s promise that He’ll certainly, on any given day, make good come out of any challenge…some day…some time. Even if I never see it, that’s a truth I can cling to!

“Your kindness and your mercies pursue me all the days of my life, that I may dwell in the house of LORD JEHOVAH to the length of days.”

Psalm 23:6 ABPE

When I read this verse in this version, “pursue” stands out to me as well as ALL the days of my life. “Pursue,” in this verse, has a neat visual with it’s meaning; it’s like a dog, attending to the needs of someone. Most service dogs are trained to attend to their person, specifically for the needs and challenges they have. Our dog isn’t a trained service dog, but it’s interesting to watch him walk beside me, when I’m having a challenging day with my health. He doesn’t get ahead of me or in my way; he walks right beside me, periodically looking at me to make sure he’s matching my slow pace, assessing my feet and legs, and seeing what else I may need. There have been times when I’ve gotten wobbly, and he’s pressed his 75+ lb. body against my legs to help stabilize me. I’ve even, at times, put my hand on him for added strength and support. Even though he’s not trained as a service dog, some days, I just feel like God’s given him an innate perception to tend to me. I’m sure this girl feels that way, too. Check out this heart-warming video of her and her service dog!

If a service dog is with their blind person, who is starting to go off course, they lovingly pursue them, warning them or guiding them back to safety.

There may be times when God seems silent…maybe even distant. I find a lot of peace in knowing that He’s NOT distant; He’s still with me! He’s attending to me, my needs, and my prayers with good intent. If I start to go off course in my words, actions, or thoughts, He’s there to correct me and lovingly guide me back on the right course.

“Your kindness and your mercies pursue me all the days of my life, that I may dwell in the house of LORD JEHOVAH to the length of days.

Psalm 23:6 ABPE

I never knew that “house,” in this verse, often refers to “family.” That brings a huge smile to my face. I’m the daughter of LORD JEHOVAH! We’re family! He lives with me, and He attends to me as my loving, good, kind, merciful Father, whether I always recognize His attentiveness as such or not. Psalm 23:6 doesn’t say His goodness, kindness, and mercy pursue me, only on days I’m obedient or trusting; it says they pursue me ALL the days of my life!

I’m trying to focus my prayers in the waiting on all of these beautiful truths…and by doing so, gain the stability and strength He provides when I’m a bit wobbly through this walk of life, accepting His correction and direction, knowing He has a good purpose.

Tally your praises today! How has He answered your prayers…or directed/corrected you in the waiting?

I AM with You

My daughter likes to get out of the house; that’s how she’s wired. If I go to the gas station, she’ll go with me. If I run to the bank, she’ll ask to come along. It doesn’t matter where or how long the trip is, she loves a change of scenery and will ask to go with me.

There’s someone else Who wants to go with us wherever we go: Jesus.

WHERE IS JESUS NOW?

I was listening to a sermon about Jesus calling four fishermen to be His disciples. As I read Luke 5:1-11, a question stirred inside me (the same question the pastor also asked later in the sermon): “Where’s Jesus?” I always pictured Him on the shore, but if you look at Verse 3, you’ll notice that Jesus was in Simon’s (Peter’s) boat when He gave Simon His first directivereturn the boat back out to sea, a little bit from land (where He, then, taught the multitudes). Jesus was still in Simon’s boat in Verse 4, when He gave Simon His second directive–take the boat back out into the deep water and let their net down for a catch. Jesus was already in the boat that was going to be used in completing the task He gave Simon…and He stayed with Simon!

I’ve found such encouragement from this! The One Who commissioned me to start this blog…to write a Bible study…is with me! The One Who gave me kiddos is with me to answer my daily parenting questions and guide me in discipling them. He didn’t tell me to do these things, then send me out, waving to me from the shore. “Have a good time! Hope you figure it out!” No! He got in…all in…before He gave me His directives!

This may seem elementary, but this story played out makes such a deep impact on me! There’ve been times when blogging’s lonely, and I wonder why God chose me for this…or if what I’m writing is making a difference. It’s a game changer, when I think of Jesus being in the boat, when He asked Simon to do something he and the other fishermen had done all night (with no success)…this time, in conditions that weren’t usually synonymous with success. Yet, because of Who Jesus was/is and where He was, they obeyed.Where He was?” Simon called Jesus “Master” in Luke 5:5. The Greek word for “Master,” there, means “commander” and comes from the word “ephistémi,” meaning “be present.” Not only did Simon place Jesus in authority over himself by calling Him this, but he recognized that this Authority was near!

WHY?

Jesus didn’t just tell Simon to let down his fishing net; He told him there was a purpose (to catch fish–Luke 5:4). Have you ever wondered, “Why would God ask me to do this?” I have, at times! This is good for me to sit with for a while–He doesn’t just give us purposeless rules or random directives to watch us chase our tails; He’s our God of purpose, and He has a reason. Even if we question why, will we obey and trust that He’ll bring something good out of it?

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Ephesians 2:10 ESV

Simon, his brother (Andrew), and a few others in Simon’s boat experienced the miracle of their net being so full of fish that it was tearing, but only “when they had done” [what Jesus said to do] (Luke 5:6)! So many fish were caught that they had to signal to the Zebedee brothers, James and John (Simon’s fishing partners), to help! They all pulled in such a plethora of fish that both boats began to sink! I wonder if Jesus was sitting in Simon’s sinking boat with a light in His eye and a smile on His face.

Simon didn’t stress about the net breaking or the fact that the numerous fish were sinking his boat. Instead, he:

  • was seized with amazement.
  • recognized the sin of resistance and unbelief in his heart.
  • humbled himself before Jesus, falling face down at Jesus’ knees, calling Him Lord (this Greek word is different from the earlier time he called Jesus “Master” and this word’s, actually, used twice in this verse); it means “owner.” To Simon, Jesus wasn’t just the guy giving orders; He was Simon’s owner…his Master.
DO YOU FEEL ALONE?

Have you ever felt a bit alone, obeying what the One you belong to (God) has asked you to do, or wondered what the purpose is?

Did (or does) it comfort you to know that Jesus is with you on the venture He asked you to embark on…and that He has a purpose?

Share your story…reply at the bottom of this post. I look forward to being seized with amazement concerning how God is using you for His purpose!

Clenched Fist or Open Hand?

It was 4:45 a.m. when I woke from a dream. I don’t remember what I dreamed, but I do remember vividly how tightly clenched my fists were in the dreamand when I woke up…so much so that my hands hurt. It took a conscious effort, once awake, to pry my hands open, which I knew needed to happen, as the clenched fist was causing me pain. I asked the LORD if He was trying to tell me something and if He wanted me to share it with you all. The answer to both was “Yes.”

WHAT DO HANDS REPRESENT IN A DREAM?

In doing some research, I found that dreaming about hands tends to represent an association between the dreamer and what is around them. I don’t remember who or what was in the dream; I just recall black. Well, I can tell you that my week has been peppered with “black” (darkness). The thought being impressed on my mind was how the enemy doesn’t want me to soar above my storms, as I wrote about in the last post (check out the link at the end of this post, if you missed it); he wants me fighting them. “Funny” how the enemy closes in hard, when you’re talking about stuff like that!

I believe my dream had both fists clenched, but what I remember is waking up and staring at my right hand, specifically.

“And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.”

Matthew 5:30 ESV

“‘For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I Who say to you, “Fear not, I am the One who helps you.'”

Isaiah 41:13 ESV

“Your right hand, O Lord, glorious in power, Your right hand, O Lord, shatters the enemy.”

Exodus 15:6 ESV
WHAT WAS GOD SHOWING ME?

A day or so after the dream, I was talking with my mom, and the Spirit of God showed me that I was sinning. I had some desires concerning my dear kiddos that were so pure, yet I saw how I was taking responsibility for the timing of those desires. The darkness had rolled in, I’d pulled up my sleeves, and clenched my fists. My kids were/are worth fighting for! Yet I could hear His whispers through my clenched fists, the dream, and the conversation with my mom. His message?…

  • I needed to admit my sin and turn from it.
  • Don’t be afraid.
  • My open hand is ready for the LORD to hold it.
  • My right hand (symbolizing authority) was a clenched fist, wanting to control the timing of God-sized decisions, but willingly opening it to the LORD, shows my trust in His timing and rule.
  • The LORD is the One Who shatters the enemy!
  • An open hand is more effective in fighting off the enemy.
OPEN HANDS VS. CLOSED

In hand-to-hand combat, “The use of open hands…allows the arms/hands to stay relatively relaxed, which facilitates greater speed and power, and better reactive use. Closing the hands to punch tends to tighten up the arms, which creates tension and slows things down, both of which lessen impact potential. Additionally, closing the hands limits options; the user can only really punch. Opening the hands, in addition to relaxing the arms,…allows for numerous options for use of the hands/arms…the hands are ready to (as required) [slap], grab, push, poke/claw/apply pressure (fingers), or with training, use different aspects of the hands (palm, fingers, edge of hand, thumb and so on). Therefore, open hands are far more versatile. In terms of the physical result from use, open hand slaps can certainly cause as much, if not more, trauma than closed fist punches. By keeping the arms relaxed, power generation through the limbs is greatly enhanced, allowing not only faster strikes, but also the ability to apply ‘heaviness’ through the strikes. This aspect not only can cause trauma to the target, but can also have an effect on the psychology of the attacker by ‘shocking’ their psyche.”1

My sin is confessed, I’ve opened my fists of anger and control, which brought me pain, and released my hands to the One Who is faithful, is holding me, and promises to help me. My open hands have relaxed my heart and mind and have welcomed the work of the Spirit of God, Who fills us with His power (Luke 24:49). Much to the enemy’s chagrin, I’m locking in and soaring on the “wind” (Spirit of God)! “The ability to apply ‘heaviness’ through the strikes?” Heaviness and weightiness are definitions of “glory!” May God get more glory through these opened hands!

Photo by Diego PH on Unsplash

1 Kay, Richard. “Open Hand Versus Closed Fist – Practical Application For Public Safety.” Security Solutions, 12 August 2016, https://www.securitysolutionsmedia.com/2016/08/12/open-hand-versus-closed-fist-practical-application-public-safety/#:~:text=The%20use%20of%20open%20hands,of%20which%20lessen%20impact%20potential.