Friday’s List – “I AM”

In the book of Genesis when the Lord spoke to Moses out of the burning bush instructing him to go to Egypt and lead the Israelites out of bondage, Moses asked his name. The reply was “I am that I am.”

The Hebrew words are ehyeh asher ehyeh. Many Bible scholars believe this could be translated “I will be what I will be” or “I will become whatsoever I may become.”

This phrase could be considered an idiom, an expression whose meaning cannot be understood by the individual words. Like “It’s raining cats and dogs” or “it costs an arm and a leg.”

So what was God saying by calling Himself “I AM

I think to Moses he was saying that He would be whatever Moses and the Israelites would need as He led them to freedom. To us today the great “I AM” tells us He is faithful and will be whatever we need in any and every situation we face.

With that in mind my list today is of the “I AM” Jesus spoke while on earth.

  1. I am the Bread of Life.
  2. I am the Light of the World.
  3. I am the Gate for the Sheep.
  4. I am the Good Shepherd
  5. I am the Resurrection and the Life.
  6. I am the Way and the Truth and the life.
  7. I am the True Vine.
  8. Before Abraham was, I am.

This week, I encourage you to think about these things Jesus claimed to be. What do they mean to you that he is the bread of life, light of the world, etc.?

The Seven Churches of Revelation and Me

Revelation is a book of the Bible that I have found confusing and difficult to understand. Throughout my life I have attended Bible studies, read books and listened to a host of people give their viewpoint on the meaning of the book.

Several years ago, Tim LaHaye and Jerry B Jenkins wrote a series of novels called “Left Behind.” The books are the authors’ interpretation of Revelation. They write of a seven-year conflict between the Tribulation Force (people who have converted to Christianity after what they call the “rapture”) and the New World Order led by the Antichrist. The series was adapted into four movies. I never read the books, but I did see a couple of the movies.

There are as many different interpretations of what the book of Revelation means as there are different church backgrounds. Some of the different ways of looking at the book are:

Preterist

This line of reasoning says we should view the book from a historical context and try to understand it as being written to the people of John’s day. We try to understand the political and religious times and how the readers then would understand John’s words.

Historicist

This approach says many of the events of the book seem to have taken place in the first century. This gives us an outline of history of the church in the past and a glimpse of what may yet happen in the church until Christ returns.

Futurist

Believers in this group (which is where LaHaye and Jenkins fall) believe the books tells us of future events which will take place at the “end of time.”

Idealist

This group teaches that Revelation does not pertain to any particular time (past, present or future) but is simply a story of the constant struggle between good and evil.

My church background was of the “futurist” viewpoint. I must confess, however, that listening to all the teachers who seemed so sure of what they believed only added to my confusion. I had to ask “how could they be so sure what all the images in the book really stood for?” Most of what they said seemed to me to be simply their opinion without any definite proof of their “theories.”

Yet it was almost considered heresy to suggest that these teachers who claimed to have perfect knowledge of the meaning of Revelation should be questioned. My solution was to just avoid any Bible study on the book of Revelation.

Years have passed and our local church offered a study on Revelation. I decided to give Revelation another chance.

The lesson was on chapters 2 and 3 which tell of John recording a message from Jesus Christ to the seven churches.

I was prepared for the usual explanation. 1) these churches represent different stages of church history. Each of these stages can be traced to specific times in the history of the church. This point of view says we are in the stage of the last church, Laodicea. 2) these churches represent different types of churches that would be throughout time. Of course, those who take this point of view always see their own church as one of the two churches that had no criticism from Jesus and other churches as one of those that received strong criticism.

What a surprise as I found a new take on these chapters.

Church is not a building, not an organization, not a denomination. The church is made up of those who believe in Jesus Christ. I am the church.

What I need to take from these two chapters is not some eschatological, deep mystery meaning. I need to look at the praise and the criticism each church received and ask myself how I stand up to that.

  • Have I lost my first love? Am I as excited about God’s Word and His church as I once was?
  • Have I remained true to God’s Word? Am I compromising my beliefs to fit with my culture?
  • Have I become lukewarm to the things of God? Have I lost my sense of what is valuable and pleasing to God?
  • Do I need to strengthen my faith?

I am not sure where this study will lead but I am approaching it to learn any lessons that will help me be the “church” I need to be and not worry about the “mysteries” found here.

Friday’s List for Wisdom and/or Laughter

More wisdom from my daily devotion book.

  1. Salvation is not a self-help program.
  2. What you worship is what you become
  3. We are often so caught up in our activities that we tend to worship our work, work at our play, and play at our worship.
  4. Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.
  5. Satan never fears the Christian whose Bible is covered with dust.
  6. Religion is man searching for God; Christianity is God reaching down to man.
  7. The greatest treasure a person can leave her children is an intimate knowledge of God.
  8. Many people pray as if God were a big aspirin pill. They only come when they hurt.
  9. Ministry is our love for Christ dressed in working clothes.
  10. Some people dream of great accomplishments, while others stay awake and do them.

The Joy of Being Number 2

I wrote this blog over four years ago – but this week my husband and I have been reading the book of Acts – and once again I see my role mode – Barnabas and his great ability to encourage others. That is still my prayer for myself.

Grandma's Ramblings

We all love a winner!

#1

We hold parades, parties, all kinds of celebrations when our team becomes state champion.  Coming in second in a state-wide contest leaves people feeling so dejected.  They seem to forget that being second means they have beat out many other teams.

#1 team

In the Olympics, athletics say they are going for the gold.  You don’t win silver, you lose gold.

This desire to be number 1 is not necessarily a bad thing.  To try to do your best, to succeed, to take pride in what you achieve, to have a healthy self-esteem are all good qualities.

But when that desire to be number 1 becomes so important that it leads us to step on others to reach the top, to despair when we do not achieve first place or to be overly prideful when we do, it has become a negative influence in our life.

For…

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Righteous Laws Do Not Make a Nation Righteous

I posted this a couple of years ago – but as we head into another election season and as the rhetoric again heats up as to our need to be a “Christian” nation, I thought I would share it again.

Grandma's Ramblings

For many weeks this post has been on my mind.  I have hesitated in writing it because the last thing I want is to offend anyone or cause more divisiveness than we already have in our nation.

But as the past few days have become so bad with clashes between different factions in our nation, I feel I must share what is in my heart.

First, a disclaimer here:  I am not pro-Trump or never-Trump.  I am not here to promote any political party.  I am also not here to even promote the Christian faith.  If you are Muslim, Jewish or atheist I am not speaking to you.  My words are to those who, like me, call themselves Christian.

When Trump ran for president he was strongly embraced by many in the evangelical world.  One of the main reasons for their support was that Trump promised to promote Christian principles…

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Lost and Found

Many schools, businesses and churches have a “lost and found” department. When something is there, it is sad.

Sad because something valuable or meaningful is missing from someone’s life. Sad because articles of value lay unused on a shelf. Sad because perhaps someone does not even realize they have lost something.

One possession I lost years ago still makes my heart ache. Driving to work one day I stopped at a grocery store to pick up something for my lunch. When I arrived at work, I realized my wristwatch was not on my arm. After searching my car, I retraced my steps back to the store and searched the area where I had parked. The store reported no one had turned in a wristwatch, but took my name and number in case someone turned it in.

After a few days passed, I realized the wristwatch was lost. It was heartbreaking for me because it had been a Christmas present from my husband on our first Christmas together. It was beautiful and I received many compliments when I wore it. The sentimental value to me was priceless. Also, my husband had spent more than he should have for the watch, and I knew on our budget, we could never justify replacing it with one of similar value.

There have been other things I have lost and did not realize it until weeks, months, even years later something reminded me of an item and only then did I realize it had been lost for a long time. Lost, but not missed.

This week in my devotions I read Luke 15. That chapter speaks of losing things. There is the shepherd who loses one of his sheep, a woman who loses a valuable coin and a father whose son has left the home and is lost to his family.

The parables Jesus told in this chapter illustrate the love of God for us. Although we may drift away from God, He is not unaware that we are lost. He is not a forgetful owner who is too busy or too uncaring to seek for us.

Like the woman who diligently searched through her house for the lost coin, the shepherd who went out in the wilderness to find the sheep who had wandered off the path, or the father who watched longingly for his son to return, Jesus draws us back to Him.

What stands out to me on the story of the prodigal son is when the father saw his son “a great way off,” he did not stand and wait for his return but ran to meet him. He embraced him and gave him a kiss.

How thankful I am that I know I (and you) are important to God.

“See how very much our heavenly Father loves us, for he allows us to be called his children—think of it—and we really are!” 1 John 3:1

An old hymn from my childhood tells us so much of the love of God and how He longs for us to return to Him and stay close to him.

Friday’s List of Quotes

Hope you enjoy these. All from my daily devotion book.

  1. Some people are so indecisive, their favorite color is plaid.
  2. Before passing judgment on a sermon, be sure to try it out in practice.
  3. Kindness is a language the deaf can hear and the blind can see.
  4. Lord, make my words kind, because tomorrow I may have to eat them.
  5. Those who deserve love the least are the ones who need it the most.
  6. The brook would lose its song if the rocks were removed.
  7. Love is not just sentiment; it is service.
  8. When you pray, make sure your will is in neutral so God can shift it.
  9. Service is a gift of love to people given in gratitude for God’s gift of love for you.
  10. Man sees your actions, but God sees your motives.

How Well Does Your Yoke Fit?

Jesus gave an invitation to put on His yoke.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)

What did He mean by that? Exactly what is a yoke?

A yoke is a wooden crosspiece fastened over the necks of two animals and attached to a plow or cart that they are to pull.

A yoke allowed two animals to share a load and pull together. Most of the wagon trains bringing people to settle the west were pulled by oxen using a yoke to keep them working together and to help them pull the wagons which could weight up to 2,500 pounds. In our own country before the modern tractor and farm implements, a yoke was used to help the farmer plow the fields for planting.

Two Oxen ready for work.

The Bible references for a yoke often referred to a heavy burden or duty. When King Solomon died and his son, Rehoboam, became king he warned his people that he would rule them with a “heavy yoke.” Their response was to desert him and create a separate nation with another king (1 Kings 12). The prophet Isaiah used the symbol of breaking a yoke to speak of freedom for the Israelites from foreign rulers. The prophet Jeremiah wore a yoke around his neck as he warned the people of Jerusalem of their coming capture by the Babylonian empire.

So why would Jesus use the image of a yoke to invite followers to come to him and take on a yoke? How would submitting to His yoke give us rest?

If we think of life as an allegory to plowing a field, we begin to understand how His yoke would give us rest. The oxen wearing a yoke help the farmer get the field plowed. But it is the skill of the farmer that directs the oxen so that the furrows are straight and at the right depth for the seed. So, as we allow God to direct us, we can rest in the knowledge that He will lead us in ways that are best for us. We can spend less time worrying and more time trusting in His direction.

He says we will learn from Him as we wear His yoke. I did some research on oxen and found that they are trained for months, even years before they are able to do the heavy pulling expected of them. Their owner spends time teaching them to respond to verbal commands like:

  • “Step Up” – go forward
  • “Gee” – turn right
  • “Haw” – turn left
  • “Whoa” – stop
  • “Back” – back up

As we take up the yoke of Jesus, we begin to learn from Him. Through prayer, Bible study and just learning to hear the Spirit’s prompting we gain knowledge of God and grow in spiritual maturity. Just as it takes time to train an ox, our walk with God requires time for growth.

I like to think that when I accept the yoke of Jesus, I am now walking alongside Him. The daily burdens of life are easier because He is pulling with me. Thus, His yoke becomes “easy” because I am not facing life’s difficulties alone.

Doing research on oxen I found that owners must adjust the size of the yoke as the oxen grow. Doing this keeps the oxen from being hurt by bad-fitting yokes. Jesus’s yoke is “easy.” He knows us well and when we trust Him, the yoke He places on us is not restrictive but rather helps us in our work for His kingdom. I don’t pretend to understand all the physics, but I am told when an ox allows his owner to put the yoke on him, it actually helps him pulling the load. When we submit to the leading of God and His direction for our life, our yoke will fit perfectly. If we resist the yoke (the direction of God) then the load will become too much for us.

Does your yoke fit? Are you seeking God’s direction and willfully obeying Him?

Friday’s Words for Wisdom and/or Laughter

More gems from my devotion book.

  1. How rare it is to find a person quiet enough to hear God speak
  2. God will only answer when you come close enough to hear.
  3. The other person’s sins, like the other car’s headlights, always seem more glaring than our own.
  4. As the leadership of a nation goes, so goes the nation.
  5. A lot of kneeling keeps you in good standing with God.
  6. People who admit they’re wrong usually go farther in life than people who try to prove they’re right.
  7. The real value of a thing is the price it will bring in eternity.
  8. Busyness in the King’s business if no excuse for neglecting the King.
  9. The only part of the Bible you truly believe is the part you obey.
  10. The Gospel is neither a discussion nor a debate; it is an announcement.

Dangerous Prayers

My church has been doing a series on dangerous prayers – and it has given me much thought.

I have to admit that most of my prayers are for me and mine. While there is certainly nothing wrong with praying for my family, my friends, my needs, taking a look at some of the prayers in the Bible has reminded me that I am called to let my love and concern go beyond my own small circle.

Looking at the prayers in God’s Word leads me to go deeper in my prayer time. Time spent in prayer should not just telling God of our needs and desires, but a time to be quiet and let Him speak to us.

Psalm 139:23-24 – “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you and lead me along the path of everlasting life.”

The prayer of the early church in Acts has always amazed me. After two of their leaders had been arrested and spent the night in jail, they were released with the command to never speak of Jesus again. Arriving at the house where the church was gathered for prayer, I would think they would pray for God’s protection, for deliverance from the persecution. But they did not. Instead, they prayed “make me bold.”

Acts 4:29 – “Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.”

In our culture today when it seems society is more and more hostile to Christian principles it can be so easy to just ask God to keep me and mine safe. But I need to ask God to help my family, my friends be bold to proclaim God’s love to this needy world.

Many times, when I pray for my family, my prayers are focused on more material issues. “Give this child a job.” “Heal this child.” “Help this child in their efforts for school or work or family.”

Again, these prayers are certainly ones we should pray. After all, God cares about every aspect of our life. But I found a prayer in one of the Apostle Paul’s writings that helps me focus on the most important needs of my family – their spiritual welfare.

Colossians 1: 9-12 – “We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.”

In today’s message my pastor talked about Isaiah and his experience when he had a vision of the Lord in all His glory. Isaiah’s first response was to recognize his own sinfulness and need of cleansing. When the seraphim placed a coal of fire on his lips and told him he was forgiven, his immediate response was to say “Send me.”

I often wondered why the seraphim chose to place the coals on his lips rather than on his head or hands. But when Isaiah saw the glory of God, he responded by saying “Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips.”

Isaiah understood what Jesus later told us. “What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them. But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.”

As Isaiah experienced God’s forgiveness, he was ready to say, “Send me.” How often do I pray for God to meet this need or solve this problem, but how often do I make myself available for God to use me as an answer to that prayer?

I realize as I pray I need to take time to be quiet, to let God speak to me about areas in my life that need forgiveness, healing, strength. To say “search me.” To pray “make me bold” that I might be unafraid to share the good news of God’s love to those I meet at the store, in the library or wherever I may go. To focus more on the “spiritual” needs of those on my prayer list and not just on the “physical” needs. To ask God to “send me” and then seek to be more aware of the opportunities He places in my path to be used of Him.

Dangerous prayers – prayers that might require more of me rather than just giving God a list of wishes/needs for Him to take care of.

Join me in praying some dangerous prayers and see what God will do in us and through us.