Too Good to Be True?

I found out the hard way that E 85 is not good for a Honda CR-V. It uses gas that is 5% ethanol (or is it 10%?) but not 85%.

Now, I’m no dummy. When I buy a car that requires Regular, I don’t pump it full of Premium (even if it’s cheaper, which thankfully it hardly ever is). I certainly don’t use kerosene or diesel. So why did my vehicle end up in the service department with a tankful of E 85? It so happened that I filled up at a different gas station than usual, and didn’t notice that the fuel choice on the right end was E 85, not Regular.

My point is this: The human brain and entire body operate correctly on positive, faith-filled thoughts, not negative, stressful ones. Just like a car operates properly on Smiley Facegasoline, not kerosene. What does that say about our Creator? To me, it says that he did not intend for us to ever be anxious. Is that too good to be true?

It is common to feel noble about anxiety: I’m anxious because I am responsible. I can’t tolerate the possibility of my plans working out badly. Or–I worry because I love my children. I can’t bear the thought of anything harming them.

How about asking for God’s wisdom and blessing on your work then operating in trust and confidence? How about committing your children to the Lord’s care and protection then telling them the Lord will bless them and enable them do whatever is necessary?

The two quotes below from the Bible carry surprising news.

1 Blessed is the one

2 . . . whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.

3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither. (Psalm 1:1-3 NIV)

Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful (Joshua 1:9 NIV)

Did you notice? Both of these passages promise fruitfulness, prosperity, and success. If we do what? Think deeply about God’s ways and obey them. Not by anxious striving.

How does that work? Partly because God’s requirements are wise. We will get better results doing things the way he says. And partly because, when we look to him and cooperate with him, he covers all the bases we cannot.

So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For . . . your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well (Matthew 6:31-33 NIV).

1-2 If God doesn’t build the house,
the builders only build shacks.
If God doesn’t guard the city,
the night watchman might as well nap.
It’s useless to rise early and go to bed late,
and work your worried fingers to the bone.
Don’t you know he enjoys
giving rest to those he loves? (Psalm 127:1-2 MSG)

When bad things happen to you, have you thought It must’ve been God’s will. Did he tell you to put diesel-grade thoughts in your brain? Did  the anxious words that came out of your mouth agree with the Word of God? (Phil. 4:8)

Considering the bible passages above, would you say it is his will for you to fail or to succeed? Is it his will for you to lack or to have what you need? Is it his will for you to work long hours for minimal results–or to receive the Lord’s wisdom to work efficiently then sleep peacefully, knowing the Lord will prosper your efforts?

Why do we think that peace and blessing are too good to be true? The Bible is full of promises and stories that show God’s will for us is good. Where did we get the warped thought that worry and poor results are normal? Well, from experience. Not many people are thinking and living the way the above verses describe, so we don’t see many examples of how God intends things to be.

But the main reason we have such dim expectations of God and life can be seen in what happened to Eve in the Garden of Eden. Let me paraphrase what satan said to her that influenced her to eat the fruit God had forbidden. “I can’t believe God told you not to eat this fruit. It won’t harm you. It will make you wise like God. God’s holding out on you, girl.” The devil caused her to doubt God’s goodness. He’s been doing it ever since.

Are you going to fall for it? To believe that love, joy, and peace are impossible in this world?

How about meditating (thinking in a deep, personal way) on his ways and his promises? They are not too good to be true.

CHRISTMAS: Together Again and GIVEAWAY

PANNING FOR GOLD

Digging into the Christmas story and “peace” in the Bible

Couple Holding Hands“Peace in the world–that’s all I want for Christmas,” I heard a woman say. A tall order, but that is exactly the reality the angels announced to the shepherds outside Bethlehem when Jesus was born.

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” (Luke 2:14, NKJV).

What is peace? The Greek word for peace used in this verse is eirene, which according to Strong’s Concordance means “prosperity; one, peace, quietness, rest; set at one again.” It is probably derived from a verb meaning “to join.”

Jesus’ birth was announced to lowly shepherds. But it was announced also to three wealthy wise men from the east. The divine/human child was attended at his birth by angels—and also stable creatures. He was bringing all things together—joining them together as one, to be at peace with each other because they were at peace with Him. Like he brought Jews and Gentiles (non-Jews) together:

14 For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us. 16 Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death (Ephesians 2:14, 16 NLT).

Throughout the ages, a few had partnered with God in a marvelous way, and all of mankind had had an inkling of Him, but on THAT NIGHT, heaven and earth came together as they had not been since the days of Adam and Eve. Now the way was opened for all to be at peace with God and to do His will on earth as if they were in heaven.

A peasant girl and a carpenter parented the Son of God. A crew of fishermen, tax collectors and the like were filled with so much of God’s wisdom and power that people said they had “turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6). Paul and Silas, firmly attached by stocks to earth, sang praises to God. As they did, heaven joined earth so powerfully that the prison shook, the doors opened and the chains fell off all of the prisoners.

This entrance of heaven into earth is re-enacted every time a sinner is born again. Peace comes again on earth. He or she becomes reconciled to God, at one with others, and at rest within himself–a rest full of the glory of that night long ago.

When enough of us are put together again–with God, with each other, and within ourselves–then there will be “peace in the world.”

—Adapted from “Meditation 60,” Streams of Living Water by F. Burleigh Willard and Celia Willard Milslagle.

 

Your Turn — What do you say?

  • Can world peace be won by politics? laws? treaties?
  • James 4:1 says, “But about the feuds and struggles that exist among you—where do you suppose they come from? Can’t you see that they arise from conflicting passions within yourselves?” (PHILLIPS). If that’s true, what has to happen for hostility to be eliminated and peace to be restored?

G I V E A W A Y

For a chance to receive an autographed copy of Friend of Angels, comment today–or comment on Wednesday’s post. The winner will be announced on Thursday (December 20). The winner of the book will receive it after Christmas–an appropriate time to receive a book about what probably happened after Jesus’ birth. (If you prefer to buy one now to give as a gift, please follow this link.)

For no-hassle commenting, enter your name when prompted, but not your email address. (So that I can contact you, when you hopefully win the giveaway, please click on the Contact tab at the top of this page, and give me your email address there.)

 

Occupied Territory

My first reminder of the military tension in Israel was seeing a police booth right out on a city street. Then there were the checkpoints before entering Jericho and Bethlehem. And the size of the weapons all the police (or were they military?) seemed to be carrying. They were not mere handguns, let me tell you.

It was a sobering reminder that this kind of tension has reigned in Israel, off and on, for thousands of years. It was worse in the time of Jesus than it is now!

At that time, Palestine—as it called then—was occupied territory. The conquering Romans held all military and political power. Their extensive building projects brought Roman culture to every section of the country. Much of it was offensive to Jewish faith. Roman soldiers could force any man on the street to carry their armor for a mile.  They ruthlessly crushed any sign of revolt, crucifying freedom-fighters by the hundreds and thousands.

It is not surprising that Jesus’ disciples believed he had been sent by God to deliver them from the Romans. In fact, one of the last questions Jesus’ disciples asked him, just before he ascended to heaven was, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6).

But Jesus was a different sort of deliverer than Moses, Gideon, and Deborah. He came because the whole world was occupied territory—dominated by Satan. His kingdom had no visible capital, government, or laws, but had infected the human race with its lies, anger, and hatred—causing turmoil and suffering in every part of the earth.

Jesus paid a high price to re-establish God’s kingdom of peace, love, and goodness which had been forfeited in the Garden of Eden. It too is an unseen, spiritual kingdom, and its effects are tremendous!

For the kingdom of God is . . . a matter of . . . righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom.14:17). 

18 Then Jesus asked, “What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to? 19 It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds perched in its branches.”  

20 Again he asked, “What shall I compare the kingdom of God to? 21 It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds[a] of flour until it worked all through the dough” (Luke 13:18-21).

Making It Personal

  • Have you ever considered which kingdom occupies your heart?
  • Would you like to know more about getting out from under Satan’s rule and entering the kingdom of God, who loves you and gave his life for you?

 

Morning Dew

A polluted pot hole—does that sound appealing to you? W. Phillip Keller, in his amazing book, A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, says that restless, thirsty sheep often drink from them. Ugh! Then, he compares this to people who have a deep inner thirst for fulfillment. If their ability to fellowship with God is dried up, they will drink from any dirty pool.

He contrasts these sheep with ones who graze before dawn on grass that is covered with dew. Then, during the heat of the day, they will lie down, already well-fed and well-watered. That’s how it can be for humans, Keller says. “[T]hose who are often the most serene, most confident and able to cope with life’s complexities are those who rise early each day to feed on God’s Word.  It is in the quiet, early hours of the morning that they are led beside the quiet, still waters where they imbibe the very life of Christ for the day.”*

Some years ago, I was conversing with a friend whose family was in crisis—just like mine. Suddenly he said, “I pay a shrink big bucks to tell me how to deal with this situation. How is it you already know this stuff?”

I didn’t have an answer for him. Later, though, I realized it was the time I spent in Bible reading and prayer before the rest of my family awoke . . . During that half hour, I received from the Word and the Spirit an impartation of supernatural peace and perspective.

99 I have more insight than all my teachers,
for I meditate on your statutes. . . .
103 How sweet are your words to my taste,
sweeter than honey to my mouth! (Psalm 119:99, 103).

Making It Personal

  •  Does it seem there’s no time for Bible reading and prayer? Ask the Lord to show you how you can pull this off. (It might not be in the morning.)
  • If meeting with the Lord daily makes the rest of your day more profitable, can you afford not to?
  • Have you found yourself drinking from polluted pools—activities and thoughts you’re not proud of? Fill your heart with godliness. You will lose your taste for unclean things.

___________________________

*W. Phillip Keller, A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 1970), p. 50-51, 52.