Archive for February, 2020

The Aftermath

Wednesday, February 26th, 2020

…And the LORD struck the child that Uriah’s wife bare unto David, and it was very sick. David therefore besought God for the child; and David fasted, and went in, and lay all night upon the earth…David perceived that the child was dead…Then David arose from the earth, and washed, and anointed himself, and changed his apparel, and came into the house of the LORD, and worshipped… (II Samuel 12:15–16, 19–20, KJV).

Have you ever teetered on a moment in time between the past, present, and future? A time seemingly frozen in place when you’ve made a decision only to pray with fleeting urgency that God would allow you to go back in time to reverse the decision? But, in the blink of an eye, time passes. The action is done and/or the words are said. What’s left is the aftermath—the direct result we alone have caused.

David had an affair with Bathsheba, produced an offspring, celebrated its birth (somewhere amid the repentance and ownership of having an affair), but then launched into fasting and praying when the child fell sick. The outcome of his infidelity was the death of his child. God told him this, and yet he still determined to pray and fast for the child until he passed from this life.

As I reflect on this event in Scripture, I wonder why we typically turn to God and ask Him to fix our mistakes. Why isn’t our first reaction to repent and take ownership and/or responsibility? Why do we spend most of our time in prayer and fasting over the potential to change the mistake rather than a desire for God to change our hearts?

I’ve been guilty of this many times in my life. I identify with David in so many ways—mess up and try to hide it; mess up and try to deny it; mess up and try to justify it; mess up and ask God to fix it. I forget repentance and spiritual change are of far greater importance than any physical outcome.

When I realize I’ve made a mistake, God forgives. But, I, as well as so many others, forget sometimes there are consequences we may face for those thoughts and actions. There’s another hurdle, another challenge in our spiritual walk and maturity. God forgave David, but he still had to deal with the aftermath of his sin. When this happens to us, we get bent out of shape. We fail to understand while God forgives and erases our sin, He doesn’t always fix the after-effects.

I need to learn a lesson from David today. While I’ve messed up, and taken the result of my sin to God, I can’t be surprised when God doesn’t deliver me from the repercussions. When the remains are broken and circumstances upset, sometimes that’s just life. We made the choice. We made the mistake. When God doesn’t erase the outcome, it doesn’t mean God’s out to get us, nor does it mean He’s no longer worthy. He’s still the same God. He’s still the same provider. He’s still the same Keeper. He’s still the same miracle-worker. It only means His decision is just.

David knew this, even amid his mistakes. He may have kept praying and fasting for God to change the outcome—which God could have done. He’s God, after all. But, when all was said and done, and David’s time of prayer and fasting was over, he returned to what was right. And, that was worship. If we are to model David, a man after God’s own heart, we should do the same and worship.

If you’re surrounded by the ramifications of your past decisions, it’s natural to feel angry with and/or question God. But remember we serve a great God who will help us navigate through the rubble to a place where we can rebuild, just like David. It’s time to get up, wash our face, and worship the Lord. He’s forgiven our sin stains. He’s brought us through another battle. And, above all, He’s worth of our praise.

The Thunderous Roar of Silence

Sunday, February 23rd, 2020

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Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat (Genesis 3:1–6, KJV).

(In)Humanly Possible

Wednesday, February 19th, 2020

I am a very squeamish person. I can’t stand the sight of bandages let alone the sight of blood. If I’m in your presence and you a) cut yourself, b) go into labor, or c) have some kind of bodily malfunction, you’ll soon find yourself alone because I’ve either become unconscious or hightailed it out of there. I’m so queasy and anxious, I can’t even take care of myself when I’m hurt or have bandages to manage. It’s a real problem—trust me.

With my extreme aversion to such things, imagine my bewilderment when I read a story about Russian surgeon, Lenoid Rogozov. A solo doctor on a Soviet Antarctic expedition, he became deathly ill with appendicitis. The only way to save himself was to perform an operation on—you guessed it—himself, while he was wide-eyed and bushy-tailed. He had to do what was considered inhumanly possible.

And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible (Mark 10:27, KJV).

I’m pretty sure if I was presented with the ultimatum of performing surgery on myself or just calling it quits, I’d choose the latter. I’d be perfectly happy with seeing Jesus and enduring the short interval of pain leading up to that encounter. It’d be so easy to quit and give up because the former is just unfathomable in my mind. It’s impossible. Non-doable. Consider my squeamish meter—there’s no way.

My attitude toward a self-performed surgery is exactly the way most of us view challenges in this life. Knowing our own shortcomings and difficulties, we see trials and tribulations ahead of us and think, “There’s no way I can do this. I can’t get through it. God can’t come through in this situation. It’s impossible.” But, we forget what’s impossible for man is possible with God. What we can’t do on our own, God fills in the gap. What we don’t have the strength to do, God provides His.

All knowledge, ability, strength, power, etc. belong to God. It’s up to Him to dole it out as He sees fit and to activate it within us when we need it. For Rogozov, God helped him perform the impossible. He gave him the knowledge to use local anesthetic, administration and leadership skills to assign tasks to his contemporaries, and a spirit of encouragement to ensure that he (nor anyone else) didn’t pass out during the two-hour surgery (it’s a real good thing I wasn’t there).

There’s not a shadow of a doubt in my mind that God helped Rogozov perform the impossible. As a man, he couldn’t do it, but with God, he could. He was able to perform something inhuman, especially when there were others relying on him. You see, Rogozov was on an expedition to help build a base at the Schirmacher Oasis. If he died, no one would be there to help the inhabitants for a year, because that’s when the next ship was scheduled to arrive. There were souls counting on him. He didn’t have the option to quit and give up when a little appendicitis got in the way.

Our trials and tribulations are possible to endure with the Lord on our side. Furthermore, we must overcome them because there are lives at stake, and we might be their only hope. God has perfectly positioned us in this life to be the right witness to the right people. If we give up and throw in the towel because a little self-imposed surgery seems impossible, we’ve given up on reaching others as well. All of it is entirely possible. That is, possible with God.

I don’t want to discredit anything anyone is experiencing today, but I can’t remember the last time someone told me I had to perform surgery on myself. If Rogozov did it, we can do it. Why? We all serve the same God who can make the impossible possible in our lives today. It’s just surgery. It’s just an overdue bill. It’s just cancer. Look at your mountain, grab a hold of God’s hand, and take a step forward. Watch what’s inhumanly possible become humanly possible with God.

The Promise that You Can’t Break

Sunday, February 16th, 2020

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Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. (It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.) Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick. When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby (Luke 11:1–4, KJV).

Scars of Shame

Wednesday, February 12th, 2020

Shame. The weight of it is crippling. The pain of it is excruciating. The longevity of it is unceasing. The scars of it are humiliating.

We all bear it—in one form or another—for something we’ve done, something that’s been done to us, or something we’ve witnessed. We wear shame, not like a badge of honor, but try desperately to hide it under the recesses of our clothing, minds, and spirits. Shame is created when we dehumanize ourselves for making a mistake. We become torn; broken. At the end of the experience are left with a scar serving as a permanent reminder we’ve failed.

There is hope for those who suffer from shame. We serve a God who has promised to forgive us for our sins, wash us white as snow, and to move on and upwards beyond our shortcomings. He provides a healing salve for our scars to help remove them from our hearts.

This is God’s plan and will for our lives, but it’s not always this simple. Why? Because our enemy and other people get in the way. Sometimes our worst scars of shame are conceived or perceived by people.

In Scripture, we read about a woman caught in the act of adultery (John 8:1–11). We know nothing of the details surrounding her discovery: the explicit details of her sin, let alone the thoughts rushing through her mind in the moments pre- and post-event. For all we know, painful remorse and regret could have settled in her spirit. Ripped from secrecy, forced to bear all in front of peers and loved ones, she was branded with shame and presented to Jesus.

Jesus rerouted her accusers, evaluated her repentant state, and provided instruction to go and sin no more (John 8:11). This is how the story reads; this is what we’re taught. However, we aren’t given insight into the aftermath of her shame.

I’m taking a bit of creative license here, but I wonder if the woman didn’t live a life free from condemnation of others. In a perfect world, she would have, hands down. But, I know people hurt people. People shame people. People don’t let others forget about their mistakes. I’ve seen it and I’ve experienced it. It’s not God’s perfect plan, but it happens.

Albeit unintentionally, people don’t allow God to heal scars of shame in an individual. We keep wounds fresh and open; we keep people hiding and hurting. People struggle with letting go even though God already forgave the moment repentance was a thought in the mind of the sinner.

The church is designed to love and support people—encompassing the new sinner all the way to the seasoned sinner (yes, this is a thing. No one’s perfect). We will all make mistakes until the day the Lord calls us home. But, until then, we need encouragement to move past our old scars of shame.

Thankfully, God has a promise for scars of shame in Zephaniah 3:19:

Behold, at that time I will undo all that afflict thee: and I will save her that halteth, and gather her that was driven out; and I will get them praise and fame in every land where they have been put to shame (KJV).

If you have scars of shame, there is hope for you in God. He will heal and forgive you immediately and shape you fresh and anew. For the rest of us who have witnessed a person dealing with scars of shame, let’s pray for, encourage, love, and forgive them. Let’s help them forget and move past their scars.

Lord, let us be a vehicle for Your use to help fulfill Your promise of restoration. Let us remember that scars of shame have no place here.

Living with the End in Sight

Sunday, February 9th, 2020

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Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also (Matthew 6:19–21, KJV).

The Spread of Gangrene

Wednesday, February 5th, 2020

It’s winter, and it’s cold. This is normal and supposed to happen, although I don’t like it. When I step outside my warm home into sub-zero temperatures, the cold and wind cut through every layer of clothing I have. If I’m not dressed properly, in no time at all, my extremities start to become numb, stiff, and unusable.

I’ve had a scare a time or two where I’ve become so cold that my fingers and toes become red and start to swell, then morph into an in-human paleness. By the time I re-enter a heated room, my digits twitch, tingle, and scream with pain.

I’m lucky to find shelter to reverse these symptoms and nurse my frigid body back to health, but others have not been so lucky during the winter season. They suffer from gangrene when left out in the cold too long: the death of body tissue due to either a lack of blood flow or a serious bacterial infection.¹

When you’re in the wrong environment (bacterial) or suffer from poor conditions (no blood flow), this affects body tissue and causes death. We must be watchful and protective of our natural bodies when we are in adverse conditions. This is an ongoing concern as we traverse through the winter months.

But avoid all irreverent babble and godless chatter [with its profane, empty words], for it will lead to further ungodliness, and their teaching will spread like gangrene. So it is with Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have deviated from the truth… (II Timothy 2:16–18, AMP).

We can heed this vital warning for the natural body and see the connection to our spiritual ones. When we fill our spiritual selves with bacteria (gossip, negativity, and untruths), or fail to let the blood flow (repenting daily in prayer and keeping ourselves under the blood of Jesus), we experience death that will utterly consume us like gangrene.

Gangrene in Scripture is from a Greek word gaggraina, which is an eating sore. This sore, if left untreated, will cause mortification or death in us—spreading to corrupt or attack the other parts of the body.

But, gangrene in our spiritual man is more serious than gangrene in the natural. Gangrene in the physical body will only affect the individual. However, gangrene in the spiritual has the potential to spread to others. Gangrene affects the body, and as children of God, we’re a part of the Body of Christ. When gangrene gets in our spirits and is left untreated, it will spread out to other parts of the Body: the church. This is exactly what happened to Hymenaeus and Philetus.

Living right, staying right, and seeking after the Lord isn’t just personal/spiritual health care. It’s our duty to protect and care for the overall Body of Christ. We can’t allow bacteria to spread. We can’t allow sin to attack and corrupt others beyond ourselves. We need to find an altar of prayer and ask God to cover us with His blood once again; to purge and cleanse us; to create a clean heart in us; to remove the dead and replace it with life. Before we step out into the blustery weather (the world), we need to put on the right protection—the whole armor of God—to keep us warm so the blood can flow and life can stay in the body.

Lord, help us to stay true and pure in our walk with You, and to keep ourselves protected so we keep Your Body protected. Help us to stop any spiritual gangrene before it spreads. If anything does emit from us and spreads throughout the Body, let it be Your love and Your anointing. We praise You that instead of bringing death, You bring life!

¹Mayo Clinic Staff. “Gangrene.” Mayo Clinic. July 13, 2017. Accessed December 13, 2019