There is Hope For The Destitute

Has anyone ever felt utter destitution? We often think of destitution in a physical sense. Someone that lacks all physical means for life and survival. So in many ways I have never myself been in complete destitution. I have never been a wealthy person myself but for most all of my life I have had the physical means for my survival. One of the most heartbreaking things to see in our world is people that are indeed destitute. Due to our current economic situation there are many who find themselves lacking and in need. Furthermore having visited other countries where poverty is rampant the signs of destitution are everywhere. I have to admit it is overwhelming. For as one person I feel helpless to do anything for these people. Yet I hurt for them.

But I myself have experience a different kind of destitution. As someone that has had repetitive deep depressive episodes for as long as I can remember, I often feel destitute, hopeless, empty and like God’s presence is absent. In these times I am unable to do the tasks I once did, I am unable to accomplish the things I wish, I cannot seem to make my mind or body function, yet I am so tired that I cannot motivate myself to even try. The darkness seems all consuming. You stare at the wall wishing and hoping you will find your way out of this imaginary hole. But there is no escape. You cry to God and you plead to Jesus but your cry’s appear to be unheard.

“I will sing for the one I love a song about his vineyard: My loved one had a vineyard on a fertile hillside. He dug it up and cleared it of stones and planted it with the choicest vines. He built a watchtower in it and cut out a winepress as well. Then he looked for a crop of good grapes, but it yielded only bad fruit. “Now you dwellers in Jerusalem and people of Judah, judge between me and my vineyard. What more could have been done for my vineyard than I have done for it? When I looked for good grapes, why did it yield only bad? Now I will tell you what I am going to do to my vineyard: I will take away its hedge, and it will be destroyed; I will break down its wall, and it will be trampled. I will make it a wasteland, neither pruned nor cultivated, and briers and thorns will grow there. I will command the clouds not to rain on it.” Isaiah 5:1-6

When I read this passage in Isaiah I feel like this has happened and is happening in the lives of many others. The result is destruction and wasteland. The loss, the destruction and the destitution. There are many in today’s world experiencing this but it does not end with destitution. There is very real hope. The darkness may last for a night but joy comes in the morning. For Jesus is the light unto our path.

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’” –John 8:12

Wherever you find yourself. No matter what hole you feel like you cannot escape. No matter what darkness you battle. Jesus is the light to your darkness. So wherever you find yourself today, seek Jesus, look to Jesus, take his hand and follow him. Sing praise and worship. Live, love, serve and worship Jesus our King. Fellowship with others that are also seeking Jesus and walking with him. For where two more gather in he name of Jesus he promises to be among them. He will guide you and lead you through the destitution.

The Branch of the Lord

“In that day the Branch of the Lord will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land will be the pride and glory of the survivors in Israel. Those who are left in Zion, who remain in Jerusalem, will be called holy, all who are recorded among the living in Jerusalem. The Lord will wash away the filth of the women of Zion; he will cleanse the bloodstains from Jerusalem by a spirit of judgment and a spirit of fire. Then the Lord will create over all of Mount Zion and over those who assemble there a cloud of smoke by day and a glow of flaming fire by night; over everything the glory will be a canopy. It will be a shelter and shade from the heat of the day, and a refuge and hiding place from the storm and rain” Isaiah 4:2-6

I have the image of an old old tree. Large and maybe even very beautiful at one time but the inside of the tree is rotted. It is crumbling from the inside. The leaves are withered, the fruit is bad and it is zapping all the resources and nutrients from the area. You look at the area surrounding this rotten tree and you see dirt and rocks. No growth and no life.

When reading through the first couple of chapters of Isaiah you hear about how God’s people’s sin had brought about all kinds of horrible things. The people had fallen away from God. They were not living by his commands. They were worshiping other things. They were producing bad fruit. They were like this rotten tree. Although the prophet is pointing out the people’s sin and telling them about God’s judgment he also gives a message of hope. The tree is rotten so it must be cut down but out of this cut down tree the branch of the Lord will grow.

Jesus is the Branch of the Lord. He is the vine. He is he source of life. He is the source of living water. It is through us abiding in Jesus the vine that we have the opportunity to experience being a part of God’s kingdom and bear fruit. For apart from us abiding in the vine we will be just like this rotten tree. Our healing comes when we repent for our sin and are cleans by the blood of Jesus.

I cannot count the number of times I have met with someone and they responded to me “you need healing”. Sometimes they even start praying for me, even without asking permission. Prayers are fine but do not touch me without asking. It is a pet peeve of mine. I often find myself restraining myself from lashing out. Or yelling back at them in anger. Actually I think I very much have done that very thing, whoops. Many have even been puzzled by my response. Why does it bother me so much? I receive healing daily when I repent for my sins. So when someone tells me “you need healing” it’s like them telling me my repentance isn’t good enough. I have come to terms with the fact that they are just looking at the outside. They have missed the entire point. They don’t even know what healing is. For what they are seeing is the cut down tree that had been rotten and they are missing the fact that though abiding in Jesus he is producing a garden where that rotten tree once stood. Furthermore there lack of understanding is a testimony that they are the ones that need healing.

I have come to terms with only Jesus can heal me and anything else in this world is just a cheep imitation. A bandaid. Oh how I love my bandaids at times because they help relieve the pain. There is nothing wrong with bandaids. So I go to doctors, counselors and the likes for my bandaid but I go to Jesus for my healing.

Turn Your Eyes On Jesus

“Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing. I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.” 1 Timothy 2:8-15

Oh boy! If there was ever a controversial passage of scripture. Particularly for today’s women this passage of scripture would definitely make the list. I have to admit my first instinct and reaction to reading such scripture is the impulse to dress up in some sexy dress, put on some fine jewelry and flaunt myself at a church service. Not because I enjoy flaunting myself, no the impulse is out of rebellious spit for Paul’s writing. Lord please have mercy on me for I am a sinner among sinners.

When I reads Paul’s instructions at face value and literally they cause a sense of anger in me. Where is the anger coming from? It is a sense of anger that this scripture is saying that as a women I am inferior to a man. I get the image of a women held in a prison, the men are the ones holding her captive. The men are the ones keeping her from living a free life. They are oppressing her. It is true that abuse of power and abusive authority can cause this imbalance of roles and power. In the cause of abusive authority the depiction of a man holding a helpless women captive is a reality. This does in deed happen in our world. God does not approve of such things. But Pauls instruction to men and women in the church as not meant to be abuse of authority or power. Quit the opposite I believe they are meant to creat order, efficiency and protect men and women alike.

What is the purpose of church and a worship service? The purpose is to worship God. The whole focus is Jesus. We spend all week working and focusing on all kinds of things. We try to focus on Jesus but then we have something due at work, a child that is sick or our car breaks down. We very much have real tasks and work to accomplish. So when we take a sabbath to solely focus on Jesus, when we set apart designated time to worship our Lord and King, we attempt to lay aside all the distractions of this world. Laying aside all the distractions of this world is not easy. Not easy at all. Paul’s letter is giving instruction on how to operate a worship service in a way that will help men and women alike lay aside all the things of this world and worship God.

What do women think about when they dress themselves and ready themselves? We often very much worry about our appearance. We worry about our hair, our makeup, our jewelry and whether we are wearing the latest fashion. Similarly I have never meet a women that does not struggle with comparing themselves with other women. We all do it. We see another women and think why can’t my hair be like hers. But going to a church worship service is not supposed to be about our outward appearance. It is about what is on the inside. It is about worshiping our God. I believe this is the point Paul is trying to make. Don’t worry about the outside. Worry about the inside. Don’t dress yourself and adore yourself in ways that will tempt other women to jealousy. Does this mean I have to wear a sack cloth to church? Well no but it probably means getting ready for church should be the easiest thing. Don’t worry about the outside and be modest. That is that.

But what about the instructions about men and women’s roles? Have you ever meet a man that was not drawn to beautiful women? Men tend to be visual. I would even argue that a beautiful women wearing sack cloth catches the attention of men. Even when it is unwanted. Women may not want to be catching the attention of men but they will. So instead of men going to the worship service to worship God and focus on Jesus they will be distracted by said beautiful women. This happens regardless of what women do but how a women behaves and conducts herself can help men focus on Jesus or do the opposite and turn the focus away from Jesus. Paul’s instructions are giving women practical advice on how to help men better focus on Jesus at church. Be submissive, quiet, and modest.

When I think about reason for why Paul says what he says I no longer find his words demeaning to women or oppressive. I see them as wise words. Words I should take to heart. For when I go to church I do not what women to be comparing themselves to me. I do not want men fixing there eyes on me. No we go to church to worship Jesus and focus on God. We all play a part in helping people fix there eyes on Jesus. Amen.

We All Need Cleansing

We recently had a bit of rain. My two little dogs do not like to go out in the rain but they had no choice. When they came back to the door my little dog Itsy looked like a drowned rat. She was shivering and her hair was going all kinds of directions. My little dog Coco not only looks like a little drown rat but he had mud all over him. They stood at a door wining to get in. Boy did they look pitiful. I let them in the house but I confined them to the bathroom. I did not want mud and water all over the house and furniture. I left them in the bathroom while I went to get soap and supplies to clean them up. Coco was not happy. He was barking up a storm. Coco wanted to be let out of the bathroom. He wanted his freedom yet he needed to be cleaned up first.

In the Old Testament there is a book called Isaiah. Isaiah was a prophet who was sent by God to tell Judah God’s message. God’s people had fallen into sin and where not living the lives they should. I have to admit the book of Isaiah can be difficult to read but it is also a good reminder of what God requires of us his children and what happens when we do not live our lives we should.

“When you spread out your hands in prayer, I hide my eyes from you; even when you offer many prayers, I am not listening. Your hands are full of blood! Wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight; stop doing wrong. Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. a Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow” Isaiah 1:15-17

God’s people were very much like my two little dogs. They were a mess and I am not talking about the people physical appearance. The people’s sin had defiled them. The people’s sin was much like the mud and muck all over Coco.

God does not like it when we do a multitude of empty religious practices yet are filled with sinful behaviors. He does not like it when we tithe or give only out of obligation but without a heart of love for Jesus. God wants us to have a heart of repentance, submission to his authority, humility and a willingness to allow him to mold us. He wants to cleans and wash us just like I was trying to do for my two little dogs.

No human being on this earth is not in need of cleansing. For we are all sinners. The only human to ever walk this earth and not sin is Jesus. We all need cleansing. We are able to receive cleansing through the blood of Jesus by confessing our sins and then turning from the sin to live in the way of Christ. The process of turning from the sin can sometimes be challenging but there any many resources to help people turn for their sin. If you do not know where to start or where to get help then reach out to a pastor or church.

God Knits Us Each

I am excited to have some hand knit scarf available for sell soon. So here is a little bit of mind wondering that came along with the knitting.

I often pray while I knit. I find that having something repetitive and a bit monotonous to do with my hands helps me focus. The knitting has a calming effect. I am reminded of a verse in the Bible that talks about God knitting each of us in our mothers womb. Every one of us is God’s creation. Whether we acknowledge him, obey his commands, worship him or do not even know he exists, it does not change the truth that we are all his creation.

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalms 149:13-14

Yet very few of us live the lives we are called to live. Very few of God’s creation do the things he wishes of us. Why is this? It is because we are slaves to sin. Sin binds us, sin hinders us, and sin destroys our lives as well as others.

I use a loom to knit. With each loop of the yarn I am reminded that it is through Jesus Christ that we have the opportunity to bind our sin and live free lives in Christ. Yet we are often blind to our own sin. We are blind to our bondage.

“To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?” Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:31-36

Do you know Jesus? You do know Jesus teachings? Seek Jesus with all of your heart. Repent for your sins by turning away from your sin towards Christ ways. Jesus will set you free when you seek him above all else. So I pray that God will open your eyes to any sin within you. I pray that you will seek him above all other things. I pray he will set you free so that you will live the life God created you for. I pray you will live a life of freedom in Christ. For this is the life we were all created for. In Jesus name. Amen.