He Reigns!

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Unanswered Prayers

“Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though our outward man is decaying, yet our inward man is renewed day by day. For our trouble, light and momentary, is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, as we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen. For what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.
~2 Corinthians 4:16-18

My father has cancer—for the second time. The first time was colon cancer, and after surgery and chemo, he was declared cancer-free. Our prayers were answered, or, as the doctors said, they cured him. A few years later, he was diagnosed with another tumor, this time on his organs and it was inoperable. He went through chemo for a very long time, but his one tumor became three, and then six, and now, there’s nine tumors and he quit chemo. Obviously, chemo didn’t work but it did make him very sick and my father, who usually weighed around 170 pounds, was down to 118. Since stopping the chemo, against doctor’s advice of course, he is gaining weight again. I’ve been praying for his healing for years, as has his church, my church, and every person I know that I’ve asked to pray for him, yet, he has not been divinely healed. People have laid hands on him, anointed him with oil, and everything else we are instructed to do for the sick (James 5:14-15). Yet, he still has cancer. So, what are we doing wrong? In short, nothing. Sometimes our prayers go unanswered, and as frustrating as that can be, I still believe God heard those prayers and there is an answer.

“As He went along, He saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned,’ said Jesus, ‘but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him’ (John 9:1-3). 

In the New Testament, we see a lot of divine healing by Jesus, and by the disciples in the Book of Acts. Throughout the Bible there were times of healing and although it may seem that a lot of people were healed, when you consider the span of time, nearly 3,000 years, there really wasn’t that many people who experienced divine healing. People get sick for various reasons; some will recover, others will not. We are frail humans born with an expiration date, and that’s something no amount of prayer will stop. But when we die or how we die isn’t even the point because we all have to die of something. The point is what we do with the life God gave us. We are here to serve God and Him alone and our reward is not healing, or riches, or anything else we can obtain in life, it’s hearing those words, “Well done good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23) when we leave this life and step into life everlasting.

Tomorrow, I am flying out to see my father. It will probably be the last time I see him this side of Heaven. It makes me sad to think he will no longer be here for me to call whenever I want. He has a great sense of humor and I can always count on Pop to make me laugh. But I know that when he leaves this life, he will step into the life I long for, one where we see Jesus face-to-face, where we are reunited with those who have gone before us, where there is no more pain or disease or sorrow or tears (Revelation 21:4).

“So, to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).”

Read Isaiah 17-21 (Continue reading Isaiah over the next week while I’m visiting my parents)

© 2017 Marie McGaha

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Failure Is Not An Option

“But now that faith has come, we are no longer under the law, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 
~Galatians 3:25-28

I have worked since I was 13. First as a babysitter, then I cleaned a bar on Sundays, and at 15, I got my first real job with an actual paycheck—minus FICA and other taxes. That was a real shock. I didn’t know anything about taxes, Medicare, Social Security, or any of the stuff that went along with earning money in the adult world. Growing up and having to deal with adult issues was a shock but I learned quickly. We think life is full of rules when we’re kids and being a grown-up will give us freedom from our parents’ stupid demands—chores, curfews, who needs dumb rules like that? What we don’t realize is that once we are on our own, the rules of adulthood are much more demanding than anything our parents asked of us. We might have freedom to do as we want but we are still under the law of the land, the regulations of the governments on federal, state, and county levels dictate our lives. And, if we can’t handle that, and decide that we want to break all those rules, we wind up in places where the rules are fast and hard.

“For the righteous falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble in times of calamity (Proverbs 24:16).”

Following Jesus has a lot of requirements but unlike the laws of the world, it’s not difficult to follow Jesus and stick with the ‘rules’. I’ve heard people say they couldn’t be a Christian because they just can’t be that “good”. My reply is, “Neither can I.” I can’t be good enough for Jesus because like Paul, there is nothing good within me (Romans 7:18). I fail every single day. I lose my temper. I get frustrated with my dogs, my husband, and situations that I face. I’ve even been known to say a bad word from time to time. But does that mean I failed at being a Christian? Absolutely not. What separates us from the world is that we have been forgiven. Even when we fall, Christ is there to pick us up and move us forward, not to kick us when we’re down. No matter what we do, or how we think we’ve failed, as long as we get up, brush ourselves off and move forward in Christ, we are not failures in His eyes. We are children of the Most High, and He does not give up on us.

“Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:13-14). 

Read Isaiah 11-16

© 2017 Marie McGaha

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Praise to Adonai

"Halleluyah! Praise Adonai from the heavens! Praise Him in the highest! Praise Him all His angels! Praise Him all His armies. Praise Him, sun and moon! Praise Him, all stars of light. Praise Him, highest heavens, and waters above the heavens. Let them praise the Name of Adonaifor He commanded and they were created. He set them in place forever and ever. He made a decree that will never pass away. Praise Adonai from the earth, sea monsters and all depths, fire and hail, snow and vapor, storm wind doing His bidding, mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars, beasts and all cattle, crawling things and winged birds, kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers of earth, both young men and maidens, old men and children. Let them praise the Name of Adonaifor His Name alone is exalted. His glory is above earth and heaven. He has raised up a horn for His people, a praise for all His kedoshim, for the children of Israel—a people near to Him. Halleluyah!"
~Psalm 148

Much of the Book of Psalms is dedicated to praising God. In fact, depending on which version of the Bible you read, the word "praise" appears about 250 times. The original Jewish word for 'praise' is "hallel" (הַלְּלוּיָהּ), which translates as a "joyous praise in song, to boast in God." When combined with "Jah" (Jehovah) or "Yah" (Yahweh), 'Hallelujah' becomes a high praise to Jehovah God.

We praise God to give Him glory for all He has done in our lives, especially for what Jesus Christ did on the Cross at Calvary. Without that single death-defying act, humanity would be hopeless and hopelessly lost. Salvation is our only hope for a future not only on Earth but for an eternity spent with Christ in Heaven. But praising God is not just for us here on Earth - even the heavenly hosts shout praises to God! 

"Then I heard something like the voice of a great multitude—like the roar of rushing waters or like the rumbling of powerful thunder—saying, 'Halleluyah! For Adonai Elohei-Tzva’ot reigns! Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and His bride has made herself ready, She was given fine linen to wear, bright and clean! For the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the kedoshim.' Then the angel tells me, 'Write: How fortunate are those who have been invited to the wedding banquet of the Lamb!' He also tells me, 'These are the true words of God' (Revelation 19:6-9)."
In the end, life as we know it will cease one way or the other. Either we will die and leave this Earth, or we will see the coming of the Lord, but no matter which it is, life here isn't all there is. We will all stand before God either for judgement or for everlasting life in Heaven shouting, "Hallelujah!"
As for me, I choose to begin now. Hallelujah to the Lord my Savior who loves me and gave His life so I will spend eternity with Him!

Read Jeremiah 6-10

© 2018 Marie McGaha

Monday, August 13, 2018

The Best Laid Plans

“Then Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” Peter answered him, “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away.” Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” Peter said to him, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” And all the disciples said the same.”
~Matthew 26:31-35

The quote by Robert Burns, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry,” is one of my favorites. In fact, there’s times when it seems to be my life’s mantra. I make decisions to study the Bible more, pray more, worship more, attend church more, be kinder to others, always smile and say nice things no matter how I feel, to not sound cross, and let the actions of others slide off instead of responding with something less than kind—I don’t always succeed and then I feel guilty because I didn’t only fall short of my own expectations but I am sure I let God down again. I begin kicking myself for not having more self-control, for not being good enough, for not loving Jesus enough to be able to follow through on my own promises. It’s not that I intend to let the Lord down, I really try hard not to, but I fail just like Peter did. I would never do anything to let the Lord down, I tell myself, but I do, and like Peter, all I can do is cry and berate myself.

“For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing (Romans 7:18-19)”. 

Paul also had a problem doing the things he told himself he would do but instead, did the things he said he wouldn’t do. He also said he was the greatest of sinners and berated himself for the things he did that he was sure Christ could never forgive him for. Failing seems to be universal but what isn’t universal is how we continue after we’ve failed. When Judas Iscariot failed Jesus, he hanged himself. When Peter failed, he cried for a while, but we see Peter come back stronger than ever. So, we have a choice when we feel as if we’ve failed, we can be Judas or we can be Peter. While we may feel like Judas from time to time and want to lay down and die while wallowing in our failure, the Spirit of God within us rallies us to come back like Peter. No matter how we might feel, we have to remember that feelings pass. They are volatile like waves on the ocean—feelings cannot be trusted to guide us to where we want to be. Instead, we must rely on Jesus Christ within us.

“No weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and this is their vindication from Me,” declares the Lord (Isaiah 54:17).”

“I waited patiently for the Lord; He inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord (Psalm 40:1-3).”

Read Jeremiah 1-5

© 2017 Marie McGaha

Friday, August 10, 2018

Peace and Quiet

“But now even more the report about Him went abroad, and great crowds gathered to hear Him and to be healed of their infirmities. But He would withdraw to desolate places and pray.
~Luke 5:15-16

I am not good in crowds. I don’t like cities either. The noise, the stench, bumper-to-bumper traffic, people pushing and shoving—to me, it’s maddening and has a negative physical effect on my body and mind. I get short of breath and I feel faint, in short, I have panic attacks. I need solitude and silence, which works well because my husband has a job that keeps him away all week and I am home alone Sunday through Friday. I like peace and quiet. I can get my chores done, tend to my little garden, mow the lawn, all the things I must do because someone has to, but I also have plenty of time to spend alone with the Lord. I like having the time to read the Bible without interruption, to write devotionals, and spend time in prayer and worship. Any intimate relationship requires time spent without interruptions, chaos and noise. That is especially true of our relationship with Christ.

“And He went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people. So, His fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought Him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, those oppressed by demons, those having seizures, and paralytics, and He healed them. And great crowds followed Him from Galilee and the Decapolis, and from Jerusalem and Judea, and from beyond the Jordan (Matthew 4:23-25).”

Everywhere Jesus went, He was called to help others, and everywhere He went, “great crowds followed Him.” Jesus was a busy man, but He always found time to be alone with the Father and pray. Jesus understood that His ministry was important but spending time with God was how He was strengthened to continue His ministry. Even though Jesus was God, He was also confined to a human body that needed rest and food, and He had a human mind that needed peace to clear the cobwebs and be able to think, and He had a human heart that needed comfort by being near our Heavenly Father. If Jesus needed those things, how much more do we?

“Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30).”

Sometimes we feel as if we must be “on” all the time, and if we’re not, we are failing. We all fulfill many roles in life, and as we grow older those roles change from time to time, but they are no less demanding. We go from children to adults to parents to grandparents, and we have so many outside forces dictating our lives—jobs, spouses, friends, obligations, church, ministry and the list goes on. Our lives can get very full and hectic, sometimes to the point of breaking. I’ve been there. I’ve reached the point to where I felt like I couldn’t go on, couldn’t give one more part of who I was to anyone, couldn’t muster the strength to get out of bed, answer the phone, or feed the dog. It’s life burnout and it can be debilitating. That’s why it’s so important to spend time alone like Jesus did, away from the cities, people, and those who need something from us. We need time alone with our Savior to pray, worship, and rest in Him.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I will say rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you (Philippians 4:4-9).

Read Isaiah 56-60
Weekend reading Isaiah 61-66

©2018 Marie McGaha

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Watch Your Mouth

“A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion. When wickedness comes, contempt comes also, and with dishonor comes disgrace. The words of a man's mouth are deep waters; the fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook. It is not good to be partial to the wicked or to deprive the righteous of justice. A fool's lips walk into a fight, and his mouth invites a beating. A fool's mouth is his ruin, and his lips are a snare to his soul. The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels; they go down into the inner parts of the body.
~Proverbs 18:2-8

When I was a kid we were taught manners, politeness, kindness and respect. We didn’t talk back to our elders, and we didn’t get smart with Mama. If our tone of voice even got out of line, we heard, “Watch your mouth!” When I had kids, I taught them the same thing—respect. That is something I find sorely missing these days from almost everyone. It seems people think just because a thought pops into their head, they have to post it on social media or rant about it on a blog or video. One thing I like to remember is, “Better to be thought a fool than open your mouth and remove all doubt (Proverbs 17:28).” Apparently, people no longer care whether they sound like a fool or not.

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear (Ephesians 4:10).”

Using foul language, telling coarse jokes, shouting obscenities from the rooftops, being opinionated and rude permeates our society. Even among those who call themselves Christians. I am appalled at how people act, and more appalled they don’t seem to care how they look or sound to others. It seems the louder and ruder someone is, the more the world applauds them. And I don’t get it. Especially with Christians. It is a slap to God’s face for us to call ourselves Christians and continue to act like everyone else. It is a disgrace to what Christ did for us on the Cross when we sound like heathens, and it’s disrespectful to everyone. We are to be in the world, but not of the world (1 John 2:15-17), in other words, we are supposed to act like Christ did as we walk our way through life. We are supposed to be an example of the new life Christ gives us to show others it’s a better way; but if we sound like everyone else, how does anyone see Christ in us? We are going to be held accountable for every word that comes out of our mouths (Matthew 12:36) when we stand before God one day. And rest assured, every one of us will stand before God and answer for our lives on earth (2 Corinthians 5:10). If your words are not lining up with Christ’s example, if you sound like everyone else, if your speech isn’t gracious (Colossians 4:6), perhaps you too, need to watch your mouth.  

“If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also, the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water (James 3:3-12).”

Read Isaiah 49-54

©2017 Marie McGaha

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Sweet Little Lies

“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
~Galatians 5:16-21

When my kids were little the first thing they learned to do was lie to me. As soon as they could toddle around the house and get into things, they began to lie, and it continued into the teenage years. When they were very young, I thought it was funny, cute even. I could watch them do something, ask them if they did it, and they would say “no.” They also began to hide the evidence of their little baby crimes. “Did you take that cookie I said you couldn’t have?” Immediately, the cookie went behind their back, “No.” Even though their face was covered in cookie, they lied to me. As they got older, their crimes got larger. Telling me they were going one place but going somewhere else, sneaking out of the house, smoking cigarettes, drinking, and all the other things teens do that apparently, parents never did and are too stupid to figure out. The very things I did, and my parents did, and presumably, my grandparents did.

As we get older, we do learn right from wrong, and we develop a sense of personal morals and justice. But some people are just really good at ignoring what’s right and wrong and moral and just. Instead, they choose to continue to gratify their own desires no matter the cost to others, or even to themselves. But when they get caught, it’s never their fault. Someone else is to blame. Society, the cops, the judge, their mama—the blame always lies outside of their responsibility. On the other hand, a life in Christ is contrary to that thinking. A life in Christ is absolute responsibility for everything we say and do. From the thoughts we think to the words we say to the actions we take—Christ holds us responsible. Right down to our souls, we are responsible for choosing the right way to go, for choosing to humble ourselves and ask Christ to forgive our sins, and then to live for Him, and share Him with others. A life in Christ goes against our very nature.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-25).”

If you’ve read the story of Christ’s arrest and subsequent death, you know crucifixion is a hard way to go, yet we are told to crucify the flesh along with its passions and desires. We are to crush those desires, get rid of them, and never look at them again. The desires of the flesh are nothing but trouble and cause us a lifetime of pain and suffering. It is only through a personal relationship with Christ that we can overcome our flesh and live by the Spirit. And through His death and resurrection, we can keep in step with the Spirit all the way through this life and into Heaven. Every choice we make, good or bad, has consequences. Living for the flesh leads to death and an eternity in hell. Living for the Lord leads to life and an eternity in Heaven. When you choose an action, you are choosing the consequence. Choose wisely.

“For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God (1 John 5:4-5)?”

Read Isaiah 43-48

© 2018 Marie McGaha