He Reigns!

Monday, July 16, 2018

Those Unseen Things

“May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.  His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us to His own glory and excellence, by which He has granted to us His precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.”
~2 Peter 1:2-4 

I know a lot of people who worry about dying, even Christians, but that has never been one of my worries. I have never worried about the length of my life, or even wanted to live into my 90s or longer. To me, life has always been a burden I’d rather not carry; something fleeting and temporary that I’d just as soon not have to deal with. But I do feel blessed that I’ve lived as long as I have without killing myself. When I was young, I was pretty reckless and never gave much thought to the outcome of any given situation—the folly of youth, I suppose because when I look back at some of those situations with all the years of experience I’ve accumulated, I just shake my head and offer a thanks to God because I know He is the only reason I’m alive today. While that may sound like a contradiction, the difference is, in my youth I never gave a second thought to the eternal outcome of my actions, so I’m glad God did, and I’ve had the chance to ensure that outcome. And now I know that my length of days is solely in His hands, as is everything else in life.

“And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God (2 Corinthians 4:3-4).”

We are blinded to the truth of God by the things of this world. Whether it’s our own youthful folly, money, sex, drugs, or all the other things available to us in this life, we are all just hairless monkeys looking at something shiny. We want what we want when we want it and we don’t care who gets hurt or what the consequences will be. There is a veil over our minds when we don’t see the truth of God. We ignore the Bible, and we ignore the idea of eternal consequences. It’s easier to believe that this life is all there is, and death brings nothingness; or that we come back to try it all over again until we get it right; or that we become animals or insects that travel on to the next plain of existence, or any of the other dozens of fanciful ideas about what happens after this life ends. But the wisdom of this world is folly to God (1 Corinthians 3:19), and when we finally see the folly in our own thinking, that veil is lifted, and we see the truth of God. Our lives here are temporary and fleeting but at the end of this life is eternity. It’s up to us to decide where we will spend it.

“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).”

Read Psalm 89-99

© 2018 Marie McGaha

Friday, July 13, 2018

One Man's Weeds

“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in Heaven. For He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
~Matthew 5:44-45

I like growing a garden. Having flowers around makes me feel better, and I like digging in the earth but one of the problems with gardening is you have to weed. Flowers and weeds grow together but I don’t think all weeds are equal. Some choke out what you are trying to grow, so they have to be yanked out regularly. But some weeds aren’t really weeds at all, like dandelions. My next-door neighbor has a little tool that goes into her lawn and plucks the dandelions right out, I let mine grow. Not only do they produce a pretty yellow flower, even if it doesn’t smell good, they also produce some very healthful and beneficial leaves and roots. And, if you’re so inclined, they make good wine. I like dandelion greens in my salads, they are chock full of vitamin A and iron. The root can be dried and used as a coffee replacement. One man’s weed is another man’s flower. I think it’s why we are to love our enemies and pray for those who  persecute us—we never know who’s a weed and who might be a dandelion.

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another (John 13:34).”

In the Old Testament, the belief was “an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth (Exodus 21:24).” If someone harmed you, you had the right to exact vengeance. Even though some still believe that today, Jesus said we aren’t to seek revenge but to love everyone the way He loves us. That is, we must remember that we were just as unlovable as anyone who has harmed us, and instead of exacting revenge, we are to pray for them. That being said, it doesn’t mean we have to be friends with people who have harmed us, but we do have to remember that prior to accepting Christ as our Savior, we, too, harmed others in some way. If each of us received what we deserved for the sins we’ve committed, we’d all be in hell. Thank God for sending Jesus Christ as the propitiation for our sins. There are enough weeds out there, but it isn’t up to us to decide which ones get plucked out and which ones are just dandelions.

“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, 
then He will sit on His glorious throne. Before Him will be gathered all the nations, and He will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And He will place the sheep on His right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by My Father,  inherit the kingdom  
prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me food, I was thirsty, and you gave Me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed Me, I was naked, and you clothed Me, I was sick, and you visited Me, I was in prison and you came to Me.’  Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? And when did we see You a stranger and welcome You, or naked and clothe You? And when did we see You sick or in prison and visit You?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these My brothers, you did it to Me’ (Matthew 25:31-40).”

Read Psalm 69-72
Weekend Reading Psalm 73-88

© 2018 Marie McGaha

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Before It All Ends In Tears

“So, we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So, whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.”
~2 Corinthians 5:6-10

There’s no doubt that life is going to end, or at least life as we know it. Nothing lasts forever, especially not us. I liked watching a show called “1,000 Ways To Die.” The premise is summed up in the title, but the show was mostly about ridiculous ways people managed to kill themselves. I always thought I’d probably do something stupid that would end up with me on that show because I’m the clumsiest person around. One time, I knocked myself out with a piece of plywood and a chicken coop…. I woke up under the plywood, just my head sticking out, with the dogs on top of me, licking my face. My first thought was not if I had hurt myself, but instead, I was thankful I lived out in the boonies and no one saw me. At my funeral, people will not cry, they will be hiding behind their hands, laughing, whispering, “I can’t believe that’s how she died!” My husband has gotten to the point where he shakes his head and asks if my life insurance is paid up. I am not afraid of dying; of how I will die, maybe. But I am sure where I will go when I step from this life to the afterlife. I am not afraid of that because I know Jesus will be there to greet me, and so will many others that I miss every single day.

“But our citizenship is in Heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like His glorious body, by the power that enables Him even to subject all things to Himself (Philippians 3:20-21).”

When we know Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we also know that this life is only useful so that we can know Him as Lord and Savior and hopefully, pass that knowledge on to others. In the long run, our short lives have a glorious ending. Our sick, weak, old bodies will be transformed into a glorious body, just like Christ’s resurrected body. We will be brand new, healthy, strong, with no aches or pains, and better than we could ever imagine in this life. What we call the end of life, is actually the beginning of our eternal life with Him. It is all going to end in tears one day, and while we may not know when or how, we can know what will happen after. There’s only two choices, remain in our sin and spend eternity in hell, or live for Christ and accept Him as our Lord and Savior and spend eternity in Heaven. For me, there is only one real, viable choice.

“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:1-6).”

Read Psalm 60-68

©2018 Marie McGaha

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

What's In A Name?

“Therefore, God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the Name that is above every name, so that at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow, in Heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
~Philippians 2:9-11

Do you like your name? I hated mine, or at least my first name. In fact, I hated it so much that I dropped it completely more than thirty years ago and have used my middle name as my first name ever since. Names are important; they determine how we feel and how we see ourselves. If you, or someone you know, has been ill for a long time and doesn’t know the cause, it makes you worry. Once the doctor puts a name to the illness, there’s some relief because now you know what’s wrong and because it has a name, it can be treated in certain ways. Some names make us cringe—Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Saddam Hussein; we don’t even need to use their first name to know who we are talking about. Other names make us feel good, like Mom, Dad, Grandma, while names like Santa Claus brings joy and fond memories. Names can also make us feel shame or hurt our feelings, depending on what someone calls us—stupid, idiot, fat, worthless—and we learn that at a very early age. Playgrounds and school yards are full of name calling. But names can also make us feel loved and secure—wife, husband, sweetheart, honey, daddy’s girl—all have strong, intimate connotations. Whether we think about it or not, names mean something. But there is only one name that supersedes all other names and that is the name of Jesus.

“This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:11-12).

There is no higher name in Heaven or earth than that of Jesus Christ. The name Jesus comes from the name Joshua, which comes from the Hebrew form of Yeshua, which means “rescue or deliver.” Yeshua comes from the Hebrew word YHVH* (YHWH), or Yahweh, or Jehovah in the King James Version. And when we understand that Jesus is God (John 1:1-3; 8:58; 10:30-33), His name makes perfect sense. The God of the Old Testament is the Jesus of the New Testament. Our names may be random, or cute, or reflect the memory of a family member but the name of Jesus tells us who He is.

“Behold, I am coming soon, bringing My recompense with Me, to repay each one for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright Morning Star (Revelation 22:12-16).”

Jesus never had an identity crisis. He knew who He was, why He was on earth, what He was going to do while here, and where He would go when He left. Jesus knew that His Name would be known throughout the entire world, and that by believing in His Name, all of us could be saved from our sins and an eternity in hell. Jesus also knew who each of us could be in Him, through His Name. And if we could learn to put aside all the other names that have hurt us, demeaned and belittled us, all of those names that have been hurled at us like stones, and use the Name of Jesus and all that His Name means, we would truly be brand new people. There is no other name that can heal us, comfort us, or save us—only the Name of Jesus can do that.

“I will say to the north, give up, and to the south, do not withhold; bring My sons from afar and My daughters from the end of the earth, everyone who is called by My Name, whom I created for My glory, whom I formed and made (Isaiah 43:6-7).”

Read Psalm 52-59

(*For more information about Hebrew and the Bible, go to www.hebrew4christians.com)

©2018 Marie McGaha

Monday, July 9, 2018

Thirsty Soul

“On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”
~John 7:37-38

Have you ever been so thirsty that you thought you’d never get enough to drink? Thirst is a horrible feeling if you don’t have water handy. Dehydration can cause a lot of physical problems from a mild headache to kidney failure and death. We need water to survive. Everything around us needs water to survive. In the desert there’s a lot of plants and animals that can go long periods of time without water, particularly, there is one little plant that experiments were done on that has a unique way of surviving – by dying. During the experiment, scientists gave the plant plenty of water and then didn’t water it again. The first year, the plant appeared to have died, but eventually, it sent out little feelers looking for water, not finding any, it went back to its dormant state. This went on year after year. Each year, the plant looked for water, finding none, went back to its dormant state. Finally, in the eighth year of the experiment, the plant went on its last expedition for water, found none and gave up. The plant died. But what a tough plant it is! Can you imagine if we were that determined when everything looks hopeless?

“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer (Romans 12:12).”

People are not particularly patient, especially when our lives are bleak looking. We give up, give in, and fall down when life throws us curveballs. Our lives are full of ups and downs and sometimes, the downs can bring us way down. We can let the downs become depression to the point where we can’t pray, can’t read the Bible, or worship the Lord. That is where the devil likes us to stay. Our minds are his playground if we haven’t made it God’s battleground. That’s not to say we don’t have reason on occasion for feelings of being off our game or being upset when we lose something or someone important in our lives. It becomes a problem when it interferes in living our lives, or when we begin to lose sight of our hope and begin to believe that nothing is going to change.

“Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him, my Salvation and my God (Psalm 43:5).”

It is when we are at our weakest that we need to cling to Jesus and read God’s word even more. We need to hold fast to our hope that God is in control and even if things appear to be wrong, God sees the entire picture and has a plan for us. We see so little of the big picture and our narrow view can lead us to separate from the Lord when we need Him most. No matter how we feel, we can trust God has our best interest at heart. No matter how dark the future seems, we can trust that God holds our future in His hands. No matter how we fail ourselves, we can trust that we haven’t failed God. The battle is the Lord’s and we only have to trust in His leadership. We may be in a dry place, but we can still be like that little desert plant and send our feelers towards God. He will send us rest and replenish our thirsty souls.

“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers (Psalm 1:1-3).”

Read Psalm 49-51

©2018 Marie McGaha

Friday, July 6, 2018

Hanging Out With Sinners

“As Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and He said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed Him. And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?" But when He heard it, He said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.  Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.””
~Matthew 9:9-13

Tax collectors in Jesus’ day were not anymore popular than they are today. In fact, the term “tax collector” was synonymous with corruption and they were often lumped together with the term “sinner.” Hanging around tax collectors often meant people would judge that person to be evil and underhanded, so when Jesus allowed “many” tax collectors and sinners to sit at the table with him, the Pharisees were in a tizzy. How dare someone allow such scum to sit at the table with them and then defend them when questioned about it? The Pharisees were a bit self-righteous and self-important, and given the choice of being in the company of tax collectors or Pharisees, I’d choose the tax collectors too.

There are a lot of people we see on a daily basis that we pay no attention to, or look at and dismiss, or we think our time is too important to spend on someone we deem beneath us. We might think we don’t make snap judgements about people, but we do. We all do. We all like to say we don’t judge and skin color doesn’t matter, but what do you think when you see someone with tattoos, long beards and hair riding motorcycles? Do they scare you because they’re “bikers”? What about people with different colored hair and piercings all over their faces? Do you think they’re ridiculous? Or what about someone walking into Walmart in their pajamas? Or someone who is so overweight they must use a riding cart because they can no longer walk any distance? Do you think they need to just put the Snickers back and have some self-respect? Or someone with a child who is physically or mentally impaired? Do you feel pity for them? Or the homeless? Do you think they just need to stop using drugs and get a job? Or someone who “looks” like they just walked out of prison? We might say we don’t judge but who wants a convict living next door? Who wants a drug recovery house in their neighborhood? Who wants anyone they don’t like or understand or looks different or had a different type of life living in close proximity to them? We judge people.

“If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount.  But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for He is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.  Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful (Luke 6:32-36).”

Loving those who love us is easy. We love our kids because they’re ours and no matter what mistakes they make, we still love them. But loving those we don’t know is a little more difficult; showing loving kindness and mercy to a stranger we’d rather pretend doesn’t exist is difficult. But that’s exactly what Jesus did in so many instances in the Bible. He loved the sinners, and we are supposed to be like Jesus and love everyone. But how is that possible? How do we love the unlovable? I think first, we need to understand what love means. In this instance, we are talking about “Agape” love, godly love that doesn’t love based on merit but on the fact that God loved us before Christ wiped our slate clean. When we recognize that no sin is greater than any other, that our sin was as great as any convicted person in prison, or as any tax collector, drug addict, hooker, or biker gang, perhaps we can begin to look upon others as God looked upon us. Agape love is full of compassion, mercy, and forgiveness. Agape love is a verb, it shows action. Mother Teresa, who showed true Agape love to countless people said, “We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do. Love cannot remain by itself – it has no meaning. Love has to be put into action, and that action is service. The most terrible poverty is loneliness, and the feeling of being unloved.

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another (John 13:34).”

Read Psalm 32-36; Weekend reading Psalm 37-47

©2018 Marie McGaha

Thursday, July 5, 2018

There Might Be Giants

“Then they told him and said: “We went to the land where you sent us. It truly flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. Nevertheless, the people who dwell in the land are strong; the cities cities are fortified and very large; moreover, we saw the descendants of Anak there. The Amalekites dwell in the land of the South; the Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites dwell in the mountains; and the Canaanites dwell by the sea and along the banks of the Jordan.” Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, “Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it.” But the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we.” And they gave the children of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, “The land through which we have gone as spies is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great stature. There we saw the giants (the descendants of Anak came from the giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.”
~Numbers 14:27-33

It took a very long time and a lot of patience for Moses to lead the Children of Israel to the promised land. They whined and complained every step of the way, turned against God, disobeyed Moses’ instructions, and generally created havoc even after seeing great miracles along the way. First, they were rescued from 400 years of Egyptian slavery, then they witnessed the parting of the Red Sea, and saw God’s protection when He covered them with a cloud during the day and led the way with a pillar of fire at night. He provided manna for them every day, allowed fresh water to come from a rock, and then rained meat down on them when they complained about the manna. They had everything they needed to get to the promised land, yet it took them 40 years to walk a distance of about 350 miles. And if you figure they could walk only 10 miles a day, it’s still only a 35-day hike. After 40 years of wandering, the Israelites finally reached the Jordan River, the last obstacle to cross to the Promised Land. Yet, none of those who originally followed Moses and Aaron out of Egypt were allowed to cross into the land of milk and honey. Even those who would cross the river were scared to do so. They sent spies into the land, instead of trusting God to lead them into safety. What they saw there was large, fortified cities, food growing everywhere, fresh water, and animals grazing the land. What a difference it must’ve been from the dry, barren land they had traversed for 40 years. Still, they were afraid of the people, who were apparently much larger than the Israelites, and didn’t want to cross over into the land God promised would be theirs. They had already faced many giants in the trip across the desert, and God met them at their need every time, but facing these giants filled them with fear. During the 40 years of wandering, the Israelites also did quite a bit of procreating, and one of those descendants was Joshua, who led the children of Israel across the Jordan to face the giants of the land. It wasn’t that Joshua didn’t feel fear, it was that he trusted God to lead and guide him in his decisions.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go (Joshua 1:9).”

We all face giants of one kind or another in our lives; obstacles that prevent us from getting to where we want to be. It might be financial, physical, emotional, or we might just be flat out scared to take the next step. It happens to all of us. One minute everything seems to be going exactly as we planned, and the next, it’s been derailed, and we don’t know where to go next. Life will throw us curve balls when we least expect it, but it also gives us opportunities to move past the detours and get back on track. That is part of the lifelong learning curve we have with God. No matter how off-track the Israelites got, God kept patiently leading them in the direction they were supposed to go. When we trust God knows best, and we choose to follow Him, we can be assured that we will continue in the right direction even when life tosses us around.

“But I, through the abundance of Your steadfast love, will enter Your house. I will bow down toward Your holy temple in the fear of You. Lead me, O Lord, in Your righteousness because of my enemies; make Your way straight before me (Psalm 5:7-8).”

Read Psalm 26-31

©2018 Marie McGaha