Woe? Really?

“Woe to you when all men speak well of you, For so did their fathers of the false prophets.”  (Luke 6:26)

When we read the Beatitudes, we all love the “Blessed are…” bits – but we tend to overlook and forget the “Woe to…” admonitions that appear most strongly stated in the Gospel of Luke.

Jesus is indeed love, light and truth – and we all love focusing on that.  But part of the truth of loving Him and understanding His message involves remembering the other things He said:  His powerful rejection of the mores of the day’s religious leaders, emphasis on the causality created by God in our world, and the many warnings about being careful where we focus our attention.  The above passage falls right in line with His many statements on this last topic:

“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”  (Matthew 6:21)

And even more directly in point:
“Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven.”  (Matthew 6:1)

The passage is a reminder that what ‘everyone thinks’ is not necessarily the truth – and that people flock where they see numbers, often without any real perceptiveness.  It also hints at the soul-eroding quality of craving popularity in the eyes of men.

Dangers of the Internet

The dangers of seeking man’s approval rather than God’s have become even more powerful with the advent of the Internet.  Marketers and frequenters of social media (now a key factor in marketing success and the inflow of money and ‘all good things’) are taught to strive for ‘hits’, ‘visitors’, ‘likes’ and favorable comments.   Algorithms in search engines further feed into this.  And of course, the practice has moved beyond marketing into straight social activity, where it is in danger of becoming a fetish on the likes of Facebook.

Please understand I am talking here as a 20-years-on-the-net, ex-marketer who several years ago threw marketing away for this very reason, that I perceived the huge pitfalls of letting this whole approval-seeking, Internet fad become ingrained in the soul.

There are indeed many ways to fall into ‘The Trap’.

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”  (1 Peter 5:8)

Patricia
http://damascusroad.news

Perceptions of The Nativity

nativityI have thought much, this last few weeks during the run-up to Christmas, of some of our perceptions attaching to the place and circumstances of Jesus’ birth.

A lot of what we think seems to have come from the statement of Paul at Philippians 2:7 which says,   “…but he humbled Himself, taking the form of a bond servant, and coming in the likeness of men.”  From this we get ideas about Jesus, the circumstances of His life, and the details of His birth, that pervade the whole Christmas story.  We get the wrong impression that Jesus was born in undesirable, impoverished conditions.

Several years ago, I heard a very interesting viewpoint put forward by Pastor Robert H Shuller that while the innkeeper in Bethlehem has had bad press because he failed to find a lodging for Joseph and Mary, the stable they finally found to lodge in was probably a blessing in disguise.  Pastor Shuller pointed out that with a large number of people on the move to register in their own cities for the first Roman census, towns and inns would have been packed with all manner of people, making a crowded inn probably not the best place for the Son of God to be born.

That REALLY spoke to me.

So I would like to take the reasoning a step further.   When you look at the preparations for Jesus’ birth, His Heavenly Father went to great trouble to set the stage:

1)   The birth of Jesus’ forerunner and cousin, John the Baptist, was special in itself, because his parents were elderly and his mother barren.  God sent the angel Gabriel to announce the birth to the father (a priest of the temple).  God gave Zacharias a clear sign as proof, and also oversaw the naming of the boy.  (Luke 1)

2)   We also know that angels appeared to both Mary and Joseph concerning the birth of Jesus. Gabriel appeared to Mary to announce that she would have the baby, and an unnamed angel appeared to Joseph in a dream to quiet his concerns about Mary’s pregnancy. (Luke 1, Matthew 1)

3)   The birth of Jesus was announced to the Magi, powerfully enough that they undertook a long journey from the east to bring Him gifts.  We are not told how they were told this, but it can only have been by some form of supernatural revelation. (Matthew 2:1-2)

4)   Jesus’ birth was announced by an angel and the heavenly host appearing to shepherds in the fields near Bethlehem.  And before we write the shepherds off totally, let us remember that for many people in Israel, their wealth lay in their herds and so protecting their livestock was a high priority.  Think of David.

In other words, Jesus’ birth was announced both to certain wise and wealthy men who were prepared to honor Him (as the wealthy of His own country were not), and to men from the lower classes whom He came to save – men from the very occupation that He was to use as an illustration of His ministry in calling Himself  ‘The Good Shepherd’.  (Luke 2:8-17)

Are we to assume then in the midst of all this preparation that God somehow made a mistake in designating the place where Jesus was to be born and ended up with an undesirable result? 

That doesn’t make sense.

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Let’s look at a few other places where God made supernatural provision for Jesus:

5)   Because Herod had become aware of Jesus’ birth from the Magi, and was plotting to kill him, God took the following steps:

  • The Magi were warned in a dream not to return via Herod (who had asked  for directions so he could find the child), so they went back another way. (Matthew 2:7-8, 12)
  • An angel warned Joseph in a dream that Herod was looking to kill the child, and instructed him to take Mary and Jesus and flee with them to Egypt.  This he did, and remained there until Herod died – at which time Joseph was advised by an angel in a dream that it was safe to return.  (Matthew 2:13-14, 19-21)

6)   Towards the end of his life, when Jesus came back to Jerusalem for the last time, His need for a mount to carry Him into the city was met by the supplying of a donkey.   Clearly, there must have been a divine forewarning given to the owner of the donkey, so he was prepared to let it be taken and used by people who just turned up on his doorstep.   (Matthew 21:1-7)

7)   Later, when Jesus needed a place to hold the Last Passover supper with His disciples, His need was met in a similar way.  (Matthew 26:1-7, Luke 22:8-13)    Obviously, there are other examples.

So what does all this add up to?  I believe first and foremost we must stop demeaning the place and surroundings of Jesus’ birth.  Yes, there is simplicity and a message in it, but not the message we have been taking.

I’ve already made Pastor Shuller’s point that a room at the inn was unsuitable.   By comparison, the stable was a place of peace where God’s holiness and glory could shine out around this most special of births.   What a moment that must have been for The Father!   The animals that surrounded Jesus in His first hours were God’s creation – creatures that He loves.  They were and still are the innocent ones, with more understanding than we give them credit for.  And did I read in a recent publication where a man of God called them ‘dirty’?  Hmmm….

Remember, it was an innocent animal that had to be killed to provide covering for Adam and Eve after they sinned, and through all the history of Israel up to the time of Jesus’ death, it was animals that had to die as sacrifices for the sins of the people.

Now Jesus, the Lamb of God, had come to take that burden upon Himself.

Patricia

http://damascusroad.news/

No Weapon Shall Prosper

weapon-lionIn the aftermath of the US election, a move is being orchestrated to incite lawlessness for the purpose of upsetting and intimidating the American people.

America has exercised its democratic right to choose, and (as it was to a lesser extent with Brexit) some folk are just not happy to see things not going their way.   Obviously, there were people with a big investment in achieving the alternative outcome, and that big investment has ramifications of One World Government and world domination.  This is serious:  a strong, vital, independent America has always been a bulwark against oppression.

But over the last few years, Americans and many others have had to witness the inexorable decline of American values and America’s integrity as a world power.  It was the intention of some people that that process should continue.

One has to ask, “Where is respect for democracy?”    Democracy is the very cornerstone of the American nation, the very foundation it was built on, and the basic reason that people emigrated to live in the States in the first place.  Democracy is also a huge threat to those who want to run the world to suit their own agendas.  The upheaval we see now is the clearest indication yet of the spiritual warfare that has gone on and is still going on behind the scenes to bring America down.

At this difficult time, I would like to stand with the American people and recall to mind the following:

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“No weapon formed against you shall prosper,
And every tongue which rises against you in judgment
You shall condemn.
This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord,
And their righteousness is from Me,”
Says the Lord”      (Isaiah 54:17)

Stand strong, America – stand strong on your core values.  Remember where your Founding Fathers placed their trust, and how well that served America in years gone by.  Support your new President-elect, whether you voted for him or not, bearing in mind that your freedoms lie rooted in the democratic process.

I believe the Lord has His hand on Trump and that the Jezebel Curse over the USA is broken at last.   I am not an American, but I feel we all need to have the grace to lay aside prejudices, stand back, and let the Lord do His work on and through him. If we don’t have that grace, then we need to pray for it.

Blessings on America at this time.

Patricia

http://damascusroad.news

Wonderful Counselor

come-lionGoing ‘through the mill’ is something I’m familiar with.  I came to the Lord in October 2006  at a time of great trial.

I had come north to live on the family’s 10 acre property following my father’s death.  I loved the place too much to sell, and at the time it seemed like a great adventure.  Stepping into my father’s shoes, getting a half-finished house completed, establishing a dairy goat stud (my idea), were all challanges that I ran with.  As a career soldier, my father had great all-round abilities – fencing, planning, building, planting.   I took all that on, and though I had the major fencing done by a contractor,  I was soon using the fence strainers and skillsaw – all helped by my mom, just as she had helped my dad over the years..

But by 1997 it became clear that my mother’s mental condition was deteriorating, and before long she was diagnosed with alzheimers.  There followed 10 years of caring for her sole charge.

I would be lying if I didn’t say that these were trying years.  Gradually, my options in life foreclosed.  From a past career as a highly-paid lawyer in government,  I had become a ‘handmaiden’.  Much as I loved my mom, that did not go down well.  My various options for making an income foreclosed also, though I clung tenaciously to the artistic skills I’d nurtured from childhood, and they and the internet helped me keep my sanity.  There were times when I considered running away – but to what?  My assets were all tied up in the land.  And with a horse, 2 dogs and 4 cats?

I won’t go into the dramas, the worries and the uncertainties.  These are well documented in the blog The Alzheimers Carer, which I wrote at the time.

My mom passed away in February 2007, and I was left with debt and a host of problems.  It was a blessing that I was ‘born again’ – above all else I had that lifeline.

Over the years I’ve been helped mightily by the Lord.  But right now I am in strife, following a decision in September 2014 that it’s time to move from here.  A huge step.

Something that Separates Us from God

Since then, I feel like every problem in the book has been thrown at me, from health issues to dramas around getting the place in order for sale. It has been a nightmare.

Why?

Without actually realising it, I have allowed myself to come under ongoing stress – in other words, attack.   Attack centered on my own feelings of guilt that I hadn’t maintained the property up to scratch during my mom’s illness – as if that were possible when she wouldn’t let me out of her sight.

The accuser has stood alongside, ceaselessly pointing the finger and finding fault.  Though intellectually I know better, I have let him do it.  He is already defeated, and I have been giving him power.  How foolish is that?

And though I ask the Lord for guidance daily, I know I have never really ‘let go’ on this particular issue.  And we absolutely have to do that:

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“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

Knowing that and actually doing it, are two very different things.   If we do not let go, He cannot help us.  And that is where I am at.

Lack of faith of this type is actually a sin (by definition, something that separates us from God).

I’ve just enrolled for notifications about a Video Course called “Wonderful Counselor”, starting on 17 October.    Though the course can be bought, there is a brief opportunity to watch the video series free at this time, which is what I am going to do.  I’m passing this information on on for anyone who may feel need of it.

Note – I am not an affiliate of the Christian Leadership School – I have nothing to gain by recommending this.

Blessings
Patricia

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Awesome Testimony

job-38-iiconThis testimony by Paul Gauvin will warm your heart.  What a story – honest, genuine and moving.

Here is a guy who by his own admission has never made a video before, and he is uncomfortable in front of the camera.  That makes his testimony all the more credible.

Paul is a young musician who about eighteen months ago had a life-changing encounter with Jesus that was completely unexpected and totally overwhelming.

Take the time to watch this through.  If you have not yet asked the Lord into your life, it will give you something to think and act on.   If you already have the Lord, you will rejoice in this testimony of His wonderful power and presence.

Thank you, Paul, for making this – and thank you for just being yourself.

Blessings.
Patricia
http://damascusroad.news

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I Will Pour Out My Spirit…

joel-2-28r-iicon“And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions…”

So spoke the prophet Joel at Joel 2:28.

This outpouring of the spirit, currently very much in focus as part of the End Times prophecy, is regarded as part of ‘The Day of the Lord’…

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…and the Day of the Lord and His subsequent millennium reign on earth is also described in a beautiful passage from Isaiah:

“…Until the spirit be poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness be a fruitful field, and the fruitful field be counted for a forest.

“Then judgment shall dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness remain in the fruitful field.

“And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.”   (Isaiah 32:15-17)

Imagine the opportunity to pursue the things you love without limitation, in the company of the mighty creative power of the universe.     What more could anyone want?

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Acrylic painting, plus digital.

Artwork and Products available in my Damascus Road Gallery. Or click on the images.

Patricia

http://damascusroad.news

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Where Were You

job-38-iiconThis was not, of course, a question – it was at most a rhetorical question.  A reminder of who we are and Who the Almighty God is.  A call to sanity, if you like.

We know the trials Job went through – and they were huge.  Almost more than any human being should be asked to bear.  The loss of everything – wife, family, possessions, home, business.  Ill health, reduced to dust and ashes.  And if that wasn’t enough, three of his friends who came along to ‘commiserate’ and, as can be the way with friends and enemies alike, ended up dumping their own prejudices and making the whole thing so much worse.

But, reduced as he was to nothing, Job stood strong on what really is the most important thing in this short earthly life – faith in his God.  Throughout all the many trials, physical and mental, his faith did not waver.

And one would think that having proved his faith in these ultimate tests, he would have been entitled to an answer to the one question so many ask, so often:

“Why?”

He didn’t get his answer.  That answer is not available to us in this earthly life.  And there is no reason why it should be.  Instead, Job got reminded of his place in the scheme of things vis-a-vis the One he was questioning:

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“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
Tell me, if you understand.
Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!
Who stretched a measuring line across it?
On what were its footings set,
or who laid its cornerstone—
while the morning stars sang together
and all the angels shouted for joy?”   (Job 38: 4-7)

With all our intellectual achievements, we forget that our knowledge and understanding are not those of The Creator.  A good look at the sky on a clear, starry night, and a very small appreciation of the intricacies of balance that set the universe in motion and keep it moving in its age-old pattern are enough to remind us of far greater forces than we have at our disposal.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.”  (Isaiah 55:8-9)   …

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The Father, like human fathers at times, does not answer all questions.  And while that can be hard on His children, life is not intended to be a bed of roses.  We cannot be forever fed on milk.  If we respond correctly to those trials that come across our path, we will come to realise that the hard knocks bring us closer to the true heart of the Father – which is LOVE.

And while the hard knocks of this life are but for a season, the Father’s love is for eternity

Patricia

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