Death And Life

“Death and Life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.” (Proverbs 18:21 KJV)

The power of sound is inestimable: we can realize this when we think that in Genesis God is recorded as having spoken light into darkness and order into chaos.

All the way through the process of creation recorded in Genesis 1, each creative act begins with the words, “And God said…”

Our words are puny by comparison; yet they still have enormous power to affect the things and people around us, and also ourselves – something many people do not realize, or even want to realize.

Blessing and cursing are two sides of the same coin of the currency of our speech, and in these days, these terms have become almost valueless in that people regard them as somehow wrapped up in religious protocol, and not part of ‘everyday life’.

Not so: when we speak good things, we bless, and when we speak bad things, we curse. The words we utter go out into the ethers and do their work – for good or for bad. Equally, they remain with us – an abiding influence on self and character that most people do not give a passing thought to.

Jesus, speaking to the Pharisees, put it this way:

“Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12: 34-37 NKJV)

Guard your mouth – it has immense power. Many a parent has cursed an offspring’s life by speaking negativity over them.

Speak in haste: repent at leisure.

Digital:  click on the image for more details and products.

Patricia

Be Not Afraid

This quotation comes from one of the most loved of the Bible stories about Jesus’ miracles – the healing of Jairus’ daughter.

As well as being a great story for children, it was an awesome demonstration of the Lord’s power.  Yet we don’t always read it carefully enough to get every ounce of meaning from it.

Be not afraid, only believe.’” He said. (Mark 5:36 KJV)  The events that led to this statement were very interesting.

Jairus, an official of the synagogue had come hurrying to Jesus to ask Him to save his 12 year old daughter, who was on the point of death.  Jairus was convinced that Jesus could save his daughter.

No doubt, Jesus could have performed a miracle of healing on this girl from a distance, as He did with the centurion’s servant in Matthew 8.  However, events were to occur that would bring about an even greater miracle.

They started off for Jairus’ house immediately, but a diversion cropped up along the way.  They passed by the house of a woman who had had severe bleeding for 12 years.  She too was convinced that Jesus could heal her and she struggled through the crowd with the thought that if she could only touch his cloak, she would be healed.

She did manage to touch His cloak, and she was healed immediately, but Jesus stopped, because He felt the power go out of Him.  He asked, “Who touched my clothes?”,  He knew that someone with strong faith had drawn upon His power. The response of His disciples to His question was almost comical:  “You see the multitude thronging You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?” – an interesting commentary on their lack of understanding.

Fearfully, the woman came forward and knelt at His feet.  Jesus said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be healed of your affliction.”

This diversion along the way brought about a situation set for an even greater miracle – somewhat similar to the raising of Lazarus.  As they continued towards Jairus’ house, people came to say that Jairus’ daughter had died. “Why trouble the Master any further?” they said.

“As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, he said unto the ruler of the synagogue, ‘Be not afraid, only believe.’” (Mark 5:36 KJV)

Jesus moved immediately to correct the worldly, negative thinking – natural as it was under the circumstances. His words were short, and to the point.

We could all do with remembering these words when the trials of life seem to overwhelm us.  All too often, we go through living with an underlying, almost subconscious, nagging fear and apprehension that saps our peace and makes us vulnerable to the works of the enemy.

Remember the words of Isaiah 41:10 –

“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”

Digital, with hand-painted capital letter, assembled in Macromedia Fireworks MX

For more details, click on the images.

Patricia

Catching Men

“When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, ‘Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!’

“For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish which they had taken; and so also were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon.

“And Jesus said to Simon, ‘Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.’   So when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed Him..”
Luke 5:8-11

The stunning miracle that Jesus performed in these verses caught the attention of all those present, and caused Simon Peter to recognize immediately who Jesus was.

This event can be interpreted as an illustration of the power of the Lord to bring prosperity to His followers. However, as Pastor John points out in a video on this scripture, the words hold a far more important message, and Jesus lost no time in delivering it.

As Pastor John says, “This story is not about how to get rich – it’s about how to get free from riches.”

It’s all about freedom – about getting free and about giving freedom to others.

How important that is! Here were four businessmen whose business had just been blessed with an enormous gift of business resources (perishable goods, incidentally, and ripe for selling at a profit). Yet such was the power of the Lord and of His presence, that having brought their boats to land, “they forsook all and followed Him.”

He had made it plain (as He would do many times during His ministry) that there are far more important priorities than riches, to be pursued in this life.

What a powerful story – and what a powerful lesson for us all.

That freedom is still available today, while most people are stressing and straining at this business of living – struggling with a changing and ever more difficult world.  While we focus our minds on the problems around us, we only magnify and increase them, and give them more power in our lives.

He holds the answer.

Digital – vector: Pierre Bézier tool in Macromedia Fireworks.

 

Patricia

He Who Comes

“All whom the Father gives me will come to me, and he who comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day” (John 6:37-39)

The day after Jesus had fed the crowd that followed Him, they followed Him again in boats across Lake Galilee, seeking to learn what God wanted them to do. This is the crowd that stirred His heart because they were like lost sheep without a shepherd (Matt 9:36) – a fair comment on the religious leaders of the day.

Speaking this time in the synagogue at Capernaum, He was critical: “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill.” (6:26)    I have a firm personal belief that the Lord has a great sense of humor. I think this comment was made in that vein, to get the attention of those listening and focus it on what He was about to say about motives.

He went on to explain the distinction between earthly and heavenly treasures: “Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.” (6:27)

He wound up His message by giving them the assurance quoted here.

But as always, there was dissension in the crowd and some of them objected to Him calling Himself the bread of heaven. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” they said.

Always, those who waver, the skeptics, and those who disagree. The seed falls on all types of ground, and much of it may perish.

But the promise of this scripture remains true for all those who believe and follow Him.

So many people today are talking about, and suffering, rejection.  In our modern, technological age the modes of rejection have increased.  Especially among young people, rejection and abandonment bite deeply at a time when the enemy is deliberately breaking the all-important supportive bonds that should come from family.

Take heart – there is One who cares, and will always care.  He has promised – and His promises are “yes, and amen” (2 Corinthians 1:20).

Remember, there is a great Old Testament passage, which affirms a mighty truth about Jehovah:  “God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath He said, and shall He not do it? or hath He spoken, and shall he not make it good?”  (Numbers 23:19, KJV)

Digital – vector in Macromedia Fireworks MX.  For more information about the art, click on the image.

Patricia

Absolute Truth

“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.’” (John 8:31-32)

Jesus made this statement in the Temple courtyards of Jerusalem, in the middle of a discussion He was having with ‘the Jews’ (a term used by John for the religious elders of the day), who were beginning to show their hand openly in their attempts to trap and destroy Him.

This episode is especially applicable in today’s world.  We are at a point now in the history of mankind when there is a serious attack going on against the concept of Truth – not only in the ivory towers of philosophic discussion: this attack is impinging on crucial aspects of real life.

The Sadducees of the present day – the so-called ‘intellectuals’ – are bent on denying the concept of absolute truth. By their standards, the idea of absolute truth is old-fashioned and outmoded, and has already been relegated to the trash.   It appears this new thinking is impacting seriously on education, where students are now encouraged to give whatever answer to a question they think fit – and it seems that all answers will be marked ‘correct’.

Likewise generally, one man’s idea is treated as being as good as another man’s – on any subject: a trend fostered even further by the entrenched Internet rituals of ‘liking’ and ‘commenting’ on anything and everything on facebook, blogs and websites and, apparently even the education process.    The ultimate outcome of all this can only be a complete erosion of standards and values.

Frankly, I view this as an attempt by the enemy to tear down the foundations of our society – and I use that word in an all-encompassing sense of societies in general.    It is also, of course, a direct attack on God, who is Truth, and His word.

We are certainly coming close to the end times.   Jesus foresaw these events clearly:

“Many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold,” (Matthew 24:11-12)

We live in a world that is governed by pretty strict rules of causality, set up by the Father to enable us to function in a predictable manner. I rather doubt those intellectual prophetic ‘brains’ have thought of the logical outcome of the course they are steering in trying to nullify absolute truth.

If they were to plant cannabis seeds and come up with a crop of marigolds, they might be somewhat put out: even more so if their own offspring turned out to be a bunch of jackal whelps.

They cannot have it both ways. Either there is an identifiable absolute truth, or else all is chaos. Jesus’ words and sayings throughout the New Testament are consistent with the importance of understanding this truth – and His behavior throughout His life was an impeccable testimony to His words.

Patricia

Digital typography.  For further details, click on the image.

Practice Of The Presence 2

Brother Lawrence’s book ‘The Practice Of The Presence Of God’ hasn’t arrived in the mail yet, so I’ll continue with some thoughts that came to me since my last posting.

One of the biggest problems we all have to deal with is a little appendage lurking in our dark corners called ‘the ego‘.

In some people, the action of the ego is very clear to see: self-importance, megalomania, ‘me, me, me’, hunger for acquisitions, fame, power, influence, and more. People laced with a heavy dose of this curse may be easy to identify, because they usually make a big showing on the world stage.

What about the rest of us? “I’m not like that,” we may think.   But whoa!   Make no mistake, deep in the salt mines of our souls this worm is at work continually, coloring and shaping our thoughts and attitudes on anything and everything.

Jesus said , “Take up your cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23)

I don’t believe He was referring to the stresses and strains of worldly life in work and relationships – that is all periphery. The issue goes deeper than that.

Paul gives us a clue in 1 Corinthians 51:33 when he says, “I die daily.” Clearly, he doesn’t mean physical death. What does he mean then?

In 2 Corinthians 10:5 we get another clue : “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”  What has to die is the ego.

Now this is deep stuff. It’s all very well to have a head knowledge of these scriptures, but it’s something else to take them on board in your life and your heart. Paul is NOT talking about demolishing other people’s false beliefs (I’ve seen that argument put forward by clerics),   He is talking about our own ‘pretensions’, in other words, the thoughts and attitudes sown into our souls by the action of the enemy, through our egos.

In my last post I confessed about being dissatisfied with my effectiveness as a Christian. In truth, the dissatisfaction arose from comparing myself to others, to those who have done and are doing great things for the Lord: a comparison brought about by my ego. There’s no good in denying it. Deep down we all want to be something special, to have satisfaction and recognition for what we’ve done, not only on earth but in heaven also.

Jesus warned against seeking the approval of other men at Matthew 6:1-6. Put bluntly, if you act with the intention of gaining men’s approval here on earth, that’s it – no approval will be forthcoming from God.   You got what you wanted.

But what about comparing the Father’s rewards and the extent of His approval as between ourselves and others?

Jesus tackled this issue head on in His parable of the workers in Matthew 20:1-16.   He describes a vineyard owner hiring workers throughout the day to complete work in his vineyard. At the end of the day, the workers who had worked all day were incensed when they saw those hired later getting the same pay as they got, even though they themselves were getting their agreed wage.

In the parable the land owner answers one of them, “I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous? So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” (Matt 30:13-16)

Here we have it – the Father does not look at man’s criteria when deciding who and how to reward.   He doesn’t have to!   Those who kick up a fuss and claim their entitlement is greater than others’ will find themselves at the end of the queue.

Patricia

PS:   A denarius was a good wage – it was the normal daily wage of a Roman soldier on active service.

Denarius coin of Augustus Caesar, emperor of Rome at the time of Jesus’ birth.  Note the word “Divus” (god) on the reverse side: the introduction of emperor worship was facilitated by the gratitude most colonies felt for Pax Romana, the ‘Roman Peace’, brought about by Augustus after centuries of warring in the Mediterranean countries.  For most colonies, this was nothing more than the addition of a further god to the array of gods they already had. For the Jews, of course, it was anathema.  Rome was wise enough not to press the issue at this stage, but no doubt the coinage was a constant irritant to the Jews.

Then The Sky Fell In

My peace I leave with you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful” (John 14:27)

On 19 October I fell while working on my land. “Oh no!” I thought as I went down, too late to put out my hands. I heard my nose ‘crack’ as it hit the ground.

I sat up, hands to face to make sure I still had a nose. Yes – but there was blood running down the right side. Off to the house, where I stanched more blood with cold water, tissues and vitamin C, and lay down.

Later I found out my sight was affected – double vision when looking to the sides and down.  Considerably double, too – not just a ‘shadow’, but a full-blown double image, well offset.  It looked like the ‘jigsaw puzzle’ of my vision had blown apart at the sides.

At first I hoped it was swelling, and took arnica. After 2 weeks I gave in and drove with one eye shut to our local clinic.  It was my first drive out since the accident – my neighbor had kindly taken me shopping in the interim – and it was scary.

I was ambulanced down to the Emergency Department at Base Hospital (77 miles). There were blood samples, an ECG, 4 heart x-rays, umpteen lights shone in my eyes, nose and ears, many ‘touchy-feely’ tests to make sure I hadn’t had a stroke, and a CT head scan.

Up to the eye clinic next morning for more shining lights.  An MRI head scan was ordered, since the CT scan showed nothing. My right eye was clearly not tracking properly.  This is a bad experience for anyone, but especially so for a visual artist.

I went back down the line for the MRI scan on the 9th, and again this last week for the results. That was the scary part.

On the way down in the shuttle bus, as I prayed I got the message, “I am with you, no harm will befall you.” And so it has been. The MRI scan showed nothing. The eye specialist thinks there is a small speck of blood somewhere that will resolve itself, given time. They don’t want to see me for 3 months – Whew!

Thank you, Lord for your goodness and mercy! Thank you for giving me a specialist who is prepared to let You do Your work. Bless your Holy name!

Digital artwork, from acrylic paintings.

Patricia