SNOOPY!

I have a special email friend and fellow blogger who writes on the website “Esther’s Petition.”  In one post, she asks “What Are You Like, God?” When reading her inquiry, I knew I was about to be challenged and to learn something new about God. Without reading further, I stopped and personally prayed “What Are You Like, God?” The Lord answered Bette’s question with one word, “snoopy.” The Lord answered my question by telling to “think about Snoopy.” I want to share both of our responses to this question.

When I hear “Snoopy”, I think of the Peanuts cartoon by Charles Schultz. Although comical, I can glean some spiritual insight about who the Lord is from this little beagle. The first thing I notice it that DOG is GOD when spelled backwards. Hmmm. Maybe there is more to this dog than a cartoon for me.

Most of the time Snoopy is portrayed as living on top of his dog house rather than living inside it. Snoopy lives outside the box. This reminds me of the Holy Spirit who is with and upon and in us. Jesus tells His disciples in John 14:16, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever.” We see this promise fulfilled according to Acts 10:44, “While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message.” Finally, Paul says in I Corinthians 3:16, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?”

A common phrase originally accredited to Frederick the Great of Prussia says that a dog is man’s best friend. Snoopy is Charlie Brown’s dog and best friend. John 15:13 says, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” And in John 15:15 Jesus says to His disciples , “I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” I am reminded of the old hymn What a Friend We Have in Jesus

In some cartoon strips, Snoopy thinks he is another kid belonging to the gang and on occasion he even tries to be a player on the baseball team. From this perspective, I see Snoopy as both a dog and a kid reflecting Jesus as Son of God and Son of Man. Jesus acknowledges Himself as both in scripture. In John 5:16-30, we find Jesus as both Son of God and Son of Man. Jesus begins by explaining how He can only do what He sees My Father doing which reveals Him as the Son of God. However, in this passage in verse 27, Jesus refers to Himself as the Son of Man by saying, “And he (God the Heavenly Father) has given him (Jesus) authority to judge because he is the Son of Man.” Then, after Jesus was arrested and before He was crucified, He was brought before the Sanhedrin and Luke 22:70 records, “And they (the elders of the people) all said, ‘Are You the Son of God, then?; And He (Jesus) said to them, ‘Yes, I am.’”

OK. I have shared mt lighter version of how God revealed what He is like to me. Now I want to highlight what my friend learned from her encounter with the Lord. God revealed to her that He is snoopy in a curious sort of way. He does not want to be snoopy to find fault, criticize, condemn or gossip. He just wants to know how He can best soothe our hurts and strengthen our weaknesses. Bette concludes by quoting II Chronicles 16:9 KJV, “The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth to show himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is perfect towards him.”

My Reader, are you willing to ask the Lord what He is like to you? You can be assured His answer will be enlightening, and it may even be humorous.

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Jesus as Lord amidst the Leaves

(Click on images to find the credit for appropriate images.)

Autumn is a beautiful time of year in upstate New York. The trees boast of beautiful colors along the hillsides painting a gorge of grandeur. We went on an outing to Letchworth State Park, a visible sanctuary of splendor. During our hike, a scripture and a song were playing in my mind.

He who trusts in his riches will fall,
but the righteous will flourish like foliage.
Proverbs 11:28 NKJV

While walking along the trails of the park, we noticed that multitudes of leaves had already fallen upon the ground. We became aware of the crunching sound under our feet. There was no visible beauty in the brown leaves that covered the ground and crumbled with each step we took. The withered yet crispy leaves were like the fallen riches mentioned in Proverbs 11. When we trust in riches, we trust in things that are uncertain and undependable. Like the dried leaves, riches can be blown away by the wind. It is possible for them to be here one day and gone the next. Leaves fall, and so can those who trust in riches. Proverbs 23:4 NLT warns, “Don’t wear yourself out trying to get rich. Be wise enough to know when to quit.” Another scripture to remember is I Timothy 6:10, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

What a contrast between the dry leaves beneath our feet and the leaves that still hung on the tree branches overhead! Splashes of orange, gold, red, yellow along with a few remaining green leaves remained attached to the sturdy arms of the tree. The fall foliage painted a pleasing portrait for the eye to behold. In John 15:5, Jesus says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” Although Jesus uses the terms vine and branches, we can make the comparison of Jesus being the tree and we as believers are the leaves. Just as the fall foliage flourishes, so will believers flourish. Psalm 34:15 declares, “The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and His ears are attentive to their cry.” and Psalm 55:22 says, “Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken.

I will look up for there is none above You
I will bow down to tell You that I need You
Jesus Lord of all 

I will look back and see that You are faithful
I look ahead believing You are able
Jesus Lord of all, Jesus Lord of all

These phrases are part of the song I Will Look Up by Elevation Worship, and these are the words I was singing while hiking through the park. As we meandered along the trails, I was beholding the glory of God in nature and discerning His greatness supernaturally. When I looked up I saw the beauty of the leaves still attached to the tree and I realized that nothing was above our God, Creator of heaven and earth. (He is the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them– He remains faithful forever. Psalm 146:6) When I looked down, I saw dried leaves and I was reminded of my need of my Creator. (God, the LORD, created the heavens and stretched them out. He created the earth and everything in it. He gives breath to everyone, life to everyone who walks the earth.Isaiah 42:5 NLT) When I looked back upon the trail we were hiking, I saw again the natural beauty behind and the faithfulness of Jesus to guide every step I have ever taken. (Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. – John 14:6) When I looked ahead, I got another glimpse of the beauty of the park we had not yet seen and I also believed Jesus would guide each step I was yet to take throughout my life. (A person’s steps are directed by the LORD. How then can anyone understand their own way? – Proverbs 20:24)

Throughout this day, we became aware that fall was a good description of this season as we watched leaves fall from trees. Also, the fall foliage offered us a beauty not visible at any other time of year. There were lessons to be learned from the leaves we walked upon as well as the lovely leaves we stopped to gaze upon that were still attached to their branches. However, the primary lesson learned is declared in the final phrase I quoted from the song by Elevation Worship: “Jesus Lord of all!” Jesus was evident in everything we saw and experienced throughout our day at Letchworth State Park. Philippians 2:10-11 expresses it well, “so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow,, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (my emphasis) Other scriptures that confirm the lordship of Jesus are Romans 10:9 (If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.) and I Corinthians 12:3 (and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.) According to Wikipedia, “Jesus is Lord” is the shortest creed of faith expressed in the New Testament.

My Reader, will you declare with me, “Jesus is Lord”?


 

Hand Held

Our country and our world are experiencing tumultuous times that are resulting in devastation and brokenness. As I lied in bed praying this morning before getting up, I envisioned two pictures in my mind that had spiritual implications for me

Within my spiritual mind I saw a little boy holding a small fishbowl in his hands while riding in the backseat of a car that was traveling along a curvy road at a rather high rate of speed. The little lad was trying his hardest to keep his pet goldfish inside the bowl while the water was violently sloshing around and spilling. I wondered if this was a picture of God holding our world in His hands. In reality, was the turmoil of the water in the fish bowl symbolizing the teeming downpours of the wind and rain of hurricanes this season? We have experienced tumultuous times with hurricanes Harvey plummeting Texas and Irma invading Florida long with Puerto Rico and other islands. Torrential downpours tormenting and taking lives and land! Whatever is happening around us, we must remember to reach out to the hand of God. Isaiah 59:19 NKJV tells us, “When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him.”

The other image I saw with my spiritual eyes was a little girl playing with play dough or modeling clay. In the beginning the clay appeared to be crumbling and breaking apart. However as her little hands continued to consistently roll the clay in the warmth of her hands, she was able to form it into a ball and then affectionately shape it into a heart. While God holds our world in His hands, isn’t He desiring to lovingly mold us and our country into His likeness? In recent months, there have been eruptions of volcanoes and earthquakes in Mexico,  just over a week ago gunfire erupted in Las Vegas, and now we hear of wildfires erupting in northern and southern California with the northern fires being some of the worst in history. Eruptions and disruptions! Through it all, our country has experienced brokenness. However, God still holds our country and the whole world in His hands. Psalm 147:3 promises that, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”

Now that I am awake and functioning for the day, I am singing Glen Campbell’s song, He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands as a statement of faith and assurance. All of the negative and challenging things that have been happening around us, create in me a desire to remember that we and the world around us are held in the hands of God. When I think about God being able to hold our world in His hands, my perception of God and His size and power increases exponentially. I am reminded of Isaiah 40:12 that says, “Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, or with the breadth of His hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance?

Although things are not perfect within us or our world, I want to remember the words of Psalm 118:16 NLT, “The strong right arm of the LORD is raised in triumph. The strong right arm of the LORD has done glorious things!” I cling to the words of Psalm 95:4-6, “In His hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to Him. The sea is His, for He made it, and His hands formed the dry land. Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.” I also like the assurance God gives in Isaiah 41:10, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

So, in conclusion, I declare to the Lord the words of David in Psalm 31:14, “My times are in your hands; deliver me from the hands of my enemies, from those who pursue me.” I believe this because Psalm 89:13 says of the Lord, “Your arm is endowed with power; your hand is strong, your right hand exalted.” According to Psalm 16:8, “I keep my eyes always on the LORD. With Him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” My Reader, will you join me in keeping the perspective of our country and world being in the hands of God? Will you agree with me in prayer that “His will be done on earth as it is in heaven?” Let us “Sing to the LORD a new song, for He has done marvelous things; His right hand and His holy arm have worked salvation for Him.” Psalm 98:1

Be a Prays-er

Prays-er” is a word used by Cindy Jacobs in the book Possessing the Gates of the Enemy. The uniqueness of this word Cindy created has given me much to think about. Most of us will say that we are pray-ers who talk to God asking for His help in situations in our own lives and in the lives of others. However, if I say I am a “prays-er” I am describing myself as a person who praises the Lord while I am praying. As a praiser, or prays-er, I choose to praise Him because of who He is, not because of what He does for me. I praise Him because He is the Creator of all things and the One who has given me life. I praise Him because He is my Savior, Lord, Healer, Deliverer, Defender, Provider, Protector, etc. He is loving, gracious, merciful and kind. God is good! He is worthy of my praise! Psalm 29:2 says, “Ascribe to the LORD the glory due His name; worship the LORD in the splendor of His holiness.” I want to fulfill this scripture by being a prays-er.

Psalms is probably the best book of the Bible for references to praise. (My Reader, you may want to do more research on your own regarding praise scriptures as I cannot begin to be inclusive in what I share. I just want to create within you a desire to become a prays-er.) Psalm 145:3 is a good starting point for praise. “Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; His greatness no one can fathom.” Psalm 100:4 instructs us, “Enter gates His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name.” Psalm 150:2 NLT says, “Praise Him for His mighty works; praise His unequaled greatness!” David and the other writers of the Psalms were definitely prays-ers!

As a leader of the Israelites, Moses sets an example of the importance of praise when he personally declares in Exodus 15:2, “The LORD is my strength and my defense; He has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise Him, my father’s God, and I will exalt Him.” Moses refers to the Israelites as well as himself when he says in Deuteronomy 10:21, “He alone is your God, the only one who is worthy of your praise, the one who has done these mighty miracles that you have seen with your own eyes.” Flipping a few more pages of our Bibles, we find other references to praise.
I
Chronicles 16:9 instructs, “Sing to Him, sing praise to Him; tell of all His wonderful acts.” Reading a little further in this chapter, I Chronicles 16:25 says, “For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; He is to be feared above all gods.” None of these people limited their conversations with God to requests. They praised God for who He was. They were prays-ers!

Being a pray-er, requires more of us than asking God to help us and meet the needs of those around us. Paul says in Philippians 4:6, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Petitions are a part of prayer but so is praise. When we praise the Lord for who He is, we will worry less because we will become more aware of His character and nature. When we praise the Lord for who He is, our faith is built up and we have the confidence to thank Him for what He is going to do. Praise is a powerful part of prayer! Be a pray-er and a prays-er!

Since there are scriptural references to praise in both the Old and New Testaments, praise is not restricted to a particular time period. In Isaiah 43:21, the Lord declares, “the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim My praise.” This is amazing! One of the reasons God created us is so that we can become prays-ers! Moving into the New Testament. we read I Peter 2:9, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.” Praise is pertinent for us today! God desires our praise – He wants us to be prays-ers!

Acts 16:25-26 tells us, “But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them; and suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened.” The combined power of prayer and praise resulted in freedom from the bondage of prison. The same wonder-working power of God is available to us. Paul and Silas are an awesome example of prays-ers!

Praise is mentioned in the apocalyptic books of Daniel and Revelation. Daniel 2:20 says, “Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are His.” John says in Revelation 5:11-12, “Then I looked, and I heard the voices of many angels and living creatures and elders encircling the throne, and their number was myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands. In a loud voice they were saying: ‘Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!’” It is interesting that the angels also praise the Lord. One of my favorites scriptures is Philippians 2:9-11, “God highly exalted Him (Jesus), and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” This indicates to me that I will be a prays-er not only while I am alive on earth but throughout all eternity! What a privilege!

I am a pray-er, a person who prays (talks to God), but I am also a prays-er, a person who praises (lifts God up and honors Him for who He is). I acknowledge with the prophet in Isaiah 25:1, “LORD, you are my God; I will exalt You and praise Your name, for in perfect faithfulness You have done wonderful things, things planned long ago.” I personally declare Psalm 104:33, “I will sing to the LORD all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.” and Psalm 145:1-2, I will exalt You, my God the King; I will praise Your name for ever and ever. Every day I will praise You and extol Your name for ever and ever.”

My Reader, will you be a person who praises the Lord in addition to being a person who prays to God? I encourage you with the words of Hebrews 13:15, “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise–the fruit of lips that openly profess His name.” Be a prays-er!