Two Applications of TLC

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TLC – the abbreviation for Tender Loving Care. TLC – the first letters of each word for The Lost Coin parable. Is there a correlation between these two definitions of TLC? Let me share this parable with you and then make a few comments.

Or what woman, if she has ten silver coins and loses one coin,
does not light a lamp and sweep the house and search carefully
until she finds it? “When she has found it, she calls together
her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have
found the coin which I had lost!’ “In the same way, I tell you,
there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one
sinne
r who repents.”
Luke 15:8-10

The woman does three things after losing her valuable coin: (1) Lights a lamp. (2) Sweeps her house. (3) Searches for the coin carefully. With each action, she hopes to find what she has lost. Success! She then invites her friends and neighbors to celebrate with her. I see myself in this parable from two different perspectives.

I am Like the Coin

I am the lost coin. The woman symbolizes Jesus. In the parable, the coin was probably lost because it slipped from the woman’s hands and rolled away. If I do not cling to the hand of Jesus, it is easy for me to stray and become lost. However, I am priceless to Jesus. I am worth more than any coin’s monetary value. Jesus cherishes me. How does He search for me?

First, Jesus not only lights a lamp but He is the light Himself. In John 8:12 Jesus says, “I am the light of the world.” He is the brightest light that shines throughout the world. He can find me wherever I go.

Secondly, He symbolically sweeps the floor, or foundation, of my life. Dirt symbolizes sin. James 2:21 says, “Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.” Then John 1:1 declares, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Putting these two scriptures together, I learn that I can get rid of the filth and dirt in my life by allowing Jesus to sweep away my sin.

Thirdly, Jesus is constantly searching and seeking not only for me but for everyone who is lost. Luke 19:10 declares, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

I am Like the Woman

Another way for me to look at this parable is to put myself in the position of the woman who lost the coin. This time, people lost in sin represent the lost coin. Do I consider lost lives valuable enough to ask Jesus to help seek them? Does my life exemplify Jesus to those with whom I interact?

First, I must light my lamp. Matthew 5:16 encourages me to be a witness to the lost. Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Next, I need to think about sweeping the floor. I do not do anyone a favor if I allow others to sweep the dirt or their sin into a corner. The Psalmist asks in Psalm 94:16, “Who will rise up for me against the wicked? Who will take a stand for me against evildoers?” And James 5:20 says, “Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.”

Last, I must be diligent to search. Paul says in II Corinthians 5:20 NLT, “So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making His appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, ‘Come back to God!’” When searching for those stuck in the muck in sin, I am a witness for Christ. I encourage the lost to come to Him. Everyone is valuable to the Lord. He seeks our help to seek and find those who are lost.

From Jesus’ viewpoint, I am a valuable coin. Jesus also wants to use me as a woman who searches for what is lost. Both perspectives are valid.

Thank you, Lord, for TLC! The parable of The Lost Coin is a perfect example of your Tender Loving Care!

 

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Life’s Chains and Rope

chain-2

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How would you define a chain?  According to the dictionary, it is a flexible series of joined links, usually made of metal.

What is a rope? A rope is defined as a thick strong cord made of strands twisted together, usually fiber.

Both are types of cords that hold things together. I want to think about these “strong strings” from a spiritual perspective.

Ecclesiastes 4:12 concludes, “A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” When this verse was read at our son and daughter-in-law’s wedding, they proclaimed God to be the third strand of their marriage bond. To me, this cord of three strands could be symbolic of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Whatever application of the three stands one may choose, this verse gives a positive description of a spiritual cord.

CHAINS. Jesus says in John 8:34 NLT, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin.” A slave to sin is a person chained to sinful desires. The length of the chain holding one in bondage depends upon the number of sins accumulated in a person’s life. The chain portrays a negative picture.

Spiritual chains are composed of links of lies told by the enemy. John 8:44 says, “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. . . . When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” If a person is chained to Satan, he/she will take on his character. John 10:10 begins by saying, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.”

ROPE. In contrast to the chains of bondage, a rope can be a source of freedom.  For example, a lifeguard might throw a rope to a drowning victim –  the rope functions as a lifesaver. In John 10:10 Jesus says, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

What a disparity between the enemy’s chain of lies and the Lord’s rope of life! 

Paul and Silas’s encounter with physical chains and a spiritual rope is recorded in Acts 16:22-26. These men were in physical bondage with metal chains. However, when they praised God, their fetters were loosed. Paul and Silas were freed while clinging to a spiritual rope of divine power. The Lord inhabits the praises of His people according to Psalm 22:3. The Lord was present with Paul and Silas – and the Lord released His power and broke their chains.

I am reminded of two applicable songs.

The first is the contemporary song Break Every Chain by Tasha Cobbs. Her lyrics proclaim, “There is power in the name of Jesus to break every chain, break every chain, break every chain.” Yes, I want every link of the enemy’s chains broken from my life!

I am also thinking of the old hymn, Blessed Be the Tie that Binds by John Fawcett. The specific words that ring in my mind are, “Blest be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love.” For me, this tie is Jesus whom I have been describing as a rope. With His love, Jesus binds me to Himself. This is the rope to which I cling!

My Reader, I encourage you to cast off chains and reach for a rope.

 

 

 

 

 

Prayer – God amd Me with 2 or 3 (Part 2)

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For where two or three gather in my name,
there am I with them.”
Matthew 18:20

Occasionally, I enjoy meeting with two or three friends for coffee and conversation. We share what has been happening in our lives and then pray together for our concerns. Although the Lord may be invisible, His omnipresence is evident.

In my post last week, we looked at the importance of personal one on One prayer with God. This week we will discover the power of agreeing with others in prayer and having others pray for us. Our key verse gives us the promise that Jesus will be with us when we gather together in agreement with Him. Such a sweet promise! Once again, Moses will be our example.

Exodus 17:8-13 records the battle between the Israelites and the Amalekites at Rephidim. Aaron and Hur are with Moses.

In verse 9 Moses says to Joshua, “Tomorrow I will station myself on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.” Moses promises to pray while Joshua and his men fight.

Verse 11 tells us, “So it came about when Moses held his hand up, that Israel prevailed, and when he let his hand down, Amalek prevailed.” The power of prayer is exhibited in this verse. However, no one, not even Moses, could pray indefinitely without becoming tired.

Verse 12 says, “But Moses’ hands were heavy. Then they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it; and Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other. Thus his hands were steady until the sun set.” Here is a situation where three men gathered together to support each other in prayer. Moses needed the assistance and agreement of Aaron and Hur.

The result of the three men praying together is recorded in verse 13, “So Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.”

Let’s look closely at the actions and reactions of Moses in this scriptural account.

On the morning of the battle at Rephidim, Moses made praise a priority in his prayers. As Moses raised his hands, I believe he was praising the Lord as well as petitioning Him for help. This is a good reminder for us when we gather in our prayer circles. Psalm 22:3, “The Lord inhabits the praises of His people.” 

As the battle continued throughout the day, Moses needed the assistance of Aaron and Hur. Moses exhibited humility as he requested these men to pray with him. One of the common temptations in leadership is to yield to the pressure of feeling like one must do it alone.  Moses may have felt like he was compromising his integrity as the Israelites’ leader if he asked for help.

But Noses was tired. We can all identify with the weariness of praying alone for a specific need. When we feel weak, we should call upon our Aarons and Hurs to agree with us and stand with us in prayer. If it worked for Moses, it will work for us. I Peter 5:6 NLT says, “So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor.

The Amalekites were conquered in the battle of Rephidim. Joshua was victorious on the battlefield because Moses, along with Aaron and Hur, were victorious on the battlefield of prayer. With the Lord’s help, each of these men were part of the triumph.

Are you in a leadership position like Moses? If so, be willing to humbly surround yourself with people who will pray with you and for you.

Or, are you a helper like Aaron or Hur? If this is you, consider it a privilege to lift up others in prayer.

Are you fighting a battle like Joshua? If this is where you find yourself, graciously accept the assistance of intercessors during your time of struggle.

Colossians 1:18 NKJV says, “that in all things He may have the preeminence.” Some translations use “supremacy” or “first place”. Whatever the language, the message proclaims the priority of Christ no matter where you find yourself within the circle of prayer.

God not only surrounds us with believers who will pray for us, but He also places us with others who will benefit from our prayers. May we be among those described in Acts 1:14, “They all joined together constantly in prayer.” Where two or three gather in His name, the Lord promises to be there as well.

 

Prayer – Just God and Me (Part 1)

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Come near to God and He will come near to you.
James 4:8

Recently, I spent time with a new friend getting to know her better. While sipping coffee, we shared our experiences and expectations, our likes and dislikes, our hopes and fears. Just the two of us chatting together! Similarly, the best way to get better acquainted with God is to spend time with Him and talk with Him. In other words, pray. Each of us should daily have one on One conversations with the Lord, not only expressing our opinions and needs but also listening for His response. He will talk with us, Spirit to spirit, if we will give Him the opportunity.

 

The primary point for us to notice is the choice the people made. In verse 27 they said to Moses, “Go near and hear all that the LORD our God says; then speak to us all that the LORD our God speaks to you, and we will hear and do it.” They encouraged Moses to meet with God but they did not do so themselves. God’s response to Moses is recorded in verses 30-31, “Go tell them to return to their tents. But as for you, stand here by Me, that I may speak to you….”

 

Moses is an excellent example of a man who talked with God. Let’s look at Deuteronomy 5:24-33. The Israelites wanted Moses to act as an intermediary between themselves and God. Although they had a reverential fear of God, I believe they also had a human fear of God.  This torment prevented them from seeking a face to Face encounter with the Lord.

They told Moses in verses 25-26, “Now then why should we die? For this great fire will consume us; if we hear the voice of the LORD our God any longer, then we will die. For who is there of all flesh who has heard the voice of the living God speaking from the midst of the fire, as we have, and lived?” Which was stronger – their fear of losing their lives or their reverential fear of the Lord?

The primary point for us to notice is the choice the people made. In verse 27 they said to Moses, “Go near and hear all that the LORD our God says; then speak to us all that the LORD our God speaks to you, and we will hear and do it.” They encouraged Moses to meet with God but they did not do so themselves. God’s response to Moses is recorded in verses 30-31, “Go tell them to return to their tents. But as for you, stand here by Me, that I may speak to you….

Moses had a personal encounter with the Lord that the others were unable to experience because they chose to stay away. What a difference!

Relating the Israelites’ experience to our privilege of prayer, may we be encouraged to draw near to God. He desires to hear what is on our hearts through our words of praise and petition. Corporate prayer and support from prayer partners are legitimate forms of prayer (more on this next week), but they do not take the place of our privilege of personal one on One prayers. We deny ourselves beautiful times of intimacy with the Lord if we do not take time to personally pray.

In Exodus 34:29-35, we find the account of Moses’ face shining and reflecting God’s glory when he came down from the mountaintop.

Verse 29 says, “It came about when Moses was coming down from Mount Sinai . . . , that Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because of his speaking with Him.” In fact, Moses had to hide his face behind a veil because he reflected God’s radiance.

Verses 32-35 tell us, “When Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil over his face. But whenever Moses went in before the LORD to speak with Him, he would take off the veil until he came out; and whenever he came out and spoke to the sons of Israel what he had been commanded, the sons of Israel would see the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face shone. So Moses would replace the veil over his face until he went in to speak with Him.

In Deuteronomy 5:29, God says,Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear Me and keep all My commands always, so that it might go well with them and their children forever!” The Israelites could have reflected God’s glory if they had reverentially eared Him. However, their hearts remained darkened and their minds blinded to the very thing they so desperately needed.

I see Moses’ veil as being a prophetic picture of the tabernacle’s veil that separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place. When Jesus died on the cross, the veil in the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. (see Matthew 27:51) No longer need we be afraid to see the face of God or to be in His presence. The blood of Jesus cleanses us from any sin that would prevent us from being in His presence. Reverential fear of God is mandatory.  However, there is no place for human fear. What a privilege we have through prayer! Let us not deny ourselves this opportunity. When we experience the Lord’s presence during personal prayer time, we too reflect His glory.

In Leviticus 10:3 NLT, Moses explained to Aaron, “This is what the LORD meant when He said, I will display My holiness through those who come near Me. I will display My glory before all the people.” Today the Lord still desires to reveal His holiness to us if we will come near to Him. In Psalm 37:7 NLT, David instructs us, “Be still in the presence of the LORD, and wait patiently for Him to act.May we come into the Lord’s presence and take time to wait for His response. After all, prayer is a two-way conversation – we are not to do all the talking. May we echo the words of Samuel in I Samuel 3:10, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

 

No Messy Manger for the Magi

 

While packing away our nativity scene for another year, I reminisce about the significance of each figure. I hold the Magi, or Wise Men, a little longer because I have not blogged about them in the past weeks. I must take time to ponder and print a few words about these men before this season is complete.

According to the Christian calendar, Saturday, January 6, 2018, is the church festival of Epiphany which commemorates the Magi coming to see Jesus. This was the first manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles because the Magi were not men of Jewish background.

Little is known about these mysterious Magi except that they were seeking a specific baby. Matthew 2:1-12 is the only scriptural account. For an extended time, these men determinedly followed a star. I think they would have visited a messy manger if God’s star had led them to that location. However, we can assume that they were still traveling when Jesus was born in the messy manger. Some say it possibly was as long as two years before the Magi found Jesus. Maybe these Magi represent those who are still traveling the road of life looking for Jesus today.

Although not historically accurate, these men have sometimes been referred to as kings. (Maybe because of the Christmas carol We Three Kings.) Chuck Missler has said that over time the truth and traditions about these men have been embellished. By the third century, the Magi were viewed as kings. I wonder if this perspective has anything to do with the fact that the day is coming when Jesus reigns as King of kings. (See Revelation 19:16) Missler has also written that these ancient men were part of the hereditary priesthood of the Medes. They were known for having profound and extraordinary religious knowledge. Here is another correlation – Jesus becomes the great high priest. (See Hebrews 6:20) If we associate kings and priests with the Magi, maybe we are types of Magi because Revelation 1:6 NKJV says, “(Jesus) has made us kings and priests to God his Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever!”

The Wise Men may not have been totally wise about whom they were seeking. They simply expected to find the one born king of the Jews by following a star. These men even stopped in Jerusalem to ask Herod what he knew about the baby. (see Matthew 2:2) While the Wise Men were not necessarily looking for an infant king in a castle’s cradle, neither were they expecting to find him in a messy manger. They just wanted to find Jesus! Matthew 7:7 says, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Although the Wise Men may not have been wise in every respect, they were wise enough to seek him. There is truth in the quote, “Wise men still seek Him.” Today, Jesus wants us to seek and to find Him.

John 1:11 says, “He (Jesus) came to that which was His own (the Jewish people), but His own did not receive Him.” John MacArthur points out that the Magi were “God-fearing, seeking Gentiles.” They followed a star that led them to the Messiah they had heard about since the days of Daniel. Through scripture, we know that Jesus came first to the Jews and then to the Gentiles. (See Romans 1:16) In a previous post, “Messy Shepherds at a Messy Manger,”  I noted that shepherds were the first to visit Jesus when he was born in a messy manger. They were of Jewish lineage. Significantly later, the Magi worshiped Jesus –  they were Gentiles. According to Romans 14:11, every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord – that includes both Jews and Gentiles. Matthew 2:11 says, “On coming to the house, they (the Magi) saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him.”

The word “epiphany” originated in the Greek language and means “manifestation.” The worshiping Magi portray the picture of Epiphany because this season of the church celebrates the appearance or “manifestation” of a divine being, namely Jesus. However, an epiphany can also be defined as a sudden perception or revelation. In others words, a new understanding is “manifested.” Each of us encounters our own epiphanies when we come to illuminating discoveries or realizations. An enlightening fact of faith is an example of an epiphany. Or, it might be a moment when we become increasingly aware of Jesus’ presence. Since it is the beginning of the new year of 2018, now is a good opportunity for each of us to set the goal of becoming more receptive to personal epiphanies. May our epiphanies cause us to bow down and worship our Lord Jesus Christ.