HOW and WHO

Three little letters of the alphabet: H – O – W
When the letters are placed in alphabetical order, we read the word HOW.
But, if we rearrange the letters, we create WHO.

We have the tendency to want to know HOW more than WHO. That is because we consider ourselves to be the WHO. When we are WHO, we assume we know HOW to do the task before us. However, if we allow God to be WHO, then we do not have to know HOW. The HOW is in God’s hands rather than ours.

Paul says in Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.God is WHO provides us with the HOW. If we think of ourselves as the WHO, we will fail because we will not know HOW to accomplish the task. We are able to be WHO only when we allow God to empower us with the knowledge and ability of HOW.

Jesus says in John 5:19 says, “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by Himself; He can do only what He sees His Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” He continues in John 15:5, “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.

In John 5, Jesus emphasizes that His Heavenly Father is the WHO through whom He is able to perform the HOW. In John 15, Jesus applies this principle to us. We can become WHO God uses, when we rely upon Him to help us know HOW.

In Matthew 4:19 NKJV, Jesus summons Simon Peter and Andrew, “Come, follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” They know HOW to fish for fish but have no idea HOW to fish for people. Throughout the next 3 ½ years, Jesus set an example of HOW they could fish for men. After His resurrection and before His ascension, Jesus tells the disciples in Luke 24:49, “And behold, I am sending the promise of My Father upon you. But remain in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” The disciples needed the Holy Spirit, the WHO, in order to do what Jesus was calling them to do. They did not know HOW until they received the WHO. The same is true for us today.

In Luke 11:1, one of the disciples asks Jesus to teach them HOW to pray. Jesus instructs them as recorded in Matthew 6:9-10. “So then, this is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.’ In essence, Jesus teaches them to ask for God’s will to be done according to HOW God desired. They also learn WHO to direct their prayers towards. Jesus teaches the disciples to pray because He desired them to be those WHO prayed.

Jesus also wants us to pray. When we are among those WHO pray, we must surrender our pride of thinking we know HOW to do everything. Praying is not our opportunity to tell God HOW to fix the world. II Chronicles 7:14 is good example for HOW we are to pray. “If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.When we pray in this manner, we are reaching out to the One WHO hears and knows HOW to answer.

In Matthew 10:19-20, Jesus warns His disciples about persecution. He says, “But when they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you are to say; for it will be given you in that hour what you are to say. For it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.They did not need to know HOW ahead of time. They simply needed to know WHO to rely upon.

James 1:2-4 says, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.Throughout life, we will endure trials. We may wonder HOW we are going to endure the difficult times. Timothy gives us some insight in II Timothy 1:2. “That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.” Timothy states that he knows WHO he has placed his faith in. And, he knows that God, as the WHO, will be with him and help him with the HOW. We, too, can be confident WHO will help us. We need not worry about HOW we are going to do it. I John 2:27 NLT says, “For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know, and what He teaches is true—it is not a lie.

God calls us to fulfill His plans and purposes. (“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11)  However, we do not know HOW to do it! We find our assurance in Ephesians 3:20. “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us.God is WHO will help us do what we do not know HOW to do. In order to know HOW to fulfill God’s plans, we must rely upon the Holy Spirit’s power. We are not WHO is actually doing the work!

During the past few months, we have found ourselves, our nation and our world in situations no one knows HOW to overcome. Jesus told His disciples, and tells us, in John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.If we rely upon ourselves to be WHO resolves the pandemic and the violent riots, we will fail. Only when we turn to God for HOW we are to act and react, will we overcome the evil one behind the turmoil. The Lord says 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.”  

Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. When we trust God, He will accomplish what we cannot do in our own strength. The Lord is our WHO and HOW.

When we don’t know HOW, let us rely on the One WHO can do it. Jesus tells us in Matthew 19:26, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.Our situation may be bigger than we are, but it is not bigger than God. He is the One WHO will help us learn HOW. John 14:26 says. “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

God is WHO knows HOW. God is WHO helps us know HOW.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fathers as Builders

It is my privilege to honor fathers this week. On Sunday, we will be celebrating Father’s Day.

Fathers are builders.

God, our Heavenly Father, created the heavens and the earth. He is a builder.
Joseph, fulfilling the earthly father role for Jesus, was a carpenter. He was a builder.
A husband is the father of his children. He is a builder.

Fathers are biologically builders of families. They are also builders in additional ways.

Providing a pay check is a vital role for fathers as builders. The majority of fathers head to work most weekdays. They invest their time productively to earn a living. During the COVID-19 pandemic, a large number of fathers have struggled to build financially for their families. For many, working from home has presented new challenges. Some dads have experienced a decrease in dollars. Other fathers have lost their source of income.

However, fathers have not quit building. The “stay at home time” required by the coronavirus created opportunities for fathers to build in other areas.

Some fathers have undertaken home construction projects. Hammers and saws have replaced meetings and appointments.

Fathers have taken time to build stronger family ties. Dads have had the opportunity to interact more frequently with family members. Extra time for meaningful conversations. Time to go for family walks. Board games became popular.  Now interactive outdoor games are prevalent. 

Fathers are building deeper relationships with the Lord. Men become better fathers when their relationship with the Heavenly Father is built on a firm foundation. Jesus describes a faithful father in Luke 6:47-48. Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and acts on them, I will show you whom he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock; and when a flood occurred, the torrent burst against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built.

With the Lord as the Master Builder, biological fathers will succeed as builders of families and homes. Psalm 127:1 says, “Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain.Through scripture, dads obtain the blueprints and plans from their Heavenly Father.

God builds men to be fathers of faith – not just fathers of finances. Fathers who have faith firmly built upon a relationship with the Lord are able to provide positive construction and instruction for their families. The role of being a faithful father (a father full of faith) is just as essential as being a financial father for the building of a family.

Jude 20 says, “But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit.It is interesting that the Greek meaning of “to build” is “to build a home.” Marilyn Hickey says, “One of the ways we allow the Holy Spirit to make a home within us is by praying in the Spirit.” By allowing the Holy Spirit to live in their lives, fathers are able to build better foundations and homes for their families.

The Cambridge Dictionary defines a builder as “a person whose job it is to make buildings.” Yes, fathers are builders. However, they build something more valuable than buildings made of lumber and bricks. They are builders who help shape the lives of loves ones. Their time and energy, as well as money, is well invested.

Happy Father’s Day!

Let’s Remember on Memorial Day

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Matthew 5:5

Memorial Day is an American holiday observed the last Monday in May.  It is a day to remember men and women who died while serving in the military. May we never forget to honor these special people who have given their lives for our country!

Unfortunately, many of us have allowed this holiday to become merely a three-day weekend with a reason for a picnic. This year, large picnic gatherings are being discouraged because of the continued need for social distancing caused by COVID-19. I challenge all of us to take more time to remember those who have died for our nation.

The history of Memorial Day is complex and includes many myths – some true and some false. However, we do know that Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day. It was started following the Civil War. The graves of those who lost their lives during this war were decorated with flowers. Soldiers were remembered.

The reason for this holiday was a war fought on our soil. However, most wars taking the lives of our military men and women have been fought on foreign land. We can go back as far as World Wars I and II. Or, we can remember more current wars as the Iraqi War and ongoing battles in countries like Afghanistan. Currently, we are engaged in a different type of warfare – a medical war. It is fought throughout our homeland as well as around the world.

Today, I want to pay tribute to those who have become warriors during this medical war. Too many soldiers (patients) have lost their lives during their personal battle with the coronavirus. The statistics continue to change regarding the number of lives lost during the COVID-19 pandemic. There are many new graves in cemeteries. Some bodies have not yet been buried. We weep with the families who have lost loved ones.

Additional soldiers have fought the fight and conquered the disease. With them, we shout hallelujah! Others are still in the midst of the battle trying to overcome the virus’ affects upon their bodies. As these warriors fight for their next breath, we breathe a prayer to God for their healing.

Our medical militia is huge. Staffs of hospitals and nursing homes are soldiers who line up for duty every day. We salute doctors, nurses, aides, cleaning workers, etc. Also on the front lines are our first responders. We express our thanks to these workers who place themselves in harm’s way!

As we approach Memorial Day, let us focus upon its purpose and meaning. Maybe we should think about this holiday’s original name – Decoration Day. Decorate the graves of those who have served in our United States military. Honor both the living and the dead. Place wreaths upon the graves of loved ones who have gone before us whether they served in our Armed Forces or not.

Elevation Worship has recorded the worship song Graves into Gardens. One line of the lyrics says, “You (God) turn graves into garden.” Ultimately, God is the One who truly turns graves into gardens. However, let us turn cemetery graves into floral gardens. It is an honor to recognize those who have given their lives for our nation. It is a privilege to remember our heritage.

 

Don’t Get Stuck on Friday

Don’t get stuck on Friday” is a quote I recently read online. I cannot find it again to give proper credit. However, it has remained in my mind.

Imagine yourself in the presence of Jesus over 2000 years ago. You travel with Jesus to Jerusalem. You shout Hosanna with the crowd. You wave palm branches. You celebrate the Passover meal with Jesus and His disciples in the upper room. Jesus asks you to pray with Him in the Garden of Gethsemane. Hopefully, you do not fall asleep. You may stand around the fire with Peter to keep warm. Will you deny knowing Jesus? Will you be in the crowd along the road as Jesus stumbles towards Golgotha? Will He ask you to help Him carry the cross? Will you cover your ears to prevent hearing the hammer pounding the nails into Jesus’ hands and feet?

Matthew 27:45 says, “From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land.During these hours, Jesus hung on the cross bearing the sins of the world. The darkness of the world.

Do you feel like you are currently surrounded by darkness? Maybe you have recently experienced the death of someone close to you. Possibly your future looks dark because everything is your world has been turned upside down and you do not know which way to turn. Lots of darkness, discouragement and disappointment.

Don’t get stuck in the darkness of Friday. Unplug the ears you covered while the nails were being pounded into Jesus’ hands and feet. Hear Him cry, “It is finished.”

Move on to Sunday. Go with the women to the tomb. See the stone rolled away. Enter the empty tomb with Peter and John. Look at the linen burial cloths folded and laid aside. Discover for yourself that Jesus has risen! Discover He is alive! Shout hallelujah!

Hear Jesus speak the words of John 11:25-26 to you personally. “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in Me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in Me will never die.”

Grasp the truth of Romans 8:11. “And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of His Spirit who lives in you.”

These are the truths in which you can walk. But stop for a minute and look at your present situation again.

If you are mourning the loss of someone, can you find comfort knowing this person is now in the presence of Jesus? Hear Jesus say the words of Matthew 5:4, “Blessed are (you) who mourn, for (you) will be comforted.” If the days ahead look dark for you because of uncertainty, be assured that Jeremiah 29:11 is still true. “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”

Do you remember Paul’s words in Philippians 3:10? “I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of His resurrection and participation in His sufferings, becoming like Him in his death.” During this COVID-19 outbreak, you are participating in Christ’s suffering. But there is life beyond the suffering. The same power that raised Jesus from the grave is available to you. Embrace this power. Celebrate the resurrection power.

When I previously quoted John 11:25-26 declaring Jesus as the resurrection and the life, I omitted a question at the end. Jesus asks, “Do you believe this?”

I ask you this question right now. If you answer yes, then the assurance of eternal life and resurrection power belong to you. If you answer no, let me share a little more with you.

The darkness of Friday you are experiencing is the darkness of sin. Romans 3:23 tells you and me, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” However, I John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” This cleansing allows you to move from Friday to Sunday. Then the promise of eternal life is yours.

Open wide your heart to Jesus. Accept Him as your personal savior, and experience I Peter 1:8-9, “and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.”

Resurrection Sunday is coming. Together, let us shout “Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!”

A Challenge:

With gratitude in your heart, read the various gospel accounts of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Possibly begin with Luke 19:28-24:12. Expect to gain fresh insight.

This year, our Resurrection Sunday celebrations will be a little different. Our hallelujahs will not be confined to the four walls of our churches. Instead, let us shout “Christ is risen” from the doorways of our homes. Declare Jesus’ victory over sin and death to the world around you. Someone who has not previously heard this wonderful story may hear you proclaim “Christ is risen! and want to know more. Share the story of Jesus Christ.

NO Spiritual Distancing!

 

Social distancing has become the latest description of how we are to interact with others. COVID-19 has interrupted all of our lives. Social distancing has been introduced as a way to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Six feet between us and others. No hugging. No touching.

Although my and husband I have not been going out in public, we have been going out for walks. Others are doing the same. We smile and shout hello as one couple stays on the sidewalk and the other couple moves to the street. More than six feet apart!

A few days ago, it was our granddaughter’s birthday. We wanted to give her a gift. We went to their home and handed her gift through an open window. We chatted for awhile. Charity and her family were inside and we were outside. More than six feet apart!

Later that evening, I was reading Max Lucado’s He Still Moves Stone. The affects of social distancing were still on my mind. Lucado wrote about Peter keeping his distance from Jesus after Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Luke 22:54 says, “Then they seized Jesus, led Him away, and took Him into the house of the high priest. And Peter followed at a distance.

Lucado expounds, “He (Peter) was loyal . . . from a distance. That night he went close enough to see, but not close enough to be seen.”

Hmmm. Peter was social distancing! It was not long before Peter regretted his actions of not staying close to Jesus. Let us not be guilty of spiritual distancing.

God is not interested in spiritual distancing. He wants to be close to us no matter what our world situation looks like. There is no need for us to keep a safe distance from Him. He is not afraid to give us a hug. In fact, He wants us to come closer to Him at this time.

James 4:8 says, “Come near to God and He will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” Yes, I cannot help noting that God is telling us to wash our hands. He is referring to spiritual hand washing. Currently, we are constantly hearing about physical hand washing. A way to avoid spiritual distancing is to be cleansed spiritually.

James 4:7, says, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” Satan is the one from whom we must practice social and spiritual distancing. He is trying to disrupt our lifestyle, but he will not succeed spiritually.

Psalm 145:18 declares, “The LORD is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth.

In Give Him 15 for 3/2020, Dutch Sheets shared the following. “Draw near to Him in a place of abiding. Abiding is being vitally united to Him. As you draw close to Him, listen to His voice and not to the voice of fear and chaos that so many media outlets are causing and promoting. He will speak to areas that He is causing us to think differently in, and even give us new ways to walk out our faith during this time. . . .  He is our refuge. Spend time with Him and draw near that His glory will be your canopy and shield.”

Psalm 91 is a good Psalm for us to declare over our families, church fellowships, nation and world. I will highlight a few verses. Verses 1 and 2 say, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the LORD, ‘You are my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’” We can actively abide with the Lord as described by Dutch Sheets. Verse 4 tells us, “He will cover you with His feathers; under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and rampart.We can’t get much closer than under God’s wings! Verse 9-12 promise, “Because you have made the LORD your dwelling— My refuge, the Most High— no evil will befall you, no plague will approach your tent. For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. They will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.Verse 15 declares,When he calls out to Me, I will answer hm; I will be with him in trouble. I will deliver him and honor him.No space for any spiritual distancing!

For medical reasons, social distancing may be necessary at the present time. However, this only accentuates the need for NO spiritual distancing. Joshua 1:9 encourages us, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.

The Lord promises no spiritual distancing throughout both the Old and New Testaments. Deuteronomy 31:6 emphasizes, “the LORD your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.” In Matthew 28:29, Jesus says, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

The Lord calls out to us in Zechariah 1:3, “’Return to Me,’ declares the LORD Almighty, ‘and I will return to you,’ says the LORD Almighty.

My Reader, declare with me Psalm 73:28, “But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge; I will tell of all Your deeds.