Pigs and Pearls

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Do not give dogs what is sacred;
do not throw your pearls to pigs.
If you do, they may trample them under their feet,
and turn and tear you to pieces.
Matthew 7:6 

I have always felt there was more for me to understand in this confusing scripture. Let me share what I think the Lord was recently showing me.

In Bible times, dogs and pigs were not the type of animals we think of today. Dogs were not pets; they were wild animals that roamed the streets looking for garbage to eat. These savage dogs growled and attacked people nearby. Pigs were unclean and impure animals who liked to wallow in their own filth. They ate whatever leftover scraps were thrown to them. Neither dogs nor pigs watched where they stepped so they trampled down whatever was in their paths.

In contrast to dogs and swine, Matthew also mentioned sacred things and pearls. To the Jews, sacred things were objects dedicated while making sacrifices in the temple. They were common items set aside for a holy or sacred purpose. Pearls described the lustrous gems made within an oyster’s shell costing the oyster its life.

I believe Matthew was speaking symbolically regarding dogs, swine, sacred things and pearls. The four-legged animals could have represented people who were lost in sin and weighed down by garbage in their lives. He could have been describing people who were consumed with their own filth and wallowed in the negatives. My Reader, do you have “someone special” in your life who fits Matthew’s description of a dog or a pig? If we are honest, most of us will admit to being concerned about such a person.

Let’s move on to the sacred things and pearls. My Reader, these items refer to you. Over the years of walking with the Lord, you have gained great wisdom from common living that has allowed you to be set apart for a sacred and holy purpose unto God. Your prayers are pearls of great price that the Lord receives into His holy presence.

My Reader, your “special someone” may be living a wild dog type of life. He/she may be wallowing in the filth of sin. You care about your “special someone” and so does God. However, now may not be the appropriate time for you to express your opinion. Your pearls of wisdom are too precious to the Lord for Him to allow your spiritual knowledge to be trampled by a muddy pig. Sometimes you just need to be quiet. The uncleanness and unrighteousness that is dominating your “special someone’s” life will not allow him/her to currently receive your precious pearls. Momentarily, you may just need to leave your “special someone” in the pig pen and keep your pearls to yourself. However, this is not the end of the story. Let’s look at additional scripture. Luke 15 tells about a lost son who was able to get out of his pig pen.

So he (the lost son) went and hired himself out to one of the
citizens of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed
swine. And he would have gladly filled his stomach with the
pods that the swine were eating, and no one was giving
anything
to him. But when he came to his senses, he said,
‘How many
of my father’s hired men have more than enough

bread,
but I am
dying here with hunger! I will get up and go
to my father, and will say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned
against heaven, and in your sight;'”
Luke 15:15-18

While in the muck and mire of the pen, this son came to understand his sinful nature and returned to his father who welcomed him back into the family. He was hungry for more than just food.

Continuing to love his son, the father kept watching for his return. He never gave up hope. The father understood that he had to wait for his son to come to his senses. If he had tried to say anything, his words could have caused his son to wallow longer. The day finally came when Dad saw his son coming up the driveway. He ran out to meet him and embraced him. My Reader, you are the father if you are waiting for a “special someone” to get out of a filthy lifestyle. I encourage you to keep loving and waiting and watching. Continue to bring your pearls of prayer to the Lord. You may feel like you are being torn to pieces as you wait for peace, but be assured that the Lord knows your feelings as well as the situation of your “special someone.” May the day soon come when you can welcome him/her home.

My interpretation of these scriptures is meant to be an encouragement for anyone who is waiting for “someone special” to get out of the muddy life of a pig pen. Please do not use my words as an excuse to ignore a person who is wallowing in a filthy lifestyle if the Lord is leading you to be more proactive in his/her life. My Reader, seek the Lord for direction on how to handle the pig pen position with your “special someone.”

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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Jesus Cares about YOU!

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My Bible is open to John 11 and I read about Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. I usually jump to the exciting part about new life for Lazarus in this account and just skim over the first part of the story. Today I read it a little differently. I see the experiences of Mary and Martha as encouragement for anyone who is waiting for “something” to happen. My Reader, are you aching for a special friend or family member to have a personal encounter with Jesus? Are you praying for someone to be physically, emotionally or spiritually healed? Study the words of John 11 with me.

Verse 1: Now a man named Lazarus was sick… he was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha.
Lazarus was the individual who was sick. He had two sisters who loved him and wanted to see him healed. Can you name a person you care about who is like a Lazarus?

Verse 3: So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”
Mary and Martha knew Jesus well and were confident He could heal their brother. They contacted Jesus. This is what we do when we pray for another person.

Verse 4: When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.”
Jesus heard Mary and Martha’s request but He planned to do more for Lazarus than put a band-aid upon his illness. We have the confidence that Jesus will hear our prayers of intercession but we must remember that He may have bigger plans for how He will work in a specific situation than what we may perceive. It might take more time.

Verse 5-6: Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazarus was sick he stayed where he was two more days.”
One would think that Jesus would want to return to be with His friends when tragedy struck . But that is not what Jesus did! Scripture says that Jesus stayed away because He loved them. Just because Jesus may not answer our prayers as we want when we want, it does not mean that He does not love us. It may even be because of His love that He waits.

Verses 14-15: So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.
Things had gone from bad to worse for this family of Bethany! Jesus knew what was happening and even said He was glad He was not there. That doesn’t sound very loving to us from the natural perspective. However, Jesus sees into the supernatural realm. Now Jesus is ready to go back to His friends. He did not forget them and He does not forget us even when it seems to us as if He is not going to intervene.

Verses 20, 28-29: When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home….After she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. “The Teacher is here,” she said, “and is asking for you.” When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him.
When Jesus returned to Bethany, He connected with Mary and Martha before He went to the grave of Lazarus. Before acting on behalf of Lazarus, Jesus had compassion on Mary and Martha and met them in their time of sorrow. We can be assured that He will comfort us while we are waiting for “sleeping” family and friends to return to Him. We are a priority to Jesus. I like John’s choice of words in verse 28 saying, “The Teacher is here.” The Holy Spirit lives inside us teaching us about who Jesus is. Just like Martha’s faith being broadened with understanding in verses 21-27, so can we grow in our faith. The Lord sees all situations as opportunities for us to gain a deeper understanding of who He is.

Verse 34: Where have you laid him (Lazarus)?” he (Jesus) asked.
With Mary and Martha at His side, Jesus now turned His attention to Lazarus. He wanted to know where Lazarus was. Where have we left the family and friends for whom we are praying? Have we left them alone feeling that they are dead and hopeless or have we left them at the feet of Jesus?

Verse 35: Jesus wept.
Jesus could have wept because of the sorrow of Mary and Martha. He also weeps with us in our pain. Jesus could have wept because of the death of Lazarus. He mourns with us when we mourn the loss of someone special. Jesus could have wept because of the lack of faith and understanding of those around Him. He cries within His heart as He sees how little faith we have compared to what is available to us.

Verse 39: “Take away the stone,” he (Jesus) said.
This was the beginning of the miracle Jesus was about to perform.
Is there a stone blocking Jesus’ entry into our hearts that is preventing Him from working in our lives?  If so, He wants it removed.

Verses 41-42:
Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”
Jesus
sets the example for us to begin our prayers with thanksgiving. Jesus was confident His Heavenly Father heard Him. We, too, can have the assurance that He hears and answers our prayers.

Verses 43-44: Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”…. “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”
Not only did Lazarus receive life back into his body but he also was freed from bondage exemplified by the grave cloths that were taken off. Are there bonds
that can be broken in our lives that will allow us to live a freer better life? We have this promise for eternity but we also have the promise for today if we are willing to come out of our old dead ways of thinking and acting.

In conclusion, I believe Mary and Martha were glad Jesus waited two days. Their prayers were answered in an exceedingly, abundantly way far beyond what they had asked! I think what happened in the lives of Mary and Martha was just as important as the gift of resurrected life Lazarus received. The Lord works within our lives while working in the lives of those we bring to Him in prayer. My Reader, take heart; you may be in a holding pattern waiting for the fulfillment of your fervent prayers, but Jesus cares about YOU!

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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Living in the Land of In-Between

 

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The story of the Israelites being led out of Egypt into the Promised Land of Canaan is recorded in the books of Exodus, Numbers and Joshua. The accounts tell of a 40 year journey that should have taken only 11 days. Where were the Israelites during these 40 years? They were wandering and waiting in the wilderness. They were in the Land of In-Between. They were between Egypt and Canaan. What happened in the lives of the Israelites between Egypt and the Promised Land?

What took place for the Israelites back in 1436 BC still has significance for us in 2016 AD. I believe the experiences of God’s chosen people 1400 years before Christ was born were a foreshadow of what we will encounter over 2000 years since Christ was born. We live in the shadow of the Israelites and I want to learn from their experiences on both the physical and spiritual levels. Let’s look at some details.

The Israelites were in slavery and bondage in the physical land of Egypt. From the spiritual perspective, Egypt is often considered a symbol of sin. As human beings we are born into the bondage of our sinful human nature. Moses was sent to deliver God’s people out of Egypt and lead them into the Promised Land of freedom. God sent His Son, Jesus, to deliver us from sin. When we accept Jesus as our Savior (He saves us from sin) and Lord (He rules our lives and guides us in the freedom He purchased for us through His death), we travel from our personal Egypt to our Canaan. Our Promised Land is where we will dwell with God throughout eternity. Jesus says in John 14:2-3, “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.” So, if we have a personal relationship with Jesus, where are we? Like the Israelites, we are in the wilderness, the Land of In-Between. The Israelites sojourned there for 40 years. We will dwell in the wilderness, or the Land of In-Between, throughout of our earthly lives.

Join me as we look at some scriptures relating to the Israelites and to us. Let’s apply their experiences to our journey in the Land of In-Between.

First, God was with the Israelites throughout their journey in the wilderness and He made His presence known through the cloud during the day and the pillar of fire at night.
The LORD was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.
Exodus 13:21-22
Today, Christ lives in us and we have the help of the Holy Spirit.
To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
Colossians 1:27
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.
John 14:26

Second, as their leader, Moses could always talk with God and seek His guidance and direction.
The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent.
Exodus 33:11
Each of us can personally talk with God anytime we want. This is our privilege of prayer.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Philippians 4:6

Third, God provided food in the form of manna for the Israelites each day. The Israelites set a good example for us in that they gathered their frosty flakes in the morning to give them nourishment throughout the day.
Then the LORD said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions.
Exodus 16:4
God has made provision for our spiritual manna in the form of scripture that we can feed on every day. May we remember to take time to gain new spiritual insight when our minds are fresh in the morning.
like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.
I Peter 2:2-3

Fourth, the soles of the Israelites’ sandals did not wear out even though they wore them for 40 years.
Yet the LORD says, “During the forty years that I led you through the wilderness, your clothes did not wear out, nor did the sandals on your feet.
Deuteronomy 29:5
God watches over us so that our souls will not wear out for the duration of our journey in the Land of In-Between.
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
I Corinthians 10:13

My Reader, every day of our lives is spent in the Land of In-Between waiting for Jesus to return so we can live with Him throughout eternity. While we are on the journey to this Promised Land, each of us will experience specific times of waiting that bring our attention to the fact that in a narrower sense we are also living in the Land of In-Between. We will feel like we are in the wilderness wandering and waiting. Life can be rather wild in the wilderness! The trials of some trails are more difficult than others. Maybe you have lost your job and you are waiting to find new employment. Maybe you are waiting for results from a medical test that will reveal whether or not you have cancer. Maybe you are waiting to see whether your spouse will go to marriage counseling with you or if you will be served divorce papers. You can give a name to the situation that accentuates your waiting in the Land of In-Between today. I know it is frustrating to wait. However, there are lessons God can only teach us in this Land of In-Between. The Israelites traveled around Mt. Sinai many times during their 40 years of waiting to cross over into the land of Canaan. So I encourage you to take another trip around your mountain or sit at the foot of your Mt. Sinai until the Lord reveals your next travels. Remember Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.” The Lord will make our paths straight even when we are waiting and wavering in the wilderness of the Land of In-Between!

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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Note: The phrase about the land of the in-between resonated in my spirit when I first heard it. I do not know if there is a specific person to whom I should give credit for these descriptive words or not. However, I do know that what I have shared in this post are insights the Lord gave me when I thought about and prayed about the Land of In-Between.

Waiting as a Waiter

Wait a minute!” How may times have I said these three words when someone asked for my help while I was in the middle of doing something else? It most likely was not that I was unwilling to help but just at that very moment it was not convenient for me to help. I wonder how many times God has responded to my prayers by saying “wait a minute” or maybe even “wait a few days or weeks or possibly years.” It is not that it would be inconvenient for God to answer immediately but it might not be in my best interest or according to His plans. “Wait” is a response I prefer to say to others rather than have spoken to me.  Today I want to think about waiting from a spiritual perspective.

wait-8Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles.
Isaiah 40:31 NKJV

This verse from Isaiah is one of the best known scriptures about waiting. Although I may not like waiting, I do like the promise of renewed strength mentioned by Isaiah. The strength the Lord promises me may be physical strength or spiritual strength. Waiting involves a surrendering of my time and my desires unto the Lord. Psalm 90:4 says, “A thousand years in your (the Lord’s) sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night.” God’s perspective of time is entirely different from mine. God is patient; I am not. I want an answer now! Teaching me patience may be part of God’s plan when He chooses for me to wait. II Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.Testing my obedience may be another part of God’s plan when He chooses for me to wait. The Lord says in Jeremiah 7:23, “Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in obedience to all I command you, that it may go well with you.”  The Lord desires for situations to go well for me, but He does not act on my behalf until He knows I will be a good steward of His blessings.

Does waiting mean that I have to sit around and do nothing until the Lord intervenes on my behalf? I don’t think so. Waiting on the Lord is not idleness. I turn my thoughts to another use of the word “wait.” I think about waiters and waitresses in a restaurant. They wait upon me by serving me. Hmmm. Maybe I need to serve, or wait, upon the Lord while I am waiting for Him to act. A good waiter in a restaurant will anticipate the needs of the people he is serving and this should be my goal while I am waiting upon the Lord. How can I best wait upon, or serve, the Lord? Ephesians 6:7 encourages me to “Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people.I believe that God desires for me to serve Him through praise and worship. I can wait upon Him through these actions while waiting for Him to answer my prayers. Psalm 2:11 NLT says, “Serve the LORD with reverent fear, and rejoice with trembling.” 

wait-8And therefore will the LORD wait, that he may be gracious unto you,
and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you:
for the LORD is a God of justice: blessed are all they that wait for him.
Isaiah 30:18 NKJV

Not only am I to wait upon the Lord, but the Lord also waits upon me. This concept is amazing to me. When God waits, He is showing grace and mercy to me because He knows best. Waiting has always been incorporated into God’s plan. God works in the hearts and lives of His people while He waits. In order for the Israelites to enter the Promised Land at the most opportune time, they had to wander in the wilderness for forty years preparing their hearts. When Lazarus died, it was part of Jesus’ schedule to wait before returning to Mary and Martha in Bethany and raising their brother back to life. The Lord waits for nine months for an embryo to grow into an independent infant before He allows an expectant mother to give birth to her child.

Knowing that the Lord waits upon me, motivates me to wait upon Him. I echo the words of Lamentations 3:24, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” God may wait longer than I would prefer, but He knows the best timing. He is sovereign! God may wait, but He never waits too long. I must agree with Lamentations 3:26, “it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.” Because the Lord has shown me that He works while He waits to intervene on my behalf, I will follow His example and actively wait upon Him to manifest His best plans and purposes for my life. Waiting may not be a bad thing after all!

wait-8I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.
Psalm 130:5 NIV 

My Reader, will you join me in personally declaring these words of the Psalmist? Maybe you are being asked to make a major decision and your best response would be “Wait a minute!” Take time to seek the Lord’s guidance rather than making a snap decision that you might later regret. Other people can wait for you while you wait upon the Lord for direction. Craig Bruce is credited for the quote, “You usually have to wait for that which is worth waiting for.” I encourage you to wait upon the Lord because the Lord is waiting for you to call upon Him. You will be glad you took the time to wait.

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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