Oh! What a Relief it Is!


I’m dating myself, but does anyone else remember the Alka-Seltzer commercial with the jingle of “Plop, Plop, Fizz, Fizz. Oh, what a relief it is?” Catchy tune, that one.

But today, I experienced a very different kind of relief.

It came from obedience.

I know what you’re thinking. There are a lot of things that bring relief.

  • When the paycheck hits the bank before the bills do.
  • When your teenager comes home safely at night.
  • When the baby finally goes to sleep.
  • When the doctor gives a clean bill of health.
  • When you stop in time without hitting the car in front of you.

But I’ll bet you’ve never thought about feeling relieved when you’ve known something God said to do and you obeyed.

You might even be asking why should I feel reassured about that? Fair enough. I’d never really thought about it either until today. And then, today, my husband and I followed through with something we knew God told us to do. There was a great flood of relief that washed over me. So why?

  • Because we were doing something out of love for God. Our obedience shows our love.
  • Because we know God is faithful in everything he promises so if he asks us to do something, he has good reason.
  • Because in our obedience, we honored God, and he is worthy of all the honor we can give him.
  • Because our obedience leads to him entrusting us with greater things.
  • Because he promises to reward us. We don’t obey for the reward, but we are grateful for it when it comes.
  • Because obedience brings freedom. God’s got this so we don’t have to concern ourselves with anything if we are obeying him.

I will probably think of more reasons as the day goes on. But let that suffice for now. I just know that this sense of well-being is from a loving heavenly Father who loves us and wants good for us. When we obey him, things go well for us. Even when something looks like it might not be turning out well, it will. Even if something is hard, painful, grievous, or difficult, when we are obeying, the end result will be good.

The world’s answer for anxiety may be a tablet plopped in a glass of water, but my relief comes from the Lord, our living water.

Getting Off Track


Photo by Aline Nadai on Pexels.com

I had a vision the other day when I was praying. I don’t know if it was exactly a vision, but often when I’m praying, I get a random picture in my head. Except, I don’t believe they’re random. When I’ve prayed for people, and a picture comes to mind, the person is usually astounded at the way it perfectly relates to them or their situation.

That’s the power of God. He sees and knows all things. His Spirit is able to speak to us and through us if we are willing to be in communion with him and used by him.

All of that is an explanation for my time with Jesus last week.

Due to crazy, unexpected circumstances, our family is in a transition situation with housing. The details for this post don’t matter as much as what I’ve been learning in this season.

The journey is always more important than the destination.

I may know and believe that, but in the middle of circumstantial pressure and timelines, deadlines, pressing in, I forget. And recently, I realized that I was seeking answers from the Lord more than I was seeking him.

Jesus tells us to ask, seek, and knock (Matthew 7:7). He says our heavenly Father is good and wants to give us good gifts (Matthew 7:11). Every good gift is from Him! (James 1:17) The Bible also says that if we lack wisdom, all we have to do is ask and it will be given to us. (James 1:5)

So there is nothing wrong with asking for what we need and seeking direction from God. That’s a good thing!

But what God really wants is relationship with him. He longs for us to be in his presence. We need to seek HIM first before everything else.

I found that when I went to God, I was actually getting off track by:

  • Time restraints – God is outside time, but we live in a timed world that can feel like pressure if we don’t have the right focus
  • Options – sometimes there are many good (and some bad) options available to us, and we can get caught up in the plethora of possibilities trying to figure out the best one God has for us
  • Questions – it’s easy to focus more on “why is this or that happening?” or “what is going on?” rather than trusting that God has a plan and will let us in on it in the prefect timing
  • Outside distractions – illness, broken appliances, world problems, family needs, friends’ issues to name only a few of the daily things that can keep us tied up – the Bible says “entangled”

Praying about all those things isn’t wrong or bad, but I discovered that when I sought only Jesus first, everything else fell into place. Just sitting in his presence, singing to him, praising him, and thanking him changed my heart attitude and made everything clearer.

The Bible tells us to “take every thought captive” and make it obedient to Jesus Christ. I used to tell my kids to think about that verse as if thoughts came knocking at the door of our castle. We might open the little mini-door to see who’s there, but then, if it’s not the lovely, pure, excellent thoughts we should have (Phil. 4:8), we send the thought to the dungeon where Jesus is in charge.

I don’t want anything to distract me from Jesus.

That brings me to the picture I had.

Which was of a large, red umbrella. At the time, I was praying with some people and believed it was for someone. (It turned out it was.) When I first have a picture pop into my mind, it’s just a picture and doesn’t usually make sense, but as I sit and wait for God to explain, it typically becomes clear.

In this case, God said that he was the umbrella and it was time to come out of the rain of things that were an overwhelming flood of distraction coming down. He said to cling to the handle, stay close, and hold fast to him, and he would cover the person. The umbrella was red denoting the blood of Jesus that covers us.

It turns out that the picture was also for me. Maybe it speaks to you as well.

When Jesus is all that matters, he covers us and nothing else, even things that seem (or are) so crucial, lose their position in our perspective. Not only that, but he always comes through with answers, makes impossible situations work out, and makes every crooked place smooth.

I have to remember to keep blinders on – like a horse in a race. LOL

Worship is one of the things that helps me keep my focus on track. This song is one that helped me that day and for days following.

Here’s to keeping on track with Jesus.

The Answer to Everything


What would you do if you could have the answer to everything?

Would you pay for it? Sell everything you have for it? Go without eating to get it? Would you go off alone for days if it meant you could obtain it?

What if I told you that the answer to everything is within your grasp, totally free, and the only thing you need to give up for it is yourself?

What is the answer?

You may be surprised. But it makes sense.

God’s presence is the answer to everything. Every prayer. Every need. Every dilemma, tragedy, crisis, challenge, or question.

We see this in the story of Moses.

Most of us have heard the “legend” of the burning bush. A particular movie even satirized it by making it a singing bush. But when we look more closely at the story in the Bible, we see the way it can relate to our life.

Moses was a baby who was supposed to be killed, but by a miracle, he was saved and actually raised in the palace of the king of Egypt by the princess. Growing up, he had every privilege. Fine food, clothes, servants, education, and status even though he was born the son of a Jewish family with a price on his baby head. (Only God can do something like that.)

He grew up and realized his true identity meant he had a role to fulfill, but he tried to do it his way and ended up slinking out of town after murdering a man.

So, forty years later, this humiliated (humbled) murderer is tending sheep, not his own, but his father-in-law’s sheep—an honorable, yet humble profession—on the far side of the desert (talk about alone time), when God appears.

In a bush. Burning with fire.

Naturally, Moses is intrigued and decides to check it out. How can a bush be burning, but never burn up? Physics defied. But that’s God for you.

First thing God tells Moses is that he’s on holy ground. In other words, Moses is in the very presence of God. Then God gives Mo (you don’t mind if I call him that, do you?) some specific encouragement like “you’ve got this” and instruction “say I AM sent you and use your staff.” Mo wasn’t very confident anymore after forty years living in the desert with sheep, but God gave him a sidekick to help him. (I love the way God reunites families!)

God told him up front the basics of what would happen. The king (Pharaoh) would resist, but eventually come around after some serious plague persuasion, and then the people were supposed to ask their neighbors for gold and silver to take with them. (Why would they need gold and silver in the desert?? That’s another story.)

Here are some things I love about this story:

  • Once again (see last week’s post), God came to someone (Moses) when he was alone, far from anyone, minding his own business. God calls us where we are at.
  • God does whatever it takes to get our attention. He knows what will turn our head and make us take notice. Granted, today, if any of us saw a bush on fire, we’d probably be quick to take a video and post it on social media.
  • God sees us. He told Moses that he saw the misery of his people.
  • God is concerned for the condition and circumstances we’re in. His love for us is great, and his heart breaks when we are hurting.
  • God has a good, spacious, place for us beyond the current situation. He never says it will be without obstacles, but it will be great. Milk and honey may not be your jam, but the idea is sweet, nourishing, and abundant.
  • God promises to bring us out of our misery. We have to be willing to do what he says to get out. He does his part, but without our obedience it won’t happen.
  • God has more for us than simply taking us out of a bad situation. When he removes us, he lets us take abundance with us and leads us somewhere better.

We all know the part of the story where the Israelites come to the Red Sea with Pharaoh’s army hot on their heels. Ever been in that place where it seems like there’s no way out?

God parts the waters, the army drowns, and the people make it to the other side safely.

What was the answer to all their questions? Prayers? Needs?

God’s presence. He saw them. Sent help. Went ahead of them. Cut off the danger behind them, and then led them with fire by night and smoke during the day.

Okay, so today, we may not have smoke and fire, but when we accept the presence of God through believing in Jesus, we have God’s spirit—Holy Spirit—living with us. In us, to be exact. Surrounding us, covering us, filling us up.

But it’s easy for us to let life’s circumstances draw us away from God’s presence. After all, when the hot water heater breaks and leaks all over the floor, it’s understandable that we might be focused on water around our ankles and forget the Spirit of God that we don’t see is right there with us.

Let’s say something like that happens. And even though we’re surrounded by crisis, when we know that God sees, has a plan, knows what we need, and wants better for us, we can take a moment to rest in his presence that is there even when we think we might drown. Let him send rescue. Remember that he wants to take us out of misery and give us more. Ask him for instructions.

So, what burning bush has he sent your way lately?

After a Long Time


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Do you notice how it seems that when we are in a place where something is taking a long time to happen or change, our fear and doubt grows?

Yeah, me too.

That also happened to Obadiah in the Bible. When I read his story recently, I was struck by the parallel to our current lives.

Here’s the basic run-down of the situation:

For a long time, a crazy lady, Jezebel, and her bad-guy husband, Ahab, had been running things like tyrants in Israel and all the surrounding areas. They had set out to kill all the godly prophets (the folks who spoke the messages of God to instruct and encourage his people), and many of them were dead.

Obadiah was actually in charge of the king’s palace, but he had been frantically working to save these prophets by hiding a hundred of them in caves and sneaking them provisions.

Like I said, it was a crazy, scary time.

To top it off, there hadn’t been any rain for three years so there was a severe famine in the land. Ahab called on Obadiah to find grazing land for the animals (clearly more important than the people it seems.)

But as always, God had a plan. And it was a great one. It seems like in the places of the greatest lack, God does the biggest work.

When Ahab and Obadiah split up to search for some grass, God sent the prophet Elijah to speak to Obadiah. I love that God waited until Obadiah wasn’t with Ahab. He often gets us alone, away from the distraction of the enemy, so he can speak to us.

You can imagine how stunned and excited Obadiah was to see Elijah. He was, after all, the prophet of all prophets. The main man, we might say. He evaded capture because of God’s protection and suddenly showed up to speak to Obie of all people. (You don’t mind of I call him that, right?)

This is where I started to notice some cool things.

  • Obie was a “devout believer in the Lord.” Don’t some of us feel stuck in an evil situation for a long time even though we are steadfast in following the Lord? Following Jesus doesn’t always mean we won’t have trouble. In fact, we may have even more. (But always with a good ending.)

Elijah instructs Obie to go tell Ahab that Elijah is in the area. Say what? Yeah, Obie kind of freaks out about this because obviously Ahab is out to kill Elijah and anyone associated with him.

  • Because of his past and current trauma (3 long years of drought, tyranny, and killings), Obie doubts this man who he absolutely knows is a good guy. Isn’t it easy for us to doubt what God is telling us when all we can see is our past and/or current trauma?
  • Obie predicts that he will be killed IF Elijah doesn’t follow through with meeting Ahab, IF Obie tells Ahab that Elijah is “in the house,” or IF God decides to take Elijah away again. “If” and “what if” gets us in trouble every time we say or think it. When we start projecting possible problems, our fear increases and faith diminishes.

God is so faithful though. Elijah promises that he won’t bail on Obie, and in the end, Obie decides to trust God and Elijah. He goes to inform Ahab of the situation. All good, right?

Yes.

But, not without trouble.

Immediately, when Ahab meets Elijah, he throws out false accusations at him saying that Elijah is the trouble-maker in Israel. In truth, it’s Ahab and Jezebel who are the trouble-makers, and Elijah makes it clear. Not only with words, but with actions.

  • Whenever we are falsely accused, it is the enemy—Satan—who uses people to speak against us. He accuses us with the very same thing that HE is doing. So instead of getting all offended by the accusation, we can recognize it and calmly call it out with truth especially if it is the opposite of who we are and the same as what that other person is doing/saying. Sometimes it’s best to ignore it. Don’t defend ourselves because we don’t need to. Taking a stand in godly conviction is different than defending ourselves and our position. (Still learning this every day!)

This is where things get really good.

Elijah doesn’t just confront Ahab and argue with him, he calls all the people together and has a contest. Yep. Right then and there he tells them to make an altar and put some meat on it and call on their gods to catch it on fire and burn it up. He says he’ll do the same thing, and whichever god answers the challenge is the real God.

  • The people wavered between the God of their ancestors and the gods of the evil tyrants, Ahab and Jezebel. In light of something new, they let go of the truth they knew from the past. God says that if we need wisdom, we should ask him and not doubt what he says or we’ll be double-minded, tossed back and forth. Do you ever feel tossed? I’ve learned that if I feel unsettled, it’s because I’m trying to hold onto two things. Usually, it’s that I know what God says, but I’m trying to make it fit something else that seems to make more logical sense. Just saying.

The people agree and build an altar, stack the meat on top, and spend all day calling, dancing, cutting themselves, and finally screaming at their gods, but nothing happens. (Why are we not surprised? If their god was real, why after 3 years of sacrifices, hadn’t it rained?)

  • What type of plans, rituals, pleading, figuring, etc. do we often attempt in order to make something happen in our lives, but to no avail? Maybe we are looking at the wrong things and/or motives to secure what we want or need.

I’m sure you’ve guessed the rest of the story by now (unless you are a Bible reader and already know it).

Elijah built his altar, but he one-upped the deal by adding a trench and pouring three jars (we’re not talking mason jars, people) of water over the entire thing. Before he called on the Lord, he proclaimed that the people would know that God was the only God and turn their hearts back to him.

  • This year, everywhere in scripture, I find that same theme. “So they will know that I am God.” What if we choose to believe that everything that happens in our lives, good or bad, is so that we or someone else will know that God is who he says he is?

Of course, God came through because he gave Elijah the plan to start with, and Elijah committed the altar building to the Lord, the only true God. The fire of the Lord consumed the entire altar as well as the soil and all the water. (I’m still wondering where they got the water in a drought…but God!) God never does things half-way!

In the end, the people came to their senses, got rid of all the false gods and the false prophets of Baal. Elijah prayed for rain, and after seven reports from his watchman, it rained—a lot! That’s a whole other story. And then, God made Elijah teleport to the city Ahab was running away to. True story. (And you thought teleporting was a new idea.)

The story doesn’t end there. Elijah has an exhaustion melt down—no wonder! That was some pretty intense work he did. But God shows up in a whisper.

  • Sometimes we look for God to show up in the same way all the time, but God is far more creative than that. Where have we missed hearing God because we thought he would only speak a certain way?

The bad guys get theirs—in a bad way.

  • The bad guy always loses. Think of when people watched their political hopeful, the Savior of the world be beaten and crucified. That was a dark day. But God brings life out of death. No matter how dark, he is always victorious. I’m learning to think and live from that reality of victory rather than the false reality of circumstances—even when they look more real. Truth is, we are actually spiritual beings in a physical world. Think about it.

You can read the entire story and more in I Kings. This came from chapter 18 and part of 19, but I recommend starting at the beginning. Actually, the beginning of the Bible will give you the entire story of it all.

Seriously, if you’ve never read it, it’s the best book ever written. Step aside soaps and reality TV. The Bible is where it’s at!

“Well, I Never…”


by Laura Bennet

Photo by Rodolfo Clix on Pexels.com

Joy Wurshop yanked on the handle of her rolling briefcase. For the last time. The handle came off in her hand. The impact nearly threw her off her black high heels. Walking was no longer an option. She’d have to call a cab. Ten minutes before her meeting started. Only a miracle would get her there.

“Taxi!” She scanned the crowded street for yellow while attempting to shove the bag’s handle back in place.

You’ll have to be aggressive in the big city. The unsolicited advice from her previous boss incited her to take a step off the curb. Without looking. A cab screeched to a halt inches from her black pencil skirt. Joy’s free hand flew to her mouth while her purse slid off her shoulder and down the grey and pink floral silk blouse adorning her arm.

“Lady, what the heck’re ya doin? Trying to get yourself killed? Do you want a cab or a coffin?”

“Cab, please.” She let the coffin remark slide. Gripping her broken briefcase and purse, she fumbled with the door handle. The driver turned, facing her, and yelled out the passenger window.

“Come on, lady. I ain’t got all day.” His booming expletive carried over honking horns blaring behind him.

Joy threw her belongings through the door and slid in beside them.

“Where to? Where to? Let’s get a move on.”

“27th Street. The Town Center Building. Please hurry. I have a meeting, and I’m already late.”

“Oh, miss fancy-pants wants me to hurry now. Dawdled getting in my cab, and now I’m the one to get her to her meetin’…”

Joy closed her eyes against the pooling tears as the man carried on. Not what she needed. Not today. Not when her career hung by a thread.

Drawing in a deep breath, she dug in her purse for a tissue, settling for a wadded piece at the bottom. By the time she removed mascara smudges and reapplied lip gloss, they turned onto her street. Joy prayed she had enough cash for the fare.

Flipping through all her cards, her heart plunged. Bank, credit, medical, pharmacy, Sam’s Club, library. Nothing. Opened her change purse. A couple of folded up ones and two pennies. They were pulling up to her building. Praying for a miracle, she peeked in a little, side pocket, fully knowing she never kept money there.

“That’ll be $17.50. No charge for not runnin’ ya over back there.” He howled a laugh.

Tucked inside the pocket was a folded bill. Thank God! But when she pulled it out, the sight elated and crushed her. A fifty. Since when…she never had that kind of money. But she knew what she needed to do. She closed her eyes with a sigh. A moment later, she opened them and handed the bill over, offering a shaky smile.

“Here. Keep the change.”

As she closed the door, she caught his muttering.

“Well, I never…”

And she guessed he never had.


With so many ways to be offended these days, it takes patience, guts, and the Holy Spirit to make us able to act and speak in the opposite way. Stumbling on this short piece I wrote years ago, reminded me to choose grace rather than offense.

Well Done


It’s no secret that evil in the world has been uncovered and increased in recent months. Suddenly, chaos runs rampant through every nation and life doesn’t make sense on any side. Vicious men spill innocent blood. People are fleeing for their lives. Lawlessness abounds.

Whether you know Jesus or not, the facts are obvious.

For those of us who are familiar with the Bible, we are confident that Jesus is returning soon for those who love him. He promised that when we began to see these situations, we were in the beginning of a time when we would soon see him face to face. (Matthew 24)

Most of us anticipate that day with great hope and expectation.

But, what are we doing while we wait?

In Matthew chapter 25, Jesus tells three stories that give us a clear picture of what our time of waiting should look like.

First, we are to be prepared. We often think that we’ll have plenty of time to get ready to meet Jesus. Tomorrow we’ll stop indulging in something not beneficial to us. Next week we might start going to church. We can get into a relationship with God later. Maybe we think we’ll have a chance to scramble at the last moment when Jesus arrives. But in the story of the ten virgins, he makes it clear that if we aren’t waiting in prepared anticipation of him, we will miss living with him for the rest of eternity.

Secondly, God has given us various things to steward, or manage well while we wait. He’s created us with characteristics that can bless and encourage others. His plan is for us to use our gifts, talents, finances, and resources in the best possible ways. We can’t let fear or our poor understanding of situations to cause us to mismanage those things. In the story of the servants, the ones who used what they were given well, were given more. It didn’t matter how much they were given to start with, it was about what they did with it. They were commended with a “well done.”

Lastly, people all over the world have needs. Some are in our neighborhood or at our job. They are hungry, thirsty, lonely, sick, without daily provisions, and in captivity—either prison or in bondage to wrong thinking or addictions. Jesus said that when we do anything to help one of these, it’s as if we are doing it for Jesus. When we love him, we show his love by caring for those he loves.

How do we know what we are to do at any time?

Pray. Ask God. What do you have for me today?

Whenever he gives us a nudge to spend time with him, use our resources to help someone, or visit someone who needs a little encouragement, we need to obey the nudge. Soon, in the midst of this crazy world, we’ll be in the presence of Jesus hearing “well done.”

Something Different


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It’s been a grueling couple of weeks. Without going into details, we moved suddenly and are headed to a vacation rental for a month to figure out our next steps.

That said, my life is upside down and sideways which has left me clinging to Jesus in a desperate and fulfilling way. He is good. We know he is doing good and bringing good, but in the meantime, I’m exhausted and need – oh, maybe a year – to recuperate.

Therefore, I’ve got nothing for this last post in August.

Except, to introduce you to an exceptional, new author on the scene who writes about food – his first love after my daughter and their kids. I swear I’m not biased just because he’s my son-in-love. He really is an incredible hobby chef and emerging author. I think if you check out his blog, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at his “tongue-in-cheek” writing as well as his food recommendations and critiques.

I especially liked this recent post.

That’s all I’ve got, folks. Enjoy Herk’s blog today and share him with your friends like I am.

Write It Down


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Mark Batterson, pastor of National Community Church in Washington, D.C. states in his devotional, Draw the Circle,

“…we have a natural tendency to remember what we should forget and forget what we should remember.”

Isn’t that the truth?

How many things pop into our minds when we least expect or want them to? But if someone asks what our pastor taught on Sunday or what verse we studied this week could we remember? You know what I mean. It happens.

Maybe that is why in Habakkuk chapter 2, God tells us to write down the vision.

That is the very reason I keep a journal and write in it almost every day. I write verses that stand out to me, prophetic words I hear or read, quotes from books, dreams, ideas, revelations, plans, and most importantly my prayers: the requests and what God says to me or does in response.

In the first chapter of this book, Habakkuk is crying out to God about the evil in the world. God says that Habakkuk wouldn’t believe what God was going to do even if he told him. But he does go on to tell him.

And that’s also when he reminds him to write it down!

I can imagine him saying something like “write this down now because you’re not going to believe it.”

God is doing things right now in our lives, our families, our cities, states, nations, and the world that we can’t see. He’s always at work behind the scenes. Some of what he’s doing that we can see we may be thinking is unbelievable.

He’s uncovering hidden evil. (You can find true journalism in Epoch Times.)

People are running to Jesus and throwing down their addictions. (Check out Sean Feucht and Let Us Worship.)

But he gave us some additional instruction about writing down the visions he’s revealing. In taking apart each sentence, word by word, of this chapter, this is what I see:

  1. Stand where God has placed us. Stand firm. Don’t be moved. We are where he wants us for a reason. He wants to show us great things.
  2. Station ourselves to see what God is doing. A watchman stands at a lookout point so as not to miss anything important. We need to do the same.
  3. Look and listen for what God will say to us. He will speak if we’re looking for it and listening for his voice.
  4. Write down what he says plainly. Don’t complicate it with our own understanding or trying to figure something out. God’s ways may not always be easy, but they are simple.
  5. Wait. Patiently. Even if it seems like it’s taking too long. His perfect plan will come in his perfect timing. Don’t quit before the revelation plays out. We may wait long, but it will come suddenly.

No matter what God is doing in and through each of us, the bottom line is the end result. People will know that he is God when they see his glory, and everything will be silenced in awe of him.

“For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord…” vs.14

“The Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him.” Vs.20

What are you writing down today?

What Is Evil?


There are some things we would all agree with as being the epitome of evil. Serial killing, sex trafficking, murdering the innocent and helpless, and vicious brutality would all be in the category of “evil.”

But what if some work of the devil is much more subtle? What if we tolerate or even participate without even realizing that what we are thinking, doing, or accepting is actually evil?

In the book of Acts in the Bible, in the fourteenth chapter, we can see some of these subtleties of evil in Luke’s account of the apostles’ journeys and activities. It tells of how Paul and Barnabus were teaching in the Jewish synagogue—a place we would consider peaceful and full of kindness—and many people were encouraged and believed what they taught.

But then there were those who acted badly, and eventually, even viciously.

Here’s how we know they were being used of Satan to subtly perpetrate evil.

  • They refused to believe. Everyone can choose to believe or not. God doesn’t force anyone to receive his love. But the word “refused” reveals a heart of rebellion, not simply disinterest.
  • They stirred up the crowd. Specifically, they targeted the Gentiles who were different than them. Can anyone say “racism?” They were causing distrust and doubt among people groups.
  • They poisoned people’s minds against their brothers. We’re not talking siblings here, but other members of the same group of people being turned against each other. Sowing dissension, division, and hatred.
  • They plotted to mistreat the men who were teaching. It’s interesting that the people plotting were from both groups—a portion of the Jews and Gentiles came together to cause harm together.
  • They attracted people from other towns to create a mob. Then this mob stoned Paul and left him for dead.

Sound like anything we’ve seen or heard of lately?

Here’s the thing about what Paul and Barnabus were doing. It was all good. No one was forced to agree with them or believe what they taught. They simply shared what they knew—what they had experienced for themselves.

No threats. No violence.

The Bible says they:

  • Spoke effectively.
  • Spent considerable time with the people.
  • Confirmed their message with miracles.
  • Ran away from trouble.
  • Healed a crippled man.
  • Were humble and never claimed to be any better than any other person.
  • Spoke of God’s kindness, provision, and joy.
  • Strengthened and encouraged people.
  • Prayed for people.

Hmm…

It seems pretty clear when it’s examined like that, doesn’t it?

Maybe there are four groups of people.

Some may, for whatever reason, choose to perpetrate evil acts. Others may subtly, in their hearts, refuse any message of good and therefore create hatred. Perhaps there are those, who without realizing it, are sowing seeds of dissension and division, setting brother against each other—or by their participation are allowing it.

The last group are those who choose love and kindness. They show grace for others and speak truth in love with acceptance. Sometimes that may mean not to speak at all or to speak about something encouraging and hopeful. Changing the subject can be a loving strategy.

Tolerance and acceptance doesn’t mean ignoring and allowing evil.

We can accept that everyone has a choice to believe what they want, and we can honor them by not demanding they agree with our choices. But if someone chooses to act in a way that will harm another, we can also step in and take action to protect. Not to defend our position, but certainly to defend someone’s life.

Paul chose to return to the people even after they stoned him. He claimed that we would endure hardship for the kingdom of God and was willing to put his life on the line.

So, where are we? In which group do we find ourselves?

Is it possible that we are ignorantly participating in evil without realizing it or considering the cost?

Or are we loving people and showing them kindness? The Bible says it’s God’s kindness that leads to repentance (Romans 2:4), and that the anger of man will not bring about the righteousness of God (James 1:20). How are we doing with that?

The disciples were able to live showing kindness to others while they shared their testimony of what they’d seen and heard because they were filled with the Holy Spirit and joy.

I want to be like them. Like Jesus.

How about you?

Give Him the Night


Laura Bennet

I don’t know about you, but over the past year or so, my sleeping patterns have been a little off.

Sometimes, it’s due to pain that wakes me and makes it hard to get comfortable. But before I became ill, I had many nights of unexplained wakefulness. The world was changing, on edge, hanging by a thread of hope and there was much to think about and pray for.

Because I’ve had continuing sleep challenges, a couple things I read recently in Hosting the Presence by Bill Johnson really stood out to me. He wrote about how he turns his heart to God before he goes to bed and waits until God’s peace rests on him so he can sleep well. If he wakes in the night, he once again turns his heart toward God to receive peace.

I pray when I go to bed. I often pray if I wake up in the night, but this concept of resting with the peace of God on us seems pretty cool to me. Not only that, but he also wrote that when we give God our night, it begins our day. If you think about it, the A.M. hours are the start to the new day, even if most of us are sleeping during them. But what if we start our next day by giving God our night before we go to bed and if we awaken in those wee hours?

When peace is given, it must be received in order to be of benefit.”

Bill Johnson Hosting the Presence

Peace is one of the characteristics of the Holy Spirit. But so often we struggle to have peace, to figure out how to get peace, or make peace happen. We can’t conjure up peace. God gladly gives us peace. Jesus said “My peace I give you.” (John 14:27)

But if we aren’t positioning ourselves to receive it, will it benefit us?

Giving him the night is a way of preparing ourselves to receive his peace both while we sleep and for the next day.

That’s some good news.

And not only can we experience God’s peace when we turn our hearts towards him and rest in his presence, but we also cause problems for the enemy who is trying to steal, kill, and destroy us. When he sends trouble our way, we are safe in the presence and peace of God. We threaten the enemy’s attempt to toss us around when we are in peace.

Abiding in peace makes us a threat to any storm.”

Bill Johnson Hosting the Presence

So, tonight, when I go to bed, I’m going to turn my heart toward God and rest in his presence until I feel his peace come over me. When I wake up in the night, I’ll do the same thing again.

I’m looking forward to starting the day tomorrow, and continuing the week in the presence of God with the Holy Spirit’s peace surrounding me.

I pray you will rest there too. The peace that God gives me, I release to you. Goodnight.