Pause and think about it!

Archive for October, 2019

JOY!

The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; He will save; He will rejoice over thee with JOY; He will rest in His love; He will JOY over thee with singing (Zephaniah 3:17).

Do not grieve, for the JOY of the Lord is your strength (Nehemiah 8:10).

Introduction

Some people think unless something spectacular happens, Jesus didn’t show up for the church service. However, we know when we come together as the people of God, He is in our midst, for Jesus said, “For where two or three are gathered together in My Name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matt. 18:20). In fact, He said, “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world” (Matt. 28:20). So lift up your countenance (put a smile on your face!) and rejoice. The King of kings is always with you wherever you are, whatever your circumstances.

Not only is Jesus WITH you, He wants to live IN you. “For it is God which works IN you both to will and to do HIS good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13). “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Cor. 3:16). “What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is IN you, which you have of God, and you are not  your own?” (1 Cor. 6:19).

Is He your God? Have you been washed in the blood of Jesus? Have you repented of your sins? Are you putting off the “old man” (your old ways, habits, language, attitudes,  desires)  and  putting on the “new man” (Jesus’ language, attitudes, desires)? (See Eph. 4:20-32). If so, you can confess according to Zephaniah 3:17: The Lord MY God in the midst of ME is mighty! He dwells in the midst of you, and He is mighty! He lives way down deep in your soul (in the midst—the middle—of your heart). He is the mighty God sitting on the throne of your heart.

God is  mighty.

What does it mean for God to be MIGHTY in you?

He is all-powerful

  • He is able to perform supernatural deeds deep inside your heart.
  • He enables you to WAIT and be of good courage while waiting.
  • He enables you to FORGIVE those who falsely accuse you, who betray you, who use you.
  • He enables you to RESIST the devil thus giving no opportunity to him. It’s HIS enabling power—not yours! You would faint in the day of adversity without His power to sustain you. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13).
  • He is mighty!

He is all-sufficient

  • In Him there is no lack, and if He lives in you, then He brings all His provisions with Him and shares them with you.
  • “The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want (lack)…” (Psa. 23:1)
  • “I have learned in whatsoever state I am therewith to be content” (Phil. 4:11).
  • “My God shall supply all your (and my) need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19).
  • He is Jehovah­ Jireh, the I AM.
  • He has provided.
  • He is mighty!

He is all-knowing

  • He knows what you have need of even before you ask (Matt. 6:8).
  • He knows the number of hairs on your head (Luke 12:7), and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of your heart (Heb. 4:12).
  • He is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy (if you permit Him to do so) (Jude 24).
  • He is mighty!

He is always present.

  • “Lo, I am with you ALWAY” (Matt. 28:20).
  • He is present in storms of life (like the disciples tossed upon the sea).
  • He is present in the fires of life–when things get hot, like He was as the fourth man in the furnace with Shadrach, Meshack, and Abednigo.
  • He is ever-interceding for you (Heb. 7:25) that you will not bow to idols, not yield to temptation, not allow satan to “sift you like wheat,” and that you will endure hardness like a good soldier and not give up but be faithful!
  • He is mighty!

God will…

If this mighty God lives in your heart, and sits on the throne way down deep in your soul, in the midst of you, then…

He Will Save.

  • This comes from the Hebrew word which means He will ease your burden. Stay yoked to Jesus. His yoke is easy and His burden is light. He invites you to come to him if you are weary and heavy ladened (Matt. 11:28-29).
  • If you are being crushed by the burdens you carry, you need to learn how to cast care on him (1 5:7).
  • He will save you!

He will rejoice over you with joy.

  • The Hebrew declares: He will enjoy you! He will say “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” When He sees your obedient heart and your desire to let Him control your life, you really enter into the JOY of the How He delights in His people! His joy–not yours–is your strength (Neb. 8:10).
  • He will rejoice over you with joy!

He will rest in His love.

  • He has already paid the price for your salvation.
  • The Hebrew word says here that He will hold His peace.
  • He hangs onto the accomplished work of redemption.
  • His love for you was so great that He gave His very life for you.
  • He rests in that love.
  • He is persuaded that He is able to keep whatever you commit unto Him. Commit your very life, your future, your family, your church, your health, everything unto Him. Now you can be persuaded that He is able to keep whatever you commit to Him (2 Tim.1:12). You, too, can rest in His love!

He will joy over you with singing.

  • This is one of my favorite In Hebrew it means, He’s having a party!
  • What is He celebrating?
    • Your spiritual birthday!
    • Your spiritual growth!
    • Your victories!
    • Your perseverance!
    • Your faithfulness in times of stress, poverty, failures, disappointments as well as in times of joy and success!
  • He parties with singing.
  • He loves singing – especially singing over you with joy.
  • In fact, Jesus stands and sings praise to God in the midst of the Church (Heb. 2:12).

Who is the Church?

  • You are! Every individual who is born again is a part of the Church.
  • Jesus sings out through you when you sing praise to God.
  • He sings with the gathered Church when we sing praise to His Father God.
  • He celebrates!
  • He has a party with singing.

Conclusion

That’s why out of your belly (innermost being) shall flow rivers of living water; out from the throne of your heart; out from where THE LORD YOUR GOD  DWELLS;  where He is mighty (John 7:58).

  • Personalize the scripture.
  • Make it relevant to your life.
  • Remember it: The Lord MY God in the midst of ME is mighty. He will save ME; He will rejoice over ME with joy; He will rest in His love for ME; He will joy over ME with singing.
  • Hallelujah!

Amen.

SUMMARY

“The Lord our God in the midst of you is mighty. He will save. He will deliver you”

  • from all the power,
  • from all the guilt,
  • from all the pollution of your sins;

and when thus saved,

  • “He will rejoice over you with JOY.”
  • “He will rest in His love.”
    • He will show the same love to you that He did of old to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
  • “He will JOY over you with singing.”
  • Your conversion will be a subject of peculiar delight and exultation to God Himself! There will be a more than ordinary joy in heaven when you come to God through Christ Jesus. (Zeph.3:17). [This is] the JOY of the LORD that is your strength (Neh.8:10c). (cf. Adam Clarke Commentary)

© C. Yvonne Karl, The Alabaster Box, Volume 08 Number 09 1993

Updated October 2019

yvonnekarl@gmail.com

Celebrate Halloween?

Halloween    Hallow (holy) een  (Evening)

Christian Halloween – Understand the Origins
Christian Halloween? Halloween is undoubtedly more misunderstood than any other holiday event. Is it hocus-pocus superstition or truly Christian focused? It can appear to be nothing more than a pagan event dreamed up by some deviant opportunist and/or candy and costume manufacturer, but All Hallows Eve was actually intended to be a righteous opportunity purposed in history past to commemorate old saints. 

 Halloween, which comes from the word All Hallows Eve is tied directly to All Saints Day celebrated on November 1 of each year to commemorate the old saints who have past on. These “saints” were heroes and martyrs for the Christian Faith.

Christian Halloween – The Pros and Cons. We understand that much of Halloween has manipulated and “tricked” by the secular pagan world and much of what happens on Halloween is far from spiritual. In fact, some of the Halloween traditions have pagan origins.

The Bible doesn’t speak directly about Halloween, but some biblical principles apply. One thing is clear — all pagan practices are to be avoided. Witchcraft, occult practices, sorcery, etc. are strictly forbidding in the Bible (Exodus 22:18; Acts 8:9-24; Acts 16, 19).

It is obvious that a small child dressing up as a princess or a cowboy isn’t involving themselves with witchcraft, so what is a biblical stance on Halloween?

Parents, the decision is up to you. If you decide Halloween is something fun for your children, make sure they are kept far away from the evil aspects of Halloween. When believers participate in anything (even Halloween), their attitudes, dress, and behavior should glorify Christ (Philippians 1:27). That’s why it’s great when churches have special harvest festivals, trunk or treat. and other alternate ways to celebrate Halloween to provide an alternative for the cultural trick or treat with witchcraft and other death and demonic symbols.

Christian Halloween? – Take Advantage!

  • Halloween can be a “hands on” learning opportunity about God’s control over Satan and the fallen angels. God keeps them held powerless according to His will. Christian Halloween and All Saints Day come together in purposeful unity as the one protects and covers the other. It is a time for the Gospel to devour the ghouls.

Like Halloween, other religious holidays have also been secularized. For example, Christmas should be centered around the “Christ Mass” or the celebration of the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, but these days Santa Claus is more worshipped than Jesus. While there’s nothing wrong with Santa Claus—in fact, his history has religious significance—but the main focus of Christmas should be JESUS.

Easter also has been hijacked. Instead of celebrating the resurrection of Jesus, more emphasis these days is placed on the Easter Bunny and easter eggs which are not related to either.

So let’s keep our priorities straight, and be sure our children understand the differences between the Christian and cultic customs.

yvonnekarl@gmail.com

The Alabaster Box 1990

 

 

 

Is my pastor starving?

Pastoring can be very lonely. Especially in small congregations, some pastors have more critics than cheerleaders and every little morsel of encouragement brightens their day. Ask the Lord to show you a way to bless your pastors. Remember, we don’t always reap WHERE we sow, but we do reap WHAT we sow (Gal.6:7-9). Next time you’re tempted to complain and criticize, double a blessing for your pastors instead. Show them your love in a way that does not impose on their time. Do something for them and expect nothing in return. After all, “It is more blessed to GIVE than to receive.”

 “And now, friends, we ask you to honor those leaders who work so hard for you, who have been given the responsibility of urging and guiding you along in your obedience. Overwhelm them with appreciation and love!” (1 Thess.5:12-13. And make sure this letter gets read to all the brothers and sisters. Don’t leave anyone out. The amazing grace of Jesus Christ be with you! (1 Thess.5:27-28, Msg).

It is rare to hear a parishioner say, “My pastor is starving.” On the flip side of the coin, how many times have we church-going folks say: “I’m starving.” “I’m not being fed.”

These comments are not new. Thousands of years ago God chose Moses to lead His people. Even though they were headed for a land of freedom and prosperity, they balked and complained that they weren’t been fed properly. 

WHY CAN’T WE HAVE MEAT?

“Now the mixed multitude…yielded to intense craving; so the children of Israel also wept again and said: ‘Who will give us meat to eat?’” (Num.11:4, NKJV).

Another version says, “Then the foreign rabble who were traveling with the Israelites began to crave the good things of Egypt, and the people of Israel also began to complain. ‘Oh, for some meat!’ they exclaimed” (NLT). The Message paraphrases this same verse: “The riff-raff among the people had a craving and soon they had the People of Israel whining.”

The mixed multitude was literally a great rabble, or riff-raff, who had come along with the Israelites as they escaped Egypt. Obviously they conjectured that if they hid themselves in the huge throng of God’s people they would also inherit His promises. After all, they had been in the crowd of more than a million Israelites when the Red Sea parted and they crossed over on dry land. They saw Pharaoh’s army swallowed up as the waters came back together.

The Red Sea miracle wet their appetite. They had seen other miracles, yet they became disgruntled and bitter because of days of mundane meals in a dry place. They gave no credit to God for supernaturally supplying them with an adequate source of food in a desert where no animals roamed and no plants grew. Nevertheless, their discontent was infectious and soon even the most devout among the Israelites were agreeing with them. “Nothing tastes good out here,” they said. “All we get is manna, manna, manna” (Num.11:6). “We want meat!”

They were not grumbling about their announced destination but rather about not getting their favorite meals along the way. The manna God sent them daily contained the necessary nutrients for them to eat and stay healthy. They didn’t have to work for it—neither to plant it nor harvest it. All they had to do was gather it each morning.

Isn’t this the way it is with us today? We lose sight of our destination—heaven—and complain about the spiritual food. It reminds me of one Christmas when my daughter was a toddler. She dreamed of getting a bride doll and talked about it incessantly for weeks before the holidays. I purchased lace and satin, cut and sewed, and turned a doll into a gorgeous bride. After she went to bed on Christmas Eve, my husband and I placed the new toy table and chairs from her grandmother under the tree and positioned the bride doll at the table. There! We thought. Our little girl will be so thrilled when she sees her dream has come true.

How wrong we were! Caroline came bouncing down the stairs on Christmas morning, but before reaching the bottom step she glanced into the room and saw the table and the bride doll. Immediately she began to cry and ran back upstairs to her room. Totally confused by her actions, I went to her room to hear her repeating over and over through her sobs: “My gifts are supposed to be wrapped up!” 

God’s manna did not come wrapped up. It was readily available, but it no longer held any mystique. The daily provision had become routine—they were not content to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.” In fact, they already had daily bread. What was readily available did not fulfill their wants. They were selfishly expecting Moses to provide them meat. When He didn’t, “they all whined in front of their tents” (Num.11:10).

Lord, help us, but the same is often true of us believers. We spend more time complaining and whining about not being “fed” than we do in consuming the “Bread of Life” in whatever way it comes to us. A spiritual meal may come from routine teaching of the pastor in one service after another, or a Bible class, or a small group meeting. It may come from the apostle, the prophet, the evangelist, or the teacher. More often it comes directly from God Himself, as we sit quietly before Him meditating upon His Word. However it comes, we must gather it and feed it to ourselves.

Nevertheless, in our humanness, we are more excited about the spiritual food desserts: the great miracles or passionate encounters with others who are “cheerleaders” in the Kingdom. It’s not really meat of the Word that we desire, but Paul says, “You’re going to find that there will be times when people will have no stomach for solid teaching, but will fill up on spiritual junk food – catchy opinions that tickle their fancy. They’ll turn their backs on truth and chase mirages” (2 Tim. 4:3-4).

Are we selfish like children—demanding the food we want. Few children would choose vegetables and fruit; rather they beg for ice cream and cake. I wonder if this is not equivalent to the demand the Israelites made for “meat” and Paul’s contemporaries who chased after empty emotional experiences rather than spiritual ones.

WHY MEAT?

God told Moses to call the people together and “Tell the people…You’ve been whining to God, ‘We want meat; give us meat.’ God has heard your whining and he’s going to give you meat. You’re going to eat meat. And it’s not just for a day that you’ll eat meat, and not two days, or five or ten or twenty, but for a whole month. You’re going to eat meat until its coming out your nostrils. You’re going to be so sick of meat that you’ll throw up at the mere mention of it. And here’s why: Because you have rejected God who is right here among you…”(Vs.18-20).

God was present with them—the all powerful, all knowing, ever present God. He would withhold nothing good from them—yet they were craving something outside the realm of “good.”  They demanded “flesh.” He was giving them “daily bread.” Using the flesh to satisfy our hunger will always result in death—death of a dream, death of a marriage, death of our spiritual life, or death—plain and simple! Who among us can grasp that God knows what is best for us? That man will be satisfied with God!

When we have God’s presence in our lives, we have everything we need—for He is our ALL in ALL. Only His Presence can satisfy our craving; not even God’s gifts can fulfill that hunger. That’s why even though we see miracles, participate in awesome worship services, live in prosperity and good health, we still have a craving, a yearning, a demand for more. We think we need MEAT; however, our appetite for meat is a mere substitute for allowing Christ—the Bread of Heaven to consume us.

Truly as mature Christians we hunger for more of Christ in us, thus we relinquish control to Him over each area of our heart, our mind, our will, our emotions. But this comes about by our one-on-one relationship with Him—not as a result of being fed by the pastor at church services.

HOW  DID PASTOR MOSES FEEL?

Did anyone ever ask how Moses must have felt with these complaining people nagging him all day every day? God had entrusted to him leadership in the largest congregation ever assembled, and he was totally frustrated—as are many pastors today. 

“Moses said to God, ‘What did I ever do to you to deserve this? Did I conceive these people? Was I their mother? So why dump the responsibility of this people on me? Why tell me to carry them around like a nursing mother, carry them all the way to the land you promised to their ancestors? Where am I supposed to get meat for all these people who are whining to me…If this is how you intend to treat me, do me a favor and kill me. I’ve seen enough; I’ve had enough. Let me out of here’” (vs.10-15).

This prayer is being prayed all across the United States and around the world by pastors of congregations large and small. Some are leaving the ministry—ill-equipped to handle all the whining and complaining. Many take this as rejection of them personally and throw in the towel. Some change jobs—never to realize their fulfillment in being faithful to the call of God on their lives. Others fall into tragic moral failure; sadly, some even commit suicide.

Who is to blame for these heartbreaking turns in the lives of some pastors? The people who grumble and complain? No—but perhaps they could have helped encourage the pastors rather than tear them down. Perhaps they could have spent more time on their knees praying for the pastors rather than spreading their discontent among other congregants.

But pastors, like Moses, need to go to the Lord in prayer and to the Holy counseling book and receive His counsel—remembering Who gave them their assignment in the first place. Nevertheless, as members of various congregations, we could do much to encourage, build up, and feed our pastors. 

Jesus told Peter, “Feed my sheep?” Yes—and God told Moses, “Lead my people.” However, the people didn’t like the food or the direction the pastors were taking. Peter says: Clean house! Get rid of malice and pretense, envy and hurtful talk. You’ve had a taste of God. Now, like infants at the breast, drink deep of God’s pure kindness. Then you’ll grow up mature and whole in God” (1 Pet.2:1-3). Every church will have followers of Christ who are in all stages of spiritual growth—from infancy to maturity. As mature ones, we are patient with the young ones who need to feed on milk; we do not demand that we be fed instead of them. As a matter of fact, we know how to feed ourselves and no longer require being fed on demand—though we appreciate the help when we’re in distress.

FEED YOUR PASTOR

Pastors rarely make a public announcement about their needs—probably because they feel they are there to help the people not to put a burden on them. But how many of us recognize the pastors’ need for food in the form of affirmation and encouragement? The Lord told Moses, “I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you.” We see this promise carried out through Moses’ lifetime (Study the book of Exodus) and I believe it is still a prophetic promise for us today.

Yes, our pastors will fail if they don’t have a vital relationship with the Lord, but so will we. They cannot depend on the people in the congregation to fill that need, nor can we. Indeed the Apostle Paul faced a court hearing with not even one person there to support him, but listen to his testimony: “At my preliminary hearing no one stood by me. They all ran like scared rabbits. But it doesn’t matter—the Master stood by me and helped me spread the Message loud and clear to those who had never heard it. I was snatched from the jaws of the lion! God’s looking after me, keeping me safe in the kingdom of heaven. All praise to him, praise forever! Oh, yes!” (From 2 Tim.4).

In spite of Paul’s spiritual strength and determination, he lets us know that he longed for companionship and helpers—to affirm and assist him. He says to Timothy: Get here as fast as you can…Bring Mark with you; he’ll be my right-hand man…Bring the winter coat I left in Troas with Carpus; also the books and parchment notebooks. Watch out for Alexander the coppersmith. Fiercely opposed to our Message, he caused no end of trouble. God will give him what he’s got coming” (From 2 Tim. 4). Is this not what God told Moses? “I will curse them who curse you!”

One of the lessons Jesus taught in the parable of the talents was affirmation: To those who were faithful, He commended them with words we all desire to hear: “Good work! You did your job well” (Matt.25:21). Jesus didn’t comment on the little details and find ways to point out their faults or how He disagreed with some things they might have done—He commended them. It’s a two-way street: the pastors need to affirm their people and the people need to encourage their pastors.

Throughout three decades of ministry, like most pastors, my husband and I experienced both the ire and the love of God’s people. Some were faithful to the end and are still lovingly and prayerfully bonded, but the love of others was short-lived. People came into the church fellowship, gave both public and written commitments to be by our side forever, then in a flash they were gone. Some stayed a few weeks; others a few months; some worshipped and worked with us for years before moving on. 

Of those who moved, some were geographically transferred, some bowed out gracefully, some created a mountain out of a molehill, and some attempted to invoke a major takeover. In my opinion, all were there for a season, for a purpose. Only God knows whether or not that purpose was fulfilled. We were not in the ministry to be affirmed by people but to be approved by God, yet the accolades of our brothers and sisters played a huge roll in encouraging us—often in times of near despair. 

There were always people in our lives who cared deeply about us and our family. There were several dear ones who seemed to be listening for me to say, “I really like that!” so they could run out and get it for me. During my husband’s illness, some dear sisters came and cleaned our house and even washed the curtains. There were those who dropped off my husband’s favorite food dishes—just at the time they were needed. Some brought groceries and home canned goods from time to time. Some volunteered to work at the church to do many and varied tasks throughout the week. Some precious saints worked in our house—painting, building, remodeling. And the list goes on. The Apostle Paul calls all of these “labors of love” (1 Thess.1:3).

In one church, a family brought to the pastor’s office a fresh rose every Sunday morning. Some people are especially eloquent with words and write poems, prayers, and thank you notes to the pastor on days other than birthdays, holidays, and pastor appreciation days.

There are many ways to feed your pastors with love, encouragement, and affirmation so that when they’re being bombarded by whiners and complainers and their own sense of inadequacy, the Lord will use your good deeds to remind them of His love.

Pastoring can be very lonely. Most pastors have more critics than cheerleaders and every little morsel of encouragement brightens their day. Ask the Lord to show you a way to bless your pastors. Remember, we don’t always reap WHERE we sow, but we do reap WHAT we sow. Next time you’re tempted to complain and criticize, double that blessing for your pastors instead. Show them your love in a way that does not impose on their time. Do something for them and expect nothing in return. After all, “It is more blessed to GIVE than to receive.”

And now, friends, we ask you to honor those leaders who work so hard for you, who have been given the responsibility of urging and guiding you along in your obedience. Overwhelm them with appreciation and love!” (1 Thess.5:12-13).

And make sure this letter gets read to all the brothers and sisters. Don’t leave anyone out. The amazing grace of Jesus Christ be with you! (1 Thess.5:27-28).

Reprinted from The Alabaster Box, C. Yvonne Karl © Volume18 Number10 2003.

Yvonnekarl@gmail.com

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